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Ciao! Baby Portable High Chair

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Wouldn't it be handy to have a portable, lightweight high chair for restaurants, picnics, vacation, camping and visiting friends and family? That's just what the ciao! baby portable high chair is designed for, and you can find it in 11 different colors at PishPoshBaby.

Here are the basic specifications:
  • Weighs about 8 pounds
  • Dimensions are 23x23x32
  • Opens and folds just like a camp chair
  • Includes a drawstring carrying bag with shoulder strap
  • Wipe-clean eating surface
  • Adjustable lap belt and leg guards to keep your child from sliding down or forward
  • Includes a hanging mesh cup holder
  • Legs lock into place
  • Rated for ages 3 months to 3 years and up to 50 pounds
  • Retail price: $65.75
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You can read the complete portable high chair review from Zephyr Hill blog, and see more pictures, by clicking here.

PishPoshBaby is giving away a ciao! baby portable high chair to one lucky reader in the United States! The promotion runs from Oct. 28th to Nov. 5th. Winner gets to choose from in-stock colors. Enter the giveaway below, and good luck!


#Joovy Caboose Too Ultralight Stand-on Tandem Stroller [review]

I'm gushing over the Joovy Caboose Too Ultralight tandem stroller that we were able to try out this autumn. I've finally been able to compile my thoughts and sit down (instead of boppin' around town, strolling) and share some of the awesome features with all of you! 

I know there are a TON of pregnant mamas in my area which means many will be looking for a stroller to accommodate two little ones soon! There are so many reasons why I'd recommend the Joovy Caboose Too Ultralight, but since I know many of you read at nap time, I'll condense it down so that you can fall in love too, before baby #1 awakens! 

I am NOT our assembly line guru in the house. Most things that say "some assembly required" simply translates to: "hubby has a task for the evening." I wanted to try to challenge myself this summer and I've been at least attempting assembly of all that requires any effort. This stroller was reasonably easy to assemble. I did need his help with the wheels to make sure we weren't rolling down the sidewalk and mom's faulty assembly caused an accident! Caveat: I would have been able to do it ALL myself had I realized there were written instructions with the ordered pictures. I didn't see the second booklet was different than the one I had and had to wrestle through assembly Pictionary for some of the more intricate work BUT it was pretty fun!


The great news for many car seat owners is that the Caboose Too Ultralight fits over TWO DOZEN car seats with the (nearly) universal adapter -- sadly, our Baby Trend Columbia was not one of these. So, we're in the market for a new car seat to go with our new Joovy Caboose Too Ultralight, but it still rocks to know that we have a plethora of choices! Check out the handy chart that the folks at Joovy have for you to reference and make sure yours will fit -- it's on the right-hand side and is labeled "Car Seat Compatibility."


Size-wise, the Joovy Caboose Too Ultralight rocks because it's much more compact than a typical double stroller. My single jogger doesn't even provide the streamline, suitcase-style fold-up that the Caboose Too does! The fact that it is so compact makes it sensible for using with just one child as well, which also offers up space elsewhere from storing other gear! It's a very good multi-purpose option. Another consideration is that some tandem models from other brands require some parts removal to fold-down the stroller. This would be a nightmare for air travel -- being in one piece means this is the stroller to take to Disney!



I didn't realize the shade would cover both kiddos. I LOVE this feature and hadn't even considered it when thinking about what I wanted in a tandem stroller. Genius! It's really a high quality set-up -- the shade for one of our car seat carriers got mangled in about four months from constant use and I don't see that happening to this one.

The only thing we didn't love was that this is a town and city only stroller. If you have paved streets and sidewalks, you're set! We are often compelled to take the path less-traveled vs. the path of least resistance, so this was one of the only things that we noticed was a bit prohibitive with the Caboose Too Ultralight. Dirt roads, grassy yards, and trails unknown must be left for another day and another stroller (or backpack carrier!)

YOU can get your own Joovy Caboose Too Ultralight at many different websites and retailers, including the Joovy site -- or use their handy Store Locator to find someplace convenient for you! Amazon, Babies R US, and Diapers.com are great places to look too! Most sites prices are from $249.99 for the Caboose Too Ultralight. Please, ask if you have questions for me!

Disclosure: My family is part of the Joovy Brand Ambassador program and received a complimentary product for the purposes of the review here and elsewhere. All opinions are our own and we were not compensated in any other way.

Crafts for Preschoolers - Part One: Halloween [Easy for Moms!]

The Holidays always spark my creative side -- and yes, by "the holidays" we start with Halloween in this house! So, for the next few months, our walls, refrigerator, and doorways are haunted, kissed by holly, sparkling, even fragrant with the best the season has to offer.

Inspiration


In my planning and assessing my "craft supply room" for the necessities, I often feel compelled to research crafts that you do not need to be Martha Stewart to accomplish with kids. I adore Pinterest, but I often times feel like it consumes my day and lately I also feel like Martha Stewart is curating all the kids craft boards! I don't want to decorate a seven layer cake for my child's Pre-K Halloween party, I just want to make a few goodie bags. You get my point.

So, I have scoured REAL books! Yes! Books! Remember those? And magazines! And a little bit of Googling and even some Pinterest and what I've found I'm sharing with you here. The multi-part posting will include some of the seasonal holidays that come each autumn. Stay tuned for a Thanksgiving installment after this!

Supplies

I try to go for "regular" supplies that I already have en masse, or that are easily acquired around the home: Kleenex, glue, egg cartons, tempura paint, pipecleaners, etc. (These, at least, are normal around MY house!)

My son is three-and-a-half-years-old. So that is the age that is targeted, but I'd say depending on the child, these can be generalized as toddler - pre-K or even Kindergarten-aged children. Bonus points if you play applicable seasonal music while you craft with the kiddos! We LOVE Pandora for finding our crafting mood music!

The Projects

Egg Carton Ghosties 

Supplies: glue, Kleenes, white tempura paint, scissors, egg carton, marker, pipe cleaner or ribbon



Egg Carton Bats

Supplies: black tempura paint, scissors, egg carton, googly eyes, glue, ribbon or pipe cleaner



Print Owls

Supplies: Glue sticks, construction paper, cardstock [for better canvas], paint, little hands!



