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Trendy Tots Textiles Review

One thing we've known about our boy from the start is that he's a fisherman, like the rest of us. So, it made sense to seek out some fishing-related toys and games for him to enjoy (especially during the winter months!) We go ice fishing, but he likes to cast and such inside. So, with the help of Trendy Tots Textiles, we were able to find an awesome fishing game for kids his age!


Here was my first glimpse at the set...so bright! It took a lot of control to not just give it to him to play with right away! I knew he was going to love this game!


Here is the complete set. 10 fish, 2 of each color, a fishing pole and a heavy-duty wicker basket. I loved the different colors--we're working on colors right now, so not only were we having fun fishing, we were learning colors!


Time to open! He was meticulous about getting the wrapping paper off of each square inch of the box, but then, as he opened it and saw what it contained, he was repeating his mantra-- "fishin' fishin' fishin'!"



The fish are about 4.5" long and have a button for an eye spot. They are stuffed with batting that is soft and squishy, for the sensory learning side of the game to be even more fun. The fish have a magnet up in the "nose" area of the fish and the pole has a large magnet covered in matching fabric on the end. It's a nice sturdy dowel and good quality "line" on the pole. You can simply wrap the line around the dowel to achieve the desired length for your child. We found it was easier for our guy if we put the fish on the floor and put him on the couch or a chair. Then, he could place his caught fish into the basket next to him--just like daddy does! The basket was really a beautiful one as well--nice and pliable--not flimsy and brittle. It will definitely hold up to lots of games of our new rendition of "Go fish!"


Here we are trying to feed Midnight bear some fish. So, I guess you can use the set as a biology and life science lesson too! He was a hungry bear!


All of his own accord, he gathered up all ten fish and had a real hard time trying to keep all of them in his arms as he "tucked them in" with him for bedtime. It was adorable! It was also on our living room floor, so we explained that the fish were going "night-night" too, but that we had to go to bed upstairs in our big boy bed! But, knowing he wanted to sleep with the fishes was actually comforting--he loves them!

You can visit her Etsy shop anytime to order your kiddo their own fun fishing game!


**I received a review item to complete this post. I did not receive any other compensation. All opinions are my own. **


Vintage Baby Prettys I Spy Bag Review


Recently, in my explorations of Etsy (something I LOVE doing in my sparse spare time!) I found this great shop. As you all know, I've been trying to come up with alternative ideas for my big boy when we want to get him a toy or gift. I'm not totally against in-store toys, but I do love unique things and I also like the idea of reducing, reusing, and upcycling. So, I usually try to check several places before buying something that isn't very green or unique. Anyway, back to this awesome shop.... Vintage Baby Pretties! Breann is the creator extraordinaire and has a great selection of these WONDERFUL I-Spy bags with little, detachable laminated cards that go with them.

I fell in love instantly. I immediately saw a great toy that was not only a stimulating activity but also a great ROAD TRIP distraction! It is perfect for travel -- it's compact, but allows for a longer span of use -- which is what you want when you take a trip! It won't spill or have pieces that land under your driver's seat while you're on the interstate in heavy traffic, with a toddler screaming for the missing part. No, this toy will stay safely in their lap unless they throw it! So, you'll probably get some good drive time out of it!


We are heading to a few western destinations this summer and I am planning on packing this I Spy bag! My son's favorite thing to find is the orange horse. There were a few orange items in the bag, which is ironic since we've determined he really loves orange right now! So, we find the horse a lot!


We find the spider on this laminated card a lot too, though right now, he usually calls it a crab. I like that there is this key on the toy, so you can make a game of finding it all. The filler inside the bag is really comfortable to work with and makes it just hard enough that you have to search for each piece inside the bag, yet you cannot see very many at once, making it more fun.


For the older readers in the family, the back of the card tells you a bit about what you are looking for. These I Spy bags are super reasonably price, at just $8.50 each. They would make super gifts for a party (for a handful of kids to take home) or for door prizes. I loved the idea of this being a fun and more stimulating, educational toy than a car or DVD or something similar. 


The I Spy bag itself is constructed of a very soft flannel material with a clear plastic window for viewing. It is really easy for little hands and fingers to manipulate the bag. The assortment of items in the bag are great -- a really good way to learn new words and colors for the little ones! My son keeps saying "treasure! treasure!" Since it is like finding a hidden treasure! 

