Tuesday, January 31, 2017

How to Make Your Little One Feel Special On Valentine's Day without Spending A Lot of Money

One of the most fun parts of parenting is getting the chance to make your child's face light up during holidays. It's one of the best feelings in the world, right?  I've always been pretty into celebrating anything and at any chance I get. But now my son is old enough to start anticipating holidays.  And that brings it all to a whole new level.  More fun, more excitement, and more of the cheesy goodness that comes with most celebrations.

A lot of people think you have to spend a ton of money or do something crazy elaborate to make a holiday fun. But to be honest, there are several simple ways to celebrate and make your kids feel special. Below are some ideas for Valentine's Day.

Hearts on Their Door

I've seen this floating around several places on the internet and have decided to start this tradition this year in our home. The idea is to take paper hearts, write reasons why you love your child ("you're funny," "you're great at painting,") on them, and attach them to the front of your child's bedroom door each day starting February 1st. That way, they wake up to a sweet little surprise each morning that helps them feel great about themselves.

I like this idea, although I like to think of it as giving your child compliments or making them aware of some of the great things about themselves instead of "reasons" why you love your child. I mean, I get where they're going with it. Valentine's Day---Love. But, I always tell my son I love him no matter what. Even when he doesn't behave or makes a mistake, I am still going to love him.  So I feel like calling these cute hearts "reasons" to love your own child is a little contradictory to that message.  Maybe things you love ABOUT your child?.  Maybe I'm overthinking it. But either way, I'm going to pose these as simple, cute complimentary hearts instead.

Special Breakfast/ Lunch/ Or Dinner

I'll admit something right now.  I don't normally cook breakfast for my family. Both my husband and my son are obsessed with cereal. So that's usually what they have. But on holidays like Christmas, Easter, and, yes, Valentine's Day, I cook a "real" breakfast.  It's usually something not super healthy like French toast, pancakes, or cinnamon rolls, but it is something special that my family enjoys. And it signifies a special occasion.  You can do this with any meal you don't normally go all out for on the daily.  And it doesn't have to be super elaborate or expensive.  I mean I literally cook up some bacon and eggs or pop some cinnamon rolls in the oven and that's all it takes.

Make Cookies WITH Them

You don't have to make them from scratch.  You can even buy the ones that are already cut-out into cute shapes. (Pillsbury knows what's up, guys.) But frosting and decorating cookies with your kids is a great way to not only allow them to participate in the holiday fun, but for them to also see how special it is to have someone make something for them.  For them to see the time and effort you put into making (decorating) a cookie for them. As they get older, they'll see the time and effort you put into gathering and setting up the supplies so that they can have fun decorating cookies.

Dress-up Gifts

I told you I liked the cheesy aspects of holidays, right?  Well here is one of the cheesiest.  And I love it.  The Dollar Tree sells a BUNCH of cute/corny Valentine's Day Themed gear.  Heart shaped glasses, boas, hats, headbands - they've got it all.  Purchase some and put them out on the table for your family to choose from Valentine's morning.  Make sure you wear some too!  It's silly...but fun. And festive!


(I know. I know. Sugar is poison. Candy is so bad for you.  It's not healthy. I KNOW. If you choose not to give your child candy, maybe do this with their favorite snack. )

During Valentine's Day, candy is placed into cute little packaging for all of us to adore.  What we don't adore? How much the price of the candy goes up BECAUSE of that packaging.  If you're looking at a box of 6 Hershey Kisses for $5 like "No way, no how," here is a cute solution.  First, buy the candy of choice in it's regular, boring, (but cheaper), packaging.  So, for Hershey's Kisses, you would buy them in the regular Hershey's bag instead of the adorable heart-shaped box.  Then, look up cute ways to repackage them on Pinterest.  You could tape Hershey's kisses (or hugs) onto a paper heart cut-out with "A kiss [hug] from me to you" written on it. Or simply bunch lollipops together and secure with a rubber band or Valentine's themed hair tie to look like a bouquet.  A very cute idea is to draw simple blue waves on a Ziploc bag (with a permanent marker) and place gummy fish inside. There are so many inexpensive options and you don't have to be a Pinterest expert to be able to pull them off.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Cute Valentines Gifts For The Whole Family

Image Source

It’s almost Valentine’s Day again, how quickly does that come back around? And while there are a million love-heart teddies, boxes of chocolates, and generic flowers out there to buy, sometimes we want to show our appreciation to the mother or father of our children with something a bit more personal to our family. So why not make the gift something everyone will love, rather than just the two of you? Here are some fun and romantic ideas to try out, that won’t break the bank.

