Six Great Fitness Articles This Week

Thursday, October 31, 2013

I stumbled upon some great reads this week that were far more than worth sharing, they're worth practicing! Grab your pumpkin spice latte and have a read in between trick or treaters:

1. 25 Ways to Learn to Love Running
2. Top 10 Sources of Protein
3. 5 Global Fitness Secrets to Steal
4. Proper Running Form 101
5. 26 Reasons Not to Run a Marathon (a good follow-up to my popular article, It's Ok to be a Runner and Not Race).
6. Marathons Can Damage the Heart of Less Fit Runners (I keep seeing this report pop up all over the internets, a nice follow-up to the above)


***P.S. I had to come back and share an amazing workout site I just found with tons of free workout videos: Fitness Blender. You're welcome! :)

Our Pumpkin Patch Weekend in Pictures

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

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This past weekend, my amazing workplace sponsored a day at a local farm,  so we took them up on the offer. We hijacked a couple of our nephews and took our family on a short trip. It was a sunny afternoon, but a bit windy and crisp, so we didn't linger quite as long on the activities as we usually do, but we sure made some memories:

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There were hay rides and pony rides

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Chicken and turkey catching

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Amadeus Chicken Catch photo PA262106_zps63e4fbbd.jpg
Our star chicken catcher

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And the star turkey wrestler

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Cluck Cluck

Cow Milkin'

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My baby cow photo PA262148_zpsab6f0a02.jpg

Tractor Ridin'

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Tiny lovin'

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Baby bunny

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Where we spend the most time: with the kittens!

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He grabbed one and two more jumped up

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Cheer up, kid!

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The inside of the jacket is the best spot in the house

Pumpkin pickin'

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Trying to find just the right one

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I found mine!

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Wheelbarrow ride to the pumpkin field

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The goat climbing stump

And a general concensus that we had fun

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Seven Ways to Stay on Track on Weekends

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

My worst enemy for healthy living is the weekends. Hands down. All the progress I make during the week tends to be cut down by a few extra handfuls of food here and there. I'm not even talking about gorging on food, I'm just talking about a little extra. Like one handful of cereal and one handful of nuts and raisins, or something of that sort. Once in awhile, Hubster will bring home an extra donut, so there's that. Maybe my metabolism is far different from others, but still, something's got to give.

This past weekend, I decided to tackle weekends, and came out the other side with nary an extra pound. Here are some strategies that might be helpful to you if you are struggling with the weekend weight creep monster like I am:

1. Gather Weekday Leftovers: By far one of my biggest problems with weekends is meal prep. I always, without fail, prep for my work week on Sundays. However, I rarely prep for the weekends themselves. Most clean perishable food will not keep for 6 or 7 days. I think even 5 days is pushing it. So my strategy is to put aside extra leftovers from dinner during the week to save for the weekend. That way I don't have to dedicate another whole night to food prep, but I'll always have something healthy to nibble on without waiting.

2. Kitchen Makeover: One of the pre-season tasks for the 12WBT is a kitchen makeover. For mine, I had a stockpile of leftovers from a get-together at our house that were haunting me every time I went into the kitchen. Hubster has also been stockpiling yellow M&Ms for a baking project, so guess where the rest of the M&Ms are? In the kitchen! Buh-bye! I threw the extra treats away and forced Hubster to hide the M&Ms if he still wanted them. Call me wasteful, but to me, it's more of a waste to continue fighting that inner battle and extra layer of outer fat than to throw away a wasteland of junk.

3. Conquer BBQs: Sure, right when I'm trying to get even more super-serious about my eating, a family member goes and throws a potluck-style bbq feast. Haha! We had fun with the party, but I had to use some restraint at the dinner table. Since the paper plates were section-style plates, I just put a little scoop of a few of the best looking dishes in each section. Have a small helping of what you're really craving and focus the rest on healthy veggie-based dishes for the rest of your meal. And guess what? This past weekend, I didn't blow any of my progress!

This is just a partial picture of what I was up against!

