5 Secrets To Selling Your House When You Have Kids

Happy TUESDAY, everybody! As the weather warms up, Jake’s been busy getting eager sellers ready for the HOT spring market! Houses are FLYING off the street already here in Woodbury, MN, and we are so excited to help more families find their next home! Since I know many of you may be gearing up to sell your house, we created a list of things to make the process easier for you!

5 Secrets To Selling Your House When You Have Kids 

So you decided this year is the year – it’s time to upgrade! The last time you went through this process though you didn’t have those adorable kiddos in the back seat! Selling your home with kids requires some additional strategy but with the proper plan in place it truly can (we promise 🤣) be fairly stress free.

  1. Hire a realtor with young kids. You’re going to want someone who can empathize with your situation and market your property with a sense of urgency! Having a couple of screaming kids at home leaving toys all over the house will be a good reminder for them that time is of the essence!
  2. Put your home on the market when the weather is nice! An outdoor playground is a parent’s best friend. A) you can easily get out of the house during showings and open houses and B) you get a tired kiddo! 😉
  3. Get out of town! Best advice ever. Generally the first 7-10 days on the market are the busiest. Visit mom and dad, take your summer vacation, spend a weekend at the nearby water park, etc. Encourage your realtor to be as aggressive as they can while you’re away!
  4. Hire a cleaning service! Cleaning services can range $150-300 bi-weekly but truly offer complete peace of mind that the house is in premier condition. Also leaves you with less cleaning up once your home is S-O-L-D!
  5. Price to sell! This probably seems obvious but often times home sellers can have an inflated sense that their home is worth more than the market average. With kids in the equation you don’t have time to mess around and you don’t want to be picking up day after day before showings. Price the property responsibly and trust your realtors analysis of the market, if you disagree get a second opinion.

If you are in the Twin Cities area and want to sell your home QUICKLY, please feel free to reach out to Jake! He specializes in working with families in any price point. Feel free to call or text him at 612.300.8020. He would be happy to do a quick walk through and discuss the market and some of his strategies to help you sell as fast as possible. He can have a house fully ready to market in 2 weeks (he will stage your home for you, cover professional photography, and does extensive print and social media marketing campaigns. You can follow him on Instagram: @jakekuiper to keep up with what he’s doing!)

I know I’m biased, but I am 100% confident you will have the best real estate experience of your life if you choose to work with him!

xo,

Amber

I share many more “real life” mom moments on Facebook and Instagram. I’d love for you to follow along on our crazy, not perfect, incredible journey. Follow me on Instagram: (@mommysmetimeblog) and Facebook (Mommy’s Me Time).

I share my fitness journey over on Instagram: (@mommysmetimefitness) or on Facebook (Mommy’s Me Time Fitness).

Share Button

6 Steps To Selling Your Home Stress Free This Year

Last year when my husband told me he wanted to start a real estate business, I cringed. I was really nervous about him being gone more than he already was. See, Jake is also a senior surgical sales rep here in the Twin Cities. That’s his full time gig. At 30 years old, he’s one of the youngest guys in a senior sales role, which comes as no surprise to me. Since the day Jake and I met, one of my favorite things about him is the passion he puts into everything he does. If he’s going to do something, he’s going to go above and beyond and exceed expectations.

Last year after we had a less than stellar real estate experience, Jake’s wheels started to spin. With 10+ years of sales experience and an incredible ability to market, he thought about how he could use his skills to serve people in the real estate business. He wanted to offer a luxury experience to people at any price point and prevent anyone from feeling as stressed out as we did.

Jake actually grew up in real estate. His mom was a real estate agent and as a little boy he would go around with her and help her show houses. Truth be told, I think that’s why he has a soft spot in his heart for it. 🙂

Over the last year, we’ve learned a lot. We originally started last year by branding ourselves as a company called “Twin Cities Luxury Living.” But the feedback we kept getting was that some people didn’t feel their house was luxurious enough to work with us. Well, that’s the LAST thing we ever want people to feel! Jake and I both have “includer” as a top strength and we simply want to help ANYONE we can to actually ENJOY the process of creating a home for your family.

That’s why we wanted to share some tips with you today! I know that when we were trying to sell our last house, the simple thought of getting the house ready was enough to make me want to call the whole thing off.

So, for those of you who are thinking of selling your house this year, rest assured that it doesn’t HAVE to be as stressful as you think! If you start now, you will be MARKET ready at the peak of the real estate season!

_________________________________

6 Steps To Selling Your Home Stress Free This Year by Jake Kuiper

You’ve decided that this spring you’ll be putting your home on the market for the first time in years! The thought of this completely overwhelms you. Kids, work, summer vacations, SO many things already on the calendar not to mention selling and buying a new home! Let me ease your concerns here with 6 steps you can be doing RIGHT NOW for stress free home selling in April!

  1. Request a preliminary staging consult (and YES – staging does matter. 88% faster for 20% more). A professional stager can tell you what furniture will need to come and go. How they intend to shape the space and where they feel you need to create more livable room.
  2. Make a List! Putting a plan on paper can ease a lot of anxiety. Now you know what needs to get completed by the time you intend to list your property and can gradually cross off items leading up to spring.
  3. Pack a room a month – let’s be honest, the thought of boxing up your entire home is probably one of the hardest things to get past mentally. BREAK IT UP! Challenge yourself to start boxing up a room a month in order of least to most importance. By the time April rolls around you’ll be on to room 4!
  4. Fix the “maybe next week” repair NOW! Depending on the project it may be difficult to get a contractor out to the property in April – give yourself time NOW for someone to repair the leaky downstairs faucet. A good buyer’s agent will find it; they will request to have it repaired prior to closing anyway and will likely justify an additional UNNECCESSARY reduction in price in their offer. This is money straight out of your pocket! Remove a buyer’s distractions now for peace of mind later.
  5. Wall touchups– neutral is the name of the game when it comes to paint. You love purple, your kids love purple but market research says light and bright. With painting and staging the ultimate goal is to create a space that appeals to as many potential buyers as possible! Patch scrapes and gouges nail holes and other “eye distractions.” One less thing to have to think about in April!
  6. Begin purchasing the home selling intangibles! Diffusers or air fresheners – your home needs to smell fresh (this is non-negotiable!) Spare light bulbs, a new furnace filter, packing boxes, cleaning supplies… Again it’s about doing things today that save you time and stress tomorrow!