Haunted Trees

Supplies: Glue sticks, construction paper, cardstock [for better canvas], paint, little hands AND feet!

Picture is coming...

Skeleton Hands

Supplies: Glue, cardstock, white tempura paint, little hands, and Q-tips or similar white ear swabs



Glitter is optional for all of these!!

Travelin' with Baby - Spotlight on Star Kids [review]

We've all been there -- messy back seat, cleaning the car seat every other day, and wishing that you had the willpower to outlaw eating in the backseat (but not able to put down the muffin in the front!) Well, Star Kids have made the ingenious Snack & Play Travel Tray and with the exception of a few quirks, we're loving it!

I have a dark confession but it totally makes me appreciate the tray, so I have to share... We were at the drive-thru for McDonalds -- yes, I said it! I'm weak! That darn Monopoly gets me every year! Plus it is the only restaurant on the side of town where we were that my child will even consider that has a drive thru. So, there we were. 


He also demands ketsup with his fries. I don't blame him I guess! If I didn't have such a ketsup/vinegar aversion with this pregnancy, I'd probably want some too! Well, McDs' doesn't make any kind of dipping vessel -- at least not in our area -- so how is the kid supposed to get the condiment? The driver is no help. I offered to let him suck the ketsup out of the packet, but that wasn't his idea of gourmet dining. 



So, I unfolded a wrapper and put the ketsup on it. I placed the waxpaper wrapper on the tray and amazingly, it worked! Mind you it was fully dark. I was immediately thankful for the handy invention! It also bought me some time during carbound errands like going to the bank and the library book drop while he played more easily with his toys. 

There is a buckle that secures the tray to your child's seat. Handy pockets on the sides hang over the car seat and are accessible by the child, so they are quite nice compared to the incessant "Mom! Will you get my toy...I dropped it!" 

The single downfall to the tray we've found is that because it is packable, the tray folds down the middle. This is great for storing, but a flat, sturdy surface is desirable at times. Otherwise, it rocks. I consider this a road trip essential now!

One lucky reader will win a Snack & Play Travel Tray of their choice in my Travelin' with Baby prize package! Good Luck!

Disclosure: I received a complimentary product for this event and article. All opinions are my own.

Travelin' with Baby - Spotlight on My Little Seat [review]

We tried our laps. We tried the large, bulky plastic high chair that was like having an ungulate in the kitchen with you for months on end. We were lucky that we breastfed exclusively for an extended time -- that way this was a limited time problem! Now that we'll have another little mouth to feed we knew we had to change our infrastructure for the task.

When my son became a toddler we had the good fortune of having my grandfather, a fantastic woodworker, gift to him a handmade restaurant-style high chair. This has been amazing -- but not so great for smaller kids and there's the issue of sharing. [Probably not going to go well.]

So we looked and searched and Googled and asked around. What we came up with was an extremely versatile, packable, easy-to-clean option: My Little Seat.

  

Almost any seat that isn't a real high-backed chair can accommodate this handy high-chair. Fit it to many different sizes of kiddos. It's really one of the best we've found for our lifestyle - on the go and messy! Stuff it into the little sack and you have a feeding station that is about the size of a cloth diaper! Perfect!

One lucky reader will win a My Little Seat of their choice in my Travelin' with Baby prize package! Good Luck!

Disclosure: I received a complimentary product for this event and article. All opinions are my own.

Flippin' for Fall Series: The REALLY Personal Touch with Cariloha! [review]



While it's not MY job to tell you what should be included in your bedroom or nighttime routine, I do feel compelled to let you know what goes on between MY sheets these days....

Such. Amazing. Sleep. Wow.

I thought I was going to have to make a continuation of my series that was "Flippin' in Flakes" or something...I felt like we'd never be sleeping in our own, new bed in our own new house. Let alone sleeping so well! We're there now... It all started...

...While we were strolling down the street in Juneau, Alaska this summer and my son was on a "scavenger hunt for treasures" -- one of the ways we found FREE fun in cruise towns. All those coupons for trinkets that get you in to stores make fantastic treasures for kids and a great afternoon of family fun wandering around town! Well, during one of our stops, the task was to "feel the difference" between your run-of-the-mill cotton sheets, nicer Egyptian cotton sheets, and Bamboo sheets. WOW.

The moment that my fingertips grazed the bamboo sheets I knew I needed one day to roll around and dream sweet dreams on this textile. It was cool to the touch, soft as the best "lovies" and cuddle blankets, but also light and I wanted to experience more! Where were we? We were exiting the Cariloha store in the downtown area of Franklin Street.

Caribbean style + Hawaiian aloha = pure bliss!


So naturally, a few months later while planning my Flippin' for Fall Series, I wanted to find a few unique embellishments, if you will, that can take a ho-hum room to the next level and make it a special, cozy, amazing space in your home. I don't have a budget like the HGTV shows, so I had to be creative and write realistically, since most of us do not have that kind of monetary freedom! That meant cozy as it might be, I wouldn't be including a jacuzzi tub in the master bedroom plans.

This goal could however be accomplished with some pieces that were plush, luxe accessories but were also functional items that one would use and could afford to implement into a room design. Those perfect few items included bamboo sheets, a luxurious towel set, and even a little extra bonus for mom and all her hard work: cozy socks!

I washed the sheets that had a bit of a vinegar-esque smell from in the new package and they were incredibly quick drying. They do wrinkle easily, as the photos show -- but for me being really pregnant wrestling with king-size anything could do just as much damage as a dryer! So, pardon a few wrinkles, I ironed the set once, very carefully with a slightly damp towel barrier -- you do have to treat these nicely, low heat, wash on cold or cool, etc. But they come out feeling wonderful and are easy to care for. I love that they are cool to the touch, since I'm always warm. I am constantly flipping my pillow to take advantage of the "cool side." Even in the dead of winter. So the combination of bamboo sheets and a down comforter make the ultimate pairing!

