Thursday, October 31, 2013

Fall Harvest vs. Halloween

I don't need to be scared of you...

It's that time of year. When the veil between worlds opens up and for a season, wild magic can run rampant in the world with no repercussion. At least, that's how I talk about the holiday with my spawn. They understand this explanation well, and share their knowledge of scary things with other children. It makes them look cool. It's my favorite holiday. Win! And win!

It's not "news" that all over the place, Halloween parties at school are being replaced by Fall harvest parties, as more people are not celebrating the holiday. I used to battle against this all the time when I was teaching, cue the memory of a student calling me a devil worshipper because of my tattoos and piercings and me yelling back at her that the Devil goes to church too. Scared the pants off her and myself, honestly. The holy water don't burn when I go to church, honey. I digress.... I feel a bit disappointed that this is going on now even more. It's taking the fun out of being a kid, in my humble opinion.

Here's where it gets interesting. I was helping out at Pixy's school, which is a Catholic school, and the CHILDREN were discussing this topic. Not because it was being banned from their school, they even have a parade there, but because some of the children have siblings who attend public schools and have to follow different schools. Honestly, I shouldn't be surprised that children can hold sophisticated conversations of their own like this, but to hear them voice my own frustrations in the most innocently accurate of ways...was awesome.

"Halloween Castle" by bplanet from Freedigitalphotos.net
Spooky or harvest?
In order to hear the conversation in depth, I became a helicopter parent and just hovered by. I NEEDED to hear what they were saying. There was a lot of:" I'm sad that they can't celebrate it. Isn't it just supposed to be fun?" There was also: " I don't see why they're all weirded out. We're playing dress up. Everyone likes to dress up." To this golden nugget from my own spawn: " it can be scary but I don't need to be scared of you in a costume. Lots of scarier things happen in daylight when everyone is watching." Whoa!! Stop the presses!! How do they possess all this wisdom? They're in kindergarten!!! Be a kid, kid!!

Truth is, that children are more in tune with the goings on of the universe than we are sometimes. They overhear things. Trust me, they know more than you do on a good day. So, the fact that they know that other scarier things than neighborhood kids being in costume exist and happen daily, shouldn't be surprising...but somehow it is. Why do we fixate on protecting children from things that for the most part, won't really cause any harm in the long run? Is dressing up as the grim reaper, or a zombie, or a ghost so repulsively horrifying that it will mess up their psyche? Truth is, probably not. We seem to be doing ok and we were exposed to all kinds of parenting that, by today's standards, were irresponsible. I guess, I'm just not sure that's where real evil lies. In costumes, candy, and mischief. Isn't the real evil in the daily things we hear in the news? On the radio? Around us at any time? Will we have to start putting our kids in bubbles to protect them from the next thing that will offend or upset someone?

I think that's where we are headed. Every time someone gets upset about something, they will just take it away, until all we have are robots instead of children. Someone will always be upset about something. It is the way humans work but to target something that is supposed to bring joy to children and adults, make everyone the same age for one night of the year seems...I dunno. Kinda Scroogey.

Perhaps, I'm just upset because it's my favorite holiday. Maybe, it has more to do with school turning into a testing machine instead of teaching anything. For sure, it has to do with the fact that we are protecting a loss of innocence that occurred way sooner than we originally thought and we are scrambling like mad to fix now. Because, let's face it folks, a witch costume did not cause this loss of innocence. Oh no. The loss of innocence I'm talking about is a lot scarier than that. It begins much sooner as the ways of the world seep into our everyday lives, and drives Kindergartners to have passionate classroom conversations about things that walk in daylight that are much scarier. And they're not the walking dead.

As I sit and plan a whole new different costume for Banshee's fall harvest party and separate it from their Halloween night costumes, I shiver a little bit. Yes, me. The woman who really isn't scared of anything and thinks werewolves are cuddly. With that one statement, my daughter just brought a whole new kind of Big Bad through our front door. And there is nothing I can do to keep it away. For now, I will keep on doing my thing: putting up Jack Skellington decorations, carving Jack o' lanterns, and teaching neighborhood skills about the advantages of having a gargoyle on your roof. It will be All Hallows' Eve. We got some candy to score. I guess the rest can wait for another day. Right?

Have you encountered the Fall Harvest vs. Halloween debacle? What is YOUR opinion? 

Photo by bplanet courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net
Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Little Monsters - Children and Halloween

My son is excited about Halloween. He's been ready for three weeks to put on his costume and wander up and down the street in Uncles Nic and Carlos' neighborhood, stopping at houses and saying, "Trick or treat!" And I'm excited for him.

Little Monsters - Children and Halloween
Silas Halloween 2012
He's 3. He knows no strangers. He says hi to everyone. Last year he saw gaggles of kids trick-or-treating together and he would run up to them and cry, "Hi guys!" Some of the older kids would give him a look and keep walking, and my son ran back to me, dejected.

"A**holes," I thought. There is no reason for that. I wanted to cry for him. But he kept doing it. 

"Hi guys!!"

No response. Funny looks. Keep walking.

Eventually, you know what happened. He slowly stopped doing it. Finally he said, "Mommy, I all done trick treat."

I was so angry. I wanted to pull these people aside and say, "Are you kidding me? The least you could do is say hi and wave to him!" I wanted to find these kids' parents and talk to them about common courtesy.

My son is what some people would call "sensitive." He picks his nails when he gets anxious. He cries when he gets in trouble and runs to his bed, later to return and say, "I so sorry. I never do it again. I love you." I hate the thought that trick or treating can make him less likely to put himself out there and be friendly. 

Last year I remember a meme floating around Facebook that reminded people that some of the "visitors" they have for Halloween may be different than what they perceive as "the normal child." Some may have developmental delays, physical differences, Autism, the list could go on. And seeing this image, this reminder, made me tear up.

These little guys and girls are out there to have fun. They're out there to dress up, say hi to people, and enjoy this yearly opportunity to just enjoy...well...life. To them it's not about differences or sometimes even the candy (although that's a bonus).

So please. If you're participating in Halloween this year, make an effort to stop and say hi or "Cool costume!" to these little people who are putting themselves out there. The Silases of the world will have their day made by just that one little act of kindness.

$200 ToysRUs Gift Card #Giveaway (Ends November 19)

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Monday, October 28, 2013

Flashlight Friends Review

Silas: Oh Mommy...is that a dragon?

