My Life In Pictures: June 1 – 15, 2016

Over the past six months or so, twice a month I share my Instagram pictures since I can’t seem to find time to write! I call it My Life In Pictures. You can see all of my previous posts here.

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I always know summer is on its way when the kids start asking to have dinner on the lawn. Their friends from down the street come down too, and there’s usually popsicles after. If you don’t already have a water resistant picnic blanket, I suggest you get one. I use ours almost every day!

Summer!!!

A video posted by Natalie H (Mommy of a Monster) (@nataliehoage) on

Nothing says summer like hanging out at the pool with your friends!

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Obligatory first and last day of first grade for the girls and third grade for Ethan. Look how much they’ve grown!

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This is what Mia’s NOT TIRED looks like after spending hours at the pool with friends.

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The girls picked up a new hobby…making knot bracelets! Lila is a pro at it now while Mia is more like me and doesn’t have the patience for it.

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My brother is a real funny guy. He calls my sisters and I and his girlfriend the Real Housewives of Corona since he thinks all we do is shop and lounge around the pool all day. He forgets that between the four of us we have 12 kids (and one on the way). That’s a lot of kids to take grocery shopping, to run errands with, and to keep track of at the pool…not to mention that we all work too.

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Summer always leans lots of family get togethers! Here are my sisters and I with all of our girls (minus one!)

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Between my four siblings and I, my mom has 14 grandkids and one on the way. This is most of them, in order from blondest to brunette-est.

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This is what quality family time in our house looks like. Damn electronic devices.

Lots of us moms took our kids to a free family movie night in our neighborhood. We asked to take one picture. Just one. It was like herding cats. No idea why they’re all chanting “father.”

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And of course nothing says summer like a good old fashioned neighborhood water balloon fight! The kids were out for over four hours filling up balloons and fighting. It took them much longer to fill up the water balloons then it took them to actually have the water balloon fight, but it kept them busy and getting along for hours!

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Fuel Up To Play To Keep Kids Healthy And Active!

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post on how to keep kids healthy and active and was written by me on behalf of Real California Milk. All opinions expressed are mine.

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Quality family time if I’m not careful.

One of my kids’ favorite things to do is eat a snack (usually popcorn or potato chips) while playing on their iPads. “Playing” means using their fingers to build worlds made of blocks or playing games that require thinking ahead and considering the bigger picture. Those are good things; they are using their brains and imaginations to solve problems. But they are also eating potato chips and trying to turn themselves into couch potatoes. Trying to keep kids healthy and active over summer break is a challenge, and I like a good challenge! That’s where Fuel Up to Play 60 comes in.

Fuel Up To Play To Keep Kids Healthy And Active

I’ve told you about Fuel Up To Play 60 and why it’s so important during the school year to keep kids active and eating healthy during the school year. It’s also important over summer break, too! Real California dairy families have continued activation of Fuel Up to Play 60, the campaign created by the NFL and National Dairy Council that promotes physical activity and good nutrition in schools.

The campaign encourages kids to fuel up with nutrient-rich foods: low-fat and fat-free dairy (dairy is a good source of protein, calcium and vitamin D.,) lean meats, fruits, vegetables and whole grains AND to get at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. Easier said than done over lazy summer days.

Fueling their bodies with the right nutrition gives them the energy they need to get out their and play with friends and family all year long and the Fuel Up to Play 60 campaign gives you everything you need to make it happen!

It’s easy to just let the kids eat junk food and lay around, especially if it’s super hot outside. Staying active over the summer starts with nutrition…a healthy meal doesn’t have to be extravagant or difficult to make.

Keep kids healthy and active year round. Keep nutrition a priority this summer, and get them outside and playing for at least 60 minutes a day! #FuelGreatness #CADairy

It can be as easy as Mia’s favorite Tropical Fruity Yogurt, perfect for breakfast, lunch, or as a snack…

Keep kids healthy and active year round. Keep nutrition a priority this summer, and get them outside and playing for at least 60 minutes a day! #FuelGreatness #CADairy

….or a quick and easy dinner like these yummy un-stuffed bell peppers with ooey, gooey cheese.

