Ten Tried and True Tips for Traveling with Kids

Hi, Extraordinary Mommy readers! My name is Natalia and I blog over at Ma Nouvelle Mode. I can’t tell you how excited and honored I am to be here, contributing to the already amazing content that is Extraordinary Mommy. I was born and raised in Southern California. I met my Bahamian-bred husband in college at 18, and 5 years later we got married and he whisked me away to France. We’ve lived the 6 1/2 years of our marriage between California and France. Trust me, it sounds a lot more glamorous than it is, but it has definitely been a huge blessing in our lives.

As you might have guessed, living between two countries requires quite a bit of traveling. I truly wish there were some sort of time travel invention which would save me many an airport meltdown, but alas, I have to stick to the planes. We have two little guys — 3 and 6 years old — who usually hang out with me when we travel, so I’ve had quite a bit of experience traveling with kids. Today I wanted to share a few tips and tricks I have learned and used along the way!

10 tips for traveling with kids

  • Attitude is everything

To be completely honest with you, I learned this one a little late in the game. I used to completely stress out before flights with my then 1-year-old. I was worried it would be completely awful and guess what — it was. Now, my flights are usually anywhere from 13 to 24+ hours and with little ones that can be tiring! However, I have found that first and foremost when I present myself to my kids with the best possible attitude I can muster, things go a lot smoother. It’s amazing how that works, isn’t it? Now flights are fun, they’re adventures, they’re memories that I am privileged to create with my kids. And I wouldn’t trade any of them for anything.  Except maybe for that time warp machine… ;)

  • Plan ahead

This can be a game changer. What I do when I am taking any long trip is I look ahead to what hours we will be doing what and try to plan accordingly. If you can keep somewhat of a schedule, things are easier on everyone.

For example, when we get on our flights, my kids can color, read, or play with their smaller toys they chose ahead of time. We usually do this until it’s time for food. When the food arrives, I turn on a movie for them because they really can’t go anywhere anyway. They’re allowed to watch while eating their dinner and a little afterwards and then the movies are off and it’s sleep time. They fall asleep on me or on the floor and sleep til the flight is done!

Now you might not have to travel 15 hours by plane — maybe it’s 5 hours cross country. Have an idea of what you’ll be doing when, maybe even a little time frame. So when your kids ask, you will have an answer. “You can’t play your iPad now, but in 30 minutes we’ll bring it out.”

  • Ease up

After all of that scheduling business, another major thing to keep in mind is that this is not real life. This is a moment in time where things are not normal. Do your best to have a schedule for the trip, but just know that things won’t always go as planned. This is not the time for stern discipline. This is the time for love and grace even if it takes every last drop of energy you have. You have a plan so you can have some semblance of structure but at the same time know that things might happen differently. And that’s okay.

  • Don’t apologize

There will be rude people. There will be people who have never had kids or been around kids and they have no idea what you’re going through. There will be people who cut in front of you in line because they don’t want to be behind the single mom with kids. They’ll give you looks, they might whisper, but who cares? You know that you’re doing your best. You know what your kids have been through. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, “Well, we’ve already been traveling for 14 hours” as my kid is having a meltdown in the security line because he just wants to be home already. But honestly, they don’t need to know my story. Just do your best and don’t let others make you feel bad.

On the other side of the coin here, if you ever see a mom/family traveling with kids, be gracious! It’s a tough thing to do! If you ever hear a baby crying, don’t walk the other direction, offer to help! I can say that although I have had my fair share of line cutters while I’m trying to fold up a stroller and hold a baby, there will be those people who see a mom that’s reached her limit and offer to hold her little one. And the mom will be forever grateful.

