October 20, 2014

Taking the Toddlers Hiking


I usually avoid the outdoors as much as possible, because sunlight, bugs, fresh air... That's not my cup of tea.  But Matt's family invited us to go to Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest with them for hiking and a picnic, and before I could object - Matt said yes.

I was a bundle of pessimism the night before, because the idea of bringing an 18-month-old and a 3 year old into the woods, up a mountain, for a two-mile walk just didn't seem like a good idea.  Seriously, who does that??  I begrudgingly packed a healthy lunch for us that was portable, adjusted the baby carrier so it would fit both Kaya and me (it's been a few months since we've used it), and picked out some movable warm clothes for them since I knew it would be chilly when we headed out in the morning.

Honestly though, it was a lot of fun.  It got us out of the house for an entire Saturday morning, the kids played and climbed and wore themselves out, and I think the adventure really did us all some good.

We started out with Kaya and Sammy both walking.  I'm telling you, there is nothing sillier or
sweeter than watching a newly confident walker climb up steps.  (There were quite a few wooden stairs built into the path to help make it an easier trail.)  We stopped to look at almost every leaf, puddle, and tree on the way up the path; It was a learning experience for Kaya and she loved repeating all the new words she was learning.

By the time we'd been walking about ten-fifteen minutes, we started falling behind from all of the stopping, so I decided to carry her for a little while.  She loved the new view from up high and happily babbled away as we continued up the hill.  I started struggling a little bit (I'm one of the most un-athletic people out there) and stumbled over one of the many roots in the ground, so Matt took over carrying her for a bit.

Check that out.  A dad in his natural habitat, toting his young while meandering up the mountainside.  Kinda hot, right? [You know you're a mom when...?]
I love how she monkeys onto him when he carries her, they've totally got that father-daughter bond thing going on.  

I digress.  Where was I?  Oh, notice how the first two pictures don't include Sammy?  Yeah, that's because he decided he was too cool to hang out with Momma and Daddy and ran off to hold his big cousin's hand.  We're chopped liver now.  

Matt's sister decided to capture some memories and had a couple of "photo shoots" almost every time we came across a big tree (there's a lot of them) or something else neat.  Of course, Kaya and I were lagging behind again because she insisted on being a big girl and walking again.  Not that I minded, I knew that she was enjoying herself and ultimately wearing herself out for a good nap later.

Sammy was loving the adventure, and kept shouting for us to look at his new discoveries.  My favorite was a big fallen tree that he was trying to climb into:

All in all, it was an amazing day.  It taught me that just because I have reservations about how something is going to turn out, I should still make an effort.  I hope it turned into a day that they'll remember for a long time!

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October 17, 2014

Teen Contact Lens Safety

I wrote this review while participating in an Influencer campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc. and received a promotional item from Mom Central to thank me for participating.

Halloween is almost here, and as everyone starts to plan their super-creepy costumes Johnson & Johnson wants to remind everyone, especially teens, of eye care and safety.

Remember: Always be sure to purchase prescription contacts.  They are made specifically to the dimensions of your eyes.  OTC "cosmetic" contacts can cause serious eye damage.

I started wearing contacts when I was in the 7th grade.  My eye doctor gave me the full lecture about what not to do with them, and I didn't really listen.  I slept in them, didn't let them soak for very long when I did take them out, and if one popped out onto the floor I would just rinse it off with water and put it back in.  I am so lucky I still have eyes!  That's not to say I didn't end up with some pretty nasty eye infections along the way.

Now my niece, who's 13, is trying out contacts for the first time.  She's pretty gung ho about being able to see without the inconvenience of wearing glasses all the time, and I heard her talking about trying out cool colors for Halloween.  As someone who learned their lesson, I want to make sure she doesn't make the same mistakes that I made.

