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How to Afford Sports and Extracurricular's for Your Kids

This post is part of a long-term collaboration with Hotels4Teams, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Despite my family not having a lot of money growing up, sports were always a large part of my life. I feel really grateful that my parents were able to see how much I loved participating in sports from a young age, and saw the benefits that they brought to my life, and were always able to somehow be financially supportive of me playing throughout the years. 

I know for a lot of young families, financing sports for your children can come at a financial burden to the family, but there are a lot of ways that you can save money with sports, or come up with the funds in unique ways so that if your kids want to participate, they don't have to feel like they're missing out due to financial restraints. 

Start With Rec Sports:
Travel teams can be expensive, along with all the traveling that is involved, and club dues. If your child is trying a sport for the first time, start with your town's local parks and rec to see if they offer a recreational version of that sport before you commit to the more expensive club teams. Jay started playing sports this year and we've already taken advantage of our local baseball and swim teams, and plan to try soccer and basketball this year too. This will give him an opportunity to try all the sports and see which ones he likes best before we decide to commit to organizations that cost more, but also have more qualified coaches to help him develop in those sports. 

Tryout for School Sports: 
I'm not sure if this is the case for all schools across the country, but sports offered through both the public, and private high school that I went to were free. Obviously the public school was funded through taxpayer dollars, but I believe the private school was funded through the tuition money that was already being paid. High school/middle school sports are a great way to develop more in any given sport, get focused coaching from hired professionals, and avoiding the financial strain that comes from funding private sport leagues. 

Have Your Kid's Pay for Their Sport: 
Has your child exhausted all options at the rec or school level and are adamant on playing on a club team? See if there is a way for them to fund their sport on their own through birthday money, and allowances. If that isn't enough, encourage them to mow lawns or get a part time job. I worked all through high school and while my parent's paid registration fees for me, I was responsible for purchasing my own uniforms, and any extras that were involved. This was also the case for my school clothes and school uniforms when I attended private school. 

Book Travel Early To Get The Best Deal: 
Jay has a fun soccer camp this summer in Provo that we've known about for months. When we first got him setup for the camp, we knew it would be better to just get a hotel down there for the week instead of commuting each day. We booked through Hotels4Teams which was able to get us a hotel within a mile of his soccer camp. Since we made the reservations weeks ago, we haven't had to have that stress hanging over our heads and we've been able to enjoy our summer and prep for camp without that added worry. 

Hotels4Teams is perfect for booking sports team travel since you can book one room, or a group of rooms at a time, and they're search engine can help you find a hotel that will be closest to where your sporting event will take place, along with fun travel guides to help you plan your free time while you're there!

What tips do you have for saving money on sports for your kids? Let me know in the comments below! 

High Risk Home Building

Four years ago we went through our entire crazy and intense high risk pregnancy to bring Em into the world. Four years later and here we are, back in Utah, trying to build a forever home just for her. A place where she can grow and thrive for the rest of her life, and we'll know that should we have to, we'll never have to leave. We can stay planted and grow together. 

That was the plan anyways until we had a huge truth bomb dropped on us a few weeks ago. The housing market in Utah right now is insane. Home pries are going up faster than you can get an offer in, and interest rates are going up just as fast as the home prices are. Our lender has communicated to us that should the interest rate on our loan exceed over 5%, we will no longer qualify for our loan, and Derek and I will have to walk away from the home that we've spent the last serval months planning and dreaming of. 

This brings so many questions and red flags. What will happen come December? Will we really walk away from our home? Will we really not qualify for our loan? Will we continue renting where we are now, or downgrade to a cheap apartment to save more money faster and hopefully get into another house sooner? Will we stay renting for a few more years and hope the market crashes and burns like in 2007? 

I left last week to attend Girl's Camp with our church congregation and had all these questions, and many more things weighing heavily on me. As I had time to ponder through all of our options, I came to the realization that this house isn't everything to us. When I came home, I told Derek that we shouldn't do all that we can to save this house we're building. If come December the interest rate is still low enough for us to get our loan? Awesome, we'll close on our house and move in. But Derek and I both agreed that it isn't worth it to us to financially blow through every option and penny we have to save this house that would leave us financially strapped for years until we got a raise large enough to make the home comfortable. 

