#Sponsored: Check out the DC Kids Super Hero Creator

sponsoredDisclaimer:This is a sponsored post on behalf of Warner Bros. They provided the information, but any opinions expressed are my own.

It’s no secret that we love super heroes in our house. So, when I found out about the DC Kids Super Hero Creator, I had to try it out! Oh my goodness! My kids all love it! I have to admit, I did too! I loved it so much, in fact, that I had to create my own Super Hero!

superhero image

Also be sure to check out some of the amazing new videos from Warner Bros, including all your favorites like Scooby Doo and Batman Unlimited.

There will be lots more updates over the next year, so be sure to subscribe to all of their channels!
DCKids Channel
WBKids Channel

If you try out the DC Kids Super Hero Creator, I’d love to know what you think! Also, be sure to enter the giveaway below for your chance to win an amazing toy gift basket!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

International Travel With Kids: Good Times for Everyone

traveling internationally

Planning an overseas family vacation this coming year? Or, considering a family move outside the country? Whether it’s a vacation, an expatriate assignment or a permanent move, there’s some tried-and-true things you should be thinking about if your international adventure includes bringing kids. With the right considerations, you’ll make memories for you and your children that you’ll talk about for years to come.

Get Your Passports In Order
It might seem logical that your passport need only be valid until the day of your planned return home but don’t risk getting stuck in country. There’s all kinds of reason’s your trip might be delayed – from weather and closures, civil unrest or in-country transportation issues. Make sure your whole family’s passports are good for a minimum of three months past your expected return date, longer is even better.

Defeat Jet-Lag on Day One
It’s tempting to want to crash as soon as your reach your hotel at your final destination but you’ll make the most of your trip when you fight the jet-lag fatigue and stay moving once you arrive. Research fun kid activities in advance so you know what’s in close range of your accommodations. This might include outdoor parks, interactive children’s museums, hikes or public swimming areas. Also research when culturally-appropriate meal times are so you can get your kiddos on an eating schedule that matches when restaurants are serving. Keep snacks packed nearby to fight off the munchies.

A Stressed-Out Parent Does Not Make Calm Children
Every parent understands this but when you are travelling abroad, it’s especially important. If you are renting a car and planning to drive, understanding local driving laws and road culture is a must. This is especially important in countries like the UK where driving rules are different than in many parts of the world. Another tip: Stay busy but not too busy. Packing every day from end to end will not only frustrate you when something doesn’t go as planned, but also, your rush and tension will wreck havoc on your kids as well. On the other hand, not having enough to do might leave you and the kids bored which can lead to whining and sibling bickering. Best to have a few planned activities each day but to keep a back-up list that you can pull out and pick from should a flexible change of plan dictate. Better yet, let kids help design their day. Enthusiastic kids make for happier parents.

Give Older Kids Opportunity
In each new phase or day of your trip, create a flexible daily budget they can spend on whatever they like. Ahead of the trip, buy conversational language books and make a game or a contest out of memorizing new words. Elementary and middle-grade kids can make their own bingo-style boards ahead of time that they can use to spot the new words on street signs and billboards. Each day, a different child can pick the restaurants you’ll go to. Teach them how to ask for options from a concierge, read printed guides or maps, or talk to locals about recommendations. Last, find places and ways for them to interact with other kids. Children are far more open, naturally curious and tolerant than many adults. Let them be your ambassador.

Travelling with kids can be a wonderful experience that creates a family bond like nothing else. The more you engage your children in the experience and the more you remain flexible and open to letting each day unfold inside the umbrella of some foundational planning, the more likely you’ll enjoy a trip that none of you will ever forget.

The Top Tips for a Parent-Surrogate Relationship

As can be imagined, most people do not ever imagine themselves having to establish a parent-surrogate relationship. The parent-surrogate relationship is not one that most people would ever think about, unless they find themselves in the middle of one. A parent-surrogate relationship is not something that is taught about at home or at school, and until recently has been rarely covered by the media, pop culture, or even in movies. The parent-surrogate relationship is unique and different to any other relationship, and is something that the vast majority of people are unaware of how to prepare for. If you have found yourself in a situation where you need to establish a parent-surrogate relationship, read on to hear our top tips.

Go To the Transfer
The transfer will be the ultimate bonding moment between parents and the surrogate. You will want to be involved in the pregnancy from the beginning, so every attempt to attend the transfer should definitely be made.

Be Involved
Your surrogate will want you to stay involved, so it’s important to ensure that you stay in contact with her. Remember that she is doing this in order to change your life, so it’s important that you let her know that she’s appreciated and valued.

Prioritize
It’s a good idea to set aside a specific time each week to meet with your surrogate, either in person, over the telephone or over Skype or FaceTime. A regularly designated time will work best, and choose a time that is convenient for everyone. Make sure that this takes a position of priority in your schedule.

Take an Interest
In order to form a good relationship with your surrogate, it’s important to take an interest in her life aside from the pregnancy. Asking about her family and hobbies will show her that you’re interested in her as a person.

Don’t Micro-Manage
Remember that your surrogate has been pregnant before and has undergone a rigorous screening process in order to become a surrogate. For this reason, it’s important not to sweat the small stuff – your surrogate won’t want to have to give a full account of everything she’s eaten every day! Unless you think you have valid reason to be worried, let her get on with her pregnancy.

Be Aware of Legalities
Although most surrogate situations don’t result in legal complications, it’s important that both you and your surrogate are aware of surrogate law and enlist the help of a legal service such as Ideal Legal Group in order to protect all of you.