A family experience

Make memories this Valentine’s Day with a day out for the whole family, not just mom and dad. Why not go for a sunrise stroll along the beach, hand in hand? Or a day trip to the zoo, a nice meal, or a trip to the theme park? A day of love and laughter just isn’t the same without the little ones there, so keep them involved!

Custom figurines

A cute and fun present for your loved one would be custom figurines, such as personalized bobbleheads, made to represent the whole family. Lined up on the mantelpiece, they immortalize your family, and look really funny at the same time. This is definitely one that mom, dad, and the kids will adore, and it’s a great talking point for guests too - pretty soon everyone that visits will want one!

Image Credit

Bespoke wall art

Get your kids involved in making a beautiful, romantic piece of wall art for your whole family to enjoy, and you’ve got the best of both worlds. Try using red paint and two little hands, side by side, to create a love heart shape, and use fine black markers to add elaborate detailing and names, for a really unique and beautiful piece of wall art. All you need to pay for is the frame and the paint (and all the soap it takes it get paint off little hands, but it’s totally worth it).

Personalized family tree

If you like the idea of customized wall art, but you want something slightly less messy, why not go for a personalized family tree of both sides of the family, leading down to the kids? They’ll love seeing their family history, and it’s a great way of making the unit feel complete too. Many companies will make these beautiful designs; you just have to supply the information - get the older kids to help out with the research by calling grandparents and asking about their families - it’s educational and fun.

Love letters for the whole family

Rather than just sending Valentine’s cards between mom and dad, why not encourage the whole family to spend time writing a letter to each sibling and parent. These letters can contain great memories, compliments, and hopes for the future, and they’ll be brilliant to look back on when you’re all a bit older. Even younger kids can get involved with drawing and trying to write their letters, so nobody has to be left out.

Valentine’s Day doesn’t just have to be for mommy and daddy; the whole family can get involved!

This is a collaborative post written by a contributing writer. 

Curious Kids: Answers Moms Give vs. What They Mean

Did you know an Australian study found that kids ask their Mom a question an average of 300 times per day?

300 times.

Some of those might be legitimate questions, like asking what's for dinner or where to put a toy. The rest, however, are most likely babble. A child's endless search for knowledge is one of the greatest joys of parenting; the chance to infuse a new mind with knowledge, understanding and caring...

... It's pretty exhausting though, isn't it!

As a result, we Moms tend to develop a filter through which we process information - and we have a few stand-bys, ways to deflect and cope with the endless barrage! Any of these sound familiar?

Question: "Why is the sky blue?"

The Answer: It isn't, it just appears to be that way as blue light is the most visible in the spectrum.

The Answer A Busy Mom Gives: "Because of science, sweetie."

What You Mean: "I could explain this but I'm so tired I'm not 100% on whether I could spell my name right at this point. Sweetie."

Question: "Mom, why do I have to [anything they don't want to do]?"

The Answer: A justifiable reason for them having to do something.

The Answer A Busy Mom Gives: "Because I say so."

What You Mean: "Please don't question me further because I will break and say you don't have to, just for a bit of peace and quiet."

Question: "Why does my room have to be clean?"

The Answer: Tidy room, tidy mind or so the philosophy goes - and because it makes life easier for everyone.

The Answer A Busy Mom Gives: "Arguing doesn't mean it's not going to have to happen, so why don't you go take care of that for me?

What You Mean: "Have I raised an argumentative child who can't see why a tidy room is preferable? Have I failed as a parent? Why are they asking this again?!"

Question: "Why do I have to get up so early?"