Me: It is bud. And it's just for you. Your very own flashlight.

Silas: Reawwy??

My son is three and a half. He is fascinated with flashlights. He loves turning out all the lights and "hunting for treasure" with a flashlight all around the house. I don't mind usually, it's fun. But one night I found a hot flashlight in his blanket when I did blanket checks before I went to bed, and that was the end of that. Most flashlights get hot when left on, and can cause a hazard.

Enter the Flashlight Friend. I received this product from Idea Village to review and the information in this post is my honest and personal review.

Flashlight Friends Review
Flashlight Friends - Dragon

The first night we had him, Silas took his Friend to bed with him. Usually he's up two or three times before he falls asleep. He didn't get up once (and I checked, he was looking around his room with the flashlight). 

Flashlight Friends Review
Silas and his Dragon
Silas loves his dragon. And I do too. Here's why. This thing has some great features. The light is an LED which is cool to the touch. It goes off by itself after 10 minutes. I personally found it slightly difficult to turn on the first time (you push the light twice) but my son took it and turned it on in two seconds. Mommy's feeling slightly techno-delayed.

Flashlight Friends Review
Bright light but cool to the touch
The Flashlight Friend comes in four options: the Dragon (what Silas received), Penguin, Unicorn, and Puppy. My youngest son has been toting the Dragon around the house as well using the handle on the back that's the perfect size for little hands to hold on to it. I have a feeling that the youngest has informed us of his Christmas wish.

Flashlight Friends Review
Super soft and apparently a good hugger

Flashlight Friends can be purchased online and in-store for about $19.99. They require three AAA batteries (which are not included). When we received this the only concern I had was safety - I feared someone might whack a sibling (ahem Silas) with the Dragon but the parts for the light are inside of all the squishyness. I tried throwing it at my husband. He was unscathed.

Overall I would definitely suggest this toy. My sons enjoy it, and if you have a child who is afraid of the dark then this could be very helpful. It can also be used in the car when it gets dark for entertaining the Littles on drives.

Which do you think your child would enjoy most - the Dragon, the Penguin, the Unicorn, or the Puppy? Would it be something they'd be interested in? 

I received this product from Idea Village to review and the information in this post came from my honest and personal review.
Sunday, October 27, 2013

What We Learned This Week (October 27, 2013 edition)

October is flying by! Pretty soon we'll get to ogle pics of Lisa's new little one and be celebrating Christmas or something... So Mamas, what did you learn this week?

Robyn:
This week I've learned that I can feed our family (of 6) for $75 a week! It was a challenge, but I hit the grocery store determined. This weeks menu even includes Chicken Fried Rice, Grilled Chicken and Beef Enchiladas!

Friday is the worst day for traffic and running errands. People are jackasses on the road! Cutting one another off, speeding up just to hit their brakes on the highway, etc. Therefore, I've learned to turn Friday into laundry day, and to not be on the road.

I'm not superstitious...until it comes to the Red Sox in the World Series. Back in 2004, I did the same thing every night that they played. And by golly, they won! This year, hubby stopped watching the game for a sec, and the Red Sox got a triple! He's the bad luck...I feel a goose chase coming on in his bear future during game 4! 

Lisa:
After a hectic week of being pregnant and running around with the girls, Lisa took the week off. She'll be back this week with a post about the controversies surrounding Halloween!

Liz:
1) I learned that the Big Bad Spam Filter Monster can get us and I need to check it more often. How horrible do I feel when companies reach out to us for promotions/giveaways for you guys and we miss it because it went to spam. *Shakes fist at the spam gods...or devil*

2) I learned I need to be more proactive about Halloween costumes. I really do. I knew what I was going to order from Amazon (which has an amazing costume selection even right now, and fast shipping for you...late orderers...like me) but just didn't do it until last week. Now I'm fingers crossed that Silas' dragon costume will be here for Thursday. Bad mama! Bad!


What We Learned This Week (October 27, 2013 edition)
Too many clothes...
3) I realized saving clothes from child one for child two can be a blessing and a curse. This is our 18-24 month "wardrobe" for Sage. Apparently someone went a little clothing rediculous previously. My suggestion? 14 outfits (2 per day, wash once or twice per week) for this age. Oye! 





What did you learn this week? Share something fun even if it seems small to you - learning's always big!

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Saturday, October 26, 2013

Keurig Vue 600 Blogger Opportunity

A month before a giveaway goes live, we offer other bloggers the opportunity to participate in the giveaway. That is a "blogger opportunity" or blogger opp. This blogger opp is for to participate in a Keurig giveaway November 11 to November 30.




 
Organized and Hosted By: Out of the Bags 
 
Prize: 1 Keurig Vue 600 with Vue Pack
 
Event Dates: November 11 to November 30
 
Open to U.S Only 
 
Top Referrer will receive a free Co-Host spot. 
 
 
 
Requirements to participate:
 
Limit 2 blogs per person
 
Link Announcement or pay $5
 
 
 
Promote at least 3x times a week.
 
 
 

Friday, October 25, 2013

This Is Not a Blog Post

As we said Sunday, we're not posting everyday. But instead today we're asking YOU, our fabulous readers, to create this "post." Do tell, you say. Well here goes. In the comments section below tell us one thing (or more) that you're excited about or that makes you happy when you think of it. It can be anything, big or small. Small pleasures are just as awesome as big excitements. Go!
Thursday, October 24, 2013

Finding What Works

Let's hit the beach. Bring the cooler. Stack it with beer, sandwiches and chips! The room is reserved, and our suits are packed. See you when you get home, babe!  (A year ago)

Butt crack of dawn..wake up, wake up baby, take kids to school, go home, cook myself breakfast, load dishwasher, bring down diapers to wash, pause, why is the baby cranky? Crap, it's 0800, nap time. Scarf food down. Stop what I'm doing, feed baby. Burp baby. Put baby down for a nap....
Wow, how life changed in just a year. I miss stuff from a year ago. I miss the spontaneity. I miss the get up and go. I miss weekend getaways. But, here I am. Thinking about myself. Is that selfish? To think about me for the purpose of recharging my own batteries? But, seriously. There has GOT to be a happy medium! We have these routines in place for a reason. If the kids know what's coming next, there should be less outbursts. True. If the same punishment is used every time (I.e. Taking a toy away) they will also know what's about to happen (and probably make the bad choice anyway).