Attend Appointments
You should make an effort to attend the big appointments with your surrogate, such as ultrasound appointments. If your surrogate allows, you may also wish to be present at the birth. Be aware that your surrogate has carried and will give birth to this baby, and even though it is biologically yours she will still feel a sense of love and connection to it.

Are you a parent who is using a surrogate mother? We’d love to hear all about it in the comments.

How Can You Tell if an Elderly Person is Being Mistreated by Care Professionals?

Many of us dread the day when our parents or grandparents need to go into a nursing home, or rely on a home help to care for them. It can be difficult to imagine them helpless and vulnerable, and even though most carers and nursing homes do a great job of helping seniors retain their quality of life as much as possible, and keeping them comfortable, you do of course hear the odd story about people who are actually abused in various ways by the people who are supposed to be caring for them.

These cases are extremely rare, just as cases of child abuse in schools are, however just as you have to be vigilant when it comes to your child, you also need to make sure you keep an eye on any elderly relatives with carers or in nursing homes, and take any signs that they might be being neglected or mistreated seriously.

What Kind of Thing Constitutes Elder Abuse?
There are laws in all 50 states against abusing vulnerable adults when they are in your care, and law firms like burkeharvey.com specialize in bringing these kinds of cases to court and making sure that, if guilty, the perpetrators see justice and the victims’ or their families get some kind of compensation. But what constitutes abuse?

Abuse of an elderly person can include neglecting them, physically or psychologically hurting or tormenting them, sexual abuse, and financial exploitation – for example stealing things from an elderly person or generally ‘ripping them off’. Some of these are easier to spot than others, as in the case of financial exploitation the elder in question may not actually know anything is wrong, or may be being conned very well and actually be happy to be giving money to the perpetrator.

Keep an Eye on Everything, and Take Everything Seriously
As people age, particularly when conditions like dementia or Alzheimer’s are involved, they can become easily confused, forgetful, or get strange ideas in their heads. This can make it easy to see them being distressed or believing someone is against them as part of their condition. However, never ignore their claims, no matter how ‘out of it’ their mental state is. Of course, don’t immediately accuse their nurse of stealing from them or hitting them if they say this is happening and they have dementia, but investigate a little before you write it off or report it. Are there any signs of injury? Is anything missing?

When They Have Their Faculties
Not all elderly people have dementia, and some may well have all their faculties. They may not, however, tell you that something is wrong with their treatment. If you are dealing with someone like this, take clues from their own demeanor and attitude. Do they seem unusually withdrawn or nervous? Are they talking about money more than usual?

If you spot any signs of elder abuse the first thing to do is arrange for alternative care and get the person out of that situation – even if only temporarily while you investigate further with management at the nursing home, or police.

Guest Post: Signs That You Are Overprotective As A Parent

So many parents are out there that think they are helping their children when they keep protecting them but this is not actually the case. Being overprotective is something that would lead towards many problems you do not want to be faced with as a parent. If the child is too protected, his development is delayed. That can lead towards emotional, mental, practical and psychological issues in the life of the child.

Being overprotective is always a really bad thing and the big problem is that most of the parents that are like this have no idea that this is the case. That is why we have to highlight these signs that you are overprotective.

The Child Never Failed Till Now
When the child is too protected, he/she will not make mistakes. Failure is never tasted. This is bad. Children will learn a lot from their mistakes, just as much as they learn from their successes. Sometimes they actually learn more, allowing them to overcome normal bumps that they are faced with in their development.

You Are Choosing Your Child’s Friends
Monitoring the company that the child has is definitely an important part of parenting. We cannot deny that. However, when you choose friends, you are getting way too involved. This actually impairs the child’s social skills and life is actually impacted in a negative way.

The Child Always Comes To You When A Problem Appears
It is great to be needed as a parent. This is something that we love and we should never lie about this. The feeling of a child telling you what they feel makes you feel as if you are a great parent. The problem is that any kid has to learn how to process feelings without the parent getting involved. This is true for everything from excitement to sadness. You have to teach the child to find his/her own way to go through emotional landscapes.

The Child Has Zero Chores
If your child lives a life without any worries, he/she will just think about having fun. Childhood is a time when you need to learn about collective, social and personal responsibility, together with everything that this covers. You need to basically start small and then go steady. Never shy away from having the child struggle. This is a principle that is as old as time. You can see it highlighted in spiritual books and the best parents always use chores. However, this does not mean that you have to be strict. Try to do all that you can in order to create a steady growth in chores and responsibilities so that the child can adapt.

The Child Is Afraid Of The World
One of the clear signs that you are overprotective is when the child is afraid of the world as you paint a really horrible picture about it, one focused on negatives. The child ends up thinking that the world is hostile, terrible, dangerous and that home is the only place where safety exists. Well, truth is definitely a sanctuary but that does not mean that the world should be afraid of the world. Fear should never be seen as a good control strategy. It almost always fails. It is a lot better to focus on highlighting the truth: the world can be great or bad, based on many factors.

#IC #Sponsored: #Backtobgosh Makes Back to School Fun! #BgoshJeanius

sampleDisclaimer: I participated in a Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for OshKosh B’Gosh. I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

Make sure you read this post all the way to the end for a coupon for 25% off your $30 purchase.

back to school with oshkosh

It’s that time of year again! Time for back to school!