4. Carry a Water Bottle: at all times! I am really good about drinking copious amounts of water at work, where I'm like 20 paces from a Culligan water cooler. At home though--that's a different story. I can now tell how dehydrated I tend to get on the weekends by how thirsty I am on Monday mornings. Knowing that sometimes thirst can be mistaken as hunger, I decided to make it my mission to glue a water bottle to my hand from the moment I woke up Saturday morning. I even chugged quite a bit down before that BBQ to make sure I wasn't trying to satisfy thirst with food or fill my tummy with non-healthy things.

5. Stockpile Healthy Snacks: You can't just throw away the junk, like step #2 suggests, without finding substitutions or you'll fail. Make a mental or written checklist of the healthy snacks and meals you have on-hand right away Saturday morning, so you know what to grab. My list included plain popcorn, Greek yogurt and acorn squash. I also made sure those snacks were the first thing I saw in the fridge or cupboard too. Out of sight is out of mind, and I wanted to make sure the healthy stuff wasn't out of mind when the donuts walked through the door.

6. Chew Gum: In between meals, chewing sugar-free gum is a healthy habit to get into. It signals that you're done with your meal, making it impossible to continue grazing. Yet at the same time, it's keeping your mouth and taste buds occupied (and cleans your teeth!) so you don't continue eating out of boredom. Also, most food tastes gross after you've been chewing gum. This strategy really works wonders!

7. Distraction: I find that the more I think about food and hang out in the kitchen, the hungrier I become. So dumb. Leave the kitchen already! I'm never short on projects or goals to conquer, and I find that when I'm immersed in a DIY or writing project, I not only get that much closer to my dreams, but I also forget about food for awhile. There's no extra grazing or fistfuls of this or that. You see, I spend a lot of my time in the kitchen. It's one of the places that always has something that needs to be cleaned and always seems to have a meal in progress. But while those noodles are boiling, find something else to work on.

There you have it! Seven bona fide, tried-and-true ways to keep yourself from sabotaging your weight loss progress on the weekends. They definitely have been working for me, so I sure hope they can help you too!

I'm eager to hear: what other ideas do you use to keep your weekends clean?

Weekly Workout Rundown

Monday, October 28, 2013

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  • 25 min abs and shoulders in the AM
  • 30 min run, 2.75 miles in the AM
  • 30 min brisk walk at lunch

  • 25 min chest and calves in the AM
  • 30 min PM run, 2.7 miles

  • 20 min biceps and abs in the AM
  • 33 min run in the AM

  • 25 min run at lunch, 2.23 miles
  • 10 min shoulders


  • Rest

I only slipped up a tiny bit this week with shoulders on Friday. I was so tired, just not feeling it whatsoever, so I stopped, and forgave myself right away. You have to listen to your body when it's screaming at you and I can say for certain that I'm pretty proud of myself for working out hard at least once, sometimes twice, per day and for sticking this program out and for doing it almost to a "T." Saturday, I was able to come back full force, so I know I made the right decision. The LiveFit Trainer prescribed 60 minutes of cardio on Saturday. I chose a 60 min Fire video from the TurboFire series as my cardio. And holy man, burned over 800 calories! That set me up for a good day, especially when there was an all-you-can-eat birthday party spread that night. I ate extremely sensibly so as not to deter my progress.

I actually start my new plan, the 12 Week Body Transformation with Michelle Bridges (a cute Aussie Biggest Loser personal trainer), this week too. I'm just going to allow the two workout systems to dance with each other this week. I want to finish the LiveFit Trainer like a boss, since I've put sooooo much time and energy into it so far. But, the 12WBT begins, and everyone begins together, so I can't start it next week. It will be a song and dance, but I'm going to make it happen anyway.

The only thing I'm worried about is the 1,200 calorie prescription on the 12WBT, which seems a bit excessively restrictive. I'm pretty sure a person needs more than that to just survive for one day, let alone move at all! I will most likely be adding to that calorie base--with unlimited veggies and some lean protein--especially on hard training days. I don't want to pass out or lose all the muscles I've build up on the LiveFit Trainer. I know better than that!

