Thursday, February 27, 2014

Colgate Optic White Toothbrush and Built-In Whitening Pen Review

As a member of Influenster, an online community for product reviews, Liz is eligible to receive products to review. This month she was excited to be chosen to review the Colgate Optic White Toothbrush + Built-In Whitening Pen. The box included the toothbrush and pen, a sample of toothpaste, and coupons to buy more (and to give out to friends). Who doesn't love coupons?

#BrushWhitenGo Influenster Vox Box

From Liz...

I've never been partial to a certain toothbrush or toothpaste brand. I've always bought what was available or what looked like it would fit my needs, but I don't think I've ever bought the same one twice on purpose. But I am a fan of whitening products and was actually thinking about trying Optic White out, so how excited was I to be chosen for this Influenster VoxBox?

First let's look at the toothbrush. It looks and feels different than others I've been using recently, and in a good way. I'm liking it.
The bristles

The toothpaste is a white paste, not gel, and it leaves your teeth feeling clean (not slimy or grimy, one of my personal pet peeves about toothpastes).

The gel pen is easy to use. You take off the top, turn the bottom until it clicks a few times and you see the gel come out of the top, then you rub the gel on your teeth. No need to rinse. And when you're done, the gel clicks into the bottom of your toothbrush. Easy to keep track of.

The gel pen

The gel pen clicks into the bottom of the toothbrush

I have to say that I've tried other whitening products and found them to be kind of a pain with the applying and the waiting and the rinsing. But this is super easy. Brush. Whiten. Go. And I really like the shape of the toothbrush head.

If you're in the market for whitening products or just want to try Colgate's Optic White, be sure to use their website and register for coupons!


I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.

From Mary Janes to Sparkle Shoes: Parenting Decisions


It started as a regular afternoon: I went to pick up Pixy from school with the other kids in tow. It was a crazy weather day; we were expecting 30 inches of snow beginning early evening. I made sure to arrive early and parked to wait. Then...I saw her. Pixy's eye was swollen shut. I couldn't help it, I screamed in rage and let out some words that would make the paint fall off the walls of the church.

Great! The snow is on its way and now we have to drive to Walter Reed hospital on 95, which is sure to be a parking lot! Not good! I had to think and think fast! I called our insurance and found an Urgent Care place close  to the house, packed up Pixy, and sent her off with the Sailor to see the doctor.

After a couple hours, and the snow storm starting, Pixy came home with a conjunctival abrasion. It turns out some jerk kid poked her in the eye with a pencil at recess. Here is the worse part about this, Pixy came in contact with 4 different adults who saw her eye in that condition and did nothing.  Seriously?! Sailor's face mirrored my own: we had a big decision to make.

We had sent Pixy to private school because at that point in our lives, the public schools near our house weren't very good and we knew that once Banshee started attending school, they'd have to attend different schools (our home schools didn't have the services that Banshee needed). The bonus was that the school would help with faith formation. My Catholic identity is shaped by all the religions of the Caribbean. My family alone is a hodgepodge of religions, which makes us unique, but I wanted to learn more about our faith too. Kill two birds with one stone, right? After this, I felt like we had made the wrong decision in her education. The adults that we'd paid to educate her and watch her had failed miserably: she had sat at school from 1pm until 3:45pm with no first aid. Grrrrrrrr!

Luckily, after moving to this new house, there are some great public schools. In fact, Banshee attends one and it's a very nice school. This got us to thinking...should we pull Pixy out of her school and place her in public education? Should we let her finish out the year at her present school? It is a dilemma that I'm sure quite a few parents face in their lives: what is the best place for my child? One thing was clear, where she is at is not the right place and we are angry. Anger that keeps on being fueled by the actions of the school since then--they've done nothing. Just an "I'm sorry". Nooooo....that's not enough. It's her eye. Not a hand, not a foot, not a finger.....her eye.