With 5 kids in school, I am always on the hunt for great deals on back to school clothes. My absolute favorite place to shop is OshKosh B’Gosh. Their jeans are top of the line, last through dozens and dozens of washings, and even do great once they are passed down to the next kid in line. They use only the best materials and construction in their clothes, and all of their fun, unique designs and trendy fashions make my kids excited to show off their new clothes at school. Better confidence because of what they wear leads to better performance in the classroom. That’s absolutely true with my kids!

For this post, OshKosh B’Gosh sent me a gift card to head to my local store and stock up for the school year for my kids. The one that needed clothes the most was Parker, so I decided to spoil him a little bit.

back to school shopping

Alright, so maybe I spoiled him more than a little bit. 😉 He had a blast picking out all his new clothes. While I expected him to pick out t-shirts and active pants, he wanted dressier clothes: button up shirts, polos in fun colors, and more. I did get our must haves: jeans, denim shorts, and khaki shorts, plus a whole bunch of shirts he picked out for himself.

back to school shopping

We both loved all the gorgeous colors and fun designs they had available, and all at such a great prices! We had so much fun shopping for Parker. It’s not often I get to spend some one-on-one time with the kids, so this was a blessing!

bgosh05

Did you know that right now, OshKosh B’gosh is running their “B’gosh Jeanius Campaign”? OshKosh B’gosh wants every child to have everything they need for school, whether it’s books or blue jeans. OshKosh B’gosh has partnered with K.I.D.S./ Fashion Delivers, Inc., and DonorsChoose.org, and customers get the opportunity to donate either a brand new pair of blue jeans or choose to make a cash donation to a student in need. Any denim donated from July 28th through September 15th of this year, will be delivered to local kids in need through K.I.D.S./Fashion Delivers, and all cash donations will be dispersed to locals through DonorsChoose.org. Want to know the best part? The Carters Charitable foundation will match all cash donations up to $50,000 and they’ll also match all denim donations with a new item of clothing. I think that’s awesome!! All you have to do is decide how you want to give kids a leg up, and either donate a pair of blue jeans or some cash at the register. (For more information, please visit www.oshkosh.com/bgoshjeanius.

back to school shopping

Need to know where your closest OshKosh B’gosh store is located? Check out the handy dandy Store Locator feature. It helped me find a great little shop I didn’t even know was near me. And we got to go to the ice cream store right next door. Win – Win!

back to school shopping

Not only does OshKosh B’gosh offer fantastic deals on their awesome clothes, they always go above and beyond and give their customers great discounts through coupons. This time is no different! See the coupon below to get 25% off your $30 purchase now through September 30th. (Some exclusions apply. Please read the fine print.)

OK_Fall15 Blogger Coupon

Thanks, OshKosh B’gosh for always offering such great clothes at a price I can afford. The only thing I’d love more is if you offered sizes up to 16 so I could buy clothes for all my kids in one place. :)

Readers, I want to encourage you to check out OshKosh B’gosh and learn more about them. Make them your first stop for Back to School Shopping this year, and be sure to follow them on all your favorite social media channels:

#Sponsored: Don’t Miss this Amazing Deal on #HPink! #HPMoms

sponsoredDisclaimer:This post is part of a sponsored campaign on behalf of HP through MomSelect.

HP Ink 3

Do you go through printer ink like I do? My goodness, I can’t keep up with the demands around here.

Lucky for me, (and you!), HP is having an amazing deal on their printer ink right now. There hasn’t been a deal this good since 2012! You don’t want to miss out. It’s the perfect time to stock up and save, especially before the kids head back to school.

Now through August 1st, when you buy one cartridge of HP Ink, you get the second cartridge for 50% off! (Second cartridge must be equal or lesser value.) So, if you buy the color cartridge, you can get the black and white for half off. See how great this deal is?!

You can take advantage of this offer on the HP website, or at your favorite retailer like Staples, Office Depot, or Best Buy.

This is one deal that is just too good to pass up. But, you have to hurry. It all goes away after August 1st. Head to the website or your favorite store and stock up now.

3 Incredible Destinations for an Educational Family Holiday

Going on vacation gives the whole family a chance to have a break. You can spend the whole time lounging around by the pool or on the beach if you want. But for a lot of people, going on a trip is about more than relaxing. It’s also a chance to see the world and learn new things. If you have kids, it’s an excellent opportunity to expand their worldview and teach them about different cultures. If you want your children to be educated and open-minded, taking them on historical and cultural vacations will help them achieve it. There are so many incredible destinations around the world, but here are just a few you can enjoy as a family.

florence

Chris Yunker

Florence, Italy

Europe is full of fantastic cities and historical sites to visit. It can be difficult to know where to start. In fact, if you have plenty of time, it can be best to try and see as much as possible. But if you’re going to Italy, Florence is one of the best places you can see. A lot of people would be tempted to start with Rome, but Florence is the city to see. Its historical center is a beautiful place to explore. And there are endless architectural wonders to admire. Even the accommodation offered by Venere hotels is often in grand buildings that will wow you. This city is the birthplace of the Renaissance. You won’t run out of art, architecture and culture to experience.

eneas

Eneas de Troya

Mexico City, Mexico

If you want to learn about some history a little closer to home, Mexico is brimming with it. Although it might seem unlikely, Mexico City is one of the best places to go for history and culture. There are some significant sites in more rural locations, but even the city has plenty to see. A must-see site for any history lovers is the Templo Mayor. It’s a thirteenth-century Aztec Temple. But that isn’t all there is to do in Mexico’s capital city. For another fantastic building, visit the Catedral Metropolitana. Art lovers will enjoy the Diego Rivera Museum too, as well as Rivera’s murals in the Palacio Nacional.

holyland

Seetheholyland.net

Lost City of Petra, Jordan

The Middle East doesn’t necessarily have the best image for the average person. But history and culture lovers know that the region’s countries have rich cultures and histories. Jordan is one of the best places to go on an educational vacation. Visiting is generally safe. However, it’s advised you don’t go within a few kilometers of the Syrian border. If you visit Jordan, Petra is the one place you must see. The archaeological city may have been established as early as 312 BCE. It’s the most visited tourist attraction in the country, where you’ll find fascinating ruins. You can observe tombs, a theater, and the famous Al Khazneh, which was a treasury.

