Friday, January 31, 2014

PicturesOnGold.com Review and Giveaway Hop!

Welcome to the Feel the Love Giveaway Hop hosted by the Blogging Mamas Network.

 

Love is in the air as Valentine's Day approaches and I've joined with a group of bloggers who want you to Feel the Love this February! Each blogger in this Hop has a giveaway worth at least $25 that you are sure to love!



Thursday, January 30, 2014

Beyond-Bedding.com Review and Giveaway!


With this bitterly cold winter, keeping my children warm here in the Great Frozen North (GFN) is of the utmost importance. So, when Beyond-Bedding.com reached out, I was thrilled! With the vast selection of bedding sets, styles and patterns, it was incredibly difficult to choose only one and I spent over an hour just making a selection.



Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A New Design and a New Name!

I have so enjoyed all of your comments and support as "More Than Mommy". Now, as the blog has grown and changed, I feel that a more appropriate name would be, "Mostly Together Mommy".



I think most of you can relate (you know...unless you're here as an awesome dad!). "Mostly Together" reflects how I feel the majority of the time. I usually have this or that part of my life together and I know what I am doing, but inevitably, there are those areas where I feel unsure, or where I know I can improve.

It actually made me laugh a little, as the other day, someone commented to me that they "Don't know how you do it all." It is true that I homeschool my kids, work nights and write this blog, but if you saw my house right now, you would see dishes in the sink, a pile of laundry downstairs and recycling that desperately needs to be taken out. All that is to say, no one person has it ALL together ALL of the time. We all struggle, we all need improvements, and we all fail sometimes.

I hope you love the new look and name as much as I do!

Thoughts?

Monday, January 27, 2014

Keeping Children Safe, One New Product at a Time!

*I received a product for review purposes.

I got a package in the mail the other day and inside was the 'Forever Safe N' Sound' window lock that I had been eagerly waiting for. I was so excited! I love products that help to keep my children safe, especially as they seem bent on their own destruction. (You don't have children like that, do you?)

The Forever Safe N' Sound is a special window lock that is portable. It looks like a large smoke detector with a giant suction cup on the bottom. Like a smoke detector, this has an alarm that sounds. Unlike a smoke detector, this can be moved at will, or even taken on vacation with you.

Lifting it out of the box, I was surprised at the heft. It was a bit heavier than I expected, though I suppose that helps it stay in place. In all, it weighs only about a pound, heavier than a typical window lock or latch. It requires 2 AAA batteries (included) and was really easy to install.

One of the things I like about it is that I can place it wherever I wish on the window. If I want to allow my children to open their windows a little bit, or not at all, I can do that. It also prevents someone from opening the window from the outside, which is a huge bonus in my book! (Have you ever looked at the websites that tell you were offenders are in your area? Scary!)

The Forever Safe N' sound can be used on many different types of windows, and even on sliding patio doors. Unfortunately, it will not work on windows that use a crank, like many of the windows in homes in my area. Also, if you were to use it on a patio door, you would need to be placing and removing it often, which could get annoying.

Another consideration is, what would happen if there is a disaster and the children need to get out of that window? I think my 8 year old could remove it, but my 5 year old couldn't. Also, it would make it difficult for a fireman to get in the window if necessary, but no more so than any other type of lock and they would probably just break the window if they needed to.

In all, I think it is a great product, and I am keeping it on my children's window. It gives me peace of mind and keeps them safe from themselves and from others. Selling for $29.95, I feel it is a bit high, but other window locks and latches are not portable and they do not come with an alarm.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Boba Carrier 4G Giveaway!


boba4ggivaway

Boba is a company that produces top-of-the-line baby carriers and wraps. Started by a couple traveling the world with their two children, Boba has become an award-winning option for parents looking to wear their children.

Baby wearing has been around for centuries, but we have been learning more than ever about the benefits. For instance: Did you know that babies who are carried cry 43% less than babies who are not carried? Did you know that they sleep better, learn faster and are overall healthier than their non-worn peers?

The Boba Carrier 4G is unique for its ability to be used all throughout infancy, the early childhood years. It can be safely used from 7-45 lbs! To put that in perspective, most 5 year olds are around 45 pounds! Also, for you moms and dads who are a bit shorter or taller, this carrier comfortably fits heights from 5', all the way to 6'3". Wow!