The Answer: Studies have shown morning people are more likely to be successful. It's also better for you, and kids tend to respond better to routines.

The Answer A Busy Mom Gives: "That's when school starts."

What You Mean: "I have no idea. Why has humanity done this to ourselves? I'm so tired I think reading drip coffee maker reviews and looking up cappuccino gadgets is stimulating because of my desperate need for caffeine. You know what, I'm kind of in agreement with this - why do we get up so early? Kid’s got a point."

Question: "Why does [some question about the world] happen?"

The Answer: A long descriptive answer worthy of a college-level textbook.

The Answer A Busy Mom Gives: "Why don't you try and figure it out, honey? Why do you think it works?"

What You Mean: "I have no idea, but if I try and frame this as a teachable moment while I stealth search online for the answer then I'm going to win some parenting points. And if they guess correctly, then I was right, they are a genius!"

(Images used in this post are used with thanks to: oo11o // pixabay, picjumbo_com // pixabay, congerdesign // pixabay and jcmanheimer // pixabay)

This is a collaborative post written by a contributing writer.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Affordable Skin Care Products to Try in 2017

New year...New...products.  Yep, I've been doing the scariest product testing of all and that is skin care product testing! My skin is sensitive.  It's naturally fair, acne prone, AND I'm allergic to some fragrances.  And for some reason, A LOT of skin care in the affordable price range is heavily perfumed. (Did you see my snap on this awhile back?)  So that meant a lot of test patches, a lot of hoping I didn't wake up with itchy red bumps on my face, and A LOT of faith in product brands I've never used before.  But it was all worth it.  Because in the end I found some great new products that ended up costing less than the products I was using before this. I've included the ones I am still using below. 

From Olay Professional Pro-X Wrinkle Smoothing Cream (priced between $25-$40) 


Garnier SkinActive Miracle Anti-Fatigue Sleeping Cream (Wild Berry) ($12-$15)

This was scary one for me.  In the SnapChat video linked above, I'm testing this Garnier product and the Olay Age Defying Anti-Wrinkle Night Cream.  The Garnier product is slightly perfumed but not overwhelmingly so.  It smells like berries. But I was nervous about using it simply because I haven't used a Garnier skin care product in years.  And I wasn't sure if my skin would agree with the brand.

I was less nervous about the new-to-me Olay night cream but that stuff was HEAVILY fragranced. It actually smelt like an older woman's perfume.  The fragrance was so strong and lasted so long that I was unable to test the product. Having the cream on my face made the smell of the product overwhelming and gave me a headache. I was disappointed with Olay (a brand I usually love) simply because there is no need to put that much perfume into something that is meant to go on the face.

Garnier's SkinActive Miracle Anti-Fatigue Sleeping Cream ended up being a great find.  I've even repurchased (this time with the lavender scent).  The consistency is slightly different than most night face creams I've tried.  It's almost feels like a jelly mixed with a cream. Sounds gross but it's honestly refreshing. Not  heavy, not greasy, and I only need a very small amount for my entire face.  After four weeks of using this, I've noticed my skin is brighter, smoother, and my skin tone is much more even.  If you have very dry skin, however, this may not be for you. It's moisturizing enough for my combination skin, but I could see how very dry skin would crave more moisture than this cream provides.

From Neutrogena® Visibly Even® Daily Moisturizer SPF 30 with Helioplex® Technology ($10-$16)


Olay Age Defying Classic Protective Renewal Lotion with Sunscreen SPF 15 ($5-$10)

This one is a bit tricky.   The Neutrogena is already pretty affordable. And it's not scented. (YAY!) But it does feel like it has a silicone consistency once on the face.  (I like and dislike that for different reasons.)  So I wanted to see if I could find a somewhat simpler, even less expensive day moisturizer.

This Olay product is, again, scented. But not overwhelmingly so.  The scent if floral but more of a light rose instead of a heavy artificial fragrance like the one mentioned above.  It's light but effective. Goes on smooth and my skin does look slightly more "glowy" when using this. I also like how it sits on the skin much more than my former go-to Olay day moisturizer, the Olay Complete All Day Moisturizer.

