I am a Pull-Ups First Flush Ambassador! #CelebrateFirstFlush

Posted by Jenna | Thursday, February 27, 2014




**I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting (#MC) for Pull-Ups. I received product samples to facilitate my review and a promotional item as a thank you for participating.


With three young children I have experienced the potty training process first-hand. With my first two I was eager to get them potty trained and out of diapers as soon as I could (especially with a new baby on the way each time). With my third though (who is likely our last child), it was a little harder for me to get excited and feel motivated. Afterall, once he's out of diapers for good...he's officially a big boy, right?! 

As bittersweet as it may be, I knew that it was time to start potty training him when he began telling us he had wet his diaper, or was about to. Thankfully, potty training has always gone fairly smoothly for us, even though each child has been different. 

I have taken lessons I've learned from each time though, and have applied them to this time around as well. For instance, with my daughter, I learned that once we started training, it was important to focus primarily on daytime potty training and hold off on night-time training. With my son, I learned that making it exciting each time he went was very important too, so having some sort of cheer or "potty dance" helped encourage him a lot!

Potty training can be emotional and difficult for both parents and children. However, it's also a very exciting time and one to celebrate (even when it's your last baby)! As we celebrate many milestones in the lives of our children...their first smile, their first words, their first step - Pull-Ups wants us to also Celebrate the First Flush and I agree! They want us to encourage our kids as they begin and continue their potty training journeys.

I agree with it being a time to celebrate! There's nothing better than seeing my kids smile from ear to ear, so proud of learning to do something new like using the potty! It takes work, but is definitely worth the effort in the end!

I'm excited to announce that I am a Pull-Ups First Flush Ambassador. I will be sharing a number of posts with you as we continue our potty training process with Caysen using Pull-Ups.

One of the things I love about Pull-Ups training pants, are that they are made for toddlers who are ready for potty training. One of the hardest things I've faced during potty training, is that when I would have to put my kids in diapers (when we leave the house), they've been more likely to go potty in them because that's what they've always done. Pull-Ups training pants on the other hand, look and fit more like underwear which I'm hoping will make Caysen not want to go in the pull-up (this will be especially helpful at night). This also helps in the transition from diapers to underwear!

Are you getting ready to start, or are currently in the middle of the potty training process? If so, there are a number of different tools and resources available on the Big Kid Academy via the Pull-Ups website, Facebook page and Twitter page that make it easy to start potty training and celebrate milestones.

As I mentioned, I have found that showing excitement has always helped a lot! Having a potty dance is a lot of fun, and I love that the Pull-Ups website actually has Dance Party theme songs, lessons and downloads! How fun! This and other resources are something I wish I would have had in the beginning of my potty training journey with all three of my kids and look forward to checking out more! 

Rewards and incentives also seem to help a lot, so I was happy to find some great tips on the Pull-Ups website about that as well!

I think Pull-Ups Training Pants will make the rest of our potty training journey with Caysen fun and easy and I'm excited to share our experience with you. Stay tuned...



Mr. Peabody & Sherman Movie & Home Depot Workshop for Kids! {Giveaway}

Posted by Jenna | Wednesday, February 26, 2014



*The product for this review/giveaway was provided at no cost to me. All opinions are my own.

On March 7th, Mr. Peabody & Sherman will be hitting theaters! I always love checking out new movies with the kids, and this one will be no different!

Mr. Peabody (voiced by Ty Burrell, Emmy Award Winner- Modern Family), the most accomplished dog in the world, and his mischievous boy Sherman (Max Charles - The Amazing Spiderman), use their time machine - the WABAC - to go on the most outrageous adventures known to man or dog. But when Sherman takes The WABAC out for a joyride to impress his friend Penny, they accidentally rip a hole in the universe, wreaking havoc on the most important events in world history. Before they forever alter the past, present and future Mr. Peabody must come to their rescue, ultimately facing the most daunting challenge of any era: figuring out how to be a parent.

