Snack and Meal Ideas | Tot School and Pre-K

It’s been an eventful week to say the least!

Winter snow has made way for Spring and we had just started our kids in twice a week school when bam! Schools around the globe are closing due to the COVID-19 virus epidemic and many of us are finding ourselves in new daily routines that often involve hands-on caring for our children while trying to maintain our usual money-making careers.

Even if you manage to come by the groceries and the energy and time, we often have no idea where to start, especially when it comes to feeding picky (ahem, particular) toddlers.

While many of us parents would be happy to take an opportunity to fast or diet, it’s important that young children continue to get the caloric needs that may have been provided by schools or daycares before all of these new arrangements.

In my household, we have a one and two year old who are very vocal about the things they don’t prefer to eat – a list that seems to be growing every day despite our best efforts!

Being creative with presentation, plating, variety, or mixing up the textures can make a big difference in “tricking” (convincing) a new food experience.

Trick 1: Same Foods, New Ways

This afternoon we sliced up hotdogs, speared a few noodles through the centers, and then cooked the whole lot in boiling water for about 11 minutes.

While we reserved a few and carefully diced them for the younger child to avoid choking, the older kid found it hilarious that his “big kid lunch” was so silly! I decided not to tell him it was the exact same package of dogs he refused to eat two days before, and spaghetti noodles he “didn’t like” last month – from the same box.

Trick 2: Templates or Placemats

I have already started curating Amazon gifts list for upcoming events with our kids. One thing we look forward to getting some day is educational or interactive placemats like these:

Until then, we’ve found a lot of success in creating fun templates based on popular kids snacks, and using them to teach all sorts of lessons during snack times, from counting to sorting to matching. These Teddy Graham ones were a hit, even though I didn’t realize that they have different arm positions (I just grabbed one and traced it onto my iPad Pro, so I made another sheet:

I’ve laminated a few of our favorite multi-purpose ones (such as the numbered circles) and enjoyed creating custom ones for “healthy” versions of snacks (like Annie’s Organic bunnies, etc.)

follow on Insta for more toddler food inspo

I’ll be sharing some of my snack and play ideas on Pinterest stories this week so make sure to follow! @brandi_n_hightower on Instagram @mommaamommab on Pinterest


The vlog is down, along with the economy and our morale 😅 Only kind of kidding!

We are taking this time to figure out as a family our main priorities in school/work/life arrangements and the YouTube family vlog is going to be set aside while we make the needed adjustments.

Sorry to leave that platform, but we’re still here for now! 🙂 COVID has everyone shook up and our main focus is getting these kids through the next weeks at home while schools are down.

If you need resources for your toddlers as we look forward to more days of school closures, please check out the TotSchool resources at TeachersPayTeachers.

Stay healthy and stay safe!


COVID has us MIA | Sorry We Took an Un-Announced Break

Sorry we missed you on Friday, we had a very long weekend – if you’ve been up on the news or living in the world, you may be aware that the COVID-19 virus is making it’s rounds and people are starting to prepare to settle in for a bit.

I’ve been in a bit of a funk, so Amy took over with this week’s vlog. Please give her a thumbs up for keeping this thing going this week.

Gramma’s Birthday Weekend | March 2020

Sometimes in a relationship, when one person is down the other person has to step it up a notch. And sometimes, it takes a lot of frustration and even a little fighting to be able to break through to the other side. WOW it’s getting deep around here!

I think the weather being wonky and the national health crisis is really getting to me, along with big life changes and other things we haven’t even talked about (yet). ***HOW ARE YOU ALL COPING WITH THE CORONA VIRUS SCARE?***

In our own hometown, toilet paper and other supplies have been increasingly hard to come by, and we have been realizing that many parents with small children are unsure how to pass the time – which meals and activities to cook and how to keep the peace inside your home during a lockdown.

Though we’ve all been told not to panic, we are definitely seeing people purchasing more than three times what they’d typically buy – Amy saw a lady scoop the last seven bricks of butter into her shopping cart, just because that’s all that was left.

