Exploring Nature with Kids: Fall Leaves

Fall is such a perfect time to head outdoors with—or without—the kids. 

Spring allergies are a thing of the past, summer’s soaring temps are gone, and the landscape is putting on a grand finale involving everything from late-blooming wildflowers to fall foliage.

Speaking of fall foliage, those brightly colored leaves provide plenty of inspiration for kid-friendly nature activities.

These are three of our favorite ways to get outside and enjoy the fall leaves.

[Read more…]

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How to Love Your Boys Up Proper



I’ve got five boys and not one of them is alike.  Honestly.  They are the strangest creatures I’ve ever met and I find myself confused and conflicted more often than not.  You see, I’m a girl.  A girl that happens to be their mother but that still doesn’t give me much of an edge when dealing with the mystifying behaviors of the toddler, adolescent and teen male species.  Color me clueless and it would be the perfect hue. 

In spite of all that, I’m going to offer you a few ideas for showering those amazing boys with all the love they didn’t even know they were craving!


  • Be willing to laugh.  For real.  They can detect a fake mom laugh from a mile away.  They want to see the ugly faced laugh where your mouth is open too wide and your teeth are showing too much.  You can maintain perfect femininity even while you guffaw at their antics. 


  • Be brave and they’ll think you’re beautiful.  I love the looks on my boys’ faces when I do something they figured I wouldn’t.  I’m content being a bit of a priss most times which makes it even more fun when I unleash my inner warrior on them.  And then I laugh the ugly laugh just because I can.


  • Be prepared for behavior that defies logic and reason.  Boys aren’t terribly interested in either but they really love an adventure.  If it seems brainless, dangerous, wasteful or flat out foolhardy they’ll be all in.  Sometimes you’ll be shocked to find yourself cheering them on.  Other times you’ll be too busy picking up the pieces.


  • Be the voice of reason.  You know, the one mentioned above that they’re not always interested in?  Yea, be that.  They’ll thank you later.  {Maybe}


  • Be forgiving.  Oh goodness, be that.  They’re going to break things, test your patience and work your last nerve.  But when it’s all said and done and you see those beautiful lashes splayed across a perfect cheek you’ll catch your breath and realize all they’re teaching you. 


  • Be ready with a tranquilizer.  Sometimes for them but mostly for you.  Bubble baths work great.  So does a steamy mug of hot cocoa and a well-loved Bible.


  • Be grateful.  If you are nothing else, be this.  Each of those crazy boys was created special and hand-picked for you to raise for Him.  That is a gift.  An exhausting, bewildering, mind-numbing experience, but it is a gift.  Never, ever forget that!
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Using Muffin Tins to Promote Healthy Eating

My picky eaters can go toe to toe with the best of ‘em! Some of my kids are well-rounded eaters but others are as picky as they come. When I discovered muffin tin meals a few years ago, I figured that anything with a shot at increasing their limited food repertoire would be worth a shot!

Using Muffin Tins to Promote Healthy Eating


The concept behind muffin tin meals is simple. Serve a meal or snack in a muffin tin tray. I created a rule with my kids that they had to have at least one bite from each compartment. They found the muffin tin meals so fun that they happily agreed. It wasn’t long before they were discovering new foods that they were willing to eat and before I discovered that having to fill up 6 compartments forced me to create more variety and balance in their lunches. 

Sometimes I create the tins using foods that I have on hand or leftovers, but at least once a week, I try to make them a themed muffin tin. These themed tins often have treats in them, so they may not be as healthy but having these infused in between the “boring” tins keeps the kids from complaining about the one bite per compartment rule!

I also sometimes use muffin tins to hold snacks for everyone or toppings for pizzas or sundaes. For those, I use a larger tin. It’s easy once you get started to think about what to add to themed tins and the kids offer up some great suggestions. Just the other day I was talking about making a monster themed tin and they suggested me using green grapes as monster eyes. I would say that anything that has my kids excited about eating grapes is a very good thing!

Muffin Tin Meals Collage

These examples of just some of the muffin tins we have made show how much variety can be put into these as lunches or snacks. Pictured are tins that used leftover, snack foods such as Gluten Free Chex Mix or crackers and cheese, toppings for the kids to create their own mini pizzas, and some of our themed tins (pictured are flowers, dinosaurs, Valentines, pirates, camping, and Dr. Seuss).

What little boy wouldn’t be thrilled to get a pirate themed lunch?! Even a picky boy may be persuaded to try the cantaloup ship or salmon caught at sea! 

Some moms have expressed to me their worry that these lunches take extra time to prepare or are creating an environment where the kids expect to be entertained by even their food. Most of these lunches take me less time to prepare than a regular lunch would because the pairings don’t have to make any sense. I can just pull out whatever fruits, vegetables, meats, grains, baking or leftovers I already have, throw them together in a muffin tray and call it lunch.