The sheets are smooth and soft, silky against your legs and arms. I was hesitant to use them on our "family bed" -- but with pull ups and the mattress protector, I guess there is only so much we can do! We're taking the chance since these linens are too good to pass up! The colors are zen, calming. We chose Sage, but there is also a light blue and a neutral color. They are a tad slippery -- which I love! I was able to get a nice, snug fit on the mattress and they are true to size.

Cariloha is a one-stop shop for all things soft, sustainable and stunning for home, bath, and even your own body! We have a king-size bed now that acts as our family bed for now, though the kids room does have bunk beds that are occasionally used, and we have a full-size bed in our guest/dad room. Yes, my husband gets the boot sometimes (usually self-imposed) so that he can get more sleep before work! But, any of these rooms can act as a guest room in the event of company. When it's my parents, we love to offer them the master, since it's a bigger space and has an adjoining bathroom.

We can now feel like we are treating our guests to an experience akin to a Hilton or Sandals (at least with the offering of our linens and bathroom textiles!) That is where the resort experience usually ends, with the appearance of crazy tots and park playdates...but...for a few glimmering moments, they might be expecting that instead of a drooling kiddo coming through the door, it could be housekeeping or a spa attendant!




Now, this is how I enjoy my mornings -- a cup of coffee, my cozy socks, and my feet up enjoying our new, fabulous view!


Treat yourself or get some Bamboo (naturally odor resisting and hypoallergenic) action for the guest rooms! Either way, those that get to use them will be sleeping like babies! (And in our case, it's the babies that get to use them too!)

Bamboo is a very sustainable fiber (it's like a tree but is a grass and can grow many FEET each day!) and though you cannot tell 100% from the photos -- it's so stinkin' soft! I really thought about just taking a "selfie" of me dazed and staring off in complete bliss -- but that seemed crazy. So use your imagination! It's the softest bedroom set I've ever encountered. I wanted to "poach" the towel set for my very own, and hide it. But I was feeling generous, so we do use that set for our honorable guests!

I wasn't kidding about the "cool" factor either -- apparently it's approximately three degrees cooler than cotton! And moisture wicking! So, for many, many reasons, bamboo is a great choice for families! Eco-friendly, and oh-so fancy! We are going to have a hard time washing our sheets and sleeping on flannel, cotton, or anything but bamboo while this set is cleaned!

Have you incorporated bamboo into your life? Maybe in the form of cloth diapers for your kids? Well, bridge the gap and treat yourself too! Cariloha is my new favorite place to spoil myself and those I love! 

*Disclosure: I was provided complimentary product from Cariloha for this post. I was not compensated in any other way and all of my opinions of the rockin' nature of these items are honest!*

Travelin' with Baby - Spotlight on Phil & Teds Nest [review]

Our son was not a pack 'n' play napper. At Granny's house mom always had to surrender at least an hour to laying in bed during naps and then barracading the child with pillows and noodles under sheets and all sorts of other crazy ways to try to keep him safe while napping. High maintenance? Yes!


So, for this kiddo, I've been researching options for safe alternatives to killing my afternoon, pack 'n' play sleep (which I'm anticipating will not work again) and the gigantic crib. Phil & Ted's -- trusted name for everything from sleeping and eating to strolling and playing solutions for kids had the answer for me! The Nest!

The fact that I was able to erect this thing in less than 15 seconds without even glancing at the directions AND feel comfortable with my end result (enough to put a child in it) speaks volumes for the product! The website says you can do it in ten, so I must be a little slow. I didn't sit on the floor trying to beat my personal best time--we'll save that for one of those days when I'm losing it. Even if it takes under a minute -- that's amazing, speedy, and totally convenient!

The "poles" are pre-attached on one end and the loose end simply sticks into a corresponding hole. That's it. It's easier than the "easy up" tents for adult campers -- those often need a good dose of humor to succeed. And I generally pinch my fingers. Those are for the birds. The Nest however is the best idea ever and suits me just fine!


It was "cool" enough that my nearly four year old son wanted to sleep in it -- though he wasn't allowed to try, since he is too big!

Another great feature is the carrying case is double sided and can be a dual purpose bag. It has one side meant for The Nest (and it actually fits back into the case without a fight) and the other side leaves room for lovies, blankets, clothing...whatever you might want to stow for the little one while traveling!


The Nest would fit into SOME luggage without taking up the whole case. I'm not sure if this is carry-on acceptable, since sometimes baby gear is not subject to the same conditions that regular baggage is. The Nest is meant for SMALL children--babies. The mattress and bottom are firm so you need not worry about it being too soft and cushy. They also sell sheets that are removable and washable if that's something you decide you need. The mesh top makes it breathable and in areas like where we live -- keeps insects out! (We will be using ours a ton outside!)

ONE reader will get the chance to test out The Nest for themselves! I'm giving one away (sponsored by Phil & Teds) as part of my Travelin' with Baby package! Enter by going to the main link or clicking here. Many thanks to Phil & Ted's!!!

Disclosure: We received a complimentary Nest for this post and event. 

Travelin' with Baby - Spotlight on Boba [review]

First off, I have to thank my friend Liz for letting me borrow her baby to dig out my Boba 3g and give it a go while 30 weeks pregnant! Surprisingly, it was still really secure and comfortable for me to carry a small baby even with the not-so-small bump. What made it so cozy? Well, likely the fact that I was taking my new Boba Hoodie for a test-drive (walk) too!


One of the things we love to do this time of year -- a strange but favorite fall pass-times is to walk through our tree farm. The reason we walk through is to exercise, look for upland birds, and of course to scope out any candidates for that perfect Christmas tree!

It seemed like a great opportunity (since my bundle will not be here until December) to use the Boba hoodie during a chilly fall afternoon! When the baby does arrive though, I'm more than excited to do my grocery shopping hands free -- and without worry of the chills from the freezer aisle and produce area! (The grocery store was my favorite place to wear my son who is still within the weight limits but just too darn big and wiggly for me to carry -- not to mention that he walks just fine if he puts his mind to it!)



Boba makes hoodies and vests now to provide that extra bit of comfort for you and your little one. I dug around but couldn't locate a photo (and I'd have been ashamed to post it anyway) for a picture of my husband wearing our son in a dreaded crotch dangler! That isn't the point of my search though, all that was real visible were two little pj feet sticking out from a bursting, buttoned overshirt. We have been in the market for something like this hoodie for years!

