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

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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.

#IC #Ad: #RealFoodForBabies from @BeechnutFoods Makes Mealtime Better for Baby #Giveaway

sampleDisclaimer: I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Beech-Nut. I received a free coupon to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

Beech-Nut logo

beechnut_organic

As a mom, I want to know the food my kids eat is the best food possible. While I wish I had the time to simply make every meal for Sawyer myself, there are so many times that’s just not possible. That’s when I turn to Beech-Nut. Their organic line of baby food is packed full of flavor – just like the food I make for Sawyer, when I have time. It’s fresh, easy to transport, and I don’t have to worry about artificial ingredients or preservatives. With Beech-Nut, I get what I want for Sawyer: delicious food that’s as close to homemade as possible, but it’s convenient enough for on-the-go feeding.

For this review, I received a coupon and was asked to use it to purchase a jar of food from Beech-Nut’s organic line. I chose to have Sawyer test out the Mango, Pineapple, and Granola Stage 3 jar. We were running late for church this morning, (big surprise!), and I didn’t have time to feed him before we left. That meant I had to feed him in the nursery, and I prayed this baby food would go over well. It’s not always easy to feed Sawyer in the nursery. There are so many distractions in there, sometimes it’s hard to get him to focus on his food.

beechnut_organic2

As you can clearly see, he *loved* it. I had nothing to worry about! I just recently started Sawyer on Stage 3 foods, and the one thing I love most about the Beech-Nut Organic Line is the fact the Stage 3 jars have just enough texture in them to get him ready for table food, but not so much they choke and gag him. The color, the smell, the texture, everything was just perfect. Sawyer gobbled the entire jar down in a matter of minutes. I’m pretty sure if he could talk, he’d let us know he was quite impressed.

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Beech-Nut wants to make sure moms only feed their babies food they would eat themselves. It’s so much more than just baby food. They call it “real food for babies™.” The only items in their new inspired-by-homemade organic line are simply fruits, veggies, and sometimes ancient grains and beans. Nothing else. No preservatives. No artificial anything. And that makes this mom feel good.

Some of the flavors you can find in the organic line include organic banana, cinnamon, & granola, organic butternut squash, black bean, & cumin, organic apple, raspberry, & avacado, and many other combinations inspired by real moms.

The Beech-Nut organic line is cooked with a unique gentle process, similar to how we moms make food at home. The process doesn’t add anything to the food, no excess water, no preservatives, and it won’t cook the nutrients away. All your baby tastes are the delicious fruits and vegetables. Each transparent honeypot glass jar features the USDA-certified organic seal to indicate it is a GMO-free food.

This year, Beech-Nut received Product of the Year in the baby category for its 100% natural and organic lines. This was decided in a national survey by Taylor Nelson Sofres by more than 40,000 consumers.

You can find the Beech-Nut organic line in the following stores:

  • Babies “R” Us, Kroger, Wegmans, Walmart.com, Winn-Dixie, Price Chopper, BI-LO, Giant Carlisle, Stop & Shop, A&P, Cub Foods, Shoppers Food, ACME, Pathmark, Raley’s, Meijer, Albertsons, Nugget Market, Hannaford, Diapers.com, Shaw’s, and Harris Teeter.

I also want to encourage you to learn more about Beech-Nut and their new organic line. There are lots of ways to do just this:

Want the chance to win a coupon for your own free Beech-Nut Product? Simply leave a comment on this post and let me know which Beech-Nut product you would purchase.

Contest entrants are only eligible to win once per sweepstake, per household as part of a campaign sponsored by Influence Central and must reside in the United States. Contest ends May 20th, 2015 at 11:59pm. Winner will be contacted May 21st, and must claim their prize by May 22nd.

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.

Guest Post: Family Attractions on a San Francisco Vacation

family vacation in san francisco

San Francisco’s popularity as a tourist destination has never diminished, and in fact more people than ever are choosing to visit this Californian city. The sheer number of attractions and scenic highlights makes SF a firm family favorite for either a weekend city-break or a longer vacation.

Nearly 17 million people arrive in the ‘City by the Bay’ each year and if your family are first time visitors then there are more than a few not to be missed highlights.

Fun at the bay
You could spend an entire day on bustling Pier 39 and still not see all of the attractions of this highly recommended family-friendly location. Children will be enthralled by the sea lion shows and street performers or they might just want to try out the bungee trampolines before taking a ride on the vintage carousel. The famous Aquarium by the Bay is also located right by the water’s edge and this venue is home to 20,000 sea creatures that can be viewed via underwater clear tunnels. You don’t need to leave pier if you fancy a bite to eat as there are plenty of restaurants and cafes where you can dine while admiring the bay views.

A children’s favorite
There’s no better way to explore this city’s neighborhoods than by taking a Duck Tour San Francisco in a remarkable boat on wheels. These specially designed vehicles allow visitors to travel the city streets before splashing into the bay waters to view the skyline and the Bay Bridge. You’ll pass many iconic landmarks along the way including Fisherman’s Wharf, North Beach and Chinatown. Kids will love this tour as they’re actually given the opportunity to drive the duck boat once in the water.

Not to be missed
If you’re looking for more sightseeing attractions then the SF Zoo is well worth a visit, and this 100 acre park is home to over 1,000 rescued and endangered animals. The Golden Gate Park is another family favorite, which stretches over 1,000 acres and contains two museums, botanical gardens, a kid’s playground and carousel as well as a relaxing Japanese Tea Garden. This park is worth a day out alone, and many families come here for picnics in the sun and to spend some time boating on the lake. Of course the bay itself is the place to take boat trips to visit Alcatraz, sail underneath the iconic bridge and take in a whale-watching trip to the Farallon Islands.