I will probably end up going back to the Neutrogena for summertime though.  Right now ("winter" ...it's still 80 degrees) the Florida sun isn't as strong, so I can get away with using only SPF 15 on my face.  But once that summer sun is back, I'm going to need SPF 30 to avoid getting sunspots.

From GLAMGLOW YOUTHMUD™ Tinglexfoliate Treatment ($20-$70)


7th Heaven Orange & Black Lava Exfoliator & Masque ($1-$2)

I have a hard time finding ANYTHING that will touch GLAMGLOW results.  I don't know what kind of magic they put into those masks...but my skin looks AMAZING each time I use YOUTHMUD.  So, when I tried 7th Heaven's Orange & Black Lava Exfoliator & Masque, I wasn't expecting much. These are the masks at your grocery store (or Walmart) that are a dollar or two each. So, I've used 7th Heaven's other masks before and they do give you a lot more bang for your buck (more than $2 worth) but I've never been blown away...until I tried the Orange & Black Lava one. I was pleasantly surprised.

When I say I was pleasantly surprised, I mean I literally said "Whoa" once I washed off the mask.  Was it as amazing as GLAMGLOW? No.  But it was pretty close.  Smooth, bright skin that absolutely glowed is what I got out of this little pouch. I've repurchased and I'm planning on stocking up.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Busy Mom’s Guide To Simple Solutions For Unnecessary Worries


No matter how hard you try to stay calm as a mom, it doesn’t always happen. Not only are we always on the go, trying to be in a million places at once, and trying to tick off a never-ending to-do list, we also deal with a lot of worries. And they’re not just ours; they’re often those of our children and husbands too. A lot of the things we stress about can seem silly. But, unless you have a solution, it’s often hard to realize there's no need to fret. So, if you ever find yourself worrying over these areas, the suggested solutions may ease your anxiety in no time.

Staying Fit

We all know that you have to be healthy in life, but it’s not always easy to stay fit. If you don’t count running around after your children all day as staying fit, you often put a lot of pressure on yourself to be active. But, instead of letting the fear get to you, work on these quick fitness solutions that can easily slot into your day and often be done at home.

Keeping Everything Clean

Whether you work outside of the home or are a stay at home mom, it can be a struggle to ensure everything stays clean. You might have cleaning the kitchen and bathroom down or be able to vacuum regularly, but if you always have big cleaning tasks on your mind, it might be time to ask for help. If you can afford it, hiring a maid service to come  once a week can save your sanity.  Hiring someone to mow the lawn or clean the gutters are other services that may take some stress off of your shoulders. 

Having Accidents

If you find yourself worrying about accidents more and more, you’re not the only one. We all do it. The trick is to try and cover all of your bases so that if the inevitable does happen, you’re prepared. Ensure that your home is baby friendly, get your medical insurance up to date, know your rights when it comes to making car, negligence, or Cycle claims and get ahead before anything happens.

Eating Healthy

Just like we feel the pressure to stay fit, we also feel the pressure to ensure that our kids are eating healthy foods. Sticking to a healthy diet isn’t always easy - especially if you’re short of time or you’re dealing with fussy eaters. But planning ahead can help ease some of the pressure. Making healthy snacks might feel impossible, but if you make a big batch of frozen treats, granola bars, and dried fruit and nut mix at a time, you’ll have snacks available in a pinch.

Bedtime Routines

Even if you have children that sleep well, bedtime routines can cause us a lot of anxiety as moms. Whether it’s the idea of getting each element ticked off, the rush of it all, or the amount of children you have to get to sleep, it can be a daunting task. But, applying an easy to follow bedtime routine, instead of a more complex one, can help ensure all of your children sleep soundly while you enjoy an evening of peace.

This is a collaborative post written by a contributing writer.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Look As Good As Celebrity Mommies With These Health And Fitness Hacks

It’s easy to feel envious when you look at celebrity moms online and in magazines. After all, they tend to lose their baby weight quickly and are back in good form straight away. And while some might do it unhealthily, there are a lot of tricks that are worth using in your own life. Therefore, here are some health and fitness hacks to look as good as celebrity mommies.