  • Make it fun

I know this might sound a little crazy, but make it fun!! It is a ton of work to be a parent traveling with kids, there is no way around that. But your kids don’t know that. They think it’s a huge, grand adventure! They see the huge airplanes outside and are mesmerized. Find ways to make it the coolest experiences of their lives. Now trust me, I know how hard this can be. But it kind of goes back to the first point I made:  attitude is everything. If you’re a big ball of stress, your kids will know it and feel it and it probably won’t be a memory they will look back on fondly. However, if you do your best to see the beauty, the adventure, in all that your trip entails, I guarantee your kids will think it’s the coolest thing they’ve ever done. They don’t need to know that the milk spilled everywhere in the diaper bag within the first hour of your trip. Or that they checked your stroller so you don’t have it on your layover. They just need to think the suitcase ride they just took on the back of your carry-on (because of lack of said stroller) was the coolest thing they’ve done yet!

We found a play place in the Madrid airport!

We found a play place in the Madrid airport!

  • Let the kids pull their weight!

Literally! Give them their own carry on bag with their toys, coloring paper and pencils, special blanket and whatever else they might need to carry. They will feel so big and helpful and you won’t have to carry it! If you have a smaller child, maybe 1 year-old or older get a small bag with a few essentials and put it on their back. They won’t even know it’s there and that way you won’t have to dig through your purse to find their toys!

Traveling with kids

  • Something to look forward to.

I think it’s hard for kids to understand time and distance, or at least my kids, so maybe try putting together a small reward or treat that they get to open every 1 hour so depending on the length of your trip. Just grab a few trinkets at the dollar store and wrap them up for each hour. They’ll have something new to play with each hour and by the time one’s worn off, it’ll be time for the next one!

  • Suckers.

I am really not one for giving candy for rewards or at every chance, I mean, it’s already so prevalent in our kids lives. But for take off and landing the cabin pressure can hurt little people’s ears. Heck it hurts adults’ ears sometimes!! Try giving them anything to suck on for take off and landing. A bottle, breastfeed, sucker, binkie, anything to take their minds off the pressure or to alleviate any pain.

  • Don’t over pack

I’ve totally been here. I was packed to the brim with toys that we didn’t even touch. Now I bring a few tried and true toys that I know my kids love to play with and their tablets. They each have a tablet although they are only allowed to play it at special times so it’s still a treat. Keeps it simple for you and them!

  • Let the airports help you

If you are traveling by plane, see what kind of services they offer for families traveling with kids. I know you can get a bassinet for babies, they also let you skip through the lines when possible. You can board first most of the time and if you have a connecting flight, you can request one of those little airport cars to take you to your next gate. They often have little packets for the kids when you get on the flight, which should keep them busy at least through take off.

But what I have learned is that if you don’t ask, they won’t offer. So ask! What’s the worst they could say? No and then you stand in line like everyone else. But if not, it definitely makes the process go smoother since kids and waiting patiently in line don’t always go together! Airlines are usually pretty understanding.

There you have it! I hope you feel more at ease and ready to conquer your trip, however long it may be, with your kiddos. If you have any other ideas or suggestions, I would love to hear them! Leave them in the comments and we’ll make a running list.

Have a great day!

EXM Natalia Simmons Bio

An Interview with Paralympian Heath Calhoun: Join Us On G+ Wednesday 3/19 12 CST

By now, my love of the Olympic Games and the Paralympics is well documented.

Heath Calhoun - ParalympianI have long been fascinated by the athletes and their journeys – how they started, their dedication and commitment, the people who supported them when they faltered, the people who stood at the finish line to celebrate their successes and yes, when they medal, I cry as though I’m living that moment with them.

As a result of my work with Kellogg’s, I’ve been lucky enough to meet a number of this year’s athletes, but it is with child-like enthusiasm that I share that I, along with my good friend Meagan Francis, will have the pleasure of interviewing Silver Medal Winning Paralympian Heath Calhoun TOMORROW during our G+ Hangout On Air: The New Having It All.

You simply MUST join us to hear from Heath. I could spend the next two hours sharing his incredible story, but I wouldn’t do him justice. I’ll let you start by watching his #GreatStarts story…. and then I want you to commit to taking 25 minutes to spend with us tomorrow beginning at 12cst.

