Friday, June 27, 2014

Stay Cool, Baby- featuring Julbo USA and Zipzicles


In true Maryland fashion, the summertime has hit us suddenly and it is HOT.  Still, I refuse to stay cooped up inside going stir crazy.  While we do regularly take breaks inside to enjoy the a/c, we try to get outside and stay active as much as possible.  

We do what we can to combat the harsh sun and high temps- sunglasses are a must.  Julbo USA makes high-quality sunglasses for everyone, using the same protective lenses in their children's sunglasses as they do in adult's.  Their lenses are Category 4.  This means that they are UV A, UV B, and UV C resistant when other competitors and imitators are not.  Why is this crucial?  Young children look UP at the world.  Their delicate eyes are exposed more directly to the sun's rays.  


Still, it can be challenging to keep sunglasses on an active toddler.  Julbo USA "Looping 3" model features a flexible looping design for a comfortable and secure fit.  Featuring a wrap-around reversible frame (can be worn right side up or upside down), no hinges, and a flat elastic strap, they are easy to use and comfortable. 


Dominic is extremely pleased with his new sunglasses!  They stay put without being too tight on him.  And I must say, something about these sporty glasses make his little buzzed noggin look extra cool.  Julbo USA graciously sent us his pair, along with an additional pair of sunglasses to forward on to one lucky winner.

One of you will receive this pair of Julbo USA Baby "Looping 3" glasses in Lilac/Pink.  



This brings us to our favorite summertime treat.. with a new twist!  Recently I wrote an article for POPSUGAR about fun and free activities for preschoolers.  In this post I included "Popsicle Making" because it's something my kids and I do regularly.  I like to make our own because I can fill them with real fruits and juices instead of dyes and artificial flavors.  The downside to traditional popsicle molds is that they are drippy, messy, and usually only make about four pops at a time.  I stumbled upon Zipzicles one night while looking for a better alternative.  You guys, genius.  


They are basically long and skinny pouches that you fill with your own ingredients and freeze. They work just like a traditional ice pop in that you just push them up from the bottom and eat.  They are resealable in the event that a kid doesn't finish the whole pop.  They can also be rinsed out and reused.  No sticks, no drips, all real ingredients.  They come in packs of twelve so I was actually able to make three different kinds of pops using one package.  


I made "Fudge Pops" using just pureed banana and cocoa powder, "Tropical Pops" with strawberries, pineapple, and coconut water blended together, and then I even made a "Sangria Pop" with strawberries, pineapple, and red wine.  So there's that option too, Moms.  The possibilities are endless.  In fact, they have a ton of fun recipe ideas here.   I highly recommend using a small funnel to fill your pouches.


Zipzicles is kindly offering one pack each of resealable popsicle pouches to THREE winners.

Please enter via the widget below.  One winner will receive a pair of Julbo USA "Looping 3" sunglasses in Lilac/Pink AND a pack of Zipzicles resealable Popsicle pouches.  Two runners up will each win a pack of Zipzicles resealable Popsicle pouches. 

*Disclaimer- I was provided Julbo USA sunglasses and Zipzicles to facilitate this review.  All opinions are my own.  



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, June 23, 2014

Snip


If you follow me on instagram you may have gathered that recently I earned another badge of motherhood.  Or maybe my kids earned a badge of childhood.  So this is how it went down..

Around noon on Friday I did what I do nearly every single day- I left my big kids downstairs watching cartoons and took Maisy upstairs to nurse her down for her nap.  Every day is the same, I turn on a show to keep them occupied and plead with them to stay quiet and out of trouble long enough for me to get Maisy to sleep.  I tell them I'll be back down in just a few minutes, before their show is even over.  I always am.

After laying Maisy down, I started walking back down the stairs and I hear, "come back Isla, you're not done yet!" 

*walking faster now*

As I hit the bottom step I look around and basically just wanted to escape from my life.  I see a moving box pushed up against the cabinets (more on why we're moving coming soon), kitchen scissors on the floor (taken from the cannister along the back of the counter that holds our knives), and hair literally f*cking EVERYWHERE.  Cue mental breakdown.  When I left them, Isla had her hair in two pigtails.  Now she had one.  Dominic... I can't even..


I sent this text to my husband:



He immediately called back and said he was coming home.

There was so much hair everywhere that I could even tell how much damage was done to Isla until I got her upstairs and started coming through it.  


Unfortunately, as I combed, more and more loose hair was just falling in clumps.  She had some long strands and several spots all over her head that were cut pretty much down to her scalp.  There was nothing I could do to even it out totally.


I did cut a bit straight across the back so that she didn't have a rat tail hanging down.  Other than that, it will just have to grow. 