Stay active with your child

It can be hard to think about exercise when you have a little one to look after. But a lot of celebrities have said they managed to lose their baby weight and get back in shape by just spending time with their child. Whether it’s taking them for a walk around the street or going swimming with your child, it is good for your body and for your baby. And it can be a great way for you to bond with your little one. And it doesn’t have to be a ton of exercise; 10 or 15 minutes of walking a day with your child would be good to help you to get back into a healthy shape after having your baby! If you have more than one child, it's also important to find the best toddler and infant double stroller to fit your needs. Finding the right stroller will keep your little ones comfortable while allowing you to exercise with ease.


Change up your diet

Your meals can end up getting a bit crazy in the first few months after having a child. After all, you tend to eat when you can when you have a baby to look after. But if you want to get back in shape, you need to try and sort out your meals as soon as you can. Try and eat plenty of fruit and vegetables which can ensure you maintain a healthy weight. And make sure you fit in time for breakfast every morning. After all, this is the most important meal of the day, so make time to consume this if you want to get in shape. A lot of celebrity mommies follow diet trends to enable them to lose weight. In fact, you can find out about some of the most popular ones by looking online. But if you are going to follow one of these diets, make sure you pick one which is sustainable. After all, it can be hard to give up carbs if you are busy stressing with a baby! Making some small changes to your diet instead would be good to help you to lose that baby weight.

Get a personal trainer

A lot of celebrity mommies put their great post-baby bodies down to their personal trainer. In fact, model Heidi Klum said she lost weight by jumping on the rowing machine with her trainer! After all, a personal trainer can give you the help you need to lose weight. And even if you only see them for an hour a day, that time exercising could really help you to shift the pounds. Therefore, look online to find one which could help you to shift those extra pounds! And you don’t have to go to the gym with the trainer; they can help you exercise in your local area, or at your gym at home.

And remember to drink lots of water if you want a body like a celebrity mom. Celebs like Jessica Alba drank two liters of water a day to shift that baby weight!

This is a collaborative post written by a contributing writer.

This post is not meant to give medical advice. Please consult a medical professional before changing your diet or exercise routine.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Bunyan & Babe - Watch It For Free

Looking for a new movie that will keep your child's attention and entertain you as well? Want to watch it for free?  Bunyan & Babe is the answer.  Not only is this movie available for free on Google Play now through February 16th, it's one of the most endearing children's movies I've ever seen.

The movie starts out with two children, Travis and Whitney, going to their grandparents' farm for a visit.  While Whitney is excited for the trip, Travis isn't into it.  Not long after arriving, however, Travis starts to have fun and enjoy life on the farm. Then Travis witnesses the not-so-ethical practices of a real estate developer looking to take over the town and turn it into a mall.  While running from one of the real estate developer's lackeys, Travis falls into a magic portal and meets the legendary Paul Bunyan and his blue ox, Babe. Bunyan, Babe, and Travis set out to save the town and their grandparents' farm in a series of whimsical adventures.

What I immediately loved about this film is the vivid colors and imagery. I wanted to visit Travis's grandparents' farm.  And I wanted to walk into Paul Bunyan's cabin on the lake.  John Goodman did a great job of portraying Bunyan.  His warm, friendly, gentle yet strong take makes Bunyan the most likeable hero in this tale.  Jeff Foxworthy's portrayal of Babe brings a ton of light-hearted fun to the mix.

This story has pretty clear good and bad guys from the beginning.  And while there is conflict in the plot, there is nothing scary or frightening that would spook young children. There are also some educational facts thrown in (along with the tall tales of Bunyan) thanks to super smart Whitney.

And...I'm going to admit this...the movie was a little more touching than I expected.  I found myself with that warm fuzzy feeling at the movie's conclusion and couldn't help but feel a little love for Mr. Bunyan and his pal, Babe.