This is definitely a city of fun attractions and some unforgettable sightseeing, and you’ll never be short of things to do in San Fran. Buy a ticket, hop on a cable-car and start exploring this unique destination.

Image by kaddisudhi used under the Creative Commons license

#Sponsored: 5 Ways to #StressLess2BMyBest with RESCUE

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I know stress. With 8 kids, a husband, a dog, a business, and life in general, stress and I go way back. So, when Social Moms and RESCUE asked me to share a sponsored post about how I handle stress and a new product that’s available to help me stress less, I jumped at the chance.

5 ways to relieve stress

Before I get too far into this post, I want to share my top 5 ways to relieve stress:

    • Call My Best Friend – While she may not have 8 kids, she *knows* my 8 kids almost as well as I do, and therefore understands why I’m stressed. One quick phone call to her to vent about how the dog chewed up my favorite shoe or how Sawyer won’t sleep all night, and I instantly feel better. She always knows just what to say to get me out of my funk and back in the game.
    • Put on Some Music – It might be a fast-paced Casting Crowns song, or the latest tear-jerker from Karen Peck, but either way, listening to music always helps me feel better. It lifts me up and reminds me that I have Someone who cares about my well being.
    • Go to Bed – Now, I’ll be honest. I wish this were an option more often than it is. Sleep is my absolute favorite way to relieve stress, but with a baby who refuses to sleep through the night, I don’t get near as much sleep as I should. On days when I’m feeling completely overwhelmed, I do hit the sack as soon as the baby closes his eyes, to help guarantee as much sleep as possible.
    • Exercise – Even if it’s just a little bit, or only for a few minutes, exercise always makes me feel better. Sometimes I load up the kids in the stroller and the baby carrier and take a walk, sometimes I leave all the kids with my oldest daughter and take a walk, and sometimes I just run around the house, hands in the air, screaming like a lunatic. 😉 My point is, getting up and moving is a great way to relieve stress.
    • Snuggle with my Husband – No one on earth can make me feel better faster than my husband. Sometimes, I get so overwhelmed, I just need him to hold me. And he always does. He’s also such a good man, he has learned to whisper, “Everything is going to be OK,” in my ear. I can always feel the stress melt away whenever he’s near.

I also want to make sure you know about RESCUE products. RESCUE products are completely natural, and are a great way to help you calm down – naturally – and relieve that stress you feel inside.

I can’t wait to give their products a try! They have something for everyone in my family – even my dog!

Right now, you can download a coupon and get a free product when you purchase one. Also, when you download the coupon, you’ll be entered to win fantastic products from Bose and GoPro in the RESCUE #StressLess2BeMyBest Sweepstakes. We all want less stress in our lives, so why not take a minute to learn more, try these products for yourself, AND have the chance to win some awesome prizes! Click on the image below to download your coupon and enter to win today!

rescueremedy bloggerI can’t wait to try out RESCUE products with my family. How about you?

What tips do you have for others to help relieve stress? I’d love to hear them. Leave your comment below!

Disclaimer: This blog post is part of a paid SocialMoms and RESCUE blogging program. The opinions and ideas expressed here are my own.

Top 5 Mattresses to Look at when Buying your Child’s Crib

What is the safest and healthiest possible crib mattress for your baby? When your child is asleep, you need to be sure he or she is away with the angels, secure and breathing softly.

It is especially worth knowing that common buzzwords such as “eco”, “green”, “healthy”, or “non-toxic” are in fact unregulated, meaning that there are no real standards to define what is actually healthy. There have been some pretty high profile companies sued for materials used in their baby products.

Today’s crib mattresses are generally well designed to provide a safe and supportive surface for your baby to sleep on. However, because every mother wants the best for her little one, the market has become very competitive and many claims are made that are not strictly true. The safety and comfort of the mattress depends mostly on the material inside, but there are huge variations even within these.

Here are five types of crib mattress you might want to consider:

  • Foam
    •  A foam mattress is the lightest of all, and thus a good choice if you have a portable crib which folds up when not in use, or suffer from back problems or other physical limitations. It is also the cheapest option, but all foams are not created equally – some are made of Polyurethane, some bamboo fiber and some latex. Polyurethane is the cheapest of all, but “sinks” easily while latex is longer lasting but more expensive.
    •  Foam also comes in different densities and varying levels of firmness, with higher density materials considered safer because a soft sleeping surface could be a suffocation hazard and raise the risk of SIDS. Generally speaking, the firmer a foam mattress is, the safer it is for your baby. The way to test this is to push your hand into the middle of the mattress and check how quickly it regains its shape. The quicker the better, because sleeping babies make an impression on the foam, and it will be harder for them to change position if the mattress stays flattened.
  • Coiled Spring Mattress
    • This design has a steel construction making them quite heavy, which could present difficulties if you have to move the mattress frequently. And while marketers may boast of the coil count, it does not actually mean it is firmer or more comfortable. Instead, check the gauge (thickness) of the steel – it should be 15.5 or lower.
    • Avoid cheaper models however, because they can squeak with the baby’s every movement and both you and your child need your rest.
  • Pocket Spring Crib Mattress
    • The pocket spring mattresses is similar to the coiled spring, but with each spring sewn into an individual material pocket which allows each spring to move independently of the others and compress according to the weight it has to support. Many mothers find this mattress ideal because your baby’s back will be supported better that his or her legs.
    • The downside, however, is that this is one of the most expensive mattresses as well as the heaviest.
  • Memory Foam
    • This type of mattress has temperature sensitive foam that molds to your baby’s body, and when you lift the child you will see that it slowly springs back to its original shape.
    • Since memory foam hugs your baby’s body, air circulation is reduced and can make the mattress feel warmer, so is an option if you don’t have central heating or live in a colder climate. The problem, however, is that it is difficult to flip and may be too warm for the baby in summer.
  • Natural and Organic Crib Mattress
    • Health conscious parents today are all too well aware that conventional mattresses are often made from petroleum by-products and treated with flame retardant chemicals like boric acid, and will prefer a mattress made from natural materials and fibers. These can include untreated wool, which is a natural flame retardant and also dust mite resistant, or organic cotton. Beware, though, that due to lax advertising standards a mattress that claims to be organic may only contain a small amount of natural material.
    • Organic mattresses are usually chemical free and ideal if you think your child may have allergies. The downside, however, is that you need to carefully investigate the maker before trusting the organic or hypoallergenic label. One organic cotton mattress pad product that has received good reviews is Greenbuds Baby line, but there are lots of good companies offering great products. Just make sure you are discerning in your choice!