Don’t forget, helping your kids succeed both in the classroom and throughout their lives starts with YOU being a role model. Look for ways to encourage healthy eating all summer long. Ask the kids to find a new recipe they’d like to try for dinner. Get the kids to help you in the kitchen. Visit a farmer’s market and let them pick out fresh produce. Get outside and help them get  physical activity this summer…it doesn’t have to be “exercise”…have a water balloon fight or races in the pool. Keep nutrition and physical activity top priorities over summer break and see the difference when school starts in the fall.

Visit Fuel Up To Play 60‘s website for information and to get your kids and local school involved.

For more great recipes and to learn more, visit the Real California Milk website and on social media!
Real California Milk Facebook page
Real California Milk on Twitter
Real California Milk on YouTube
Real California Milk on Pinterest
Real California Milk on Instagram

How do you keep kids healthy and active over summer break and year round?

Mom Stress Sucks, But NIOXIN Can Keep You Looking Great!

This post was sponsored on behalf of NIOXIN. All opinions stated are my own.

I’m gonna be honest: Between the kids being home all day, every day and hearing “I’m bored” at least 500 times a day, I’ve already had it with summer break. Mentioning this to a group of friends lead to a conversation about different things all moms experience at some point during the motherhood journey. Things like hearing “I’m hungry” every day of summer break or daydreaming about having more “me time.” Mom stress, y’all

When you bring home your first bundle of joy, your idea of motherhood is picture perfect, though that idea is quickly crushed as you realize that motherhood is nothing like what you thought it would be. It’s wonderful, absolutely. But it’s also messy and a ton of work and frustrating and often takes every bit of of patience that you have.

So I thought it’d be fun to share some things that lots of moms I know stress out about on a daily basis.

Being Tired. Beyond Belief. New moms quickly learn that what they thought “tired” was before kids is nowhere near what tired really is. Oh, and say goodbye to sleeping peacefully throughout the night, like ever again.

Going To The Bathroom Alone Actually Is Me Time. Kids will follow you everywhere, even into the bathroom. So if you want to poop alone, you gotta shut (and lock) the bathroom door. I’ve got an 8 year old and two 6 year olds and this still holds true. Shutting and locking the door when I use the bathroom or take a shower is sometimes the only time during the day that I get a few minutes alone.

You Will Ignore Your Kids. When you hear “Mom” a million times a day, you start to tune it out. The funny thing about this is that if your kids say it, you’ll ignore them. If someone else’s kids say it, you’ll respond.

You Have To Let Go, And It’s Scary. Kids want independence. They want to do things on their own, without your help. They want to pick out their own outfits and do their own hair (and sometimes in doing so they’ll end up looking ridiculous, but you’ve got to let them do it anyways.) They want to get on the computer without you standing over them watching what they’re doing. They want to walk down the street to a friend’s house, alone. It’s hard to give them independence, but it’s something we have to do.

Some Days, They’ll Make You Want To Pull Your Hair Out. We all have those days! And guess what? After having kids, some moms like me literally start losing their hair. It thins out and becomes hard to manage. After brushing your hair, you’ll be surprised you have any hair left in your head and wonder if you may be going bald.

Thinning hair affects men and women of all ages. Sometimes the cause is genetic, but it can also be triggered by certain life stages, like after having a baby (or in my case getting older.) But there is a solution…NIOXIN.

Why NIOXIN?

NIOXIN uses advanced technologies to deliver thicker, fuller, denser-looking hair. NIOXIN provides a real solution for making the most of the hair you have, and they help make it even better. There are 6 different systems to chose from, depending on your hair type and the condition it’s in. Each  3-part System Kit includes Shampoo, Conditioner & Treatment. Each kit includes an easy to use daily regimen consisting of just three steps. Use the kit for 30 days and you’ll get thicker, denser-looking hair, guaranteed.