To celebrate DreamWorks Animation's Mr. Peabody & Sherman, Home Depot is offering a FREE hands-on workshop designed for children 5-12. The event will take place at participating Home Depot locations between 9:00am - 12:00 pm. They have the chance to build a Trojan Horse Bank with Home Depot - FREE OF CHARGE!

Kids Workshop activities are scheduled on a first come/first served basis. All participants get to keep their craft, receive a FREE certificate of achievement, a Workshop Apron, and a commemorative pin! 

From what I've read and learned, Mr. Peabody & Sherman looks like a lot of fun for all ages. I'm looking forward to checking it out! Below is the trailer...


You can learn more about the movie by visiting the official website, the Mr. Peabody & Sherman Facebook Page and following them on Twitter

WIN IT: One lucky reader is going to win a Mr. Peabody & Sherman Prize Pack which includes: 

  • $25 Visa gift card to see the film in theaters 
  • Trojan Horse Bank Kit (the activity featured at the Home Depot Workshop)
  • Mr. Peabody & Sherman glasses and bow tie set



Baby's Journey Towel Warmer ~ {Review & Giveaway}

Posted by Renee S. | Monday, February 24, 2014



**The product for this review was provided by Baby's Journey. All opinions are my own and were not influenced in any way.


Bath time can often be quite the ordeal, especially for young babies. Aliyah has always done pretty well during her bath, but it's getting out of the tub that she often does NOT like!  Since babies get cold so easily, its important to get them warm and cozy as soon as possible.  If you don't, you will likely be dealing with one unhappy baby!  One thing that has helped make our bath time routine more enjoyable is the Towel Warmer from Baby's Journey. We received this product for review and have really enjoyed using it.






The Baby's Journey Towel Warmer allows you to keep your little one warm and cozy as soon as you take them out of the bath.  Its so easy to use - just set baby's towel inside the warmer, shut the lid, and press the button!  It also has an automatic shutoff so you don't have to worry about leaving it on, a safety feature that I really appreciate.  Within 10 minutes baby's towel is nice and toasty and ready to use.  I love that we now have a nice warm towel to wrap Ali in; it has definitely helped keep her happy and we have less tears after bath time! (Which of course helps keep mom and dad happy as well!)  

Another thing I really like about this warmer from Baby's Journey is that it is small enough for us to store under our sink, eliminating clutter in the bathroom.  When we're ready to use it, we can just pull it out and set it on the counter.    




I have only used this for Ali's baby towels so far, but it is roomy enough to fit our towels as well.  I can definitely see using this myself after a nice relaxing bath!

Baby's Journey offers a variety of other bath, changing pads, travel accessories and gates that you can learn more about by visiting their website!



*As a side note, we had an issue with the first warmer we received.  After contacting their customer service, we were quickly sent a new product without any issues.  I know this can happen with any item, especially after shipping it, so I was happy to know the company stood by their product, was easy to work with, and offered a replacement. I love when companies have great customer service! 

Buy It:  You can purchase Baby's Journey Towel Warmer for $49.99


WIN IT: One lucky reader is going to win a Baby's Journey Towel Warmer of their own!



Travel down an Oracle Certification Pathway {Guest Post}

Posted by Jenna | Monday, February 24, 2014




Oracle certification pathways are excellent options for individuals who are experienced with or would like to increase their knowledge of one product or group of inter-related technologies. In a certification pathway, individuals will earn certification in a ladder-like pattern, starting at the bottom (the foundational, basic skill certifications) and climbing their way up (to professional or often expert certification levels, in which advanced concepts and uses of the products are tested and validated). Participants in a pathway will work toward obtaining and advancing in a job role, such as software implementer or administrator, which allows for constant improvement and advancement.

The certification pathways usually begin with an associate level certification, in which foundational IT knowledge and basic software and job roles skills are tested. Most associate certifications require a passing score on one exam. A professional certification can next be earned, while an expert or master certification can later be earned with acquisition of the professional level certification, completion of training, and work experience. The difficulty of the skills and concepts tested increases with each level.


