Added fun to a family favorite

As a child I grew up playing Candyland. The excitement of choosing your game piece, selecting a color card, and finishing first at King Kandy’s Castle. It was a great tool to learn your colors and made everyone hungry for yummy sweet treats.

In the winter months, board games become very popular to play with families while keeping warm from the cold outside. If you’re child/children are like mine and they don’t have long attention spans or physical activity is a daily must, I’ve created some extended “rules” to the family favorite game, Candyland. Now keep in mind all players must participate so you may need to stretch and had a cold glass of water on the table. My three year old son loved the added rules and I hope you and your child have fun too.

To play the extended version of Candyland you must first follow the basic rules of choosing your player and drawing a card on your turn. Once you have drawn a card move the appropriate spaces and then do the action for that color. The pink cards/character cards have an action as well. If you get a double color you must do the action twice. For example, if you draw a double red, you must jump 10x instead of only 5x. Make sure the player who drew the card is the only one doing the action. We don’t want players colliding and getting hurt. This version comes with a lot of laughs and encouragement. You can clap, sing, give high fives, and count together.

Happy playing!!

❤️ jump 5x

🧡 run to front door and back

💛 5 toe touches

💚 5 karate kicks

💙 run to your bedroom and back

💜 March around the table

💗 3 frog jumps

Family, Uncategorized

Top 5 items when traveling with Kids

Are you planning on going on a trip? Wondering what to pack for your child to make your trip/vacation a success? Check out these top 5 must have items that you and your family will love!

#5 Child size suitcaseminion

We purchased this minion suitcase from Target (click on picture for link) for Liam to take to his sleep overs at his grandparents house. This bag has come in handy and he loves to pull it on his own. It has 3 zipper compartments and a netted pouch inside. I pack both boys clothes in it for now until Bennett gets older and requests his own luggage.

#4 Gallon size Zip lock Bags

These will become your new best friend! I actually use these when packing the boys clothes. If you have an independent child like I do this process is so easy. Each bag gets an outfit plus underwear and socks (fun accessories for the girls). This makes getting ready super easy and NO FIGHTS! Children who don’t have opinions on what they wear (lucky you!) or too young like my Bennett I just pick his outfits. Because he’s under one I put all of his outfits in one zip lock. The weather is so unpredictable sometimes that I pack both outfits for warm and cold. I use 2 zip locks for the different weather clothes. Not only are the bags useful for keeping outfits together, if you release all the air from them the clothes shrink and you can get more in your suitcase. To me more is so much better! Big tip is to label your zip locks. If you are traveling with extended family, have more than one kid, or just want your husband to get your child dressed so you can finish your hair; labeling will save your life. No one can question you when it is written in sharpie! If you have a messy or potty training child always pack a bag of extra clothes.

#3 Baby wipe container

baby wipe container

Each child gets their own container of snacks for the road. If they are old enough you can have fun and let them decorate their own container. I’m planning on having a timer on my phone letting my kids know when its time to eat a snack. My phone timer has become our way of life, we use it for everything! Knowing my son, he could eat every snack in his container in one sitting. I often let him have 2 snacks every hour and a half.  We always  to pack some of his favorites like nutri-grain bars, mini muffins, pretzels, and fruit snacks. I only buy the Annie’s Organic Bunny fruit snacks. They are all natural which is great for my active 3.5 year old. Red dye and sugar cause him to become very unfocused and over stimulated.

#2 Bag of Toys

Having toys is equally as important as having snacks. Whether for the car, the house your staying, or hotel; toys from home give your child a reminder of home. Being away from their environment can be stressful and make a child anxious. I always have Liam choose which toys he wants. I bring a thirty-one large utility tote to fit toys for both boys.