This was Heath’s second trip to the Paralympics and I’m so thrilled he’s taking the time to visit with Meagan and I. I guarantee he will inspire you.

If you have some time before the show, I’m excited to be hosting a Twitter party for Kellogg’s with Heath (@LeglessHeath)  too – so double the chance to interact with him. (just in case you can’t make it to the interview!) We’ll be chatting about everything from the Paralympics to their journey to the medal stand to how he got his #GreatStarts to, of course, breakfast – definitely a way they start their days.

Follow along with the hashtag: #GreatStarts beginning at 11am cst. We so look forward to chatting with you!

Disclosure: As you likely know, I’m proud to have a long-standing relationship with Kellogg’s though all opinions I share are mine and mine alone.

5 Easy Ways to Wear Spring Trends Now!

Are you ready to leave the cold behind and embrace Spring weather and style? Considering the “polar vortex” phenomenon many of us experienced this year, I’m going to assume that was a resounding “YES”! However if your weather is not quite cooperating yet, there are still easy ways to add some Spring to your wardrobe now, while still staying warm!

1. Go light!  (In color, NOT your layers!)wear mint in winter

Pastels are a great way to infuse a little Spring in your Winter wardrobe. Why not layer up with a pastel sweater and accessories? Or you can try throwing on a leather jacket over a Spring blouse! Pale pinks, purples and mints are great color choices to get you in the Spring frame of mind.

2. Add a little bright to your beauty routine!how to refresh your beauty routine for spring

It’s amazing how much freshening up your beauty routine can change your whole look. Switching to a punchy blush can give you an extra glow, and a bright pink lip will brighten your smile. My favorites? Nars in Orgasm and CoverGirl’s Lip Perfection Jumbo Gloss Balm in Ruby Twist (both featured above).

3. Go floral!black and white striped teeNow don’t worry. I’m hardly suggesting you break out your sundresses just yet, but a little floral print can go a long way. My go-to is a pink printed scarf that keeps me warm while adding a healthy dose of Spring to any look. Not into scarves? Try a floral necklace or printed flats!

4. Embrace white.max studio wrap silk blouse, paige laurel canyon

Do you pack away your whites for Winter? Break them back out! White, even paired with Winter-y neutrals, adds a Springlike freshness!

5. Think nautical. nautical inspired lookNothing like a little nautical inspiration to get you in the warm weather mindset, right? Grab your favorite striped tee and pair it with white, red or anchor-themed accessories! (And yes, that peacoat counts!)

Do you have a favorite Spring theme at the ready? We’d love to hear it!

EXM Lauren Dix BIo

Why I Love Stitch Fix (Even though I Didn’t Keep My First Box)

For months now, I’ve been watching friends receive boxes filled with fashion goodies from Stitch Fix - a service designed to be a personal stylist for you – based entirely on a profile you fill out with details like your height, weight, basic clothing size, fashion trend preferences, things you love, hate and what you might be willing to try.

Once a month a stylist sends you box of five items to try, complete with a style guide for each item personalized specifically for you. You try everything on, keep the items you love and send back what doesn’t work in a pre-paid envelope.

This was my style guide….complete with a personal note from Catherine explaining why she chose these specific items for me.

Stich Fix Style Guide

Catherine sent me a variety of things to try – four clothing and one jewelry. I was given skinny jeans, a white jeweled t-shirt, a cobalt blue tank, a black and white striped dress with a yellow belt and a pair of hot pink stone earrings.

Before I even tried them on, I suspected the cobalt tank (love the color!) and the striped dress would be my favorites. The whole process is so much fun…I took pictures of everything and posted them on both Facebook and Instagram to get feedback.

Since this was my first Stitch Fix, I was excited to hear the feedback.

I think what I loved most? How willing my friends were to share their opinions AND how varied the opinions were on each item.