You can use the Boba in a front carry, back carry, even while breastfeeding! Some of the unique features of the Boba include: a purse strap, footstraps, a hood, pockets(!), an infant insert, and the body of the carrier comes up 2-3" higher than most other carriers.

Looking for something even more versatile? Boba has something for that too! The Boba Wrap is a super affordable option at only $38. The wrap is perfect for newborns, up to children 18 months old. With many of the same benefits of the Boba 4G, this wrap comes in 8 different colors, so there is something that everyone can find to love.

GIVEAWAY
Sponsored By Boba /Hosted By It's Peachy Keen/co-hosted by Motherhood Community

You can win a Boba 4G carrier for yourself! You can choose the design even!! Open to U.S. Residents only. 18 and older. Ends February 15 midnight EST. Winner will have 24 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen. Check back at It's Peachy Keen for the winner to be announced. 
*This blog was not compensated in anyway for this post. Any questions regarding this giveaway or any other giveaway. Email It's Peachy Keen at Itspeachykeen(at)live.com

MyCustomCase.com Giveaway!

I recently bought a new phone. It came in two color options, black or white, the same as most of the other phones in the store. Not only does this make for a pretty boring piece of equipment that you use every day, but it also makes it really easy to get mixed up with someone else.



The solution is simple - get a custom case! Not from just anywhere, though. MyCustomCase.com uses exclusive color integration technology combined with a flexible, durable plastic to not only style your phone, but to keep it safe. And, because life sometimes happens, there is an UNCONDITIONAL 30 day money-back guarantee! They are completely confident that you won't need it, however.


Because Valentine's Day is coming up, they are offering a very fun selection of Valentine's themed cases!

You can personalize your case with your name or initials, and you can even change up the color on the design you choose. Don't want a name or monogram? Not a problem! Simply check the box to have it removed.

Now, because MyCustomCase is so awesome, they are offering one lucky reader a free case! If you are a resident of the U.S. 18+, go ahead and enter using the Rafflecopter form below!

Just 1 click below = 1 vote!
Visit Top Mommy Blogs To Vote For Me!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
*I have been compensated to host this giveaway. This giveaway is in no way affiliated with Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Top 6 Tax Breaks for Parents

Every January 1st, a countdown begins. Every year, it's the same thing, 105 days until taxes are due. For most of us, this is not a fun time. Even if you are looking forward to getting some money back, it's never as much as you want and there is a bunch of perplexing paperwork to get through first.


As parents, we are entitled to some pretty great tax breaks. Here are six of the best:

1. Have a kid? Have some money (back). The Child Tax Credit is perhaps the most well known, because it is the one every parent with a child under 17 can claim. This one is good for $1,000 per child!

2. Child care! Anyone who takes their child to daycare knows that it can get very expensive. But...you can claim the Child and Dependent Care Credit, which can get you back up to $3,000 for one child and another $3,000 for a second.

3. If you are putting a child through college, you can get up to $2,500 through the American Opportunity Credit for each of the first 4 years of college.

http://strk.gnlinks.com/aff_c?offer_id=414&aff_id=3016
4. If you are a breastfeeding mom, you can claim up to $1,000 for your supplies! I think this is amazing! We have long known that a mother's milk is the beast nutrition source for her baby, but now it is being recognized medically. And, while breastfeeding is definitely cheaper than formula feeding
(should know, my first two didn't nurse for long!),  there are also costs associated with it.



5. If you adopted a child this past year (of any age - up to age 17), you might be eligible for the Adoption Tax Credit. For a special needs child, all out of pocket expenses are covered, but for a child with no special needs, only a portion would be.

6. The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a refundable credit for those parents who earn less than a specified amount. The amount refunded varies depending on your income level and how many children you have.

*I am not a tax professional. Please contact a tax expert if you have any questions.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Lost Civilizations: 10 Societies that Vanished Without a Trace

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial. 
I'm a bit of a nerd. I freely admit that, and my husband happily reminds me that my son has inherited it from me. I like to watch documentaries, watch the news, and read non-fiction. I find history fascinating and believe there is much we can learn from it, which is why my interest was piqued when I saw the book, "Lost Civilizations:  10 Societies that Vanished Without a Trace" by author Michael Rank.


