Tuesday, May 16, 2017

How to Celebrate Learn To Swim Day

 This post was sponsored by SwimWays as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

Did you know National Learn to Swim Day is this Saturday? It takes place on the 3rd Saturday of May and is the perfect excuse to hit the water and get this Summer season started!

We have been counting down until Summer and now it's finally warm so the good times can begin! Our goal is to be outside every day and in the pool as often as possible. Luckily this holiday gave us just the excuse we needed to get outside.

how to celebrate National Learn to Swim Day- SwimWays Baby Float review

What is National Learn to Swim Day?

* It was started by SwimWays in 2012 as a way to educate parents and kids on water safety.
* SwimWays also wanted to stress the importance and benefits of knowing how to swim.
* It is a great way to start off the swimming season by reminding everyone involved about water safety to help ensure a fun, safe Summer.
* This year it falls on May 20th, so mark your calendars!

How to celebrate:

1. Enroll your kids in swimming lessons.
2. Have a barbecue at the pool (this is how we'll be celebrating)
3. Take a CPR or First Aid class (so important to know this as parents)
4. Explain to your kids how to play safely around the pool. (i.e. no running, wear life vests if applicable, etc)
5. Think of fun water games to play at the pool. Marco Polo's a classic!

We have two kids a 1 year old and a 2 year old, so going to the pool can be a little stressful. Our main goal is to make the pool seem as fun and worry-free as possible because any stress or panic our toddlers have in the water could lead to a dangerous turn, quickly.

how to celebrate National Learn to Swim Day- SwimWays Baby Float review

SwimWays actually makes a Baby Spring Float Sun Canopy and it is the best float out there. We have tried baby floats in the past with our son, and they haven't gone over so well. We tried this one (ideal for kids 9-24 months) for Farrah, our 12 month old, this past weekend to introduce her to the water and she loved it. I know she would not have been this calm if she didn't feel comfortable and supported.

Knowing my 1 year old has a reliable baby float, really gives me a lot of comfort. Especially when I have two toddlers to look out for!

After our trip to the pool, we got home and my two year old told us we needed to get him a baby float too! lol So now we're off to look at the stage 2 swim aids at SwimWays.

how to celebrate National Learn to Swim Day- SwimWays Baby Float review

Favorite things about this baby float:

* it folds flat and comes with a carry bag for easy storage
* it has a two-position sun canopy with UPF 50+
* it's got a mesh seat which is more comfortable than the competitor plastic floats
* it has an inner and outter inflatable ring for added safety and support
* it is fabric covered for extra security and helps me worry less about it popping.
* great for step 1 of 3 Swim Training stages
* you can get this in-store and online at Target, so it's not difficult to find.

I hope you are all able to get to a pool this Saturday! Happy National Learn to Swim Day!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Easy Toddler Bedtime Routine

My son is 2 1/2 and I have avoided a bedtime routine until recently. I've heard of how people do bath time at night to get their toddler ready for bed, along with nightly stories and I've just dreaded it. It just took too long in my opinion.

easy toddler bedtime routine, great tips for success!

You see, up until the age of 2, David was the PERFECT sleeper. From early on (6 weeks old!) David has gone to bed so easily for both naps and bedtime. For 2 years all I had to do was lay him in his crib, say good night and walk out closing the door behind me and my baby would fall asleep instantly! I know! We got lucky, but don't hate me yet, because the last 8 months have been awful!

Like clockwork, 8 months ago when David turned 2, he decided he was afraid of sleeping without mom/dad. It all began when he started climbing out of his crib and we had to switch him to a toddler bed. At this point he not only realized that there was nothing keeping him IN bed, but he also realized that there was nothing keeping anything else OUT. What do I mean by that? He no longer felt safe. He was afraid of sharks and 'gators and, more recently, monsters coming to get him.

We tried everything to get rid of this irrational fear, but 2 year olds are stubborn. I literally have had to sleep on the floor next to his bed until he fell asleep for the last 8 months. During which, any reasonable bedtime has disappeared. He stopped falling asleep right at 7pm and started falling asleep closer to 10 or 11. There have been night's where I've laid in there with him for several hours until he finally fell asleep.