You can find several of these I Spy bags in the Vintage Baby Pretties shop as well as a few other fun items! There are adorable bows and headbands just waiting to make your kiddo fancy for photos or coordinated with a pretty outfit! 

**I received an item for review purposes. All of the opinions expressed are honest and are my own. I received no other compnesation.**

TWO YEARS!?! Time for a cliche... and a Belated Birthday Bash!

There is a reason that people say things all the time that are very cliche. You cannot avoid it. Until it happens to you, you do not grasp the realness of said cliche. It happened again to me. 



"I cannot believe my child is two years old already. It seems like just yesterday he was being born. Time really does fly..." 

I have uttered all of these common phrases to parenthood lately. I mean them all. I always thought they were generic and meaningless until I had my own child that grew up way to fast, suddenly a big boy where once was a baby. 

I try not to think about the "should haves." I really try to focus on the "will start" and "planning on" phrases in our lives. BUT, if I were to give a few pieces of advice to those readers with new babies, it would be this:

1) Take videos of EVERYTHING. I kept saying "oh my gosh! guess what he did/said today!" But I never taped that moment. Well, they stop making the funny sounds. They get better on their feet. They don't have the SAME smile 3 months later... Pictures are great, but videos are better. Do it. And, invest in a good camera.

2) WRITE IT DOWN. I never EVER thought I'd be scatterbrained. Frankly, I was very on top of shit before becoming a mommy. Fast forward 2+ years and I am putting the cordless phone in the refrigerator,  making lists and not even keeping track of where the lists are, and generally chasing my tail. You won't remember the moments you think will never leave your mind. There are TOO MANY amazing moments. You simply cannot keep them all in full detail in your head. So, for the first year you keep a 'baby book.' Continue! Keep a LIFE book. Give it to your child when they graduate. They will cherish that gift of your written voice for life. It's worth the extra 15 minutes each night to jot down some of your thoughts, their acheivements and your love.

3) Play. Put down the damn phone, computer or tv remote and play. I've learned this finally. My child DOES just really LIKE me! Yes, he can have a room FULL of toys, but if mom or dad or uncle isn't there...it's not near as fun. Love through play.

4) Travel. It NEVER gets easier, only harder. We WISH we had went abroad with our infant. I know it sounds crazy, but they travel much better than toddlers, who usually travel better than preschoolers. You might get lucky, but the younger they are, I believe the easier it WAS!

5) Lastly, take the time to at least try watching/reading/listening to Love and Logic. It works for a lot of folks. It works for us.

So, I've learned all of that from just TWO years. Take it with a grain of salt, or just jump to the giveaway form, it doesn't really affect me. BUT, I do hope that you can benefit from some of the areas where we lacked in the last few years. It's better to learn from OTHER peoples' mistakes!

THIS CONTEST HAS ENDED.

Build-A-Bear Review


Build-a-Bear is famous for some really adorable critter creations that your child can make themselves! If you haven't heard about the company, I suggest that you visit their website. It's a real treat! There are seasonal items, favorites, and some Limited Edition friends that will be sure to make a smile spread across your child's face!

We were sent Midnight Bear with the full snowboarding ensemble, since our son's birthday is generally snow-filled unless it's a particularly warm year, which is rare. That's the thing about March birthdays, you never know if you should plan for lambs or lions!




 So, one of my favorite things about the Build-a-Bear animals is the box! When you cannot make it to a factory, they still make your child feel special with the box!

Midnight bear resembles our American Black Bear that is found here in the Midwest. He has a Monster hat, a gray camo snow jacket with faux lambswool collar, black pants, boots, and bindings to go with his sweet BABW (Build-a-Bear Workshop) snowboard and yellow goggles. He is totally decked out for some wintery fun! And, if it happened to be a warm year, and we wanted to envision warm play, we could strip off his warmies and just use the goggles, creatively playing and pretending he was snorkeling!

My son decided that the bear was hungry. So, we also gave him a snack of a delicious homemade fish between slope sessions!

