Wednesday, September 30, 2015

My Favorite Halloween Treats

Forget those tricks, Halloween is all about the treats! Since tomorrow is October 1st, that officially means it's time to bake fantastic desserts.  

I plan on trying my hand at some tasty yummies for my husband to enjoy, as well as my friends.  I'm thinking dirt cups with gummy worms, Halloween cookies, and brownies with orange and black sprinkles.

What are some of your favorite treats? It's hard to avoid those fabulous goodies that really get you in the Halloween sprit. 

These festive cupcakes were made back in Halloween 2013.  They were fantastic and gone in seconds.

Check out these yummies!

My belly says hello treats! I need you right now. Share some pics of your favorite treats below.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Personalization Mall Review

My memories of Halloween growing up are magical.  This was the one time a year where you could receive tons of delicious treats in a bag while wearing a fantastic costume.  What child wouldn't love that? Now that I have my own baby, I look forward to this fun event every year and seeing the excitement through her eyes.

Personalization Mall offers personalized gifts for birthdays, Christmas, weddings, babies, and much more. Anything you could truly want to be personalized is available.  How about giving your wife a personalized photo frame with a picture of the family in it for her birthday? Don't forget personalized golf clubs for Christmas for Dad, and personalized flower pots for Grandma's garden too.  The categories range from kitchen and office to school and home decor, with everything in between! The quality of the products are superb and the personalization is top notch.  If you're looking for a fabulous Christmas present for a friend or relative, keep Personalization Mall in mind.

As a child, I absolutely loved Halloween.  My friends and I would trick or treat in our neighborhood and we enjoyed the anticipation of not knowing what treats each house would give.  Would the house with the blue shutters give out mini chocolate bars while the brick house gave out lollipops? We would practically run up to each house's front door in extreme excitement.  Once you saw that huge bowl of candy in the hands of the homeowner, you knew you were in for something delicious.

Now that I have Scarlett, Halloween has a whole different meaning.  I always say that once you have a child, you get to experience childhood all over again.  I've decorated my house with witches, ghouls, goblins and pumpkins to get in the Halloween spirit.  Even though Scarlett is too young to understand what Halloween is, she's certainly interested in touching all of the decorations.  I can't wait for her to help me decorate as she gets older.

Halloween is not complete without personalized treat bags! Every child would love to carry a bag with their name on it while they get their candy loot.  Since it's Scarlett's first Halloween, I knew she had to have something adorable to go trick or treating with.

Scarlett received the Miss Pumpkin Embroidered Plush Trick or Treat Bag and the All Mine! Personalized Halloween Treat Bag.  We have several Halloween events to go to in my mom's group, and our town has events too.  These bags will surely get a lot of use in the month of October.

Unicorn girl ready to trick or treat!

The Miss Pumpkin treat bag is absolutely adorable.  It's a modern day version of the plastic pumpkin bucket that everyone had for their candy as kids.  Scarlett was very interested in the friendly girly pumpkin face and kept touching her eyes and mouth.  Not only is the bag high quality and durable, but spacious too.  The handle is easy to carry, which I'm sure she'll want to hold.  I love that her name is embroidered on it in a cute, whimsical font.  Scarlett can't eat candy, but her mom can! There's plenty of room inside to hold her sweet treats. The orange color is bright and inviting and certainly screams Halloween.  Do you think Scarlett will share her treats with me? Let's hope so! This basket is not babyish at all, and I can certainly see her using this bag for some years to come.

Any child would be delighted to use the All Mine! bag for their Halloween loot this year. This black bag features Scarlett's name in white, orange, and purple colors against a black background. I love that the colors help the black background to pop.  Since she's only 10 months old, it might be a little bit harder for her to carry the bag when it becomes weighted with items.  I'll be there to help though.  My eyes are turning into liquid chocolate as I imagine the dozens and dozens of treats that will soon fill her bag and make my stomach happy! The bag is made of a poly cotton blend and seems very durable.

The bag is machine washable which allows a kid to use it over and over again.  The colors are reminiscent of Halloween, but that doesn't mean a child can't use it as a bag for anything else when it's not Halloween.  Use the bag to hold library books, toys when visiting a friends house, or anything else.  The fact that it's versatile is very convenient.

We're very satisfied with these treat bags and can't wait to use them this Halloween and of course many more in the future.

I'm sure that any child would be delighted to see their name embroidered on a Halloween treat bag.  They will absolutely love it.  If your child doesn't yet have a treat bag, why not consider Personalization Mall for theirs?

*DISCLOSURE* Thank you to Personalization Mall for providing me with complimentary product in order to facilitate this post.  All thoughts are strictly my own.  

Stay Well this Holiday Season with HealthTap

Flu season will be upon us soon as will be winter coughs and colds.  It's important to take care of yourself and stay well.  

If you do come down with the sniffles or a cough, wouldn't it be great if you could receive medical advice from the comfort of your own home? Don't worry about changing out of your pajamas because you'll be able to sign up with HealthTap and receive free trusted answers from 73,000 of the best US-licensed doctors.  You'll have the opportunity to set up quality live video, voice or text consults with compassionate and knowledgeable primary care doctors any specialists.  These consults are available on any mobile device or computer. Get all of your questions answered so you can be on the road to wellness quickly. 