#1 First Aid kit

Our house has at least 4 first aid kits at our disposal. Having a husband that’s a chef who uses knives and burns his skin at least once a day we collect a lot of first aid materials. It’s always good to have this on the road for any emergency that might occur. Our kit consists of:

  • band-aids (I add some fun ones for kids)
  • hand sanitizer
  • gauze pads
  • first aid tape
  • alcohol swabs
  • cold packs
  • thermometer
  • antibiotic ointment
  • Ibuprofen
  • Tylenol
  • Antihistamine
  • aloe
  • itch relieve
  • cotton pads
  • flashlight
  • tweezers
  • saline solution
  • scissors
  • tissues
  • disposable gloves


I hope this eases some of your stress when packing for your trip. Lists are always a good idea. I make mine weeks in advanced so I can slowly add more stuff as I think of it. I also give myself the entire week to pack, whether it’s because of certain laundry that has to be washed or so I’m not packing for 15 hours the night before we leave. Give yourself plenty of time and relax. Everyone knows if Mom’s stressed the whole family feels it. Take pictures, laugh, hug, enjoy this time with your family and always pray before your trip begins. Starting your trip focused on the Lord will wipe away anxiety and allow joy to enter.



Diaper Free in Three Days

Today marks Liam’s 1 year anniversary of being potty trained. To celebrate I wanted to share our potty training technique and how I got him out of diapers and into underwear in 3 days.

I first researched for a couple of months the signs of when your toddler is ready to potty train. I found things like hiding when going in their diaper, being curious when seeing someone use the bathroom, being dry for long periods of time (including nap time), and Liam was showing them all. He was 2 years and 3 months old so I knew the day was coming. As a mom who was 17 weeks pregnant I was so not ready for this. I didn’t want to be stuck in the bathroom all summer trying to train a toddler, but I also didn’t want 2 kids in diapers so I sucked it up and made a plan.

Since I wasn’t working and it was just the two of us, I wanted to skip pull ups and go straight to underwear. We went to the store and he got to pick out 2 of his favorite character underwear. I then went to the dollar tree and purchased a plastic bucket, 8 special prizes and stickers (I’ll explain these later on). Pull-ups has a great app with a timer and games, plus it’s FREE!

Now that I had all the supplies I designed a chart and placed it where Liam could reach. Every time Liam went potty he would receive one sticker for #1 and two stickers for #2. I labeled the bucket I purchased as “Potty Prize” and filled the bucket with the 8 prizes. Every time he filled up a sheet he got to pick a prize. I printed 8 charts to achieve the 8 prizes. I wasn’t sure how well he would do and wanted to give him lots of practice.

Liam and I spent 3 days at home and he lived in just his underwear. I had him drink lots of water and we set a timer for every 40 min. We continued to keep a diaper on him for naptime and overnight. After two months I noticed Liam continually being dry when he woke up from his naps. By September he was wearing underwear during naptime and October he was completely out of diapers.

liam potty
Liam and his first potty prize

My fellow parents, this was my sweet and simple instructions but just know consistency and lots of praise go a long way. It was frustrating, exciting, and exhausting at times, but to see them master such a huge skill will be rewarding for the whole family (not to mention more money in your pocket). Below you will find four cute potty charts that you and your child can personalize. Remember this is a big step for everyone and stay positive!




Father’s Day 2017

Father’s Day in our house is a little different. Alex makes bread on Sunday’s so we celebrated all day Saturday. I sometimes have a hard time coming up with ideas because he doesn’t have an office so no homemade pictures. He doesn’t wear a tie so nothing tie related. We decided to go jumping at Defy Gravity and a fun MOVIE NIGHT. 

I found this really cute idea on Pinterest to put our Movie Night package together. We had large paper bags around for my husbands bread business and my picture of the boys was a left over from a large picture order. Walgreens always has specials for 100+ pictures at a low price, I usually jump at the opportunity to hand them out to family and then use the extras for crafts such as these. The ticket stub box is made from a Frozen graham cracker box. I covered it with construction paper and let Liam color it with markers. I purchased my candy from The Dollar Store; the candy tastes the same and is so much cheaper than other stores. I made sure to get M&Ms for Liam and then Twizzlers and Snickers are my husbands favorite. I purchased enough to share with everyone, even me! I made sure to portion my snacks and added the points even though it was my “cheat day”. I put the candy in left over cellophane bags from Liam’s birthday party and added a red ribbon. We already had a bunch of movies at home that we haven’t seen in a while and my husband was just happy to be able to pick. I also printed off some movie tickets for each family member to make it more fun. You can find cute free movie ticket printable on Pinterest.  I printed them on cardstock so they would be nice a sturdy. 

