Wednesday, January 21, 2015

New Business Adventures in 2015

For those of you who know us, our family has been passionate about living a healthy lifestyle for many years now. Our love of all things real, mainly food and consumer products, coupled with our simplistic lifestyle has led to our decision to follow our dreams and pursue our calling in life.
In 2014 we made a decision to take a leap of faith and began creating a business that would align with our personal values and core beliefs. Now, in January of 2015, our dreams have finally been realized with the launch of Keepin’ it Real. It is the culmination of our commitment to our values coupled with our sincere interest in caring for others. Keepin’ it Real is more than just a business to us, it is our purpose in life. It is our mission to share our passion about the benefits of healthy living to each and every person whose paths we cross. We would be honored to have you personally be a part of our journey.
Please join us by going to our website or connecting with us on social media.
...and most importantly, share with your friends smile emoticon
Thank you!
Tracey & Christian

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Accountable Kids Chore and Reward Program

Knowing that we want our kids to be contributing members of our family, the past few years we have been struggling to find a chore/reward system that will actually work with our kids.  I have tried a little bit of everything to get them to comply with daily chores but nothing seemed to stick.  Each day was beginning to feel like a battle to get the kids to get dressed, fold up their clothes, put their clothes away, brush their teeth, etc.  I was frustrated, they were frustrated and our home was in utter chaos! 
I had heard of the Accountable Kids program from Katie who I had known while I was living in Arizona.  She always raved about it on her blog but I wasn't sure I wanted to make the leap to purchase the set in fear that it was just another program that would fail in our home.  But, since we had tried so many other things we made the decision to order the Accountable Kids program. 
We received our boards and I assembled them and painted them one night when the kids were in bed.  They recommend having the kids participate in the decorating of the boards, but being the art control freak that I am I couldn't bring myself to let them unleash their creative juices on perfectly beautiful wood.  All in all we were all happy with that decision and I think that the simplicity of them turned out well. 
Here's the kids opening up their boards when they arrived in the mail

Here are the boards decorated and already being used!

Kaiden has earned some bonus bucks!!!
Madelyn earning her first "ticket!"

How the program works:
Each kit comes with 50 chore cards that you can pick and choose from to customize to your kids.  You then divide the cards into morning, afternoon and evening chores.  As the kids complete each chore they take the card and move it to the "finished" peg indicating they completed that chore for the day.  We give a ticket after all their morning chores are completed and then again at the end of the day after their afternoon/evening chores are completed.  These tickets are then cashed in when the kids want to do something special.  No TV or movies or YouTube videos are watched or Wii games are played unless they use a ticket.  One ticket allows them 30 minutes of time.  If they don't do their chores, they don't get a ticket.  If they don't have a ticket then they don't get privileges.  At the end of the day if they have completed all their chores they earn a sticker.  After 10 stickers they earn a date with either mom or dad.  And we ain't afraid to take tickets away for poor behavior.  Just sayin :)

Another aspect of the program incorporates "Bonus Bucks."  These are earned when the child chooses to do extra chores.  These chores are not expected of them everyday but they have the opportunity to do these chores and earn money for doing them.  They aren't penalized for not doing them but they often ask for certain toys or items and it's been a good way to teach them that they have to work for things that they want. 

Overall the program has been fantastic for our family.  Kaiden totally embraced the program right from the beginning and has been very excited to earn his tickets and stickers and do his extra chores.  It has taken Madelyn a little more prodding to get moving on her chores.  That said, it has been wonderful to have a place for her to go to so I don't have to keep telling her what she needs to do each day.  When she asks, "what do I have to do?"  I tell her, "Go to your chart and look at your cards." 

I am SO glad that we purchased this program and would definitely recommend it for families that are trying to teach your kids responsibility and to become contributing members in the household.  I would give this whole program a 4 out of 5, but only because we are still trying to figure out a way to get Madelyn fully on board without a fight.  But that might just be her age or her "free spirit" personality.  That being said, it has still made a huge difference in our home since now we have a way to limit TV/movie/Wii time and use it as a reward for getting chores completed.  It's BRILLIANT!

Visit Accountable Kids for more information and to order your kits today!   

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

My Kids Say the Darndest Things: Part Four

Madelyn crying: I hurt myself!  Whaaaaaa!
Me:  Why?  What did you do?
Madelyn: I was practicing my ninja moves and hurt myself!  Whaaaa!

Kaiden: "Madelyn, can you please go get that car that I was using?"
M: "No.  It jokes me."
Me: "What does that mean?  Can you please go back downstairs and get his car?"
M: "No.  It jokes me."
Kaiden: "Madelyn! What. does. that. mean?"
M: "It's Spanish."

M: "Look at that spider.  He is in a racoon."
Me: "Oh, the spider is?"
M: "Yes.  That is where the spider sleeps.  And then he will turn into a butterfly."