____________________________________

Jake kicked off his business in 2016 by helping all the families he worked with to sell their homes in record time. He sold everything from homes under $200,000 to most recently accepting an offer on a $1.375 million house.

He’s rebranded himself this year as Sota Estate Agency! I honestly LOVE IT! It’s a little hipster, but also professional and polished!

Honestly, if you live in the Twin Cities area and are looking to sell, or know someone who is looking to sell, please don’t hesitate to reach out to him. He’ll get you set up with a free staging consult ASAP (he covers professional staging services for all his clients). Real estate agents are not a dime a dozen and you won’t get the same experience from everyone in town. Jake sells homes anywhere in the Twin Cities and surrounding areas. He’s now accepting NEW clients for Spring 2017. Because of his full time job he does limit the amount of clients he takes on at once so that he can be sure to give your property the attention it deserves. AND, so that he’s home enough to keep his wife happy. 😉

You can find Sota Estate Agency on Facebook and Instagram: @sotaestateagency! We’d love for you to follow along as Jake continues to give tips to get your home ready for market! Even if you’re not local, I think you’ll enjoy the tips he offers!

You can also reach Jake via email: jake@sotaestateagency.com or via phone: 612-300-8020.

xo,

Amber

I share many more “real life” mom moments on Facebook and Instagram. I’d love for you to follow along on our crazy, not perfect, incredible journey. Follow me on Instagram: (@mommysmetimeblog) and Facebook (Mommy’s Me Time).

I share my fitness business over on Instagram: (@mommysmetimefitness) or on Facebook (Mommy’s Me Time Fitness).

Share Button

A Brand New Organic Candy To Look For At Target

IMG_9691

I consider myself a health conscious newbie. I’m a student, and am constantly learning new ways to incorporate healthy living into my family’s day to day life. With that said, I also completely believe in a balanced lifestyle. The 80/20 rule, if you will. 80% of the time, I do my best to make sure my kids eat well-rounded meals with plenty of nutrients. But there are also days when I feed them macaroni and cheese and reward them with candy.

What I’m learning though, is that I can give my kids treats, but be smarter about it than I used to be. For example, a couple years ago I switched from regular macaroni and cheese to macaroni and cheese that is free of artificial flavors and colors. I also switched from the cheapest hot dogs to ones that are 100% beef with lower calories, fat, and sodium. The kids don’t taste the difference between these things, but I feel a little better knowing that they aren’t getting “as much” crap.

IMG_9686

When it comes to candy, ideally I’m looking for something that doesn’t have high fructose corn syrup, and contain no artificial flavors or colors. Why is artificial flavors and colors such a big deal to me? Because they have been linked with hyperactivity, allergic reactions, and tumor growth. In Europe, food with artificial colors are now required to include “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children!” As a mom to four little kids, the last thing I want to do is welcome in MORE hyperactivity than normal! 🙂

With that said, I know sugar is still sugar. But hey, kids gotta be kids, right? What’s life without a little candy to celebrate the everyday successes?

I was recently told about a brand new organic candy line that’s now available at Target. My ears perked up because I love when I can find things like this without having to go to a specialty grocery store!

IMG_9698

The brand is called SurfSweets, and we received some to sample the other day. My kids were OVER the moon excited when candy showed up on our doorstep, and I was even more excited because I knew it was free of corn syrup and artificial colors and flavors.

This candy was seriously AMAZING and addicting and it will definitely be our go-to when we’re choosing our treats from now on.

I’m really excited to help get the name of this brand out there. I’ve become very selective with the brands I partner with because they need to align with my family’s beliefs and goals, and it’s been fun to find a perfect partnership.

SurfSweets is giving away a prize pack full of treats to one lucky Mommy’s Me Time reader! You will also be entered to win a $50 Amazon gift card! Simply enter using Rafflecopter below! You must be 18 years old to enter. The giveaway will be open through May 23rd. U.S. mailing addresses only!

Additionally, here’s a link to a $1.00 off coupon to bring with you next time you go to Target!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

xo,

Amber

This post is sponsored by SurfSweets through the Amplify Influencer Network. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I share many more “real life” mom moments on Facebook, Instagram, and Periscope. I’d love for you to follow along on our crazy, not perfect, incredible journey. Follow me on Instagram: (@ambermkuiper), Facebook (Mommy’s Me Time), Periscope (@AmberMKuiper), and Snapchat: amberkuiper

For more business tips, you can follow me at Amber Kuiper Inc. on Facebook and @amberkuiperinc on Instagram!

You can also follow my healthy living journey on Instagram: (@amberkuiperfitness) or on Facebook (Amber Kuiper Fitness).

Share Button

How A Family Closet Solved My Laundry Problems

Last November we moved across town into a different house. I LOVE my new house for so many reasons, the biggest one probably being the additional space we have. However, more space means more to clean and keep organized (not my strong suit).

One of the constant pain points for me since having kids has been laundry. As hard as I try to get into a system and do a load every day, life always seems to happen and eventually I fall behind again. Before I know it, there I am, searching the dryer in the early morning to find a clean underwear for my husband to wear to work.

Well, when we moved into our new house, my shiny new washing machine gave me new motivation and I was excited to tackle the problem once and for all.  Our master bedroom has a walk-in closet, and one day it dawned on me: I have enough room in here to fit EVERYBODY’S clothes! 

Here’s the deal. My kids are little, and most days I’m the one who picks out their clothes. That, or they do it themselves and leave a mess so big that I spend the next 20 minutes putting everything back into their drawers. I was OVER it. And so, the family closet was born.