#Sponsored: #DrinkDripDrop & Keeping My Family Hydrated @DripDrop @SheSpeaks #Review

sampleDisclaimer: This is a sponsored post for DripDrop and SheSpeaks. I received samples in order to facilitate my review. Opinions expressed are 100% my own.

dripdrop keeps us hydrated

Keeping my family hydrated during cold and flu season is of the utmost importance to me. There are so many options out there. How do you know which one is right for you and your family? I want the best. I want what is going to get my kids hydrated again and back to playing in no time.

For this review, SheSpeaks and DripDrop sent me samples of DripDrop Hydration Powder along with a fantastic water bottle. They couldn’t have timed it better.

As you can see in the photo above, we recently had a real need for DripDrop Hydration Powder. My son Parker ended up with a severe toothache. It was so bad, I couldn’t get him to eat or drink anything. He laid around all day and just cried. (Of course it was a Saturday, and there were no dental offices open.) I was so worried about him getting dehydrated. He quickly became weak from not eating or drinking, and I had to do something.

The only option I had was to offer him a bottle of water with the DripDrop Hydration Powder. I had to get it to room temperature because his tooth was so sensitive, but once I did, it was a hit! He tried both the lemon and the berry flavors, and he couldn’t pick a favorite. He loved them both. (Honestly, I think he loved the fact that he was the only one that got to drink the “special” juice.) :) (Please note: I did put in a call to the doctor’s after hour line and made sure his pediatrician was alright with me giving him the DripDrop powder. She agreed that I had to get something in him and thought the DripDrop powder was a great way to go.)

What impresses me most about DripDrop is that it’s the first hydration solution developed by a Mayo Clinic trained physician to save lives. It delivers 2 – 3 times the electrolytes of sports drinks and 25% more than the pediatric drink options. It is patented and clinically proven to hydrate better than the other available options.

I also love that there are no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.

DripDrop is a product I can feel good about giving my entire family. The next time we have the flu cycle through our household, I can be prepared and have DripDrop on hand. (And with 10 people in our house, you can only imagine what a nightmare the flu is for all of us. It is usually a month long battle with everyone just passing it back and forth.)

I am so thankful for products like DripDrop that are made to help me keep my family safe and healthy when the worst strikes.

Let me encourage you to learn more about DripDrop in the following ways:

Also, please check out the following links for more really great info:

You can read about more moms’ experiences with DripDrop by searching the hashtag #DrinkDripDrop on your favorite social media channels.

Ready to stock up on DripDrop and keep your family hydrated when colds or the flu strike? Head to your local DVS, Walgreens, or HEB store and grab some right now!

Guest Post: Thinking Beyond the Sleepless Nights with Window Treatments

Any prospective parent out there will have undoubtedly stumbled on the “must have” checklists ahead of their new arrival. Most of the time, somewhere on this list (below the cot and other essentials) will be a blackout blind.

The blackout blind is said to be one of the absolutely necessary fittings for any new-born baby. It’s the blind which blocks out all sources of natural light and ultimately, provides baby, mom and dad with that elusive sleep. It might not (in fact, it WON’T) be a full night’s sleep – but some suggest that the blackout blind can provide several hours’ extra sleep every night just because of its basic properties.

blackout blind

Bearing the above in mind, it’s easy to become embroiled in this fitting and forget about all of your other requirements. Yes, a blackout blind will give you those extra hours initially, but you must remember about all of your other eventual requirements as your little one gets older.

For example, let’s take a look at safety. In the midst of all of the negative publicity surrounding blinds and their safety, a lot of people have turned towards cordless options. Fortunately, these can be purchased in a blackout solution – meaning that you can get a best of both worlds approach. However, with a lot of prospective parents having so little time and probably money considering all of the other necessary purchases, it can be easy to simply opt for the cheapest blackout on the market. Try and avoid this, by looking to the future and finding that cordless blackout shade which isn’t going to pose a safety threat to your little one as they begin exploring.

There are other considerations as well though. This next one also focuses on when your little one becomes something of an explorer, and substances seem to stick to their fingers and anything else that gets in their way. Unfortunately, blinds and curtains are usually on the receiving end of such mess – leaving you with a room that looks artistic for all of the wrong reasons.

It’s in these cases where you need to be looking towards the actual material of the blind. While it might be a little more difficult to find one that’s cordless, blackout and maintenance-free, some companies do offer such products. You’ll need to find a blind that can easily be wiped, to get rid of all of those sticky substances and leave your child’s room looking completely accident-free.