M: "My head was falling down."
Me: "What do you mean?"
M: "I was putting these cards back in and my head was falling down.  It does that when I get tired.  Then it makes me not talk."

M: "Mommy.  When I dance it means mommy and when I shake my booty it means daddy!"

M: "I'm gonna joke daddy when he gets home and tell him that we ate at Old McDonalds."

M: "You know that broom I have up in my room?  Maybe I can use it to broom up all the dirties."

Kaiden packing up toys in his backpack for a pretend camping adventure:
"Flashlight. Chet!  Bandaid. Chet!  Dinosaur. Chet!  Waterbottle.  Chet!  I think that will do it."

M: (After Daddy went potty) "Oh, it's smells very interesting.  Aaaannnnd it smells stinky."

M: (After spraying body spray on her arms) "Smell my boo boo.  Doesn't it smell good?  Does it smell like boo-boo anymore or like flowers?"

M: " Eeny, meeny, miny, moe.  Touch your toes and any dough.  Eeny, meeny, miny, moe. 

K: (Playing rock/paper/scissors) "Rock, paper, scissors, shoe.  Rock, paper, scissors, shoe."
Me: "Kaiden, it's rock, paper, scissors, SHOOT." 
K:  "Shoot?  What does shoot mean?" 
Me: "Never mind.  Just say it however you want."

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Our Lunchbox-Week 6

Here's last weeks lunchbox love.  Another week of just trying to find anything that was in my cupboard.  Not too shabby considering that there wasn't much to pull from.  All recipes are below!

Overnight oats, oranges and grapes, Strawberry Gogi berry mini muffins that I made awhile ago and froze, rice krispie treat (modified)

Each kid got a veggie sandwich with lettuce, tomato, cucumbers, shredded carrot and hummus on an organic sourdough bread, organic grapes, and Lucy's chocolate chip cookies.  Madelyn likes squeezy applesauce while Kaiden likes just regular organic, unsweetened applesauce from Trader Joe's. 

I was feeling festive so I made PB&J sandwiches and used my pumpkin cookie cutters.  Strawberries and applesauce with Maple Leaf cookie and "oreo" cookie from Trader Joe's.
Recipes I used:
Overnight oats-We normally eat these for breakfast, but who said I couldn't pack it for lunch?!?!  It's a simple recipe to make the night before.  I don't add the maple syrup the next day and think it is plenty sweet enough as long as you use a really ripe banana.  YUMMY!

Rice Krispie Treats-I used the original recipe except I modified it by using, Erewhon organic brown rice cereal, vegan marshmallows, and Earth Balance vegan soy free butter.

Strawberry Gogi berry muffins-Find the recipe in Dreena's book Let Them Eat Vegan.  Love her. Her chocolate chip cookie recipe is my go good!  Her blog is here.

Hope you get some new lunchbox ideas here.  Have a great week!

Happy 6th Birthday Kaiden!

Wednesday was my bubby's 6th birthday!  We got to celebrate by going on a hay ride with his kindergarten class.  
We had a small celebration that night with MeeMa and P-pa.  Then Saturday we took the kids bowling per Kaiden's request.

Stop growing up my special boy!  God sure did make you special and I can't wait to see all the great adventures that your life takes you on :) I love you to the moon and back.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Our Lunchbox-Week 5

Oh. My. Goodness.  I am one tired momma today.  I took a spinning class this morning that kicked my booty.  That girl was crazy.  But, dang, it felt good.  So here we go into the weekend.  Hopefully we will all sleep in tomorrow and enjoy what is left of this beautiful weather happening right now.  Love it. 

Here's a look into our weekly lunchbox.  It wasn't too exciting since I didn't have much food in the house.  I just got to the grocery store today which didn't help me this week during lunch time, but what can I say?!

Both kids got half of a Trader Joe's bagel with vegan cream cheese.  Kaiden got leftover watermelon slices (from our camping trip last weekend), popcorn and 2 Trader Joe's sandwich cookies.  Madelyn got a squeezy applesauce, homemade chex mix (recipe below to make it vegan and organic) and 2 cookies. 

Both kids are on a bagel kick.  So they begged for bagels in their lunch.  Again.  As long as it's something they will eat, then I don't care.  Both got 3/4 of a bagel with vegan cream cheese, orange slices with blueberries, Applegate ham roll-ups, and a piece of a vegan brownie.

For a "treat" they both asked for chocolate soy milk in their lunches today which I went along with :)
Both kids got PB&J sandwich, cucumber slices with hummus, apple slices and 2 Trader Joe's sandwich cookies. 

Recipes I used:
Chex Mix- I use the standard Chex Mix recipe with a few modifications cause a big dose of GMO's isn't an appetizing thought for me.  I sub out Cascadian Farms multi grain squares, Earth Balance butter and Annie's Worcestershire sauce.  Follow directions and you have a yummy snack!