You can find hundreds of incredible locations that are perfect for an educational holiday. When you plan your trip, think of ways you can get the kids involved in the history and culture of your destination.

Everything You Need To Know About Taking Your Kids On Holiday

Taking your kids on holiday for the first time is an experience that you will never forget, for better or worse. Either it will play out like a family scrapbook of fun filled activities that you did together. Or, it will be a nightmare you try erase with your next family holiday. But, either way it is certain to be memorable. With that in mind, here on some tips on how to get the former experience rather than the latter.

Choose Where You Want To Go
Your first task is to do some research online and think about where you want to take your children on holiday. Many parents make the mistake of picking a destination they want to go to and then hoping their kids will just roll with it. Trust us, you will have a far more relaxing experience if you put your children first from the word go. If you like, ask them where they would like to go on vacation. Depending on their age, they may already have some ideas for their dream destination.

Pick The Family Activities
We have got two words for you that will make your holiday as easy as pie: AMUSEMENT PARKS. We have no idea why more families do not choose this option. Perhaps they do not realise the obvious advantage. of this vacation activity. First, if you have young children, chances are they will not be tall enough to go on some of the most thrilling rides. That means you are safe from being hurtled into the air, upside down at lightning speeds. Second, if you have older children, they will be big enough to on these rides by themselves. Third, almost every theme park we have ever been to had a part that catered specifically to adults. You will have a fun time no matter what.

Other family activities you may want to look into would be sporting events or simply head to your nearest information point. They will be able to tell you about the family activities specific to the area where you are staying. If you are staying on the coast, we would recommend looking at boat hire to get an entirely new perspective of the location.

Book In Advance
You should always try to book your holiday in advance, preferably as early as possible. If you can do this, you may find some excellent deals that will mean you have more to spend on other aspects of your vacation. You should never leave booking a holiday with children to the last minute. This can lead to disaster and long waits in hotel lobbies that may cause your children to become disruptive.

Take A Shopping Trip
Finally, before you leave on holiday take a fun shopping trip with your family. For you this will be to get the necessities for travelling. For instance, you should make sure you have a good supply on suntan lotion if you are going somewhere tropical. For your kids, it will be a chance for them to try new clothes and to get them excited about going away.

family vacation

Pic Link

Tips for an Unforgettable Family Vacation in Venice

The joys of family vacations are moments to be cherished, and for parents, watching your kids explore new and unfamiliar places, and begin to encounter new cultures is a thrilling and wondrous experience. There are few places in the world that pack the type of scenic beauty, delicious food, and new experiences that Italy’s northern city of Venice is famous for, so if you’re thinking of a family vacation, here are a few reasons why Venice is the perfect destination for you.

venice

Waterway transportation
For anyone who hasn’t grown up in a city of canals and waterways, the chance to experience the boat taxis and gondolas that ferry tourists (and locals) around this stunning city is absolutely thrilling. Even upon arrival there are boat services that can take you from Marco Polo Airport into the center of the city, which is bound to start your holiday off on the right foot with your kids.Following arrival, a great way to acclimatize to the city and begin to adjust to the canals, bridges, and narrow passages is by taking a boat tour, which will lead you down the Grand Canal and allow you to map-out many of the city’s famous sites, such as the Rialto Bridge, Piazza San Marco, Saint Mark’s Basilica, and the Doge’s Palace.

Family-Friendly Eating
The easiest part about taking family trips to Italy, is that most children love the type of food that is available to them, pizza and pasta can be found at all restaurants. If you’re looking for an atmosphere that is laid back and friendly with kids, the Rialto San Marco if the perfect place for you. After dinner or on hot afternoons, a stop by the gelato shop will give your family a tasty experience that the ice cream back home simply cannot match.

Relax and Play at the Lido
The Lido is Venice’s beach and is located on the Adriatic Sea. It is actually a sand bar that is about 11 kilometers long, and features both private and public beaches. Heading to the north or south will allow you to access the Lido’s two public beaches, whose waters are warm and shallow, making them a perfect place for kids to play. The local area is also home to a sporting centre that features football pitches, as well as tennis courts. If you happen to get hungry and haven’t packed a lunch, then there are plenty of family friends eating options around.

Explore by foot
The narrow winding passageways and staircases that open up onto Venice’s beautiful squares provide a magical experience of discovery for visitors of all ages. And when your family are tired and need a break, the cafés featuring live music in the evenings are a perfect place for parents to relax and unwind with a bottle of wine, while the kids chase Venice’s famous pigeons around the square.

So whether your kids are babies or teens, there are plenty of great reasons to book your flights to Venice and give your family an Italian experience that you will never forget.

Picture used by permission. View it here.

#IC #Sponsored: Insomnia Nation – Let’s Get Some Sleep!

sponsoredDisclaimer:I participated in an Ambassador program on behalf of Influence Central for Pernix Therapeutics. I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

Yaaaaawwwwwn. As I type this, I’m struggling to keep my eyes open. Why, you ask? Because, once again, I didn’t get a full night’s sleep.