Unfortunately, it’s also easy to forget about a different type of factor – the character. While safety and practicality is always going to be of parallel importance, don’t forget that blinds and shades now come in all sort of colors and designs. Even as a new-born, your little one will require stimulation and this is exactly what a good children’s room blind can provide. If you can combine this with all of the practical factors we’ve mulled over, you’ve just found the perfect fitting for your nursery for years to come.

#Sponsored: Beautiful New Colorful Glass Bottles from @EvenfloFeeding

sampleDisclaimer: This post is sponsored by Evenflo. I received a gift pack in order to facilitate my review. All thoughts and opinions are my own and have not been influenced in any way.

evenflo products

I am a huge fan of Evenflo products. You already know how much I love their breast pump as well as their newest exersaucer.

So, when I found out about the release of several new products, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on them and test them out. Evenflo sent me the fantastic Milk & Cookies gift pack pictured above. The items included the following:

  • New Tinted Glass Bottles
  • A Tilty TripleFlo Cup
  • Milk Storage Bags
  • Cookies from Momofuku Milk Bar in New York City

This was such a great gift pack. The cookies were amazing. They satisfied my sweet tooth, and tasted fantastic! And everything was packaged so beautifully.

Now, let me take a moment and tell you what I love about each of the Evenflo products I received.

Evenflo Milk Storage Bags

Made from highly durable military-grade material, these bags are made with 30% less material for a quicker freeze and thaw. I noticed a huge difference when it came time to thaw the milk for feeding. And with the uniquely shaped top, pouring into bottles is so much easier. These are definitely on my list for items all breastfeeding moms must have.

Tilty TripleFlo Cup

This cup is tilted to help make the transition from bottle to cup easier. I also love that the rubber stopper inside has several different flow speeds, making the transition that much easier. While Sawyer doesn’t quite understand the concept of the cup, I think this will be a great item to have on hand once he’s ready for the transition.

evenflo sippy cup

Evenflo Tinted & Vented Glass Bottles

These bottles are beautiful. Available in two different colors, teal and lavender, the bottles also have a gorgeous styling to them. Evenflo took a classic bottle and made it even classier. The bottles each come with a Proflow™ Integrated Venting Nipple. These special silicone nipples direct air bubbles into the bottle instead of into baby’s tummy. What makes these nipples even better is their one-piece design. There are no extra parts to clean or worry about losing.

While I love how beautiful these bottles are, there are a few things I would consider changing to improve them even more.

For starters, the bottles are *perfect* for breastfeeding babies. I had absolutely no issues at all getting the milk from the storage bag into the bottle. It’s almost like the storage bags were made just for these bottles. But, if I used formula at all, things got a little trickier. The opening of the bottle is very small, and it was difficult to get formula from the scoop or the travel container into the bottle without making a mess. I do wish the bottles had an opening that was just a little bigger for that reason.

The nipples collapse fairly quickly and fairly often, so I am constantly pulling the bottle out of Sawyers mouth to let the nipple fill back up with air. Sawyer doesn’t like when you take the bottle out of his mouth, so he gets frustrated. I’ve tried different stages of nipples, so I’m not sure what could be causing them to collapse like that each time. This is the only bottle we’ve used that has this problem, so I’m thinking it is unique to the special nipple. It doesn’t stop Sawyer from eating, though, and this is one of the few nipples/bottles he will take, so it’s not all bad.

The last thing is that one of the bottles broke really easily. Actually, it about scared me to death. I sterilized the bottle before the first use, but when I took it out of the water and put it on the counter to dry completely, it burst into a dozen pieces. Absolutely none of the other bottles did this, so I can’t figure out what happened. Because they are glass, you’ll just have to take extra precautions when taking them out of the heat.

evenflo tinted glass bottles

The bottles are available exclusively at Babies”R”Us and retail for $11.99 for a 3 pack of either the 4 or 8 ounce size. It’s a great value for great bottles. We use our bottles almost every day. Even though there are a few things I might change, I still really love these bottles and every other product Evenflo sent us.

I hope you’ll take a few minutes and learn more about these fantastic products by visiting the Evenflo Feeding website.

The Mindful Revolution in Schools {Infographic}

Your online teaching degree will help you achieve many things – better communication in the classroom, new and effective teaching methods and more. What it might not teach you is the importance of mindfulness, which can reduce the stress of both teachers and students dramatically.

Learn more about the Mindful Revolution in our new infographic:

Nova Southeastern University Online Master’s in Teaching & Learning

#Sponsored: Using Window Treatments to Perfect Your Newborn’s Room Temperature

We don’t need to reiterate the enormity of being a parent. As soon as you leave the hospital you’re handed reams of advice, telling you what you can and can’t do and at times, it becomes overwhelming. Unfortunately, there’s no way around this – it’s always going to remain the case.

One issue which nurses and governmental guidance notes place a considerable amount of emphasis on is controlling the temperature of the room that your baby sleeps in. Over the years there has been a lot of attention placed on SIDS and one of the primary causes behind these tragedies is overheating.
baby sleeping
The problem is that it can become almost impossible to regulate your room temperature to the exact levels that are recommended. At the time of writing (and we coin this phrase, as these are figures that seem to change all the time), the suggested temperature for a baby is 68 – 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Clearly, this is quite an exact figure and most parents are fretting just whether or not they have achieved such a temperature every time nap-time occurs for their newborn. Have you put too many layers on? Too few? What TOG rating should the sleeping bag be? Unfortunately, we (and everyone else for that matter), cannot answer these questions in a general advice article.

What we can do is make temperature control a lot easier for you. If your baby happens to have been born in the summer, it can become an absolute nightmare determining whether or not the room is too hot or cold due to the heat from the sun. This is where your window treatment can be a savior.