The Do's and Don'ts of Eye Care Safety

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Babies R Us #Giveaway Event

Enter to #WIN a $75 Babies
Welcome to the #BRUHalloween Giveaway Event!
Sponsored by: Pampers
Hosted By: Nanny to Mommy
Babies"R"Us Event + Sweestakes!
From 10/15-10/31: Share your baby’s Halloween photo with #BRUHalloween or enter HERE for a chance to win a $1,000 Babies”R”Us Gift Card! Babies“R”Us and Pampers are partnering to help you celebrate your Baby’s First Halloween. On Saturday, Oct. 18 at 10 a.m., all Babies“R”Us stores nationwide will be hosting an in-store Halloween event for moms to celebrate Halloween with their babies!

The events will include:

- Craft time where you and your baby can design a personal trick-or-treat bag
- A parade around the store where you and your baby can show of your Halloween costumes
- Halloween story time where you can sit with other moms and babies and listen to a story from Highlights magazine

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My Fans ROCK! Giveaway

I just have to say, you guys are awesome.  My Facebook page hit 5,000 likes today!  That's a super major deal to me, and so I want to show you all how much I love you all by giving away something I think you'll really like!

That's right: you can win your choice of gift card, either a $50 Starbucks Gift Card or $50 Amazon Gift Card!

Just enter on the form below, and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

More international giveaways at: osvojito.com
This giveaway is listed on contestheat.com/
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Treat Yourself Giveaway Hop

We’re just a couple of weeks away from Halloween and there’s one thing that’s on everyone’s mind… treats!

Welcome to the Treat Yourself Giveaway Hop, hosted by the Blogging Mamas Network! In this Hop, you’ll find lots of special treats to keep you entering giveaways until it’s time to go out and gather your own - so be sure to hop around to all the giveaways in the Hop Linky below and don’t miss the AMAZING Grand Prize Giveaway - from Step2!

I've written about this Etsy shop before, and I'm so happy to let you all know that I'm working with her again in order to bring you my contribution to the giveaway hop.

Adelaide's Attic by Director Jewels creates and sells these adorable infant and toddler headbands, along with lovies and other goodies.  She is sponsoring a $25 gift certificate to her shop for the Treat Yourself Giveaway Hop.

Just enter on the giveaway form below for your chance to win!
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October 12, 2014

Dishwasing Tips and Cascade House Party

This review was made possible by Double Duty Divas and Cascade. I was provided the featured product free of charge to facilitate my review, but all opinions are 100% mine.

Cascade Party #2 has come and gone and now I finally have a chance to sit and write about it. There's something kind of awesome about throwing a party where everyone is excited to clean up after themselves!

For this party, I made some delicious french toast, courtesy of The Food Network and Alton Brown (love him!) and to be honest? My kitchen was a disaster area.  While I was cooking, I gave everyone some orange juice in fancy glasses - that's right, we broke out the stemware for this one.  

Now the french toast was simple to make, but left a pie pan, mixing bowl, saute pan, and cookie sheet dirty.  Plus the plates - of course everyone wanted syrup on their french toast but it leaves such a sticky mess on plates!

That was ok though, because we had Cascade Platinum Power Pacs on our side.  After everyone was finished eating, I showed them how to load a dishwasher for maximum results.

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Baby Mantra Skin Care #Review

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Baby Mantra. I received product samples to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for participating.

My baby girl has sensitive skin.  When you think about it though, don't most babies?  Sure, most children probably don't break out in rashes from normal every day products, or get hives from "histamine overload" like mine do, but even without allergies a mom still worries about what their babies come in contact with.  Their skin shouldn't be exposed to harsh elements or chemicals, so why would you bathe them in things that may be harmful?  That's why I was happy to review Baby Mantra's line of organic baby products.

