Wildlife Wednesday: The Metamorphosis of a Frog

If you have ever raised tadpoles and observed their incredible metamorphosis, then you know just how rewarding it can be. Here is a look at some of the different stages of life from our frog pond this summer.

Our green frogs began to develop quickly and before long, there were many tadpoles with 2 legs and some with 4.

The Wood frogs began to grow legs and climb onto the makeshift lily pads. I had to keep an eye on them and make sure I removed them from the pond once they matured because the are not aquatic and could drown if they were unable to climb out.

We had a mix of green frog, wood frog, and spring peeper tadpoles. The wood frog and spring peeper tadpoles looked very similar so it was always a surprise to see which developed. Spring Peepers are so cool!

The green frog’s transformation seemed more dramatic because of their sheer size. They have very long tails as tadpoles, and once they develop legs, the tail is still as long as the frog’s body.

I didn’t have to worry about the kids getting bored, Evan and Ari would sit and watch them for hours. If I ever lost track of Evan throughout the course of the day, all I had to do was peek out on the back patio. That boy loves frogs as much as I do!

As the frogs grew, they spent more and more time out of the water. Every day when we walked outside, we were greeted by the excited splashes as they dashed for safety under the weeds. Eventually they got used to our comings and goings and we were able to better observe them.

Before long we had full fledged frogs hopping about. When it rained they would jump out in search of a new home. The newts were the first to go. It was bittersweet but I never intended on making them stay in a sandbox. That is why I never covered it, the whole idea is to make a habitat that critters want to live in. Unfortunately, until I can build a legitimate pond with a pump system, I can’t expect them to stick around.

By the end of summer, the pond was overrun by frogs. I actually noticed a considerable decrease in bugs on our patio, which was awesome. The frogs are all gone now, but the memories and education they provided will remain.

Have you ever kept tadpoles? If so, please share your experience with us in the comments! Until next time, happy herping, ya’ll!

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Cars with Space for Three Car Seats: What Do You Do?

*articles may contain affiliate links* This post about searching for cars with space for three car seats is brought to us today through US Family Guide and cars.com. 

When we found out we were having twins, it was clear that a family of six wasn’t going to fit in our Avenger. We tried for a few months, but it didn’t work out like we thought (“we’ll never have to have all four in the “car” and can use the truck instead”, ha). Our search began for cars with space for three car seats.

cars with space for three car seats

source: Cars.com

This search is pretty difficult – so much so that Jennifer Newman of cars.com calls it “the automotive holy grail: a car that’s not a minivan and can fit three child-safety seats across the backseat”. That is true indeed!

The obvious was that a van was going to work, especially because we have four kids. But even now that we’re looking for a second “runner” vehicle, I’m pleasantly surprised that there are sedan options, too! I found this super helpful article from Cars.com that listed the results of their tests of cars with space for three car seats and LOVED to see five sedans made the list.

We’re at the stage where Evan needs a booster and the twins are in forward-facing seats, so the space is still a bit tight. We might not end up with a vehicle that actually fits three across the back (especially because Arianna still needs to be in the back, too), but at least we know our options!

car search

When you are looking for a new car, it definitely is a good idea to do your research. The dealer we recently visited encouraged us to check the car seats on a test drive, too. We’ll definitely do that as we move forward in our car buying process!

If you’re looking for how other cars passed the car seat tests and you aren’t a big family, Cars.com has information on that, too! Check out the results of car seats in several different vehicles here.

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The Search for a New Car

Sponsored Post – all opinions are 100% my own. And so it begins. The search for a new car. You buckle yourself in for a long and stressful process, right? You start to visit local dealerships and used car lots. Or maybe you do your browsing online. Whatever way you handle a search for a new (or used) vehicle, I’m guessing research is involved.

Car shopping is definitely worth the time it takes to do your research. I’ve purchased six cars in my life and in the (near-ish) future we’ll be in search of another. Every time, I’ve looked online to be sure I knew as much going into it as I could. Cars.com is a great place to find a vast amount of information to guide your car search.