Popular certification options such as Database 10g and 11g Administrator are set up in certification pathways. Training for these and others from ExamTrace is optional but highly recommended for gaining knowledge and getting the most out of the program. Participants in a pathway do not have to continue on to the highest level of certification, but they always have that option; and, the higher they go, the more freedom and responsibility they will receive in their job role and field of IT.



Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Minnie-rella on DVD {Review}

Posted by Jenna | Thursday, February 20, 2014




If there's one cartoon all three of my kids can agree they love to watch, it's Mickey Mouse Clubhouse! That's why I was excited to learn about their latest full-length feature adventure! We were sent Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Minnie Rella on DVD to review. 


There's something captivating and magical about fairy tales, which is why all three kids were excited to learn that that in this DVD, Minnie transforms into a fairy tale inspired Cinderella (a favorite princess of my daughter).

We sat down to watch it right away! This DVD kept my kids' interest the whole time. It is very cute too! The pals need to get Minnie a surprise present, so they keep her busy with plenty of chores  to do at the Clubhouse. Minnie gets tired from all the work and falls asleep. She dreams that she is Minnie-Rella (Kaelyn's favorite part!). There's music and fun that all three kids thoroughly enjoyed!

Minnie-rella needs a lot of help to get ready for Prince Mickey's Grand Ball! With a wave of her wand and some "Mouseke-doodle-lee-doo" magic, Minnie-rella's fairy godmother transforms an ordinary tomato into a magnificent carriage and her dress into a beautiful ball gown. 

With the viewer's help, Prince Mickey finds the princess who fits into her lost glass slipper. It was fun to watch as it was a familiar class story with a twist. We loved it!

The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Minnie Rella came out on DVD February 11th and includes a free Castle Play Set, 3 additional Mickey Mouse Clubhouse episodes and 10 Minnie's Bow-Toon Shorts. It's the perfect addition to our collection of children's DVDs. 

The episodes and shorts include:

Pluto’s Tale – In Pluto’s very first fairytale adventure, we help Prince Pluto rescue Princess Bella from the clutches of sneaky Wizard Pete.

Mickey and the Enchanted Egg – Mickey finds an egg which soon hatches into a Baby Dragon. Mickey and his friends have to return the Dragon back to her castle home and convince the powerful Wizard Pete that they didn’t steal the egg in the first place.

Daisy’s Pony Tale – When Professor Von Drake’s new invention, a Fritzer-Spritzer Spray Potion, accidentally gets spritzed on Daisy’s ponytail, it makes her hair grow super long! That’s not goody-good at all. Along with Mickey and Sire Goofs-a-Lot, Daisy travels on her pony to find twelve leaves of the magical plant, Rapunzel, in order to reverse the effects of the Professor’s potion and fix her ponytail.

Minnie Bow-Toons Shorts:   
Piano Movers and Shakers
A Good Sign
Locked Out
Feelin Crabby
Cucko-Loca’s Egg-celent Adventure
Funny Bunny
Weather or Not
Mechanical Mayhem
Adventures in Piggy Sitting
Minnie’s Makeover Madness  

If you're looking to buy The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Minnie-rella DVD, you can purchase it for $14.96 on Amazon.com.



Simple & Delicious Homemade Chili ~ {Recipe}

Posted by Jenna | Tuesday, February 18, 2014




There's something about chili and winter that just go together. After being out in the cold (working, running errands, at school, etc), our family loves to sit down to a good warm meal this time of year. One of our favorites is chili, as it's something all five of us enjoy eating (even my picky eaters!).

I used to make a chunky chili with chunks of tomato, pepper, etc...but my kiddos were not a fan. Then I was introduced to my mother-in-law's recipe, and not only was it easier to make, but a big hit with the young and old alike! It's simple, creamy and best of all, delicious! 