While a bit dry at times, this book holds some very interesting information about people-groups that have disappeared without leaving clues as to why. With a large society such as that found at Pompeii, we know that they were destroyed because of a Volcano. However, archaeologists can only speculate why the Nabataeans (think Indiana Jones - The Last Crusades!) disappeared, or what exactly happened to the Pyramid builders.

This book gives a detailed "What if" kind of look at 10 very interesting ancient civilizations. Most of them were robust communities of advanced people. It is puzzling to think that people with such advanced technologies and wealth could simply vanish, but that is exactly what they did. The archeological record does not leave us any clues to what happened to these great societies.

If you or your older child (great for kids 12+), this book can definitely spark your interest and imagination. You can find the book available on Amazon for only $2.99 via Kindle download.

*I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Friday, January 17, 2014

RECARO Performance RIDE Car seat Review and Giveaway!

RECARO is a company that has spent the last 100 years developing seats for luxury cars and airplanes. This knowledge has now inspired the design of car seats for infants and toddlers. Safety, design and comfort are some of the key philosophies that RECARO applies to their car seats.


The RECARO Performance RIDE is packed full of safety features. Not only does it have side-impact technology, but RECARO goes above and beyond most manufacturers, as they were the pioneers of child seat side-impact technologies. The side-impact protection keeps a child's head, neck, face, torso and pelvis safe in the event of an emergency.

In addition to the side-impact protection, there is a 5-point harness and a soft touch head restraint, both of which feature EasyAdjust technology. They adjust together, which means no re-threading of seat belts, ensuring maximum safety and ease. The harness is also very easily adjusted, as it is located at the front of the seat, requiring just a pull to tighten and the push of a button to loosen the straps. No hassle!

RECARO does not believe that design has to be sacrificed for safety, but that instead, they can work together. There is a "racing stripe" on the outside edge of the harness. If the strap gets twisted, or is positioned wrong, this stripe is an easy way for a parent to quickly see that something is not right and spend a minute more getting their child properly harnessed. Available in 9 colors, there is something that everyone will love!

Being lucky enough to try out this seat, I can say that it truly is excellent! Not only is it supremely comfortable for my daughter, but I feel really good about having her in it. I know that she is both safe and comfortable, which are the most important things to me!

With her old seat, she was getting to the point where she had almost outgrown it and she was certainly ready to move on. She would go straight as a board and twist and turn, just to try to keep out of her seat! Now that we have the RECARO, she doesn't do that anymore.

This seat sits up higher than most others, because of its base. This can be a great thing if you have a small car, as it requires less bending and stooping to get your child in and out. With my mini-van, however, it does sit a bit higher than I would like, but the high base makes it easy to recline the seat, so it is worth it in my book!

One thing that seems small, but I really like, is that the buckle part of the harness is encased in a soft pocket. The reason this is so great, is that in previous seats we have owned, without this little soft pocket, the buckle falls back towards the back of the car seat, and it can be difficult to get it when a child is sitting on it. With the buckle encased, it is much easier to grab out of the way, making my day just that little bit easier.

I know that my 1 year old will be able to use this for a long time, because even her 8 year old brother is under the height and weight limit for the seat! Rear-facing, it is good from 5 lbs. to 40 and forward-facing from 20 lbs to 70. That is a HUGE range!


Now, one lucky reader is going to win a RECARO Performance RIDE car seat in the Slate color of their own! Simple enter on the Rafflecopter form below, if you are 18+ and a resident of the U.S. One entrant per household, please!

Connect with RECARO on Facebook and Twitter to keep with new updates and promotions!

If you like what you just read please click to send a quick vote for me on Top Mommy Blogs- The best mommy blog directory featuring top mom bloggers
 a Rafflecopter giveaway
*I received a RECARO car seat to facilitate this review. All opinions are 100% my own. This giveaway is not affiliated with Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Ban the Babies?