Now that Liam is three and talking I decided to have him fill out a Daddy Questionnaire, It was so cute to see Alex read the answers and will be a fun tradition to do each year. It also comes with a questionnaire for Grandpa too.

We also made these cute hand and footprint crafts I found on Pinterest. The boys are super ticklish so that was a fun experience!

I hope you enjoyed your Father’s Day and made your husband feel super special for all the hard work he does!


Show your Superpower

A couple of weeks ago we stopped by our local library to play on their playground. I used to bring Liam to story time every Thursday for about 5 months. After many many many times having to chase after Liam and trying to keep him quiet and calm while choosing books I thought this is not setting either of us up for success and decided it’s best to find a new physical activity to make us both happy. 

While at the park we had to make a stop inside for a potty break. I was looking around and decided to grab some books since my husband was there to watch Liam. One of the books we check out was called “Ten rules of being a superhero“. My son’s eyes got so big and I could tell he was listened to every word. I felt if he was this excited and interested in a book, I had to incorporate this into our real life. 

The story follows a little boy (Lava Boy) and his superhero toy (Captain Magma) who show you the rules of being a superhero and how it affects those around them. Rule #3 was the rule that helped guide me in the direction I was looking for. 

Rule #3: Every superhero has at least one superpower, that’s what makes him SUPER! Captain magma had three superpowers which i thought was great and we made it our own. 

After we finished the book, Liam and I talked about superheros and what his three super powers are. 

#1 Has a friendly personality

#2 Is a great jumper

#3 An awesome big brother

His superhero pose

These three superpowers have given Liam such confidence and I’ve seen a huge growth in him. When we go places to play I remind him to show off his superpower and he gives me a huge smile with a thumbs up. It helps a lot at home as well when he forgets to be gentle to Bennett. I just remind him of his superpower and his eyes light up and he gets so excited to be a superhero. 

I hope you enjoy reading this story as much as we did. It might have become a household favorite and will soon be added to our library. 



I thought it was about time to introduce myself…

My name is Jen Swearingen. I am the oldest and only girl of 3 children. My husband, Alex and I have been married for four and a half years and we have 2 wonderful boys, Liam (3) and Bennett (6 months). Liam is my strong, independent, funny boy who teaches me about parenting everyday while Bennett is a happy, laid back, go with the flow baby that this Mama desperately needed.

I’ve grown up in Wake Forest close to family. My cousins were more like siblings who lived in different houses, this called for many sleepovers. Family is a very big part of who I am and I’m so glad Alex grew up the same way. Both our parents live 10 minutes from us and our boys get to grow up with their grandparents close by. We have no shortage of babysitters.

I’ve been working with kids since I took a babysitting course at the young age of 9. Babysitting, various preschools, and teaching dance class. My recent job was as a two year old assistant at Hope Lutheran Preschool in Wake Forest. I worked there for 5 wonderful years. The first day my lead teacher and I met was the start of our amazing friendship. We married the same year, had our first sons 7 weeks apart and now have second sons 12 weeks apart. To say God just drops amazing things in your lap is ever so true with this amazing woman I call my best friend.

This month marks my first year as a stay-at-home Mom. I was so excited to start a new journey with my Liam  and anxious about adding another to our duo. Having a brother almost 10 years younger and working with kids I thought I had motherhood in the bag. Yea The Lord was definitely laughing at that joke. I love my son so very much. I carried him, gave birth to him, but he has no limits and tests my “expert” parenting everyday. Now that he is 3 I see his maturity and remorse. He’s grown not only in height but in his speech, knowledege, and integrity. He wants to know everything and is so curious. His fire for learning is a gift and I never want to put out his flame. God is my rock and shoulder when I feel this amazing boy is too much for my impatient, human mind to handle. My prayer for Liam is to lean on Jesus and to follow whatever greatness he has for him. I know he has a wonderful future ahead of him. Adding Bennett to our family this past December was just what our family needed. It was like he was part of our little family all along. He loves when we go out to parks, play dates, the pool, and indoor play places. He flashes his amazing smile and it melts everyone’s heart.