Source: Cars.com

The Search for a New Car

Here’s what I consider the must-knows when you search for a new car:

  • Budget: This is first and foremost. Don’t go searching for something out of your range. Be honest with your search and with your car salesman.
  • Size of Vehicle: If you’re a growing family, that 2-seater is going to have to go!
  • Make and Model: Do you have something you’re committed to, or a dream car?
  • MPG (miles per gallon): As someone that commutes, this is key! You don’t want a gas hog.
  • Vehicle History: If you’re looking at used vehicles, how often was it serviced (you can get a report on this)?
  • Reviews: What do others who have owned a vehicle like this had to say about it?

When you’ve done your research, it’s time to hit the road and do some test driving. Yes, this means heading over to a dealer. You want to show them that you know something about what you’re there for – be clear and firm with your desires. You might have your heart set on a car you saw online and it could be gone by the time you get to the lot. Be prepared for this, too!

Source: Cars.com

Make it Pay Off

If you have done the research, you’ll find what’s right for you. The process of buying a car doesn’t have to be a negative life event. Enjoy browsing the options, take your time, and find the just right vehicle. In the end, you’ll be happy with a deal that’s the best for you and your family!

What tips would you add?

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British Soccer Camp: Success!

*articles may contain affiliate links* This post about British Soccer Camp is one such post.

Do you remember what Evan really wanted to do this summer? He was super excited about spending a week at British Soccer Camp at Pittsburgh Indoor Sports Arena – and he did it! 

Last week, he (and Arianna) stayed with Pappy and Grammie so he was nice and close to the camp. (We live about 35 minutes away and six year olds go to half day camp from 9 to noon – huge kudos and thanks to my parents for helping make this easy on my commute!) While he didn’t tell us much about camp specifics, his excitement to get up each morning without Pappy having to encourage him speaks volumes. (This is a boy who sleeps like a rock and does not like to wake up.)

soccer camp

The week started by me and my dad dropping Evan off – we wanted to meet the coaches and get all the logistics covered. (Which can I just say that British Soccer Camp makes this so easy – they sent some reminder emails before the week started and included a release form that allowed my dad, mom, and uncle to get Evan throughout the week. We printed that off and had no issues all week – super easy.)

Evan was the third kid to check in, but would have been first if he didn’t have a I HAVE TO PUT MY BRITISH SOCCER JERSEY ON NOW moment in the van once he saw the coaches walking into PISA wearing their jerseys. He was younger than the other two kids and said to me, “good thing I’m small, I’m going to outrun them cause I am so fast from not running in a while”. Hmmph! This was seconds before he pushed me out of the bench area and said to go to work ’cause he was good and settled. Well then, looks like we have a Beckham on our hands?!?!

My dad handled camp the rest of the week and he was impressed with the ease, the facility (and staff), and coaches. Evan was exhausted after each day but definitely loved it.

On the last day of camp, we took the whole family plus Pappy and Grammie to watch the campers play a game and get their awards. Coaches James and Diego also gave the kids an evaluation – lines right up with what we’ve been trying to work with Evan on.

After a week of camp, Evan definitely shows that he loves playing defense over anything (sorry, Coach X, but we think he will try to do some more goalie work soon, too!) and is still all about fairness on the field. He’s looking forward to his fall season at our local Y, but keeps asking if he can do camp again next year!

British Soccer Camp

While summer might be coming to an end, there are still some several options for the soccer camp around the country. And keep watching – they’ll be back in Pittsburgh next summer!

British Soccer Camp

Before we signed up, our friends over at US Family Guide filled me in on why this camp is so special:

British Soccer Camps are the most popular soccer camp in the US. With an innovative curriculum that develops skills, speed and confidence in players ages 3-18, The British Soccer Camp provide boys and girls with the rare opportunity to receive high-level soccer coaching from a team of international expert’s right in the heart of their own community. In addition to teaching new skills and improving game performance, each British Soccer Camp provides lessons in character development, cultural education and is the most fun your child can have learning the sport they love!

Want to keep in the know? Follow along on Twitter with @ChallengerCamps and be sure to follow @usfg for family-friendly fun near you.