This company has been around since 1997! So, you know you're in good hands paws when you shop and explore with them! Build A Bear is all over, so check the website for a factory near you. We ended up living a few hours from a workshop, so we opted to just have a furry friend sent to us, but we do plan on visiting sometime in the future to see what goes into a bear like this, literally! The detail that is planned for each little friend is awesome--there are small slits, perfectly sized for Midnight Bear's ears on the goggle elastic. There is a hole cut for tails in the pants of most outfits. Each item is crafted with care and is sure to impress the kiddos!


**I was provided with a review item for writing this post. No other compensation was provided and my opinions remain my own.**

Barefoot Books Review

Have you heard of Barefoot Books yet? They are very popular in the UK and in the US, and I'm a little embarrassed to say that I happened upon them quite by accident. We were shopping for books at a thrift store, nearly a year ago and we found Secret Seahorse. It's a great book! For our family, we read more if the book is to be enjoyed by all.
I know that sounds horrible, but if you're going to read, why not read something you love, right? So, we've stocked our library for our son with books that we've read, that contain a lesson or at least accurate information, and that are stimulating to look at and hear read aloud. Barefoot Books qualifies on all these criteria and then some!

Here is the site photo of Secret Seahorse. Ours is a Hardcover, full-size book with paper pages. It came to us in GREAT condition but we have read it so many times I've taped several pages -- from exploring, somewhat overzealous fingers!



Some of the "Core Values" of the company include:

Imagine

Explore

Create
Connect
Give Back

I don't know about your family, but I can definitely get behind a company with values like that!

I decided that it was essential to get the word out about these great books and since we had a big birthday celebration coming up, I thought I'd reach out for that event! What better way to get the information to all of you than a giveaway!! We were welcomed by the company with such great customer service and in perusing the website such an amazing array of books! There are so many covering all sorts of topics and I have no doubt they showcase every color under the sun! Part of the allure is the beauty of the books, but another part is the fact that the information inside them is pretty great too! Animals are accurate in description, name, and coloration. This one is BIG for me, being a wildlife professional. 

Since we loved Secret Seahorse, we decided to add Hidden Hippo and Elusive Moose to our collection--both board books, in hopes of standing the test of time with a toddler. Sometimes, my son will walk around saying "Moose! Moose! Oh no!" If he cannot locate his new beloved book. 

Then, just to try and find some new favorites, we added We're Roaming in the Rainforest and Over in the Meadow, with the Enhanced CD. Lets just say I have the Over in the Meadow song memorized! He loves it! We had a dance party several times to the song before he would sit down and look at the book. Then, he fell in love with that too!



Needless to say, we have FOUR new FAVORITES in this household. Our kiddo is a bookworm and I couldn't be more delighted. Early literacy is so important! I was a literacy tutor and advocate professionally as a service position in a preschool a few years back. I saw some awful bleak starts for some kids...I refused to let that happen to mine. Don't let it happen to your kiddos either! Read to or with them EVERY day!



Reading is a time where a special bond can be made between you and your child, no matter how old they are. Some of my fondest memories growing up are of me begging for "just one more book, PPPPLEEEEAASE!!" to my parents as they kindly, tiredly obliged to read the book one more time that they probably could have recited by that time! This is a WONDERFUL company that I will continue to do business with. I'm so happy that we did happen upon them that day!

**I received one or more review items to complete this post. I received no other compensation. All thoughts are 100% my own and were not influenced in anyway and are honest.**

Sticky Tees Review



Today, I'd like to share with all of you a really fun, funky small t-shirt business that puts a new spin on advocacy! Sticky Tees has shirts about wool, natural and attachment parenting, breastfeeding, cloth diapering and more!

Here is the shirt my little co-sleeping mostly snuggle bug but sometimes Bed Hog, turned nightmare got to try out and wear. It's a long-sleeved size 4T 100% ringspun cotton. 



Here are some action shots of the boy in his new shirt! We also have a size 2T Breastfeeding Love t-shirt that a friend gave us and he loves that too! They are incredibly reasonable in price, and after dozens of washings, the blue color of the BF Love shirt is still totally vibrant.