After we both have been to many stores multiple times, there is no toilet paper to speak of. The thing breaking my heart is the baby wipes. We will be okay, as we cloth diaper and make our own wipe juice and disposable wipes – for us, the scary thing is that witch hazel and even wipe juice cubes are out of stock on Amazon and in our local stores, which is what we use in our wipe solution.

We were hoping to share some tips on how to make your own household cleaners and other solutions like this in a future video, and we plan on having a few tips and tricks for staying busy and sane on the blog at some point this week. At this point, begging ya’ll adults to stop buying baby wipes for your own bum is a moot point.

How are you all passing the time?

Where is your head at, and how are you staying calm?

Please share your helpful tips – or the crazy things you’ve seen this week!

In this vlog we hang out with Gramma for her birthday – Canyon had an absolute blast spending the night with his favorite people and enjoying ice cream and bubble baths. Brandi reads Pete The Cat to the kids, one of the books that has a felt activity to go along with it.

Have you tried interactive stories?

If your child has a hard time focusing during story time, try giving them a prop (even a stuffed animal that matches the theme) to keep their hands occupied so their minds can focus – before long they may be telling YOU how the story goes, as they recall it using their prop. Please give this video a thumbs up and subscribe if you’re still reading this. We appreciate you! If this scare is causing a rift in your family, we understand. There is a national upheaval and people are scared.

We hope you can be kind to those acting a little out of sorts these days, and forgive those around you for lashing out – people are coping in a lot of different ways.

Likewise, I forgive you.

Namaste, friends.

Where was I this week?

It has been a minute! Today finds me feeling like it’s Monday, despite being nearly Wednesday at this point. How about you? Have you taken a moment to check in with yourself and recognize all of your accomplishments, instead of your shortcomings and un-finished (or un-started) tasks?

I hope you’ll join me in forgiving myself for not posting until now.

It’s easy for me, someone who loves a good commitment while struggling with the follow through, to get overwhelmed sometimes. For the most part I seem to see my projects and task to fruition; through much trial and error, honing an ability to set realistic but lofty goals has become my life’s work.

Nobody wants to settle for mediocre, but am I as fabulous as I think I am?

The short answer: YES! And so are YOU!

While it would be borderline reckless to suggest that simply dreaming up an idea and diving in headlong is all it takes to be successful, somehow it still parallels truth to some degree.

Without a dream to get you started, what do you have?

This week has found me busier than ever. I’ve taken on a few roles within a non-profit in my area, as well as some additional projects of personal interest. While it remains to be seen how ‘successful’ our new venture is, we hope to have an official website and menu up for Hightower Digital Media within the next couple of weeks.

Yep. We’re going for it! Ripping off the band-aid and getting squared up with all the right people to help us make it happen.

I believe strongly in the power of manifesting your desires. I’m not sure how it happened, but the last few months has been one of the most intuitive times of my life; by saying out loud the things that I want to bring into my life and eliminate all together, it seems that life is finding a way to make things happen.

Our Insta page launched a few short hours ago, so if you can read this, check out @hightowerdigitalmedia and be our friend in that space. We’d love to connect with you over there as we square up our logo design and begin building our digital empire. Be the first to see it all unfold!

Canyon has been officially enrolled in a new Montessori preschool and will be twice a week, starting tomorrow. Dakota will be flying solo without the comfort of having her big brother there. The teachers say that she’s more than ready, and they look forward to seeing her continue to grow and embrace her own schooling experience while bro spreads his wings and experience a more routine educational experience alongside a new set of peers.

Exciting things happening for everyone in the family this week!

Thanks for stopping by and we’ll catch up again soon!


2020 BNCW Home Show in Wenatchee, WA | Town Toyota Events Center | VOTE for your FAVORITE!
More at MommaAMommaB on YouTube

Thank you to our interviewees, Christy Gatewood of YellowGate Designs, LLC., and Sarah Loveridge of Simple Nest by Sarah Joe.

Thank you, dear reader, for stopping by our corner of the world. Visit for the most current local events calendar. We’ll see you around!

Mama B

Surviving a Day with Toddlers | Real SAHM | Mental Health Awareness

The day started off pretty promising: after regrettably having to skip yesterday’s workout I was a little nervous I was going to feel some backslide in progress (and scared my workout was going to hurt) but it wasn’t the case.