Stitch FIx Instagram

StitchFix Facebook

Ultimately, I decided to go with my gut on each item…especially knowing that the feedback I offered on each item would be helpful for my next ‘fix’.

The earrings were pretty, but not me. I rarely wear studs, so they weren’t the best investment.

Stich Fix Earrings

The skinny jeans fit (I mean really fit!) but I didn’t feel comfortable in them. And the white top, while it could be considered a wardrobe staple, didn’t feel like ‘me’. It was a bit too basic. I LOVED the color of the cobalt tank, but it was quite big on me, so it felt boxy. I felt the pleat in the front would make it impossible to belt, so that went back too. That left me with my favorite – the dress. I loved the style and it was comfortable, but ultimately it was too big. When I put the belt on, the dress gathered, so I didn’t want to invest in something that wasn’t ‘just right’.

Here’s the thing – I sent it all back, but I still love everything about the service and the process. I love that there is a stylist matching fashion with my personal style using my preferences, sizes and even a Pinterest board that gives them a feeling for my fashion flavor.

I recommend a few things:

  • Be VERY detailed AND HONEST when you fill out your profile. Don’t fudge on your sizes, don’t say you’d like to try a new color or a new style if it is outside your comfort zone if you really can’t handle it.
  • Set pricing restrictions if you have them so you aren’t surprised (or disappointed) when you fall in love with an item that is simply too expensive for your budget.
  • Create a Pinterest board that showcases your true fashion sense so the stylists can match the very best fashion to you.

My next Stitch Fix will be here the first week of April and I’m hopeful that the feedback I provided on each item will mean that I keep all five in my next box. For reference – the items in my box were priced between $36-120. The dress was the most expensive.

Have you tried StitchFix? I would love to know your experience? I ultimately learned about them via my friend Rachel. The links I have provided here do include a referral code from me – so let me know if you decide to try it out.

 

Best Skin Care Products Under $30

best-skin-care-products

Gorgeous skin can be achieved without a celebrity-sized budget or a team of doctors standing by to zap every last wrinkle and blemish. Sleep, water, healthy food and lots of laughter is truly the best skin care regime in the world…and it is completely free. 

But unfortunately, we cannot wash off our makeup with laughter, or moisturize an organic veggie plate directly into parched cheeks. Even the most well-rested eyes need the pat-pat-pat of a little something on those happily-earned laugh lines next to our lids.

Here are our favorite effective skin care products in the under $30 range. These moisturizers, cleansers and treatments are not only affordable, you can find them at your drugstore or supermarket. Go ahead and toss them into your cart along with the diapers, crayons and olive oil. Hey, saving time and money is sure to boost that inner glow!

Gentle Cleanser: Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Daily Cleanser $9
Whether you have the breakouts of a teenager or the dry skin of a sexy senior, this new Ultra Gentle Daily Cleanser was developed by dermatologists to be the most sensitive formula on the market. It is free of allergens, irritating oils, parabens and dyes, and does not damage our skin’s natural healthy barrier. In short, it gently takes out all the bad stuff without stripping skin of the good.

Blackhead Buster: Joey New York Bye Bye Blackheads $28
Move beyond the white nose strip and try this gel masque to evict blackheads from your T-zone. You only need to leave it on for one minute! Not only does this weekly masque combat those little dark dots, it tightens pore size and brightens your overall complexion.

Gel Moisturizer: Garnier Moisture Rescue Refreshing Gel-Cream $6
Gel moisturizers are a perfect combination of a rich, ultra-hydrating formula that will not clog pores. Previously we have only been able to score these at fancy makeup counters or pricey salons. This offering by Garnier is so affordable and blemish-prone-skin-friendly that you can slather it on without any pocketbook or pimple worries.

Eye Opener: Bliss Baggage Handler $28
If you wake up looking like you did a few rounds in the ring, this eye gel will come to your rescue. It reduces under-eye puffiness and soothes tired eyes with cucumber extract. A little goes a long way, so even though the price point comes close to our limit, it will see you through many mornings.