But then I finally decided to try a bedtime routine!

Everything changed! Everything. I'm writing this blog post and it's 8pm! I'm not laying next to David begging him to fall asleep. I have my night back! And best of all, I have a happy child who isn't throwing a tantrum when I tell him it's bedtime.

How did I do this? Well, I was patient and consistent.

For the first 3 nights he yelled and screamed toward the end of our bedtime routine, but after 3 nights, he was done. He grew to love the consistency.

Check out this bedtime routine below:

easy toddler bedtime routine, great tips for success!

Our Toddler Bedtime Routine

1. Turn off the T.V. and have toddler help clean up his toys.
2. Bath time
3. Brush teeth
4. Jammies
6. Bedtime

Like I said, for the first 3 nights he screamed. He didn't want to read stories. He didn't want to go to bed. He just wanted to watch a T.V. show and stay up longer. How did I react? I ignored him and continued reading the story and then we went to bed. The third night story time was easier, but bedtime was still difficult. By the fourth night we had zero problems and he falls asleep almost instantly! We are going on 2 weeks with ZERO temper tantrums and I can't believe I didn't start this sooner!

Tips for success:

Give a minute warning. Toddlers do really well with a warning. Say something like "in 5 minutes we are going to clean up your toys, then we will take a bath." or "5 more minutes in the bath and then we will brush your teeth" They don't really have a concept of time yet, but know what's next or what will be happening soon really helped to eliminate an melt downs for us. Another good one "it's dad's turn to tuck you in, so after we read your story, dad's going to take you to bed" Great to give warning before any minor changes that could cause a "terrible two" meltdown.

Allow them to eat. After a few night's they learn to expect the next part of the routine. Because of this they know when bedtime is coming, so the excuses start rolling. We let David snack on fruit if he wants it while we read a story so that he can't say he's too hungry to sleep. Of course, then we have to brush his teeth again, but it doesn't take too long to do that.

Don't give in. Don't give in to the temper tantrum they throw the first couple nights. It gets better! Don't change your routine at all. You can tweak it eventually, but any time you make a change, give it a few days before you reconsider it.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Fun St. Patrick's Day Traditions

My mom always went all out for holidays. I think she enjoyed them as much as we did. One in particular that stood out was St Patrick's Day.

Each year we would set up our leprechaun traps we made in school & each year the leprechauns would get away, leaving behind gold chocolate coins. This was so fun and seemed completely normal until I realized that the leprechauns never visited anyone else's homes.

I still loved this St. Patrick's Day tradition nonetheless and looked forward to it every year. I remember one year in particular, the leprechauns had come (& escaped) and there was tiny writing on the walls and a bunch of sheets tied together and thrown over our 3 story balcony. With such a fool-proof plan, how didn't they escape?

This tradition didn't last as long as the other holidays. We probably stopped being visited by leprechauns when we stopped having leprechaun traps as an art project in elementary school.

I definitely want to keep this tradition going with my kids along with a few others. Here are some I've stumbled upon that seem like a lot of fun!

family friendly st patrick's day traditions

1. Make leprechaun traps out of shoe boxes and see if one gets caught during the night.
2. Make a mess! Leprechauns are big pranksters! Don't go overboard though since mom's the one who typically has to clean this up =/
3. Hide "treasure" or a treat somewhere in the house and make clues for the kids to go on a mini scavenger hunt to find them!
4. Use mint ice cream to make your own shamrock shakes!
5. We love having a dish heavy in potatoes at some point during the day to remind us of Irish food ;)
6. Wear green. This is always a must.
7. Make St Patrick's Day cookies!
8. St Patrick's themed breakfast, think green food coloring or maybe something with Lucky Charms cereal!
9. Leprechaun treasure box. You put the treasure box out the night before & the leprechaun fills it with treasure and hides it. If you find the box, it's yours. (found this idea here). This one is great, but if you have multiple kids there either has to be a consolation prize or multiple boxes otherwise some fights could ensue ;)

Monday, February 6, 2017

Folgers Jingle Contest

This post was sponsored by Folgers as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines concerning the use of endorsement and testimonials in advertising. I received complimentary products to facilitate my review.