Dominic just had to be buzzed, which honestly isn't that big of a deal because 1) it's summer
2) he's a boy


THANKFULLY their hair grows super fast.  Oh, and no one was injured or maimed.  But, mostly I am concerned that my kids not look like side-show freaks.  Just thinking about isla's long beautiful hair gone gives me high blood pressure.  

In the last couple days I've mostly gotten over it (after vacuuming every square inch of my downstairs about six times).  So many people have shared their similar funny stories and assured me that it happens to almost everyone.  Also, I'm kinda glad it happened during the summer with a couple months before she starts preschool.  And she's two, so she isn't as upset about it as she would have been at say, six.  She was actually pretty upset initially, but once I cut the back of it, she thought it was "fixed" and was totally fine.

So that's why my kids are suddenly looking a little different ;)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

POPSUGAR #MustHaveBox

Those of you who follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter probably already know this but...

Recently I've begun working with POPSUGAR Select network.  [My first post was officially published last week!]  I am incredibly excited about this company that has been so good to me already.  One of the things I was able to try through POPSUGAR was the June #musthavebox.  The Must Have Box is like any other monthly subscription box.. except.. well, I've seen some of those other boxes and this totally blew it out of the water. 

I didn't know what was going to be in the box, as with any monthly subscription you pay a flat rate for a selection of goodies valued well above your cost.  The first thing I thought when it was delivered was "holy moly this thing is heavy".  I opened it up and was floored.  FLOORED, y'all.


Shall we have a rundown?  Inside the June 2014 #musthavebox was:

- Emily Giffin's The One & Only [Hardback book from bestselling author valued at $28]

- Sacha Juan Shiny Citrus Body Lotion [I might have immediately sat my kids in front of Frozen and ran upstairs to shower and slather it all over myself.  The scent is so amazing.  Think grown up, clean smelling citrus undertones.  Valued at $24] 

- Turkish-T Beach Towel [I've been using this as more of a wrap/cover up at the pool.  It's super light and airy, almost like a baby muslin blanket.  Valued at $32]

- You Smell Lemon Wet Wipes [Perfect for tossing in your diaper bag while running around on a hot day.  For when you want to freshen up on the go but not smell like a baby wipe. Box of 12 individually wrapped wipes valued at $6]

- Lollies Basics Hair Ties [My sleeper favorite.  We've all been there.. you are forced to wear an ugly ponytail around your wrist in case you need to throw your hair up in a pony later.  Not anymore.  These hair ties look like bracelets.  My new favorite accessory.  They are made of swim suit material so they are really comfy and durable.  I wear a couple at a time because I just think they're so dang cute.  Set of three valued at $8]

- One Potato Two Potato Hawiian BBQ [Because, potato chips.  Valued at $2]

- Native Union $15 Gift Card [I'm still deciding what to order!  So many neat iphone gadgets to choose from!]


I can't say enough how nice it was to get this treat for myself in the mail.  The surprise of it all was cool too.  It's like getting a gift from a friend who actually knows the kind of things you'd like.  I highly recommend giving the POPSUGAR Must Have Box a try.  As a special treat for my readers, POPSUGAR is offering a $10 discount on a 3 month subscription.  Just enter code: JUNESELECT10 at checkout!


Disclaimer: POPSUGAR provided me with a complimentary POPSUGAR Must Have box. The opinions I have shared about the box are my own and POPSUGAR did not tell me what to say or how to say it.


Saturday, June 14, 2014

Recipe: Chocolate Almond Butter Oat Cookies




All you really need to know is that it's basically a healthy* brownie.  Gluten-free**, dairy-free, and peanut-free!

Ingredients:
- 2/3 cup rolled quick oats, processed into a coarse flour
- 1/3 cup rolled quick oats, whole
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup creamy almond butter (my hands down favorite is Barney Butter)
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 tbs cocoa powder
- 1 tsp vanilla

Step 1:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium mixing bowl, mix together the brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, and almond butter.

Step 2:
Fold in both the oat flour and the rolled oats, along with the cinnamon, baking soda, and cocoa powder.



Step 3:
Line a baking sheet with either parchment paper or Reynold's nonstick foil.  Drop cookies down onto the sheet about 2" apart.  They hold up pretty well and shouldn't spread far.  I make my cookies fairly large (obv.) so I ended up with about 16.

Step 4: 
Bake at 350 degrees for about 11-12 minutes.  Don't over cook!  You want your cookies to remain chewy.  Enjoy!


*obviously there is a decent amount of sugar in these, they are cookies.  I just personally think the amount of protein puts them far above traditional cookies on the "healthy" scale.

**if you use gluten-free oats, this recipe is gluten, peanut and dairy free, making it a terrific option for those on a limited diet to enjoy a "brownie"!