So, how can we find this happy medium? I struggle thinking this (and worry about it everyday). Whether our kids agree or not, they like a routine.  Their behavior is better and let's face it, that makes for happier parentals as well. Then why is it that these seemingly well behaved children act like fools? Is this typical? Before we go ride a train, I tell them 'okay guys, we're not buying any toys unless you want to use your own money'. 'yes ma'am' Once we step foot in the store, it's like a bell goes off DING...ASK FOR EVERYTHING IN SIGHT. Seriously, even though I just briefed you on what's about to go down? That's how your going to act? Argh...

As I was thinking about my expectations of my kids, my teenager brought home his report card. I already knew the grades thanks to technology! But when one of his grades was less than par, he got all upset when I asked what happened in that class. After turning in a project late, and receiving a poor grade, he barked at me 'your expectations are too high for me.' 

WHAT?! THE?! ... Wow, hmm yes I expect you to turn in your work on time, and get good grades (A's and B's) , and do weekly chores, eat dinner as a family every night, shower daily.... How dare I expect this from my kiddos (sarcasm at its best)?

My whole point is, what do you say? What do you say to the kid who 'knows better' than to ask for toys you explained that you are not buying? What do you say when your kid says your asking too much out of them (when your actually holding them up to their potential)? Why must these kid-turds be testing us all the time?

In all this chaos, I think I know what they need. They need stability. They need chaos:organized chaos. They need to complain about being bored and having chores. They need to know that Friday night is always pizza, movie and popcorn night. They need fun. They also need to know that family vacations (or weekend getaways) are meant to be special. If we took them away every weekend, 1. the chores would be left for mommy during the week (not cool) 2. We wouldn't be teaching them to entertain themselves. 3. It wouldn't feel special.

As I think about the choices I make as a mommy on a daily basis, I truly want what's best for them. I also want them to figure stuff out for themselves. Now more than ever, I constantly think about the things I say to them. We have fun, with a lot of sarcasm! I want them to have tough skin, and not let their sensitive side show with tears. I want them to come to me when there's a problem so we can figure it out together. But, I also want them to be boys. Fighting and yelling at your brother is okay. Don't involve me, tattle tell on him, and work it out between yourselves!

So, here it is: we have found our happy medium...

Teach and learn from each other
Fight and make up
Give lots of hugs
Help someone in need
Love and respect one another
Finish what you start
Dress up
Clean your messes
Cry when you're hurt
And Never be too old to cuddle with Mommy!







Zebra ERGObaby Carrier Giveaway from Thanks Mama (Closes November 21)

Zebra ErgoBaby Carrier Giveaway from Thanks Mama

The Mamas at Mamas Around the House are so excited to be bringing this great giveaway opportunity to you courtesy of Thanks Mama natural parenting store. Be sure to enter - this could be a great gift to a new mom or for your family for Christmas!


Do you love wearing your baby? If you haven't tried yet, you must! It can be very liberating to free up your hands for daily tasks and to have baby content and close to you. We are excited to bring you this opportunity to win an ERGObaby Carrier from Thanks Mama natural parenting store, we think you'll love it!



Thanks Mama online baby store features a selection of twelve baby carrier brands, among them the popular ERGObaby Carrier. This particular brand was the one that started it all and revolutionized babywearing to be truly comfortable and suitable for every day life. The ergonomic design of this carrier supports the correct sitting position for baby and also balances baby's weight on the parent's hips and shoulders. 


Our Favorite Features of the ERGObaby Carrier: 
  • Reinforced stitching between fabric intersections make a safer carrier
  • Padded waist belt supports the lumbar area
  • Can be worn on the front, back, or hip
  • Attached sleeping hood that can be tucked away
  • Thick, comfortable foam straps
  • Fits babies from 7 to 45 pounds (with infant insert)

Our Favorite Features of the Thanks Mama Store
  • Large selection of 28 brands of cloth diapers
  • Over 15 options of reusable potty training pants
  • Eco-friendly and non-toxic baby care solutions
  • Classic and modern wooden toys
  • Non-toxic mattresses for the whole family
  • Eco-friendly furniture for baby and kids made of rubberwood
  • Free shipping on all U.S. orders over $60 and Worldwide shipping rates available
  • Earn rewards dollars with every purchase
Purchase: You can purchase the ERGObaby carrier at Thanks Mama. Use code CARRIER for 15% off!



Win It! Thanks Mama is generously giving away the Zebra print ERGObaby Carrier to one winner.



Special thanks to AnaB Social for hosting this giveaway. Huge thanks to Thanks Mama and all participating bloggers as well! Giveaway ends November 21st at 11:59 pm, open worldwide, to anyone ages 18+. To enter please use the Rafflecopter form below (see directions on how to enter here). Thank you!





Disclaimer: AnaB Social, Eco-Babyz, and all participating event bloggers are not responsible for sponsor prize shipment. 
Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The MamaVoxBox from Influenster

The MamaVoxBox from Influenster
Got it from Influenster!
As a member of the Influenster community I was lucky enough to be chosen to receive the MamaVoxBox, a box of complimentary products to review that Moms would enjoy. Since I enjoy reviewing products, I was really excited to be chosen. Influenster.com is a product review platform that allows bloggers and other social media types to review products and possibly be involved in activities like VoxBoxes where reviewers are sent products to review and participate in fun challenges. I have really enjoyed this "challenge" and working towards receiving all of the "badges" that go along with the products we reviewed. It's a lot of fun - any blogger who is interested in being an Influenster member should email me.

Here's what my box looked like:
The MamaVoxBox from Influenster
Great stuff to review from Influenster!

Inside of the box were lots of cool things to try. I received Ponds Luminous Finish BB+ Cream, a Belvita Soft Baked Breakfast Biscuit, some Dr. Scholl's for her Comfort Insoles, and a package of Annie's Homegrown microwaveable macaroni and cheese cups to try out. So how did these products work out?

Ponds Luminous Finish BB+ Cream
I've never tried anything like this. It goes on smooth, provides even coverage, has SPF 15 to protect your skin, and leaves your face feeling great. There's no slimy or oily feeling that you may get with other creams. I've continued to use this since I received it and have definitely noticed a difference in the dark/red spots on my skin. I highly recommend this product for anyone interested in trying a light and moisturizing base with SPF and dark spot correction. I've even branched out into using other Ponds products because my experience was so positive. 