I struggle with sleep every night. Sawyer still gets up several times a night, but even on the rare occasion he *does* sleep all night, I’m still up all night long, tossing and turning, worrying about all the things I’m behind on, all the stuff I need to do around the house, all the things the kids have going on, finances, my weight, whether I exercise enough, friendships… it’s one thing after another. I’d give just about anything to fall asleep quickly and get a full night’s sleep.

Insomnia is a big deal. Did you know nearly 4 million Americans suffer from insomnia? While some people have trouble falling asleep, (myself included!), more than half of Americans struggle with being able to stay asleep through the night. (I struggle there too!)

Take a moment and look at this infographic:
insomnia infographic
(You can click on the infographic or click here to see it in a full size, printable PDF.)

Take a look at those statistics! Only 12% are actually diagnosed by a doctor? Why aren’t more of us talking to our doctor about our sleepless nights? And is sleeplessness really glamorized? Not in my world! 😉 I’d feel way more glamorous if I could actually get a full night’s rest. Yet nearly 3/4ths of Americans, (72%!) are missing out on almost 3 weeks of sleep every year! (That breaks down to 470 hours. YIKES!)

Did you know that getting a full night of sleep can actually empower you? It helps our memory, our immune system function, and other vital functions that keep our bodies going every day.

So, what are we to do? Is there any good news for those of us who struggle with sleep?

Yes! There really is good news! There are effective treatment options available for those of us who suffer with insomnia. The first thing you need to do is have a conversation with your doctor about your restless nights. Be sure to discuss your lifestyle, routine, and all the symptoms you are having. You doctor is always the best place to start.

You can also learn more about getting a full night’s sleep by visiting wanttosleepmore.com.

Do you struggle with getting to sleep or staying asleep every night? Do you follow a bedtime routine for yourself, or is every night just chaos? I want to hear from you!

Mexico: An Amazing Vacation Destination – Even with Kids!

mexico_02

Have you ever traveled to Mexico for a vacation? I have been several times, and I just love it! In Mexico, you can find some of the most beautiful beaches , taste great food, and experience true culture unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.

What if you’re traveling with kids? Do you think that’s going to make it much more difficult?

Absolutely not! Traveling with kids to Mexico can be fun!

mexico_01

Here are a few must-visit sites in Cancun, Mexico that are kid friendly:

1. Captain Hook Pirate Dinner Cruise – This looks amazing!! We are Captain Hook/Peter Pan fans around here, and while we haven’t had the opportunity to try this dinner cruise yet, it would definitely be number one on our list. Check it out. There’s even a coupon code on there if you book early.

2. Dolphin Discovery – Take a beautiful boat ride, and then choose which type of swim you want to do with the dolphins. Packages range from giving them a hug to getting pushed around on a boogie board by them. Whatever you decide, you’re sure to make lasting memories for your whole family. Call 1-866-393-5158 to book your reservation.

3. Interactive Aquarium – This aquarium is rather small, and can be done in less than an hour, but the memories you make will last a lifetime. There’s no charge to touch the manta rays or the gorgeous sea turtles, but there’s also a gift shop where you can purchase mementos of your time there. It’s located inside the La Isla Shopping Village. Call 998-883-0411 for more information.

4. Crococun – This is at the top of my hubby’s to-do list! Located just 19 miles from downtown Cancun, this interactive conservation zoo began as a crocodile breeding farm. After Hurricane Gilberto destroyed it in 1988, it’s now changed from breeding crocs to protecting and promoting them. You can hold a baby crocodile and even stroll through an area where 50 crocs (or so!) roam free. Awesome! Call 998-850-3719 to learn more and book your trip.

5. Xcaret – This park, (pronounced “Sh-car-ret”), is filled with things to do the whole family will love! A butterfly pavilion, flamingos, spider monkeys, even swim with dolphins or just relax on a beautiful beach! They are always hosting annual events and festivities, so be sure to call and ask what’s happening during your trip. You can learn more by calling 800-212-8951-1-8881.

mexico_03

Whatever your interests, whether it’s dolphins, ancient ruins, or just lounging on the beach, there’s always something your whole family can do in Mexico!

Have you traveled to Mexico with your family? What were your must-do activities?

**Pictures provided by Flickr. Click on the picture to see the original.

Guest Post: The Benefits Offered by Day Camp

daycamp

Day camps, summer camps and other such camps are sometimes controversial. For many parents, they are an absolute God’s sent, because it means their children can go somewhere to enjoy themselves while they can continue to work. Others, however, feel that sending children to day camp is shirting responsibilities. After all, if you don’t have the time to look after your children, you shouldn’t have had them. However, the reality is that day camps actually offer children a whole lot of benefits, and it is a parent’s responsibility to provide them with these things. So what are some of the benefits that you could experience if you send your children to the best day camps Rockland County has to offer?