It's scary not knowing how all of this will end. Em is a constant reminder and living proof in our home of the miracles and blessings that Heavenly Father is capable of. We know that Heavenly Father has a plan for us, and whether that plan is for us to be in Layton, Utah or Tooele County, we have the faith to know that this will all be okay in the end. 

Three Ways to Achieve Workout Goals

This post was sponsored by Optimum Nutrition, Avia, and Schwinn Bicycles as part of an Influencer Activation and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

When I got back into running late last year, I was so happy to just be running in general, that I didn't mind that it was the only form of exercising that I was getting. Now that I've completed my first marathon, and have been running and racing for eight months straight, I've definitely learned the value in being able to switch it up, and add new things to your routine so that you can avoid the burnout that comes from running and racing so much. Whenever I get into a workout rut, I like to try a few different things to help me feel re-motivated to reach new goals. 

Buying New Workout Clothes:
This may seem so vain and trivial, but I think that having new workout clothes can really motivate you to workout. If I know I have some bright new shorts or a fun tank top, I'm way more likely to get my workout in then if all I have laying around is an old pair of soccer shorts from high school and an old race t-shirt. 

I love the Avia line from Walmart because all of their pieces are super affordable, without sacrificing quality. I love that these orange shorts that I'm wearing are made from moisture wicking material, but also have built in spandex with comfort stretch so that everything that I want covered stays covered, but that I'm also comfortable as well. Another huge bonus is that most of their products have reflective accents, which is awesome since most of my workouts happen around bedtime. 

Add Cross Training to Your Routine:
Cross training is basically any exercise outside of your main sport. If swim all the time, try running. If you run all the time, try biking. Switching up your routine 1-2 times per week will help you work different muscle groups, and give tired legs a break from the same activity over and over again. 

I recently got a Schwinn Sidewinder bicycle and it's been so fun to hop on that 1-2 times a week instead of running, especially during these hot summer months. I've also felt like I've checked a lot of major boxes with running, and would love to start dabbling into triathlons, so having this bike is awesome to help me work towards that goal. 

The Schwinn Sidewinder has 21-speed Shimano Revo twist shifters to ensure easy transitions and gear changes, while the Shimano rear derailleur can handle any trail you want to hit. I've mostly stayed on the roads with my rides so far, but I can't wait to take this bike up in the mountains to see what it can do! The light and strong alloy rims provide added durability and stability for everyday riding. Since I'm also fairly accident prone, I also love that all Schwinn products have a limited lifetime warranty for as long as you own the bike... I'm sure I'm bound to need that at some point. 

Switch Up Your Supplements: 
I go through phases where I'm really good, and then really bad about being consistent with my supplements. My brother-in-law actually got me hooked on Optimum Nutrition Whey Protein Isolate last year when I was really into crossfit, and I find that when I'm not seeing the results I want, adding Optimum Nutrition back into my routine typically helps me feel better, and see results sooner. 

Optimum Nutrition® Whey Protein Isolate "isolates" the fat and carbs out of the protein so that you're left with 25g of protein in a 130 calorie shake, without any artificial sweeteners, flavors, and colors. When I've had a hard workout, I've found that taking ON Whey Protein Isolate helps speed up recovery and strengthen my muscles so that I'm ready for the next workout on my schedule! 

I also love the Optimum Nutrition® Performance Energy. It about as much caffeine from natural sources as a cup of coffee with 3 grams of muscle supporting amino acids. Optimum Nutrition® Performance Energy mixes easily into cold water using just a glass and spoon making it a great option to easily take before you head out the door on your next run or bike ride. 

I also love having easy grab and go snacks like the Optimum Nutrition® Protein Cake Bites. They have 20g of protein in little whipped bite size pieces that are easy to stash in your purse or gym bag, meaning you can curb your appetite at a moment's notice without deterring from your nutrition plan and goals. 

Right now Walmart is hosting a huge sweepstakes where you can enter to win head to toe gear from Avia, a Schwinn Sidewinder Bicycle, and select Optimum Nutrition Products. You can follow this link to enter the giveaway 

Tips for Handling the Chaos of Sports Season

This post is part of a long-term collaboration with Hotels4Teams, all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

We might have accidentally bitten off more than we could chew when we were planning out Jay's sports for the spring and summer months. T-ball just ended, but we're in the thick of swimming season, and we have a soccer camp coming up in a few months, and it feels like we don't get much of a break from anything before school starts in the fall. I know he's loving every second of it, but if Derek and I don't stay organized and on top of things from the get-go, we can start to go crazy, and run on fumes pretty quickly. We've learned a few tips and tricks among the chaos over the last several weeks to help us stay on top of the games and practices, and make each day as stress free as possible. 