In this house, our laundry room is on the second level, just down the hall from the master. So, when a load of laundry is washed and dried, I simply take it and drop it on the floor of my closet.

From there, I fold it (or my nanny folds it – I told you she was amazing), and puts it on everyone’s respective shelves. When it’s time to get clothes on for the day, we all go to the closet and get dressed at the same time. I realize the potential for awkwardness down the road, but in this stage of life it works perfectly. The older three kids can reach their items and pick them out, but if they make it mess, it’s no big deal. The clothes just stay on the floor to be folded with the next load.

When I started the family closet I had this dream of everything being perfectly piled, you know, just like in Good Housekeeping or Better Homes & Gardens or something. In fact, every time I walked into my closet and thought about how I wanted to write a blog post to share how this has helped me, I kept thinking I should wait until I could get a clean, crisp, Pinterest worthy photo. But that just isn’t what you should come to expect from me. Instead, this is what it actually looks like most days.

IMG_8034

Yes, it’s a little messy, but the laundry is clean, in one spot, our house runs much more smoothly, and our unmentionables are perfectly hidden from visitors. Even my husband can find his undies easier because they are in one of two places instead of strewn across the house on some unfolded pile.

In this stage of life, I’m all about finding practical solutions that make life easier, and the family closet has been exactly that for us!

How do you manage laundry in your home?

XoXo,

Amber

 

I share many more “real life” mom moments on Facebook, Instagram, and Periscope. I’d love for you to follow along on our crazy, not perfect, incredible journey. Follow me on Instagram: (@ambermkuiper), Facebook (Mommy’s Me Time), and Periscope (@AmberMKuiper).

You can also follow my healthy living journey on Instagram: (@amberkuiperfitness) or on Facebook (Amber Kuiper Fitness).

Share Button

3 Reasons We Have A Love-Hate Relationship With Network Marketing

051

(photo credit: rachel marthaler photography)

These days it seems that everyone’s selling something. I can’t scroll through my Facebook or Instagram feed without seeing someone marketing something. From make-up to jewelry to supplements to a healthy lifestyle, you can buy almost anything through a friend.

I used to be one who sort of rolled my eyes at the people in direct sales. Sometimes I still do. “Really? You’re going to spam your friends and family with your products? Get a real job.” I didn’t understand why someone would potentially sacrifice relationships just to sell something. I didn’t understand why someone would want to be involved in those “pyramid schemes…”

Life always has an interesting way of keeping me humble.

Last year, I reached an all time low as a mom of four kids under three years old, and out of desperation I randomly bought one of those products I’d been seeing Facebook friends sell. It took twisting my husband’s arm to even try it. He thought it was unnecessary. I’m glad I fought and won the battle, because it ended up being one of the most important purchases of my life. I had amazing results and found myself at a crossroads. “Should I make a business out of this? No. Then I’ll be known as one of those people who peddles things. No. Just NO.”

3 Reasons We Have A Love-Hate Relationship With Network Marketing

1. We all have a story. 

There are plenty of successful network marketers out there who obviously do it the right way and are wildly successful. But unfortunately there are thousands who don’t. There’s a reason why direct sales gets a bad reputation. A big one is because most people have “a story.”  Most people have either joined a network marketing company or know someone who has. This is what goes through the mind of anyone who’s been involved. “Hmm…I can think of a few people who would probably do this too! My friend would be great! My cousin LOVES this kind of thing. I have a few contacts in mind who have large networks. Okay, I’ll join.” In other words, they aren’t joining a profession. They’re just hoping to get lucky, sign up a few people to make their money back, and sit back and wait for the money to roll in. Many of these people were drawn in because they thought they could just make money from their downline without putting in a ton of effort.

The truth is, they haven’t started a business at all. They’ve just purchased a glorified lottery ticket with a few scratch off spots. The spots represent each of the people they think they can get to join. They reach out to those people, but before they know it they end up turning them off to the idea. Their lottery ticket didn’t win them anything.

So they quit, and instead of taking any responsibility for not really starting their business, they blame network marketing and tell the world, “I’ve been there. Done that. It doesn’t work. Save your money.”

But yet we still know people who have ACTUALLY made it work, who are actually making a difference in the world, and we get a little jealous seeing them at home in the middle of the day, swimming in their backyard pools and taking their fancy vacations. And just a tiny bit of us wonders if we’re missing out.

2. The products might be good, but the marketing is annoying. 

I think most of us would agree that there seems to be value in the products offered by multi-level marketing companies. Most of us have purchased and probably been repeat customers. It’s the consultants, distributors, stylists, and coaches, however, who turn us off. We see them posting picture after picture of the products and it feels very salesy. We’re added to their private Facebook groups without be asked and we feel uneasy. We receive insincere invites that make us feel like they just want our money.

Becoming a network marketing professional means you realize that before it’s a make-up business, a jewelry business, a fitness business, or any other kind of business, that it’s a PEOPLE business. Network marketing professionals who succeed will be the people in our lives who are sincere and genuine. The ones who prioritize the relationship over the product. The ones who are consistent. They are the people who don’t need to convince you, because they’ll win you over simply by being a good human being. They won’t get discouraged when they hear “no” because they know that’s part of the process. Instead, their focus is to work with the willing. They’ll have a strategic marketing plan, but it won’t be like the rest of the white noise you’re hearing. It’ll stand out and give you confidence to trust them.

3. The cool kids aren’t doing it. 

Here’s the most important lesson I’ve learned about network marketing. If you want to be successful and help a lot of people, you have to be willing to accept a temporary loss of social esteem. Plainly put, you have to get over the desire to have a flashy title for a while. More importantly, you have to know in your heart that you have a purpose, work hard to help people everyday, and refuse to let negative feedback hijack your enthusiasm.