The Benefits of Day Camp

There are five very clear benefits of sending a child to day camp. These are:

  1. Children learn independence skills while staying in an environment that is both safe and controlled. By spending a full day away from their parents, a child starts to move on the road towards independence. Independence is a vital skill to have. Children are in a new environment and they will be given the opportunity to learn various independence skills.This includes meeting other people, looking after belongings, cooperating in a team, testing out new things and more. They will learn what it means to be responsible for themselves and for others.
  2. Children can learn to make new friends outside of their standard environment. At day camp, different children will attend the different days and these are children that may not be in their direct school or home address community. The friendships built at day camp can last a lifetime! Not just that, however, but building friendships also builds life skills. It teaches them to make independent decisions as well as how to interact with other people.
  3. Children are encouraged to be physically active. Too many children in this country are overweight or obese and one of the main reasons for this is that they are not given sufficient opportunities to be physically active. All day camps offer various physical activities and sports. This also means children are given the opportunity to test new types of skills and sports that they may otherwise not have been able to try.
  4. Children will have greater self-esteem and confidence. Because children are encouraged to make fully independent choices every day, they can take their new skills and knowledge home and talk about what they have learned. The sense of pride they will have about their own achievements is a great way for them to become more confident young people.Naturally, it is vital that parents encourages this and give positive feedback to their children, acknowledging their various accomplishments.
  5. Children will get to learn through play. Day camps look to children as an environment in which they can play. In reality, however, they will also be equipped with various learning opportunities without even realizing it.

#IC #AD: P&G Free & Gentle, It’s Your #SecondSkincare

sampleDisclaimer: I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for P&G. I received product samples to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation. All opinions and reviews are my own.

proctor and gamble free and gentle products

With 10 people in our home, I do a lot of laundry. There are times when I feel like I’m doing laundry all day long! In fact, as I’m typing this post, I’ve got a load in the wash, a load in the dryer, and two baskets sitting in front of me that need folded and put away. Yep. With all these kids, my life usually revolves around laundry.

That being said, when it comes to laundry time in our house, I need products that work for the entire family. I need something that can take care of tough stains, but also be gentle enough for the several little ones I have that have incredibly sensitive skin.

That’s why I love P&G’s line of Free & Gentle products. The Tide Pods are perfect for getting even the dirtiest clothes clean. My kids can make some serious messes! But take a look at the before and after of this shirt:

before wash
All I did was throw the shirt in the wash with a Free & Gentle Tide Pod:

tide pod in wash
Filled the softener cup with Downy Free & Gentle:

downy free and gentle
Washed, and then dried it all with a Bounce Free & Gentle Dryer Sheet:

bounce dryer sheet
And it came out beautifully!

after wash with tide

No more stains! It’s clean, fresh, and ready to take on my 4 year old again!

I love that one line of detergents takes care of all our laundry needs. And, in the long run, it saves us money. I don’t have to buy several different types of detergents for the family’s needs, and I’m not constantly needing to buy new clothes because the stains won’t come out.

But, even more than that, I love that I can use these products as a form of a “Second Skincare” for Gage and Sawyer. Because P&G Free & Gentle products are hypoallergenic, dye and perfume free, they keep Gage and Sawyer from breaking out in rashes or being itchy all day. Because they come in brands like Tide, Downy, and Bounce, I can trust them to be the best for my large family.

I know we’re not alone in our sensitive skin woes, either. Did you know that nearly half of all US adults say they have sensitive skin? When we think of sensitive skin, we’re always careful about the types of facial and body care products we buy, but the clothes that we put on, our “second skin,” are every bit as important.

I recently discovered that 87% of the people that use free detergent use scented fabric softener and/or dryer sheets. Those product undo everything the free detergent has done to help their second skin. If you want to keep your skin looking and feeling its best, it’s important to follow a completely dye and perfume free laundry regimen to clean, protect, and enhance your second skin.

The good news is that the P&G Free & Gentle regimen offers dye and perfume free products throughout. Every product is hypoallergenic and gentle on skin. All of the Free & Gentle products are dermatologist recommended.

The line of Free & Gentle products consists of the following:

  • Tide Free & Gentle Detergent / Tide Stain Release Free In-Wash Booster – it’s as mild on skin as the leading free detergent, but it cleans better and removes more residue from stains on clothing. (Need proof? See my pictures above!)
  • Downy Free & Gentle Fabric Softener – Also mild on skin, this provides outstanding comfort and freshness through its softening formula.
  • Bounce Free & Gentle Dry Sheets – These sheets maintain a mild formula but also provide freshness, softness, and static control. (Bonus: The even repel pet hair!)

If you, or someone in your family has sensitive skin, I encourage you to consider changing your laundry routine. It has made a huge difference around here for us!

To learn more about any of these products, I encourage you to check out the brands on social media:

Have you tried the P&G line of Free & Gentle Products? I’d love to hear about your experience!

Guest Post: How to Get Your Children Interested in Gardening

Getting your kids interested in gardening can either be tough or easy, depending upon their individual personalities. For example, children who are ready to play in the dirt and learn new things will typically dive right into gardening. But children who are afraid of getting a little dirty or who are grossed out by working in the dirt with bugs and worms will likely be turned off to the idea.

No matter what your kids’ personalities are like, though, the benefits of gardening definitely outweigh the challenges you might face as you acclimatise your kids to it. To get started, check out the tips below.

Give Your Children Their Own Space in the Garden
As you design your garden this year, consider designating certain areas to every member of your family, including each of your children. In this way, everyone gets the opportunity to plant their own flowers, fruits, and/or vegetables, and they’ll be responsible for their harvest. Just bear in mind that small children should have easy-to-access areas that are safe and will make it simple for them to pull weeds, plant seeds, add water, and harvest their crops.

Purchase the Right Supplies
Children’s gardening tools are safe to use, and absolutely adorable too! So go ahead and purchase a set of tools for your children to use so that you don’t have to worry about them getting hurt on your equipment.