I put NIOXIN to the test by taking the 30 Day Challenge. For the last month, I’ve been using the #5 System for normal to thin looking chemically treated hair. I also used the Night Density Rescue as well as the Bodifying Foam.

Momming is hard! These 5 things are some of the things that makes being a mom hard. Mom stress can make your hair thin out, but no fear! Nioxin can help.

To find which System Kit  would best fit my needs, I used the NIOXIN Consultation Tool. Then, I started using the products daily. I love the smell and tingle of the shampoo and conditioner. After my first use, my hair felt softer and I noticed less frizz.

And after just 30 days, WOW! What a difference! I have a head of full, frizz-free hair. Check out this before and after pic of how much hair used to come out of my head when I brushed my hair versus the amount I’m losing now.

Momming is hard! These 5 things are some of the things that makes being a mom hard. Mom stress can make your hair thin out, but no fear! Nioxin can help.

Barely any hair comes out now! And the best part about NIOXIN’s 30 day money back guarantee challenge was that I can now hop out of the shower, put in some bodifying foam, and let my hair air dry. I would never be able to leave the house without blow drying or straightening my hair before, but now I can!

Momming is hard! These 5 things are some of the things that makes being a mom hard. Mom stress can make your hair thin out, but no fear! Nioxin can help.

No frizz, no fuss, and it has body that it’s never had before! I’m hooked on NIOXIN!

I encourage you to give it a try for yourself – you’ve got nothing to lose because if it doesn’t make you happy, you can get your money back. So take the Challenge! Don’t forget to share your results with #NIOXINChallenge on NIOXIN’s Facebook and Twitter.

For more information on NIOXIN products and to locate a NIOXIN salon, please visit www.nioxin.com.

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a2 Milk® And A Yummy Cookies Recipe!

This post was sponsored by a2 Milk® as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central. I received complimentary products to facilitate my review.

Every morning, my kids wake up and ask for milk, chocolate milk, or hot chocolate. In the evening, they ask for a cup of milk and cookies or another simple treat. And really, is there anything better than milk and cookies?

Afterward drinking milk, Mia complains that her tummy hurts. I was actually considering not let her have it anymore because I was concerned that maybe she was dairy intolerant. Especially because it only happens when she drinks milk or has ice cream. And then I discovered a2 Milk®.

a2 Milk® allows you to enjoy real milk without any tummy or digestive discomfort! Learn more about it & find a couple of favorite desserts to enjoy with it!

What Is a2 Milk®?

a2 Milk® is not a milk substitute – it’s real milk. The reason milk may cause discomfort and tummy troubles after you drink it is due to the A1 protein that’s currently found in all conventional & organic milks on the U.S. market.

a2 Milk® allows you to enjoy real milk without any tummy or digestive discomfort! Learn more about it & find a couple of favorite desserts to enjoy with it!

a2 Milk® only comes from specially selected a2 cows, whose milk is naturally free of the A1 protein. That’s where it gets its name! a2 Milk® is a  replacement to overly processed alternatives. If you or your kids experience tummy troubles or digestive discomfort after drinking milk, you may be able to enjoy milk again without any symptoms.

More About a2 Milk®

If you’ve never heard of a2 cows, you’re not alone. I’m sure most people haven’t. That’s why I am glad to have the opportunity to help spread the word! An independent study showed 1 in 4 Americans have discomfort after drinking milk, that’s a lot of people! And although that’s a big number, only about 5-7% of the population has been diagnosed with a lactose intolerance medical condition.

a2 Milk® is more nutritious that milk alternatives; it contains approximately 6x the amount of calcium as soy beverages, approximately 8x the protein of almond beverages, and approximately 6x the potassium levels of rice beverages.

a2 Milk® allows you to enjoy real milk without any tummy or digestive discomfort! Learn more about it & find a couple of favorite desserts to enjoy with it!