Network marketers need to recognize that a career in direct sales isn’t for everybody. Not everybody hates their job and wants to work from home. Not everybody wants to make some extra cash by selling a product, no matter how much they might love it. Additionally, network marketers need to up their game. If they’re actually going to make it, they need to treat it like a REAL job. They need to be a self learners, take responsibility for their business, and read up on how to actually BE a professional in the field. They need to stop the annoying Facebook posts that are all about you, you, you. Before posting anything, they need to ask themselves what value they’re bringing to their audience. If they want people to take the profession seriously, they need to act professional.

While there are network marketing posers who haven’t left a good impression, there are plenty of professionals who truly care about their clients and customers. They’ve found a way to turn something they love into a real business. Yes, they’re “selling” along the way. After all, any time we spend away from our families shouldn’t be given away for free. But most importantly, they are driven by their WHY. They are fueled by their PASSION to serve. They are HELPING others. They are the people who deserve respect.

To those of you doing it well, I say BRAVO! Thank you for inspiring us and giving us hope that network marketing isn’t a far fetched dream, but with determination and hard work, it can be a profession that helps thousands of people.

This world needs all kinds of people, including the network marketers. So while they’re learning the ropes, cut them some slack and extend them some grace. They probably have the best intentions, but just need to develop some skills. We’ve all been a rookie at something, and I don’t know about you, but I’ll never forget the people who’ve taken a chance on me, who have hung with me while I learned the ropes. Who have given me the confidence I needed to reach my potential.

XOXO,

Amber

 

I share many more “real life” mom moments on Facebook, Instagram, and Periscope. I’d love for you to follow along on our crazy, not perfect, incredible journey. Follow me on Instagram: (@ambermkuiper), Facebook (Mommy’s Me Time), and Periscope (@AmberMKuiper).

Share Button

Kuiper Family Menu: January 4 – 10, 2016

IMG_4348Tomorrow is the day I’ve been waiting for! January 4th brings so much excitement to my world! I’m so pumped for the new year and all that’s to come! And I’m MOST excited to get back into a regular routine and get into a good groove again. This past week I didn’t meal plan and it was BAD. We still ate pretty healthy, but it was just random and stressful and we spent extra money on going out to eat that we wouldn’t have had to if I had planned ahead. But I’m giving myself grace since it was the holidays and schedules were all over the place. This is a NEW week!

Tomorrow I’m kicking off a HUGE new year boot camp and it’s super fun to see how motivated all my online personal training clients are! They are going to CRUSH their goals and I can hardly wait for them to feel their very best!

Without further ado, here’s what we’re eating this week! Sidenote: Sometimes we’ll switch up the menu based on what we feel like eating that day, so Monday’s meal might be made on Thursday, or vice versa, but I’ve found that just having an arsenal of recipes to pull from for the week helps a ton.

Monday: 

Breakfast: Frozen Waffles & Eggs

Lunch: Chocolately Mint Shakeology for me, peanut butter and jelly with veggies and fruit for the kids

Dinner:

Pecan Crusted Un-Fried Chicken Strips from Honeybee Homemaker (I plan to double or triple the recipe.) 

Ingredients: 1 chicken breast, 2 slices whole wheat bread, 2/3 cup pecans, 1/4 cup dijon mustard, 1 tsp. honey

Directions

  1. In a food processor, finely chop bread and pecans (until you get the consistency of breadcrumbs)
  2. Slice chicken breast into 6 strips
  3. Combine Dijon mustard and honey in a shallow dish
  4. Coat each chicken strip in honey-mustard mixture, then roll in pecan-breadcrumb mixture
  5. Take a cooling rack (like that you would use to cool cookies) and place that inside a cookie sheet. Place chicken strips on rack and bake at 400 for 20-30 minutes
  6. Serve alongside vegetables or add to your favorite salad.

Tuesday: 

Breakfast: Greek Yogurt, Toast

Lunch: Chocolate/Almond Shakeology for me, leftover chicken strips for the kids with veggies

Balsamic Peach Crockpot Chicken from Sublime Reflection

Ingredients: 10 boneless skinless chicken thighs, 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 1/4 cup honey, 1 small sweet onion, thinly sliced, 1 large can of sliced peaches, drained, 1 tsp. dried rosemary, Sea salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Put all ingredients in crockpot and cook 3-4 hours on low. (5 hours if the chicken is frozen)
  2. Drain the liquid off the chicken into a saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce until it thickens.
  3. Serve the chicken with the reduced sauce spooned over the top of it.

Wednesday: 

Breakfast: Frozen Waffles, Eggs

Lunch: Chocolate/Peanut Butter Shakeology for me, leftover chicken for the kids with green beans and bananas

Dinner:

Crockpot Black Bean & Corn Salsa Chicken from Maegan Blinka

Ingredients: 2 cans black beans (drained and rinsed), 2 cups frozen corn (drained), 1 jar salsa, 3/4 cup water, 4 – 6 boneless chicken breasts.

Directions

Combine all ingredients in crockpot, cook on high 3 – 4 hours or low 7 – 8 hours. When finished cooking, shred chicken and serve alone, over rice, as a salad, with tortilla chips or in a wrap. Can be topped with sour cream, avocado and/or tomato or your favorite toppings!

Thursday: 

Breakfast: Greek yogurt parfait, peanut butter toast

Lunch: Candy Bar Shakeology for me, deli turkey for the kids and fruit

Dinner:

Crockpot Hamburgers & Bag of Steamed Veggies 

Ingredients: 2 lbs ground beef, 1 package dry onion soup mix, salt and pepper to taste, tin foil

Directions: Create a tin foil grill in the bottom of your crockpot so the burgers so cook in the grease. Mix the ground beef and dry onion soup mix together. Form patties and place on top of the tin foil grill. Season with salt and pepper. Cook on low for 2 – 3 hours. Serve and enjoy!