I have included some Amazon Affiliate links as Barney Butter may not be available to purchase at your local grocery.


Please let me know how this recipe turned out for you!  If you have any questions, please ask away.

If you liked this and you'd like to browse some of my other recipes, click here :)

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Pre-K Grad!



Can you even handle it?  This dapper little dude has just been promoted to kindergarten!  


We were so relieved last summer when we learned that Dominic had gotten into our first choice Pre-Kindergarten program.  When I first applied days after they opened registration, they were already wait listed so I was kind of stressed that none of the other schools I toured quite measured up.  This year definitely lived up to my expectations and he just loved his class.  

I've mentioned it before and I really swear I'm not bragging or exaggerating- Dominic is our brainiac child.  Isla is super smart and impresses me everyday too, don't get me wrong... but there are things Dominic says/does/remembers that are just shocking.  

(Side note, he was playing with a calculator the other day and was quite literally giggling with excitement as he computed large numbers.  I felt like I was watching five year-old Bryce Harper pick up a baseball bat)

So basically I was looking for a school that would actually challenge him and not just be a daycare.  According to his teacher at his end of the year parent conference, he was already "ready" for kindergarten last fall.  He has learned so much since then and is sure to have a great start to his official schooling.  At this point, it's our job to keep him challenged through the summer so he can continue to excel next year. 


His school had a cute graduation/promotion ceremony and it was kind of sad knowing that he won't be going to kindergarten with any of his friends from this year.  He made a couple of really good friends in particular that we're going to keep in touch with.

Dominic with his teachers and BFF "P" :)

To commemorate this occasion we took an awful family photo.  I mean seriously.  Jeff and Maisy look good, but my eyes are half closed, Isla is pitching a fit and turned around, and Dominic is pulling her pigtail.  Basically it's a fair representation I guess.


Now we enjoy our summer and prep for the big K next fall!!  Eeeep!!

Garden Progress- 4 weeks in


We're four weeks post planting here so I figure a progress update is in order.  If you'd like to read about the results of our garden last year and this year's plans, you can check out this post.  All in all, things are going very well.  We are primarily using the "Nature's Care" brand products by Miracle Grow.  All supplies and plants were purchased at our local Home Depot.  This is just a run of the mill backyard garden that anyone is capable of.  


I'll preface these pictures by saying that about a week ago, a certain two year old got a hold of the scissors I was using to open an additional bag of potting soil while planting potted flowers.  Unfortunately, some plants received a "haircut".  A couple of the strawberry plants were basically cut down to stumps.  The banana pepper plant was also nearly snipped clean off.  I'm hoping they will recover since the roots are still intact and fine.  We'll see.  Also, one of my tomato plants was cut in half.  They grow so quickly I'm not really worried about that one.

So here's my main raised bed and smaller strawberry bed four weeks post plant..

And here are my potted plants..

We're doing pretty well!  We aren't in the harvest stage yet, but I think we're close to it with the tomatoes and some of the strawberries.  My green beans also seem to be doing particularly well.  I grew them a couple years ago with great results so I'm excited about their potential this year too.

As far as pest control goes, I picked up these two products:


I'm hoping this protects us effectively.  The real test will come when my plants start to produce!



Monday, June 2, 2014

Healthy Little Smiles



We all want the best for our kids.  A lifetime of health starts with forming good habits early on.  Along with regular dental checkups, it is important to brush your children's teeth twice daily with safe and age appropriate toothpaste.  

With our first child, we knew it was important to start brushing as soon as his first teeth came in.  Compared to your tooth enamel, your baby’s is 50% thinner. That’s why you need expert protection.  So with each of our children, the arrival of those first little chompers brought a new toothbrush and daily ritual.  We want brushing to be enjoyable because the goal is for our kids to *want* to brush their own teeth.  This means finding a toothpaste that tastes good.. and is safe when they inevitably swallow it!

Aquafresh- The little mouth experts ™

Aquafresh Training Toothpaste is our choice for both Isla (age 2.5) and Maisy (10 months).  It's Fluoride-Free and contains NO artificial colors or preservatives.  The natural apple-banana flavor is mild and pleasant for even young infants.  When used as directed, it is safe to swallow.  This is so important because my children never really understand not to until they are about three years old.




Isla loves brushing with her special toothpaste and now Maisy is enjoying this new routine as well.  I'm glad to have found a brand that is in line with my standards, while still appealing to little ones.  For more tips on good oral care for kids, visit Aquafresh here.  To browse their kid specific products, visit here.

Disclaimer: Please use this product as directed on label.

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Aquafresh through their partnership with POPSUGAR. While I was compensated by POPSUGAR to write a post about Aquafresh, all opinions are my own.




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