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What camps did your kiddo participate in this summer? 

 

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In Theaters Tomorrow: Leap! The Movie

Leap! The Movie

*articles may contain affiliate links* This sponsored post is brought to you by The Weinstein Company and coordinated by Wendy’s Bloggers. Check out the brand NEW trailer from The Weinstein Company’s  LEAP!, featuring Carly Rae Jepsen’s hit song from the soundtrack, “Cut To The Feeling.”

In LEAP! 11-year-old orphan, Félicie has one dream – to go to Paris and become a dancer. Her best friend Victor, an imaginative but exhausting boy with a passion for creating, has a dream of his own – to become a famous inventor. The two friends flee their orphanage in pursuit of their passions. But Félicie quickly learns that talent alone is not enough, but determined to succeed, Félicie finds her mentor in the tough and mysterious school custodian, Odette who, along with Victor’s encouraging friendship, help her reach for the stars.

This charming animated comedy will inspire the whole family! Parents, kids, anyone who has ever dreamed of following their heart will fall in love with LEAP!. The entire cast captures the spirit and humor of the story and the music will have you dancing all the way home!

Make sure to get your tickets early!

LEAP! opens in theaters nationwide on August 25th and stars Elle Fanning, Nat Wolff and Maddie Ziegler alongside Mel Brooks, Kate McKinnon and Carly Rae Jepsen.

#LeapMovie

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Wildlife Wednesday: National Aviary

We apologize for the hiatus, the lilburghers and dad have been adjusting to a new schedule and haven’t been able to do much exploring lately. Sometimes there are ways to explore and discover critters without actually going out in the wild. One of our favorite ways to observe the wonders of nature is to visit the National Aviary! Last week I took the twincesses for an impromptu trip while we waited to pick mommy up from work. Adorableness ensued.

Upon arrival, we were informed that they would be bringing a baby flamingo out to the rose garden in just a few minutes. I had not even heard about the flamingo chicks so this was an amazing surprise! The little flamingo was so adorably awkward as he ran right past us. It was incredible to watch the bond between the chick and it’s caretaker. He followed the man everywhere he went and constantly made little squawking noises to make sure his “parent” knew where he was. If you would like to see the baby flamingos, be sure to visit the National Aviary daily at 10:30am and 2:00pm for their free “Flamingo chick talk”. You can also pay to make a reservation and get a more personal, hands-on experience.

As we walked back inside, I had this strange sense that we were being watched. As we rounded the corner into the Main Hall, we were immediately confronted by an enormous raptor! The Eurasian Eagle Owl is said to be the largest owl species in the world, and I can see why. His intense stare, fearsome talons, and impressive 6 and a half foot wingspan give him the rule of the roost.

Our next stop turned out to be the girls’ favorite exhibit; the penguins!

The twins could not hold back their excitement, and one penguin in particular, named Tribby,  seemed to take a liking to the them.

Ava and Isla ran back and forth, giggling and screaming, trying to hug and kiss the amazing aquatic birds as they danced through the water. My heart swelled watching the joy overflow from their lil bodies. You can’t help but smile watching them, it is contagious.

Inside is a statue of a penguin, which is a habitual photo op for all of our kids. We spent about 15 minutes with the girls running up to it, hugging it and yelling “cheese”, then running away before I could take a picture. This whole spectacle proved quite amusing to our fellow aviary patrons, but I finally got one.

Next up was the Wetlands, where we watched the baby flamingo’s future flock frolicking (say that five times fast!) in the shallows, some sleepy pelicans, and a Roseate spoonbill nesting high up in the trees. As we traveled through the Wetlands, Isla noticed that we had picked up a tail…Joanie, the resident Wattled Curassow decided to follow us around. She was nice enough to stop and pose for us.

As we bid farewell to Joanie, the grasslands awaited with it’s exciting immersive atmosphere. This may be the smallest area of the aviary, but it is one of my favorites. I’ve found it to be one of the best rooms to photograph the birds, but you have to stay alert because these little aviators love to buzz your tower. One of my favorite birds here is the absolutely stunning Gouldian Finch!