Blackout shades are arguably the only option for new parents; this is the product that is almost guaranteed to give everyone in the house more sleep. These blinds have developed substantially over the years and now some are insulated, it’s now possible to prevent the sun’s powerful rays from entering your little one’s room and overheating it. We should also add that during the winter it becomes much easier to keep the heat in your little one’s room, which again makes the whole temperature control issue much easier to contend with.
baby's nursery
It means that you are finally provided with a stable playing field. The weather isn’t going to dramatically influence how hot your child’s nursery gets in the summer and it becomes much easier to regulate the temperature in the room.

Admittedly, the above paragraph might not seem like too much of an aid to a prospective parent. However, once you start balancing the one thousand and one other issues you have to remember, the fact that you don’t have to worry as much about the temperature in your baby’s room will be an absolute godsend. Additionally, even though the difference is probably going to be fairly minimal, the insulated shade options do provide some energy savings. As such, it’s something that we’d thoroughly recommend if you are in the midst of preparing for your new arrival.
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#Sponsored: #SeeMuchMore – Keeping Your Family Healthy with a VSP Vision Care Plan #Giveaway

sponsored
Disclaimer: I will receive a pair of sunglesses in return for my post. Opinions expressed are 100% my own. Information provided by VSP.

VSP logoEye exams are important for everyone in your family – from babies to adults, and everyone in between.

Did you know that annual eye exams are important to your overall health? They allow eye doctors to detect early signs of chronic health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, among others.

The kids have been back to school for awhile now, but we can’t forget that getting them an annual comprehensive eye exam can help them learn and experience life to the fullest. Have you made their yearly eye exam yet?

It is important that parents should take their children to the eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam starting as young as six months old, then again at three years old, before kindergarten and every year after that. Because 80 percent of what we learn is through our eyes, an eye exam is essential for your back-to-school “to do” list.

In-school screenings do not provide the same level of detection as comprehensive eye exams. Even the screening the doctors office does at their yearly well care visit isn’t enough to get your child through another year.

Do you know the common signs of vision problems? The can include squinting, head tilting, avoiding “close work,” trouble focusing, continuous rubbing of eyes and headaches.

1 in 4 children has an undetected vision condition that can negatively impact learning. Don’t let your child become another statistic!

But, eye exams, glasses, and contacts can be expensive.

That’s why I want to share with you the benefits of enrolling in vision insurance. With VSP Vision Care, you can:

  • Keep your eyes healthy with highly credentialed doctors who provide the most thorough exams
  • Save money – the average VSP member saves approximately $320 each year with vision insurance!
  • Get access to great eyewear – more than two dozen brands and hundreds of styles to choose from!
  • Enable your family to experience life to the fullest

Please take a moment and check out the following resources:

Our eyes should be one of our top priorities. Please take a few moments to educate yourself on the facts, and learn more about enrolling in a vision insurance program today.

Want to win a pair of Designer Sunglasses worth over $100? Enter using the Rafflecopter gadget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

#MC #Sponsored: Raising #RSVAwareness and Offering #PreemieProtection as the Cold Weather Moves In

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Disclaimer: I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for MedImmune. I received product samples to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

rsv awareness

As many of you know, we recently added a new member to our family. Because we have a newborn in the house, along with 7 other children, I am doing everything in my power to help keep the germs – and RSV – at bay.

Have you heard of RSV? I’m not surprised if you haven’t. In fact, as many as one third of all moms have never even heard of it!

I had my first experience with RSV when I was working in a daycare center. One of our babies in the Infant Room contracted RSV and ended up being hospitalized for several weeks because of it. I remember talking to the mom after her son returned to daycare. She had been so scared the entire time, and she felt so guilty. I made a promise to myself right then that I was going to learn all I could about RSV and how to prevent it from happening to any of my future children.

When Parker was born, there were many complications. The doctor forced me to wait until 37 weeks so he wouldn’t be considered a preemie, he was born very small and with several health concerns, much like a preemie. The doctor was very concerned that he might contract RSV, so we weren’t allowed to leave the house for the first 30 days of his life. That was tough, but combined with my own research and knowledge of RSV prevention, he made it through his first winter safely.

So, what is RSV?

RSV, (Respiratory Syncytial Virus), is a very common season virus that nearly all children contract before the age of 2. In healthy, full-term babies, it typically causes mild to moderate cold-like symptoms. RSV is most common from November through March, but it can vary from year-to-year. In the US, it is the leading cause of babies being hospitalized during their first year.

Every baby is at risk of contracting RSV, but babies born prematurely are twice as likely as full term infants to be hospitalized because of RSV disease and/or symptoms.

If your infant exhibits any of these signs or symptoms, please call your pediatrician right away:

  • Coughing or Wheezing that is persistent
  • Bluish tinted color found around the mouth or fingernails
  • Rapid or difficult breathing, or gasping for breath
  • Fever (especially if the rectal temperature is over 100.4°F in infants under 3 months of age)

RSV is a very contagious disease and can be easily spread by touching, coughing, or sneezing. The virus can live on skin and surfaces for hours. There is no treatment for RSV once it has been contracted, so prevention is key.

Here are some tips to help you prevent the spread of RSV disease:

  • Parents should wash their hands often and ask others to do the same. (This goes for siblings too – especially school-aged children!)
  • Keep baby’s clothes, toys, sheets, blankets, and clothes clean.
  • Avoid large crowds and other young children during RSV season.
  • Don’t ever let anyone smoke near your baby.
  • Keep baby away from people who are sick or have recently been sick.

Still want to learn more about RSV? There’s an easy way to do just that! Visit www.RSVprotection.com for lots more information. There, you’ll find out how to talk to your child’s pediatrician about their risk factors for contracting RSV, data about RSV and how it is affecting your area, and real stories about families that have experienced RSV.