So far, I'm loving what I see with the 12WBT. It's like having a personal trainer right there with you. They're smart over there at 12WBT! They've built a strong social aspect into the training, which is scientifically proven to be essential for exercise adherence. They have little videos explaining a lot of the FAQs. The menu plans are all mapped out for you, so you don't even have to think--and you can swap out meals as you see fit. The meals are pretty darn easy to prepare too, so there's not so much fuss in my meal prep. The workout videos are all done and ready for you in the mornings, so you just have to follow along. Michelle also includes something that a lot of other trainers don't include--mindset training. You can prescribe diet and exercise to a person all day long, but if you don't break through their thoughts and mental challenges, you will get nowhere. I've only seen this strategy one other place, in Chalene Johnson's 30 Day Push. This plan is pretty much perfect! I'm not only trying to squeeze out a few extra pounds, but I'm also gleaning some fantastic strategies for my own personal training business in the process. Learn from the best!

How did you work out this week?

Big Healthy Breakfasts

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Some people think of healthy meals and all they can picture are those teeny tiny little gourmet meals where the glaze looks like more of the meal than the meal itself in their mind. Looks a little like this, right?


Does this ring a bell with you? You feel like you can only eat a tiny bit of food and that you're surely going to be starving within an hour. I want to show you exactly what I eat for breakfasts quite regularly so we can explore this idea a little more closely.

Let's dispel those myths, shall we?

I've noticed that I can pack quite the doozy of a breakfast for fewer than 500 calories. I mean, we're talking tasty egg dishes and oatmeal and a smoothie--all at once. See that? I have what appears to be three breakfasts in one! All for fewer than 500 calories, and with tons of lean protein. The best part is, I stay full for several hours with all of this food and I can even have a snack a little later in the morning.

Let's break it down so you can see how this works

1. One packet of Great Value maple and brown sugar oatmeal, prepared with water. 150 calories

The Oatmeal Artist: French Toast Oatmeal  (Milk, vanilla extract, salt, cinnamon, syrup) - super yummy. i never made my French toast with cinnamon so I didn't think it tasted like French toast, but awesome anyways.. (PS with almond milk it works in the microwave, not with regular milk though)

2. Five egg whites with a pinch of shredded cheese and spices of choice, 91 calories (18g protein!)

Egg white microwave scramble

You can also add a ton of veggies and make a veggie scramble, which adds minimal calories and packs a TON of vitamins and nutrients. And aside from salt and pepper, Mrs. Dash is a wonderful way to spice up the eggs.

3. One fruit smoothie or milkshake. My regular morning staple is 1 cup frozen mixed berries, 1 scoop protein powder and water. Sometimes I make a milkshake with a few Tbsp milk, one frozen banana, 1Tbsp peanut butter, water and 1/4c Greek yogurt. 190 calories (or 255 calories for the milkshake)
Fruit Smoothie

Total calories for three breakfasts in one: 431!!!

Then, around 11:00am, I usually have a light snack. Sometimes I'll make chickpea salad or just munch on a serving of cottage cheese. This usually amounts to another 150 or so calories. So, I'm still under 600 calories by lunchtime.

Wanna know what other myth this defies? The one that says that healthy food takes so much longer to prepare. Wrong! Oatmeal packets take about 5 seconds to prepare. Egg whites can be scrambled in the microwave in minutes and a smoothie prepared in a Magic Bullet takes about 15 seconds. That's faster than drive-through, my friends! And it's so incredibly healthy and nutrient-packed that it makes little sense to eat any other way.

Healthy eating really can be that I could go on!

What's a typical breakfast like for you?