Our final stop was the rainforest. One of the most impressive birds in this exhibit has to be the Malayan Great Argus. If you are lucky enough to witness it’s amazing display, you will understand why. We were not that lucky on this trip but we did get to see the big kids’ favorite bird. The Rhinoceros Hornbill has been a go-to for Ari and Ev since they were little. The male often “talks” to them, and he had a lot to say on this day.

We love getting out to the National Aviary whenever we can. I recommend everyone take a break from their day sometime and check out this peaceful little oasis nestled in the heart of our great city.

If you have been to the National Aviary and have a fun experience to share or suggestions for our next trip, please leave us a comment. Until next time, happy herping, ya’ll!

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Mexican Street Corn Dip

Have you ever had something so good you couldn’t stop thinking about it? That’s how things went about a year ago when we were introduced to Elote Loco, Mexican Street Corn, at our local {favorite} food truck, LA Taco. It is an amazing combination of sweet corn, butter, cheese, and spices served (super hot!) on a stick and wrapped in foil to seal in all the goodness. Who knew this would turn into my latest hit, Mexican Street Corn Dip!

Truthbomb – this isn’t clean or whole or anything on my lifestyle change journey plan but a splurge is sometimes a must

elote loco

I snapped a photo of the deliciousness on Instagram and even that wasn’t enough to get me through to the next time it would touch my lips, about a week ago. After a trip to the truck for tacos and Street Corn, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It was clear I needed more, but a plan to visit the truck wasn’t in the cards again in the near enough future. We did, however, have a potluck cookout to go to, so I started scheming ways I could make this my side dish.

That’s when it hit me – this would make an amazing dip! Don’t be like me – do this one in your crock pot (and if you don’t have one, this one is perfect for any dip you’ll ever need to make for the army of people at a potluck – go get yourself one now – they were on sale when I posted this!)

dip crock pot

The perfect crock for dips!

See, what I did was do it in a 9 x 13 casserole dish which was fine and well, but it didn’t keep it hot like I needed it to be. All good, it was devoured, save for a little bit I had as breakfast the next day (don’t judge, you’ll do the same). Unfortunately, that’s all I photographed, so you’ll just have to hold out hope I make this again and can get some more pictures to show you – or make your own and see for yourself!

Mexican Street Corn Dip

Mexican Street Corn Dip

Ingredients: 

  • 4 cans of corn (or 8 cups fresh or frozen)
  • 4 TBSP unsalted butter
  • 6 oz Cotija cheese (you can find this in your cheese aisle)
  • Chile Powder, to your taste (we like it HOT)
  • 2 TBSP Jalapenos (diced are best)
  • Cilantro, to your taste

Steps:

So easy. Put this all in your crock and set it on low for 3-4 hours before you want to eat it. Stir occasionally. Or be like me and put it all in a pan, heat it up, then add to the dish (so much more work).

Enjoy.

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Mexican Street Corn Dip is definitely a fan favorite in our house. What is your go to potluck dish? Please pin and share this one if you think you’d love it – then make it! Follow me on Instagram for more food fun!

Also, if you’re in the Pittsburgh Area, be sure to check out LA Taco – their weekly schedule is on Facebook!

street corn dip

 

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Unsupervised Play: Yay or Nay?

This post about Unsupervised Play is brought to you through a collaboration with myself and The Genius of Play. All opinions are 100% my own.

This morning I was working from home and got to experience the joy of listening to my two older children as they were playing in my son’s room. The conversations they held sounded very “grown” – such as “make sure the baby has a clean diaper” and “I’ll cook dinner so you can take a break tonight”. Surely modeled after the example Greg and I give them, their simple act of playing house (with Evan’s firefighter house and characters) spoke volumes to me. They know how to play and we are teaching them good things. 

Where was Greg during this play? He was feeding the twins their breakfast in another room. Where was I during this play? I was working in my office across the hall from Evan’s room. Shock! Our kids were engaged in unsupervised play…and not only engaged in it, they didn’t have to be told to just go play!

unsupervised play

What is unsupervised play?

