Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Mother Of All Baby Showers - Orlando #MOABS

This past Friday I had the absolute pleasure of joining hundreds of Central Florida parents in attending The Mother Of All Baby Showers at the Orlando Science Center.  This national, multi-city, parents-night-out type of event was an absolute blast.

Just some of the vendors at MOABS
I ended up taking my good friend and PR buddy Dana with me as my husband stayed home to have some boy time with our son.  As we arrived, we chatted with lots of excited moms, dads, and moms-to-be.  There were also many grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends of the mamas and daddies there.  Even though this event is intended for parents and parents-to-be, it seemed to be a great time for everyone.

I was impressed with the sheer number of vendors at the event.  There was everyone from Buy Buy Baby to my personal favorite booth, The World of Chocolate Museum.  My favorite part of any party or event is the food. What can I say? I like to indulge in delicious treats.  So, of course we made sure to make time to munch on goodies from Outback Steakhouse, Maggiano's Little Italy, Jet's Pizza, and Sweeter than the Rest.  We also made a stop by the Lean Vodka booth as well.  (Seriously, check them out. Low calorie, infused vodka without the usual bite the liquor carries.)

The World of Chocolate Museum Booth
MyGym Children's Fitness Center, Baby K'tan, MacroBaby, and Babies "R" Us were all there (along with many, many others) offering goodies, answering questions, and giving a lot of great information and demonstrations.  There were a ton of raffles going on.  Lucky attendees won everything from car seats to strollers.

And just in case you are looking for more than food, goodies, prizes, and useful information - there was also entertainment.  Caricature artists were working hard sketching incredible drawings of guests while providing friendly conversation.  Bunmi Laditan of Honest Toddler did what she does best: A humorous and extremely relatable set titled "You Know You're a Parent When." And healthcare professionals gave an engaging and explanatory lecture on caring for your child during the first couple of years.
Our Caricature

When I got home I excitedly dumped out my goody bag I received upon entry (with my husband and son hovering to see if there was any loot for them as well.) The bag was absolutely stuffed with goodies.  My son loves the GoGo Squeez Apple Sauce and my husband was happy to receive the Diono Buggy Hooks (he always remembers we need some during our trips to the Disney Parks.)  I love all of the retail and restaurant coupons that were inside.  These coupons = Shopping trips and date nights!

Overall this event was one of the best parenting events I have been to.  It was great for parents-to-be looking for guidance, parents of young children looking to explore different products, and even those without kids, like Dana, who ended up having a great time as well.  I will definitely be attending again next year.


Check out The Mother Of All Baby Showers to see when they will be coming to a city near you. It is well worth the ticket price!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Mommy's Must Haves This VS That

I am getting excited about attending The Mother of All Baby Showers next week.  So in honor of that, I decided to redo my Mommy's Must Haves (formally "Mommy's Survival Kit.")   There is now more information, different items, and overall the page is better organized.  Hopefully it is helpful to those of you expecting a little one.

I plan on adding toddler items to the page within the next couple of months as well.

Check out the new page by clicking the "Mommy's Must Haves --- This VS That" Tab above or click here if you are viewing on a mobile device. 

Be sure to check out The Mother Of All Baby Showers event as well. It is a nationwide event so check to see when they will be coming to a city near you. Also, use code "MOABS " to get  $5 off tickets.  That would make general admission just $10 and VIP admission $45.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Mother's Day Last Minute Gift Guide & DIY Gifts

Alright ladies and gents.  Its officially getting to be last minute for buying Mother's Day gifts.  Its ok, moms tend to be understanding.  But just in case you're still at a loss of what to get dear ol' mom, here are a few ideas that go beyond the traditional candy and flowers.

For Moms of Infants
First, we need to make sure those little ones are taken care of.  After all, a happy, peaceful baby is a great gift for mama.

Tommee Tippee Pacifier

The Beebo

Newton Washable Crib Mattress

Baby DeeDee

Beauty Mamas
Because sometimes, a little beauty treatment can make all of the difference.

Revlon Styling Products

1” Soft-Feel™ Tourmaline Ceramic Straightener 
1875W AC Motor Ionic Dryer
1” Soft-Feel™ Tourmaline Ceramic Curling Iron
 1” ¼ Soft-Feel™ Tourmaline Ceramic Curling Iron

Pedi Princess

Don't have time to go out to the store?  Or maybe wanting to give something you made yourself?  Here are a few ideas that are from the heart and will work if you're low on cash.

Ideas from Jacqueline Whitmore, founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach

1. Create a custom gift basket. You know what your mother loves. Think of all the things she’d never buy for herself. Create a goodie basket filled with gourmet coffees, teas and assorted snacks.

2. Gift chore coupons. Create a handmade coupon book for your mom to use when she needs a break. Each voucher is good for a different chore. You could offer to do the dishes, vacuum, take the dog for a walk, wash her car, or make dinner.

3. Call her via Skype. You can still connect even if you aren't able to visit your mom on Mother's Day. Use FaceTime or Skype to get some one-on-one time from far away. She'd love to catch up and see your smiling face.

4. Make it a party. If your mom loves to socialize, throw a Mother’s Day party. Coordinate with friends or neighbors to celebrate their moms too. Your mom will be able to spend time with friends and enjoy her special day.

5. Handwrite a Mother’s Day card. Store-bought cards lack the personalized emotion of a handwritten note. Write a letter to your mom and share picture and a special memory. Let her know how much you care and how much you love her.

6. Make a family photo book.
Gather photos of your entire family. If possible, reach out to extended family for their pictures. Then create a photo album or scrapbook filled with memories. Add your favorite quotes or family sayings for a personal touch.

