The Olympics and Swimming with SwimWays

With the Olympics wrapping up last night, I’d be remiss without giving an update on Biggie’s swimming progress and how it coincided with the games, and actually, our community’s latest festivity.

As I previously mentioned, this summer will forever go down in history as the summer that Biggie officially learned to swim, and we’re so thankful for Swimways for helping to make that happen. Of all the fun products we’ve been enjoying all summer, it’s the Sea Squirts Swim Assist vest that has helped Biggie build his confidence and skill in the water.


Together with swim lessons from certified instructors and daily trips to the lake, the Sea Squirts has given him the boost to learn his ability on his own.He can jump into the deeper swim lanes to swim laps, as well as play around in the shallower water without hesitation. He’ll take off his vest to swim freely and confidently, but he still knows his limits, and when it’s time to put the vest back on. I like that it’s lightweight and buoyant, so the vest doesn’t do all the work, or make him stay floating up top. And, not only has it been a fun teaching tool, the clever blue shark fin has garnered so many cool compliments from other parents, the lifeguards and friends.

We loved watching the Olympics this summer, now that Biggie is a swimmer. We enjoyed watching all the different swim styles and watching history be made right before our eyes! Biggie had the chance to meet Olympic Gold Medalist Aaron Piersol at an event for Auro-dri last summer, but to see this latest batch of athletes excel in their craft, was something truly special.

Jack with Olympic Gold Medalist, Aaron Piersol
Of all the swimmers, like many other kids, Biggie was mesmerized by Michael Phelps. As we watched him collect even more medals to become the most decorated Olympian in history, Biggie had some words to say to him.

Dear Mr. Phelps,

Thank you for helping kids to like swimming. I like swimming and watching you is cool. I like how you practice hard and win your races. Keep helping kids so they can be happy and exercise too. I like all of your medals! Good job!

Biggie is a boy of many words, as you can see! But, as a family, who has spent most of their summer in the water, we’ve enjoyed watching the Olympics, and especially witnessing Phelps’ trials and triumphs. I admire his work with kids and the influence he has on the importance of water safety. I can’t wait to see what he does next.


On a related note, our lake community has a roster of fun activities for families throughout the year. This past weekend was Royal Weekend, which is a long tradition that has been passed down generations, and one that Biggie was so excited to be a participant. The Olympic-themed event was held all weekend, honoring a duo of high school students and their achievements, before they go off to college and start their lives away from the lake. It’s a quirky tradition, but still so fun to see and take part in. The “royals” are both lifeguards and fixtures at the lake, so, to see the little kids look up to them is so fun.

What a fun, fun summer this has been!

Full disclosure:  I received product samples as part of the SwimWays Swim Team program, but as always, all opinions on NKT are my own.

Kleenex Field Trips and the American Museum of Natural History

Having NYC in our backyard is a treat, and one that we try to enjoy as often as we can.  The city, and all of its robust offerings, never fails to entertain, but even better: it also educates.


Aptly enough, last week, I was invited by my friends at The Motherhood to take part in a field trip to one of our favorite NYC institutions, the American Museum of Natural History.  Having explored the incredible exhibits on our own many times before, this field trip, sponsored by Kleenex, provided a unique behind the scenes experience for some of my blogging friends and our kids.


Our group gathered at the AMNH to not only check out some of the latest exhibits, but also to learn about Kleenex’s current promotion that underscores the importance of field trips.  Field trips provide kids of all ages an opportunity to engage and absorb new educational experiences firsthand; it gives learning a totally different dimension, which is something that all kids should be able to enjoy.  And judging by the many mouths left agape in amazement throughout our visit, I can testify that our kids, especially my inquisitive preschooler, totally enjoyed themselves at AMNH!


Our first stop of the day was at one of AMNH’s newest exhibits, Frogs: A Chorus of Colors.  My guy practically screamed with excitement at every single case.  He just couldn’t believe all the (live!) frogs and toads in different shapes and sizes.  And since we were visiting right before the museum officially opened, we were told that the frogs’ behavior would be especially interesting.  The highlight of the frog exhibit, besides the video kiosk that showed each different frog’s favorite foods, was witnessing some frogs actually being fed.  Pretty cool!