Share A Calendar With Your Spouse: Last week I was out of town which meant Derek was carting the kids back and forth to swimming each day, and next week he is out of town which means the load is all on me. We started sharing a Google Calendar this year where we mark each game, practice, and any other meeting or appointment, and since it's readily available at both of our fingertips we know when everything is going on so we don't accidentally double book ourselves, and we can get everyone to where they need to be on time. 

Have Things Prepared For Younger Siblings: Are younger siblings going with you to all of the games and practices? Then be prepared! Don't assume your younger child is going to love watching your older child play while they sit and watch from the sidelines. During baseball season we learned that Em got jealous when she didn't have a batting helmet to wear like everyone else, so we started bringing a bike helmet for her to wear which quickly solved a lot of problems. I also make sure to bring water, snacks, and a phone downloaded with a couple shows to keep her busy while Jay is out there doing his thing.

When Possible, Keep Equipment In The Car: It's swim season, so this isn't entirely applicable since wet towels in the car would go downhill fast, but during baseball season we would keep Jay's bat, ball, glove, and hat in the car, a long with our camping chairs, so that when his twice weekly games rolled around, there wasn't last minute scrambling, and getting out the door was much easier!

Book Travel Accommodations Early: Jay has a fun soccer camp this summer in Provo that we've known about for months. When we first got him setup for the camp, we knew it would be better to just get a hotel down there for the week instead of commuting each day. We booked through Hotels4Teams which was able to get us a hotel within a mile of his soccer camp. Since we made the reservations weeks ago, we haven't had to have that stress hanging over our heads and we've been able to enjoy our summer and prep for camp without that added worry. 

Hotels4Teams is perfect for booking sports team travel since you can book one room, or a group of rooms at a time, and they're search engine can help you find a hotel that will be closest to where your sporting event will take place, along with fun travel guides to help you plan your free time while you're there!

Do you have any other tips for staying on top of sport's season? I'm a total newbie over here, so I would love any and all suggestions! 

Finding Freedom with Ergobaby

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This post is sponsored by Ergobaby, a brand that has given our family the freedom to experience more, together. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

When we moved back to Utah last year, we knew that we wanted hiking to be a major part of our lives. It just felt like such a waste to live in a beautiful place and not be able to experience it to its fullest. 

The major issue with this was finding a way to incorporate Em into our family hikes since she is still unable to walk due to her physical disabilities. I've spent the last several months researching baby carriers, and wanted to make sure that we were getting the best value and quality, while also making sure that we were investing in a product that would grow with Em and allow for her to use it for multiple years. 

It was a dream come true when I was able to attend the Ergobaby Omni 360 Air Mesh event last week. Ergobaby hosted a group of moms up at Bridal Veil Falls to test out their new Ergobaby Omni 360 Air Mesh, and it completely changed the way that I view baby carriers. 

I've tried three other carriers in the last several years of parenting and each one left me feeling like I had a massive deadweight strapped to my body, and gave me tons of back pain. I was a little hesitant about going to the Ergobaby event and hiking Bridal Veil Falls with Em strapped to me because I was nervous about experiencing this back pain again and not being able to do the hike. But, I was pleasantly surprised when I had her strapped to me for well over an hour without having any pain or discomfort. My sister-in-law even tried out my carrier last weekend and commented on how comfortable it was for her and her 16 month old as well. 

There are a lot of things that set this carrier apart from the rest, like the breathable 3D air mesh panels that help keep you and baby cooler. I also love that you can carry your child in four different positions: front facing you, front facing out, on your hip, and on your back. Because there is adjustable velcro settings for the seat portion of the carrier, you also don't need a specific newborn insert because the carrier can adjust for children ranging between 7-45lbs. 

The thing about this carrier that is most important to me is that it supports a hip-healthy "M" shaped position for your child's comfort and ergonomics. Em already has hip dysplasia due to poor posture and the fact that she went so long without bearing weight on her legs, that it caused her hips to develop incorrectly. I love that when she is seated in the Ergo carrier correctly, I don't have to worry about doing further damage to her small little body. 