Line Filler: Revlon Age Defying Wrinkle Remedy Line Filler $12
This non-injectable wrinkle filler is packed with hyaluronic acid, which you may recognize from its fancy med-spa brand names Restylane and Juvéderm. Placing this wonder compound on top of your wrinkles can fill in gaps caused by aging. Revlon says that 90 percent of women who tried this found their skin to look fuller and more plumped. At just $12 a tube, it is an affordable experiment to see if you agree.

Super Serum: Boots No7 Protect & Perfect Intense Beauty Serum $25 
This Allure magazine reader favorite wins accolades for softening skin texture and reducing the appearance of fine lines. The consistency of this serum is so light (and hypoallergenic) that you can safely wear it beneath your favorite moisturizer during the day or richer night cream while you dream.

Perfect Primer: L’Oreal Miracle Blur (Oil Free) $20
Danielle raved about this ingenious skin perfector/pre-makeup primer. I agree that it truly fills in lines and evens out skin tone, blurring age spots and sun damage. It also provides a velvety smooth surface to smooth on foundation, and subtly mattes skin to reduce shine. I recommend the oil free version if you are prone to clogged pores.

What are YOUR go-to drugstore skin care products? Share your secrets in the comments!

Jessica McFadden is a mom of three and the writer of the parenting lifestyle blog A Parent in America. Thanks to great drugstore skin care offerings, she is saving on facialist bills to splurge on spring shoes. 

EXM Jessica McFadden BIo

Social Good: Hipster Spoof About Far More Than Taxes

This week something more than the weather of this year’s Polar Vortex-enriched midwestern winter made my face hurt. I laughed, out loud, at a new digital campaign.

The storyline goes something like this: Kenny Mayne, who’s best known for being on ESPN but also appeared as a contestant in “Dancing With the Stars,” was apparently a hipster. You know, skinny jeans, scarf, non-prescriptive glasses, loses their passport at Cochella, and the list goes on.

HipsterTaxFact_426

And apparently, unbeknownst to we mortals, hipsters are in trouble – deep trouble – because they don’t know how to do their taxes correctly. Some 81 percent of American Hipsters believe paying taxes has become “too mainstream” and more than half of Hipsters think scarves should be counted as deductible expenses. This is serious business people.

“Hipsters are in trouble – there’s a tax crisis and they need our help,” said Mayne, who told me his music taste that is so obscure that a term has not yet been developed to describe it. “Clearly, growing organic arugula on a fire escape does not enable you to take a farm tax credit. But Hipsters also need recognition for the contributions we’ve made to the fabric of this great nation.”

HipsterTaxFact_524

So Mayne, with the support of tax giant H&R Block, has launched an initiative to educate Hipsters about taxes at HipsterTaxCrisis.com, with more than a dozen videos of Kenny educating hipsters (in actuality actors from the Upright Citizens Brigade), the 54-year-old Kenny talking to 12-year-old Kenny, and aHipster Tax Rap from “The Flavor Savers,” some hilarious “Tax Facts,” and a “Hipsterize Me” photo upload app.

A look at one of my favorite videos from the campaign:

Finally, on April 1 in Seattle the campaign will hold The Irony Games – with awards for “Best In Scarf” and “Best in Skinny Jeans” – where the first ever “Hipster Of The Year” will be named in an effort to elevate Hipsters to what Mayne believes is their proper place in American society.

And while this fun little ruse has a lot to laugh at, what really made me smile was its heart – each time an element at HipsterTaxCrisis.com is shared through social media with the hashtag #HipsterTax, H&R Block to make a charitable contribution to Covenant House, which serves homeless youth nationally. You know how I love the giving.

So while I can’t help but applaud this hipster tax spoof from H&R Block featuring Kenny Mayne, what I really love about it is it’s heart – a big company using a humorous, high visibility campaign to ensure there’s some social benefit to people in need.

