Sunday Spotlight: Tanya Swanson of Premier Pet Lodge in Malmo

I am always thrilled when women-owned or mom-owned businesses reach out to me to be part of my Sunday Spotlight feature. To be able to shine the Sunday Spotlight on these businesses is always fun for me and an honor as well. The spirit, drive and determination of Minnesota women never ceases to amaze me and Tanya Swanson is one of those women.

Tanya and Mike Swanson have just opened a pet lodge near Mille Lacs Lake. Tanya is a veterinary technician who homeschools the couple’s four kids. The Swansons have also recently built a completely brand-new facility to board the pets of the Brainerd Lakes area.

Premier Pet Lodge

Premier Pet Lodge is the result of almost 20 years of hard work and big dreams for the Swanson family and Tanya has been a Certified Veterinary Technician for 14 years. She has years of experience working in the veterinary field, including The Minnesota Zoo, The Wildlife Rehab Center of MN, the MN DNR and a variety of veterinary clinics. She also has a B.S. in Conservation Biology. Mike is a Certified Medical Coder and also has years of experience in animal care. They have four fantastic kids who are excited to help out whenever they can as well.

tanya1

The Premier Pet Lodge is committed to:

  • Respect, honesty and communication
  • Serving God, our family and our community, both human and animal
  • Making environmentally-conscious choices in our business
  • Continued professional growth and training
  • Investing in the dreams of others

Q: Tell us about your business. When did you start and how long you’ve been in business too.

Tanya: In January of this year we opened Premier Pet Lodge on our 40 acre property in Malmo, near the east side of Mille Lacs Lake. It was a labor of love that we began to pursue in October of 2015, when we visited the Small Business Development Center at Central Lakes College. I don’t know if we would have made it this far without their support! Once we had our business plan, projections and financing ready we built a brand-new facility from the ground up.

Premier Pet Lodge

Q: Share what attracted you to this business, and what you like most about it.

Tanya: I’ve been in the animal field for almost 20 years. I began with a degree in the field of Wildlife Conservation and worked in wildlife rehab and animal rescue through college. After graduation I decided I wanted to have a more hands-on approach to caring for animals and became a certified veterinary technician 12 years ago, working in a variety of animal-related positions. I loved my career…and then I started having babies of my own! Four babies later,  I found myself looking for a way to use my skills (which were a big part of my identity) and still be home to help my children learn and grow. I love that I’m able to pursue my passion for helping animals while providing for my family. It’s been really empowering.

Q:What has been your biggest business challenge with your business thus far?

Tanya: The biggest challenge I’ve had so far is learning to juggle all the aspects of business, caring for my home, homeschooling and finding time at the end of the day to unwind. Luckily I have an amazing husband who carries half the weight.

Premier Pet Lodge

Q:What business goals to do you have for 2017? 

Tanya: My business goals for 2017 are to put the finishing touches on our building and start to offer some new services and products that maybe aren’t readily available in other places! We love to use organic and natural products in our home and with our animals, and we try to extend that to the pet lodge as well. I have a real interest in nutrition and wellness for pets and I love to help owners find natural solutions to common health problems. Our ultimate goal for 2017 is to be busy enough that my husband can work from home with us.

Q: Which one your products (or services) are you favorite and why?

Tanya: We have a few really great organic and natural products coming for pets. I’d like to offer a small selection of really great products that I think every pet owner should have. We provide essential oil support to our guests if the owner is interested, which can help with everything from stress to pain. It’s been really fun to see the difference that can make. Like many moms, I’m a research nut.

Q: Tell us about your family.

Tanya: I’ve been married to my husband Mike for 12 years and we have four children….2 girls and 2 boys, ages 13 months to 9 years. We’ve homeschooled since pre-school and we love it. We have a fantastic homeschool “group” in our town and we spend many days learning together. We also have an amazing Bulldog/Rottweiler named Blue, a guinea pig, and two cats. All of our animals are rescues.

Premier Pet Lodge

Q: What advice do you want to share for moms/women in business?

Tanya: My best piece of advice is to lean on the support of people who really care about you for help when you need it. I’m surrounded by women who build me up, pray for me, and support me in whatever capacity I need. My grandma has owned her own business for many years as a designer, and she’s been a great example to me!

Q: Other mompreneurs are always curious how others juggle the work/life balance and you’ve added homeschooling to the mix! Any advice/tips for women running a business and raising a family?

Tanya: I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to say I’ve got that balance totally perfected. I try to think in the long term and pray that it all evens itself out! I’m typing this I’m breastfeeding a baby who’s kicking the keyboard and listening to my 3 yr old tantrum while my husband folds the laundry. At the end of a week I look back and say, how did we do? Some weeks make me proud and some weeks make me cringe! I really depend on my girlfriends and my relationship with Jesus to get me through.