Ingredients:

1 lb hamburger, browned and drained
1 lg 36 oz can chili beans (we use Mrs. Grimes an LOVE them), undrained
2 15 oz cans Tomato Sauce
1 10.75 oz can Tomato Soup
2 T Tastefully Simple Wahoo Chili Seasoning (or your chili seasoning preference)

Directions:

1. Brown and drain hamburger
2. Mix hamburger, chili beans, tomato sauce, tomato soup and chili seasoning together in a pan (or crockpot) and heat through.


I've made this both on the stovetop, as well as in the crockpot. They are equally as good, but I love how simple the crockpot is for making supper ahead of time! I just mix all the ingredients up and set it on low all day. It is delicious! You can use whatever chili seasoning you prefer, but if you've never tried Tastefully Simple's Wahoo Chili Seasoning Blend, I would recommend it! To me, that's what makes this chili so amazing and such a hit whenever I make it.

Soon I will post the recipe for a yummy corn bread casserole that I make along with it! Stay tuned...



Mega Bloks First Builders Build n' Splash ~ Review & Giveaway

Posted by Jenna | Sunday, February 16, 2014



**The product for this review/giveaway was provided by Mega Bloks. All opinions are my own.

Even as my kids get older, there's still one thing all three of them absolutely love...bath time!! Of course, besides the bubbles, the best part about taking a bath, is getting to play with toys in the water. I always keep an eye out for fun toys they would enjoy, and was excited to learn more about Mega Bloks First Builders Build 'N Splash!

I'm a big fan of the Mega Bloks brand and have always been impressed with the quality of the toys we've owned. My kids also love Mega Bloks and building with the bloks, so I knew they'd be thrilled to check out the Mega Bloks First Builders Build N' Splash for review! 

Features:
•  Stackable underwater friends designed for fun bath time building
•  Red octopus, yellow starfish, blue shark, red snapper and purple squid
•  Suction cup secures the build to the bottom of the tub
•  Handy draining bucket with suction cup for storing all of your Build ‘n Splash friends
•  Compatible with all Mega Bloks First Builders sets for bigger builds, longer waterfalls and endless building possibilities

When the product arrived, I loved the colors and quality design. As always, Mega Bloks did not disappoint, and this is a toy I know will hold up for a long time.

One of my favorite features is the handy draining bucket! Not only does it ensure that the wet toys can drain and dry easily, but it has a suction cup so it can attach right to the wall of the bath/shower! It's great for storing all of the pieces so they aren't laying on the floor of the tub. It's been great, as my kids even enjoy picking up the bath toys now! 

Of course, the best part for the kids is the fun this toy provides! They are able to build in the bath! The bottom has a suction cup to stick the friendly red octopus to the bottom of the tub and stack the fishy friends on top of it to create a fun waterfall as the water runs down it! 

My kids also like to pour water on the squid's head and watch the cascading effect as the starfish spins, the shark dips and the fish catches the water. 

Another thing I appreciate, is that it is compatible for all Mega Bloks First Builders sets for bigger builds. It really makes building open-ended for the kids with a world of possibilities. It's been fun to see their creativity as they build during bath time!

We've really enjoyed the Mega Bloks First Builders Build n' Splash bath toy and would recommend it to other families with little ones as well. The possibilities are endless and it brings bath time fun to a whole new level! 

Buy It: You can purchase the Mega Bloks First Builders Build n' Splash for $14.99

Win It: One lucky reader is going to win a Mega Bloks First Builders Build n' Splash toy!

a Rafflecopter giveaway






*The products for this review and giveaway were provided to me free of charge. All opinions are my own.

Valentine's Day is a holiday many of us look forward to. It's fun and a great reminder to show the special friends and family in our lives just how much we care! 

Although my husband and I don't do a lot on Valentine's Day, we still try to make it special whether we go out or stay in. As you prepare yourself for your date night you can count on Alberto VO5, an iconic hair care brand, to help you look and feel fabulous without breaking the bank. 