Friday: 

Breakfast: Oatmeal

Lunch: Mocha Shakeology for me, leftover hamburger and veggies for the kids

Dinner:

Easy Three Bean Chili from my sister-in-law’s blog, Espresso & Cream

Ingredients: 2 lbs. lean ground beef or ground turkey, 1 large (30 oz.) can crushed tomatoes, 1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce, 1 (30 oz.) can Mrs. Grimes Chili Beans, undrained, 1 (15 oz.) can black beans, undrained, 1 (15 oz.) can white kidney beans or white great northern beans, undrained, 2 to 3 tablespoons chili powder, depending on how hot you like your chili, Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

In a large stockpot over medium high heat, brown ground beef or ground turkey. Drain off fat.
Add remaining ingredients to the stockpot. Stir to combine. Bring to a simmer. Cover to keep warm until ready to serve.

Saturday

Breakfast: Egg Bake

Lunch: Almond Chocolate Shakeology & leftovers

Family Pizza & Salad Night (Once a week we enjoy a “cheat meal.” I’ll have a huge portion of salad and my “treat” is one or two pizzas of pizza! Sometimes we make it at home, other times we go out!)

Sunday

Breakfast: Leftover Egg Bake

Lunch: Chocolate Peanut Butter Shakeology & leftovers

Dinner: Leftovers! We’ll have leftover chili or other food that’s left from the week!

That’s all, folks! I’m ordering my groceries ONLINE today, and I’m pretty excited to not have to go out in the cold! I’m ordering through a new store in the area. I’ll let you know how it goes!

XOXO,

Amber

 

I share many more “real life” mom moments on Facebook, Instagram, and Periscope. I’d love for you to follow along on our crazy, not perfect, incredible journey. Follow me on Instagram: (@ambermkuiper), Facebook (Mommy’s Me Time), and Periscope (@AmberMKuiper).

Share Button

Kuiper Family Menu: December 21 – 27, 2015

IMG_3920

Hey guys, I hope your weekend was better than ours. We struggled. Kids were sick, we were sick, and it felt like we were hanging on minute by minute! It’s days like this when I long to live closer to family so we could wave the white flag and ask for a little help. We did get out for an anniversary date last night which was nice! On the 22nd we’ll celebrate our 8th wedding anniversary – we have a tradition of going to Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse and once again it didn’t disappoint!

Anyway, it’s Sunday night, we made it through, and I feel like it can really only go up from here!

I was really tempted not to meal plan tonight, but I know if I wait it won’t happen and we’ll find ourselves struggling even more this week!

The good news is it’s a short week! With Christmas on Friday, I’m not going to try to plan the entire weekend because I know things will come up anyway! I’m just going to plan to have some extra healthy snacks to munch on so that I don’t overdo it with holiday goodies!

Monday

Breakfast: Oatmeal & Turkey Sausage

Lunch: Shakeology for me, deli turkey & cheese for the kids, with fruit and veggies

Dinner: Crockpot Chicken Burrito Bowl (Adapted from Simple Clean Fitness)

-3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts, frozen

-2 tablespoons olive oil

-3 tsp onion powder

-2 tsp garlic powder

-2 tsp cumin

-1 tsp salt

-3 cups low sodium chicken broth

-1 15 oz can diced tomatoes, drained

-1 can black beans, drained

-2 3/4 cups instant whole grain brown rice

-1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions:

  1. Place chicken breasts in slow cooker.
  2. Pour chicken broth over chicken breasts and stir in canned tomatoes, olive oil, onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper.
  3. Cook on low for about 4 hours.
  4. Remove chicken breasts from slow cooker.
  5. Turn slow cooker to high and stir in instant rice and black beans.
  6. Let cook 30-45 minutes on high, or until rice is tender.
  7. Add chicken back in, cook for 20 minutes on high, or until chicken is warm.
  8. Serve with fresh diced tomatoes, sour cream, green onions, avocados or guacamole, top with cheese.

Tuesday

Breakfast: Frozen waffles and eggs

Lunch: Shakeology for me, leftover chicken burrito bowls for the kids

Dinner: Meatloaf

-2 eggs, beaten

-3/4 cup milk

-2/3 cup old fashioned oats

-sprinkle of onion flakes

-1 tbsp parsley

-1 tsp salt

-1/2 tsp basil

-1/2 tsp oregano

-1/8 tsp black pepper

-1 1/2 pounds ground beef

Grease a loaf pan and preheat oven to 350. Combine all ingredients in bowl, then put mixture into pan. Bake for 1 to 1 1/4 hours. Spoon off fat. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and return to oven for 10 minutes, then serve.

Wednesday

Breakfast: Greek yogurt parfaits with greek yogurt, clementine oranges, unsweetened coconut flakes, sliced almonds, old fashioned oats

Lunch: Shakeology for me, meatloaf, fruit, and veggies for the kids

Dinner: Crockpot Hamburgers and Sweet Potato Fries and steamed veggies (Check out how I cook my hamburgers in the crockpot in this blog post.)

Slice sweet potatoes in wedges, put in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Line a cookie sheet with tin foil and grease. Line wedges on foil, then bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes! Turn over half way through.

Thursday

Breakfast:  Greek yogurt parfaits with greek yogurt, clementine oranges, unsweetened coconut flakes, sliced almonds, old fashioned oats

Lunch: Shakeology for me, leftover burgers and veggies for the kids.

Dinner: Crockpot Jambalaya (one of our favorites!) from Red Beans & Eric

  • 1 lbs boneless chicken breasts, frozen
  • 1 lbs smoked sausage, cut to ¼-inch rounds
  • 1 10-oz can Rotel tomatoes with chiles, undrained
  • 1 14-oz can chicken stock
  • 1 6-oz can tomato paste
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 3 celery ribs, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 3 tsp parsley flakes
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp hot sauce
  • 1 cup instant rice, uncooked *
  • 1 lbs shrimp (optional)
  • green onion for garnish
  1. Place the chicken in the bottom of the crock pot along with the sausage and diced vegetables.
  2. Combine the tomatoes, broth, tomato paste and the seasonings in a small mixing bowl then add to the crock pot.
  3. Cook on low for 8 hours.
  4. With 30 minutes remaining, add instant rice to crockpot. Make sure the rice is well mixed into the ingredients. Recover the pot.
  5. Also, after the rice is added, with 30-minutes of cooking time remaining, this is the point you would add thawed shrimp to the crock pot (we don’t always add shrimp).
  6. Shred the chicken with a fork and serve!