As for the entertainment argument, I personally have seen how quickly kids grow up as my oldest are reaching adulthood and I know that it will be a very short window of time when my younger ones will be amused by my cutting a cucumber into a heart shape, so I am happy to do it for them here and there.

If you would like more specifics on what goes into our trays or on some of the other themes that we have done, you can find that here. Some of the theme ideas I have used have included foods that all start with a certain letter (those have a lot of variety and cause my mom-brain to have to work overtime to think of 6!), foods of a certain colour, garden fare, farmer’s market, and seasons or holidays.

Muffin tin meals have been a great addition to our home! I have been amazed to see how this one little change has increased the variety that our kids eat to such an extent. 

Have you ever tried muffin tin meals?

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6 Ways to Encourage Physical Activity

Six Ways To Encourage Physical Acitivity as a Family



It is never too early, or too late, to get your family moving. It doesn’t have to be boring and it shouldn’t feel like a punishment. The best way to encourage your boys to be active is to model it in your own life. And to get your sweat on with them!

Ways To Stay Active As A Family

  1. Enter a 5 or 10k as a family. It’ll give you something to train for with a common purpose. If the entry fees are too much for your family to tackle, however, you can always create your own. Map out a safe course with reasonable hills and flat land. Set a date for your “official run” and start preparing for it. Have each family member set time goals for themselves based on their personal fitness levels. Stagger start times so that everyone finishes within a few minutes of each other. Plan to celebrate after the run is complete and start planning for your next event!
  2. Exchange sets of reps for screen time. Our kids enjoy using the computer but having them parked in front of a screen is no good for their eyes or their developing minds. We allow it, but we also limit and control it. One way to encourage intentional movement is to have them buy a segment of electronics usage with exercise. For instance, if your son wants to use the computer for 20 minutes have him first drop and give you 20…push-ups, sit-ups, burpees, etc. Repeat with a different exercise for each segment “purchased” in a week.
  3. Make a mileage goal. Make the decision to walk together each day. Determine a number of miles you’d like to cover in a week or month and make a plan to go after that goal. Set aside a time to walk each day and get out there and do it. Keep working your way up, little by little, to stay motivated!
  4. Hire your kids to be the family fitness instructors. Alternate days or weeks, giving each person a chance to develop and lead a fitness regimen. It could be pure cardio, plyometrics, endurance, weights or a combination of everything. Make sure they have plenty of notice before they’re expected to lead so they can formulate a good plan. Their pay could be their own sense of purpose or maybe even a new fitness related item to encourage them on their journey.
  5. Set up a speed course. You can find many speed training plans online. Just grab one and customize it for your family. You can head to the track of your local high school or just find a big empty parking lot and use chalk to mark off distances. You can even use an open field. Time each person for their various runs and record the times. Repeat weekly and watch as those times improve!
  6. Give them manual labor. Today’s generation of kids are in serious danger of growing up soft. With so many appliances and machines to replace the sweat and muscle required from the youth of days gone, our children need us to give them healthy work opportunities. Mowing the lawn, raking the leaves, weeding the garden, cleaning the gutters, sweeping out the garage, painting the porch railing, pressure washing the house…these are all useful occupation and physical stimulation of the mind and muscle. Always ensure your child is capable and equipped, and stress the importance of working with caution and care.

How are you working to raise healthy, active young men?

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Beet Slaw


I only recently tried a beet for the first time in my life, at the ripe old age of 30. I don’t know why I was so intimidated by them before, I supposed I just didn’t know what to do with them so it was easier to pass them by in the produce department and grab that bag of potatoes instead.


But I’m glad that I finally got the courage (God bless Pinterest) to quit Green Eggs and Hamming beets. Now, I will eat them on a train . . . etc.


This recipe for Beet Slaw is fast, delicious, and healthy.

Beet Slaw
Serves 6
Write a review
Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
10 min
3 beets
3 large carrots
3 large apples
3 small lemons
salt and pepper to taste
Peel your carrots, beets, and apples (coring apples). Shred carrots, beets, and apples. Mix your shredded ingredients together, squeezing the juice from your lemons into the mixture. Add a dash of salt and pepper to taste.
Using gloves to peel beets is the only sure fire way to avoid having stained fingers.
Raising Hearty Boys http://www.raisingheartyboys.com/
It’s really that simple. Naturally, I use my food processor’s shredding attachment to make this process faster and easier on the knuckles. (If you don’t have a high quality food processor I cannot recommend it enough. I use mine daily one way or another.)


Easy Beet Slaw


As this beautiful beet slaw marinates in your fridge it gets even yummier. My boys were attracted to it initially by the color (green makes them suspicious but red screams candy and all things delicious) and it’s sweetness sealed the deal.