Watch it for FREE now through February 16, 2017 on Google Play.
Bunyan & Babe will hit select theaters on February 3rd.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Double Trouble! Preparing For A New Arrival When You're Already A Mommy

Being a mom of two is very different to having just one child. When you welcome your first bundle of joy into the world, they are the center of attention, and they occupy your every thought. When you have a child already, and you’re preparing to welcome a new baby into the family, you’ll have two little people to think about, and life will be that bit more hectic. If you’re expecting, and you’re already a mommy, hopefully, this guide will come in handy.

Practical preparations

Life as a mom of two is a completely different ball game. You’ll have practical challenges to deal with, and every movement you make requires careful planning. It can be a military operation getting out of the door with one little one, let alone two. One of the best investments you can make when you’re expecting your second child is a double stroller. This will enable you to get out and about with both children. When you’re looking for a new stroller, think about the age difference, and read some reviews. There are lots of different brands and products on offer, and it’s best to try some out, and see which styles you prefer. You’ll also need to think about sleeping arrangements. In the early stages, your baby will sleep in your room, but it’s wise to plan ahead. Think about whether your children are going to share a room or have separate spaces.

Image credit http://maxpixel.freegreatpicture.com/Woman-Chinese-Belly-Asian-Pregnant-Woman-Pregnant-1118199

Readying your child for a new arrival

When you’ve been the apple of your mommy’s eye your entire life, it can be daunting and distressing when a new baby comes along. The situation must be confusing for young children, and it’s a really good idea to talk to your child about the new arrival, and try and prepare them as best you can. Let your child rub your tummy and talk to the bump, and try and introduce them as early as possible once the baby arrives. Encourage spending time together when you’re feeding or resting. Ask friends and relatives to make a special effort to make a fuss of both children when they come and visit. Sometimes, children may feel like they’ve been pushed out of the limelight.

Image by http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=19220

Asking for help

Looking after a newborn or a toddler is difficult enough at the best of times. When you have both, it can be a real struggle to tend to their needs and get other jobs done. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you’ve got friends and family members offering to babysit the older child or help out with the household chores, take advantage of their kindness. You may need a break now and again, and people helping with cleaning or even running you a bath and holding the baby while you have a moment’s peace can make a difference.

Image courtesy of https://www.pexels.com/search/siblings/

Are you expecting your second child ?If so, you’re probably incredibly excited, but also a little apprehensive. It can take time to adjust to having two children, and you may feel like you’re constantly juggling. Don’t be afraid to lean on those around you, and try and get practicalities sorted in advance. Prepare your toddler as best you can, and make every effort to ensure that they feel included.

This is a collaborative post written by a contributing writer. 

Monday, January 9, 2017

What We Got Instead of a Hatchimal - And It's 10 Times Better

I'm going to start this post by saying this is my personal opinion (although, duh, because this is an editorial-style blog). I feel the need to state this though because...well...Hatchimal stuff has been straight-up nuts, ya'll.  Some people are disappointed and saying their Hatchimals aren't working correctly (or never worked at all), some parents are claiming to hear their Hatchimal curse, others think the noises coming out of the Hatchimals are a little inappropriate, etc.  Then there are those who are defending the Hatchimals and getting really upset that anyone is saying anything bad about them. This all is creating arguments in the parenting community.  To all of that I have to say...it's a toy.  Let's take it down a notch and focus less on the Hatchimal drama and more on the bigger issues of life.

If you're not a parent you may not even know what a Hatchimal is or why there is so much craziness over it.  It was the toy to get this Christmas.  Think "Tickle Me Elmo" madness.  They were hard to find and being sold for four to five times their retail price. My son initially was interested in a Hatchimal. And I did the Hatchimal hunt for a couple of weeks.  But then, when a local toy store was selling them for $100 I thought, "Is this toy really worth that? What does it even do?"

Now, don't get me wrong.  Hatchimals are really cute.  And it hatches on it's own out of an egg.  But other than that...it's pretty much akin to the first model of Furby that came out in the 90's.  Not worth $100, in my opinion.  So I went home to my son and asked him if really wanted a Hatchimal.  His response was yes, but less enthusiastic than before. So I did some research and found some other [more] interactive toys to see if he maybe would prefer something else.  I was thinking that maybe he wanted a Hatchimal because that's all he had seen on YouTube and hadn't seen a lot of other options.