*Please note - this is JUST an overshirt for a carrier that we already own. If you do not own a Boba or another similar carrier you will not have a proper support system for carrying your baby/child!*

What we love:

- The front of the hoodie has a "viewing hole" for baby to still see around
- The fit, weight and coverage of the hoodie is excellent -- I went a tad on the "big side" planning to accommodate carrying a toddler again
- Thumbholes! We love them! Enough said! 
- hidden zipper for access/self-loading without needing assistance!
- front and back use
- the presence of the hood -- baby is snug, you should be too!

What could rock more:

- For right now they come in gray and black. I do not know if Boba has plans to expand the Vest/Hoodie color/pattern stash. 

- Men's sizes. My XL fits me well pregnant and would fit my husband in a pinch but not comfortably. I'd love to see a men's line that has some more roomy styles for men that wear proudly!

- The fabric strip in between the wearers' neck and the baby's head can get a little constrictive if you do not have it adjusted well. With a tug and pull here and there it becomes comfortable again. I'm a freak about tight necklines, so I am also likely more sensitive to the slightest thing!

One lucky travelin' reader can win a Boba VEST to go over their carrier (color/size up to you) by entering to win over at the Travelin' with Baby post! The VEST is courtesy of Boba and I send a great big thank you to them for sponsoring the fun event!

Disclosure: We received a complimentary Boba Hoodie for the purposes of this review and event. All opinions are our own. 

Curious George Comes to Life for our Monkey!

I planned on bombarding this post with photos. I even thought about doing a Wordless Wednesday (something I haven't done in months and am abysmal at, since I love words...) but...

As I unzipped my camera case, the emcee was just uttering "Please absolutely no flash photography OR photography of any kind due to copyright laws and the actors safety." So, my hopes dashed I will have to convey to you using only words how seeing George portrayed as a human in a suit was received by my Curious George on PBS Kids-lovin' son of mine!


For me, playing Curious George bingo was the highlight of the show. I just cannot have a 3D monkey taking the place of the 2D primate that stole my heart at a young age. But, knowing that this was a performance and not a movie, I did know this going in... 

The only gripe with the venue? They had 300 children and three games of bingo with six prizes. I value the 'good sport' mentality and not everyone wins, but there were some seriously sad children that didn't understand... Anyway...that's neither here nor there.

The show. It was an hour long and quite a good storyline. I do not recall reading a book in my childhood about George mailing himself to Rome, but it was cute. The props were simple. The actors were really great! Chef Pisghetti and Netty, his wife had voice doppelgangers. If that's a thing. There was a lot of movement and a lot of song. 

A deviation from the show we love to watch in the morning, the Doorman (played by a woman who did a remarkable job with the part AND was spot-on with the accent) actually travels out of the city! He is intrigued by travel and there was no Hundley

Kids were roaring, adults could appreciate the details and the finer points of the story. It was a great night out to enjoy a bit of kiddie-culture as a family. 

Photo graciously sent by PBS Kids for use here

We'd been leading up to this night with George-themed fun all week. We purchased "BooFest" knowing that it would air in just a few weeks, but not able to contain our excitement we had to have it. I've not heard my son cackle that loudly and wildly in a long time -- he found No Noggin the most comical character ever! 

Photo graciously sent over by PBS Kids for use here


So, when the Scholastic Book Order came around the preschool, I figured "Why not?" So I purchased the book version, expecting him to be bored with it. No -- full laughter again. It was delightful!

So, as we sat painting egg carton crafts for Halloween tonight, we also played BooFest for the second time this week as a treat. We'll be tuning in on PBS Kids soon, I'm sure too! Have you seen it? It's a great little festive film and we recommend it to any Curious George fans out there! Check out your local PBS station for local showings coming up! And...

Hold on to your hats!!!

Our Road Trip Secret Weapon - [Review]

If I would have anticipated the reaction my son would have when we showed him that we had a PAW Patrol DVD for him to watch, I would have had the video camera ready. 

You see, it was "Do you see the cows?" All through North Dakota. 

Then, "Oh look! Mountains!" Through Western Canada.

Finally, we exclaimed, "There's the ocean, buddy!" 

This was fine for the first 40 hours in the car. Then we had a few weeks of in and out, in and out on the Alaska Marine Highway ferry system. That occupied our kiddo too. It was the return trip (and likely memories of Saskatchewan and the Dakotas) that had our son stir crazy.

Giddy is the only word that comes close to how enthusiastically a three-year-old can act while strapped in a five-point harness in the backseat. He wiggled and squealed and clapped. And then he was silent for the next two hours. Other than the catchy opening theme and occasional lines from the characters, we didn't hear a peep.

Knowing we had 6100 miles in store total, which is roughly a 47 hour one-way road trip--so almost 100 hours strapped in the car--we saved this little shiny disc as our secret weapon. It wasn't debuted until day 31 of the trip! We are so glad that we held off -- it worked it's magic, even across the plains of Southern Saskatchewan and North Dakota. 

Being a mom, at least for me, there is little I find harder than holding onto a gift or token for my kiddo. It's even worse when I know he'll love it. I wanted so many times to be like "look what mommy got you!!!!" But, ever a diligent secret-keeper, I withheld this from him. 

The moral of this crazy story? You NEED something major to get your through a long road trip. Pre-K kids are actually a lot easier to entertain than the older ones -- they don't have a great handle on time, other than marking it by night and day, mealtimes, and maybe naps. A DVD is more than adequate to whet their curiosity for a bit.



What we LOVE about PAW Patrol:
- targeted at his age (unlike SpongeBob, it isn't crude and is often cute!)
- some learning involved - whether just new vocab or a loosely based moral
- bright and sunny, not dark at all (we rarely need to provide guidance with these episodes)

The PAW Patrol DVD by Nickelodeon Kids is great for a road trip distraction! My advice to you? Figure out what your kids LOVE to watch but RARELY get to see. Then buy it for your next road trip. This DVD retails currently from the Nickelodeon Shop for just $9.96 -- worth it's weight in the blessed silence we had for our return trip! 