Take a look. Laugh. And share. It is GOOD.

(and tell me what you think!)

A St. Patrick’s Day Cupcake – Chocolate and Mint!

Making cupcakes is one of my favorite things to do!  I love when there’s a special occasion that gives me a good excuse to whip up some yummy goodness. Birthdays, baby showers, baptisms AND St. Patricks’s Day are all great days to make cupcakes in my book!

A St. Patrick's Day Cupcake - Chocolate and Mint!

These chocolate and mint cupcakes are really some of the most delicious cupcakes you’ll ever have.  Well, only if you like chocolate and mint together. And really, who doesn’t love a chocolate and mint combo??!!  One of the great things about these cupcakes is that they are super easy to make!  One bowl for your batter and a simple buttercream frosting that is lightly flavored with pure peppermint piped on and topped with a chocolate/mint candy – they are sure to be a hit!

A St. Patrick's Day Cupcake - Chocolate and Mint!

This recipe makes 18 cupcakes and that means there’s plenty to share!  Pick up a pretty cupcake box, tie with some colorful twine and add a cute clover tag and you’re good to go!  I picked up all three of these things at Target and had them on hand.  You can never go wrong with the $1 aisle at Target!

A St. Patrick's Day Cupcake - Chocolate and Mint!

You’re definitely going to be someone’s favorite person if you show up with this pretty gift in tow!

A St. Patrick's Day Cupcake - Chocolate and Mint!

Chocolate Cupcakes Ingredients: 3/4 cup  Dutch processed cocoa powder 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour – I like White Lilly best 1 1/2 cups sugar 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda 3/4 teaspoon baking powder 3/4 teaspoon salt 2 large eggs 3/4 cup buttermilk 3/4 cup strong coffee – cooled 3 tablespoons vegetable oil 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract Directions: 1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 2.  Line cupcake pans with liners 3.  Add cocoa, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of a mixer. 4.  Whisk on low speed until combined. 5.  Next add eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil, and vanilla and beat until smooth. 6.  Place batter into pans – filling cupcake liner half full. 7.  Bake for 18 minutes or until set and a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean. 8.  Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan before placing on a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.  Peppermint Buttercream Frosting Ingredients: 2 sticks of room temperature unsalted butter 4 cups confectioners sugar 1/8 teaspoon salt 2-3 tablespoons milk 10 drops of high quality peppermint essential oil OR 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract green gel food coloring Directions:  1.  Place butter into the bowl of a mixer and beat until smooth. 2.  With the mixer on low, add confectioners sugar one cup at a time – beating well after each cup. 3.  Add salt and mix well. 4.  Next, add milk and peppermint flavoring – mixing well after adding both. 5. Beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. 6.  Add food coloring until desired color is achieved. 7.  Pipe on frosting using a Wilton 1m tip and a pastry bag. 8.  Top with sprinkling sugar and a chocolate/mint candy. Enjoy! Kasey Schwartz Bio EXM

Celebrating National Breakfast Week with Kellogg’s and Our Own Great Start

I woke up this morning and it ‘feels like’ 17 degrees outside. No, I’m not living in the Yukon territory, just making my home in the Midwest, like so many other people.

And like so many other people, I’ve grown almost as tired of the phrases ‘polar vortex’, ‘snowpocalypse’ and ‘snowmageddon’ as I have of experiencing the bitterness on my face, my fingers, my whole being.

I actually live somewhere the air hurts my face. Who does that? I suppose you, me and about half the country are doing it this Winter. Dragging the small people out of bed in the morning to face yet another day in the teens isn’t easy. (Let’s be honest, I would prefer to stay tucked in bed!)

Our mornings have been slow. They have been quiet. And yet, we have remained connected.