Vegan brownies-I used this recipe and it was ok.  After reading a bunch of the reviews I went with one of the modified versions but can't remember which one.  They were kind of "cakey" rather than fudgy brownie like and pretty crumbly.  So, the search continues for another vegan brownie recipe. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Our Lunchbox-Week 3 & 4

I spent all day getting ready for a camping trip that we are going on this weekend.  Some may not call it camping since we will be sleeping in a cabin.  Although it does have a bathroom in it, it doesn't have a kitchen.  That's as close to "roughing it" that you will get from me.  We'll see how this all goes, but I feel like you have to pack up your whole house just to go away for a weekend.  It's a lot of work. 

Anywho, here are two weeks worth of lunches since I must have been uber busy last week to post.   

Madelyn's lunch since she is in a "nut free" school.  Ants on a log with vegan cream cheese.  Carrots with vegan ranch dressing for dipping.  Hummus and TJ's wheat thin crackers (which I switched out for TJ's Triscuit crackers at the last minute when she informed me that she thinks the wheat thins are "yucky.")  Fruit salsa.  I didn't fill the last container since she hasn't been eating all her food.
Kaiden got ants on log with peanut butter since his lunch class is not nut free.  He got the fruit salsa with homemade cinnamon sugar whole wheat tortilla chips (recipe below) and a vegan chocolate cupcake with vegan butter cream frosting.  (Madelyn took her cupcake for snack time since there was a classmate celebrating a birthday.  I always send theie treats with them on birthday days)

Both kids got a half of a Trader Joe's cinnamon raisin bagel with vegan cream cheese, carrot sticks with vegan ranch dressing, fruit salad and a homemade vegan chocolate chip cookie (again, Madelyn had her cookie for snack since there was ANOTHER birthday celebration for school)
I have been running low on food this week since I knew I didn't want to make a trip to the grocery store until later in the week so I could stock up on our camping food.  Using what I had on hand I came up with some pretty decent lunches for the week.  At least no complaints from the peanut gallery.
Both got Applegate turkey roll-ups with Organic Valley American cheese (what a treat for them!).  Apple "sandwiches" with peanut butter and granola on the inside, strawberries and blueberries & vegan chocolate pudding
This was really a feat since there was NOTHING left in the house to eat.  Thank goodness for frozen dime sized banana pancakes with maple syrup for dipping!  The last of the blueberries from the fridge and a pre-packaged organic applesauce (Madelyn got a squeezy applesauce since she likes those better) and a package of Lucy's vegan/gluten free chocolate chip cookies (I haven't tried these, but both kids say there are really good!)

Madelyn stayed for lunch on Friday but Kaiden did not since we wanted to get on the road for camping and his afternoon class ends too late.  So Madelyn got a vegan chocolate zucchini muffin, hummus with grape tomatoes, Persian cucumbers & TJ's tricuits for dipping.  Two Trader Joe's sandwich cookies for dessert.
So there you have it!  Two weeks of lunches down....too many more to count to go.  But, have I mentioned how much I am loving our Laptop Lunchboxes?!  They make packing lunch so much more organized and keep all of the kids lunches, snacks and water bottles neatly in one place!  Love them!

Recipes I used this week:
Fruit salsa and cinnamon tortilla chips-I used this recipe but modified it a bit.  I just used cut up fruit and didn't add any sugar or preserves to the salsa.  It's plenty sweet enough without it and the fruit will give up some juice while it sits so it makes it watery-like.  Just make sure to chop the fruit very small :)  I also used melted vegan butter for the tortilla chips and just brushed it on the whole tortilla then sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.  Then I used a pizza cutter to cut into 8 triangles and baked.  Me and hubs LOVED it....the kids weren't overly impressed with the chips but gobbled up the salsa.

Vegan Ranch Dressing-Kaiden LOVES this stuff (as do the rest of us!)

Vegan chocolate cupcake-I got a "wacky cake" recipe from my friend and was blown away at the moistness (totally a word) of it all.  It's been my "go to" recipe for cake/cupcakes.  I make a batch and freeze these so I always have some to send with the kids when there are birthday parties at school.  The history of "wacky cake" is pretty interesting.  Here's the recipe that I use: 1 1/2 c AP flour (I use 1 cup AP flour and 1/2 c WW flour), 1/4 c unsweetened cocoa, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 c sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, 1T white or cider vinegar, 6T oil, 1 c water.  Sift flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt together in bowl.  Add sugar.  With your finger poke 3 holes (2 small, 1 big) in the flour.  Pour vanilla in one hole, vinegar in one how and oil in large hole.  Pour water over top and stir together with a fork.  Bake 35-40 min for a 9x9 pan or 15 min for cupcakes.

