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Our Weekly Laundry Routine

This shop as been compensated by all®. #allOXIatWalmart #Sponsored

Up until a few weeks ago, laundry has always been a major struggle in our house. I never saw the value in doing it each day because it felt like there wasn't enough dirty clothes to run a load, which resulted in me doing everything one day a week. The problem was that it would take hours to get all the laundry done, and then I would never want to fold it, so then we would pick clean clothes off the laundry room floor for an entire week before it was time to repeat the cycle all over again. Luckily we've finally broke that cycle, and I'm excited to share what's been working really well for our family.

Use Good Detergent:
My family and I have used all® detergent almost exclusively since Derek and I got married. I love that it fights 100% of stain types (bleachable, oily/waxy, enzymatic, and particulate), and leaves my clothes looking as good as new wash after wash. We recently switched to all® OXI stainlifters which has proven its weight in gold time and time again when it comes to dirty soccer uniforms and messy playground clothes from the kids. With it's amazing stain removing power, all® is our family's best ally to take on any new activity, stains and all.

We've also been huge fans of all® free clear OXI, which has all the same benefits as the traditional all® OXI detergent, but without the dyes and chemicals for those who prefer something more gentle for their family.

Right now when you spend $15 on all® OXI Laundry products at Walmart, you can get a $5 eGift Card in return. To claim your $5 gift simply shop all® OXI products at your local Walmart, complete the online registration form, upload your receipt, and redeem your reward!

Get On A Rotating Schedule:
Get on a rotating schedule with your laundry. Start with your whites one day, your colors the next, and then your towels after that. By doing each of these categories every three days, it means that you'll have three days worth of each category when you run your load, making it worth it to run the machine, but small enough that it's manageable and not taking over your life. I've found doing one load a day has really helped to keep everything at a manageable level.

Fold The Next Day:
I typically like to put a load into the wash, switch it to the dryer, and then I'll typically let it sit in the dryer overnight with no guilt. When I go to do my load the next day, I'll put the new day's load in the washer, fold and put away the clothes that are sitting in the dryer from the day before, put the new load in the dryer, and then repeat the same routine the following day.

Let The Kids Help (even if it's not helpful):
I used to get unreasonably mad when Kinsley would want to be right in my space when I was trying to fold laundry. She would mess up the piles and I would get so frustrated. Now when she comes over I ask her if she wants to help and then give 5-6 items for her to play with while I fold everything else. She feels like she's participating and helping, and I'm able to get done what I need to. Once I've folded everything, I'll quickly fold the items she was playing with and put them away. It makes the entire experience way more enjoyable and keeps her happy at the same time!

What tips do you have for managing laundry in your home? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below! And don't forget to shop all® laundry products at your local Walmart.  

Our Favorite Steak Marinade

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MarinadesWithMazola #MakeItWithHeart #CollectiveBias
Steak is one of those special foods that we don't eat very often, so when we do, it always feels like a real treat. When Derek and I first got married, we had steak for dinner at his parent's house, and it was the first time I had marinated steak. After that, there was no going back for me. One thing I love doing with my own marinade recipe, though, is making lighter swaps with ingredients like Mazola® Corn Oil. A clinical study showed Mazola Corn Oil reduces cholesterol 2x more than extra virgin olive oil. To learn more about this claim, see Mazola.com.​ 

Right now, you can text MAZOLA to 79495 between 6/20/19 – 9/26/19 to receive $1.00 back on your purchase of Mazola 40oz Corn Oil! Limit 1 rebate per household. PayPal account required. By texting, you expressly consent to receive multiple automated text messages on this offer. Consent not required as a condition of purchase. Message & data rates apply. Text HELP or STOP to 79495 at any time. Full terms: http://cbi.as/a38tw​.

There are a lot of steak marinade recipes out there, but I like this one because it's not only super flavorful, but minimal ingredients as well. I feel like some recipes are 20 ingredients long, but I love this since it comes together easily with ingredients I already have on hand.

Mazola Corn Oil is an all-purpose, cholesterol free cooking oil that is a smart heart-healthy choice for your family. Variety of uses include baking, grilling, sautéing, stir frying, or mixing up a marinade or dressing. It also has a neutral taste that lets the natural flavor of your food stand out and a smoke point higher than most cooking oils at 450°F. It performs well in a variety of cooking applications. Many home cooks may not realize that all cooking oils have a smoke point that, once exceeded, not only negatively affect the food’s flavor and nutritional value.

The main ingredient in this recipe is Mazola® Corn Oil. I love that it has zero grams of trans fat, and is cholesterol-free. In this recipe, I swapped the melted butter out for Mazola Corn Oil. I greased the grill with corn oil instead of butter, removed the salt from the marinade, and used a low sodium soy sauce to help lower the sodium in the recipe. I've found making small changes like this in recipes doesn't effect the taste of the dish, while still making heart-healthy lifestyle choices.

1/2 cup Mazola Corn Oil
1/3 cup Lemon Juice
1/3 cup Low-Sodium Soy Sauce
1 TBSP Italian Seasoning
1 tsp Black Pepper
1 TBSP Minced Garlic
1-2lb Flank Steak

Place your steak in a baking dish and then pour the Mazola Corn Oil, lemon juice, soy sauce, Italian seasoning, black pepper, and minced garlic on top and spread evenly. Cover and let sit in the fridge for at least two hours.

When you're ready to eat, fire up your grill on medium-high heat and cook for 5-6 minutes on each side, until the inside has reached the desired temperature. Let rest for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

What We're Doing for Summer Learning

Learning in the summer is a hot topic for a lot of parents. I'm honestly not the type of mom that is overly concerned with summer regression. The reason is, I think any amount of involved parenting will yield to successful children. While I do agree that the summer slump is probably a real thing, I think if you're still reading to your child and doing the same things you normally would do during the school year, they're probably going to be fine

If your child wants to be doing workbooks, and they're excited about it and doing it on their own fruition, awesome. If you're trying to force it and it's a screaming match every single day, I would say probably back off, keep their minds engaged in other ways, and just have an awesome summer pursuing the things that interest your child. 

Real life example: my parents spent money on massive summer workbooks and computer games sold by my elementary school every summer. I did those workbooks every summer. I failed my classes every school year. Workbooks don't equal success... involved parenting does. 

All that being said, Kyle loves workbooks and Kinsley loves doing whatever Kyle is doing, so we monopolize on that. I have been a huge fan of School Zone workbooks for ages. (Not Sponsored). I started using these workbooks with Kyle when he was a little over two years old, and we've blown through the preschool version, the Kindegarten one, and now we're working through the first grade book. I don't set any amount of page limit that has to be done each day, and let Kyle do it at his own pace, and he probably does about 5-10 pages a day. 

He also recently did a color by number coloring page that he really loved, and so I bought him this "My Backyard Color By Number" book off of Amazon and he's been doing 1-2 pages of that a day as well. 

This summer Kyle has spent nearly all of his time reading as well. This is again, totally self motivated. He's been obsessed with Magic Tree House Books, and spends literally hours reading in his room in his swing, or somewhere else around the house. 

Kinsley is a completely different ballgame. While she likes to be working on schoolwork like Kyle, it actually brings her a lot of stress so we go super slow with it. When she wakes up in the morning we go through her alphabet flash cards. We've been working on letters with her for the last couple months after her preschool teacher claimed she was "incapable of learning". That was in April, and at the time she only knew maybe 4 letters, and now she's up to 17. (Really great for someone who in incapable of learning huh?)

We also just recently printed off the Confessions of A Homeschooler Letter of the Week Preschool Curriculum for her to work on. This is the same curriculum that I used when I homeschooled Kyle for preschool, and I love how gentle it is for delicate and sensitive learners, while also being really structured and organized for me to know what to do with her each day. We typically work through 2-3 activities a day, and then call it good. Anything more than that and she's super stressed out and in tears over it. I think knowing your kids limits are super important with these things. 

I'd love to know what works and doesn't work for you and your kids in the summertime! Do your kids love doing workbooks? Or are they more into creative play and being outside? There is no right or wrong way to do the summer, as long as your kids are loving it and having fun, that's all that matters!

Pediatric Botox Injections for Spasticity Q&A

Disclaimer to this post, I am not a medical professional, I'm simply a mom sharing her own personal experiences. There are probably things written in this post that aren't scientifically accurate. Consult your doctor and therapy team to see if this is something that could benefit your child. 

Kinsley has been getting Botox injections every four months for the last fifteen months. I've had a lot of people asking me about it the last several weeks and so I thought it would be great to compile all the questions into one blog post so that I can refer people to it as needed to answer all of the questions. If you have more questions after reading this post, leave them in the comments and I'll add them in later!

How old was Kinsley when you first started using botox?
Kinsley was three-and-a-half when she got her first set of injections. Her therapist in Georgia had been talking to us Botox since she was about 18 months old, so we knew that it was always a possibility. What ultimately pushed us to do it was when Kinsley had been diagnosed with hip dysplasia, and all of a sudden there was a chance we were going to have to do a very invasive operation for her. There was a possibility that botox could prolong that operation and also help her hit more physical milestones, so we jumped in with two feet and never looked back.

What does the botox actually do for Kinsley?
Her abductors and hamstrings are very tight, which put a lot of strain on her hips, causing her hip dysplasia. By injecting botox into the abductors and hamstring muscles, it essentially turns these muscles off so that it puts less pressure on her hips. Because these muscles are so tight, it also effects Kinsley's gait (stride, the way she walks, etc...), so when she does walk, she is "scissoring", meaning she steps on her toes, her legs cross over each other, trips on her own feet, etc... Turning off these muscles means that she is able to get a better range of motion in her legs and walk more efficiently without scissoring. Because those muscles are turned off, it also gives opportunity for the quads and other muscles to "turn on" and get stronger, because they have to make up the work for what the abductors and hamstrings currently aren't doing.

What other spasticity management have you done?
Months before we did botox, or knew about Kinsley's hip dysplasia, we tried oral Baclofen at bedtime. This is a muscle relaxant. Our PT at the time recommended it because of how hard it was to get Kinsley to sleep, and there has been a lot of success in kids with spasticity issues taking it and being able to relax and sleep better while on the medication. More sleep meant more energy, which meant potentially more progress in therapy, so we were excited to try it. Kinsley was the 1% of kids who experienced insomnia while on the drug, and she literally didn't sleep for an entire week. After that she went off the drug and we haven't used it since. 

At her appointment for botox injections last week, her doctor mentioned that we might want to revisit Baclofen again in a year. Some kids who experience insomnia on the drug when they are younger, outgrow that side effect when they are older and do better. 

We know that botox is not a long-term solution since kids will build a tolerance to it, so while it works for now, we know other things will be needed in the future. Kinsley will likely have an operation in the next year or so where they go in and make micro-tears in her hamstring muscles (which would make the hamstring longer, and make it heal longer than it was before surgery, making it more flexible and less tight longterm) to alleviate the tightness. 

Other options that might be possible in another year as she gets bigger is a Baclofen pump. This would involve surgically placing a pump of baclofen into her spinal cord, giving her body a continuous supply of baclofen to make her muscles less tight. This wouldn't have the same insomnia effect as the oral medication and is something that is a possibility in the future, although I haven't done a tone of research on it at this point. 

Derek and I were talking after her last appointment of what our "order of operations" would be for things we would try in the future would be. We agreed 1) Oral Baclofen again, 2) micro tear surgery on her hamstrings, 3) Baclofen pump, 4) Full blown hip dysplasia surgery. This is in our opinion the order of least to most invasive. 

How spastic is Kinsley?
I honestly didn't know what to write for this, so I asked our PT and he said that she is moderately spastic, but on the lower end of moderate. There are kids that are definitely a lot stiffer than she is. She has a lot of mobility in her hips, a little more in her knees, and is the stiffest in her ankles. 

What tips do you have for parents getting injections for the first time?
Seeing Kinsley get the injections is the most traumatic part. Lots of doctors have to hold her down while she screams super loud. She gets about 6-8 injections every time we do it, so it takes about 5 or so minutes of screaming to get them all done. Unlike a normal vaccine your child would get, these injections have to be placed in very specific spots, so it takes more time and precision than a normal shot. 

A lot of kids get sedated for the injections, but because Kinsley bounces back and stops screaming the second the doctors stop touching her, we haven't looked into sedation. There's lots of risks with sedation for Kinsley due to her brain malformations and just the unsurety of how all of that will react with sedation, so we personally air on the side of sedation as little as possible, although it's a totally normal and great route for other kids and families in different situations. 

After the injections, just get your child up on their feet as much as possible. We aim to have Kinsley in her stander for about an hour a day (while she's in it she plays with slime, play dough, coloring books, etc...), keep her leg braces on for the entire day (helps with keeping the leg in the right position and keeps everything stretched out), and work on active therapy things like cruising, pulling to stand, and walking for about 10-15 minutes a day. 

How long do you see the benefits of the injections?
The amount of botox they give your child depends on how much they weigh. Kinsley was really small when we started so she couldn't have that much. It meant after about three months her body was like the tin man and we were anxiously waiting for our next appointment to get here. Now that she's older and bigger, her doses are bigger, and they seem to last the entire four months between appointments. That paired with the fact that she's probably getting less tight over time as she continues to get injections, grow, stretch, strengthen, and become more function-able. 

What milestones have you seen as a result of her getting Botox?
The first time she got injections she started climbing up the stairs a lot more. Then the second time she started using her first gait trainer where she was strapped in all the time. The third injections led to her using her gait trainer without all the straps. The fourth injections led to her pulling to stand and cruising along furniture. The fifth set that she just got hasn't taken full effect yet, but she started pulling herself up onto her chair today and turning herself around and sitting down all by herself. Dying over that. 

If you have any more questions, please feel free to ask in the comments and I'll add answers as they come!

DIY Summertime Soda Bar| Our Favorite Torani Drink Combos

This post is sponsored by Torani.

Summer is one of my very favorite seasons. Not only do we celebrate Kyle and Kinsley's birthdays, but it's also an awesome time to get together with friends and neighbors, and catchup on all the events from the school year with one another. 

We love hosting little parties for friends at our house, and thought it would be fun to kick off summer with a DIY soda and snow cone bar with some friends when school got out. Here where we live, soda shops are literally on every corner. You drive through, order a soda with whatever version of Torani syrup you like best, and go about the rest of your day. I definitely think this is something that is unique to where we live, but I seriously love it! 

Torani syrups are great because they're crafted to bring the best out in your drinks or dessert, so you can make something your own in a delicious way. I love that they're made with real and simple ingredients like pure cane sugar and natural flavors. They're also incredibly easy to use, simply pour a little into your drink, or on top of shaved ice to create a delicious and refreshing summer drink or treat. 

For this soda and snow cone bar, I gathered up some of my favorite Torani Flavors from World Market: Watermelon, Peach, Mango, Lime, and Coconut. Then I gathered together some of our favorite sodas, and a large bowl of shaved ice for the kids to make snow cones, and let everyone have fun making their favorite treat. 

Our kids and their friends were so delighted over this little party that they've been begging to have a "soda stand" this summer to make a little money. It's such a fun and cute idea that I totally think we might have to oblige them and make it happen! 

Watermelon Peach Mountain Dew:
12oz Mountain Dew
1 tbsp Torani Watermelon Syrup
1 tbsp Torani Peach Syrup

Crazy Coke Zero:
1 tbsp Torani Coconut Syrup
1 tbsp Torani Lime Syrup
12 oz Coke Zero

DIY Snow Cones:
Put a bunch of ice into a food processor and blend until it resembles a fine snow consistency. Top with your favorite Torani flavored syrups for the perfect summer treat your kids will love! Bonus points if you find some snow cone cups!

Soda Sign (file download and then did engineer print at local print shop)
Cake Stand

3 Simple Ways to Fundraise for Cancer Research

This post is sponsored by American Cancer Society; however all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Cancer is something that has touched both Derek's and my family personally throughout our lifetimes. Both of my grandmothers have had skin cancer to varying degrees, Derek's dad has also had skin cancer at one point, and a very close family friend of ours was recently diagnosed with incurable cancer, that will take their life in the next few years. It's a sad reality that if you don't have cancer personally, you likely know someone who does, or has had it at some point.

Fundraising is an important part of cancer research. The more fundraising that is done, more studies and research are able to be conducted, and the closer we get to potentially finding cures one day. Peer-to-peer funding is a vital piece to this lifesaving research, and with the American Cancer Society's Raise Your Way fundraising platform, you can join the fight and turn anything your passionate about into a fundraising opportunity. All donations received via the Raise Your Way platform go specifically to cancer research and vital programs and services that are currently helping caregivers and patients.

Run A Race:
Running is obviously something that I'm very passionate about if you know me at all. You could host your own running event and have proceeds go to the American Cancer Society, or sign up for an already established race and people can donate money for the amount of miles you run in training and during the race, or they can do one lump some donation.

Host a Neighborhood Bake Sale: 
You could host a bake sale in your neighborhood or town, and have all the proceeds go to cancer research, and support for cancer patients and their families. Bake sales are fun and easy, and people love donating to a good cause. If you're passionate about baking, you could even do weekly orders and have the fundraising be something that happens on a continual basis and not just a one day event.