Praised by All You, Allure and SELF, VO5's proprietary Five Essential Vitamins needed for salon beautiful hair. I was excited to learn about this line and happy when I found out I was going to review the following salon series products:

  • VO5 Hot Oil Treatment
  • VO5 Salon Series Hydrate + Nourish Shampoo and Conditioner
  • VO5 Salon Series Perfect Hold Hair Spray
  • VO5 Salon Series Simply Stunning Leave-In Conditioner


I enjoy finding new shampoos and conditioners to try. The first thing I noticed about the VO5 Salon Series Hydrate + Nourish Shampoo and Conditioner is that they smell amazing! Love it!

My hair has been extremely dry this time of year, so I was happy to find that it left my hair feeling soft and healthy! It looks and feels great.

There are some days I need more conditioning, so I was looking forward to trying the VO5 Salon Series Simply Stunning Leave-In Conditioner as well!

It leaves my hair feeling silky and soft after using it, even when I'm using my hair dryer and straightener! This protective conditioner saturates hair with moisture and vitamin enriched formulas to help protect hair from heat. It also helps to strengthen hair against breakage which I struggle with often as well. I'm really happy to have this product on hand and use it more as time goes on.

I don't style my hair ever day, but when I'm going out with my hubby I always try to do something with it. I find that my hair has extra static this time of year so a little hairspray is always nice. It also helps my short hair stay in place. 

The VO5 Salon Series Perfect Hold Hair Spray has worked great for my needs. It's a great finishing product for any style and holds a long time as well. I haven't noticed stickiness like I often do with my other hairspray so that has been great as well!

I haven't tried the Hot Oil Treatment yet, but am excited to! It's supposed to moisturize and condition hair from roots to ends, helping restore shine, strength and silky softness. This is exactly what my hair needs time of year!

Overall I've been really impressed with the VO5 products and would recommend them to others looking for quality hair products that are affordable. 

VO5 also shared a fun how-to for a braided knot, a classic but chic style perfect for a romantic night.

The Braided Top Knot

1. Gather hair into a ponytail and secure with an elastic at the crown of your head. 
2. Take pony tail and braid using braid-type of your choice (3 strand, fishtail, rope, etc) and secure end with elastic.
3. Grab braid and wrap it around to create a knot formation. Secure with 3-4 hairpins. Use VO5's Series Perfect Hold Hairspray.




WIN IT: One lucky reader is going to win the same VO5 Salon Series products that I received. 








NOVICA fair trade products {Review}

Posted by Erin K. | Friday, February 14, 2014



*The product for this review was provided by NOVICA, all opinions are my own.



Anytime shopping involves benefiting someone else - a nonprofit, a small business or artisans in a struggling country - it feels great to know that your purchase is helping someone besides yourself.  However, the predicament I've found myself in more than a few times is this: Sometimes the cause is great, but the products are only so-so.  In this case you have to chose if you want to support the cause anyway or if you need to spend your money elsewhere on something that better fits your needs.  NOVICA works with National Geographic and is one of the leading fair trade artisan websites where you get the best of both worlds: supporting a great cause AND top quality fair trade products.

To date, NOVICA has sent over 46 million dollars to artisans around the world and currently has over 30,000 handmade treasures on their website.  Last month alone, NOVICA artisans sold 23,770 products online.

Here, you can read more about their business model and I think you will be really impressed at the transparency of their operations.

I had the opportunity to shop the NOVICA website with a $75 gift card provided by NOVICA for this review.  Because I had the gift card I spent part of my son's nap time looking over the entire website in search of the perfect product to try.  I looked a lot at soft Alpaca scarves, Indian Cashmere Wool ShawlsWomen's Clothing from Peru and home decor since I just moved into a new home.

I ended up settling on an incredible leather purse.




Since my son is two, for the time being I need a smaller purse for some outings instead of my large diaper bag.  This purse was the perfect size and solution.

Isn't she lovely?


The purse was made by artist Varun Manchanda in India.  In fact, when my purse arrived, so did this handwritten post card from Varun himself thanking me for my purchase.






Varun created the design of the purse, but he also prepared the leather and fashioned it all himself.  Wow.

When I received the purse I was really blown away by the quality.  The zippers are very sturdy, the leather is soft and the hardware looked stunning.  Everything about this product was high quality.




I've already had a few people compliment my purse and it's been fun to tell them about the man who made it instead of just saying, "Yeah, I got it at Ross."



The purse includes one inside zipper pocket that I've been using for chapstick and the like.  It also comes with a cell phone pocket, which I love!

Overall, I couldn't have been happier with my NOVICA product and the story behind it.  

To shop more NOVICA products like brown belts and black tops, visit NOVICA.com and like their Facebook page to keep up to date on new and exciting products.  



Valentine's Day Candy Hearts Activity

Posted by Jenna | Friday, February 14, 2014




I love spending time with my kids, playing games and doing activities. It's fun time we can spend together, and when I can think of something that's educational too...it's all the better! Kaden is very eager to learn - practicing his letters, numbers...pretty much anything that gets him ready for Preschool next year. 

Since he's shown an interest more in learning his name, we've been working on letter recognition and writing the letters. 


I decided I'd make a game out of it and printed his name in all uppercase letters on a piece of paper (I also laminated it so we can use it time and time again). I then grabbed a bag of large candy hearts and one of our large dice. The Valentine candy was obviously for the month of February, but this would be a fun activity with any time of the year using other manipulatives such as counting bears, candy corn for Fall, etc.


Since Kaden LOVES anything to do with counting and math, I had him roll the die and each time he would put that number of candies down on the letters, one by one. If he rolled a 4, he would grab 4 candies and start placing them on the K first (then the A, D and so on). 


He thought it was more of a game than an activity, and although there was lots of learning going on with counting and letter/name recognition, he had a blast! He was so proud of himself once he had finished all the letters in his name!







The Snug Bug Travel Changing Mat ~ {Review & Giveaway - 2 Winners!}

Posted by Renee S. | Thursday, February 13, 2014




**The product for this review/giveaway was provided by The Snug Bug. All opinions are my own and were not influenced in any way.



As a first time mommy, I am quickly learning what the ‘essential’ baby products are that make life a little easier.  One of those products that every mom should have, at least one of, is a portable changing mat.  




I had to opportunity to check out The Snug Bug’s Travel Changing Mat, and so far I love it!  Having a little one you realize that diaper changes are now a big part of your day and having a changing area that is easy to unpack, wipe down, and protect baby is a must!  The group of work-at-home moms at The Snug Bug have taken all of these ‘must haves’ and designed the perfect mat for clean and convenient diaper changes, all made in the USA!



      
                                                                        
I received both the ‘Woodsy’ and ‘Sweet’ patterns from The Snug Bug and both are adorable!  I noticed right away the nice quality of the material and how the mats are so well made.  I love that this company is made up of moms who really put thought and care into their products!  The travel mat is thin, lightweight, and easy to wipe clean with a baby wipe or damp cloth (you can also throw it in the wash if needed!).  It is generously sized (17" x 25"), but still rolls up small enough to throw in your purse or diaper bag. 
  
  
In our house, we have a changing station set up in the living room so we don’t have to run upstairs for every diaper change.  I love that this mat is the perfect size to tuck away in our diaper caddy and unroll when we need it.  I can also see using this in the summer to protect the car seats after a day at the pool, or even for covering your seat on a muddy park bench while the kids are playing.  It is one of those products that will grow with your child and take on multiple uses!

Buy It: You can purchase the Travel Changing Mat on The Snug Bug’s Etsy Shop for $17.00 as well as on their Amazon Shop!   

Giveaway: Two lucky winner's are each going to win their choice of Travel Changing Mat (choices include: Moxi, Sweet, Woodsy, Handsome OR Riviera)!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


             




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