BelVita Soft Baked Breakfast Biscuits (Chocolate and Oats type)
BelVita Soft Baked
Our mornings are pretty hectic so I was excited to try this grab and go breakfast item, and I wasn't disappointed. I have bought two boxes since we received the free one. Even my 3 year old likes these "cookies" for breakfast. Great find. It will forever be on my grocery list.









Annie's Microwaveable Macaroni and Cheese Cups
The MamaVoxBox from Influenster
Silas tries Annie's
We're big mac-n-cheese eaters so I wasn't sure what to expect. Everyone in my house loved it. Even Mike said it tasted better than the other brands we've tried. I've bought a ton of them since our free package. While they're slightly pricier than other brands, I would say it's worth the price. It cooks up quick and tastes great. 8 thumbs up (from the whole family).





Dr Scholl's for Her Comfort Insoles
The MamaVoxBox from Influenster
Dr. Scholl's Comfort Insoles
I've never been an insert person but I loved these. I did a whole review post on them here. I am still using them and will probably buy some other options for sneakers as well.









So there you have it - my review of all of these great products. As I said before, I received all of these products free from Influenster to review and really enjoyed the opportunity and the process.

Have you tried any of these products? What did you think?
Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Parenting Styles and You

"Silas, now," says Daddy sternly.

"We need to brush our teeth every day so that they don't hurt," explains Mommy.
 
As a psychologist and professor I have taught about parenting styles to my students in my child psychology class for more years than I want to count. Our style of parenting is influenced by what we expect from the child, how we communicate with them, and how we show affection and nurturing.

Parenting Styles and You
Ah parenting
How we combine these three things (expectations, communication, and nurturing) create our parenting "style." Some parents have high expectations for their children and expect them to obey and "behave" without questioning us, while others will ask a child to behave a certain way and act more like a coach when they don't do exactly as asked. Some parents communicate expectations multiple times, while others communicate once (or not at all) and expect the child to behave as requested at a future time (as well as now). Some parents nurture/show affection often while others do not. How do these look when combined?

Authoritarian parents have high expectations, low communication, and low nurturance. They have expectations, and they need to be met. If they are not, there will be consequences (sometimes physical consequences such as a spanking). They are less likely to explain why the consequence is occurring than other types of parents. This can be seen as the "I say, you do" form of parenting. It reminds me of the saying, "Children should be seen and not heard." It also reminds me of a parent saying to a child, "Why are you crying? Do you want me to give you something to cry about?"

Authoritative or democratic parents have high expectations, high communication, and high nurturance. They set the bar high in terms of behaviors, but they tell you how to get over the bar and they cheer you on as you're doing it. You can hear them say things such as, "I understand it must be frustrating to be so tired and to have to brush our teeth. I would be frustrated too. But it's something we need to do. Let's get this done so that we can get to sleep as quickly as possible."

Permissive or indulgent parents are low in expectations, high in communication, and high in nurturance. I tell my students that these are the parents who may tell their teen child that they can have a party with friends over and alcohol as long as nobody drives. Many times I think these parents really want to be their child's friend and make sure their child likes them. The line between parent and peer can be blurred in this instance, especially when we're giving in to a child's wishes rather than putting expectations on them.

Uninvolved or neglectful parents are low in expectations, low in communication, and low in nurturance. These parents may not behave as we would expect a "parent" would at all. Many times when I hear about this type of parenting, the parent may be experiencing high levels of stress (from work, money, housing, etc.) or may be experiencing something that's causing them to have difficulty connecting with their child (such as a major mental disorder).

One may wonder where the "style" of parenting we call "helicopter" parenting comes into play - helicopter parents are seen to "swoop in" and save their child from experiences that they feel may be detrimental to them. So they may save them from feeling badly about not being picked for the soccer team by petitioning the school. How could this influence the child over time? Well, if someone always came in and fixed your problems, how would you behave?

Students ask me often if it's possible to change parenting style and my answer is a definitive YES. I would even venture to say that it's necessary. At each stage of our child's life they need different levels of support from us. They need different expectations based upon their current abilities. If we don't change how we interact with them based upon their needs as they're maturing, then we'd be "stuck" as parents. Also, I would think it would be rather difficult to be an authoritarian parent to a newborn. Yelling, "Stop crying!" hasn't typically worked out well for anyone I'm willing to bet. And being permissive with a toddler can get you into a frustration spiral where you feel walked all over, try to initiate control, they push back (figuratively or physically), and we're locked in this frustrating experience with...our child.

How are you as a parent right now? How do you think your levels of expectation, communication, and nurturing are influencing your child's development?

Image downloaded from freedigitalphotos.net and created by imagerymagestic
Sunday, October 20, 2013

What We Learned (Sunday, October 20th Edition)

First with business...
This has been kind of a big week for us. We've made some decisions about the blog as a team. First, we're going to switch to a 3 posts per week schedule as oppo
ed to a post every day schedule. This means that on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays you'll get your weekly dose of the Mamas. Will there be other posts in between? Sure, but most of them will be relating to giveaways we're sponsoring with other bloggers. Speaking of giveaways, we're trying to provide our readers with some awesome giveaways that they can use (or gift for Christmas), so be on the lookout for those in the coming weeks. Always visit the Giveaway tab (top right) on the blog to see just what we've got cookin'.

How will I know what's going on?

Will we be posting every day on Twitter and Facebook about the giveaways? Not every day. So how will you know if there's one you want to enter? Great question. Become a post subscriber - on the right of this page you'll see "Daily Email Updates? Yes Please!" Signing up there will get you an email whenever we post something new to the page. So then what's the Subscription box above it? That's for folks who want to be on our subscriber list - those folks will receive info about giveaways, upcoming posts, and even discounts from the marketers we work with starting in November. Want in? Heck, sign up for both!

And now...the mamas.

What did you learn this week ladies?

Liz:

- I learned that Halloween shopping for these children is a beast. Silas switched his thoughts every day, every HOUR on what he wanted to be. Finally I ordered their costumes from Amazon - Silas will be a green dragon and Sage is being a spider. DONE. Now I have to wait the almost two grueling weeks of "Today Halloween mommy?" No baby it's not yet. "Tomorrow?" No, not tomorrow either. *Eye roll* I want to say, Get a calendar kid! Eesh! But we all know that wouldn't help.