Our next stop was the World’s Largest Dinosaurs exhibit, and yet, another exhibit that didn’t disappoint, especially the dinosaur aficionados in our group! The kid had a blast playing with the mechanism that reenact the motions of how a brontosaurus ate.  But it was the fossil pit that was, perhaps, the biggest hit of all.  With “gwobbles,” tools and bones to dig out, we could have been there



My niece will be visiting next week, so we’re hoping to take another trip to the American Museum of Natural History to discover even more!

Check it

Want to learn more about Kleenex’ Save the Fieldtrip Promotion?  Head to Kleenex’s Facebook page where you can enter to win $5000 toward your school’s own field trip.  In this day and age of cutbacks, I’m sure many teachers, parents and students could benefit from this awesome promo!
And since you’re already on the interwebs, check out their fancy on-the-go packs.  I am in love with the Wallet Packs.  Who knew tissues could be all stylish!

Full disclosure:  I am being compensated for my participation in this campaign.  The field trip was sponsored by Kleenex.  As always, opinions are my own.

Cooking Fun: Lawry’s Summer of Flavor

Since retreating to the suburbs last year, our family has been enjoying the convenience of more space, the luxury of our own yard and even, the simplicity of having a dishwasher!  As awesome as city living is, enjoying life’s little luxuries within your own home, I have to say, is a little more than awesome.

For our first summer in the suburbs, one luxury that I’ve probably enjoyed the most has been grilling in our backyard.  After 10 years of city dwelling and not being able to grill out, I’ve made up for lost time and have been grilling, what seems like, morning noon and night…and even in the rain.

Ingredients for grilled steak quesadillas

Not only is grilling much more convenient in the summer, it keeps the house cooler.  And since I’ve become quite the grilling queen this summer, I’ve had a great time experimenting with recipes and techniques. So, when I was asked to participate in Lawry’s Fabulous Summer of Flavor, thanks to my friends at The Motherhood, I happily obliged!


So, for this assignment, our NYC team was tasked with creating recipes that incorporate Lawry’s newest marinades–Balsamic Herb and Original Seasoned Salt– as well as Lawry’s Seasoned Salt.  My family has long considered Lawry’s Seasoned Salt an essential kitchen spice, for as long as I can remember.  And when I was first learning to cook back in my high school and college days, I became fast friends with the convenience of Lawry’s marinades.  You can’t beat the 30-minute marinades, not to mention the savory selection.

To go hand in hand with my grilling obsession, I came up with two summertime recipes that incorporate the grill, convenience and kid-friendliness.  For my Lawry’s Summer of Flavor recipes, I came up with Grilled Steak Quesadillas and an Easy Steak Salad.

Grilled Steak Quesadillas

For the quesadillas, I included steak cubes that were marinated in a mixture of Lawry’s Original Seasoned Salt marinade and the Chipotle marinade that I already had onhand.  I also made a super easy, super fresh pico de gallo to sprinkle within the quesadilla.  And, of course, cheese!


What I love about quesadillas is that they’re filling enough to be served as an entree for lunch or dinner, or if you like, they can be served as apps.  Quesadillas are perfect kid-friendly meals because they’re finger foods and like my guy reminded me, Dora (as in Explorer) likes to make them.  Um, okay!

Finished products: Steak Quesadillas

As much as I love to cook, I refuse to cook more than one meal.  I don’t agree with special meals for kids, but I do believe in getting the kids involved during mealtime.  I thought getting the kid to help out with the quesadilla-making was great.  Even though he insisted he does not like tomatoes, he still spread some pico de gallo amongst the cheese and ate it too.  From my experience, getting kids to help out, not only curbs pickiness, but it gives kids a sense of achievement, in that they created what they are eating.


This was the second or third time I’ve done this recipe, and it really is such a fun outdoorsy, grilling-type of food.  From the freshly made pico de gallo to slicing up the grilled steak, I love sitting out on the patio putting it all together.  And the flavors when all put together are so, so good.  Serve it all up with some guacamole, salsa, chips, and it’s a fiesta!  Only thing that would’ve made this meal better would’ve some Margaritas and Sangria! YUM!

Easy Steak Salad

This Easy Steak Salad is exactly what it sounds like!  I marinated some steak cubes with Lawry’s Balsamic Herb marinade. And I also marinated some veggies with the same marinade.  I grilled it all up and served the grilled steak and veggies on top of a fresh green salad.