Start Young, But Keep It Short
Teaching your kids the joy of gardening at an early age is a great idea, but keep in mind that the younger the children, the shorter their attention spans will be. So try to schedule a short session of about 15 to 20 minutes to ensure your kids will pay attention, get things done, and remain engaged.

Keep Track of the Growing Process
In addition to teaching your children how to plant seeds, help them grow, and harvest them, it’s also a great idea to let them document the growing process as it happens. So allow your children to go into the garden just about every day and either write down or take pictures of what’s happening. They’ll be amazed at how quickly some plants grow, and you can even have them measure the growth as it happens so they can see that they’re responsible for this plant life and the food or flowers that it will produce for your family.

Harvest Together
Finally, when it comes time to harvest the fruits of your efforts, head outside as a family unit again, just as you did when you prepared the soil and planted the seeds or young plants that started your garden. In this way, you get to experience the entire cycle of gardening together.

Ready to start gardening with your whole family and teaching your kids the importance of, and benefits of, growing their own food at home? Then check out Glut.co.uk – gifts for gardeners, as it’s a great place to start your search for gifts that you can give to your kids to get them excited about gardening with you.

#IC #Ad: Embrace Your Life’s #UnscriptedBeauty with #AVEENO

sponsoredDisclaimer:I participated in a Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for AVEENO. I received product samples as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

20150606_193246-1cr

As a photographer, and as a mom, my favorite moments are the unscripted moments. The candid, catch-it-as-it-happens moments that you just can’t plan for. That’s why I was so excited when I was offered the opportunity to participate with AVEENO in this amazing campaign.

IMG_1674

These are the real moments. The genuine. The everyday moments that make every day more special. It’s when we share these moments that other parents can truly capture a glimpse into our lives and connect with us on another level.

IMG_20150602_114054

I have no shortage of #UnscriptedBeauty moments around here. With 8 kids, family pets, and all the chaos life entails, I am always ready to capture special moments forever. That’s why you’ll rarely find me without my phone. I don’t need to play games, I don’t need to constantly check into social media, I just need to be ready to capture the moments I never want to forget. And there are plenty of them!

IMG_2129

Sometimes, life doesn’t go as we planned. In the picture below, Sawyer, our youngest, ended up in the hospital on vacation. Just when it seemed like everything was going wrong, I snapped this picture. There he was, sleeping so peacefully. He was on the path to healing. His breathing had become less labored, and I knew everything was going to be ok. To me, this photo below screams beauty. No, it wasn’t what I had planned, but something good came out of it.

20150412_005550

Throughout the month of June, AVEENO wants to encourage you to embrace your own #UnscriptedBeauty and participate in the #UnscriptedBeauty Contest. All you have to do is take time this month to capture the Unscripted Beauty in the life of your family. Then, post your photos on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter using the hashtags #AVEENO, #UnscriptedBeauty, and #Contest. In July, one winner will be selected to receive a photo shoot from acclaimed photographer Danielle Guenther. They will also receive AVEENO products. This is an amazing prize, so start sharing your #UnscriptedBeauty moments with the world!

IMG_0365

Life is beautiful, and the moments that you might not think to capture are the moments that make it that way. I encourage you to take some time this month, look around you, and capture the #UnscriptedBeauty that surrounds you. Then, share those moments, and you might just win!

2015-01-13 14.43.39

I also want to encourage you to learn more about AVEENO products by checking out the AVEENO website.

IMG_1371

To see more #UnscriptedBeauty moments, please check out the AVEENO Facebook page. You can also follow the hashtags #AVEENO and #UnscriptedBeauty on your favorite social media channels.

IMG_1189

So, what do you say? Will you join me and share your favorite #UnscriptedBeauty moments? I would love to see them!

#Sponsored: Check Out DCKids & Warner Bros’ Youtube Channels (& Win!)

dc-super-friends-logo
Have you seen the amazing new videos from DCKids and Warner Bros’ new Youtube channels? There are lots of favorites like Batman Unlimited, DC Super Friends, and even Scooby-Doo! In our house, we are Superhero obsessed, so these are great for my boys! I may not get them off of Youtube this summer!

Here’s a video playlist from Batman Unlimited – just to wet your appetite:


And, remember! There will be many more updates over the next year, so be sure to subscribe to their channels!

DCKids Channel

WBKids Channel

Want the chance to win while you’re here? Use the rafflecopter gadget below and enter for your chance to win one of FIVE mystery toy gift baskets! Each basket is worth a minimum of $50 and will be picked by the staff of Warner Bros. & DC Kids. I wanna win! :) Good luck to all who enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This post and the giveaway are sponsored by Warner Bros.

Guest Post: Practical Advice for Self-Employed Stay at Home Mums

meandp
Many mums choose to stay at home to work whilst the kids are little and that is a lovely parenting choice. Children benefit from the love only a mother can give but when trying to balance working with children vying for your attention, it can drive you mad in a heartbeat. Actually, you are not alone as there are increasing numbers of women who made the choice to work from home and there are ways to solve most of the issues you are facing. Here is some practical advice for self-employed stay at home mums.

Scheduling Is a Must

This bit of advice comes from stay at home working mums from around the globe. One thing you can do right away is work out a schedule where you’ll be able to maximize your time whilst the kids are asleep. No, you don’t need to stay up all night working but rather schedule the most labor intensive work during nap times and perhaps early evenings when the kids have just gone to bed for the night.

Try to Work Days When Dad Is Home

Many working mums make it a priority to work the hardest on days when dad is home to mind the kids. Most dads really enjoy time spent alone with the children as they are off at work the rest of the week. He will need quiet time as well, so perhaps his time away can be during an evening when you are at home and a night when there is nothing pressing which you need to get done.