- I learned that using certain blog helping tools rock our socks in terms of page views (PVs) and I love it. Being the person that manages the blog, checks the stats, and is always looking for new ways to get us "out there" (not like crazy out there, we're already there, hullo), I'm feeling like what I'm doing is paying off. It's a pretty cool feeling. Keep up the reading hard work ya'll. I appreciate every single reader (maybe a little more the ones who comment though...hint hint).

- I'm pondering vlogging (blogging via video) but I've watched so many bad ones that I don't want to be "that guy," you know? TV blaring the in background, gum snapping, looking like they haven't showered in a month, dogs barking...not so professional right? The thought freaks me out. But it's growing on me. Would you want to see vlogs from our Mamas?

Robyn: While cleaning out a peanut butter jar (to reuse and recycle) I've learned that wet peanut butter feels like dog sh!t. 

I need to add an addiction to my list.. Chocolate, Wine and now Scandal addict. I see the previews once a week...or maybe 4. I wait *patiently* until Thursday evenings for the next episode. Put the kids to bed, grab a square of dark chocolate filled with caramel as I pour my red wine, and then indulge in my guilty pleasure.

I've learned that my kids hide frogs and lizards in the metal tank that belongs to the local water company. The small one that contains the meter, in our front yard. This week: 5 dead ones. Silver lining: Atleast their hiding spot is NOT in the house! 
Lisa:
1. I learned that a road trip with the family is still a fun opportunity to see all kinds of things. From the truck driver picking his nose, to the lady shaving her armpits. Fun times!! 

2. Seriously, manners matter. I had the opportunity to help out at Pixy's classroom and the amount of children who need to learn please/thank you is huge!! People...it takes two seconds to teach this concept and it will help you for the rest of your life. Get.it.done. Sigh.

3. I treated myself to a 3D/4D ultrasound, having never had one before. The military doesn't use those, so it was fun. Girls and Sailor went with me and we got to see Cubby's face. He's a wild man, not that I'm surprised, and super fat!! Yay! 


What about you? The one reading this. What did you learn? Don't be shy, share! Comment below! 
Friday, October 18, 2013

Halloween and Julep Nail Color - Halloween Fun for your Nails!

As you saw in a post last week, I just started receiving the Julep Maven boxes and I'm loving their nail colors. I scope the site now and then and have been finding all sorts of cool stuff such as the Julep Spooky Sets for Halloween - perfectly matched nail sets and accessories for Halloween nail designing. How fun is that? And right now the Halloween sets are 70% off. Bonus! My favorite sets are the Candy Corn Spooky Set and the Bloodcrackling Spooky Set. Cute right?! In recent years I've done a lot of holiday nail art and I get a lot of "cute idea!" comments, so I'll be looking forward to getting these sets and doing them Halloween week.

70% off Julep Halloween sets
Julep Halloween Styles!


You don't have to be a Maven subscriber to buy the nail colors and sets like this, but Maven subscribers do get special benefits like 20% off all purchases, free shipping and priority notifications on exclusives and new products! I love getting emails from them letting me know about upcoming stuff (like, you know, this Halloween 70% off awesomeness). Interested in this Maven subscriber "thing?"


Become a Maven! Sign up for the Maven monthly beauty box subscription and get the intro box (valued at $40) for free using the code FREEBOX. There is a $3.99 shipping charge, and you are signing up for a monthly service, however, you can cancel the subscription, put it on hold or even gift it at any time. When you join Julep you'll complete a style quiz and then you'll receive Maven boxes fitting your style. Last month I received two nail colors and a foot lotion that I loooove. Try it out!
Thursday, October 17, 2013

Innotab 3s Giveaway - Closes November 17th

Are you in Christmas shopping mode? We know we are. The InnoTab 3s would make a great gift for children between the ages of 3 and 9. Be sure to enter and enter often!

Welcome to the Vtech's InnoTab Giveaway
BeFunky_BeFunky_myawesomebaby.jpg
This giveaway is brought to you by Empowered Mommy and friends!
Vtech's Innotab is a perfect technology gift for own child, niece/nephew or grandchildren! I was in love with this electronic toy ever since I laid eyes on it! Empowered Mommy and friends teamed together to giveaway one of these tabs to one of their reader!
What is Vtech's Innotab? 
It is tablet that offers a wealth of fun, age-appropriate learning games for kids, plus new ways to play and learn. Kids and parents can exchange and share their text messages, photos and more over a kid-safe Wi-Fi connection using VTech Kid Connect. Children can browse kid-safe and parent approved websites to find even more learning fun right from the InnoTab 3S.
What does this tablet include?

Exchange and Share with Smart phones
InnoTab 3S connects kids to their parents and friends anywhere (available with Wi-Fi connection). With VTech Kid Connect Basic (included) you can wirelessly exchange text and fun stickers between the InnoTab 3S and smart phones. Kids can also connect with friends and siblings safely with tablet-to-tablet communication between two InnoTab 3S tablets no matter where they are- anytime, anywhere.
Browse the web
Make A Wish
Deluxe Apps Package
Movie Maker
Rotating Camera and Video Recorder
Wonder Cam
Magic Beanstalk Game
& MUCH MORE!!!
Learning is even more fun with InnoTab 3S, fun that never stops!
This giveaway is open to US/CAN. Entrants must be 18+ to enter the giveaway.
Giveaway dates: October 17, 2013 to November 17, 2013
Enter via rafflecopter widget below. Allow the widget to fully load and claim as many entries as you can to maximize your chances to win!
Disclosure: This blog is not responsible for the shipment of the prize. This giveaway is not at all endorsed or sponsored by Facebook, Twitter and/or Vtech. This is a self sponsored giveaway brought to you by Empowered Mommy and friends. Once the giveaway is over, the winner will be announced via random.org and will be contacted by Empowered Mommy via. For questions, please email Empowered Mommy. 

The Pregnant Woman Random Thought Generator phenomenon

I hate the way my brain doesn't work when I'm pregnant. I forget things, I hyper focus on other things....it's just not a reliable tool. I mean, if the activity isn't on my daily schedule, it just doesn't exist. One thing that I enjoy to do, mainly so I can laugh at myself later, is to jot down the random thoughts that pop into my brain a zillion times a day. The results are very Tina Fey in Baby Mama. Oh, you remember the scene: she's on a date with Greg Kinnear and she says that she dreams about random things, like an electric toilet. Yes....that's exactly what my thoughts are like. For your pleasure, I've even included the exact time I came up with that thought. Feel free to giggle.