What is your favorite way to prepare beets?



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Tag! You’re It!

Fitness can stir up images of complicated moves and expensive equipment, but fitness with our boys can be as easy as saying, “Tag! You’re It!” and joining in the game with them!

Just think about all of the running that happens in a half hour game of tag, whether you are “it” or not! And there are so many ways to play tag – it never has to get boring!

Tag Fitness


Here are a few ways to spice up the backyard game of tag and get fit together!

Change Freeze Tag into Fitness Tag!

Instead of being frozen when you are tagged, you must do jumping jacks or run in place or some other fitness move until you are untagged by someone! This will REALLY get everyone’s heart rates up! And to mix it up, you could let the “it” person decide the fitness movement.

Sprinkler Tag

Turn on the sprinklers!

Now, we don’t want anyone slipping and falling on the wet grass, but let’s be honest here: when the sprinklers go on, the boys will usually run through them anyway! So why not make a game of tag out of it! The Hubby and our older two boys did this other day and had a BLAST even though it was 95+ degrees outside!


Use a sponge ball to tag!

You may have played ball tag where the person who is “it” throws balls at people dodgeball-style to get them out. For summer, make it these easy-peasy sponge balls, a great alternative for getting wet and staying cool without picking up the pieces from broken water balloons!

What other versions of tag do your boys enjoy? Do you ever join the tag fun?

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A Quick Testimony about Helping Stubborn Men

Last weekend my 37 year old husband played in our High School’s Alumni Football game. 

How to Help a Stubborn Man

I had some reservations about letting him play, afterall, he just had shoulder surgery before Christmas, and had surgery on the other shoulder about eight years ago. Needless to say, his shoulders don’t really need to get smashed up against men twice his size. I had visions of carting him around in a wheelchair for the rest of his life, and honestly, was a nervous wreck throughout most of the game. 

Thankfully, his shoulders made it through. Unfortunately, his right knee did not fare so well.

I saw him limping off the field sometime in the second quarter and watched as he paced back and forth along the sideline trying to walk it off. A few plays later, he motioned for me to come down to the fence, and I knew something was very wrong.

A little back story might give you the proper perspective.

As we drove into our home town a few days before the game I asked my husband a very important question. It went something like this:

“Honey, if you get creamed, and you’re lying on the field in a heap of paralyzed mess, do you want your loving wife to hurdle the fence and run out on the field to get to you?”

I thought this was a very thoughtful and loving question that took into consideration our stable relationship status while also respecting his manhood. His reply?

“NO! And if my mother tries to come on the field I need you to trip her.”

Hmmmf. I guess I know where we stand. 

But back to his injury…

I made my way down to the fence, and was met with a very frustrated husband. He informed me that he his knee was hurt. Apparently, when he went to hurl his body into the man opposite him in an effort to block him, he planted his cleat in the ground. When he tried to turn his leg, his knee turned, but his cleat did not.

Thus a painful, twisted knee. 

I've seen something similar happen in the hearts of my sons as mama communicates to them she believes in them and is delighted by them.

You’d think a painful, twisted knee would be enough to keep him out of the game, but no. The stubborn, stubborn man played two more quarters before gracefully bowing out and realizing he should probably hang up his helmet. 

Later that night, after I got my football playing, stubborn, stubborn man back home and in bed, he got a cramp in his thigh. Sometime just after 2 AM he started rolling around in the bed clutching his leg, trying desperately not to wake up the whole house. 

I immediately ran to get some of my mom’s doTERRA Deep Blue massage lotion. Deep Blue is an oil blend that helps with inflammation and the pain associated with it (it comes both as an oil, and as a lotion). I globbed it all over his poor, twisted leg and began to massage the cramp away. It was gone within just a few minutes. 

Foot cramps came next.

To treat them, I massaged Deep Blue oil (mixed with a little bit of Grapeseed oil to make it go farther) on his feet (and I’m not a feet girl friends…this was totally a labor of love) followed by some Past Tense (another oil blend that can be helpful in relieving tension) and the cramps went away within just minutes. 

Moral of the story?

When you’re 37, and you insist on playing football like you were 18, you’ll have to deal with your body’s protests later. Wives, make sure you have some Essential Oils on hand to help your stubborn, stubborn men recover (wink, wink).

Important Note: In spite of his injuries, I have to say that watching my man play football (and play very well ladies) was one of the most…ahem…inspiring things I’ve done lately. It reminded me of his strength, and determination to overcome despite all odds. I knew that’s who he was when I married him, but after 11 years of marriage, we sometimes forget about the qualities we loved most in our husbands, don’t we?