I was really amazed at the difference in the two shirts. The quality of the print, material and overall experience using the items were identical and really ROCKED. However, the 4T long-sleeved fit just a tad larger than the 2T short-sleeved did. So, our recommendation and that of Sticky Tees is to size up a bit. My toddler is 2 years old, weighs 29 lbs and is 35.5" tall. Both sizes fit him PERFECTLY in the respective styles. 


Here are some of the other great selections you can find for your particular parenting cause, which can be found on the Etsy shop site and the Facebook page of Sticky Tees.





So, whether you are like me, and you were an EBF mom, a mom that did NOT wean and TWO, cloth diapers and also shares her bed...you'll definitely find a shirt here for you! Are you a NERD? Sticky Tees has one for your kid too. Love wool? Yep, they've got you covered. See the full selection of great Sticky Tees in their Etsy shop! Usually, you can find a mom and kiddo matching set! How fun is that!?



***I received a shirt to complete the review. I was not compensated in any other way. 100% honest words.***

Grow Organic Gardening Bonanza!!! Grow Greener, Healthier, Better!

Grow Organic Gardening Giveaway Bonanza


Enter the Grow Organic Gardening Giveaway Bonanza!

If you're like me, you like eating organic. You try hard to keep the nasty chemicals and GMOs out of your families' lives whenever possible. I'm still rather green (pardon the irresistible pun!) in the Homesteading/self-sufficiency department. My growing zone (three) makes it difficult to do our own fruits and climate-sensitive plants (since we only have a small greenhouse, currently unfortunately growing home to aphids.) BUT, since I know there are several folks out there, just like me that want to try harder to grow better, this giveaway is for YOU!!

Members of the Homestead Bloggers Network have partnered with Peaceful Valley/GrowOrganic.com to bring you this fabulous Grow Organic Gardening Giveaway Bonanza with a Harvest Basket overflowing with $200 worth of Peaceful Valley Farm & Garden Supplyʼs organic gardening favorites, to take you through the garden year.

Start and sow certified organic seeds with a seed sower, and mark them with wooden plant labels. Feed them the finest organic fertilizers, and put on an organic cotton t-shirt to harvest them with garden gloves and snips. Carry and rinse the produce in the Harvest Basket. Chart your garden progress on a botanical calendar and plan for next year in a garden journal. Put up your produce with tips from a new book, then use botanical cards when you give those jars as gifts.

Harvest Basket

4 seed tin collections, each with 10 packs of our non-GMO, certified organic seeds:


Seed Sower

Wooden Plant Labels

1 gallon Peaceful Valley Farm & Garden Supply Liquid Fish Fertilizer

1 quart Peaceful Valley Farm & Garden Supply Organic Liquid Kelp

Corona Long Straight Snips

Winner picks the glove and t-shirt sizes!

Peaceful Valley Farm & Supply Organic Cotton T-Shirt

Bamboo Nitrile Gloves

PVFS Garden Art Calendar

A Gardenerʼs Notebook, Doug Oster and Jessica Walliser

How to Store Your Home-Grown Produce

John and Val Harrison PVFS Garden Art Greeting Cards

Additional prizes offered by Baker's Creek and participating blogs:

UntrainedHousewife.com, MomPrepares.com, springmountainliving.com, lillepunkin.com and harrisheather.com.

Home Gardener's Collection

30 Minute Mozzarella/Ricotta Cheese Kit

Stainless Steel Compost Pail

Ball Canning Lids and Ball Complete Book of Home Preservation

Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less) - Signed by Angela England

One really lucky person is going to win this amazing bundle of tools, seeds, books and more to get their garden off to a great start this spring!

THIS CONTEST HAS ENDED.


Participating Blogs


1. Chris Dalziel- Joybilee Farm

2. Dani Meyer- The Adventure Bite

3. Heather Harris- The Homesteading Hippy

4. Erica Mueller- Mom Prepares

5. Angela England- Untrained Housewife

6. Linsey Knerl- Lille Punkin'

7. Gretchen Stuppy Carlson- The Backyard Farming Connection

8. Kristi Stone- Let This Mind Be in You

9. Annie Kaylor Bernauer- Montana Solar Creations

10. Krystyna Thomas- Spring Mountain Living

11. Mary Hitchings- Raising Dick and Jane

12. Amanda Jones- Adventures of Mommyhood

Switch to Cloth Spotlight ~ Diapers by Chris

If you grew up in the 90s you will remember (many of you anyway, especially those with younger sibs and if you babysat) the "Mail Song" on Blues Clues. Yes, I know, jog the ol' memory, and it's there!! Along with the words -- or most of them I'm sure!