In our house, unsupervised play is any play that takes place when an adult isn’t in the same room. It challenges them to fight off boredom and to make up ways to interact with each other without the help or influence of us adults or technology. Honestly, it helps us to get our to-do lists and work done, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t listening/checking in. Unsupervised play is showing our kids that we trust them (and letting them know when they’ve broken that trust).

Unsupervised Play: Outside vs Inside

But what about when that play is outside and unsupervised? Again, all parents are going to have opinions. When The Genius of Play posted the video below on social media, it gained many comments on the topic.

Things sure are different than they were in the 80’s and 90’s when I grew up, but we keep our boundaries pretty tight around here, too. As you know, we let them explore the wild but with our supervision. When they do get to go outside and have unsupervised play, I (imagine) they are pirates and princesses, braving the “wild seas” of our backyard. We have a fenced in backyard, but the kids don’t get to run out back whenever they want – we need to be downstairs so we can see/hear them.

Will that change as they get older? Honestly, likely. We’ll trust them more and give them a little bit of freedom. But for now, our unsupervised play will continue to take place within the four walls of our house where we can check in on them every ten or so minutes.

Tell me – what are your thoughts on unsupervised play in and outside of the home? 

I’ve teamed up with The Genius of Play to help raise awareness around the vital role play has on kids’ lives and development. They are currently sharing this set of videos to bring awareness of some hot play topics to the table – head out and see what you think! Let’s help each other navigate the world of parenting.

Stay on top of your parenting game when it comes to play! Follow along with The Genius of Play on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Their website is full of creative ideas and advice on play – be sure to check it out!

*articles may contain affiliate links*
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The Freeloader Child Carrier

*articles may contain affiliate links* This post about the Freeloader Child Carrier contains information provided by US Family Guide. I’ll be reviewing this carrier soon and will share my personal opinions with you then!

Where are my baby-wearing moms and dads? My hand is raised high, but my babies aren’t so much babies any more, so wearing them hasn’t happened as much as I’d like. Now that the twins are two, they’re bigger and less interested in being worn. But to be honest, sometimes it would make life so much easier to be able to wear them.

That’s why I am excited to be sharing information on The Freeloader child carrier with you – and soon you’ll get to see us using this carrier in action! Can’t wait to see how the girls do with it!

Freeloader

According to my friends over at US Family Guide:

The Freeloader is the First Child Carrier Built Specifically for Toddlers! It is a new, better child carrier. Compact, lightweight and portable, the Freeloader child carrier uses advanced materials and design to create a better experience for parents who love spending time with their kids.

Whether you are traveling by air, going to the zoo, or hiking with your little ones, the Freeloader is ready to help carry the load. When not in use, the Freeloader’s integrated aluminum seat folds up neatly to the size of a daypack. The Freeloader is a perfect fit for parents that want a lighter, more versatile carrier. The Freeloader features an easy-to-use, 5-point safety harness. The safety harness is specially designed to fasten securely and safely out-of-reach of your child.

The Freeloader provides wide, ergonomic shoulder and waist straps to evenly distribute your child’s weight to your hips and core. The contoured shoulder straps are adjustable and provide extra padding for comfort and support. Padding in the back panel and seat offers extended comfort for your child.

The Freeloader is small enough to carry-on and stows away neatly, making it perfect for air travel, road trips and more!

I can just imagine how this will revolutionize Greg’s Wildlife Wednesday hikes, can’t you? And for me, I’m excited to give it a try the next time we go to the zoo – Ava had me carry her far more than I expected (and she hates the stroller).

If you’re intrigued and can’t wait to see my review here on the blog, head over to the Freeloader Child Carrier website or find them on Facebook.

Bonus: My readers get to take 10% off your Freeloader Child Carrier when you enter the code “freeloaderfun” at checkout. Enjoy!

Tell Me: Did you baby wear your kiddos? When did you stop? Where was the coolest place you carried?

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Toy Tuesday: July 25

*articles may contain affiliate links* Today’s Toy Tuesday features swag from Blogger Bash: Find It (from the Toy Association), Green Toys Dough, and Kawaii Squeezies. Enjoy!

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