Housecalls used to be a thing of the past, but now they're making a comeback.  If you're interested in trying out this service, why not sign up for a discounted consult now? Just use this link.

*DISCLOSURE* I'm being compensated as a HealthTap Ambassador and receive a percentage of each booked consult. All thoughts are strictly my own. 
Monday, September 28, 2015

Huggies Helps Baby Stay on The Move #SetBabyFree

It feels like Scarlett's been on the move for some time now, but she's only been really crawling since July.  She actually learned to crawl from my cellphone actually.  Scarlett's so in love with it and will do whatever she can to grab it! Those two months have brought her more independence than she knows what to do with.  She can crawl to any toy or object she wants, and she pulls herself up on furniture too.  She'll be 10 months old soon and she's into everything! The joy of movement is thrilling but also heartbreaking at the same time, since your baby is only a tiny baby for so long! 

Thankfully, the one constant diaper brand in her life is Huggies.  I can count on Huggies Little Movers diapers to provide an outstanding fit, grip, and wetness protection so Scarlett can get the most out of every move, walk, roll, and crawl.  Our changing table is always stocked with these diapers.
Stair Climbing Girl.

Lately, Scarlett has been on the move more than ever now.  She recently learned how to crawl up the stairs, and I'm always right behind her to catch her if she falls.  In the beginning she started off only crawling up a few steps, but now she crawls up the 16 steps to our playroom without fail everyday.  A baby can only stay away from toys for so long! I love to watch her do this everyday.  

With a baby on the move, it's important that you make sure your house is baby proofed.  We have gates by all of our stairs, and we have tie locks on certain cabinets.  As Scarlett learns to walk, we'll have to baby proof more areas of our home.  Luckily we don't have sharp glass coffee tables or furniture with sharp edges.  I don't protect her from everything though.  Scarlett needs to fall and get hurt at certain points, it's how she learns and grows and trust me that happens everyday.  

I love anything dangerous!

If you have a baby on the move, I highly recommend Huggies Little Movers diapers.  These diapers absorb wetness on contact thanks to the dry touch liner.  You can count on the double grip strips for comfortable movement and a fit that lasts, as well as a contoured shape for movement.  Every moving baby should be in Little Movers.  

What steps do you take to make sure your house is baby proofed and safe against your little one? Also, when's the first time you noticed your baby on the move? Maybe it was a slow transition or it happened suddenly.  Once baby starts moving, there's no stopping them!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Toys to Help Your Little One Sleep Soundly this Holiday Season #HolidayGiftGuide

Every child at one point or another has nighttime fears and can't sleep well.  Whether your child is afraid of the dark, thinks there is monsters under the bed, or just wants a parent to sleep with them, it's all relative. It can be hard to ease those sleepy time fears ourselves, but wouldn't it be wonderful if a toy could?

Keep the below toys from Cloud B on your holiday gift guide to turn bedtime from a nightmare into a dream.

Did you ever think that a turtle would be able to ease your child's fear of the dark? Well, now it can.  Simply place the turtle on a bookshelf or dresser and with a push of a button a beautiful starry sky is projected onto your child's wall and ceiling.  Not only will they love having the nighttime sky in their room, but it will help them fall into a deep and restful slumber.  The friendly turtle that runs on batteries is perfect for travel and calming them in unfamiliar places.

What child doesn't love a cute and cuddly hedgehog? If your child is famous for waking up extremely early, maybe even before the sun is up, this toy is for you.  The adorable Stay Asleep Buddy helps children understand when it's time for bed and when it's okay to wake up.  By using gentle melodies and glowing lights, children quickly to learn to distinguish between bedtime and naptime-which means more sleep for parents! Functioning as a sleep trainer, nightlight, and sound soother all in one, this furry friend is the perfect solution for developing sleep routines.  Simply set the timer and the hedgehog will do the rest!

If you're a parent who is pleading for some much needed sleep, why not put these toys on your holiday shopping list? Your child will be much calmer at bedtime, and you'll get those zzz's you've been wanting.

*DISCLOSURE* Thank you to Cloud B Toys for providing me with product samples in order to facilitate this post.  All thoughts are strictly my own. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Companion Wholesome Formula for Pets Giveaway

My dog Carolyn's entire world consists of treats, eating, and toys.  Nothing makes her happier than a delicious beef flavored treat, or a new squeaky toy.  She entertains herself for hours by throwing her toys around and running after them.  Carolyn is the light of my life and I want nothing more than for her to be as happy as possible.  I regularly purchase her new treats or toys to guarantee her happiness.  I feel it's important to show your pet that you care about them on a frequent basis.  Go ahead and delight your pet to some new treats and snacks today.