-7am Wake-up: why was I dreaming about making grilled cheeses that could sing? I wonder if I ate one, then the baby could hear the sandwich in my stomach.
-7:30am: Huh. I don't remember making the lunches for the girls. Wouldn't it be cool if there was a robot designed to be a Mamas helper? I would soooo invest in one!
-8:30 driving  spawn to school: would you look at that? Someone left half a door on the side of the street. Ooh! Nice sidelights. I wish that door could talk and tell me where it had been. Isn't that a cartoon?
-8:50 having dropped off Pixy: seriously, how do these other moms manage to get dressed in designer duds with makeup on just to drop off their kids?! Ugh, I'm such a slob. At least, I smell good. Not that anyone is going to check.
-9:00 almost to Banshee's school: That cornfield doesn't look right. I think he alpaca farm next door is using up all the good corn and leaving the other stalks to dry up and look ugly. There's enough dry corn here to conceal albino-blonde scary kids in there. Oh God...why did I think of that now?
-9:25 dropped off Banshee: Dude, I seriously hope that the weird mom in her minivan isn't around. Nope. There she is. She isn't pregnant and she just missed driving into the bus by inches. What is going on with her? (By the way, she practically runs someone over daily).
-9:45 in the driveway: this child is bent on killing me. I'm sure he doesn't like me. I mean, dude, relax in there. I pigged out at breakfast. Surely, that will make you be gentle with me. Ugh.
-10am: I soooo don't want to wash all these damn cloth diapers right now. This boy will even wear the pink flowery ones. I am not buying all new ones for him.
-10:30 am while cleaning out the nursery: This baby will be here in a hot minute and nothing is ready. I'm still surrounded by boxes of junk that Goodwill won't want. If I throw everything out and start brand new, that will so solve my problems. Who can I get money from?
-11:15am: this is it!! The second my friendly neighborhood vamp asks me if I want immortality, I'm taking it. I'm getting old. Gonna ask if I can finish breastfeeding first.
-11:45 while picking up Banshee: I'm sure her teacher takes pity on me because she thinks I'm missing a few screws. I don't think any other Mom got a note reminding them there's no school tomorrow.
-12noon: Oh, it's lunch!! I'm so not gonna win the Mama of the year award, but if I make another Nutella sandwich for this child, I will go up in flames. Wasn't there a case of spontaneous combustion in TV just recently?
-12:30: I wonder if I really should write all these thoughts down. They're weird to me, even!! Huh. Will think on it.

The Pregnant Woman Random Thought Generator Phenomenon
What's going on? Sigh.
That's what the first half of my day is like. It's interesting, because I'm so not flaky and all of these thoughts are so unbelievably random. I just don't get it. According to the Sailor, I even talk about things in my sleep, which he has been recording for use later. Sigh..




Have you experienced the "Pregnant Woman Random Thought Generator" phenomenon? What are some of the random thoughts you come up with? Share and laugh...I mean, we know this state won't last forever, right? ;) 

Image courtesy of stock photos at FreeDigitalPhotos.net created by Stockimage
Wednesday, October 16, 2013

"I Wish..." A Mom's Sarcastic Wishes

I wish...

I could have nice things. Those plates at Home Goods were cute. I bet they break in a lovely pattern when my 16 month old drops them.

I could schedule baths and bedtimes like I can schedule Tweets on Hootsuite.

I could walk through my house without shoes on. Right now I'm attacked by HotWheels cars but I assume my children will move on to Army men and Legos any day now.

I could see a schedule of when my children will do X. A crystal ball or magic calendar indicating when the toddler will be fully potty trained would help me maintain my patience some days ("Only 3 more months and two more days..").

All adults had the experience of taking a tired toddler to the grocery store. I bet it would cut down on the ugly stares you sometimes get when the three year old cries uncontrollably because we switched aisles. 

The parenting books called the ages of 3 and 4 "The Dr Jekyl and Mr Hyde Days." You never know who you're going to get.

I wish the cleaning fairy was real. I mean come on, don't torture us with fairy tales. Why hasn't someone started a business called The Cleaning Fairies?!

"I wish..." A Mom's sarcastic wishes
Liz and the CuddleBugs
And finally...I wish my children would slow down and be my CuddleBugs for just a few years more. There's nothing better than a toddler snuggled in your lap with their favorite blanket saying, "I wuv you Mommy."

What do you wish for (funny or not)?
Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Placenta Encapsulation: Put me in a pill, so I can swallow it

It's true what they say (whoever 'they' are) that every pregnancy is different. With my two boys, I was the three H's: Healthy, Happy and Horny. But, then again not having Aunt Flow come to town for 9 months makes everyone happy! There were no complications with my babies or the births, which was awesome. 9 min of pushing the first time, and 11 min the second time made these boys say hello world!

This time around, the hubs and I did extensive reasearch on how to have a girl. Ovulation times, sex positions and Chinese calendars were all used in the planning process. Then, TA-DA! Baby girl was born 9 months later. Hey we must've done something right! 

Once I found out I was Prego, initially I was ecstatic! We were ecstatic! We knew it was a girl from the start. What was the first clue, you might ask? Morning sickness? Food aversions? No way, my readers. It was the emotional disaster of a psychotic roller coaster at a neurotic theme park. Up, down, upside-down, round and around we go. Every moment of every day. Here I was, a crazy damn ride of hormones. When I was home, nobody knew what to expect. I cried when I burned biscuits for breakfast. I laughed when I saw car accidents on the news. I stared out the window, paranoid when I heard a car door shut in the middle of the night. 