Hire an Au Pair

Another great resource is to hire an au pair, even if only to work part time on those hours that need your attention. Some are live-in girls who can be more flexible in terms of the hours you need them to be available. You can find au pair in London with aufini.com quite easily and by listing any special needs you have, you can often be matched with the perfect au pair within just a few short days.

Trade Days with Other Mums

You may know other stay at home mums who would be more than happy to trade days with you. One or two days a week she minds your children and then you reciprocate. It doesn’t necessarily need to be another work from home mum and sometimes this is even better for you! She just might want to trade off on an evening to spend time with her husband which is ideal if you work during the day! She watches your kids on a day when you’re working and you mind hers when you don’t need to be working. In trendy circles it’s called a ‘babysitting co-op.’

These are just a few bits of practical advice but just know that it really is possible to balance work (at home) and raising a family. It might take a little more planning in the beginning but once you’ve got it down you’ll feel so lucky to be one of the mums who can say they were a stay at home mum during those early, formative years. Just keep at it mum, keeping your sanity is a process but one you can manage.

Guest Post: Home with the Kids? Try These Fun Activities!

Let’s face it, we have all been there. It’s the weekend or the summer holidays and you find yourself at home with the kids looking for something fun to do together. There are only so many times that you can go out on day trips and spend money on your whole family, so it is good to have some home-based back up plans that will lower the cost of the day whilst still being just as fun as a visit out somewhere. Here are a handful of suggestions for turning normal ‘in house’ days in to hours of fun activity.

1. DIY Projects

One fun thing that you can do with your kids at home is to do and complete a satisfying DIY project together. Whether it’s something small like painting an old table or chair or something slightly bigger like putting together a bookcase of chest of drawers, working as a team can bring out the best in all of you. Being able to remember the day every time you look at the piece of furniture in your home will be a really satisfying feeling.
diy project

2. Work On The Garden

Working outside in the garden, especially on a beautiful warm day can be a really fulfilling and relaxing way to spend the day at home with the kids. When you make it a little more playful in the sun, even the most mundane of gardening tasks can seem way more fun. For example, teaching your little ones how to safely use garden appliances like Garden Vacs leaf blowers can serve the dual purpose of cleaning your lawn and paved areas whilst letting the kids have some air blowing fun!

3. Cook Together

Teaming up to do some simple but satisfying cooking can make for a really memorable day with your children. Whether it is a spot of tasty baking or being a little more adventurous and going for a full dinnertime meal, not only will you have fun (no doubt messy fun!) along the way, but the experience can actually be something educational and the kids will learn skills that they might not previously have had. And hey, there is nothing more rewarding than working up an appetite and being able to eat something that you made from scratch.
cook together

4. Play Board Games

Kids at home locked away in their rooms playing video games by themselves – does that sound familiar to you? If it does then spend a day with them introducing them to all of the group-based board games that you loved as a child. This way, they are still playing games and doing what they love, but by playing board games instead of video games, the experience has become much more social and group oriented.

You might struggle to initially get the kids on board with playtime activities that don’t involve the television, computer or games console but they’ll soon come round when they realize how much fun it is.

#Sponsored: When Calls the Heart Returns for Season 2! #FaithTV #Hearties #Giveaway @WCTH_tv

sponsored
Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

HC_When_Calls_the_Heart_600x600

What will you be doing this Saturday night at 8/7c?

I will be on the couch, tuning into the new season of When Calls the Heart on the Hallmark Channel with my oldest daughter.

This is one premiere that has had me giddy with anticipation.

In order to create this post, I did receive the opportunity to view the Season Premier before it airs thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC.

I can’t give away any details, but OH.MY.GOODNESS. You cannot miss this premier! My daughter has been anxiously awaiting the return of When Calls the Heart, and it has been SO difficult to keep the details from her. But, I must. If for no other reason than I can’t wait to see her reaction as she watches it.

I love When Calls the Heart, because it is good, clean, family friendly, and fun. In my opinion, this is one of the best shows on television, and it’s something I don’t have to worry about my children watching. It’s perfect for the whole family!

In case you don’t know what When Calls the Heart is about, here’s a brief summary of the series:

The series is inspired by Janette Oke’s bestselling book series about the Canadian West. “When Calls the Heart” tells the captivating story of Elizabeth Thatcher (Erin Krakow), a young teacher accustomed to her high society life, who receives her first classroom assignment in Coal Valley, a small coalmining town where life is simple, but often fraught with challenges. Lori Loughlin plays Abigail Stanton, a wife and mother whose husband, the foreman of the mine, along with a dozen other miners, has just been killed in an explosion. The newly widowed women find their faith is tested when they must go to work in the mines to keep a roof over their heads. Elizabeth charms most everyone in Coal Valley, except Constable Jack Thornton (Daniel Lissing) who believes Thatcher’s wealthy father has doomed the lawman’s career by insisting he be assigned in town to protect the shipping magnate’s daughter. Living in a turn of the century coal town, Elizabeth will have to learn the ways of the frontier if she wishes to thrive in the rural west on her own.

Remember, the new season starts this Saturday, April 25th at 8/7c.

To get you excited about this week’s premier, World Films has offered up a set of When Calls The Heart Season 1 on DVD ($60 value!!).

Win a copy of Season one of When Calls the Heart!

To enter, use the Rafflecopter gadget below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Contest ends May 1st.

I also want to encourage you to get social with other #Hearties in the following way: