#Sponsored: @Pampers Premium Care a #MothersPromise to my Baby @SheSpeaksUp

sampleDisclaimer: This is a sponsored post on behalf of Pampers through SheSpeaks.

pampers premium

As a mom, I make lots of promises to my children: “I promise we can go to the park.” “I promise I will love you forever.” “I promise to always be here when you need me.”

What about, “I promise to give you the very best that I can give”? That promise can hold true even when it comes to something as simple as the diapers we put on their little behinds.

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Pampers and Walmart recently teamed up with the release of new Pampers Premium Care Diapers. Thanks to SheSpeaks and Pampers, I had the opportunity to test out these diapers on Carly and Sawyer.

I have to say, I am quite impressed with these diapers! I can’t get over how soft they are. Not only are they soft, but they are also absorbent. We call Sawyer our little “Super Soaker.” It seemed like every night, I was changing the crib sheets in the middle of the night because he had soaked through his diaper. That was until I made the switch to Pampers Premium Care Diapers! Now, he can make it all night long without soaking through! The extra absorb channels the diapers offer distribute the wetness evenly for up to 12 hours – making for a happy baby and an even happier Mommy! Because Sawyer has incredibly sensitive skin, there are several features in the diapers that make them perfect for him: 1. The Absorb Away Liner pulls wetness and messes away from baby’s skin. This helps keep him clean and dry, and the number of diaper rashes he’s gotten has decreased significantly! 2. The Breathable Material keeps the air circulating around baby’s skin, keeping him dry and rash free. 3. The are completely Hypoallergenic, perfect for even the most sensitive skin, like Sawyer’s.

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Another thing I love is that the diapers are available at Walmart. That means I know I’m getting a great product at a great price. The diapers won’t break my budget, and I can grab them while I’m at Walmart getting everything else I need.

To learn more about new Pampers Premium Care Diapers that are now available at Walmart, I encourage you to check out the following links:

Head to Walmart and grab a pack of Pampers Premium Care Diapers for your little one today.

Have you tried new Pampers Premium Care Diapers? What do you think of them?

#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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:
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(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!

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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!

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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.

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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: Dads: Fitting the Perfect Nursery Blind

Considering all of the safety issues that have been reported in relation to blinds over recent years, it should come as no surprise to read that dads up and down the country are fretting about whether or not they have installed their little one’s nursery blind accordingly. If you fall into this category, or are about to anytime soon, it’s time to read on.

Of course, it’s not all about safety. While this will be the biggest factor plaguing most parents’ minds, we should also point out that a correctly installing your blinds can affect a whole host of other issues including sleep.

In fact, let’s start this guide on a sleep-related note. This isn’t necessarily a piece of installation advice, but more on the type of product you should be selecting. If you haven’t yet purchased your blind for your newborn, you need to be making sure that it falls in the blackout category. Anything less will rob you of precious hours of sleep and as any new parent will tell you, this is the last thing you need.

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Something else that will aid with that elusive shut-eye is just where you install the blind. Most products will give you the opportunity for a recess or exact fitting and when it comes to blocking out the maximum amount of natural light, the recess option is by far and away the most advisable. This hangs on the recess, covering slightly more than the window opening. In contrast, an exact fitting fits inside the recess and on these occasions it’s hard to block out every speck of natural light.

Now we’ve dealt with the sleep issues, let’s move onto safety. If you haven’t purchased a cordless blind, it’s time to sit up and listen. Firstly, make sure that you use every component that arrives with your blind. This includes the cleat which even though it may look quite basic, it can in fact be a lifesaving part at the same time. In simple terms, it allows your cord to wrap around the cleat and prevent any dangling strings. This immediately quashes the risk of accidents – although make sure that the cleat is installed high enough so it’s out of the way of reaching hands.

The last installation tip also revolves safety, but around one of the lesser-known devices. The cord stop is essentially a knot that is positioned on the cord, to prevent excess unraveling. Again, it’s all about minimizing the amount of cord that does dangle from the blind to ultimately reduce those risks. By making sure that this knot is positioned correctly, you can do exactly that.

As you can see, the installation process for a nursery blind is hardly extensive. We’ve covered the most important tips here and if you can get these right, you will have immediately installed a blind that’s both safe and can promote maximum sleep. These days, blinds are made-to-measure anyway, so there’s no cutting down to size or anything else along those lines – just make sure you get the basics right and your little one’s room will be ready in no time.

Guest Post: The Benefits Offered by Day Camp

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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:

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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!

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

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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.

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

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.

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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.