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Thank you to Goldfish Swim School for their partnership. I received complimentary swim lessons to facilitate this post; all opinions are 100% my own.

Swimming might not be on the top of your winter to do list – but it should be! Winter is a great time to get kids started in swim lessons or keep up with their lessons at Goldfish Swim School. By the time summer rolls around, they’ll be more prepared for the summer season when pools and water are everywhere. 

With this freezing cold weather we’ve been having, Evie looks forward to her weekly tropical escape into Goldfish’s 90 degree pool every week. We love that these lessons keep her active in the winter months while teaching her an important skill. She just thinks she’s there for fun, and well, she’s not wrong!

The tropical atmosphere at Goldfish will almost make you forget it’s cold outside. Almost.

Water safety is a big focus at Goldfish Swim School and the instructors do an amazing job with the kids. They are patient and friendly and make learning these new skills fun. 

We also love the warm atmosphere at Goldfish. Literally, it is nice and toasty on the pool deck! You don’t have to worry about shivers and they have so many other amenities that make winter swimming even easier. Such as blow dryer stations, private changing rooms, and warm showers located on the pool deck. 

Lessons are available for ages 4 months to 12 years. Birthday parties, family fun events, and open swim times are also available to take advantage of during these cold winter months! 

Visit here to locate a Goldfish Swim School near you to get your weekly swim on!

The post Winter Swim Lessons Made Fun & Easy at Goldfish Swim School appeared first on Life as Mama Bear.

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This was just a practice month for the new year, right? Does anyone else feel that way? After the holiday rush, I always feel like I need some recovery time. To fall back into normal routines and meals and just kind of lay low and reflect.

E’s First Holiday Dance Recital December 2018

We had a great holiday and didn’t have any major melt downs (by me) unlike last Christmas when we were just stretched way too thin. We stayed home a lot more this year and spread extended family Christmases out and really just did us. It made this season more enjoyable and saved my sanity. Sometimes you just have to learn how to say “no” no matter other people’s opinions. You know what’s best for you and your fam. And this year, that is just what we needed.

With a new year there is always this feeling of freshness and possibilities. I just needed this month to let it all soak in. I wasn’t ready to jump right in with ‘new year new me’. I have however cut out one major addiction that I am proud of: iced vanilla coffee from McDonald’s. I was addicted. Like 4-5 times a week. So far this month, I’ve had two! We all gotta start somewhere, right?

Maybe early this month, you heard all this hype about choosing a word of the year? Well, I jumped on the bandwagon. The word I chose for myself was Stronger. Stronger mentally, physically, stronger marriage, and stronger relationships with friends/family.

I practiced being strong by saying no to my iced coffee addiction. It seemed like a good place to start because I make excuses about why I think I need something or don’t need something. I have excuses for why I can’t do things or shouldn’t do things or even why I should do things. All. The. Excuses. If you need one, I’m your girl. My mantra to go along with my word of the year is “Be stronger than your excuses.”

A few goals for 2019:
  • Workout 2-3 times a week in the morning
  • Complete Communication in Marriage workbook with hubby
  • Establish vitamin/probiotic routine
  • Send cards/letters/make phone calls to family regularly
  • Establish writing time/me time
  • Read more books
  • Put phone down in the evenings

What are some of your goals for this year? Did you choose a word of the year?

The post Hello 2019! appeared first on Life as Mama Bear.

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There is nothing like doing a little baking to get you into the holiday spirit! Recipes and treats and special dishes always bring back the best holiday memories for me. Whether it be decorating cookies as a kid or eating my Nana’s famous macaroni, it’s almost like I can taste the memories.

But somehow, every time I need on of those recipes I find myself texting my mom and asking her to send a photo of her old, stained recipe cards that hold that tried and true holiday goodness.

So this year, I am keeping it somewhere where I’ll always know where it is! And lucky for you, that means you get to have it as well.

Mom’s original recipe card. She says she never adds the ginger, so I don’t either!

This is our absolute favorite cut out cookie. The flavor is superb with a hint of cinnamon and honey. They don’t fall apart or puff up too much. They are soft and when you add some homemade buttercream frosting…it’s basically one of my favorite things to stuff my face on during the holidays.

Print
Cut Out Cookies
Ingredients
  • 2 1/2 C Flour
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Baking Soda
  • 3/4 C Butter softened
  • 1/2 C Honey
  • 1/3 C Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Egg
For Butter Icing
  • 1/3 C Butter softened
  • 2 C Confectioner’s Sugar
  • 2 – 3 tbsp Milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
Instructions
  • Mix flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in bowl. 
  • Mix butter, honey, sugar, and egg in separate bowl. 
  • Combine dry ingredients into wet. Mix well.
  • Bake 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees until lightly brown and firm to the touch. Makes 3-4 dozen cookies. 
For Butter Icing
  • Mix all ingredients until smooth. Add milk slowly until desired consistency is reached. 