Easy Steak Salad

For the salad, I incorporated a few different lettuces, cucumbers and shredded cheese.  I then served the grilled steak and veggies on top of the greens.  The marinade was so flavorful, that none of needed more dressing.  It was so good—perfect for a fresh summer lunch.


See below for the recipes and a giveaway!

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Healthy Choice Meals Offer Convenience and Wholesome Options

Things have been non-stop around here for the past few weeks.  There have been a few days, actually, where making lunch for myself was near-impossible due to such a hectic schedule.  And as much as I’d try to avoid prepared foods because of all the unwanted added “extras”, I’m glad they’re there when you need them.

I recently had the chance to try some Healthy Choice meals.  And with the way things have been lately, I think I may have found a new go-to lunch that definitely beats fast food or take out.  I’ve always enjoyed the Healthy Choice brand, but it’s been awhile since I’ve had their frozen food. Apparently, I’ve been missing out.


I picked up two Healthy Choice Cafe Steamer meals at my local Target. As a sidenote: I noticed that my grocery stores also had them, as did Costco.  I think I stood in the freezer aisle for 15 minutes trying to decide which meals to try.  I was so indecisive, because all the choices sounded so good.  I ended up grabbing two meals that sounded like a meal I’d make:  Chicken Pesto Classico and Balsamic Chicken.


I was impressed by the ease, convenience and innovation of the Healthy Choice Cafe Steamers.  There are other types of meals, but I was drawn to the Steamer variety, since that’s typically how we cook our veggies on a regular basis.  After microwaving the meals, I found that the meals retained the flavor, shape and colors, unlike other frozen meals I’ve had in the past.  The ingredients, for the most part, were acceptable and met my expectations.  My main concerns were the plastic steamer used in the microwaving process and sodium levels.  But overall, I would certainly stock my freezer with a few of these meals for lunch at home or at the office, or even for dinner when I can’t cook.

And as my 3 year old said: “the noodles are so yummy, they make my dance feet.”  So, yeah, I think he enjoyed them too.


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Make Every Day Mother’s Day with

With Mother’s Day just a few days away, I’m sure dads, kids and loved ones have some great ideas lined up for the mamas in their lives.  I love baubles, flowers and “stuff” as much as the next gal, but I’ve been mum on the whole Mother’s Day gift ideas for several reasons.

Reason one: I don’t really *NEED* anything—well, besides sleep, I can’t think of a single thing that I need.  Want?  I can give you a long list…but, need?  I’m so thankful to be in a position where my wants continually outweigh my needs.

Most importantly, in our constantly evolving world, so many families are really, truly in need right at this moment.  Moms can’t provide for their babies, and sadly, there are some moms who aren’t healthy enough, or in a position to be an advocate for their babies.

And then, there are those women who pick others up when we can’t stand on our own.  And right now, my friends, our world needs more of that.

Cooper Munroe, one of the co-founders of TheMotherhood said it best in her recent blog post on

Mothers make the world go around.

Read Cooper’s moving post about how Maria Mchele Mwasonge changed her community in Tanzania with her small potato farm.

Today at 1 PM ET, The Motherhood will be hosting a live, text-based talk with the ONE Campaign and Every Mother Counts to celebrate mothers everywhere. Please join us and share what inspires you about mothers and learn more about what we can do to help mothers and kids around the globe who need us.  Along with several amazing co-hosts, I’m honored to lend my voice to help spread this message.

In case you’re not familiar, ONE is a grassroots campaign of more than 2 million people committed to the fight against extreme poverty and preventable diseases.

If you have a chance, check out Laura Bush’s video about Making Every Day a Mother’s Day with ONE.  Let’s all pitch in to use our voices and platforms to help more moms with their needs.

Please, join us!

Share Your Breakfast and Help Fight Childhood Hunger

Imagine not having the resources to adequately feed your child; even worse–sending your child to school on an empty stomach.

According to a survey released a few weeks ago, two-thirds of teachers across the U.S. say they have children in their classrooms who regularly come to school too hungry to learn because they are not getting enough to eat at home.  It’s a proven fact that hunger impedes our childrens’ ability to learn and perform academically, but fortunately, there are organizations and brands who are shedding light on childhood hunger.