Disclosure: We were provided a complimentary DVD copy of the new PAW Patrol cartoon release. We were not compensated in any other way. 

Halftime -- Cutting my Lunch Prep time by MORE than half! [Review!]

Do you pack lunches? I pack them for my son AND my husband. I used to love it. Being in my third trimester, the extra three minutes on my feet kills me these days!

Enter: Halftime! My personal lifesaver! 

We all know Lunchables from our childhood. This is similar -- but good for your kids (or your husband....)

What included?

- meat and cheese and crackers [Applegate organic meats]
- Stonyfield organic yogurt tube
- Annies Natural Fruit Snacks

Yes. A completely organic experience that takes about five seconds to pack!

We tasted the Bologna, Turkey, and Ham varieties and there is not a crumb left of any of them! We also got a reusable lunch bag and markers -- so that is my hubby's new Half Time portable bag and my son had a great time doodling on it!

Want to try a Half Time kit yourself? Enter below!






Their Name is Today [Book Review


This book is absolutely telling of some of my thoughts and fears and agitations with raising a child in today's society. I do not often linger on non-fiction books, I'm afraid I'm usually more selfish in my book needs -- I love fiction. But this one I simply needed to read!





The basic premise of the book is something I worry about daily as a mother in this fast-paced, modern era. The conflict in our lives and in my heart is this: children need space, freedom, choices and chance to grow and develop, but as technology, violence, and all of the things about today's society that just plain SCARE me encroach, how are we supposed to let our dearest ones experience all they need?

Here are some of the big points from the book that need to be satisfied to help our children rise above the challenges they are faced with today as they become "grown ups" all too fast -- these are just some highlights and examples that I've found are some things I am able to curb, correct or enhance in our life to make it better for our kids:

1) PLAY - This is addressing the over-scheduled, over-stimulated life that many families either run or try to attain these days. Mollie doesn't need ballet, cooking lessons, gymnastics, reading club, Campfire Girls, and volunteering time at 6 years old. Mollie needs to play. Unstructured free play if possible.

2) SCREENS! - This one sickens me. Sorry if this is an unpopular stance. No wait, I'm NOT sorry. I will lose some "friends" for this one. Some views, some likes. I don't care. There is no reason an infant should know how to "swipe" a screen. Yes! It's easy! Fussy child? Throw a device at them! Voila! Lets all stop taking the easy route! Raise your child. I'm not saying you need to go cold turkey with no screens, but I am saying you should limit them for crying out loud! We aren't uber modern tech-wagon joiner types, but we do need to cut down on TV time.

3) Actions : Boundaries

We've tried to "coach" our boy. But what have we learned? More than anything: Monkey see, monkey do. That's right. If mom wants a polite kid, mom's gotta say Please and Thank You. Same goes with rules and boundaries -- you need your actions (and society in general needs more ACTION) to help kids with life struggles. My example is small scale, but have you ever heard "little kids, little problems, big kids, bigger problems?" It's a common saying for a reason!

Really there are about half a dozen other points that are great in the book. The author does a fantastic job of filtering all the arguments of issues from both sides of the street and just presents the problems with the solutions. It's a fairly easy read, just a little more than 100 pages, and it will help to reframe or remind you of your role as the loving, caring, protector and teacher of these little people in our lives.


*Disclosure: I am a Flyby Promotions member which enabled me to review this book. In progress! Please check back!*

Five Fun Pregnancy-related Announcement Techniques (Tips, Surprises, Ideas and Tricks!)

Are you bursting at the seams (well inside) while still not outwardly showing? In the day and age of Pinterest, it seems like special moments like announcing a pregnancy or gender of a child in the womb are staged opportunities to "one-up" friends on Facebook and get the biggest "oooh" factor and number of likes. Here are some ideas that are simple and fun and you won't need to log in to social media to be happy with the smiles that they induce!

5) A Cute Shirt

This isn't the most creative way to tell those you love but it is a REALLY fun way! We had my son wear a cute construction shirt from Zoey's Attic and didn't say a word to family or friends -- just let them notice! The front says "I've got BIG news" ... I'm going to be a big brother! Under construction until December 2014!"



It's truly adorable and it was fun for folks to go about their business and then realize what the shirt said and get super excited! The hardest part was keeping it clean to do the trick several times over for family and friends -- so when you order from Zoey's Attic, I'd get heather grey or a black one! White is tough for kiddos!

We have since washed it about 3-4 times and the screen print is still good as new. There are several customization options - including names, due dates, and custom orders. They are friendly and flexible and the options for sayings and themes are nearly endless! Plan to spend at least an hour trying to decide what message will be how you'd like to tell people!

We would go this route again for sure. It was something our young son was an active part of and it's now a keepsake shirt! It made HIM feel special and addressed out news. Win-win!

4) A Handmade Hint (Some need stronger hints than others!)

I wanted to do something special for my husband to get the point across to him that I was unexpectedly but joyously pregnant. So, I knew he loved fishing and specifically fishing with our son. This led me to Sierra Metal Designs and a spoon lure that says "Another Fishing Buddy." There are several -- "Soon to be Grandpa" and many other cute ideas too!



This lure hangs from his office desk area now with paintings by our son and other cherished items on display. Just in case he didn't get the hint, I also had a cat litter scoop with a bow on it, to signal a more dramatic delivery of the news. It was unnecessary, and apparently he wasn't too surprised with the news (since I guess I'd been exhibiting some moodiness!) but he was surprised and appreciative of the sweet way to tell him. Etsy shops like Sierra Metal Design are full of creative folks that are small businesses and are wonderful places to find a little inspiration for a trinket to tell those you love you are adding more love to the family!

3) Favorite Characters:

For those of you that weren't aware (spoiler alert) Daniel Tiger got a baby sister in the premier of Season 2 on PBS Kids! This could be the perfect way to announce to your little one that a new baby is coming their way too!

* Tip * Watch the show with your child and make it special. Maybe he/she can help prepare something for baby's arrival like the rocking chair pillows and stuffed animals or help by sorting baby clothes. Take them shopping and let them pick out matching lovies for big sibling and little one.