It was so fun to be around so many inspiring and strong women while we were out with Ergobaby last week, and there is seriously nothing better than getting to be hands free while out in the great outdoors with your children. Huge shoutout and thank you to the Ergobaby team who have literally given our family the gift of freedom, and the ability to be outdoors with Em, doing what we love. 

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Ergobaby.

Hotels4Teams Ambassador Program

I am so happy to announce that I've become one of the newest members of the Hotel4Teams Sports Mom Panel. Hotels4Teams is sponsoring this post, but all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

One of my greatest joys growing up was playing sports. I started playing soccer when I was young, and played all the way through high school on various club and travel teams. As a high school track and field athlete, we often went to invitationals far away from our hometown, and as a high school athlete, staying in a hotel and going somewhere far for a game was almost as fun as being on a team in the first place.

Now that I'm a parent, and proud to say, "a sports mom", I'm finding myself at the beginning of this era where the roles are flipped, and instead of being the child participating in the sport, I'm now that mom who is making all the arrangements of putting games and practices on the calendar, and making arrangements for how we will get to each game, and where we will stay when we get there.

Hotels4Teams makes booking travel a breeze. Whether you're looking for a hotel for just you and your athlete, or an entire team, Hotels4Teams takes out all of the guess work so that you can enjoy your tournament weekend as much as your all-star. 

Simply log into their website and type in the name of the city, venue, or even high school that you are traveling to, and Hotels4Teams will show you the closest hotels to where you need to be, and you have the option of booking either one room, or a block of rooms with ease. 

Jay will be participating in a weeklong soccer camp later this summer, and within a matter of minutes we were able to find several hotel options within a mile of the sports complex where the camp will be held, and had our room booked in no time. 

Another great feature of the Hotel4Teams site is that they have travel guides for many cities throughout the United States. In as much as a sport is what brought you to a certain area, there is a lot of downtime when camps get out for the day, or being in between tournament games, it's nice to have options of things to see and places to go so that you feel like you've gotten the most out of your time away.

As a child who grew up not going on many family vacations, it was the time that I spent on sports teams and traveling to various locations that I really got to travel and see different parts of my state or country, and traveling with sports teams is a really valuable way to introduce young kids and adolescents to new cities and cultures. 

I'm so excited for the opportunity I have to share with you over the next several weeks, or even months, what being a sports mom looks like for me and my family and how we make the most of it with Hotels4Teams. If you have any tips for traveling with teams or bring a sports mom, I'd love to hear about them in the comments below! 

Summer Programs for Kids

By this point, I'm almost certain that you're all relatively sick about me talking about the things we're planning on doing this summer, and I know planning a summer full of activities isn't for every mom, but for me, I like having something fun on the calendar because I'm typically not a fun mom, so this summer is more about me getting out of my own comfort zone with the kids and engaging and doing more with them, and less about me thinking that my kids need to be stimulated with all the things all summer. I know we'll fall short a lot of days, and have a lot of chill days at home, but I like knowing that there are endless things we could be doing. 

There are a few summer programs that I've learned about that I want to take advantage of with the kids this year. Most are free, and some are not, but I think that they all have merit and value, and so I'm excited to share them with you all, in hopes of inspiring you to do something with your kids this summer too! 

Cinemark Summer Movie Club: I know everyone already knows about these, but Cinemark does $1 movies a couple times per week in the summer. I don't love all the movies our local theater is playing, but will happily take my kids to see Boss Baby, Storks, and possibly Paddington 2. I also have a Cinemark gift card that's been sitting around for over a year now, so it will be nice to put that t o good use. 

Kids Bowl Free: On a recent trip to Heber Valley with the kids, we took them bowling for the first time and they had an absolute blast. It's something that we've wanted to do more of, and the Kids Bowl Free program is the perfect way to take advantage of that. You have to register your kids through that link, but once they're registered they can bowl two free games EVERY DAY during the summer.

Utah Summer Reading Event: If your a resident in the state of Utah, head over to the summer reading event to sign your kids up for an AWESOME program! If you have kids are between the ages of 2-14 they can print out a game board, and for each day they read for 20 minutes, they get to fill in a spot on the board. Each base they pass earns a prize. The prizes are a pencil, a free book, a free happy meal, and then if you complete the board, you get two tickets to a Salt Lake Bees game. I'm excited about this because I think it's an awesome way to teach your kids about working towards a goal, while also having them practice their reading skills through the summer.