Q:What do you want readers of Mom Squad Central to know about your business?

Tanya: I would love the readers of Mom Squad to know that the pets who stay with us become part of our family. Our business is built on a desire to serve our community, and I believe we will do that in even bigger ways than I can imagine right now. Also, we do a monthly give-away of a BarkBox for one of the pets who stays with us each month!

Q: If you could pick one thing that you love the most about your business, what would it be?

Tanya: My favorite thing about our business is forming relationships with other people in our community! People love their pets so much, it’s so hard to leave them. We try to be that place where the pets feel safe.

Q:Are you on Facebook? Twitter? Linked-In?

Tanya: You can find us on facebook.com/premierpetlodge and Twitter @premierpetlodge.

Q: If you could “bust out” and do ONE crazy thing in your lifetime (with no consequences) what would that be? 

Tanya: If I could do one thing, I’d pack my family up and travel the world for a whole year! I’ve always dreamed of “worldschooling” my kids and myself!

Q: If you had to choose one word that sums up your focus for 2017, what would it be?

Tanya: LOVE

Connect with Tanya and the Premier Pet Lodge at  (320) 372-2148 and  website www.premierpetlodge.com

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Healthy Kid Friendly Food Ideas

Kids are picky eaters. Some of course are more finicky than others. In fact, mealtime can become a dreaded battle ground. Do you have children that despise anything that doesn’t resemble a chicken finger? Do they turn their nose if it isn’t packed with sugar? If so, then you have your hands full. Here are a few ideas to help you win the battle and get some vitamins and nutrients into your kid’s diet.

picky eater

#1 Fun shapes – It doesn’t matter what it is, kids tend to like things that look fun. Pancakes and sandwiches are easy to shape with cookie cutters. However, you can also make vegetable latkes and shape them. You can also get creative with vegetables. Imagine building a little log cabin out of celery, with carrots and cheese or peanut butter as an adhesive to bind it all together.

Don’t forget meats. You can cut turkey burgers, chicken breasts and other meat into shapes too. Once your child is accustomed to the flavor you can ease back on the novelty shapes and fun designs.

#2 Get sneaky – Add vegetable and fruit purees to their favorites. Brownies, breads and muffins and even sauces or dips can be healthy too. For example, add some applesauce, blueberry or peach puree to yogurt and serve with shredded chicken or breads & biscuits.

#3 Cheese – Most kids love cheese. You can embrace this tasty food as a dip, a sauce or a casserole staple. You can also stuff vegetable or meats with cheese. Yum, a cheese-filled pepper, or chicken breast!

#4 Don’t force the issue – Many parents choose to simply make their meals as they would normally make them. However, they take a less stringent approach. Instead of making kids eat everything, the simply ask the children to “try” everything. Most children are more opposed to how a food looks than how it tastes. When you’re not forcing them to eat they tend to be a lot less rigid with their choices and decisions.

#5 Let them choose a meal once a week – Giving your children some independence and responsibility may make them more responsive at meal time. Let them choose one meal each week. Get them involved in the preparation too. This way they learn to appreciate what goes into making a meal.

Kids can be tough to please. A little patience and creativity can help you manage their picky appetites and mealtime successfully. Be patient. Help them learn to appreciate what goes into a meal and how to be healthy. Provide children with a variety and encourage them to try new things. Eventually they’ll learn to appreciate new foods.

Side Note: Think your child has sensory processing disorder? Learn about the warning signs of SPD @POPSUGARMoms

spd

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Brainerd Public Schools Employee Receives MnACTE/SNP Teacher of the Year Award

Brainerd ISD 181

Brainerd Public Schools are pleased to announce that special education teacher, Sue Sorensen, has been named the Minnesota Association of Career and Technical Education/Special Needs Personnel (MnACTE/SNP) Teacher of the Year 2017. Sorensen was nominated by her coworker, Twila Ehrich-Belton.

Sue Sorensen

Sorenson has been with Brainerd Public Schools for more than 16 years at Lincoln Education Center where she teaches classes in Occupational Skills and Career Exploration.

“We truly have been blessed to work with Sue and to have her on our team helping us serve and meet the needs of our special population of kids,” said Nancy Anderson, principal of Lincoln Education Center

Every other year, the MnACTE/SNP recognizes the contributions and efforts of fellow professionals who have made a significant impact on the success of students in the field of Career & Technical Education.

The 2017 Teacher of the Year Award will be presented on February 23 at the Edinburg USA Event and Conference Center in Brooklyn Park.