Just to get a catchy tune in your head: "Here's the mail, it never fails! It makes me want to wag my tail! When it comes I want to wail...MAIL!!!"

Alright, if you all imagined me singing and dancing around while singing this, you'd be wrong, since it's really early in the morning and I don't want to wake my sleeping toddler! BUT, when it came the other day, I did want to sing. Because fluffy mail just does that to you! Especially when that fluffy mail is much-anticipated, like this Diapers by Chris beauty!


Here is the beautiful bright blue--something between royal and cerulean. With neon green snaps and minky inner, it really POPS! In the below photo, you can see the gorgeous PUL that I am talking about as well as the sizable snaps down on the smallest setting. I love that there are several options for this diaper and I was never really sold on Minky until now, but I'm in love!



A lot of cloth diapering moms move away from PUL at least in pocket diapers as they "grow" in their fluffy relationship. I've never been one to de-stash my PUL or pockets. For one, I have uses specific to certain diapers (daddy diapers, diapers that I wouldn't be completely heartbroken if daycare or 'overzealous' grandma wrecks, MY stash, nights, etc. You get my point.) I do however have to admit that I ADORE AI2s. Simply adore them. For the toddler stage they are splendid. I have found that they offer a much better soaker/insert than pocket diapers, are less worry and up-keep than wool covers, and are ONE system, so you don't need to pair things up (my husband has still not grasped all of our cloth diapers and how they go together!) So, to me, a diaper like this is a gem!



The leg holes can accommodate smaller babies and the minky is a super cushioning comfort for the parts of the body exposed to the elastic area. No red marks at all! You can also see the relative trimness  in this side profile of the diaper.

Below, the rise setting make it adjustable, so you can again accommodate several size ranges of babies and make this diaper work better, longer for your childs' needs. 



Now, the best part! I LOVE the inside! The insert is a neon green topped with minky and is a double layered soaker. It is folded in half here, to illustrate the bottom side of the minky. It is sewn together at the top so that it can still agitate freely (and completely separate from the diaper shell) but it makes clean up easier. And, speaking of clean up -- using the Spray Pal on this baby made me extra pleased with the minky top. It makes poo glide right off of the diaper! (I say this with the caveat being that I try to always clean my diapers right away. I've found that ANY diaper performs better under that rule!) But, it kept the mess in. Now, without going into graphic detail, once in a while, the grandparents will slip a disposable on when they "know a poop is coming." I find this really funny, but it's true: once the cloth touches the bum, your sure to find a poop will come! Toddlers like to bounce. And run. And do somersaults. All of this is great if the diaper holds up to it. Well, we didn't have any trouble with this one leaking out around the legs. 



Here is another shot of the insert--you can see it's sewn at the top of the photo, independent of the PUL shell, behind and has two different sides as well as two different materials. Size-wise, the diaper is superb. It's comfy for my little guy and it does what it's supposed to! It works well for us at nap time because we're under two hours, so I'm not as concerned as I used to be about nap time dryness needs. We are also working on potty training, so I do think that naturally, he's just "easier" on diapers these days! But, we've been completely satisfied with this diaper. Easy clean, easy on, cozy fit. You can't beat it for the quality, the great customer service, and the price. The only thing I would change is I might suggest *like always* crossover snaps! They are just so handy! And, since there is a sizable rise, it would compliment the diaper very well to have a sizable waist too. Otherwise, I wouldn't change a thing! 



These diapers are available online and you can also find Diapers by Chris on Facebook! There, you can check out all of the gnarly color schemes and patterns available to you! Do you want to win one? Make sure to enter by checking out the Switch to Cloth giveaway! Going on NOW!

Switch To Cloth Spotlight ~ Sports Bumz

Sports Bumz is a newer company to the cloth diapering world and I hope you will all give them a warm welcome as one of our lovely fluffy sponsors for the Switch to Cloth giveaway event! For all of you mamas out there who have true Sports Bums that are co-cloth diapering daddies with you...this may be one of those wonderful things that tips the scales and converts them fully!