Seeing a character like Daniel go through surprise, happiness, frustration and adjustment to the news of new baby is a great way to ease kids into the complex idea of a baby coming. I think it makes it more tangible to them -- especially when mama doesn't look different in the beginning weeks! Once you're seven months along and the baby is dancing a jig for all to feel it is a bit easier to explain (and believe) for kids.

2) Stay off of Facebook! This pregnancy we didn't tell anyone via social media that wasn't thousands of miles away. We had REAL conversations and though it seems like a boring route to go, it's almost a treat because in this modern era it's not official until it's Facebook official! So, around the 5-7 month mark folks started wondering, noticing, and sometimes asking. We've had such great connections with friends that were face-to-face because we didn't send out a mass message! In fact, many people didn't know until I finally posted a maternity picture as my cover on Facebook. I'm 29 weeks along. It's been a great time getting to chat with people again! I'd recommend this avenue to everyone!

You can do the opposite and just avoid Facebook then do a fun photo shoot as a "reveal" -- but I'm hoping that word-of-mouth and real interaction will come back "in style" -- like neon colors and when Mary Janes made their comeback!

1) Kind of Like Groundhog's Day: IF you MUST go straight to social media, try an April Fool's style prank to deflate those that troll your updates and to annoy those that cannot wait to find out the news! Post on Facebook for friends to guess the gender of your bambino at your 20 week ultrasound. After a big buildup...

 "Well, we're back from the doctor and we are more than happy to weclome....
...a baby to the family with open arms!!!

It's fun to break the news to them that you didn't find our the gender and they have 20 more weeks of guessing ahead! Better prognosis than more winter, right?!? If you're like us -- you'll save the Facebook post for your 20 week appointment -- half of my friends didn't even know I was expecting! (Though I had quite the "beer belly" by that point!)

So, whether you use social media or not, consider some of these ideas when you spill the beans. I really had a fun time toying with friends and family this time around, making memories, and embracing what could be my last time telling. You never know.... So have fun with it!

OH wait....didn't I tell YOU? If you hadn't guessed from the sudden topic of the post or any detail dropping that I've been doing on the blog or fan page... Or the fact that Travelin' with Baby started!!!

That's right! The second kiddo in the clan will make their debut around Christmas time! Surprise! Merry Christmas to us! Now we'd like to share the fun with another expectant mama and offer up this fun giveaway for a $35 code for Zoey's Attic! Enter below!


*Disclosure: We received a complimentary Zoey's Attic t-shirt and a complimentary lure from Sierra Metal Designs for this post. All opinions are our own.*

3rd Annual Travelin' with Baby Event Starts NOW! #babytravels

I'm a big traveler. In fact, the reason I use coupons, pass up on DQ after work, forgo a lot of clothing and cut corners in other areas of life is because I then take that money and save it for travel! One thing we found out quickly was that after you have kids, flying becomes expensive! Driving becomes more work and requires more planning! Travel in general is just more work. But having family memories to last a lifetime is worth it. I swear it is!



This crazy bunch of dozens of bloggers, writers, and sites has banded together to bring to you some of the best, tried-and-true, functional, handy and just plain cool travel gear to make kids travel easier, parents travel smarter and the whole family travel better for your chance to win some great travel stuff! So, get out the atlas or the app of your choice and get to plannin' that family vaca because we've got some goods you will want to field test this year!

The [3rd Annual] Travelin’ with Baby Giveaway Hop Event is hosted by the Blogging Mamas Network.

This is a fabulous group of bloggers that have come together to offer giveaways on the best products that make traveling with baby a success - so be sure to hop around to them all. Don't miss out on the amazing new stroller from Combi USA - the F2 Stroller which is the ultimate lightweight stroller that makes traveling with baby a breeze. Enter the Grand Prize Here.

But wait! Before you go -- enter to win my mixed bag of travel goodness! As a family travel writer, I have tried countless products to make life easier. Some rock. Some don't. Don't worry -- the duds didn't make the cut! But, the really great items DID and they are yours for the winning! Bookmark it. Enter daily! Good luck!

The Prize Package from Adventures of Mommyhood and my super sponsors is worth a whopping $315 ARV!!!

The goodies you will enjoy with the fam while on your foray are:

Trendy Kid Travel Buddies
Phil & Ted's The Nest
The Beddwetting Store Washable Waterproof Underlay
Star Kids Snack and Play Travel Tray
BOBA Vest
My Little Seat Portable High Chair



I'd like to thank Phil & Teds, Star Kids, My Little Seat, BOBA, The Bed Wetting Store, and Trendy Kid for all of the fantastic prizes they've sponsored so that one of YOU can win a pretty sweet package full of things for many ages and purposes while on the road, in the air, or to Grandmother's house as you go, go, go with your little ones!

Enter on the Rafflecopter form below and don't forget to go back and enter the Grand Prize package (linked above)!!! AND, remember to hop around and enter all of the blog giveaways (I've listed a clickable link gallery under my entry form! Make it easy on yourself and just bookmark this page and hop around from here!) Good luck!

So Easy Being Green, Viva Veltoro, the Blogging Mamas Network, and the Travelin’ with Baby participating bloggers are not responsible for sponsors who do not fulfill prize obligations.

*Must have email address and be 18 to enter. US only. No spam accounts. All entries are verified. ONE winner will be selected and will be contacted within one week of the event conclusion. See each post for individual disclosures related to this event.*

Flippin' for Fall: Adding the Personal Touch in Kid's Room Design [Tips + Review]

We've had the MOST fun with our son's room I think in this whole adventure! Every time we walk into his room, we're all smiles, looking at how fitting it is for his personality and how gorgeous it turned out!

We already talked about the color and how that starts to make things personal -- now we're talkin' some finishing touches to make the room look polished! Some accents like bedding and curtains are always a great place to start, but can be very expensive to get characters and name brands and all the things your children love.


Curtains are expensive but are pretty easy to take down and replace with the new favorite icons! Plus, they sun fade over the years, so they are something that changes frequently anyway. I found these on clearance and got four panels for $24. The poster came from a retail store and likely won't last long! The light switch cover was purchased on Ebay and by using the "best offer" feature, I think I saved around a dollar. So, that's what I settled on for purchasing items that are very temporary if the dragon thing is a phase.