Recently, a very well known chef posted a tweet that has had people talking. The tweet reads:
This tweet has stirred up debate about whether or not it is appropriate to bring children into a place where other patrons do not wish to be disturbed by a crying baby. On one side, babies are people too and parents have a right to have a nice meal, go to a movie, etc. On the other, though, are people who feel like they have paid to have a certain experience and do not want children disturbing that.


Personally, while I understand that parents can sometimes have a hard time finding a sitter that they trust, we also have an obligation to not infringe on other peoples rights. It's the same reason smoking has been banned in most places and why you are asked to turn your cell phone off in a theater. In an ideal world, parents would be quick to respond to the fact that their children are being disruptive. The sad fact is that too often, they have either become numb to the level of noise, or just plain don't care that the people around them are trying to have a nice time too.

Of course, what this means is that it can be very difficult for parents who don't have a dedicated support network around to help with babysitting. It is also the reason that my husband and I have rarely gone on dates the past 8 years. I have had to take my children out of places because they have been disruptive. It's not fun, it's actually a bit embarrassing, but I also don't want to ruin things for those around me.

What do you think? Should babies be banned from certain public establishments?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Prom Dress Shopping with Dress First!

*This is a sponsored post.
Many years ago, when I first joined the Navy, I was a 19 year old female working in a predominantly male environment. Every day, I would wake up, put on my (very masculine) uniform and report to work. Femininity was not a requirement and in fact, it was a detriment when trying to keep up with the men.

http://www.dressfirst.com/A-Line-Princess-Off-The-Shoulder-Knee-Length-Tulle-Charmeuse-Homecoming-Dress-With-Beading-Sequins-018025268-g25268

Living and working on a ship, it was hard to feel like a girl sometimes. On several occasions, a good friend and I would go to a store and try on fancy prom dresses; we would twirl in front of the mirror and admire ourselves. The feeling that we got from wearing these dresses is something that every girl should feel at some point.

http://www.dressfirst.com/Empire-Sweetheart-Sweep-Train-Chiffon-Charmeuse-Mother-Of-The-Bride-Dress-With-Beading-018025659-g25659?pos=your_recent_history_5http://www.dressfirst.com/A-Line-Princess-Sweetheart-Floor-Length-Chiffon-Prom-Dress-With-Ruffle-Beading-018025299-g25299?pos=your_recent_history_6http://www.dressfirst.com/Ball-Gown-Sweetheart-Sweep-Train-Tulle-Prom-Dress-With-Beading-018025677-g25677?pos=your_recent_history_4

For many girls, the first time they will get to wear such a dress is at their high school prom. Finding that perfect dress (and in your price range!), can be a challenge. Dress First aims to change that.

http://www.dressfirst.com/Mermaid-Sweetheart-Floor-Length-Taffeta-Tulle-Prom-Dress-With-Ruffle-Lace-Beading-Feather-Flower-S-022027374-g27374?pos=your_recent_history_6
Not only are they a global leader in special event dresses, but they also offer the highest quality at the lowest prices (up to 60% off of competitor's pricing!). As if that weren't enough, they also offer free shipping for wedding and prom dresses.

Shopping online gives you the most diverse selection of dresses. Shopping at Dress First allows you to choose not only your color and size, but if you want a custom sizing done, that can also be accommodated! Most dresses can even have spaghetti straps added, if that is your preference.

http://www.dressfirst.com/Sheath-High-Neck-Sweep-Train-Chiffon-Holiday-Dress-With-Ruffle-020014242-g14242
Each dress is tailor made for the wearer, but even so, it could take as little as 11 days to receive an order! With prom season soon to be upon us, now is the time to start looking for the perfect dress.

Make it something for you and your daughter to do together. You can find the perfect dress together, choose the color, and find her measurements. With over 750 dresses to choose from, it is sure to be a bonding experience that you will fondly remember for years to come! When her special day arrives, you will both be glad you took advantage of the fine quality that Dress First offers.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Happy Birthday, Baby Girl!

My youngest daughter just turned one. It's an exciting time; she seems to be doing something new every day, making everyone around her smile. Marking her first birthday also makes me think about all of my hopes for her. I decided to sit down and write it all out, so I can share with her one day:

Baby Girl,
You have come into our lives and made them better. Throughout the sleepless nights, the stinky diapers and the illnesses, your frequent smiles and snuggles make it all worth it. Your grin is infectious and your coos delight us all. Your innocence and beauty melt my heart every day. Watching you grow is one of the highlights of my life. The love I have for you goes to depths that you simply cannot fathom. 