Happy Baking! Hope you all have the happiest of holidays

The post Favorite Holiday Cut Out Cookie Recipe appeared first on Life as Mama Bear.

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Thank you to Goldfish Swim School for their partnership. I received complimentary swim lessons to facilitate this post; all opinions are 100% my own.

The holiday season is here and I’m sure your Christmas shopping is in full swing {or at least full swing in your mental to-do list}! Maybe you have a special little one on your list that you just can’t figure out the perfect gift for? So many kids seem to have so much stuff – my kid included. While it is fun to give these gifts and for them to be excited about new toys, have you thought of giving a gift of experience this year? New toys are fun for awhile but an experience can last a lifetime. Especially when it teaches a skill that could save that child’s life.

This year, you could skip the usual presents and gift the Golden Experience of swim lessons at Goldfish Swim School. My daughter has been in lessons for awhile now and it is always a highlight of her week! Goldfish swim lessons teach valuable water safety skills while having fun, making friends, and building confidence.

For you local friends, Southeast Michigan Goldfish Swim Schools have a variety of packages that range from 2 months of lessons all the way to 1 year. All the packages also include a variety of gifts such as towels, books, goggles and more. Throw in a bathing suit, wrap it up, and watch your favorite little person open it up and get excited about all the fun they are about to have!

Winter is one of the best times of the year for families to start thinking about water and safety to get a jump start on the summer season. Indoor swimming in Goldfish’s tropical environment and 90 degree pool is also a great {and warm} winter activity and a chance to stay active during the long cold months.

By starting in January, kids can see results in time for pool and beach season starting in June. Swimming is a sport that requires consistency to see progress. Starting sooner than later and sticking to it will help your special little one gain these important skills that will keep them safe around the water.

So I encourage you to think about the value a gift of experience can have. Experiences can better build relationships, improve confidence, and teach new skills. If you think swim lessons would be perfect for someone special in your life you can visit Goldfish Swim School here to see all of your options!

For your chance to WIN a free holiday package from Goldfish Swim School you can enter the giveaway HERE!  The package is valued at $245 and includes 2 months of swim lessons! To enter, you MUST live in one of the select SE Michigan locations or willing to redeem your prize in one of the select locations. {The package will also include a waived registration fee, family swim passes, and various retail such as a book/goggles/water bottle ect.}

The post Gift a Golden Experience: Swim Lessons at Goldfish Swim School + Giveaway! appeared first on Life as Mama Bear.

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We recently went on a trip to Disney World at the beginning of the summer and I am just now getting around to sorting through all the photos I took! We went the week Evie turned three and had the most magical time celebrating our little lady. I was apprehensive about going back while she is so young, we’ve been once before with family when E was a baby and it was hard. But this time, her excitement was off the charts and I’d pay all that money all over again if you asked me if it was worth it.

One of the things I questioned whether it was worth it or not was the Memory Maker that you can purchase to capture all those special moments. Memory Maker is Disney World’s photo service, also known as PhotoPass. There are photographers all throughout the parks, at character meets, and select character dining locations ready and waiting to take your photo. You also receive all your ride photos and videos when you purchase the Memory Maker.

We only spent two days at the parks and chose Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom, as to not overwhelm our schedule or our patience. Since we were only doing two days and I knew we wouldn’t be riding any big rides that have ride photos, I questioned if we should purchase it or not.  I thought ‘I could take my own photos or ask someone to snap one of all of us together. It’s only two days!’ But, I didn’t want to spend all that time worried about getting good photos without missing all the magic through my own eyes. Even with our limited time at the parks we decided to go for it and I was SO glad we did!

We got some wonderful photos without the stress of being in charge of capturing all those moments. Even though I may or may not have cried when I forgot to get a video of E meeting Cinderella. She asked to see the video right after we met her and I couldn’t believe I forgot to take it for her. THANK GOODNESS we got amazing photos because otherwise we might have waited in that line all over again without a fast pass this time! {You can see the photos right after they are taken on the Disney World app after a quick scan of your Magic Band or Photo Pass card!} The lighting was also pretty dark in the Fairy Tale hall so I was glad we didn’t leave with just my grainy iPhone photos and no video.

We ended up with over 150  photos from the Memory Maker in just two days. A huge majority of it was all the character meets. They will snap snap snap as to not miss any cute moments and let me tell you there will be many! We did get a TON of family photos, too. The character meets and family photos were 100% worth it to me.

If you’re going to purchase, make sure you do it at least 3 days in advance so you get the reduced price! You have 45 days after it is activated to download all your photos, which is very easy to do from their website. They even have borders, frames, and stickers to add more magic to your photos. The downloads are unlimited and include a print release.