We have found that inexpensive and easy accents work much better than opting for expensive bedding sets, big box room sets, and commercial room decor! Two tips that we'd love to share regarding this "theme" decorating technique are:

1) Removable Wall Decals like those available from RoomMates

and

2) Small throws and quilts like those handmade at Gough Goodies

We have a child that is completely obsessed with How to Train Your Dragon. For the longest time, when I'd tell him goodnight at bedtime, I'd say:

"You're the best little boy ever!" And he'd reply: "I'm not a boy, I'm the best baby dragon ever!"

True story. So it was no surprise that when we asked about his room decor, he wanted "Hiccup." Well, we set about trying to make his room very much like a dragon's lair, but also convertible, so that when he decides he loves Monster Jam or Paw Patrol or John Deere, we're able to change things without a ton of work and headache!

Throws & Quilts


The quilt has been a huge hit! Riley (who is the male maker of these awesome quilts) has such a great story to go with his vibrant, fun quilts! He started his quilting journey as a way to give a meaningful gift to his father who was wheelchair-bound from MS. Falling into quilting (and proving to be quite good at it) he makes these fun lap quilts for the Etsy shop AND during the holidays makes them for a low income senior center local to him, so that during the holidays they receive a gift when they otherwise may not! How touching and completely selfless is that? I wanted to extend a hug through the series of wires that connects me to his Etsy account! So, if you're in the market for some fun quilts for the holiday season (he also makes really cool quilted stockings) then head over to Etsy and show a small business with a big heart some love!




The quilt features blocks of brilliant blue and orange color with none other than Toothless, Hiccup, Meatlug and many other How to Train Your Dragon characters. The only thing that I would change (and only because I have a boy that loves the quilt and drags it everywhere) is the backing color is white. So I'd likely choose a heather gray or something a bit patterned so that he wouldn't be as likely to destroy it! Otherwise, the stitching is flawless, the design is fun and funky and it completely melted my heart to hear the story behind the shop!


(Please, no one worry! We have a king-size family bed right now while we get two mattresses to go on the bunks -- my child does NOT sleep on plywood!)

Removable (and affordable) Wall Decals

We always had the idea in our minds that when the time came, we'd decorate with wall decals. We are not big fans of wall paper (after having two experiences -- both bad -- trying to take it OFF) and we also didn't want to invest in Home Interiors/Taste of Home type decor that is rather expensive, albeit cute, only to take it down and bring it to a thrift store less than a year later when a new kids movie comes out!

So, we started our decal search. We obviously knew about Fathead from the incessant commercials that were everywhere the past year. So we looked into it. We were surprised by how expensive a SINGLE decal was! Right around $100 for the ones we looked at. Too much for our ever-changing child.

We walked the aisles of several big box stores. That is where we found our lead to what we ended up using -- RoomMates! Since they do not have outlandish commercials, the brand was not commonplace in our home. BUT...we really found the experience to be both easy and fun when we applied the How to Train Your Dragon decals to my son's walls.

We turned up the heat in the room a bit, so that the cold walls would take the decals easier. Well, I started the mission solo -- but after putting up a gigantic Toothless and using my creative eye more than my logistic one, I called hubby to come home for his morning break to help me! A second pair of eyes (and hands) never hurts! I under-estimated just a bit! Oops!

In fact, the only "oops" I made was that first one. The decals peel off easily and stay put well. (But and here's why we went this route -- they are totally removable without damage to the wall or much elbow grease). If you look at my collage, above right, the slight texturing on the wall actually looks like dragon skin when the decal is applied!

Not only did we find three different options for How to Train Your Dragon on the RoomMates site, we also found the price tag to be much more satisfying to our tight budget for decorating and more frivolous fun items. $14.49 seemed like something realistic -- considering the longevity of childhood "favorites!" So, for that price we didn't JUST get a big decal, but also some smaller ones to go with as well. For just $18.49 you are able to get giant versions of Toothless and Stormfly, plus the entire gang in smaller versions. So, with these three sets, which TOTAL less than the price of ONE decal in other places, you can decorate a whole room!

It was a little funny to reflect on how much life changes when you have kids. I was teaching preschool when the first How to Train Your Dragon movie hit theaters -- I remember thinking the movie sounded TERRIBLE and not really understanding the kids stories about the characters. Now, as I sat on the floor of my sons' room, five years later, I said to my husband:

"Okay, I think either Hookfang or Barf and Belch should go here. Could you hand them to me?"
I had to stop and laugh. But I'm excited to unveil our project (my son will be so surprised!) tonight when we have playtime in his "new" room! This is by far one of the easiest ways to decorate a room for a toddler. RoomMates has a plethora of characters and favorites to choose from for boys and girls! I even found quite a few that are on my wish list now for other rooms!



Have you had great experiences using small accents to create the finishing touch on your flipping projects? I'd love to hear about it!

*Disclosure: We were provided complimentary decals and a complimentary quilt for the purpose of this post. All opinions are our own and we truly love these two brands.

Travelin' with Baby - Spotlight on The Bedwetting Store [review]

Have you had one of those terrible, awful, really bad moments while traveling when you awake to find that there is a child-sized puddle in the bed? Has it ever been on vacation? (raises her hand...)



Yes. Our trip to Alaska this summer was met with ear infection trouble on the 3rd of July. We had a King Suite at a Super 8 and the hotel staff was WONDERFUL when we requested new bedding at 11 p.m. -- due to a fever-induced puke fest. We went to the ER. At about 3 a.m. after the fever was down and Tylenol was staying down, things were looking up, it happened again. Seriously. You cannot help these things, but we felt awful.

To make matters worse, there were only two king suites in the whole hotel, so we were now down to ZERO clean bedding sets. So we limped by with a Queen, just to cover the bed and get back to sleep. It wasn't pee THIS TIME -- but it was still one of those travel moments when I was wishing I would have planned better. I know you cannot plan (or prevent) viruses, infections or even bedwetting, but from now on, we travel with a waterproof mat to slip onto our bed before we go to sleep.