I have been trying to network a little bit more here in the valley and decided to head to Pybus marketplace to share some treats with The Littles.

That is: the one and two year olds.

After somewhat coaxing them to eat last nights dinner of a recent “hit” (a side of fresh blackberries plus tortillas with mozzarella, pepperoni and…ketchup), they’d both woken up starving like they’d not eaten in 46 days.

just why

If you see next weeks Vlog you’ll know that I’m not starving them; we have plenty of marinara sauce, yet they for some reason both think that it’s poison. So…ketchup.

After refusing the eggs I cooked and turning their nose up at the peanut butter toast, I gave in to cereal.

I’m not advocating for being a pushover parent but two days without my wife will do that to me. (I am so much looking forward to her return from overnight work travels this evening!)

Amos if you can read this: I love you!

But I digress as per usual.

For some reason I left the stroller at home thinking they were both old enough to walk 25 feet through the front doors and another 25 feet or so to the front counter and wait in line for about three minutes or so.

It was about as good idea as putting two unleashed rabbits on the floor.

Wild animals, I tell ya! This was before the chaos. More at MommaAMommaB on YouTube

Loud rabbits. Rabbits that wanted to touch the display case even though we talked about looking with our eyes at this EXACT CASE on the car ride and on the walk over to said display case.

As I try to corral them in the same general area, and yell loudly enough for the barista to get my order, also yelling BITE ME because my kid couldn’t make up his mind and that’s the first one I saw.

His increasingly-heavy-in-my-arms sibling was starting to arch her back and do tornado moves and scream. Boy, did she scream, demanding in her 17 month old way to also touch and possibly lick the cookie case.

Bite Me! Cookie

It was the first one that stood out to me, and I’ll admit it felt good to yell it. Only because I did it with a half smile on my face, and the barista smiled back. I think it made her day.

Instagram @cafecolumbiapybus

Or maybe I looked scary (I noticed smeared mascara when we fiiiiinally got back to the van – has it been there??!) and maybe she didn’t smile but grimace.

No, it was a smile. She was friendly. But gosh, I could hardly see anything through my embarrassment – parenting in public is definitely not for the faint of heart.

Menu @ #cafecolumbiapybus

Regardless, instead of me just sitting there like usual being too shy to reach out to people I actually had people offer to help – and struck up quite a few conversations with interesting folks which was the exact reason I went there: I had been hoping to bring my work from home mentality to the public realm, thinking just maybe my kids would sit and be distracted with beautiful cookies while I chatted and it would be chalked up as a business expense.

But, kids are unpredictable- especially young kids! Or maybe I am. I mean, they’re just doing what they do best. I was the foolish one thinking that pre-feeding, pre-watering, pre-entertaining, pre-napping them and bribing them majorly would buy me TEN MINUTES.


But you know what? I embrace it. I didn’t have a choice in the moment.

Thank you from the bottom of my soul to whomever made these cookies

I marched those sugar-laden children to the minivan and ate my cold tuna melt in the park. Well, near the park. With the window rolled down. While the kids slept.

My lunch from the park as experienced from inside the mom van

Oh, how I wish to have sat on a sunny bench – but there was no way I was waking up one sleeping soul. And what would I do with them once they were awake? No sunbathing was happening today. Or was it?

Since unattended children in running vehicles is frowned upon, I engaged the parking brake and kept the seatbelt on, then craned my neck until I needed two Tylenol, aiming my gaze out my van window and into the sunshine – and enjoyed the moment. Really. Someday they will be grown and I will look back at this and miss it immensely. Of course I will probably glorify it. And oh the advice I’ll have!

we arrived home and it’s been a nightmare ever since…

…but now my Mom#2 is finally back (!!!) and I can post this and give you all a look at my day as a stay at home mama trying to network and meet new professionals in the valley. Tough and very rewarding!

Thankful for my coworking days at Wenatchee WorkSpace – a time I get to truly maximize my productivity so I can be both “on” as a parent and “on” as a community member. When you start using a coworking space like mine, and begin growing your business…well, it’s hard to go back to the home office! Hats off to those who can pull it off. Mamas everywhere being SuperHuman!