I want so much for you. I want love, laughter, happiness, and above all, I want you to know God. I don't wish for a life free from struggle for you, instead I want you to know the joy of overcoming and to learn the wisdom that can come from making mistakes. I want you to learn to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keep on going.

My hope is that you will one day fall in love with a great man like your Daddy. I hope that you have a great, lasting love. I hope that you will have children as wonderful as you and your brother and sister are.

No matter what happens in life, know that you are always loved.

- Mommy

What are your special hopes and dreams for your children?

Friday, January 10, 2014

Sparkalicious Review and Giveaway!

*Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.  

My daughter is the complete opposite from the way I was at her age. When I was 5, I was usually climbing a tree somewhere, you wouldn't catch me dead wearing a dress! My little Shari loves all things that glitter and sparkle, which is what makes Sparkalicious perfect for her.


Sparkalicious offers backpacks, purses, lunch boxes and even duffle bags. They come in three colors:  Purple, pink, or turquoise, that any girly girl would absolutely love! Like their name suggests, they are covered in glitter, making them sparkle!

The large duffel that I received for review is the perfect size for a little girl on her way to dance class. At approximately 17 inches long and only 1 pound when empty, it is large enough to carry all the necessities, while not so big that it will weigh a little one down.



Upon opening this bag, you will see three inside pockets, one larger and two smaller. There is also a shoulder strap included that you can easily attach to two D-rings on the outside. A zippered pocket on the outside is perfect for storing any accessories that little girls should remove for class.

I am completely impressed with the fact that all of the Sparkalicious products are PVC, phthlate and lead free. Every purchase is backed by a lifetime warranty. If that wasn't enough, Bixbee (the company that produces Sparkalicious) gives away one backpack to a child in need for every backpack that is purchased! How great is that?!



No product is perfect and Sparkaliscious is no different. For every little girl out there who loves sparkles, there is a mom who doesn't like glitter. I am one of those moms. Glitter has a tendency to come off a bit and because this bag is coated with it, glitter does come off. Not terribly much, but a bit.

While Christmas is over, the adorable wristlet would have made a perfect stocking stuffer! All of the Sparkaliscious products make great gifts. One lucky reader is going to win a duffle of their own! All entrants 18+, residing in the U.S. are welcome to enter.


a Rafflecopter giveaway 

* I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Jolly VoxBox

I was recently sent a small box from Influenster filled with several little treats so I could share my opinions with you all. It is so fun opening a box with things just for me!


My favorite item in the box was the Skinny Cow Divine Filled Chocolates. YUM! It is a candy, but one that contains far fewer calories than other candies. Of course, it is smaller than many of them also. They are packaged in groups of three, so if you take small bites, they last longer and can definitely satisfy a sweet tooth without completely blowing your diet.

Next up was the Mini-Ducklings Duck Tape. At first, I wasn't quite sure what I would do with it. Then, while wrapping Christmas presents the night before Christmas (such a procrastinator!), I ran out of Scotch tape! I grabbed my Duckling roll and was able to finish my wrapping with it. It got me to thinking that it would be perfect for making sure your children don't try and sneak into their presents early before Christmas and then re-wrap them!

After wrapping presents, I had plenty left over to cover the frame of our corkboard and brighten up our space. One roll goes a long way, as even now, I have plenty left over just waiting for my next idea!

Another item I really liked was the Puffs To-Go pack Plus Lotion. These so easily fit in a purse or diaper bag. My daughter gets dry skin with this cold weather and these are so much gentler on her skin than using a wet wipe like I have in the past.

I don't often wear much makeup, but when I do, I tend to focus on my eyes. Using the NYC HD Color Trio is very easy because each color is labeled for its best use. The different sections are labeled, "Highlighter" "All Over Lid" and "Crease". The final look is a bit dark for my preference, but there are several shades to choose from. The best part? It's only $2.99!