Kellogg’s has partnered with Action for Healthy Kids to help remedy this sad reality of childhood hunger.  With their campaign, “Share Your Breakfast” Kellogg’s is is asking people to take pictures and “share their breakfast” on their website.

From now until July, an uploaded a photo of your breakfast can help combat childhood hunger.  One photo upload to or the word SHARE texted with a photo or a description of your breakfast to 21534 equals one shared breakfast.

With nearly 1 in 4 kids in America struggling with hunger, Kellogg’s goal is to share 1 million breakfasts in the 2011-2012 school year.  With all the information I share online here on NKT, on Facebook and Twitter, a simple photo of breakfast is the least I can do to help a child in need.  We hope to do our part and share our breakfast as soon as we can, and I sincerely hope you consider to do the same.

Check it

Kellogg’s will be kicking off the Share Your Breakfast campaign tomorrow in NYC in Grand Central Station, where they will be feeding thousands of people breakfast from 6am to noon.  I’m hoping to make my way over there to help support this worthy cause.

Aside from uploading a photo of your breakfast, you can help spread the word about this important campaign. There will be a Share Your Breakfast Twitter party tomorrow, March 8 from 10 – 12 AM EST. Be sure to visit for more details.


This is a sponsored post through a compensated Mom Bloggers Club member program.

Build-A-Bear and St. Jude Kick Off Cause for Celebration

Mondays are usually unbearable for me, but not today. Today, in fact, will involve…well, a few bears.  We’ll be at the Build-A-Bear flagship store in NYC helping Build-A-Bear Workshop and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital kick off their new partnership, Cause for Celebration.

In an effort to make even more children happy, Cause for Celebration is a national  fundraising partnership between Build-A-Bear Workshop and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Starting today, party hosts will have a Cause for Celebration: those who schedule a party at any Build-A-Bear Workshop store have the option of adding an additional $10 dollar donation to their party. Their entire ten dollar donation will be directed to St. Jude to support research and treatment at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

The charitable aspect of the party goes both ways: In honor of each Guest donation to the hospital to help with research and treatment, Build-A-Bear Workshop will give a St. Jude patient a gift card to any Build-A-Bear Workshop.

To celebrate the launch of Cause for Celebration in NYC, Marlo Thomas, the national spokesperson for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Maxine Clark, Founder and Chief Executive Bear of Build-A-Bear Workshop will be onhand to meet fellow partygoers.

Check it

Even if you’re not hosting a party, during the month of March, you can still make a donation to St. Jude’s during the check-out process at any store or at

In line with the launch of the Cause for Celebration program, Build-A-Bear Workshop is giving their Facebook fans with the opportunity to win a “Cause for Celebration” party valued at $300 for themselves and friends. Build-A-Bear Workshop will award one party each month from March through August. All participants in this contest will be entered to win the grand prize, a Build-A-Party celebration valued at $500 and plus a $500 contribution to St. Jude made in their name. Check out their Facebook page for more details.

Photo credit:

Holly Robinson Peete: Tips on Enjoying an Allergy-Friendly Super Bowl Party

For thousands of families, food allergies are a reality that involves carefully reading labels before consumption, as well as educating and communicating with family, friends and schools.

Food allergy awareness requires even more diligence when it comes to parties, such as Super Bowl Sunday.  Pot lucks and buffet-type spreads could be a trip to the ER just waiting to happen if food allergies aren’t communicated.  Raising awareness, even if the allergy isn’t in your own family, is the first line of defense for avoiding adverse reactions.

Holly Robinson Peete, one of the co-hosts of CBS’ The Talk and wife of former NFL player Rodney Peete, is well versed in food allergies.  Mom of four, Holly hopes to help raise awareness and educate other parents about food allergies; each of her kids has some form of allergy, and she’s had her fair share of scary moments.

On Super Bowl Sunday, an occasion that boasts the most food consumption behind Thanksgiving, the reality of food allergies is heightened. Because of her experience with food allergies, Holly spoke with some fellow bloggers and me, on how to enjoy an allergy-friendly Super Bowl party.

Families can enjoy a fun Super Bowl party even if allergies are a concern.  Some of Holly’s tips for having an allergy-friendly Super Bowl party include:

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Holly Robinson Peete to Host Webinar on Food Allergies

Because allergies run rampant in our family, this topic has been on my radar well before I became a parent.  Once I became a mom, introducing food to the kid with the possibility of food allergies became an even bigger reality.  Aside from real-life experience by helping my younger brother cope with being “allergic to the world,” my husband and I researched to educate ourselves for the uncertainty of having a child with food sensitivities.