I also want to make sure you are aware that this coming Monday is World Prematurity Day. It is a day set aside to raise awareness of preterm birth. According to Wikipedia, approximately 15 million babies are born preterm each year. That’s about 1 in 10 of all babies born worldwide. With this special day coming up, we also want to make sure that parents of preemies – and all parents are aware of the risks of RSV and how to prevent it.

Before I close, I want you to take a look at this easy to read infographic:

rsv_infographic

If you have an experience with RSV, I would love to hear about it. Please leave your comment below.

Quick & Easy #Halloween Decoration (DIY Project)

I love Halloween.

Let me be more specific. I love certain aspects of Halloween.

I don’t love skeletons. Or zombies. Or blood. Or guts. Or demons. Or any such aspect of Halloween.

I do, however, love candy and pumpkins, caramel apples, and cutesy stuff.

So, when it comes to Halloween decor, I tend to go with a more “Fall” feel than Halloween per say.

There is this one exception, though…. and that’s Footprint Ghosts. I find them absolutely adorable, and I love watching how the kids’ feet grow from year to year.

Here was this year’s project:

11x14 sample footprint ghosts

Isn’t that adorable? Those are Gage, Carly, and Sawyer’s feet.

And here is Carly’s board from last year:

8x10 sample footprint ghosts

Want to make one yourself? It’s super easy, and you may already have everything on hand!

Here’s what you’ll need:

items needed for footprint ghosts

Supplies Needed:

  • 11×14 (or 8×10) canvas board painted black
  • White acrylic paint
  • Black acrylic paint
  • Orange puffy paint
  • Paint brushes (one for painting baby’s feet, one for smaller detail)
  • White ribbon (or lace – whatever your preference)
  • Glue (I use E600, because I hang mine on my front door and want it to be weatherproof. You can also use hot glue.)

Directions

  • Paint baby’s foot (or feet, depending on the size of your board and the size of your child’s foot) and make foot prints on the canvas board you’ve already painted black. Remember that the toes will be the bottom of the ghost, and place the footprints strategically on the board to make it look like the ghosts are “floating.” Allow to dry.
  • Using the small detail brush, paint circles for the ghosts’ eyes and mouth. (If you look closely, you’ll see that I even added eyelashes to Carly’s ghost in last year’s project.) Let dry.
  • Using the orange puffy paint, hand write the words “Trick or Treat” and “Smell my Feet.” Allow to dry.
  • Now, all that’s left is how you’ll hang it. For last year’s project, (the 8×10 canvas), I simply used a piece of white satin ribbon approximately 6 inches long. Just glue the ribbon to the back of the board, and allow to dry. For this year’s project, I wanted something more. I glued strips of lace on each side of the board, and then used a long strip of lace (approximately 12 inches) to hang it. For both projects, I used E6000 glue, but you can also use hot glue if these will be displayed inside.

Once everything is dry, simply hang to display and enjoy!

I did make sure to write each child’s name and age on the back of the boards so that I can immediately remember the details from that year’s pictures.

If you make one, I’d love for you to share it!

Happy Halloween!

#MC #Sponsored: It’s @Huggies Little Snugglers for My Squishy Newborn

sampleDisclaimer: I participated in an Influencer Activation Program on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Huggies & Target. I received samples for this review and a promotional item to thank me for participating.

newborn baby

As some of you know, on September 9th, we welcomed our 8th little blessing into the world.

Sawyer came into the world like a champ after just a few hours of being on pitocin. He was healthy, with 10 tiny fingers, 10 tiny toes, and the sweetest little cheeks I’ve ever seen.

huggies little snugglers

A few weeks before Sawyer was born, hubby and I had to take a trip down to Atlanta with Gage. Of course, one of our first stops after Gage’s appointment had to be Target. I love any opportunity I have to go into Target, and I wanted to make sure we had stocked up on Huggies Little Snugglers Diapers for our impending bundle of joy.

We hadn’t been in this Target for quite some time, and I couldn’t remember exactly where the Huggies Little Snugglers Diapers were located in the store. Naturally, I headed to the baby department, but wouldn’t you know it? There wasn’t a single pack or box of diapers to be found in the entire baby department. I did, however, find lots of cute little items that I would have added to our Target Baby Registry – if we had had one this time around. Target has my favorite items for new babies from cribs to toys, and blankets to clothes. I could have spent all day shopping for our new little guy, but I was on a mission. I needed Huggies Little Snugglers diapers. We finally found the diapers in between the grocery side of the store and the retail side, near the pharmacy. It seemed like an odd place for diapers to me, but I guess it was their way of putting the diapers where people could get them if they were just coming in for groceries. I still think I’d put a smaller selection over in the baby department, though, just because that’s the first place most people think to go to get diapers. But, once we found them, we found exactly what we needed and we were able to score a fantastic supply of Huggies Little Snugglers for Sawyer.

And I’m so glad we did!

new baby in huggies

The day Sawyer was born, the nurses got him all cleaned up and handed him back to me. But, I noticed something was wrong. He wasn’t wearing a Huggies Little Snugglers diaper. I am incredibly picky about what newborn diapers I put on my baby, and I really prefer Huggies over anything else at this stage. There are several reasons why:

  • The umbilical cord cut-out that is on each diaper. No folding down diapers around those precious little belly buttons that still have the cord on them.
  • The new GentleAbsorb* liner adds a soft, cushiony layer of protection with hundreds of tiny absorbent pillows. It draws the mess and wetness away from delicate newborn skin.
  • These diapers are cottony-soft inside and out, so I know Sawyer is comfy day and night.
  • The wetness indicator helps me keep a fast eye on when he needs changed, and how often I need to change him… which is crucial those first few days.
  • The flexible, pocketed back waistband helps keep the mess contained in the diaper. No newborn blow-outs for us!
  • The unique, stretchy SnufFit* Waistband provides a gentle, secure fit, keeping Sawyer happy and making Mommy happy too!