Last on the list is the Rimmel London Show Off Lip Laquer. As I stated earlier, I don't really wear too much makup, but when I do, lip products are absolutely last on my list. I don't like the way that traditional lipsticks feel, so I usually stick to either Carmex or lip gloss. While this wasn't as heavy as lipstick, it wasn't as light as a gloss either. I really liked the applicator, as the slanted tip made it very easy to apply.

Have you tried any of these yet? What did you think?


*These products were provided in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Five Minute Frame

With the weather being what it has been lately, we have all been spending a lot of time indoors. After staring at the same things day in and day out, I decided it would be fun to add some color here and there. Not wanting to leave the house (brrrr!!!), I looked for what I could do with what I had around already.


Lucky for me, I was recently sent some Mini-Ducklings Duck Tape. In about 5 minutes, I was able to make this boring, brown cork board to a bright, fun area to display my children's artwork!


To cover the frames of a board like this, simply unroll the tape to the length you need and cut diagonally in the corners, making a nice finished look. Press down firmly on the sides, particularly on the inside edges, as it can be a very thin area and might not stay properly if not given proper attention.

It is amazing how much just a little color can change something.

Monday, January 6, 2014

DEX DayDreamer Review and Giveaway!

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.
Almost 9 years ago my first child, Alex, was born. I had no idea what I was doing. No idea. Though I had done some babysitting in the past, it just couldn't prepare me for what I was in for. Alex had a hard time sleeping and he did not like to be laid down fully.

At the time, I didn't have many options. I let him sleep in his car seat a lot when he was an infant, just so he (and I!) could get at least some sleep. However, it is now known that sleeping in an upright position regularly like a in car seat has been associated with a (very small) chance of SIDS.


My new niece has none of these sleeping problems, in fact, she has been sleeping through the night since she was only 2 weeks old! However, with two big brothers and a dog in the house, a contained area for her to lounge or nap in is a big benefit. The Dex DayDreamer Infant Seat is completely portable, making it easy to move around the house and perfect for outside once the nicer weather hits.


The high sides are a great boon for safety as baby can't roll out (there is also a 3 point harness). The seat has a 28 degree incline, making it much more relaxing and safe than for naps in a car seat. I definitely wish that these had been around 9 years ago!

Another great thing is that the fabric is not only moisture-wicking, but the seat area is waterproof! I don't know how many times I have wished for fabrics that were soft, cool, and easy to clean all in one. Somehow, the DayDreamer pulls it all off. More companies should put as much thought into their design as the designers at Dex!

Unfortunately, the DayDreamer is only recommended for ages 0-5 months. While it may have a relatively short lifespan, it can be used with subsequent children, and for those of you who have dealt with the sleep deprivation that a new baby brings, you know that it can be worth almost any amount of money to get your child (and you!) some sleep!

Now, one lucky reader is going to take one of these amazing seats home! Simply enter on the Rafflecopter below for you chance! All those who are 18+ residing in the continental U.S. are welcome to enter. On entrant per household, please!

If you like what you just read please click to send a quick vote for me on Top Mommy Blogs- The best mommy blog directory featuring top mom bloggers
a Rafflecopter giveaway
*I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Stephen's Gourmet Review and Giveaway!

Brrr! Up here in the 'Great Frozen North', it has been bitterly cold. I'm talking below zero cold! It snowed for two days straight. We haven't quite turned into popsicles yet, but its been close! My son especially has been enjoying the weather, because he has been able to earn a bit of money shoveling our neighbors driveway. He has also been quite pleased with how we have been warming up lately!


There is nothing quite like coming in from the cold to warm up with a hot beverage and I was recently introduced to a whole line of gourmet hot cocoa and other beverages, Stephen's Gourmet. It is certainly a pleasant way to warm up. Stephen's has all kinds of flavors including Chocolate Mint Truffle, Candycane Cocoa, Pumpkin Spice and my children's favorite so far:  Dark Chocolate. 

My personal favorite, the Caramel Apple Cider tastes a lot like a caramel apple candy. I have always liked cider (and caramel, who doesn't?!) but had never heard of caramel apple cider. This is definitely the right product for those with a sweet tooth!


My husband is not usually a big fan of chocolate, but he has enjoyed using the cocoa in his coffee. It works well as a coffee creamer to add a tablespoon and he has his favorite specialty coffee drinks!