*all calorie estimates were based upon my own ingredients using the nutrition calculator

Weekly Workout Rundown

Monday, October 21, 2013

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  • 45 min LiveFit quads and calves in the AM
  • 25 min run at lunch, 2.22 miles

  • 45 min arms and back in the AM
  • 30 min PM run outside, 2.63 miles

  • 45 min chest, abs and shoulders in the AM
  • 30 min run at lunch, 2.45 miles

  • 50 min hams, glutes and calves in the AM

  • 25 min run at lunch, 2.23 miles
  • 45 min arms in the PM

  • 50 min chest and triceps
  • 30 min run, 2.63 miles

  • Rest

This week, I start the 11th week of the LiveFit Trainer. This week and next are about pumping out 30 of each exercise all without stopping, then repeating the circuit 2 more times. All the exercises change every two weeks, which is what I love about this program. You never do a set of exercises more than twice. This not only prevents boredom, but it also keeps the body from adapting.

I've finally decided what training program I'm going to start after this. I've been invited to try out the first 5 weeks of the Michelle Bridges 12 Week Body Transformation. The program hasn't launched officially in the US yet. It's still in testing mode here, so I'm really excited to be a test dummy before it's even released! I'm doing some of the "preseason" work which includes eliminating excuses, taking measurements, setting goals and that sort of thing. I'm very familiar with all of these techniques already, but it's still healthy to reclaim and face these goals and hurdles every once in awhile.

In the most exciting news for the week, I have purchased another website that I'm hoping to fuse with this blog, officially opening up shop as a personal trainer. I had to do a lot of research and brainstorming to get this thing rolling. In fact, I had the perfect name picked out and found out someone already owned it. I even contacted the owner, who wasn't ready to relinquish the domain. I came up with the most brilliant solution, and I'm so happy with where this is going. The website is only in its infant stages, but when it's ready, you'll be the first to know!

How did you MOVE this week?

Weekly Meal Planning

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  • Milkshake: 1 frozen banana + 1/4 c plain Greek yogurt + a dash of milk + 1 Tbsp peanut butter + water
  • Maple and Brown Sugar Oatmeal
  • 5 Egg Whites + a Pinch of Cheese



  • Chickpea Salad: 1 can chickpeas + 1 chopped tomato + 1 small chopped onion + 1 chopped cucumber + 1 Tbsp olive oil + 1 Tbsp vinegar + 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • We have grilled chicken, burgers, subs, and a frozen convenience meal (veggie-based, pretty healthy) on the menu for dinner.


This menu makes me so excited. The Amazeballs are one of the best treats on the entire planet. They taste as amazing as the name suggests. It's hard not to eat them all when I'm prepping them. The black bean stew just makes me feel all warm inside. It's just like chili, but it's super healthy. That full pot of color just makes me smile. I've had some serious cravings for maple and brown sugar oatmeal (you just can't make it the same yourself), so Peanut and I each have a bowl of it in the morning. And a milkshake for breakfast? Um...yes please! It's important to get excited about your food when you're eating healthy. It makes all the difference in the world.

I tend to pack most of my calories into breakfast and the beginning part of my day. Reason being is that I work out in the mornings before work, so it only makes sense to pre-fuel and post-fuel. Then, I generally taper off the calories for the rest of the day. It feels much better to go to bed at night with a light belly rather than an over-stuffed one. The morning is when the metabolism starts rumbling and the evening is when it should start slowing down. My food patterns naturally mimic my metabolism.

I've been enjoying throwing together these random chickpea salads for snack. It's almost become a weekly staple of mine. I just throw whatever veggies sound good together with a can of chickpeas. I wrote out above what I threw together this week. A clean dressing of olive oil, vinegar and lemon juice provides the perfect taste for almost any veggie mixture. That salad divides up among the five weekdays perfectly.

Our dinners often change, but we try to always have a rough schedule penciled out. I sometimes eat a little bit differently than my family does, perhaps subbing a Boca burger for a full-fat meat burger and a whole wheat bun for a pointless white one. This week, I'm going to try extra hard to stay out of all the snack-y things we have in our kitchen right now. It's really throwing off my game.

What are you eating this week?

This Past Week I...