The a2 Milk® Company™ is trying to get a2 Milk® to everybody, and has partnered with U.S. family dairy farmers in upstate New York and the Midwest to expand the a2 herd to make it possible. Support them by spreading the word!

For more information and resources, visit the Lactose Intolerance section of the a2 Milk website. You can also visit a2 Milk® online at the following places:

a2 Milk® Website: https://www.a2milk.com/
a2 Milk® Store Locator: https://a2milk.com/find/
a2 Milk® Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/a2milkUSA/
a2 Milk® Twitter: https://twitter.com/a2milk

Since a2 Milk® is real milk, I can use it to make Mia her favorite chocolate ice cream and serve milk to her with her favorite sugar cookies that we make because they are like those super soft Lofthouse cookies. She helped me make some today, and we all enjoyed fresh cookies and milk!

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Soft & Fun Sugar Cookies
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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons corn starch
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch salt
  • 3/4 cup colored sprinkles

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, combine butter, sugar, egg, extract, and using a hand mixer beat on medium-high speed until well-creamed, about 7 minutes. It should be light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  2. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add flour, cornstarch, baking soda, salt, and mix until just combined.
  3. Fold the sprinkles in by hand.
  4. Using a cookie scoop, drop by mounds on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Use your palm to flatten the mounds out a bit.
  5. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  6. Preheat oven to 350F. Remove plastic wrap and place the cookie sheet in the oven. Bake for 8 minutes, or until edges have set and tops are just beginning to set, even if they look undercooked.
  7. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes before removing and transferring to a rack to finish cooling.
http://mommyofamonster.com/a2-milk/

a2 Milk® allows you to enjoy real milk without any tummy or digestive discomfort! Learn more about it & find a couple of favorite desserts to enjoy with it!

And since this is Mia approved, it’s also Mommy of a Monster approved!

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My Life In Pictures: May 1 – 15, 2016

Back in October, I started what I thought was the best idea EVER: To share my Instagram pictures a couple of times a month since I can’t seem to find time to write! I decided to call it My Life In Pictures. You can see all of my previous posts here.

We were so busy in the month of May! The kids were finishing up school and there was all kinds of activities going on. I volunteered at the school a lot, leaving me less time to blog. So instead of giving you just a couple of weeks of what I’ve been up to, here’s what I was up to during the month of May.

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It was a dreary day, and so we decided to make a big pot of my yummy albondigas soup. Lila asked if she could help me make the meatballs.

PicMonkey Collage

She’s really my best little helper. She loves to cook (she made me breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day!), she loves to “babysit” her cousin, and anytime I water plants she takes over and tells me to just sit and relax.

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We decided to start taking family walks in the evening. I told the kids that if they’d like, we can walk in the morning too! I signed the kids up for Club 262 through the 100 Mile Club. It’s basically a virtual challenge to challenge kids, their friends and their entire family to run or walk a total of 26.2 miles from June 1 to July 31.

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Ethan’s usually the one in charge, but this time Mia got him. He wasn’t happy about it!

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I had a girls night out with some of my favorite friends! We went to Stone Church Brewing, with a German style beer hall vibe. It was a blast and I can’t wait to get out with these ladies again soon!

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Mia hijacked my iPad. There had to be at least a hundred pictures like these.

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Have you heard of the Sky Map app? All you have to do is point your phone or iPad at the sky and the Sky Map will tell you exactly what you are looking at. It works during the day and night. You can see constellations, stars, and planets. It’s very cool and the kids are hooked!

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Ethan’s class made astronaut helmets out of paper maiche (that was a very messy project, indeed)!

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While he didn’t start until the middle of the year, he got 101 miles with his school’s 100 Mile Club!

There’s so many more memories that we made in May. You can check them all out on my Instagram!

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Mommy of a Monster and Twins is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com and/or other affiliate sites.