The Minnesota Association for Career and Technical Education/Special Needs Personnel is a statewide professional organization of individuals who coordinate work-based learning programs, teach, administer or provide transition services for students with special needs. MnACTE/SNP has been providing professional leadership since its charter in 1975.

For more information about Brainerd Public Schools, please visit www.isd181.org

ABOUT BRAINERD PUBLIC SCHOOL

The mission of the Brainerd Public Schools, in partnership with the community, is to ensure all students achieve their individual potential by providing the highest-quality programs and resources to prepare learners for an ever-changing global society.

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Go ahead. Have a snack (healthy snack option that are under 200 calories!) #EssentiaHealth

By Bonnie Brost, licensed and registered dietitian at Essentia Health.

Choosing healthy snacks is more important than ever in our culture because very few of us eat sit-down meals. Often we race through each day without much thought about when or what we will eat.

More than nine out of 10 American adults snack at least once a day. Eight out of 10 snack at least twice a day, and six out of 10 snack three or more times a day.

Snacks are an important part of a healthy eating plan, if meals are more than six hours apart. Our bodies have small gas tanks that need to be refueled several times a day. Going more than six hours without eating when we’re not sleeping sets us up for feeling starved.

When we get really hungry, we cannot make a healthy choice. We get sucked into buying the candy bar in the store’s checkout line, driving through the fast-food restaurant, hitting the vending machine for a bag of chips or candy or taking extra-large portions at our next meal.

eating junk food

Make a plan to have healthy snacks available. Pack snacks to take with you if you will not be home for several hours. Put healthy snacks in a convenient place at home. Keep a list posted in the kitchen of snacks available for you and other family members. Pre-measure and pack healthy items in snack-size baggies, so they’re easy to grab and you can keep the calories in check.

My definition of a healthy snack is:

healthy snack

 

  • 50-200 calories

 

  • A whole fruit or vegetable

 

  • Contains whole grain, if a cracker, chip, cereal or bread-type product

 

  • Contains beans or lentils

 

  • A nut or seed that doesn’t have a dressing or is not candy-coated

 

  • Low in saturated fat; less than 2 grams per serving

 

  • Low in added sugar; less than 1½ teaspoons of added sugar or 7 grams. (Natural sugar in dairy products, fruits and vegetables aren’t included even though their sugar will be listed on the label.)

 

With so many snack products available, it can be very confusing when trying to choose a healthy option. A great cellphone app called “Fooducate” can help. Scan a product’s barcode, and the app offers a grade of A, B, C or D. It also explains the grade, such as whether it contains a whole grain or added sugar. The app will even offer names of “alternative” products that may be better. “Fooducate” is maintained by registered dietitians.

 

Here are a few ideas for healthy snacks:

 

Snack Portion size Calorie range Comments
Fresh fruit

Banana, apple, orange, clementine, pear, grapes, berries

1 each or 16 grapes or 1 cup berries 50-110 Whole fruits have no added sugar and are loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Frozen grapes are a great treat.
Fresh vegetablesCarrots, snap peas, jicama, fresh bell pepper, cherry tomatoes 1 cup 25-50 Whole vegetables have no added sugar and are loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Eat with hummus dip found in the produce case.
Whole-grain crackersTriscuit, Hint of Salt Wheat Thins, Crunchmaster crackers 1 ounce is 6-16 crackers 120-140 Portion these out.  Loaded with whole grains that are high in important minerals and antioxidants. Serve with hummus instead of cheese.
Whole-grain chips

Food Should Taste Good multigrain chips

1 ounce (about 10 chips) 140 High in whole grain, low in sodium and gluten free.  Serve with lower sodium salsa or hummus.
Bean chips

Beanito chips or Tostitos Black Bean chips

1 ounce (9-12 chips) 140 Portion these out. High in fiber, low in sodium.
Popcorn

Boom Chicka Pop Sea Salt or Skinny Pop popcorn

3-4 cups 100-140 Whole grain, high in fiber. Includes good fats and low in sodium. Some microwave popcorns are too high in sodium and bad fats.
Light string cheese 1 each 60-80 Low in saturated fat, high in protein and calcium.
Fat-free or low-fat yogurts. Light or Greek yogurts are lower in sugar. 5-ounce cup 80-140 Greek yogurt is high in protein. Light yogurts have less added sugar. High in calcium.
Snack bars

Kashi bars, Kind bars, That’s It Fruit
Bars, Pressed Bars, Pressed Fruit Bars, Nature Valley Thins

1 each 90-200 Convenient.  Grains used are whole grain. Very little added sugars.
Nuts (undressed)Almonds, peanuts, mixed nuts ¼ cup 150-180 Choose lightly salted if available. High in the good fats and have protein.

 

So go ahead, have a snack. Just be mindful to make it a healthy choice!

 

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