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

...went on a field trip to a pumpkin patch with Peanut and kept my three little Kindergarten charges safe and in line:) Took a legitimate nap afterward.
...carved pumpkins and roasted pumpkin seeds (I share with no one) with my family. Dremels are the best way to carve pumpkins ever!
...hosted my weekly Bible study in my home, after burning my nostrils with bleach and bathroom cleaner.
...dreamed of all the people we could have over for dinner now because our house is clean! Any takers?
...took Peanut on a Starbucks coffee/hot chocolate date because he was such a big helper with the cleaning. He cleaned the windows and did the dishes without being asked, without even the remote suggestion that he should help! Such a sweet boy.
...enjoyed my very first Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte. Why have I waited so long? Must.find.recipe to make this at home myself. Perhaps this one...
...had a cookout at a family friend's house, complete with backyard S'mores.
...had a huge family lunch with family that were visiting from Texas.
...acquired a brand-new roof in just one day. We had some serious issues that literally kept me up at night. *Sigh of relief.
...pushed through weeks 9 and 10 of the LiveFit Trainer.
...completed one entire portion of an e-book I'm hoping to launch in the near future.
...finished up a freelance writing job and a pro bono writing job that I took on.
...soaked up some really amazing content until I started to feel overwhelmed with inspiration!
...acquired some supplies for a brand-new fitness DIY project that I'll be sharing soon on here. Giddy, giddy!
...received a body fat caliper I ordered in the mail. I'm totally geeking out on this nerdy fitness tool.

How have you been involved in your week?

How to Turn Travel Into a Learning Opportunity

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

No kid wants to go on a trip thinking they're going to be schooled, right? I mean, c'mon, vacation means vacation from school right? Sure, but that doesn't mean you can't sneak a little bit of education in here and there. It's so beneficial for those emerging brains to have such special opportunities to expand and develop. Our family went on several trips this year that were barely out of state, but our son's teacher told us how lucky that makes our son. Trips expand their vocabularies, senses of geography, world experiences, and so much more than I'm even aware of. Hey, and we weren't even trying!

I do, however, make a concerted effort to explain things to Peanut whenever he shows interest. When I started thinking about how our trips were great learning opportunities, I saw the lessons everywhere. I hope you too can use some of these tips for turning your next family trip into a learning experience extraordinaire!

1. Gym/Health Class

We did so much walking on our Mackinac Island trip, it's incredible. The terrain was pretty varied too, so we had to huff and puff up and run down some steep hills. Peanut even went on a "run" with me one morning down a paved trail in Mackinaw City. Without even trying to, we are giving Peanut some Health education that is going to last his whole life. I've said it before on here, but Peanut will never have to seek out fitness later in life because we've always made it a natural part of life from the get-go. I think taking walking tours of the cities you visit is one of the best ways to turn a trip into health education. Or go swimming in your hotel's pool, scout out local trails, rent kayaks, or participate in other active things. And if you like to pack your own food like we do, get your kids used to healthy foods.

Me and Peanut's running route

Pretty Rainbow of Rental kayaks

2. Geography

Every trip ever is a great Geography lesson. Get out those maps and plot those points. By talking about the Great Lakes in Mackinaw City and looking at maps for The Museum of Science and Industry, we were helping our Peanut get a gauge for his world. Peanut already is showing some strong spatial intelligence--when he was two, he would point out places in different cities that we had only been to once! Since this is an advantage for him, I think the best thing we can do is build upon that skill. Use topography maps when you're hiking and have your kids try to help you navigate your driving routes. Take a geocaching trip and let your kids help with the coordinates--there are caches everywhere! If you're flying, get out those atlases and explain the trip to your children. Explain the geological aspects of the location while you're at it. Limestone bluffs? It's worth a chat.

3. Nature Studies

On our field trip last year, we had quite the tour guide for nature studies. We found owl pellets and bones and downed trees and all kinds of fantastic natural occurrences. In Mackinaw City, Peanut and I had a good chat about the structure and function of anthills. We are an outdoorsy kind of family anyhow (if you couldn't tell), so we get excited to teach about birds, leaves, weather, food chains and on and on.