I will have you know, I sent hubby home that afternoon and made him come back with a pack of Huggies Little Snugglers for our little guy to use while he was in the hospital.

New Huggies Little Snugglers Diapers are available in grocery stores and mass retailers nationwide. They are available in 5 sizes – Preemie (up to 6 pounds) through size 3 (16 – 28 pounds), and have a suggested retail price of $11.99 for a Jumbo Pack and $22.99 for a Big Pack. (Remember that diaper count varies based on diaper size.)

sawyer in huggies

I also want to make sure you’re aware of the Huggies Sweeps that gives you the chance to win free diapers for a year just by registering your Wish! What wish would you register for? Have a special family member that you wish could be present for the birth? Need a new crib? Maybe you want one last night on the town before the new baby makes his appearance? Personally, I want a nursery makeover. With 5 boys in one room, I could use some help getting things arranged and decorated in a way that spans the ages newborn to 11. (We’re thinking a pirate theme!)

Head on over to the Huggies website and register your wish. Then, head to your local Target store, start your baby registry, and be sure to add lots of Huggies Little Snugglers!

Prayers Appreciated!

ourchildren

Early tomorrow morning, I’ll be heading into our local hospital to be induced. Soon, our family will be complete and baby #8 will be welcomed with open arms.

If you can spare a prayer for a quick, easy delivery with no complications, I would sincerely appreciate it.

Things may be quiet for a few days around here while I adjust to becoming a mom of 8 and snuggle my sweet little newborn as much as humanly possible the first few days.

Thanks for being loyal readers of the blog. I promise to be back soon and things will be better than ever!

#Sponsored: The @LeapFrog #LeapTV System is HERE! Go Pre-Order Now!

sponsored
Disclaimer: This post is part of a sponsored campaign with LeapFrog and MomSelect. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

leaptv

It’s here! It’s here! The big day has finally arrived! The LeapFrog LeapTV Gaming Console is finally available for pre-sale! I am so excited!

So, what are you waiting for? Head on over to the LeapFrog website and order your LeapTV Gaming Console today!

Still have no idea what I’m talking about? Well, I’ve been giving you little teasers for the past couple of weeks. You can read them here and here.

Now, I want to leave you with one last video to encourage you to consider the LeapTV System for your family. It’s a chance to get your kids to move their minds and their bodies. Here, take a look:

Direct Link to Video on YouTube

Looks like fun to me!! Head on over NOW and reserve your very own LeapFrog LeapTV System today!

Don’t Forget to Connect with LeapFrog

#Sponsored: Don’t Forget! @LeapFrog #LeapTV System is Almost Ready for PreOrder!

sponsored
Disclaimer: This post is part of a sponsored campaign with LeapFrog and MomSelect. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

leaptv

Remember last week when I mentioned that the LeapTV System is about to be released for Pre-Sale? I just want to remind you that the big day is almost here!

The LeapTV system will be available for pre-order on September 2, 2014.  On that day, you can head to the LeapFrog website, and order your very own LeapTV Gaming Console. It’s as easy as that! It’s created for kids ages 3 – 8 years, and it’s educational and downright FUN!

You saw the video last week. Now, here’s a new video to let you in on more information about the LeapTV system:


Direct Link to Video on YouTube

SO exciting! Your kids are going to love this! I certainly know mine will. It looks like such a fun, easy way to get my kids learning while playing. I’m all for that!

Remember, the big day is September 2nd. Be ready to order your own LeapTV Gaming Console then!

Don’t Forget to Connect with LeapFrog

#Sponsored: Get Ready for the New @LeapFrog #LeapTV System – Coming Soon!

sponsored
Disclaimer: This post is part of a sponsored campaign with LeapFrog and MomSelect. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

leaptv

It’s no secret, I love LeapFrog products! I’ve been a fan of their educational items for years. In fact, if you’ve been here recently, you’ll note that I just recently had the opportunity to review the LeapPad3.

Now, LeapFrog has asked me to tell my wonderful readers about an amazing new product they will be releasing soon. It’s called the LeapTV Gaming Console, and friends, you *must* check this out! It’s educational, active video gaming. It doesn’t get more fun than this! Over the next couple of weeks, I will be giving you more information, release dates and all the need-to-know info. I will let you in on a little secret… The LeapTV system will be available for pre-order on September 2, 2014. That’s just around the corner, and this would make one amazing Christmas gift! Get ready to order yours soon!

For now, I want to generate a little excitement and share this video with you. Check out the LeapFrog “Child Executive Officer” and learn more about this fantastic video gaming system:

Click here to watch it on YouTube.

I am SO excited about the release of this product, and it sounds like something my kids will thoroughly enjoy. I’m all about the kids having fun, but when they are learning while playing, it makes playtime even better.

Thank you, LeapFrog for continually making toys and games better for my kids!

Connect with LeapFrog

#Sponsored: Tips and Tricks to Make Breastfeeding Easier

sampleDisclaimer: I received a breastpump from Evenflo in order to facilitate my review and in return for sharing these tips and tricks with you. Opinions expressed are 100% my own and have not been influenced in any way.

breast pump

As you may know, I am just a few weeks away from giving birth to baby #8. Breastfeeding is an important topic to me, and while I don’t talk about it too often, I always look forward to sharing more tips and tricks with you on the subject.