Oooohhhh, dear baby Jesus...please, please, please help me be normal again! Will I be like this forever? What the HELL is wrong with me? I know I'm acting like a psychopath, but I know I can't change it. It's like an inner battle of red vs black. A small battle (like refilling the soap) turns into a fight, and the only thing left to do is cry about it.The tears released the anxiety, and I was left to feel hopeless. Hopeless because I can't change, but am strong enough to know that I should change. My brain says 'it's not a big deal, just ask for help'. But, my emotions say 'the world is ending!' I literally couldn't refill soap! Tears, tears and more tears....the only solution at this point was to get some takeout Chinese food, change into comfy sweats (you know, those ones that are so old and worn and would NEVER be worn in public), watch some Sex and the City and feed my soul

Then, it hit me like a freight train...What is my risk of Post partum depression, if I have this many emotions flowing during pregnancy? I see it as gradual increase of female hormones, times two. Then, after delivery, these hormones are gone at the drop of a hat. After euphoria of having a new baby is gone, I'm going to be left with leveling back out along with the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Add sleep deprivation to that equation. Wait a second, there has to be something we can do. 

Put me in a pill, so I can swallow it

I remember hearing from Hollywood that people do all sorts if stuff with their placenta. Placentas have been turned into facial creams, planted under trees (for religious reasons), eaten, and even encapsulated. That being said, I didn't want to rub crazy hormone infected placenta all over my face. Nor plant it. Nor fire up the backyard grill and have myself for dinner. 

So we decided to encapsulate it in hopes to 'wean' myself back to normal from all those whack hormones. First, we contacted Jennifer, the encapsulation specialist. She came to our house the day after we got home from the hospital. I had no idea what to expect, but she came in totally prepared. She brought her own pots, pans, a cutting board, special knives, and even her own dehydrator! After getting set up in the kitchen, I stayed close by to see what exactly was happening. First, she cut off the umbilical cord. Then, boiled the placenta for 20 minutes in water. When it was pulled out of the water, it looked like a big chunk of sirloin! It was transferred to the cutting board, and sliced into thin strips (looking like fajita meat at this point) Jennifer carefully placed the slices in the dehydrator and set it to cook for 24 hours. As soon as she was done cleaning up, she left and said she would return in 24 hours to finish the process. This was turning out to be more complicated than I thought! As 8 pm approached the next evening, Jennifer returned as promised. This time, she brought empty pill shells and a coffee bean grinder. She opened the dehydrator and placed the strips of placenta in the grinder, 3 at a time. Once grinded up, she carefully placed the powdery substance into the pill shells. Although we chose not too, the option was provided of adding other herbs to the mix (echinacea, ginseng, melatonin, etc.) the purpose is to 'maximize' the placenta, but I didn't want to ruin a good thing, if this even worked.

I took two capsules three times a day, for two weeks, and then 1 capsule three times a day for two weeks. I gradually weaned off the pills, and I felt amazing! Still tired, of course, but I felt like I had more energy when I would take them. I have a few left over, and use them on particularly trying days. Thumbs up from this customer! The wierd part for me...Jennifer turned the umbilical cord into a heart. Hmmm....thank you? I think! 

That's my placenta?!



 What have you heard of other people trying and thought it might be something other than 'traditional' remedies? 
Monday, October 14, 2013

Potty Training The Boy: The Light at the End of the Potty TrainingTunnel

The light at the end of the potty training tunnel is definitely my kid playing with a damned flashlight. Get this. He's been pee trained for about 6 months as long as he's wearing "unnerwear." But if someone puts a diaper of some sort on him, all pees are off. He'll just pee in the pull-up, diaper, whatever.

Potty training the boy: The light at the end of the poty training tunnel
Too cool for the potty
Poop on the other hand. My lord. For months he was scared of the big potty he said. So we got a little potty. Wouldn't do anything in that either. For reals young man? And toddler poop is like Super Ew.

Finally something clicked and he used the little potty and nobody died. He told me once he didn't use the big potty because he didn't want to get sucked into the tank. "Your ass won't fit down the hole," I wanted to tell him. Instead I reassured him that that wasn't possible.

For about 5 days there was only potty poopage and it was awesome. Then there was An Accident. And another. Oh for Christ's sake, really?? You were rockin' out man!

Today I made him sit on the little potty when I knew it was about time (men, so predictable). He cried and cried and pooped twice and oh hey wait, that wasn't so bad!

Eyeroll.

Please Big Boy. Please. For all that is sacred and holy. Stop turning off the flashlight. Just be a potty pooper already.

Yum Earth Organic Candy Giveaway 10/14-10/31

Rather than raid the kids' candy after Halloween, you can win some yummy (and organic) candy for yourself and your family here! Good luck and we hope you enjoy it.

*This Blog Did not receive compensation for this Giveaway.
yummyhalloween
Welcome to the Yum Earth Yummy Halloween Giveaway Event
Hosted by Conservamom
YumEarth was born out of the commitment of two dads to feed a diet rich in delicious healthful foods free of
high fructose corn syrup and artificial dyes.
YumEarth tastes better because they choose real fruit extracts and planet friendly ingredients grown on sustainable family farms. YumEarth has no gluten, peanuts, or tree-nuts, just award winning taste. YumEarth organic lollipops and organic drops are kosher parve as well.You will find some of their products are even vegan!
You can find Yum Earth at various stores like Whole Foods, Walgreen's and online but during Halloween you can even find them at your local Target!
To get your Spooky Holiday kicked off right, Yum Earth will be giving one lucky reader a YumEarth Yummy Gift Pick Valued at $50. It includes YumEarth Organics Gummy Bears, YumEarth Organics Lollipops, YumEarth Organics Fruit Snacks and YumEarth Naturals Sour Beans. Sure to make a tasty treat for any little ghoul or goblin!
So enter to win! Delicious Yum Earth Candy! YumEarth. Good for us. Good for Mother Earth.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: This Blog is not responsible for fulfillment of Prize. YumEarth is responsible for Fulfillment of prize. This Giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or any other Social Media.
Sunday, October 13, 2013

What We Learned (October 13, 2013 Edition)

It's Sunday again. Do these weeks seem to fly by for anyone else? It feels as if we just wrote one of these not too long ago... So what did the Mamas learn this week? What did you learn about yourself, the world, or parenting? Be sure to comment below and let us know. Good, bad, or ugly,we want to hear it.

Liz:
- I learned that my blog posts get my Mom to think about her self and her life and email me and tell me all about them (which I appreciate). It's interesting to think that through reading your child's blog you can learn about them and vice versa. Keep the emails coming Mom!

- I'm learning about how to use HootSuite this week. If you're a blogger and you use Hootsuite, what are your suggestions for how to use it effectively?