♩♬♫♪♫ "The best part of wakin' up is Folgers in your cup." ♩♬♫♪♫ 

How many of you just sang that as you read it? I'm sure most of us are familiar with the Folgers jingle? I know I am! 

Did you know Folgers is encouraging us to share a video of our best version of their jingle. If you submit it here between January 30th and February 27th you could win up to $25,000!!!

How does it work??

Well, submit your jingle on their website between the dates mentioned above and make sure it includes the complete melody and complete lyrics (The best part of wakin' up is Folgers in your cup). Then just wait.

From February 27th to March 19th, 5 semi-finalists and each will have a mentor session with Chris Young before an online vote.

Then from March 27th to April 24th fans will be able to vote (daily) for their favorite. Even if you don't win the grand prize, every vote entered automatically enters you to win prizes up to $10,000!

The (one) grand prize winner is announced in May and they win $25,000!!!

Folgers has a tradition of inspiring musicians to follow their dreams. Please don't let this pass you up. If you are an aspiring musician, Folgers jingle contest can be a huge opportunity for you. 

Please share this and encourage others to join in! Someone is going to win, so why couldn't it be you?

Sunday, December 25, 2016

how to avoid freezer burn!

So is anyone else gearing up for the new year? Us too! Raise your hand if one of your resolutions is to eat healthier? Us too! So for us, that means a lot of meal prepping.

We already purchased some meal prep containers from Amazon for Scott's lunches (we love these because they actually fit in his lunch box! Our tupperware didn't...).

best ways to prevent freezer burn for meal prepping, healthy meals, freezer meals

So how are we preparing? Well, every Sunday we pre-make as much as we can. So garlic & herb mashed cauliflower is made in huge batches along with Mexican Cauliflower Rice, and fruits & veggies are washed & diced. We also make as many freezer meals as we can fit in our freezer!

We used to never make freezer meals because everything just tasted awful if it was even slightly freezer burnt & we'd end up tossing the whole thing. BUT I have a lot of freezer meal recipes show up on Pinterest and it made me wonder how everyone else did it. so I did my research and I found the best tips out there for preventing freezer burn! I hope this helps you as much as it's going to help us this year!

best ways to prevent freezer burn for meal prepping, healthy meals, freezer meals

Tips to avoid freezer burn:

1. Use freezer containers! (they are made of thicker plastic or glass)
2. Remove as much air as possible (fill containers full leaving 1/2 inch from top for expansion if it's a liquid)
3. Allow foods to cool before you freeze so you don't get ice crystals from frozen steam.
5. Keep temperatures below freezing. If possible store in a separate freezer than the one you use regularly so that the temperature doesn't rise from being opened and closed all the time.
6. Double wrap it.
     * For breads/baked goods, wrap in foil first then a ziplock freezer bag.
     * For meals in casserole dishes (casseroles, enchiladas, lasagna, etc), cool the meal in the fridge and then cut a sheet of aluminum foil the same size as the casserole dish, spray one side with cooking spray so it won't stick, and then press it on top of your dish, then cover with it's lid. This will keep air from touching your freezer meal and help prevent ice crystals from forming.
7. Freeze in small batches. (The faster the food freezes the less likely it is to have large ice crystals form.)

Did you know?

Freezer burn mainly occurs when the temperature of the freezer is inconsistent and/or the food has not been securely wrapped in air tight packaging. So do your best to make sure your food containers are securely sealed with as little air as possible AND try not to open the freezer too much to keep the temperature from fluctuating!

Good luck and happy meal prepping!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Save money with Groupon Coupons!

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are mine.