Not only are these gorgeous sporty fleece covers available in SO MANY different sports and teams, they are also so easy to use and really are made with great quality. I know a lot of my cloth diapering colleagues will attest to loving the performance of fitted/prefold/flat diapers with a simple diaper cover. It's easy for daycare, grandparents and parents alike to use a standard diaper cover. 



Something really great about these Sports Bumz covers is that they aren't as daunting or intimidating for most users as a wool cover would be, but they stand up to the performance of wool almost completely. You can use the cover several times (depending on amount of wetting/wicking and then whether or not you had a big mess, obviously!) We chose snap closures because like most of you that have toddlers, ours is a Houdini in most diapers now, but especially Aplix. I can say without a doubt this is one of the most stoutly constructed diapers (especially the snaps) that I have encountered. Really. In my entire stash I'm not sure that the snaps of any other diaper match up. So this is great for nap time, not only to be paired with a fitted for long-lasting dryness next to my boys' skin, but also for those cranky days when the diaper gets ripped off in the toddler bed! Not a chance with this one!



I will say, as I always do, that I'd love to see "crossover" snaps on this cover. I love crossovers. They give you a lot of versatility by just adding a few extra rows, so that the longevity of the diaper is greater for sizing from the very small to the very large toddlers that are not yet potty trained. As you can see, we are "twinkies" fans in my household. I didn't see the Minnesota Twins on gallery of fabric choices, but because it's not too obscure, my wish was granted in less than a week. They have all of your main-line professional sports teams as well as many college teams -- but I'm also venturing a guess that I'm confident you could find just about any team your little sports fan might want to follow in a fleece pattern these days! So whether it's soccer or Quidditch...well, maybe not made-up fantasy sports...but I bet lots of football, baseball and basketball fans can be geared up in the world of fluff for the next bit sporting event of your liking! This would be considered a "custom" cover if the team you choose is not available on the "Available Teams" page. The cost is only about $2-$3 different, so don't be afraid to ask if you can get your Alma mater or whatever athletic team you happen to follow.



This was a cool feature for our family personally, because we also use some diapers made by Monkey Doodlez called "Tuck and Gos." They have a large absorbent insert like a thick pad that just tucks it's corners into the corners of your diaper cover. Really slick for dads--and, low and behold, the pads fit into this diaper cover too! I couldn't have been more excited to discover that! 



There is also a "tab" of fleece that is an additional layer of awesomeness in this cover. So, myself, I'd call it a Cover-in-Two or something. A hybrid cover? Whatever it is, it's seriously genius. I don't have any other diaper covers that have this extra layer. It can be used under the insert to better ensure that you'll be able to use the cover more than once or it can be used like a "stay dry" liner over an insert, leaving one the free side untucked and laying over your insert. This is a SIZED diaper, if you didn't notice that there are no rise snaps (characteristic of a one-size diaper) so make sure that you look at her weight range recommendations for each size. We ordered a Large and our kiddo is about 34 pounds. It fits great and has extra room for him to grow.



Here you can see the luxurious quality of the fleece, the spot where the "liner tab" tucks in, and the elastic of the legs. You cannot beat fleece for comfort. It is just such a rich feeling material. So, along the elastics of the legs, I am certain my boy is not feeling any pinching or abrasive rubbing from this design. 



Here is a shot of the leg hole. Yes, it's the side-view of the diaper, but *don't just the actual size of the diaper by this odd angle.* It IS a TRIM diaper cover, being fleece it's not bulky at all (and bulk will depend on how trim your inserts will be...) So, don't be fooled that your size Large diaper doesn't look like a "newborn" size in real life. (This is a poor photo to showcase size.) BUT, with that disclaimer, haha, it does show the leg holes well. So, for spindly-legged toddlers that still need a large diaper but have skinny legs, this works great. Conversely, chubber-thighs like our kiddo has have plenty of room as well. This is truly a great diaper cover and we love that it is also very sporting! Perfect for the spring training and such underway and the innings to come this season!

You can enter to win a Sports Bumz cover or your choice from the Available Teams by going to the Switch to Cloth giveaway post and using the Rafflecopter form to enter!! Good luck! Let's Play Ball!