So basically, long story short: If you are going to Disney World get the Memory Maker. You’ll thank me later. 

This post is in no way sponsored. Just wanted to share our cute photos with you so you don’t miss out on yours!

The post Is Disney World’s Memory Maker Worth It? appeared first on Life As Mama Bear.

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Happy World Breastfeeding Week! In honor of this week, I have a post up on Mid-Michigan Moms Blog titled: Breast May Not Always Be Best – But It’s Worth a Try! And as you can guess by this controversial topic; it ruffled some feathers. I was prepared for it – because I field negative comments about breastfeeding all day at work and well, it’s social media, so you’re kind of asking for it voicing any kind of strong opinion like that.

I wasn’t set out to change anyone’s mind. Can you really ever do that? And I certainly didn’t set out to hurt anyone’s feelings. My intent was just to educate. To reach people who aren’t on any certain side. Who are asking themselves these questions when they are making decisions on how to feed their future babies. To let them know there are people out there to help if they want to pursue breastfeeding.

The slogan for World Breastfeeding Week this year is: Foundation of Life.

Breastfeeding helps prevent malnutrition in all it’s forms, ensures food security for infants and young children, and thus helps to bring people and nations out of the hunger and poverty cycle. It is therefore, a foundation of life. Protecting, promoting, and supporting breastfeeding is vital to a more sustainable world.

I don’t want to rewrite what I wrote about in the post – so you should probably go read it first. But our society sets women up for failure. There are many health professionals who are not educated when it comes to breastfeeding. Access to lactation help is often limited. Workplace settings and maternity leave policies often do not support breastfeeding.

For someone who has no support, who has been misinformed or never received any positive encouragement – it’s almost like they never had a chance. I advocate for breastfeeding because I believe it is valuable but is often not treated that way.

 I am not talking about the mom who has tried her hardest to breastfeed and it just hasn’t worked out. I’m not talking about  those of you who for one reason or another were just not able to get their bodies to cooperate the way you wanted them to. I 100% understand that it physically does not work for everyone no matter how hard you try or the number of interventions you’ve sought. I understand there are so many other factors to consider that might mean breastfeeding just isn’t right for you.

I doesn’t matter to me if you decided formula is right for your family. Or if it was a necessity. That is your choice and no one knows better than you. That doesn’t make you a bad mom or a failure. And it doesn’t mean we have to put ourselves on opposite sides of the fence. It’s hard to encourage moms to breastfeed without talking about the benefits of breastfeeding which often leads to offending a mom who gave her baby formula. But it’s fact – breast milk is the optimal infant food. There’s research. That is not my opinion. Where do you think they got the recipe for formula?

But does that mean the nutrition of breast milk outweighs everything else in your world? Your mental health? Your baby who’s blood sugar levels are dropping? 24 hour a day screaming? NO!  Mama’s – you gotta do what you gotta do! If breastfeeding is making you crazy or if it’s just not working, stop! You don’t have to breastfed! If it hurts – get help. It’s not supposed to hurt! There are other ways to do it!

People get so hung up on breastfeeding vs. formula feeding. You do you! I don’t care! I’ll help you either way. Just don’t bash people who are doing what they think it best – and that goes for both ways. I am a certified lactation specialist – part of the job is knowing when breastfeeding is not a good choice. If you need someone to talk to – I got you, too. We all need to support each other and I tried really hard to make that come through in my original post.

Thank goodness for formula, right? Formula exists for a reason and without it some of our babies would not. I completely understand that and would never want to shame a mother for doing what is best and what is necessary for both her, her baby, and her family.

The problem is – right in our own communities, formula is the first and only choice because no one told them otherwise. But you see, not everyone can afford formula. Even with the help of supplemental government programs that don’t cover everything baby needs in a month. Do you know what happens when a mom can’t afford formula? They put cow’s milk or almond milk in their 2 month’s old bottle. They mix twice as much water with the formula to stretch the bottles. Do you think those babies are thriving? Do you think formula is the best choice for that mom? But what other choice did she have if she was never told.

My computer screen when I looked up how to make the tree of life photo. See. It’s everywhere. Also helpful if you want to make your own tree of life – I know, I’m way behind on the times.

Being a breastfeeding advocate is about educating so that every mom has a fair chance to make the right decision for themselves and their families. It’s about supporting and empowering and congratulating every single drop a mom was able to give her baby. It’s not about creating sides or shaming moms into breastfeeding. It’s a good choice is all I’m saying – so give it a try. If it doesn’t work out good thing it’s 2018 because science is pretty amazing.

The post World Breastfeeding Week: Breastfeeding is Valuable and I’ll Fight For It! appeared first on Life As Mama Bear.

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