I also plan to make for the weekend to have on hand in the fridge when I want to eat cookies but should have something healthy instead. 🙂

Healthy Chicken Salad from Fit Baby Steps

  • 3 cups chopped rotisserie chicken breast (boneless, skinless)
  • 1/2 cup chopped green apple
  • 1/2 cup seedless red grapes, cut in half
  • 1/3 cup raw almonds
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 1 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup honey mustard salad dressing (see below)
  • 8 cups shredded romaine lettuce

Honey Mustard Salad Dressing

  • 1/2 cup reduced fat (2%) plain greek yogurt
  • 3T Dijon mustard, gluten-free
  • 3T raw honey
  • 3T rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • pink salt to taste

Combine the yogurt, mustard, honey, and vinegar in a medium bowl and whisk until combined

Then slowly add oil, whisking until well blended.

Combine all ingredients except for the lettuce in a large bowl, mix well, and refrigerate (covered) for 2 hours

Serve 1 1/4 cups of the creamy chicken salad over 2 cups of romaine lettuce.

I hope you have a Merry Christmas with your darling families!

XOXO,

Amber

 

I share many more “real life” mom moments on Facebook, Instagram, and Periscope. I’d love for you to follow along on our crazy, not perfect, incredible journey. Follow me on Instagram: (@ambermkuiper), Facebook (Mommy’s Me Time), and Periscope (@AmberMKuiper).

Share Button

The 10 Stages Of Shopping With Kids At Target

IMG_0649-1

I have four kids under five and I take them to Target on a regular basis. When I say regular basis, I mean at least two or three times a week. Sometimes four. Because let’s face it, taking them along means that I almost never get everything on my list before all hell breaks loose.

During every trip I reach a point when I think to myself, “I’m NEVER bringing them along again.” And then a couple days later, there I am driving into the parking lot with my little angels in tow.

That’s how it always starts out, by the way. My kids acting like little angels because they are SOOOOOOO excited to go to Target.

You see, I’ve come to notice that there are usually 10 distinct stages that happen.

1. We’re EXCITED to shop!

When we drive into the parking lot my kids are screaming, literally SCREAMING for joy. “We’re HEEEERE! We’re HEEERE!” my two-year-old twins yell. This is followed closely by my four year old asking, “Momma, can I get a new toy? Please momma?” Meanwhile my one year old is squealing and kicking with all his might because even at 13 months the excitement for Target is contagious.

I park as close as I can to a cart corral that has a mega cart, grab it, run it back to the car, and start loading kids in. At this point we’re still all generally pretty excited. Except when one of them doesn’t get the seat they want. There’s usually some fighting and repositioning, and then we’re off. The entire way into the store the excitement builds. They see the bullseye, they see the doors, they yell as we make our way through the parking lot and think it’s hilarious that their voices vibrate as we cross the bumpy terrain. We get in the door, and they are conditioned for what’s next.

2. We need to eat. And we need to eat NOW. 

I think my kids view our trip to the store like a four course meal. But they aren’t starting with salad. Nope, the minute we get inside they yell, “COOKIE please!” Honestly, at that point I pay extra attention to the fact that they said please. That’s a win, and I’ll happily oblige so we can make it through a few aisles in peace. We head over to the bakery where they hand out the free cookies. Those ladies know us by name. It’s like visiting old friends.

We get through the produce section with quite a bit of ease, and then we’re off to the rest of the store, which feels incredibly daunting at that point.

3. We’re going to make noise like we own the joint. 

During the middle portion of our trip, just when they finish their cookies, they use the sugar high to let their presence be known to everyone else in the store. They talk to each other, and sing “Let It GO!!!!” whenever they see Frozen anything, which is about every 10 seconds. Did you know they even make canned green beans with Elsa on the label now?! I mean…

At this point though, everyone is still generally happy. I’ll take loud and happy any day!

4. We are going to escape from the cart. 

By the time we hit the laundry detergent aisle, things start to get real. One decides they don’t want to be in the cart anymore. I distract and attempt to keep him contained. “If you want to look at toys, you need to stay in the cart!” I say this in a singsongy voice, trying to keep my cool. “Want some crackers?”

It works!

…For about 30 seconds until not one but two want to get out. After several more stalls and distractions, there is simply NO WAY to keep them all in the cart. One by one, they get out. “I walk! I walk!” I place them on the ground and they act like they got away with something BIG. Because the truth is, they did, and we all know it.

IMG_0639

5. We are going to take everything off the shelves and put it into the cart. 

This happens. All the time. I end up with the most random items in the cart. I’m so busy trying to find the items we actually need, that as long as they aren’t screaming, I sort of let them think they’re winning. They look out of the corner of their eyes to see if I notice them, and with each bag of candy that gets thrown in, they feel victorious.

6. Mom tries to gain back some control. 

At some point, maybe when we have 10 rolls of paper towel in the cart or 5 different kinds of cheese, I realize this is getting out of hand. We’re going downhill FAST. I quickly place everybody back in the cart, bribing them with yogurt pouches from the dairy aisle, and they fall for it. I decide to forget whatever else was on the list except for maybe one or two more necessities, and make a run for it. In an effort to get them to last just a few more minutes, I remind them that if they’re happy, we can stop by the toys.

7. Mom celebrates and lets them run free in the toy section. 

At this point, I let go a big sigh of relief. We made it this far, I think to myself. If we can make it here, we can make it through the rest of the trip. Even though in the back of my mind I know some of the biggest battles are still coming.