Recently, I was asked if I would share some Breastfeeding Tips, Tricks, and Myths from renowned lactation consultant and Registered Nurse Shari Criso.

I hope these will help encourage you in your breastfeeding journey. I’ve breastfed 6 of my 7 kids, and plan to breastfeed #8 for as long as I can. As always, if I can ever be of any help, don’t hesitate to contact me.

Shari Criso’s Top 3 Breastfeeding Tips

  • Tip #1: Become as knowledgeable and educated as possible about breastfeeding BEFORE you have your baby. Trying to wing it after the baby comes or rely on the staff at the hospital to teach you could be a disaster and the reason why breastfeeding was not successful.
  • Tip #2: Purchase what you will need to makebreastfeeding more comfortable and easier especially in the first few weeks when you are first adjusting and it is usually the most difficult time.  You don’t have to spend a lot of money to accomplish this, but assume that you WILL be successful and get what you need. You may be able to get help with breastfeeding at no cost, since your health insurance plan must cover the cost of a breast pump – and may offer to cover either a rental or a new one for you to keep.  I like the Evenflo® Advanced Double Electric Breast Pump: $99.99-$159.99
  • Tip #3:  Make sure you are surrounded with support. One of the biggest challenges and reasons for moms not having the success that they want with breastfeeding is not getting the support from the people around them.  Get your partner on board with education and information. A supportive partner is one of the biggest reasons for breastfeeding success. Find friends and other breastfeeding moms who were successful to speak to and line up a lactation consultant before you deliver so you can reach out for help as soon as you need it.

Next, Shari tackles some of the top breastfeeding myths…

Shari Criso’s Top Breastfeeding Myths:

  • Myth #1: A large percentage of our population just can’t make enough milk to fully nourish their babies.
    Fact: Our bodies were made to breastfeed and our species has survived for hundreds of thousands of years this way. It is actually UNCOMMON for a mom to carry a pregnancy, deliver a baby, and then just not be able to feed it. It does not make sense. There are some moms who may have issues with milk supply, but most of the time it is due to inaccurate advice to supplement with formula because of a “perceived” low supply issue instead of a real supply issue.
  • Myth #2: That if your mom or sister couldn’t breastfeed, that you won’t be able to breastfeed as well.
    Fact: I don’t know what happened with a woman’s mom or sister, but I do know that their mother’s mother, and her mother before that, and so on…were able to breastfeed or they would not be here. We come from a line of women that were able to produce enough and feed their babies because that was the only way. Although the ability to breastfeed can have a genetic factor, this is usually not the case. Most of the time the reason that the mom or sister was not able to breastfeed is due to reasons that were not medical issues, but rather misinformation or assumptions about their bodies ability to make enough milk.
  • Myth #3:  That you have to have the perfect diet and lifestyle to make good and enough milk.
    Fact: This is just untrue. If having the perfect diet, enough rest, not too much stress, etc. were major factors in your body’s ability to feed your baby then our species would have died off long ago. People throughout history have lived through some of the most difficult situations and still were able to feed. Although our own health does make breastfeeding easier, it is not critical in making enough or good “quality” milk.  A good diet will keep you healthy, but regardless of what you are eating your milk is rarely effected except in the most extreme cases.
  • Myth #4:  Breastfeeding will change the shape of your breasts.
    Fact: Breastfeeding itself is not the culprit.  Other factors that can change your breast appearance more than breastfeeding includes BMI, age, history of smoking, large pre-pregnancy breast size and number of pregnancies.

I also want to give you a few of Shari’s favorite items to help encourage breastfeeding and maybe even make it a little easier on you.

Shari Criso’s Must-Have Products to Make Breastfeeding Easier

  • Bravado Designs Ultra Comfort Nursing Camisole: $34.99
    www.babiesrus.com
    Easy to wear while pregnant or nursing your new baby. Wire-free, seam-free, and has a long silhouette.

I hope some of these tips, tricks, busted myths, and products help you. I know the thought of breastfeeding for the first time (or the 7th time!), can be stressful, but it every second of doubt or worry you might have now will be gone the moment your baby is in your arms, snuggled up to your chest.

My Review of the Evenflo Advanced Double Electric Breast Pump

While I can’t really review the pump yet… I have been doing my research on breast pumps, and the Evenflo pump had become the clear winner even before I received it for review. I honestly cannot wait to start using this pump. I’m praying it will help me build up a great stash in the freezer so that family and friends can help with feeding.

Since I can’t review it yet, I want to give you some of the features of this pump and why it made the top of my list:

  • 32 settings for optimal control.That is a LOT of settings! That means you’re much more likely to get the suction you need at any given time.
  • 3 assorted flange sizes for different sized moms. None of those “one size fits all” that don’t really fit all. Ensures a comfortable fit no matter what your cup size.
  • Hygienic, closed pumping system. This prevents milk from backing up into the system and tainting the milk or ruining the pump.
  • Plug in or battery powered. Makes it great for on the go or pumping at home or at work.
  • Converts to single pump use easily. For those times when you might need to pump on one side while feeding on the other, or to prevent engorgement
  • PerfectPosition designed for slouch free pumping. Great for when comfort is of the utmost importance.
  • Includes drawstring wet parts bag and access to “Simply Breastfeeding” and “Breast Pumps & Briefcases” educational programs. I haven’t found any other pump that includes such fabulous breastfeeding material to encourage breastfeeding mothers. I love it! And the bag is great for taking it on the go.

Just a few more weeks, and I’ll finally be able to put this pump to good use! I can’t wait! So many fabulous features, and I’m looking forward to putting it to the test.

What Breastfeeding Tips & Tricks have helped YOU most?