We're talking about all-natural, allergy tested, toxin-free bath products that will not only put your mind at ease, but they are great products in general. My little ones are a bit older than "newborn": 18 months and almost 4.  The Newborn Shampoo + Body Wash was the first thing I tried, and on spaghetti night.  The 18 month old has really fair skin and spaghetti sauce usually stains her hands (the knuckles and between her fingers) since, well, toddlers are allergic to forks you know.  As soon as we were done eating, I gave her a bath and the coconut and olive oil combination worked really well getting her clean.  It's a different smell for a baby product - not bad, but different.  The light scent of coconut smelled cleaner than I thought it would, and  the soap itself rinsed off well.

Since she was already in the tub,and playing happily, I decided to try out the bubble bath as well.

Although the 3-in-1 bubble bath is also a shampoo and body wash, it didn't leaver her skin dry or anything like that.  She was super happy to see how well it made bubbles, and I was glad that it rinsed off easily.

I was much happier with the smell of the bubble bath; the lavender oil and aloe had a calm and natural scent that left her smelling like a clean baby.  

After her bath, I rubbed her down with the calming lotion (lotion is always part of our bedtime routine) and it didn't take long before she was all snuggled up and sleepy.  

If you visit their website, they have a page dedicated to all of their ingredients - Lavender, Avocado, Coconut, Apricot, Shea Butter... For a minute I thought I was on an organic food site!  Everything they use in their baby products is completely natural and allergy tested - to make sure your baby's skin is getting the best care. 

Baby Mantra Products are available at select Walgreens/Duane Reade stores nationwide, Walgreens.com, BabiesRus.com, and Amazon.com.

You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.
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October 7, 2014

Are Your Natural Remedies as Safe as You Think?

There's been a huge deal lately about being all-natural and depending more on homeopathic remedies in lieu of jumping straight for the medicine cabinet.  Home remedies can be a great way to treat symptoms (and underlying problems) without a huge doctor bill or unnecessary side effects.  But when opting for the more natural cures, be sure to keep in mind that there is a right way, and a wrong way, to treat yourself at home.  Always consult your doctor or midwife before taking any home remedies.

Remember - "Natural" does not always mean "Safe."  Many herbs and supplements are dangerous during pregnancy, and for small children.

Probably the most used, and misused, supplement would be Vitamin C.  Did you know that Vitamin C can cause miscarriage?   That's why you will often find "rose hip" in a vitamin c ingredient list, as it is a more natural version that will help prevent miscarriage from ascorbic acid.  If you are pregnant, be sure that any vitamin c you ingest contains rose hip.

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October 6, 2014

Best of 2014 #Giveaway

Welcome to the Best of 2014 Giveaway! 
As a blogger, I am lucky to have the opportunity to review some pretty amazing things. Ashley over at Spit Up is the New Black feels the same way and has hand selected products that left a great impression on her this year for a fun giveaway. I've teamed up with her and these companies to offer one lucky reader a suite of products (totaling over $440) deemed the "Best of 2014!"

Spit Up is the New Black Best of 2014 Giveaway
#Bestof2014 Prize Suite:
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October 3, 2014

Homemade Strawberry & Creme Pies

Amanda is a twenty-something wife of Peter and future mom of “Baby K.” She blogs about frugal living, simple recipes, and health and wellness over at Crunchy Hippie Life and enjoys using her RN degree to teach people about health and wellness. Guilty pleasures include mint M&Ms and apparently cream cheese.

Confession time: I love McDonalds treats. Specifically the strawberries and cream pies, which are usually only available around Valentine’s Day but thankfully stuck around all through the spring and most of the summer this year. They have been the subject of many a pregnancy craving.

And now they are gone. And I am left without a 2/$1 strawberry pie deal for the remainder of this pregnancy.

Or am I?

When Jamie and I were talking about topics for this guest post, she suggested I create a dessert, preferably one that would be toddler-friendly. This is my first child so I’m not sure that I can really qualify this recipe as being “toddler-friendly”, but it is something they can hold in their hands and feed themselves, so that could count.

In any case, it’s a strawberries and cream pie! So there’s that.

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