Many of the options from Stephen's are gluten free. There is even a no sugar-added option! For those preferring teas, those are also available. You can find Stephen's in many major grocery stores, or you can order directly from the company online.

One lucky reader is going to win 3 1 lb. cans of Stephen's Gourmet of their choice! All residents of the U.S. 18+ are welcome to enter by simply filling out the Rafflecopter below. One entrant per household, please!


Click below to vote!
Top Mommy Blogs - Mom Blog Directory
a Rafflecopter giveaway
*I was provided with with complementary product to facilitate this review. Regardless, all opinions expressed are my own. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!

The start of a new year is always exciting. While I don't always set a 'New Year's Resolution', I am this year. I am going to be focusing on getting more organized and on losing some weight. Three children later and both are major areas of chaos in my life right now!


To become more organized, I am using scheduling charts for the kids and a daily/monthly planner for myself. I am also making a conscious effort to write things down as soon as I know about them. That planner doesn't work unless I actually put things in it!


As for the weight issue....I just feel gross lately. I'm not happy with the image in the mirror, so it is time to do something about it! No more cookies, no more cake, I am going to be making a conscious effort to drink more water and eat more healthfully.

What are your resolutions this year?

Easy Daysies Review and Giveaway!

With the start of the new year, it is a good time to make some changes. First up is getting more organized. That can be a tough thing to do with young kids! I usually feel like I am always ordering them about, or I feel like I live in a crazy house. Neither of those are good things!


I was intrigued when I was recently approached to review Easy Daysies, a scheduling system for kids. This system is great for both very young children, who aren't reading yet, and for kids who are old enough to take scheduling to the next level.

It begins, appropriately, with a starter pack. This kit covers basics, like brushing teeth, doing homework, getting dressed, cleaning up, etc. Parents can schedule their children's day by placing magnets in the "To Do" column. When the child has completed that task, they can then move it to the "Done" column.


Implementing this in my house was very easy. Alex (8) and Shari (5) were both excited to try it out, which is perfect, as there are two sides! One has an apple tree and the other a daisy. We hung our chart on a door, which was great for each child to flip and use. However, the chart folds up and the magnets come in a drawstring bag, so it would be very easy to take it to daycare or on a weekend trip to Grandma's, on the refrigerator or anywhere, really!


There are three add-on packs of magnets, each with a specific focus. For those families who need to focus on each and every step, the Get Dressed & Bathroom Routine is just that. This pack goes into great detail, such as 'Pull Pants Down', 'Sit on Toilet', 'Wipe', 'Wash Hands', etc. It would be great for very young kids, or even for an older child who needs those gentle reminders. By using this chart, children are guided through each step, without mom and dad needing to constantly nag them.


My personal favorite add-on pack, Chores & Special Times is the one we focused on for our older son (Alex, 8 years old). I personally hate to constantly be telling my children to do their chores but it had become something I had to constantly do. By using this add-on pack, my son is able to assume the responsibility for completing his tasks and he is rewarded when they are completed! Included in this pack is 'Clean Bathroom', 'Put Away Clothes', 'Clean Bedroom' and more. There are also rewards like 'Computer Time' and 'TV Time'.

One special feature of this pack are the clock magnets. These allow you to schedule when the chores must be done, or how long their reward will last. My son has 'Computer Time' set to 30 minutes, once he completes his chores.


The last pack in the series is the Family & Extracurricular Activities add-on. This one is perfect for scheduling your child's activities. There are magnets for 'Gymnastics', 'Martial Arts', 'Dance', 'Doctor', etc. Not only does this alert your child to what is going on for the day, but it gives them something to look forward to.

Each set, including the starter kit, has blank magnets, great for customizing your own personal schedule. Each set also includes a drawstring bag, so it is easy to keep track of the magnets. (All of the magnets also fit in one bag, so you can keep them all together, which is what I prefer.)

Now, instead of feeling like a dictator, I can simply set the tasks for the day and that is that! Not only is it making my house a calmer, more organized place to be, it is also allowing my children some responsibility and the freedom to show me that they can do some things on their own.

One lucky reader is going to take home a starter kit of their very own! All residents of the U.S. 18+ are welcome to enter. One entrant per household, please!

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