Stop and Shop is a chain of supermarkets located throughout New England, New York, and New Jersey.  The store recently debuted an exclusive line of pet food called Companion Wholesome Formula.  Your dog or cat will go absolutely nuts for the all-natural food that contains no by-products and is made in the USA.  The first ingredient is meat or poultry and has a blend of Omega and Omega 3.  It's conveniently located in the grocery store which means you don't have to make a separate trip to the pet store for your pet's food.  You'll feel happy feeding your dog or cat the highest quality pet food on the market.

The best thing you can do for your pet is provide them with food and treats that are not only delicious, but good for them too.  Thanks to Companion Wholesome Formula, your dog can enjoy food that has no soy, wheat, corn, or chicken by-products.  You'll also be delighted to know that there are no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives either.  With such flavors available like lamb and brown rice stew in gravy and beef and vegetables cuts in gravy, how can your dog not go woofin' crazy for them? Don't forget about the line of sausage stick treats either!

If you've been looking for a new and healthy pet food to delight your dog or cat's tastebuds with, it's time to try Companion Wholesome Formula.  

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

My Experience as a Parent Thus Far

Now that Scarlett is over 9 months old, I feel like I have a tight grip on this thing they call parenting.

As I was working out at the gym earlier, I was randomly inspired to write about my parenting experience so far.  I wanted to not only share my journey, but to also teach others who might be new parents or will be expecting a little one soon.

Scarlett was born via c-section after a 21 hour labor in December 2014.  Her introduction into this world was a rough one.  I had a traumatic birth and don't even remember seeing Scarlett for hours after she was born.  My pain level was very high and I was mostly interested in just sleeping.  Looking back on her birth, I wish we had that magical bonding moment as soon as she was born.  

One week old

What's crazy is that once you have the baby, it's yours with no questions asked.  You're responsible for knowing exactly what to do and raising this person for the next 18 years of their life.  Babies don't come with instruction manuals and you can only do the best possible job you can.  Scarlett cried a lot in her first few days of life.  She also had her days and nights mixed up, so she would sleep all day and be up all night.  It was rough to say the least.  We gave her to the nurses in the nursery twice so they could take care of her so my husband and I could get some sleep.  Make sure to ask as many questions to the nurses as possible because they don't come home with you!

Adjusting to parenting isn't always easy.  The first few weeks and months was a big blur. Scarlett wanted to eat constantly and never seemed satisfied.  I formula fed her and she always seemed so hungry no matter what.  If she wasn't crying from hunger, she was crying from gas pains.  She had gas issues for a while and once we finally switched her formula, she was so much happier.  If you're a new parent, figuring out a routine is something you need to do right away. Make sure to sleep when baby sleeps.  I remember crying when Scarlett was a week old and saying I don't think I can do this.  It was very overwhelming.  I didn't know how to maintain my own interests while cleaning my house, doing laundry, cooking, and taking care of a new baby. Luckily, as the days and weeks go by, everything becomes easier and you learn how to balance everything. 

Cutie girl 

I can't stress enough how important taking pictures is.  Make sure you take tons of pictures to remember these times by, because they will be gone before you know it. I look back on pictures of Scarlett and can't remember her being as tiny as she was at a month old, or a week old, etc.  I have Scarlett's pictures in a special album and I'm sure she will enjoy looking at them as she grows up.  Of course, I'll love looking at them with her too.  

It's essential to document everything, no matter how small the detail.  I record everything in Scarlett's baby book.  Detail is extremely important to me and not only do I record milestones and notable things in her book, I also record smaller details about her on a piece of paper for each month.  My mother didn't keep a baby book for me, and she can't remember certain things when I ask her.  If your baby book has a space for a letter, please write one.  I wrote Scarlett a letter when she was 6 weeks old.  I plan on showing it to her when she's old enough to appreciate and understand it.

The weeks and months go by so quickly. Each phase of life brings a new milestone.  You'll applaud and cheer your child on when they first lift their head up, roll over, sit up, crawl, etc.  I used to think how difficult it was when Scarlett was immobile.  Now she's crawling and pulling herself up to stand and won't sit still.  I'd give anything to have that tiny baby back who didn't fight diaper changes and would just lay on the floor while being read to! It's funny how things that felt so hard really weren't that challenging at all.


Now at 9 months old, Scarlett is a girl on the move.  She is really developing a personality and loves to laugh and be silly.  Not only is she very aware of life around her, she's understanding more every day.  She loves her mom and her face lights up whenever she sees me.  Pretty soon she's going to be walking and talking! I can't wait for that, but of course it will bring a whole new set of challenges too.  

Since I'm a stay at home mom, I'm blessed to be able to spend every day with her.  We read books, listen to kiddy cd's, play with toys, and of course go to tons of activities.  I am tired at the end of the day.   Once Scarlett goes to bed I try my best to balance cooking dinner, going to the gym, and spending time with my husband too.  You can't do everything, but I wouldn't trade these times for anything in the world.  I feel so lucky and fortunate that I'm able to not work at this time and spend my days with Scarlett.  

Let's play!

Babies are not babies for that long.  In just a blink of an eye, I'll be dropping her off for her first day of kindergarden.  One day she won't need me anymore, which feels so hard to believe. I hope that day isn't for many years though. 