My small people talk to me in the kitchen. They share with me during breakfast. They chatter as they pour their own cereal – proud that they can be involved while I make school lunches. If it means we must get up a little earlier to have this time, I make it happen. I know how they are doing in school, which friends have the kindest hearts, what they want to be when they grow up (today) and most of all, what makes them happy.

Kelloggs National Breakfast Week

In honor of National Breakfast Week – something we are celebrating with our good friends at Kellogg’s, I wanted to share a few things about this time of the morning you may not know:

  • Research shows that sharing three or more family meals per week helps children have healthier eating habits. Cereal makes it easy to start the day together. (My note: it is also a super-easy, happy, evening snack and my small dude’s ‘go-to’ before he heads to bed)
  • A serving of Kellogg cereals and 1 cup of skim milk can provide protein and four nutrients most people don’t get enough of: fiber, calcium, Vitamin D and potassium.
  • Cereal makes financial sense. At about 50 cents a serving, a cereal and milk breakfast is delicious and nutritious way to help ensure a great start to the day

Kelloggs Natl Breakfast Week

I know I have talked about this before, but these moments with my small people remind me that I am lucky… I know not every family has the same opportunity to share breakfast like this. Nearly one in five children goes without breakfast every day. Statistically speaking, that would be six kids from each of my children’s school classes. Sometimes I think we need to apply the ‘numbers’ to us for them to sink in.

Imagine walking in to your child’s classroom in the morning – only to watch six sit alone at their desks, hungry, while the others ate. I’m proud that Kellogg’s has been working to combat this very thing with their #GreatStarts program. As I talked about during the Olympics, for every tweet, share or pin of an Olympian’s  or Paralympian’s #GreatStarts story, a meal will be donated to a child in need this school year- with the goal being 2 million. Where are we now? Almost 741- thousand.

Kelloggs #GreatStarts

Not quite half way. We can do more, right? It is easy, yes?

How does a #GreatStart ‘start’? With you and me. With these small people. With sharing breakfast and telling stories.

Watch a #GreatStarts Story.

Share a #GreatStarts Story (Paralympian Amy Purdy makes me cry every time).

Tweet. Pin. Share again (Charlie and Meryl!).

We can do it together.

To inspire you to help, the Team Kellogg’s Olympians created this video to inspire you to give kids a #GreatStart. It will take 60 seconds of your day to watch and another 20 seconds (MAYBE!) to share it. Will you?

How do you Share Breakfast with your family? Are the meals big? Small? Or doesn’t it matter because there is simply too much talking happening all at once?

Disclosure: I have a long standing relationship with Kellogg’s. This post is dedicated to National Breakfast Week and my hope is that it will inspire you to help offer a #GreatStart to a child in need. As always, all thoughts and opinions are mine and mine alone.

 

Campbell’s® Slow Cooker Sauce Review: Hawaiian Luau (+ Giveaway!)

I know I’m not alone in my wish for dinner time to be easier, to avoid the dreaded “Hey Mom, what’s for dinner” and more than any winter I can remember, to have something that is warm and comforting.

The boys in my family keep me running – both my husband and my seven and four year old sons. From the moment I’m up on the morning, through school, activities and definitely the meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner. Enter Campbell’s and their newest Crock-Pot® Slow Cooker Sauce meals.

To make it possible for me to have the full experience (and make the best choice for my family) Campbell’s sent a full gift pack my way – complete with a variety of Crock-Pot® meals and a new crock pot (Spoiler! We’re giving the very same gift pack away below, so read on!)

Campbells Slow Cooker Sauces Easy Meals

Crock-Pot® meals are designed to be the saving grace for busy moms….making it possible to create a dinner for your entire family with only a 5 minute prep time. You simply put everything in the slow cooker, cover, cook, shred and that is it!

There are six flavors of Campbell’s® Slow Cooker Sauces.  The flavor I decided to prepare from the Campbell’s® Slow Cooker Sauce line was Hawaiian Luau.  Since these last few months have been so cold, this sauce really spoke to me. I would much rather be on a beach in Hawaii and if I could go there, even if only mentally, while I ate this, so be it.