Amidst all the gatherings this time of year, it’s the parties and family events that can be a cause of concern for allergic reactions.  After being so cautious with anything new that the three year old has eaten, over Christmas, he had an allergic reaction after having some cashews.  Of course, the reaction happened the evening of the post-Christmas blizzard and weather conditions would have complicated everything.  Thankfully, the kid is at an age where he can verbally communicate with us now, and immediately told us that his tongue was itchy—a telltale sign of an allergic reaction, and something that I always remember my brother describing after eating various things he was allergic to, when we were kids.

Always reluctant to let the kid have nuts in anything, for some reason, I thought he would have been ok trying cashews for the first time that night.  I thought he was in the clear with any nut allergies, but I was wrong.

The kid’s hives, swollen lips and an itchy tongue was enough to remind us that not all foods are safe for our allergy-prone kid.  Thankfully, we had Children’s Benadryl onhand to remedy the situation and that it didn’t require a trip to the ER.  We learned from this terrifying situation and are grateful it didn’t transpire differently.

Because of our family’s allergies and my interest in sharing this sort of information to other parents, I will be logging into a video webinar on the topic tomorrow.

Super Bowl Sunday is the second biggest eating day of the year after Thanksgiving. Since severe allergic reactions to food send 90,000 people to the emergency room annually, TV personality Holly Robinson Peete of CBS’s The Talk (who is married to former NFL quarterback Rodney Peete) will be hosting an online video webinar about handling food allergy dangers at gatherings like Super Bowl parties. Nine out of 10 people say they will be attending one this year, according to a recent Nielsen survey.  Since Holly’s four children all have some kind of food allergy, she has plenty of expertise in this topic.

After the webinar, I’ll be one of a few bloggers who will ask Holly questions pertaining to allergies and her experience.  It’s always interesting to hear other parents shed light on issues that hit so close to home.  I’ll of course share Holly’s insight after the interview, but I’d also like to invite you to watch the online webinar.

Allergy Friendly Superbowl Webinar with Holly Robinson Peete

When: Tuesday, Feb. 1, at 5 p.m. ET (2 p.m. PT)

Where: Click this link
to get to the webinar, where you will be able to watch Holly via live video feed:

Full disclosure: I am being compensated for my participation in this webinar and Q&A via TheMotherhood. The webinar is being sponsored by Dey Pharma L.P.  As always all opinions on NKT are my own.

Cooking Connections Launches Today

As you all know, food has become a significant part of my coverage on NKT.  The foods we eat and cook and the eating habits we display, ultimately, help our kids to make healthier choices.

For me, cooking resources on the internet and tv help me to navigate in the kitchen.  I’ve always been big on cooking, baking and eating, but online sites, magazines and shows underscore just how much I enjoy being in the kitchen.  I could seriously watch Food Network for hours and daydream about these professional cooks and chefs coming to my house to cook for me!  But good news, though these fantastic chefs can’t come to my house, but there are “real” parents who can—well, sort of!

TheMotherhood’s Cooking Connections, an awesome and innovative eight-week series of virtual cooking classes is launching today.  In this series of virtual cooking classes, “real” moms and dads will lead us in their kitchens, to help us learn more about topics relevant to parents.  The conversations, led by some of my favorite bloggers, will leverage social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook and

Sponsored by ConAgra Foods, Cooking Connections is launching today, actually at 1:00 pm at the Blissdom Conference that’s going on right now in Nashville.

I love, love, love TheMotherhood and all the wonderful things that they’re doing around our community.  Cooking Connections will, no doubt, be just as successful as their other projects.  I’m excited to be participating in the cooking class that focuses on picky eaters.  “Placating Picky Eaters” will take place in a few weeks, and I’ll be sure to share more about it soon.  By the way, TheMotherhood, Emily McKhann and 77Kids by American Eagle got a nod in Forbes for the inspiring Do Good Day campaign that tapped bloggers around the country to pay it forward.

Join the conversation!  Want to learn more about Cooking Connections and/or register to participate?  Be sure to sign up here at TheMotherhood.

Check out Cooper and Emily’s announcement video for even more details!