I did some research after our trip -- and it turns out SOME hotels expect you to pay "damages" -- like mattress replacement. For us, that would be a hefty hit to the travel budget! I would understand if the damage was from an intoxicated adult-aged hockey team soiling their beds or pets or something, but I thought it was a little extreme to find that some housekeeping policies apply to children's accidents!



Enter The Bedwetting Store. This place has everything you need for travel, home and in-between -- like trips to Grandma's to be assured that you won't have any embarrassing travel moments or damages from accidents. We tried out a King Size Premium Mattress Protector by Dry Defender from The Bedwetting Store.



We love that it's not like rolling around on crinkly paper and it's much more comfortable than the old-school vinyl of yesteryear. It's thin and ultra packable for when we travel (since we nearly always have a king and still continue the family bed lifestyle, even when on the road. It's discreet and looks like any other mattress cover -- so for kids, sleepovers, those kinds of situations, there is no reason for kids to be embarrassed!

We are also confident that our mattress will be better preserved and we'll worry less about mites and germs, liquids, dust and all sorts of other things that ruin nice mattresses! There is also a 10 year warranty, so you're able to rest assured (pardon the pun) that you'll be covered in this investment!

You can enter to win a "Blue Sky Washable Underpad" over at my Travelin' with Baby entry post! This will help you travel with ease and assurance that you won't be paying any damage fees in hotels or annoying the in-laws! You can even use it to help preserve your home mattress! Good luck and a big THANKS to The Bedwetting Store for being a Travelin' with Baby sponsor!

*Disclosure: We received a complimentary mattress protector for the purposes of this post and event. All opinions are our own.*


Travelin' with Baby - Spotlight on Trendy Kid [review]

If you're a traveling mom or a traveling parent (dads are on the go too) then you know it's sometimes tough to wrangle kids, luggage, and figure out where you're going, how you're getting there and then to do so with the most efficiency possible. Well, I haven't found a way to make wrangling kids easier -- but there are things you can do and products that you can get to make life Traveling with Baby and tots just a little easier!



One of the ways we've found to manage the chaos is to have our son, now 3.5 yrs old, carry his own baggage -- at least to some degree. Little bodies are totally capable of a small backpack with about 10-20% of their body weight as the load, according to our pediatrician. It helps us tremendously that we are not carrying our child PLUS the bag these days -- we like to say at three he finally learned to walk since we still toted him everywhere until the not so distant past! It helps even more when they can lighten your load.



One way we've found to encourage our kiddo to be a big boy and a big helper is to get him a more fun backpack or luggage. He is actually excited about toting it along and will generally protest if one of the adults takes it for him. Score one for the parental team!



One company that makes awesome kiddo luggage that is tough and totally cute is Trendy Kid -- they make Travel Buddies that are way cool to kids and helpful to mom and dad! We tried out the Percy Penguin backpack and rolling luggage for kids and my son was stoked for our next "cation."

PROS:
- We love that they are hard-sided (there is an abundance of soft-sided luggage and bags/packs for kids on the market -- but lets face it, kids are tough on stuff and SO ARE airlines!)
- lots of styles - monsters, birds, bugs...
- carry-on sized based on world-wide standards
- light weight and appropriate for smaller frames like toddlers/preK kids
- roll easily - not a cheap design, well-made
- pockets and velcro closures for better securing what is packed


CONS:
- non-swivel wheels (this would be a nice touch for maneuverability)
- for folks that do not pack light, plan to buy a bigger bag -- but for kids they are great
- scuffing and scratching occurs easily - hard cases just aren't going to look new as long - no matter what age group you're dealing with! If this is important to you, it's something to consider

A cool feature if you get the set is that the backpack stows inside the luggage for storage when not being used -- I LOVE nesting penguins! Haha! They are also large enough rolling luggage systems that you can pack an entire vacation of clothing in there -- around five to seven days for us anyway!

A bonus from this luggage is that it's a total crowd pleaser -- not only for your kids and you as a parent, but take a look around at the other travelers in the airport or bus station and they are all grinning! It's so fun to see them smiling at the cute little cases!

I think this would be a fun and practical gift for kids -- so tell the grandparents! It is functional disguised as pure FUN. We are loving Percy and will likely need to add a friend to the mix when #2 is old enough to pull their own weight in the family while traveling!

You can WIN a set during my Travelin' with Baby giveaway hop starting at midnight and going until the 21st! You can also SAVE 20% using the code: AMH20 !!! Good luck and let's give a big THANK YOU to Trendy Kid for sponsoring such a fun prize!

Disclosure: We received a complimentary Travel Buddies set for the purposes of this review and event. We were not compensated in any other way.

One Thing I Cannot Share with My Husband

Marriage is for sharing, right? Well, I just cannot bring myself to do it this time. Normally, I will count my husband in. Admittedly, not always as an equal partner, but I at least cut him into things most times. Well, this time, I'm keeping it to myself. I'm cheating and I'm not letting him in on it.

Why you might ask? Well, the new Stonyfield Petite Creme is my new favorite little indulgence. I'm cheating on Greek. I'm not a big fan of Greek, you see, so this is the best thing that I've discovered in a while. It's got a lot of the same properties as Greek yogurt, but the taste is much, much better! My husband, luckily likes Greek yogurt, so he can keep on eating that while I keep these little treats for myself!



Petite Creme is actually a soft cheese! Somehow, when I think of it as such, I like it a little less in my mind, so I stick to calling it Petite Creme. The lunacy of the mind, no? Well, the second thing that I have going is pregnancy cravings AND Gestational Diabetes. What a combo, right? Ugh!

Have you tried Greek's new French Cousin? I'm lovin' it! And totally freaking out because my stores do not have them stocked yet! Thanks to the Stonyfield website though, every store that has a food section within 50 miles has gotten a notice that I'd love to see it stocked. Oh yes, I'm a busy bee! Haha!



*Disclosure: I am a Stonyfield Yo-Getter. This doesn't change my new obsession with cheating on Greek. I love the new Petite Creme. I was not compensated in any way other than getting a few tubs of the new stuff to try.*