Campbells Slow Cooker Sauces Easy Meals2

It was so easy to prepare – It only requires the sauce and pork.  My grocery store didn’t have the boneless pork shoulder roast that the recipe calls for, so instead I picked up boneless pork spare ribs. I added those to the crock pot and and then poured the Campbell’s® sauce packet over them.

Cover, set the timer for 8 hours on the low setting and head to work.  It was so simple. There was no need to add any extra seasonings, broth or water.   I came home to a sweet aroma filling my kitchen. I took the pork out of the Crock-Pot® and placed it in a bowl for shredding.  I have these amazing Pampered Chef® Salad Choppers that I use to shred and they make it so easy.

Once I was done shredding the pork, I returned it to the slow cooker so it could reabsorb some of the juices. I made long grain rice with cilantro and lime as a side, steamed some green beans and added our favorite King’s Hawaiian® original sweet rolls. Done.

Campbells Slow Cooker Sauces Easy Meal3

I really enjoyed the meal – I personally mixed the rice in with the shredded pork to marry the flavors together.  The pork had a nice, smoky flavor to it.  There are so many options to use the leftover meat but consider: quesadillas, sandwiches or tacos.  We ate the same meal for lunch the next day …  my husband loved it even more as leftovers.   Also, we took some of those King’s Hawaiian® sweet rolls, cut them in half and made mini pork sandwiches which were amazing.

The Simple Process: Hawaiian Luau

Prep Time 5 minutes

Cook Time 8 hours

Total Time 8 hours, 5 minutes

Yield 6 servings

Amazingly tender, flavorful Hawaiian pork made right in the slow cooker with just 2 ingredients and 5 min prep – it doesn’t get easier than that! Ingredients

  • 2-3 pound boneless chuck roast
  • 1 (13-ounce) package Campbell’s® Slow Cooker Hawaiian Luau Sauce

Instructions

  • Place boneless pork roast into a slow cooker. Add Campbell’s® Slow Cooker Hawaiian Luau Sauce. Cover and cook on low heat for 7-8 hours or high heat for 4-5 hours.
  • Remove boneless pork roast from the slow cooker and shred the beef before returning to the pot to absorb the juices. Cover and keep warm while you prepare your dinner table or additional sides.
  • Serve immediately and enjoy.

Now it is your turn:

GIVEAWAY!

Campbell's Slow Cooker Sauces

We’re giving away a Gift Pack with a 6-QT Programmable Crock Pot® slow cooker PLUS SIX Campbell’s® Slow Cooker Sauce Packets (Tavern Style Pot Roast with Mushrooms and Roasted Garlic, Sweet Korean BBQ with Roasted Ginger and Sesame, Apple Bourbon BBQ with Bell Peppers and Brown Sugar, Hawaiian Luau with Pineapple, Mango and Bell Peppers, Mexican Red Chile Taco with Garlic and Sweet Peppers, and Moroccan Spiced Stew with Green Olives and Lemon). The Giveaway will run until 11:59pm on March 20th.

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Good luck!Simply tell us which meal you’d love to try first in the comments below. And then explore the other ways to enter.

Thank you for entering!

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No purchase necessary to enter. ExtraordinaryMommy.com is not responsible for prizes that are shipped from outside vendors or sponsors. All entries will be pooled together and one (1) winner will be drawn. The winner will have two calendar days to reply via email. Unclaimed prizes will be placed for availability to newly chosen winners after that time. Giveaway is open to all U.S./Canadian residents only, must be at least 18 years old to enter. One entry per person, entries accepted through Thursday, March 20th, 2014 ending at exactly 11:59pm CST. 

Disclosure: Campbell’s provided both the Slow Cooker Sauces and the crock pot used in this post, however, as always, all thoughts and opinions shared are mine and mine alone.