He would tell you that having me look at him again the way I did when we were dating was worth the physical injury. I’ve seen something similar happen in the hearts of my sons as mama communicates to them she believes in them and is delighted by them. Let’s remember the power we have as wives AND as mothers of boys to influence the way they feel about themselves with something so simple as an approving look. 

*For information on using Essential Oils, click here. The first photo is mine. The second was taken by one of my high school friends. 

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Feeding Boys {Recipe Link-Up}

Feeding Boys (Recipe Link Up)


Feeding Boys thumbnail

Once a month at Raising Hearty Boys we want to hear from YOU. What amazing recipe have you been whipping up for your boys lately? Tell us about it! And feel free to grab our link-up button to add to your post.


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Four Reasons To Get Your Kids Playing Tennis


Tennis for Kids


I began playing tennis at the age of five, and while many stories of children starting sports at a young age involve burnout and a loss of love for the game, mine never has. And our boys are discovering the fun on the court now, as well!

Tennis is often thought of as a country club sport, but in my 25+ years of playing, neither my family or I have ever belonged to a club. And all four of us still play! There has been a great movement in our country involving the USTA {United States Tennis Association} that has allowed for children of all backgrounds to pick up racquets and learn to play the game right at the public parks in their neighborhoods!

I have fond memories of fun tennis lessons at our local park in the morning and then being back up there hitting at the backboard in the evening while Mom or Dad played in their own tennis league.

Our boys have been hitting around with us or grandparents for a couple of years now, but our oldest {age 7} started lessons this year. We found tennis lessons to be great for teaching fundamentals, learning more about the rules, and having fun on the court in general!

There are many reasons to love tennis and get your boys involved:

Tennis Balls

Inexpensive to get started

Big J uses a 25″ racquet  like this one {meant for ages 8 and up} and Little J uses a 23″ racquet like this one. The 23-25″ range junior racquets shouldn’t cost you much more than $25 and a can of balls is $2 or less! Find a public park with tennis courts or even a wall for them to hit on to get started and you are set! The tennis lessons we just finished were $60 for a total of 12 50-minute lessons.

Great for hand-eye coordination & other skills

Although a racquet provides a little more surface area with which to hit the ball than a baseball bat, tennis is still a great way to develop hand-eye coordination, as well as aim and quick feet. Each stroke – forehand, backhand, volley, serve, overhead – works these skills in a different way and, if played well, it never gets boring!

Life-long game

I mentioned that I have played tennis for over 25 years now and I still love it. My parents started playing in their twenties and are still going strong. And every week, as we walk to lessons, I see men and women well into their seventies and eighties playing on court after court, having a grand time with their friends. I love football and sports in general, but you just don’t see that longevity in many other sports. I’m glad the boys are learning it now and can play for a long time!

Individual, social, and team aspects

Tennis teaches you how to take responsibility for your own game and skills as you play a singles match. When you play doubles, your teamwork skills are expanded while learning to communicate with your partner in the middle of a point and fill in each other’s gaps. And I’ve always loved the social nature of tennis – talking on changeovers, playing for fun with friends, and even taking on The Hubby in a heated match {we’re pretty evenly matched and I love that}. Tennis can bring about growth in many developmental areas.

Do you or your boys play tennis? Do you play together?

If you have any questions about getting your child started in tennis, please feel free to ask in the comments or email me at homewiththeboys at gmail dot com and I will be happy to answer or find out the answer for you!

This post contains affiliate links. When you buy through these links, we receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting this site!

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Free or Cheap Cookbooks

Five Free or Cheap Cookbooks

Looking for a new cookbook? Here are a list of currently free or cheap cookbooks found online.


 Easy-As Recipes: 57 Gluten Free Lunch Recipes



 57 Gluten Free Lunch Recipes

(FREE kindle edition)




Jump Start Your Gluten-Free Diet! Living with Celiac / Coeliac Disease & Gluten Intolerance (Let's Eat Out with Celiac / Coeliac & Food Allergies!)


 Jump Start Your Gluten-Free Diet! Living with Celiac / Coeliac Disease & Gluten Intolerance (Let’s Eat Out with Celiac / Coeliac & Food Allergies!)


 (FREE kindle edition)




Gluten-Free Slow Cooker: Easy Recipes




 Gluten-Free Slow Cooker: Easy Recipes for a Gluten Free Diet

(99 cent kindle edition)




CHOCOLATE Gluten Free Dessert Recipes



 “Take 10″ CHOCOLATE Gluten Free Dessert Recipes Ed.1 (Top 100)

 (99 cent kindle edition)




Living Gluten-Free For Dummies




Living Gluten-Free For Dummies

 (2.99 kindle edition – an 85% savings!)





Don’t have a Kindle? Get a  kindle for as low as $69 or  Download a Free Kindle Reading App for your computer or mobile device!


 *post contains affiliate links

*all prices current as of the publishing of this post

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