Parenting is hard.  Not only is it hard, but it's also exhausting.  You are raising and shaping your child to be the best person possible.  You hope that they know and practice right from wrong, and try to do their best on a daily basis.  Despite the challenging and tough times, there are so many rewarding moments like kisses and hugs and making memories together. Make sure you spend as much time with your kids as possible, because one day they won't want to spend time with you.  It's a sad but true fact for parents. 

I have so much to look forward to down the line and I know it will only get better.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Head on Over to Costco For a Great Deal!

Everyone knows that diapers can be costly and babies go through them so fast.  For your baby's first year of life, you'll go through about 3,360 diapers. Why not save a little when you can?

Costco is offering the limited time opportunity to save $6 on packages of Huggies Little Snugglers Plus and Little Movers Plus diapers now through September 27th.  You can score on this savings deal by using your Costco Savings Book.  Putting your baby in quality diapers while saving $ is a win-win for all.

Little Snugglers Plus diapers are Huggies softest and most absorbent and Little Movers Plus are designed with extra absorption for babies starting to roll, crawl, and walk.

As long as you put your baby in Huggies diapers, they'll be good to go!  Head on over to Costco today to participate in this fantastic money saving offer.

*DISCLOSURE* I received monetary compensation for posting about this offer.  All thoughts are strictly my own. 
Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Gerber Wants to Know What Your Formula For Happiness Is #FormulaforHappiness #Ad

I didn't have it easy in the beginning when Scarlett was first born.  I had complications after my c-section and was unable to take care of Scarlett for the first week of her life.  My days were spent in bed as I was throwing up day and night.  I was eating practically nothing, and whatever I did eat did not stay in my stomach.  I was extraordinarily nauseous and I wouldn't wish that on anyone.  Let's just say that my initial introduction into motherhood didn't start on a positive note.  Luckily, my mom was there to help out.

The first few weeks and months of Scarlett's life were a frenzy of diaper changes, middle of the night feedings, and endless crying.  You do feel helpless at certain times.  You question if you're doing the right thing as a parent and you hope you're making the right choices and decisions for her as she progresses.  When I think back on this stage, it's hard for me to remember.  It all seems like one gigantic blur.

Brand new baby 

Since Scarlett was born in the dead of winter in December, we were stuck inside for the first 8 weeks of her life.  I am a stay-at-home mom, so you can imagine how hard it was being indoors with a newborn 24 hours a day.  It was too cold to take her on stroller walks, so we were inside all the time.  I felt like I was going insane and I couldn't wait for my husband to get home each night.  I would rush out and just drive anywhere I could at the time.  Whether it was the grocery store or even CVS, it didn't matter. Any place I went felt like an instant vacation for me, and I craved 5 minutes of peace.  

One week old

The hardest part of having a newborn is the night feedings.  Scarlett ate every 3 or 4 hours daily as newborn.  I remember timing the feedings with a special app to make sure she was eating as she should.  My baby monitor would be on my nightstand and I would be woken up by hungry cries at 2 AM.  After feeding Scarlett, I would lay back down and hope I would have another few hours to rest before she woke up again at 5 AM.  These were very rough times and I'm so glad we're past them.

My formula for happiness was joining a mom's group back in February.  Scarlett was a little over 2 months old at the time, but it was my saving grace and it got us out of the house. There are weekly activities like playgroups, story times, mommy and me classes, among many other things.  A bonus of the group is that there are other events like Mom's Night Out dinners where you can enjoy adult time without the kids.  I've met some wonderful friends from my group and I highly encourage any other new mom's to seek out a group in your area.  What's your formula for happiness with your newborn? Maybe you let dad take the baby while you shower quickly, or go workout at the gym.  

About a month old

Fast forward a few months later and Scarlett has now been on a schedule since June.  She takes 2 naps a day, eats solid food along with her bottles, and sleeps from 7 PM to 7 AM. She does not wake up in the middle of the night.  My husband and I are extremely lucky that she's such a good sleeper, and we're overjoyed for uninterrupted sleep.  We know not every baby is this good.  Her schedule is like clockwork.  She's hungry when she's supposed to eat and is tired exactly when she's supposed to be.  I couldn't ask for anything better.

Sleep is the most important thing for new parents, and keeps a baby happy.  Gerber believes in the importance of baby's comfort and happiness, and they've partnered with baby sleep expert Christina Gantcher to help. Christina is happy to assist and support expecting or new parents by providing free and personal 1-on-1 baby sleep consultations.  If you're exhausted and need help, Christina is there for you. You can visit Gerber's website to find the online scheduler to schedule an appointment, or call the Gerber Parents Resource center 24/7 at 1-800-284-9488 to help with setting up a time slot.

If you're a parent of a newborn who is exhausted, don't worry it will get better.  The days will turn into weeks which will turn into months, and you will sleep again.  You'll remember these days and how tough they seemed, but you'll have even tougher challenges ahead of you. Make sure you create your own formula for happiness, it's essential.

*DISCLOSURE* This is a sponsored post for Gerber's Good Start Gentle Formula.  All thoughts are strictly my own.  

Monday, September 14, 2015

Netflix #StreamTeam Alert September 2015: Dust Off Your Shelfies

Since my daughter was born 9 months ago, it's been hard to find time to watch television.  In the first few months of her life free time was a thing of the past.  Between night feedings and her erratic sleep schedule television was something we fondly remembered.  Luckily we've had more time lately since she recently got on a schedule and now goes to bed at 7 pm.  My husband and I have a few hours at night to unwind and spend time together.

Netflix is like an old friend that allows you to happily pick up where you left off even when months pass by.  There are certain shows that I've been meaning to watch and finish but I haven't had much time.  Netflix likes to call those shows "shelfies", which are the shows that you've been meaning to watch but have been left sitting on the virtual shelf.

Before I had Scarlett and left my job last October, I was watching the entire series of Gilmore Girls.  I didn't get very far at all in-between my 100 naps a day! It's been about a year now since I've left off on episode 24. With 153 episodes in the series, it's time to dust this one off and start watching again.

There are others that I'd like to dust off on my shelfie list like Freaks and Geeks, Modern Family, and Bones.  Now that I have more time at night now to watch, I'll certainly get to watch more an find new favorites.

What's on your Netflix shelfie list? With the Fall television season upon us, it's time to gather around the television with your family and enjoy such picks as Scandal or The Walking Dead.  Don't forget plenty of yummy treats and tasty beverages too.

*DISCLOSURE* This post is part of my campaign membership with Netflix as a Stream Team Member.  All thoughts are strictly my own.  

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Music Together Review

Music is so, so important for little ones.  It's proven that classical music helps brain development of babies and small children.  In the first few months and years of life, it's essential to do what you can to get those little noggins growing and learning.  Music is constantly playing in my house and it's something I want Scarlett to grow up with.  There's nothing better than dancing and having fun to your favorite tunes!

Music Together is a fabulous early childhood program that stresses adult involvement in mixed-age classes involving singing, learning, chanting, moving, and exploring musical abilities.  This music and movement program is for children aged newborn through kindergarden.  Music Together is now offered in over 2,000 communities in the United States and surely available in your area.  Music is a universal language that connects families and communities across the globe as they express and explore our basic instinct for making music.  The program would make a fantastic Christmas or birthday present for a lucky child.  It's never too late or early to bond and connect with your child while having fun. 

Scarlett recently went to her first Music Together class.  I wasn't sure what to expect because we've never been to a music class before, but I've heard great things about this program.

We were warmly welcomed in as soon as we arrived by the friendly teacher.  Scarlett immediately was given a drum to bang on until more people arrived and class began.  She loves to bang on toys and make noise, so this was right up her alley.

First timer at Music Together!

I love to bang on the drum

The class is 45 minutes long and consists of guided songs and dances, chants, free play, and time with musical instruments.  The teacher Natasha was fantastic and extremely enthusiastic and engaged with what she does, which makes class that much more enjoyable.  Everything was explained well so you know exactly why you're making a certain noise or using a certain instrument.

Scarlett was very interested in the class and was focused on Natasha's every word and sound.  She enjoyed all of the different sounds, noises, and claps that went along with each song.  I was surprised at how well she sat still and paid attention.  Usually, she's a girl who's on the move!

Making music with the sticks in my mouth!

A shot of the class

A fun part of class was where instruments were handed out for everyone to use.  Scarlett loved shaking the bells and the shakers.  Anything that makes noise is her new favorite thing.  My husband played the triangle for her and we received an instant smile from that! She babbled and talked a little bit throughout class, but she only does that when she's having a great time!

There were both moms and dads in this class and I liked how everyone was up and moving and participating in every song and dance.  It was interesting to see each child's take on it too, whether they were walking or crawling around in engagement.

Music girl

Even though Scarlett is still only 9 months old, she can connect with the rhythm and music and learn from it.  No child is too young for a Music Together class.  I thought class was wonderful and something new and exciting for Scarlett.   I'm really looking forward to coming every week.

If you're looking for a special activity to do with your child or children, Music Together would be the perfect choice.  Why not sign up for a fall session today?

*DISCLOSURE* Thank you to Music Together for providing us with a complimentary session in order to facilitate this post.
Friday, September 11, 2015

Have You Heard about Pampers Cruisers #SagToSwag Tour?

Calling all moms and babies! If your baby is in diapers, listen up!

In celebration of the new and improved Pampers Cruisers diapers, the brand is going on a national tour! Look out for the branded Cruiser vehicle that's helping transform the nation's babies from "sag to swag" one bottom at a time!

This Saturday, September 12th from 11 AM-3 PM PST, the tour stops in Los Angeles at the Park at the Grove.  Head to the tour stop to receive free sample diaper packs of Pampers Cruisers diapers, enjoy fun and interactive activities, and learn about the diapers.  With music, dancing, inflatable slides, a video booth and more at each tour stop, there certainly will be fun for all.

The tour ends September 20th in San Francisco.  If you're in San Francisco and are looking for something to do with your little one, the tour stop will be at the San Francisco Zoo from 11 AM-3 PM PST.  

This girl is definitely a fan of Pampers and it's one of the brands that we regularly use.

Make sure to check out the tour schedule to see if there are any stops near you! Have fun!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Little Tikes Review and Giveaway #LittleTikes #LilOceanExplorers

Scarlett has been playing with toys for about 4 or 5 months now.  There was a noticeable period where she went from not being interested in toys to absolutely loving them.  We have a playroom that's filled with fun toys and even has a mini ballpit! It's every baby's dream playroom for sure.  We spend most days playing and learning through play.  Toys not only provide entertainment and learning for little ones, but also help fine tune those gross motor skills. 

Little Tikes offers infant, young children's toys and furniture for indoor and outdoor use.  If fun is on your older child's agenda, let their picnic tables, sandboxes and kitchens delight your little one's imagination.  If you have a baby, they will love the jump jump's, walkers, and riding horses among many other toys.  Whatever age your child is, they will surely enjoy Little Tikes products. If you know someone who's having a baby, or if you're attending a kid's birthday party in the near future, Little Tikes would be happy to supply the present.

Scarlett has recently been pulling up on everything in order to help her stand.  She can't stand without support, but she very rarely sits these days.  You can't turn your back on her because she uses the couch, the window, toys, and even the dog to help her stand! This new stage is worrisome for me as a mom because she falls several times a day trying to stand.  I know they need to fall and get hurt to learn and grow, but why can't Scarlett stay small forever?!

A wonderful toy that encourages Scarlett's daredevil nature is the Little Tikes Lil' Ocean Explorers Stand n' Dance Starfish.  This fun and musical toy offers baby two modes to play which encourages your little one to create music.  Your child will love to press or step on the keyboard which initiates music, lights, and silly ocean sounds.  The easy grip handle helps them to pull up to standing position and dance.

We're a big fan of Little Tikes in this household.  We have a Little Tikes sandbox, jump jump, and even an old vintage nesting animal set.  Of course we were thrilled to have another toy from the line for Scarlett.  I have to mention that the toy does come unassembled, but it wasn't hard to put together at all.   Thanks to the easy-to-follow instructions, it was set up in moments and Scarlett was ready to play! You gotta love that adorable smiling starfish too!

There are chutes and balls included, but Scarlett just wasn't a big fan so I took them off.  She was most interested in pushing the buttons to see the lights and hear the music.  In one second she was climbing all over the toy and making it go off. It's so funny how babies seem to know exactly how to work the toy without even really being shown!

The bright lights really draw baby in and keep them engaged and interested.  I noticed that the silly ocean noises made Scarlett babble and smile.  She was happy just watching the different colors flash and kept touching the buttons trying to figure out where the lights were coming from.  The light colors were bright and vivid and the noises were clear and loud.  I really like that this toy grows with your child and they can play with it sitting down and eventually stand up and dance when ready.  Scarlett is not yet ready to dance, but has fun just standing and holding on while babbling. I'm a fan of anything that makes my child smile!

Scarlett's toy interests change quickly and she might play with something today that she had no interest in yesterday.  I'm thinking that she'll soon be interested in the balls and chutes and then I'll reattach them to the toy.  I'm sure it won't be too long until she'll be loving that feature of the toy!

I'm happy that Scarlett's so interested and excited to play with this toy and that it brings her a lot of joy.  Not only is she having fun, but she's learning, exploring, and developing thanks to Little Tikes.  That's all I could want as a parent!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Bridge Direct Review

There's nothing like classic toys to really bring a smile to your face.  Whether you used to own a certain wooden toy or playset from decades ago or knew someone who did, there's surely a memory attached to it. By simply closing your eyes, you'll instantly be transported back to your childhood. While your child may have favorite toys from the present, why not interest them in toys you used to own? You never know, your old toy might become a big hit!

The Bridge Direct offers modern day reproductions of your most loved toys from yesteryear.  Delight your grandchildren or children with such oldies as Lite Brite, Simon, Viewmaster, Fisher Price classics and much more.  How fun would it be to work on a Lite Brite masterpiece with your little ones? There will certainly be lifelong memories formed there! Why not give your grandchild a Fisher Price music box record player for her birthday as her mom had the exact same one as a child? There's so many toys that you'll instantly remember from your own childhood.  Please keep The Bridge Direct in mind for Christmas presents or gifts for any occasion.

Scarlett owns many toys, but she has some unique ones too.  What 9 month old do you know in 2015 that has Alf and Lambchop coloring books and puzzles? Scarlett also has an old school vintage Strawberry Shortcake puzzle from 1984! I love vintage toys and wanted her to be exposed to some oldies but goodies as she grows up.  

I'm a big Strawberry Shortcake fan and was delighted when Scarlett was sent two toys that instantly made me smile.  A Classic 35th Anniversary Edition Small Doll and Classic Rag Doll showed up during nap time.  I knew that when Scarlett woke up, she'd have some brand new friends to play with!
Special delivery for a lucky little girl!

This special reproduction of the original rag doll from the 1980s includes all the original details from her hat to her shoes-including her berry sweet strawberry scent! If you're an old collector or a new fan, you'll certainly have the ideal forever friend to play with!

Scarlett immediately gravitated towards the rag doll since it was bigger and easier for her to grab.  Even though Strawberry Shortcake is now 35 years old, she still looks fantastic! Her colors are bright and vivid, and her strawberry scent brings you right back to childhood.  She's well made and built for playtime for many years to come.  Scarlett has been babbling and smiling at Strawberry Shortcake and loves to touch her dress and curly hair! The doll's bright blue eyes and friendly face immediately draw children in for hours of fun.

The small doll is perfect for bringing on road trips or in the car.  We have a special backseat car organizer that we have in the car that would be perfect for the small doll to fit in.  We have to be somewhere that's about an hour away on Sunday, and the tiny doll is perfect for her to hold and cuddle with in her carseat.  

Scarlett seems very interested and excited about both dolls. She has been holding the classic rag doll and doesn't want to let go of it.  It brings her both joy and comfort.  I hope as she grows older she plays with both toys regularly and has hours of fun with them.  Strawberry Shortcake is certainly a friend for both now and later.  

Please keep The Bridge Direct in mind for not only Strawberry Shortcake dolls, but for introducing your children to your classic toys.  Remember, it's never too early or too late to make them a fan for life of your old favorites.

*DISCLOSURE* Thank you to The Bridge Direct for providing me with complimentary product in order to facilitate this post.  All thoughts are strictly my own.  

Monday, September 7, 2015

Children's Safety Has Changed Dramatically Over the Years + Giveaway

Even before Scarlett was born, I was taking her safety into account.  I did not have caffeine during my pregnancy and was not allowed to have any soft cheeses either.  Fish and shellfish were a cause for concern because of the mercury.  Lunch meats had to be heated to zap away the risk of listeria.  There was always something to be cautious of during pregnancy, but hey 9 months isn't forever! Avoiding some things I loved to ensure my baby was healthy was worth it to me.

Once Scarlett was born, she slept on her back in a crib that was free of bumpers.  I know when I was a baby in the 80's, my crib had bumpers in it.  Nobody thought anything of it.  But today, baby can suffocate with bumpers.  Although people were quick to tell me how their children slept on their stomachs and were perfectly fine, I wasn't going to take that risk.  Once Scarlett rolled over to sleep on her stomach, it worried me.  As long as she can support her own head and roll around, the fear has since dissipated.  I still put her to sleep initially on her back though.  She immediately rolls onto her stomach because she's more comfortable that way.  I can't blame her though, I sleep on my stomach too.

Stomach sleeping then versus back sleeping today

Blankets and pillows are a big no-no in a crib too.  Parents may feel that children are more comfortable with those things in their crib, but it's a big suffocation hazard.  Keeping a crib clear of absolutely anything is key.  If you want baby to stay warm or cool (depending on the season) make sure to have your little one wear a HALO SleepSack which is essentially a wearable zippable blanket.  Scarlett has been wearing these since she was born and they are a big favorite in our household.

Sleeping on the couch (unsafe soft surface with blankets) versus a safe sleeping environment today.

HALO Innovations is running a "then and now" campaign during the month of September for Baby Safety Month.  HALO is asking people to post pictures and share stories depicting how safety concerns have changed since they were children.  HALO has partnered with First Candle to promote Grandparent Tips which launches September 13th.  This website shares safety information and advice  aimed specifically at Grandparents.  

The below tips should be shared with any caregiver to ensure safe sleep for baby:

1. Place baby to sleep on his or her back at nap and bedtime
2. Use a crib that meets current safety standards with a firm mattress and is covered with only a tight-fitting crib sheet.
3. Remove all blankets, comforters, and toys from your baby's sleep area. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests using a wearable blanket instead of loose blankets to keep your baby warm.
3. Offer a pacifier when putting baby to bed.  If breastfeeding, introduce pacifier after one month, or after breastfeeding has been established.
4. Put baby to sleep in his or her separate sleep area alongside your bed.  Roomsharing is important, but don't bed share.  Sleeping in the same bed as your baby can put the child at risk of suffocation.

Remember, never put baby to sleep on any soft surfaces.  
Don't dress baby too warmly for sleep, and keep the room temperature 68-72 degrees F
Don't take your baby into an area where smoking occurs or someone has just smoked

If you follow these tips, you'll ensure that your baby receives a restful and safe sleep every day.  

Entertaining The Munchkins After School

Children with no extracurricular or extramural activities are a pain in the, ahem… rear end!!! I am convinced my kids are fibbing about how much homework they have because I definitely don’t remember this much free time, but even after talking to the teachers, I have yet to find assignments left undone and tests not studied for.
So, in order to carry on using those one or two hours between the time that school finishes and when I start dinner for my 21st century coupon clipping (in other words, I visit coupon sites like do a search and print the coupons I’m going to need!), I needed to find some affordable after school activities to keep the kids busy. And here’s a list of the most fun, stimulating activities I found for them to choose from:

Get your kids to start a daily journal. On the way home, ask them to tell you the two worst things that happened to them that day and the two best things. Then, when they get home, they are to put these things in their journal. Younger kids can draw a picture and you can make a note on the back describing what the picture is about, while older kids can actually write their journal entry on a sheet of paper. You can then get them to decorate the page and collect it. It’s a great memento for when they get older and also a way to remind you of all the little things you tend to forget as they grow up.

Pick one day a week for art projects. It doesn’t matter which day it is and it doesn’t matter what art they create, the point is to teach them how to let their creative juices flow. These art projects could be making ‘Glitterfied Relaxation Jars’, Suminagashi  (this marbled paper art is fun to create no matter how old you are!), sculpting something out of clay, making your own play dough and then turning it into some kind of temporary sculpture (remember to photograph it before it gets remodeled!), creating chalk murals on the driveway, finger painting, creating a collage or building something out of recycled and repurposed household items.

For older kids you need slightly more ‘grown up’ activities than art projects, although it doesn’t hurt to see if they’d like to try creating something. If they don’t go for it, though, you can start doing kid friendly yoga together, take a trip to the batting cages, create a mini gold course at home and then play it until you’re an expert, get them to research their family tree, give them the responsibility of planning dinner for one night of the week and get them to make it (don’t abandon them in the kitchen though, its liable to get messy and you may end up with everything being burned and inedible!), let them learn sign language and then get them to teach it to you or attend a local high school or college sporting event. The possibilities are countless!

As much as possible try to keep the kids outdoors and away from the television or computer because the point is to keep them entertained, not turn them into zombies! Depending on where your children’s interests lie, search for after school programs and groups that they can join. This is not just a way to get them out of the house but also gives them a chance to make friends outside of their school. These programs and groups could be about sports, music, drama, martial arts, scouts, language, arts and crafts or reading.

When planning after school activities keep both your own and your kids' schedules in mind. You don’t want to get sidetracked helping with an art project when you have an important deadline for work, and you don’t want to get your kids involved in an activity that takes too much time and focus away from their school work. Find a balance, talk to your kids about what activities they’d be interested in and, above all, keep it flexible and fun!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Jambu Review

In just a matter of weeks cooler weather will be here.  It'll be time to replace sandals with boots and shorts and t-shirts for long-sleeves and jackets.  Eventually, snow will be blanketing our yards while we sip mugs of tasty hot cocoa.  It's important to be prepared for cold weather by making sure your outdoor gear keeps you warm.  Remember to keep those toesies warm with a pair of fur-lined boots too.  If you don't have a snow suit or warm snow boots, there's still time to purchase them!

Jambu offers shoes for men, women, and children in a variety of colors and styles. Whether you need a boot, sandal, heel, flat, or sneaker, Jambu has all of your shoe needs in one place.  How about purchasing your husband a new pair of hiking boots for his upcoming adventure, or just a pair of casual shoes to run around town in? Don't forget to get your daughter a new pair of Jambu KD flats for school and your son would like a new pair of sneakers too.  The shoes are not only stylish but made well and built to last.  There's certainly a shoe for everyone's tastes.  Keep Jambu in mind for any of your shoe needs for present or future.  

Snowboots are completely unfamiliar to me.  I grew up in the south and school was canceled for days at a time if we had just a few flurries.  It may sound ridiculous, but the state was not equipped to deal with snow and the school buses did not have snow tires.  The most snow I was maybe an inch at the most while living in North Carolina.  Now that I have an almost 9 month old daughter who lives in New England, snow boots will be a necessity for her.  It's normal to get a foot of snow at once here! 

This upcoming winter will be the first one that she'll be old enough to enjoy.  Since snow boots will be absolutely necessary, I knew it was time to get her a pair.  Winter will truly be here before you know it! 

Scarlett received the Collett boots from the Jambu KD kid's line and couldn't be more thrilled.  Who doesn't love adorable black and pink boots with a fur lined inside?

Not only functional, but adorable and stylish as well

This boot features a fur trim cuff for extra warmth as well as bold pink accents for extra personality.  A bungee closure provides an adjustable and comfortable fit for every child's feet.  I can tell that the shoe is very well made and will last through a winter with no issues.

I ordered these in a bigger size so Scarlett can wear them this winter and next too.  The furry inside will keep her feet warm while she plays outside in the snow, and the rugged sole provides support and stability.  The blue and pink add a great pop of color to the black background of the shoe.  Have you ever seen a cuter snow boot? I haven't!

There were no issues getting the shoe on or taking it off.  The adjustable bungee closure makes the fit tighter which is more comfortable for Scarlett.  Her snowsuit is pink and will match perfectly.  I can't wait to build a snowman with her and do snow angels.  We're going to have such a fun winter!

I'm very satisfied with the snow boots and know that when she wears them her tiny feet will be perfectly protected.  If only I could cross more worries off my list like this one daily! 

If you're in the market for a new pair of snow boots for your child, I highly recommend Jambu.  They'll quickly become your child's new favorite boots.  Go ahead and order a pair today.

*DISCLOSURE* Thank you to Jambu for providing me with complimentary shoes in order to facilitate this post.  All thoughts are strictly my own.