Rainbows at yesterday’s lunch meeting @ #wenatcheeworkspace

Wenatchee WorkSpace is also located half a block from the Apple Capitol Loop Trail – Perfect for days when you need to blow off some steam or get creative energy flowing.

It’s all about work life balance.

Until next time!

Mama B

You may have noticed a lot of my recent posts and YouTube videos have focused on mental health. Even my most positive and chipper friends have thrown an occasional “…gee, February sure is a long month!” For those of us who got through a tough December, February is dragging on and on.

Can it be spring yet?

Or are there changes we can make now to improve productivity?

I’m talking, clear the clutter or rearrange your if need be. Shake things up! Try something new! Modify your routine if it isn’t working for you.

Stay positive and good things will come.

Until next time,

Mama B


no filter day – love yourselves

ALL MOMS are WORKING MOMS | LGBTQA Family Vlogs | Day-in-the-Life of REAL PARENTS

Whew! We need to sit down and do an official follow up to last week’s “Bad Day” video. Today is a shortie, but as an early Valentine’s present we’ve skipped the video ads on this one, so it’s a two to four minute watch, depending on how much scrubbing (fast-forwarding) you do.

Highlights from today’s video that I didn’t talk about much on camera include:

Crying during last week’s workout

Getting stuck in the car wash

I put a brief clip from Gabrielle Union’s Instagram to showcase an example of this phenomenon and you can read the full article here:

This was such a crazy thing to experience! I have pushed my body to the point of physical exhaustion plenty of times, but emotional exhaustion? This was a first. Please let me know if you’ve ever heard of this phenom before, it was completely new to me and almost a bit unnerving when I originally viewed it as a point of weakness. (Wow, how unsettling that step aerobics make me bawl like a baby. I must be more unstable than I thought!)

As the days tick by, I’m able to see it with a bit more clarity and realize that I just seriously pushed myself – and that’s amazing and not weak at all.

So there you have it — sweat and cry it out, folx! It’s fine.

And about getting stuck in the car wash? My wife would tell you it’s because I didn’t drive in perfectly square. Still, she wasn’t there and I’ll go to my deathbed insisting that I drove in like any other normal human person going through the carwash.

If you’re cooler than both of us, you’ll say there’s no such thing as a normal human person.

And that’s exactly why I choose you to subscribe to this blog so you don’t miss another post. We should be friends.

(No, seriously – say hi!)

If you want to cry too, try the following three workouts after a sugar free breve. I can’t guarantee tears, but you’ll be wet and soggy somewhere – for sure. Sound fun? CLICK NOW! (Not sponsored, I’m just obsessed):

Full Body
Full Body
Abdominals Routine

Next Week’s Video will include highlights from the BNCW Home Show 2020 Presented by Complete Design, Inc. – See you then! [Subscribe to our channel here]

Thanks for joining us on our parenting journey. Please share this video with someone who would enjoy it!

Tips for Staying Sane (Got Some?)

This week kicked my butt. I may have been a little too ambitious with my new workout routine, and then my wife left town for a work meeting and got snowed in – on top of it, the toddlers both decided to act a hot mess these last two days (poor Dakota is getting another two teeth and just wants to be held and loved on).

Don’t choose between picking up the mess or picking up your babies – get up earlier! 💪

While there’s nothing I wouldn’t give to make sure these kids are safe and happy and entertained and fed and rested and watered…I also would love the same opportunities to take care of myself. Parenting Anthem, am I right? I used to want a glass of wine, now there are days when I have to ask myself if I’ve had a glass of water all day. And I’m starting to feel like crap.

This week, the routines are changing! Life is calling us back to the drawing board, as it does.

As someone who lives and breathes by a daily schedule, changing up the routine that has worked so well for us for over two years gives me a little anxious pit in my stomach. It shouldn’t – but I like the comfort that comes complimentary with every pre-planned day and outfit.

Focus on the good – not the mess

Tuesdays are linen days. I know what to expect. If I miss linen day, I must prepare myself for a weeklong battle of trying to fit it in somewhere else. I like linen day.

Yes, I see the eye roll. Who likes linen day?