7. Gift personalized jewelry. Instead of generic earrings, have the names of all your mother’s children inscribed on a necklace or pendant. Or, create a charm bracelet. Handpick charms that represent memories from your childhood or your mom’s favorite hobbies. One year my siblings and I gave my mom a ring adorned with five sapphire stones. Each stone represented each of her five children.

8. Make her breakfast. Whip up your favorite recipes and invite the entire family to spend a meal together. If you’re cooking skills are not up to par, host a potluck dinner or brunch or order takeout.

9. Schedule time together. Give your mom the gift of time. Treat her to dinner at a nice restaurant, a cultural event like a ballet or play, or take her to the spa. The activity is less important than spending quality time together to talk and reconnect.

Celebrity Manicurist Skyy Hadley’s Recipe for a Refreshing Cucumber Lemon Foot Scrub:

o Start with 2 whole cucumbers (one per foot), 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of olive oil; mix in a blender until pureed.

o Pour the mixture into a bowl and heat it up to warm temperature.

o Place half of the mixture in a large Ziploc baggie and half in a second baggie.

o Slide feet right into each baggie, rubbing cucumber mask until each foot is fully soaked.

o Leave on for 5-10 minutes then rinse with warm water.

o The cucumber is extra refreshing and reviving for tired toes, the lemon helps exfoliate and the olive oil deeply moisturizes for super softness.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Jim Henson : Why I Love Him More Now That I'm An Adult

If you follow my instagram, you've seen my love for Mr. Jim Henson posted a couple of times.  I voice my admiration for him during discussions with friends and family.  But this isn't some childhood love of the man who created the infamous characters on Sesame Street that has followed me throughout my entire life. This admiration is fairly recent.  I didn't fully appreciate Jim or his creations until I had my son.

My son was never a calm child.  He was a fussy baby.  He can have difficult moments even for a toddler. Don't get me wrong - hes a very sweet, happy, bright, friendly, extremely energetic kid that lights up any room he enters.  But that vibrance that's present during his joyous times, is also present during his times of frustration.  My son doesn't do anything half way. So if he's going to express his frustration or agitation, he's going to express it fully.

When my son was an infant, I would do anything to stop his crying.  He had GI issues and was in pain often.  This is horrible for any parent to experience.  Sometimes, as much as I tried to comfort him, his crying would persist. He was inconsolable more times than any mom would have liked. That is, until the first time I turned on Sesame Street for him.  For the next several months, during those periods of pain and discomfort, Sesame Street was the only thing that stopped his crying. And it was immediate. He could be screaming his head off but as soon as Sesame Street came on, he was silently watching with wide eyes and interest. THIS was the first time I silently thanked Jim Henson.  I felt truly grateful for this man, his company, and his muppets.

Because my son was so into Sesame Street, I started to research the show.  I knew it was educational and meant for babies and young children, but I was still interested in learning more about it since there is such a stigma attached to kids watching T.V.   I felt much better after completing my research. I also realized I had a couple more people to be thankful for: Joan Ganz Cooney and Lloyd Morrisett.

 Fun, encouraging facts from my research are below:

- Sesame Street was originally created to "master the addictive qualities of television and do something good with them"

- It was the first television show to include a detailed educational curriculum with measurable outcomes

- Each character, each episode is tested and researched before being released to make sure it effectively educates children, the intended message is being communicated effectively to children, and that there are no ill effects or messages it may send to young children.  Child psychologists and early childhood education experts are a big part of this process.  

- They take their research seriously. Sesame Street is known for tackling tough life situations in their books and T.V. episodes- including death, divorce, and even...parent incarceration.  But if the research comes back that the episode/book isn't effective in positively addressing the issue at hand with children, they scrap it.  For example, there was an episode filmed where Snuffy's parents got divorced.  Research came back that it would negatively affect its young viewers and not get the intended message across. So the episode was scrapped and never aired.

- Sesame Street focuses not only on teaching kids "reading, writing, and arithmetic," but also social skills- how to handle different social situations and conflicts. 

- The show also features children and adults with different disabilities (or who are differently abled) in both their set filmed scenes and street scenes.  This exposes children to people who may be different than them. It also allows children who are differently abled to view others "like them" on T.V.  This is a great educational tool for promoting acceptance of others, self acceptance, and reducing the fear of something or someone different (that unfortunately seems to be apart of human nature.)

- While you may be annoyed by Elmo and his antics, his character is supposed to represent love.  This is why the character expresses his love for others often.  One of his many catch phrases is "Elmo loves you."

- Though many adults joke about Bert and Ernie's friendship being much more,  the characters are meant to illustrate that you can be friends (or even "best friends")  with someone who is different than you. (If you pay attention you'll notice Bert and Ernie are pretty much opposites personality wise and have many different interests.)

While Cooney and Morrisett are to thank for the educational format of Sesame Street, I very much doubt the show would be as captivating without the imagination of Jim Henson.  My son recently graduated from Sesame Street (though he still enjoys it) to Kermit the Frog and the original Muppet Movie (he's not fond of the sequels.) The Muppet Movie has such a positive message of following your dreams and believing in yourself.  It focuses on the journey and remaining positive throughout the bumps in the road.  It has become one of my favorite family movies to watch.  Again, I feel grateful for Jim Henson, his outlook, and his mission to bring happiness and positivity to others.

So, while I certainly paid zero attention to who Jim Henson was when I was a child, I now see how much of an innovator he was.  Even though he is gone, I still find him and his work inspiring and I'm thankful that this man had decided to take a chance, be different, and enrich the lives of those around him while doing what he loved.