Oh well, let’s just enjoy these happy few minutes. They all find toys that are the neatest things EVER. Like EVER. Doc McStuffins was never so cool until they got to see her with light up shoes! And Lightning McQueen can change COLORS now? Yeah, we definitely need that too.

When baby brother starts to get fussy, we know our time is limited. I ask them to say goodbye to their toys. On a good day, they will, and its the sweetest thing. On an attitude filled day? It’s a full on battle. I usually end up leaving one of them behind, pretending we’re going to go home without them. “See ya later, Emmy!” Classic mom move, right?

She finally comes, but still has her toy in hand.

8. We make a pitstop at the One Spot. 

The One Spot is sort of like the conciliation prize. My kids know it, but they are still desperate for taking something home, so they usually go with it. A new coloring book for a dollar? Sure, Mom. You’re the best!

But there’s usually still that one who can’t let go of the toy she found before. I remind her that we’re not getting that today, but she stays strong, and keeps holding it.

A full on party is about to be held in the check-out lane.

9. We limp to the finish line. 

By the time we get to the checkout lane, we’re all toast. I’m usually holding baby brother who is sick of sitting in the cart, while I try to get everything loaded onto the belt. Meanwhile, the older kids have climbed out of the cart and are raiding the candy. Because doesn’t every preschooler deserve a king size Reese’s about now? I sort of win the battle with the one who NEEDED that toy, although she’s in tears. And the candy? Some days I win that battle, and some days I don’t. I finally swipe my card, load the bags in the cart, and we head to the car. This usually requires me holding one or two kids, while pushing the cart, while asking one of them to hold my hand. We literally limp to the finish line.

10. Find the nearest Starbucks drive-thru. 

Regardless of the shape we’re in, we made it through another shopping trip. My caffeine tank is running on empty, and since I didn’t get my Starbucks inside the store, you can bet I’m going to go to the nearest drive-thru, which is basically programmed into auto-pilot. I’m pretty sure I’ll be okay getting paid in Starbucks for the rest of the my mom life.

In all seriousness though, these trips can be exhausting. It’s in those moments that I can question who I am as a mom or a parent. It’s in those moments, when the rubber meets the road, when I’m reminded that I can’t do this whole motherhood thing on my own. But it’s also when I’m reminded just how BLESSED I am to be able to make Target runs with my kids. Years from now, when I see a young mom in Target with her little ones, you can bet that tears will form in my eyes because I’ll miss my own little troublemakers. And you can also bet that I’ll bless her with a Starbucks. 🙂

XOXO,

Amber

I share many more “real life” mom moments on Facebook, Instagram, and Periscope. I’d love for you to follow along on our crazy, not perfect, incredible journey. Follow me on Instagram: (@ambermkuiper), Facebook (Mommy’s Me Time), and Periscope (@ambermkuiper).

Share Button

The Sisterhood of Motherhood: Let’s Help Each Other Make Supper

032-1

Where I’m from, the temps today are in the low 60’s and just yesterday a beautiful little yellow leaf fell right next to my bright pink tennis shoe as I was buckling my little in his car seat. My pumpkin spice candle is crackling downstairs.  Fall is in the air. This morning I dressed the boys in pants and sweatshirts and felt myself swoon. My big boy Gavin came running in from outside the house and said;

“Mom! Come out here quick, you HAVE to smell it out here!”

At that time it was in the 50’s. I went outside and took a big inhale in, the cool air making its way into my nose and lungs.

“Wow, Buddy, this is my favorite time of the year. Do you know what that smells like? Fall. Crisp.”

“Crisp? Crisp. I like the smell of crisp.”

“Me too buddy, me too!”

Preschool has started for my big boy. Kindermusik has started for my little boy. The mister is working Friday’s again. I’m waking up at 6:45am regularly to get ready before my kids are up. Routine has begun again at our home. While I really do love summer and the free range of it all, I wouldn’t be telling the complete truth if I didn’t say I personally thrive on routine. Fall brings routine. Maybe that’s why I love it so much?

With routine come busier schedules, amIright? One game changer that I started one year ago was a group of women that were willing to come alongside of me and join a freezer meal exchange group that meets monthly. Because, let’s be honest, our families ALWAYS want to eat. This is where the group “Fix, Freeze, Feast” was born. I put myself out there and was very pleased with the positive response of women who were like “This would help me too!” “Count me in!” “Yes! I would love to join”. The true testament to their love was that they ALL decided to join again this year. I was so happy.

One of my favorite things about being a Mom is the sisterhood of motherhood. It’s a bond, a community that I’m proud to be a part of. I feel like this is where I belong. Motherhood is my jam. High school was not necessarily my jam, college was not necessarily my jam, early married life was not necessarily my jam, but this…this current stage of life…THIS is my jam. I feel like this is what I was made for and I thank God for that daily. I really do love to cook/bake/serve delicious food to my family. It’s one of my love languages. Something about seeing all the planning come full circle to bless the people I love the most just about always fills my cup. Pair that with cooking with a glass of Moscato (or two) and quiet background music playing and my cup overflows. BUT this is real life. And in my real life there are two very loud, busy, demanding, wonderful boys who are with me most of the time. The truth is I don’t have the time to make delicious meals all the time. Are you in the same boat? If you are, this might be for you.

Please know right off the bat there are so many variations to make this work. I just want to share what I have come up with for my group. If you want to take parts of it and change it, by all means do!

When coming up with my group I thought about people who were in similar life situations with a similar family size. Six group members have worked very well for us. I tried to make sure there were no dietary restrictions such as gluten free, vegetarian, etc for my specific group. I asked the girls if they would be willing to commit to a 6 month trial period initially just to make sure no one would drop out after 1 month. We all ended up loving it so much we continued past the 6 months and made it 9. In our group most of us have 1-2 children therefore one serving of a meal is considered an 8 x 8 or if you are making soup a half of a normal recipe. If you’re group all has 4+ kids, you are going to all need a 9 x 13 and the full amount of soup. My group consists of full time working moms, part time working moms and stay-at-home moms. We are ALL busy and our families ALL need to eat.