I was right.

After showing him a couple of other toys that talk, play games, etc., he got really excited over the Fisher Price Smart Toy.  This toy came out in 2015 and flew under my radar somehow.  I have found the Monkey and Bear model in stores for around $60 each.  I found our Panda model (not sure why the stores near me don't carry this one) on Amazon for under $28. Yep. $27 and change for this guy.  And you'll see why that was such a great deal in a second.

This toy is ready to play with right out of the box.  He will ask your child their name, ask them if they like grilled cheese or peanut butter better, and tell them how excited he is to "be home" and meet his new best friend.  (SO CUTE.) Not only that, he actually listens to and remembers your child's answers.  I was shocked when I held up the snack card (I'll get to these next) 20 minutes later and the Smart Toy mentioned eating grilled cheese. My son was elated that his new friend listened and remembered that he liked grilled cheese better.

Another interactive tool used by the toy are illustrated cards.  These cards allow your child to choose an activity for their Smart Toy to play/start.  They include having a snack, going on an adventure, hearing a story, brushing teeth, and going to bed.  Just hold the card up to the toy and you'll hear an acknowledgment tone and then the toy will start doing whatever activity is listed on the card. This part is not perfect.  Sometimes it takes a little bit for the toy to be able to read the card and you do have to hold it at just the right distance from the toy's face.  Kids can also choose to let the toy pick the activity by squeezing the Smart Toy's tummy. (My son prefers that method.)

More than all of that, the Smart Toy is app-enabled.  Parents can download the app to choose the Smart Toy's activities.  It's super easy to connect the toy to your home WIFI using the app.  Then you can input your child's name (and the Smart Toy will call your child by their name from then on), name your Smart Toy, and input your child's birthday.  My favorite part of the app is being able to select from the Daily Helpers activities. The Smart Toy will create a clean up game for my son to play with it or encourage him to get ready for bed.

I also like the educational aspects of the Smart Toy.  During an "adventure," I heard the toy tell my son they were going to look for the Loch Ness Monster to try to take a picture of it.  The toy explained what the Loch Ness monster is and that it lives in Scotland.  It then asked my son "Do you know where Scotland is? Is it in Europe or Asia?" My son responded with Europe and the toy excitedly told him he was correct.

At the end of the day, we simply plug the Smart Toy in the wall and let him recharge. Super easy. Super cute. And so many interactive aspects. Definitely better than a Hatchimal for us.  And well worth $27 and change.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Time-Saving Tricks For Moms Who Never Have Enough Hours In The Day

Are you a busy mom? Do you never feel like there are enough hours in the day? Do you wake up in the morning wondering how on earth you’re going to get everything done that day? If so, you’re not alone. Many parents struggle with time management. Hopefully, these time-saving tricks will help make life that little bit easier.


Scheduling is the place to start if you’re disorganized or you can never remember what you have on each week. You can choose from traditional diaries and calendars or invest in an app or use your phone to keep track of daily events. Once you have things written down, it’s a lot easier to plan and manage your time. You’re less likely to forget about commitments, and this prevents last-minute panics. You can also arrange appointments, play dates or work meetings around what you’ve got already in your diary, and this will reduce the risk of double booking.

Image by https://pixabay.com/en/photos/diary/?image_type=photo

Planning ahead

Planning ahead is essential for moms on the go. Do you struggle to get everything done in the mornings? Are you always running late for work or dropping the kids in the nick of time? If so, try and get yourself sorted the night before. You can’t do everything in advance, but there are lots of jobs you can tick off. You can get the children’s clothes out ready, and prepare their lunch. If you’re going to work, you can also plan what you’re going to wear and rustle up a sandwich or salad to take with you. In the morning, all you’ve got to do is get breakfast ready, have a quick shower and get dressed.