Vegan butter cream frosting

Vegan chocolate chip cookie-Dreena has mad cooking skills and these cookies are the bomb.  Make sure to follow the directions to a "T" or they will come out hard and dry.  These don't last long in our house.

Vegan chocolate pudding

Vegan chocolate zucchini muffins-I usually make a double batch and freeze these.  Both regular size and mini muffins. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Off to Pre-K and Our Lunchbox-Week 2

Madelyn headed off to her first day of pre-K on Friday!  I anticipating a little sadness that her big brother wasn't at the same building this year giving her the comfort of seeing him in the hallways.  But, my big girl had no tears and was excited to start!

Stop growing up my sweet baby girl!  

Madelyn will also be spending lunch at school again this year.  But this year she's got her laptop lunchbox to make it more fun!  With the Labor Day holiday last Monday I only had to pack two lunches and because I was out of practically everything in my refrigerator we did the best we could with what was on hand.  
Hummus with cut up apple (the hummus came back uneaten-Kaiden is on a hummus strike I guess).  Cut up cucumber, carrot and celery with homemade vegan ranch dip (He LOVES this stuff!).  Trader Joe's wheat thin crackers and a chocolate chip cookie.

Vegan cream cheese, cucumber and Applegate turkey roll up in whole wheat tortilla (a treat for turkey-which most of this came back uneaten since they both said they didn't really like it).  Cut up strawberries, mini vegan pumpkin muffins & chocolate chip cookie.

Recipes I used:
Vegan pumpkin muffins-instead of the sugar I use 1/2 cup of honey and they come out plenty sweet enough for us.

Hope your week was great!  

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Our Lunchbox-Week 1

This year is the first year at our public school kindergarten that you can choose to attend a full day program or a half day program.  All academics are done during the half day option but the full day option incorporates an "enrichment period" which just basically builds upon the things they have already learned in their regular kindergarten session.  In other words, the district was losing students of working parents to the local charter/private schools that have full day kindergarten and they wanted to bring that money back into the public school so they have a glorified day care option to fill the full day.  Whatever you call it we are trying out the full day option on MWF and keeping half days on T/TH.

On full days we need to send in two snacks (one for morning and one for afternoon) in addition to a lunch.  I was like a kid in an (organic) candy store when I ordered the kids their Laptop Lunchboxes.  I ordered the dual compartment kit for both of them to accommodate snacks/lunches (Madelyn's in the "girly" color).  I'm in LOVE with their lunch boxes!  Cause I'm weird like that.  I even took a day to make a meal plan for their weekly lunches.  Some of the meals play off of my dinner meal plan so that I can incorporate leftovers into lunches.  Although only a week into school, it's made packing lunches fun for both me and the kids.  Madelyn will start pre-K on Friday in which she will get to jump in on the lunch fun.  I'll try to post our weekly lunches on Fridays cause I know there are some moms out there looking for lunch inspiration.  I'm with you girls and I'm here for you trying to navigate this world of school lunches.  While I try to keep to a vegan-ish menu as much as possible, we do eat some animal products from time to time.  So, some of my menus will reflect that.  But, I can assure you that they will always be full of "real food" instead of processed junk.  Enjoy!
Star shaped PB & J sandwiches cut with small cookie cutters, fruit salad with a heart shaped toothpick, trail mix & homemade vegan chocolate pudding
Leftover silver dollar banana pancakes with maple syrup for dipping (in small lidded container) from dinner the night before.  Cut up strawberries, leftover overnight oats with blueberries (from breakfast) & vegan chocolate pudding with vegan chocolate chips.

The kids attended camp this summer and their lunchboxes happen to arrive the last week of camp.  So I was able to give it a try before school was in full swing.  Here's a glimpse of what they had at camp.  
Banana wrap with peanut butter and honey, fruit salad, Annie's organic pretzels, 365 sandwich cookies, applesauce with cinnamon

Sushi sandwich (using honey whole wheat bread from Great Harvest Bread Co.) with vegan cream cheese and organic strawberry jelly, organic peaches, carrots & cucumbers & vegan chocolate pudding
Hope you find some inspiration in our lunches.  My kids love to see what they are getting each day and I can honestly say that I enjoy making lunches!  Ask me again halfway through the year and I might have a different answer, though :)

Have a happy day!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Kindergarten Bound

Yep.  The time finally came that Kaiden headed off to kindergarten!  The excitement was palpable (Kaiden) and the tears were flowing (Mommy).  My little boy is so grown up!  

The first day was exhausting for Kaiden (and the rest of us too for that matter). After heading to bed at 7:30 that night he woke up the next morning stating that, "I don't want to go to kindergarten anymore.  You have to wake up too early."  

Amen to that brother.  Amen to that.  

Welcome to the rest of your life, kid.  God's got big plans for you and I can't wait to watch the journey.