While my love of Tuesday has nothing to do with sheets and bedspreads (ugh, who enjoys putting heavy wet sheets into a dryer?) it has everything to do with routine. Tuesdays are usually one of our two preschool days. It means that while the laundry is washing I can watch Dr. Phil at full volume or spend some time catching up on personal care tasks (removing the crusty toenail polish, pulling items out of a cluttered cupboard or packing for a weekend trip without the kids pulling every item out or demanding to see every receipt and paperclip from the junk drawer…). Catching up on finances, making healthcare appointments or steam mopping.

Stay-at-Home Mama Life means wrangling two toddlers while my wife travels for work – sometimes gone days at a time. And we all know days with small children (like indoor baby pandas) are highly active and somewhat unpredictable. As we look forward to Amy’s busy season, I can expect her to travel weekly, and maybe even have a home away from home for extended periods of time.

The idea of it sounds exhausting, but we both know it’s for the greater good of our family. So – what can we do to help my sanity?


Amy’s recent travel was a bit unexpected and so I think I was feeling extra keyed-up from not getting my chores or meal prep work done (I exchanged that for a workout while the baby napped). Stuff starts to PILE.

Our days have been like finely oiled machines around here, but missing a meal prep and then getting burgers was not the best way to make up for an intense workout. Should I have not exercised and had a sensible meal instead?

WHY can’t I ever manage to do both? Exercise hasn’t been a set part of my days, so I’ve been trying to fit it in in any scheduling holes or gaps in my day. My “free time” so to speak. Which means it doesn’t happen, and instead gets pushed to the back burner to take care of smaller itemized tasks that I can check off my list.

No longer!

I’ll be working on a bit of organization and meal planning and pantry inventory in the next couple of days, and sharing any great recipes or tips I come across here on the blog (and the vlog at MommaAMommaB on YouTube).

For me, a clean workspace and home environment brings me peace – with a one and two year old, the house is often an eyesore and the garbage accumulates at an alarming rate. All things I need to just suck up and embrace as part of motherhood – or get out those gloves and get up an hour earlier!

Reorganization under way!

See today’s video for more – I truly have the best partner I could imagine. It’s important to take care of eachother, so if you see someone struggling try to offer to help – even just a couple hours of “me” time brought me back to reality. Step outside, get a breath of fresh air.

Or do what I did – fill your basket with organization and cleaning tools – plus a cute new workout bra.

You deserve to take care of you, even when you can convince yourself you’re not worth it.

Did I tally up every item in my cart and feel extreme guilt for spending over SIXTY dollars on organizing canisters? YEP. Did I buy them anyway. YEP. My wife had insisted and I needed to get over that block in my mind.

Clear canisters by Made By Design – Available at Target and

Does this scream privilege? YEP. But I bought the dang things and cleaned them and dried them and filled them with goods and for some reason this brought me a feeling of some type of control. Something other than just collapsing into bed and saying “today was too hard”.

Easier to see what’s on hand – SO clean looking!

Do you need to spend money to feel better? Goodness no. Feelings come and feelings go (Pete the Cat fans, WYA?).

Here I am raiding the dress-up bin, instead of doing my chores (this kid is on a nap strike!) NO REGRETS

If buying kitchen organization goods and an exercise bra is the worst damage I could do today, I guess I’ll forgive myself for the bank account hit. It’s not often we splurge on frivolous things – and is it totally frivolous if it brings some personal satisfaction? I may argue the case for my new haul! I hope this new kitchen system streamlines our meal prep and helps reduce food waste – I’ll keep you updated after we try it out for a bit!

TBH, I’ve never spent so much at once on organization tools: But I think today it was worth it. The kitchen organization project led to a full pantry itemization; now we actually know what we have on hand for meal planning.

Here’s to more organized days in 2020!

Love, Mama B

Love? Or Donuts? DIY PHOTOGRAPHY at HOME | Budget Studio | Dollar Tree Backdrops

New video is live today! Come “Behind-the-Scenes” to take a look at our set for the Love and Donuts sibling photo shoot

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Click the link below to a photo reel of past DIY photo-shoots across all seasons:

If you’re looking for Valentines 2020 Mini Session ideas on a budget, consider the variations below:

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