Who else loves payday? Honestly, I love it and I hate it at the same time. It seems like every expense in the world comes up as soon as I get paid. Even if my paycheck is bigger than normal, it's still gone just as fast! It's ridiculous.

For that reason, I try my best to save wherever I can. It's more than just waiting around for sales. I look for coupons now too! I'm not quite at the "extreme couponer" level yet, but I do save a bit with Groupon Coupons.

They've actually got a pretty wide variety of coupons. Anything from food to clothing stores (like Dressbarn and Tommy Hilfiger) and spa packages!

For example they have 16 coupons available for Shari's Berries alone! Haven't heard of Shari's Berries? My mom always sends us their chocolate covered strawberries for birthdays and holidays. They are delicious, the presentation is amazing and they send them in a refrigerated box in the mail.

It's a great gift for the holidays; we look forward to eating them! The last one my mom sent me was actually on a really rough day. David had just spilt the breast milk I had pumped for his sister all over himself so I had to give him a bath fast forward to him running away from me naked & pooping in the corner! Ugh! That mom life! (Ironically this was on Mother's Day!) Shari's Berries will always have a special spot in my heart because it made a rough day better.

TIP: if you receive one of these boxes, hide it right away! Hide it from your kids & spouse! That way you don't have to share ;)

Do yourself a favor & check it out! If there's even the slightest possibility you could save money this holiday season, it's worth it!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Why I love Nature Made and Walmart

This post was sponsored by Nature Made® as a part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central

Alright guys, today I just wanted to do a quick talk about vitamins. As you know, we have a busy lifestyle here in our home. With two under the age of two, EVERYTHING is a little bit of a hassle ;) There is no such thing as a quick trip to the store anymore! I joke about it, but it really is something that I miss!

I do my best to time shopping trips for when my husband can watch the kids, but sometimes that is just not possible. Because of this, I have discovered a next to perfect alternative.

What I've found to be the most efficient way to shop is to first off make a list (soo important) and then second, try and shop at as few places as possible. That means trying to get as many items at one store as I can.

For us, the best place to do that is at a Walmart Supercenter! They literally have everything! We can get groceries, diapers, wipes, pet food, even protein powder & vitamins!

Luckily, we have a Walmart Supercenter extremely close by because without it I would be running all over town to make my weekly purchases. Is anyone else thankful for Walmart? or is that just me? lol

naturemade vitamins are my favorite! find them at walmart!

I only get vitamins from Walmart because they carry the brand that I love: Nature Made. Including Nature Made vitamins in our purchases has helped me to feel that I am making my best effort at striving to be as healthy as I can.

And in case you didn't know, Nature Made® is the #1 Pharmacist Recommended brand for many key dietary supplement categories* 

Plus, Walmart always has low prices on vitamins so I really don't even need to wait for a sale. I can just pick them up whenever it is convenient for me.

Quick tip: if you love probiotics, Nature Made has those too, just make sure to stop by a Walmart Supercenter to purchase those!

naturemade vitamins are my favorite! find them at walmart!

Have you ever used Nature Made? Here are some facts about them that you may not know:
Nature Made® Probiotics: Nature Made® Advanced Dual Action Probiotic has been clinically studied and provides dual support to both your small and large intestine for comprehensive coverage to help support digestive balance and healthy gut flora.†

Nature Made® vitamins and supplements: An easy, convenient way to help your body get the nutritional support it needs every day, whether it be to support bone health, immune health or energy metabolism (helping convert food into energy).†

Nature Made® has a variety of vitamins, minerals, and supplements (VMS) to help support nutritional gaps with your health goals in mind ranging from Digestive Support, Heart Health & Function, Energy Metabolism, Women’s Health and much more!†

naturemade vitamins are my favorite! find them at walmart!

If you love Nature Made and Walmart, there is a sweepstakes where you have a chance to win one of SIXTY $50 Walmart gift cards. To enter, visit this site (Walmart Nature Made® Retailer Hub) for the details, no purchase necessary!

*Based on the 2016 U.S. News & World Report – Pharmacy Times Survey.

†These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent any disease.