Giant hollow tree


Wild turkey vulture

Amazing display of the life cycle of a butterfly at the Butterfly Museum

Just take a walk through a local nature preserve--or even a park! Go without any sort of agenda and you're guaranteed to find teaching opportunities out there if you're looking. Explain how turtles live, look at animal prints in the dirt, point out animal trails in the brush, and try to identify butterflies. Almost anything you can think of is a prime opportunity for teaching. If you don't know much about those types of things, look them up! I had to do a little research on anthills before I could effectively explain them too.

duck eggs
A perfect nest found at a park near our house

Deer tracks near Crivitz
4. History

Almost everywhere you travel, you'll find historical sites or markers that present great learning opportunities. We visited Heritage Village and several lighthouses near Mackinaw City. Just explaining the history of the lighthouses and one-room schoolhouses to Peanut was so thrilling. I vividly remember visiting my first one-room schoolhouse as a child, so I know that these types of experiences can have a lasting effect.

Morse Code Chart

Mackinac Island Memorial

Lighthouse Museum


5. Math

A kindergarten's sense of math is much different than an 8th graders, however I think there are opportunities everywhere to teach them both. Peanut's math involves shapes and counting. We play counting games when we're in the car for long rides. We try to find every number from 1 to 9 on all the different signs we pass. We count deer we see in pastures, we try to find A/B patterns in artwork, we try to discuss time and things like that. An older child would learn well from trying to help the family organize a trip budget, estimate restaurant bills to the closest dollar, determine expected trip miles, or keep tabs on their own spending money.

Look at all those shapes to identify and things to count!

6. Cultural Studies

We had a really good time reading through the book about how people live on Mackinac Island year-round and how they get materials to build anything on the island. No vehicles are allowed on the island, so we learned that their garbage collection and delivery services are even done via horse and carriage. Many places you travel have opportunities to study different cultures, past or present, if you just pay attention. Sometimes the food offered where you are is an opportunity for cultural expansion. I mean, we learned all about mining culture when we were introduced to pasties.

7. Science

Some science is incorporated into the other subjects listed above. We had a few experiences this summer that were specifically science-related, such as at the Museum of Science and Industry. Their interactive family center is beyond adequate for a science lesson or 600! We explored weather, fires, gravity, light reflection, the color spectrum and human biology (dissecting eyeballs!!!) among so many other things. We also have EAA museum passes where we can explore easy physics principles and airplane dynamics. Just exploring the weather, water tides, moon phases, and animal habitats can expand your kids' universes by the second. I fully intend for our annual Perseid picnic to get more and more in depth with astronomy as is appropriate for Peanut's age.

Static Electricity

Full moon over a low tide

Insect museum

Sea Otter Habitat

8. Music

I just couldn't resist this mini $20 guitar on our trip to Door County this spring. The kid gave me the most heart wrenching little doe eyes. Well, I put down a $20 and called it a great learning experience. He played us his own made-up songs around the campfire, which was perfect. Although he's a little young to get the hang of playing the six-string yet (I tried!), we still bang out tunes, memorize verses and tap out rhythms with the best of them. In Kindergarten, the kids are learning the whole ta-ta-tee-tee-ta rhythm in music class. We can easily supplement his education at home or on the road by tapping out rhythms on our laps, learning a new Elvis song, or playing his Vacation Bible School CD over and over again, complete with all the hand gestures.

Wow, even just writing this post has gotten me excited! I hadn't even thought of all these potential learning experiences until I started writing about them. I can't wait to see what our next trip holds. We're planning a short weekend getaway for Hubster's birthday in November and I'm dreaming up a Wisconsin bird scavenger hunt in my head. I think Peanut will be thrilled to learn the names of some of his favorite birdies (and so will his mom:). 

I really love how all of these "lessons" are unlike those units in school that you just knew you would never use again in real life. These are real-life lessons that will carry on long throughout your children's lives. Whether you're hanging out in your own backyard or hightailing it across the country, think about ways you can turn your trips into learning experiences for your children. You might just learn a thing or two too yourself! And the lasting memories are beyond value!

What are some of the ways that you sneak a little teaching into your travels?