Host a Raffle:
Have some items laying around your house that you never use, but are worth quite a bit of money? Like that treadmill or road bike you haven't touched in years? Or that sewing machine collecting dust in your basement? Get a bunch of friends and neighbors together and raffle off some unused items. All the proceeds can go to the American Cancer Society and the many programs and opportunities they fund. You can feel good about your items finally being used, while also benefiting cancer research, and the patients and families effected by cancer at the same time!

There are many ways to raise money, you simply have to figure out what works best for you!

To fundraise your own way simply:
1) Go to www.crowdrise.com/americancancersociety
2) Follow the prompts to start a fundraiser
3) Choose where you'd like your donations to go
4) Create a Crowdrise account with Facebook, or manually through form entry
5) Continue prompts to name your fundraiser and set your goal
6) Be sure to share your fundraise on social!

What fun and creative ideas do you have for cancer fundraising? I'd love to hear them in the comments below!

Our Summer Bucket List 2019

I am a firm believer in bucket lists. I like to set out a map or plan for what we're going to do each summer and then try my best to make those things happen. I don't ever feel guilty if at the end of summer we didn't do everything we intended, but as long as I know at the end of the summer my kids had fun, that's all I really hope for. 
Last summer I created this weekly summer schedule, where each day of the week we had a themed planned activity to do. I really liked that, and while it wasn't something we stuck to religiously, it was really helpful on the days when we were bored and didn't have something to do, we could look at that and be creative and make a plan out of thin air. 

We're in a whole new world with the kids where they're both consistently sleeping through the night (bless you Kinsley), and so travel is a bigger part of our summer than it has been previously. We're super excited for a lot of awesome trips over the next few months! 

A Trip to Bear Lake: Bear Lake is a huge summer tradition here in Utah. It's a small little lake town that everyone is obsessed with, and is a huge destination for family reunions. Last summer we did a day trip there, and I loved it so much I knew I wanted to make it an overnight trip this year. We're spending two nights and three days there, with plans of making one day a beach day, another day to rent ATVs and another day to relax, pack, and go home. We're super excited. 

Pioneer Trek: Derek and I got called to be a Ma and Pa for Pioneer Trek with our church. We'll be traveling 18 miles on the original Mormon Pioneer Trail in Wyoming, pulling handcarts in full skirts and pants. If that doesn't sound like a good time I can't help you. 

Camping: We like to go camping at least once per summer with the kids. Our church congregation makes this easy because they do a "ward campout" every year. Luckily this is happening one week before we move out of our ward, so it will be fun to do one last hurrah beforehand. 

MOVE! Have I mentioned we're moving this summer? We're moving 20 miles south of where we live now to be closer to Kinsley's new school and Derek's job. Our house has sold here in Layton and we move at the end of June. Super excited for a new adventure. 

Legoland California: We booked a trip a few months ago to take the kids to Legoland in California at the end of the summer. We were originally going to do Disney but Kyle found out that Legoland was a thing and begged for us to change plans. We booked two days at the park and one day at the aquarium and two nights in the Legoland castle hotel all for only $800. That's less than the price of just the tickets for two days at Disney, so once we realized the cost benefit of Legoland we were more than happy to make Kyle's wild Lego dreams come true. This will be our first BIG trip that we've ever taken the kids on, so we're super excited! (Ps, our hotel room has a separate bunk bed room for the kids... amazing!)

Three Hikes: We love getting out and hiking with the kids since we got our Ergo Baby Mesh 360 carrier for Kinsley last year. We're hoping to do Ensign Peak, Cascade Springs, and Bridal Veil Falls. 

Drive-Inn Movies: This has been on our list for YEARS and we've never done it. This will be our year! (hopefully) 

Rent a Boat: Derek and I have always wanted to be the boating family, or the ATV family, or the four wheeling family, and then realized how much it costs to own those things, store them, etc... We realized that we also likely wouldn't use them that much and realized how fun it would be to just do day rentals. Spend $100-$200 for one day of fun, or $10,000+ for something you'll hardly use. We've learned there is a real benefit to renting these things and giving our kids those experiences instead of saying, "we'll do that when we're rich and loaded..." and then be disappointed when that never happens.  We plan on doing a boat trip to Utah Lake this summer, and can't wait to make it happen!