I started my Weight Watcher life style in February of 2015. I was almost 12 months postpartum and counting calories only got my so far. I was 15 lbs away from my goal and I was hungry ALL THE TIME. I knew there was a healthier, more effective way to lose weight. In just 4 short months I was down to my pre-pregnancy weight and felt amazing. I was eating the right portions, had lots of energy, and felt full! I continued to use Weight Watchers until I got pregnant March 2016. I didn’t consistently record my points but I did manage to gain 10 less lbs than my first pregnancy. Now that I’m 6 months postpartum I’ve been back recording my points everyday for the past month. I’m excited to share some yummy recipes and my healthy eating lifestyle. 

I wanted to enter the blog world to share my life with you. I want other moms to know there is someone else going through the same thing. I want to help support my husband and share his love of bread with people who share the same passion. I want to share my knowledge of teaching and working with children for so many years.  Thank you for joining this journey with me.


Summer Rules

Now that it’s summer and your children are out of school do you feel a little overwhelmed? Personally I am a mess without my lists. I have lists for everything!! Diaper bag, pool bag, chores; you name it, I probably have a list for it. I was scrolling on my Facebook feed and saw this summer schedule for children. I find it so hard sometimes and feel so guilty for having the television on. I liked that the chart allowed us to watch TV but chores and activities came first. This also has helped us with getting ready when we have plans that morning. I loved the idea, but knew I had to change some things for it to work for our family. I wanted to share my “School Rules” chart with you to print and post in your home. This chart is geared for preschoolers (pre-reader) since that is what I’m catering to in my home. It only has pictures so my son can do the chart by himself and doesn’t need me to read it to him. Our goal at the end of this is to teach our three year old responsibility and to help the chaos that the summer brings. Below I will explain the pictures and the chores that go with each. They are pretty explanatory which is great for the youngsters. I hope you enjoy and feel a little more organized in the chaotic summer months.

Summer Rules

Top Line:

Get Dressed/Make your bed/Eat breakfast/Brush your teeth/Help mommy with a chore  

Middle Line:

20 min Read a book/20 min coloring/20 min play with play doh/20 min alphabet practice 

(I didn’t write a time on the chart so they can be adjusted)


FREE FUN in the Sun

I love the smell of sunscreen in the morning! Welcome to summer where the sun is hot and the days are long. I have so many exciting things planned and wanted to share our free fun ideas with you.


Indoor places:

Other places to visit:

  • RDU Observation Park (we bring sand toys to play in the sandbox)
  • Abbott’s Creek Community Center (they have a fence enclosed playground on a rubberized safety surface and a shade canopy covering the equipment. Inside the Community Center they have a free Tot Time (5yrs and under).  You can register either online, which I prefer with an impatient 3 year old, or on site.

   Mon/Wed/Fri    7:00-12:00pm

Tues/Thurs   1:00-3:00pm Open

I know the title says free, but I wanted to include some places we go that cost under $15 a person

Toddler Thursday $12 (children ages 3-5yrs) with one parent free with paying child

I also like to use Fun 4 Raleigh Kids. It’s a great website for looking up events and activities to do with your kids all year long.

Keep an eye out for future posts on the places we visited and the fun we had. Looking forward to this adventurous summer and the wonderful memories we will create.


Wife, Mommy, Homemaker

Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, beard and outdoor

I’ve officially been a stay-at-home mom for a year. Over this past year I think of all the changes our family has gone through. My husband starting a business, Liam turning 3, and adding a sweet baby to the mix. The transition from a family of three to a family of four has been very smooth, it’s like it’s always been this way. Liam has taken on the big brother role so well. Of course “be gentle” has been said hundreds of time and might stick someday. Bennett adores his big brother and is always looking for him. I thank God every day for giving me two sons that will grow up following Him and being best friends.

Being pregnant through most of my sons 2nd year of life has become a blur. I do know there were days I had no energy, not happy, and just plain mean. I remember back at the person I was and am so glad Liam doesn’t remember her. She was not a fun mommy and had no patients. I’ve been so hard on myself and make a daily prayer to forgive myself and work on the mom I want to be for both my boys.

Going on month 6 as a mom of two I am ready for summer and the fun memories we will be making.