We run our exchange monthly from September to April. We take the summers off mainly because of vacations, grilling season and just to have a break.

As far as the menu goes we think simple, family & freezer friendly. We aren’t culinary experts. That’s not what we’re after. Maybe you are? Maybe you could gather a group who is as well. Maybe you have friends who are also gluten free or vegetarian or healthier eaters ask them to join you. Maybe your group only wants to do crock pot meals. Do what works for your life. There are no real rules.

Okay, so here’s the nitty gritty of how the exchange works. We all prepare SIX of the same dish/soup/casserole AT OUR OWN HOME ON OUR OWN TIME BEFORE THE EXCHANGE DATE which for us is the first Saturday of the month at 10:00 at my house. You are making one dish for yourself and 5 for the other people who are also in the group with you.  We have a secret facebook page where we tell each other what we plan to make for the next month and then share recipes if requested.

On the date of the exchange you bring your meals which are already prepared, portioned, labeled and ready to go to the place of exchange. For our group, this is my kitchen. I’m so thankful they are all willing to come and it’s always fun to chat a little bit while we all make our way around my island dropping off what we’ve prepared. Kids are absolutely welcome to come to our exchange. Yoga pants or straight up pajamas are welcome too. We’re about real life here! We aim for the exchange to take around 15-20 minutes. Maybe you would prefer to make the exchange more of a social thing and have it take longer. That’s an option too. It would be a fun way to have a monthly girl’s night.

As the person who hosts the actual exchange I have all the girls’ names written on little orange laminated index cards on my island that I set out at six different spots. That way there is no confusion whose pile is whose. ☺ Everyone leaves with 6 different meals. This year as a thank you to the girls for returning to this group I made a little “starter pack” for each of them. I used Hy Vee re-usable bags which are wonderful for carrying all of your meals and taking the new ones home, a laminated card with all the exchange dates on it to put on your refrigerator, some 8 x 8 disposable pans, some freezer Ziploc baggies and some fun colored labels to use. This is all optional but I love nothing more than to love on those people around me and this is how I saw fit to do that.

This group has been a game changer for me and has helped me feed my family instead of getting take out more often or serving cold cereal. I have had a couple of the husbands in the group voice their appreciation of the group as well which is awesome!

Is this something that interests you or could benefit your family? Get together and talk with your friends, co-workers, other Mom’s you see at school drop off, church, etc. The worst they can say is “no” and then you just ask another person. This is a great way to come alongside each other and do motherhood together!

XOXO,

Tina

Tina Kroeze is Amber’s dear friend who is a monthly contributor to Mommy’s Me Time. Most importantly, she is a child of God, saved by grace. She is a registered nurse recently turned full time SAHM to two sweet boys, Gavin Andrew (4) and Spencer Declan (almost 2). Five years ago her first pregnancy ended in a devastating and unexpected miscarriage at 12 weeks. While she misses that sweet baby, she takes comfort knowing that he/she is in the arms of Jesus and she looks forward to seeing her first love again someday. She (mostly) single parents in the months of December to April 15 as her golf-loving better half works as a CPA. This summer marks their 7th wedding anniversary. She love to encourage moms (especially those going through postpartum depression) through writing as she is a fellow survivor. AND she loves Jesus, organizing, the sun, diet Pepsi and chocolate. 🙂 For more encouragement from Tina, follow her on Instagram: @tinakroeze or feel free to email her at tinakroeze@hotmail.com. 

As always, please follow Mommy’s Me Time on Facebook and Instagram (@ambermkuiper) for daily real life encouragement!

Share Button

Guilt-Free Puppy Chow

Puppy ChowAbout six months ago, my husband and I embarked on a journey together to pursue a healthy lifestyle. Prior to that, we’d been ordering take-out a few times a week, eating lots of carbs, and had dessert in some form almost every single night. Although we worked out on a regular basis, we weren’t really doing ourselves any favors because instead of making progress, we were just staying the same. Basically, we were working out so we could eat whatever we wanted!

When we started our journey, we decided to focus on eating nutrient dense whole foods, and we grew to love it so much that we’ve never looked back. We have so much energy because we are fueling our bodies instead of simply filling them up. The extra energy means we’re more productive and we’ve taken our workouts up a notch!

However, what I’m learning is that whenever junk food is placed in front of me, it’s still not easy to say no. I’m definitely becoming stronger and have more self control than I used to, but I absolutely need to be intentional with planning ahead and having healthy food options so that I don’t give in to temptations and make emotional eating decisions.

With the fourth of July weekend coming up, I know I’m going to be tempted by all kinds of treats. And honestly, I fully plan on having one or two! But what I DON’T want to happen, is that I go overboard and find myself at the end of the weekend feeling heavy, bloated, and needing to detox.

SO. I’ve come up with this Guilt-Free Puppy Chow that I plan to have on hand when I really want something sweet.

If you too, want to arm yourself with a fun treat this weekend without the guilt, I hope you’ll spend five minutes and whip this up!

Guilt-Free Puppy Chow

Ingredients:

-4 Cups Crispix

-1/3 cup agave nectar or honey

-1/2 cup natural peanut butter

-1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

-1/3 cup chocolate protein powder (I use Shakeology)

Directions: In a large bowl, combine the agave nectar, peanut butter, and vanilla extract. Mix in the Crispix until it’s even covered with the mixture. Add the protein powder and mix until just combined! It will be a little sticky at first, so let it sit a bit before eating!

Enjoy!

XOXO,

Amber

 

I share many more “real life” mom moments on Facebook and Instagram. I’d love for you to follow along on our crazy, not perfect, incredible journey. Follow me on Instagram: (@mommysmetime) and on Facebook (Mommy’s Me Time).

Share Button