Image via https://www.flickr.com/photos/buzzymelibee/8459976360

Making use of the latest technology

Technology can save you time and effort. There are all kinds of wonderful innovations that can make life less stressful, so don’t be afraid to embrace tech. Take your smartphone, for example. You can now use this to do everything from count the number of steps you take and set your thermostat to watching CCTV footage of your home and ordering your weekly grocery shop. You may not think that this will make a massive difference to your packed schedule. But think about how much time you’ll save by not having to drag the kids out to the supermarket or how much easier the mornings will be when you don’t have to worry about setting the security system as you bundle out of the door. If you have an outdated alarm system, you’ll find helpful articles like Livewatch security reviews online.

Image sourced from https://www.pexels.com/search/smartphone/

Mastering the 5-minute morning makeover

It’s rare for moms on the go to have hours to spend in front of the mirror. If you can master a 5-minute morning makeover, you’ll leave the house on time, and you’ll look great. Once you’ve cleansed and moisturized, apply a thin layer of primer, and then use a brush to apply your foundation. Add concealer if you have dark circles, bags or troublesome outbreaks. Layer on blush or bronze to give your complexion warmth and color, apply highlighter to your cheekbones and brow bones and finish off with a slick of mascara.

Image credit https://www.pexels.com/search/makeup/

Working from home

If you have the option to work from home, you can save yourself time on commuting, and work around childcare commitments. You don’t have to work from home all the time, but a couple of days a week may make all the difference. If you’re finding it difficult to get everything done, ask your boss about flexible working arrangements. If you are working from home, try and get into a routine. It’s easier to get distracted, but if you have a list of jobs to get through, it’s important that you can focus and get your work done. Resist the temptation to try and work from the couch. It’s best to set yourself up in a study or a spare room, so you can concentrate properly and get into work mode.

Image by https://www.pexels.com/search/work%20from%20home/

Are you always on the go? Do you feel like you chase your tail on a daily basis? If so, it may be worth trying to manage your time more effectively, and find ways to make life easier and less stressful. Invest in a diary or use an app to keep track of your schedule. Plan ahead where possible, and try and get sorted the night before. Embrace the wonders of modern technology, and talk to your boss about the possibility of working from home. Hopefully, these tips will give you time to get everything done and take a few minutes to relax. 

This is a collaborative post written by a contributing writer.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The NEW New Year's Resolution

I'm back! And it's now officially 2017! I'm super grateful for my contributing writers.  They held down the fort so mama could spend some time with the fam sans computer.  Thank you, guys! 

It's a new year and many of you are probably starting on your New Year's Resolutions, right?  I've said in the past that I am not a huge NYR girl.  Mainly because waiting to make a change that I really want to make...gives me anxiety. But I really love this resolution idea YouTuber Rachhloves talked about in one of her videos.

The idea is to choose a word as the theme for the year.  So, instead of having specific goals or a checklist of accomplishments to achieve, you choose a word to reflect back on when making a decision or struggling with a situation. Some examples Rachel comes up with are "focus," "breathe," and "try."

I'm going with "love" this year.  It may sound a little cheesy and maybe even unimaginative, but last year was such a hard year for so many with an abundance of sadness, conflict, and discourse.  As a nation, 2016 was the year that some of our ugliest colors came to light. Keeping the theme of "love" in the back of our minds may help us put the best of ourselves forward.

So, for me, 2017 will be themed around love.  If I start feeling insecure about my body (does this ever go away?!)... choose to LOVE it. Love everything it has done - growing and birthing my son, allowing me to care for him, and giving me the ability to walk, jump, dance, and skip whenever I so desire. If I feel myself growing impatient with...really anything - a goal not being achieved fast enough, my son not following directions in the moment, a long line at Target - love the journey it takes to get to that goal, love and soak in all moments at this age because soon my son will be a "big kid," appreciate and love the fact that I can simply drive to Target and pick anything I need off of a shelf to purchase.  Will I still lose my patients? Of course. Will I still feel angry and upset over things that five years from now I won't remember? Sure.  But, maybe having a word to reflect on will help bring me back to the big picture when I'm having trouble seeing outside of my own present situation. I'm ready to give it a try!

What word will you choose as the theme for 2017?