What We Learned (October 13, 2013 Edition)
Big boy, playing elsewhere
- I've found that I'm still uncomfortable with Silas going and playing at the neighbor's house. It's not that I don't trust the neighbors or I don't think they're good people. Not at all. It's that I almost feel guilty that they're watching my son. Now mind you, the kids he's playing with are a year and two years older so it's kind of like the other kids are watching him. And apparently he's a very pleasant, helpful, and well-mannered guest (according to the Dad). But it still feels weird. When did you as a parent feel OK about play dates at other people's houses?





Lisa:
- I learned that prenatal vitamins need to be kept away from my wolves. Kai decided to eat some. Granted, his coat looks shiny but the fact remains the handsome devil shouldn't be messing with my pill bottle. Gonna need to put the bottles even higher now. Siiiigh.

- I'm doing a read along of one of my favorite series until the new book comes out. I forgot how much joy I get from discussing new finds in a book I've read a zillion times. It is a good break from the daily things we do.

- I learned that I need to trust in my parenting. We took the girls to a wedding where they were the only two littles there. I think I worried that they would be naughty through it, they got restless a few times. It felt good to hear another friend say how good they behaved. It helps to ease your fears a bit. You're doing the best you can and it shows. Awesome.

Robyn:
College football is actually good. I hated football with a passion a few years. Professional football that is! I've never learned the rules of the game, and don't understand why there are so many breaks! So, Gig 'em Aggies, I guess! 

I've learned that sometimes I just need to take a back road (just like the country song goes). I like to take a break from everyday 'on-the-go' life with a clear road and the seldom cars passing. Going one speed is good. How do you get there? Interstate, to highway, to rural road, to country road. You're welcome. 

I've learned that doggy siting two dachshunds this week is fun, but work! They come from a house where they get table scraps and are on self feeders. Here, not so much! It was work during their eating times, and bathroom breaks outside. Oh, and separating the dachshund mounting our golden retriever! "Mom, what's Dixie doing to Gunner?" Well, son...


So now it's your turn - what did you learn? You don't have to make a list, you can Comment below with one thing you learned.
Saturday, October 12, 2013

Yum Earth Follow Page 3

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Julep Maven Box - Love at First (Nail) Polish - Become a #JulepMaven

If you troll around the Internet like I do, you've probably seen advertisements for Julep. The ad shows you these funky colored nail polishes and offers you a free month of a "Maven" box. If you're like me, you've seen these ads and thought, well, I wonder what that is. I'm definitely a lover of beauty products (yay for me, sad for my wallet) as I've talked about before here, so I clicked just to check it out.

My Maven Box
So what is Julep? Julep is a company based in Seattle that sells nail color, nail, hand, and foot products, makeup and hair products, skincare, and body products. The ads you see are for their monthly enrollment program (the Maven program) - you go on their website, answer some questions, and they suggest some products based upon your stated style. You can enroll in a monthly Maven box program ($19.99 per regular Maven box with other boxes available as well) and they'll ship you a box every month. Some "styles" get nail color every month, while other styles get nail color and products and others get skin care or body products. It all depends on what style you are ("Modern beauty," "Boho glam," "Bombshell," "Classic with a twist," and "It girl"). When I took the style survey I was a "classic with a twist." You also get free fun samples in your box.

Not only does Julep offer products, they offer tutorials on their blogs and their YouTube page as well. I scroll through their blog and drool - they ask readers to send in their pictures of their nail art and some of the things people come up with are so fun and amazing looking. I'm lucky if I can paint my nails without looking like the 3 year old did it. You can also follow them on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook and learn some beauty tips there. Like the other day I was scrolling through their Facebook and saw a Q&A thread. As someone who types a lot for their job (hello doing that right now), they suggested painting the tips of the nails first then going over with a coat on the whole nail. After I read that I thought, "Well duh Liz." I hadn't thought of that. This is why I love following beauty blogs. I was on a Twitter party about beauty a few days ago and read that you can put on two coats of mascara to cause your eyes to look bigger and less tired. I look tired all the time...hm...mascara can be my friend. On their Pinterest they have boards for all the different styles that include makeup tips, clothing suggestions, and jewelry. Droooool.

So being the beauty product chick I am, I ordered a Maven box (and some other add ons that looked like fun - $4.99 mystery color nail polish, yes please!). You can get your first box for free by going here and using the code FREEBOX. If you sign up to be a Maven you'll receive an email before the next box goes out (and before your card is charged) and they'll tell you what will be in your box. You can decide to do nothing and get the box, you can skip that month (and not be charged), you can gift your box to someone else, or you can buy some add ons to put in your box. Again, if you're like me, you love to get mail, especially surprise beauty product mail right?!
My first box!

I received my first Maven box (with my add ons) today. I was so excited (mail that's not bills!). I received 5 nail colors (two from my Maven box, three add ons), pedi creme, and a sample of a foot scrub. Since I'm me, I busted out the Mint Condition Pedi Creme immediately and smelled it - minty. It has shea butter, coconut oil, essential oils, and vitamin E (along with alpha hydroxy acid - watch out for sun exposure). I rubbed some on my tired little feet and put my socks back on to get ready to go pick up the boys from school. Minty is invigorating! I like it.

Love Kai
When we got home I asked Mike if I could have a few minutes to paint my nails. He chose from my five colors and I tried out a color called Kai - it's a deeper sky blue. Looked pretty. What I didn't realize was it was a sea salt texture. Forgive me, I'm tired. Why do I love sea salt textured nail color? One reason: I'm horrid at applying nail color. So using a sea salt texture actually makes it look like I screwed up on purpose. Ha! I love it. It went on easily, didn't clump as I was using it, and dried relatively quickly.

So now I have four more colors to try within the next month before my next box comes and I'm excited. I've also been scrolling the Julep website trying to see what other products I might like to add on for my next box. "Casper" glows in the dark. Bare Face Cleansing Oil sounds interesting - I'd love to try it after reading the reviews that say it doesn't leave your face feeling oily. And Freedom Polymer Top Coat reviews say that it passes the smudge test within 5 minutes. If you saw my nails today you'd know why I'm seriously considering that. You can wishlist products. Let's say mine is growing.

If you'd like to try it out, click here and find out what your style profile is. Even if you don't buy anything, it's still fun to see what colors they'd suggest for you!I You can order your first box (for FREE using code FREEBOX) too!

Have you tried Julep? What's your favorite nail color so far? Give me suggestions for ones I should try!