So, we have been in talks with the public school and trying to figure out if this move in the middle of the year is a smart move for our Pixy or not. There isn't that much left to go in the year. This is a subject we talk about every night and waffle about what to do. What is the best decision? Ultimately, as her parents, we hope to make the right one. Once we figure out what it is. For now, the thought of switching from a school uniform to regular clothes is a reminder of what we need to do. A little scary, a little different, a little awesome...all rolled into one. Sucks when you love your kids so much, you feel their emotions for them! ;)

What would you do? Have you encountered a situation that would warrant a huge change for your child? How did you handle it? Sound off and let the Mamas know.
Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Senate Bill 1062 and Discrimination

As a parent of two small children, I hope that I am able to help my children recognize discrimination when they see it and to fight against it when they are able to. But when does discrimination call for a legal fight and when does it call for a "fight with my wallet" where I avoid companies that don't behave as I would?

As a White educated woman married to a White educated male who has two male children, people may be wondering what discrimination I (or my children) would see. And they would be right - I have spent the past 20 years or more of my life learning about the privileges that I was afforded based upon what I was born as and to whom I was born. I know that I lived in an area that had good schools because my parents were able to afford it. I know that I was able to go to college and attend full time because of my family (and my expectation of being able to repay my loans once I graduated). I know that I expected to be able to find a job without having to think about how my self, being me, would influence my ability to get a job, find housing, or maintain my safety. These things, and many more, are facts of "life" that others are concerned about on a daily basis.





Other women reading this may counter that they do have to worry about sexism in the workplace, in housing, or in maintaining safety, and I completely agree - women are discriminated against in all these areas. But for me, personally, other than hearing that some people were concerned about my application for a job because I was pregnant, I haven't experienced much blatant sexism personally. But I know it exists and others have experienced it.


When I graduated with my Master's in psychology, I went to work in areas that were typically underserved by psychological services on purpose, not as a default. I wanted to help struggling families, and the children of these families especially. I wanted to learn about their experiences and do what I could to help them reach their goals, even if "what I could do" was only to listen or to help the family find services that they could use. This put me in the position to be an outgroup member, to be an outsider in a community. For brief moments I experienced what many of my clients and their families experienced daily outside of their communities. I was "the White girl," "the counselor," "the guera" and I was reminded constantly that I didn't understand, that I couldn't understand, and I would reply that these families, these women, these children were very right.

As a professor and a researcher, most of my research focuses on identity and identity development. I remind my students that many of our research interests stem from personal experiences (or a lack thereof) and an attempt to understand our experiences, and I would be no different. I study identity and the self because I want to understand what others' experiences with developing their identity are and how they differed from my own journey towards identity and self understanding. I think one of the reasons this interests me is because, well, my own identity development is rather...I don't want to say uninteresting but it's not spectacular, it's bland. And I'm not saying that as a bad thing. I have very little family history knowledge. My family has very little family history knowledge. We don't have great stories of past ancestors. We don't have much of a past period. And I think that's what brought me to my interest in studying other cultures and the individual's experiences within that culture as they went through their own identity development journey.

This brings me to the original reason I sat down to write today: Arizona's Senate Bill 1062. The bill allows "people" (defined as individuals, business owners, and entities of any kind) to refuse to serve or work with others based upon religious beliefs. A contractor can refuse to build a home for a homosexual couple if the contractor's religious beliefs create conflict for him/her, and legally, if the couple claims they were discriminated against, the contractor can refer back to their religious upbringing as the reason for their choice. If a person feels that their religious beliefs are in conflict with serving another person, they would be legally able to refuse service under this bill.

In 1993 I spent some time in Paris with my classmates and I remember a particular lunch. A group of us were out together, poking around the city, and we decided to stop and get food. We found a place that looked like an American grill, and since many of my classmates were food home sick, we went in. A waitress stood outside smoking a cigarette, talking to a friend. We went in, we sat down, and everyone tried to read the menus. I helped as best as I could but I couldn't read for everyone. About 20 minutes later the waitress came up and asked what we wanted. My classmates painstakingly killed the French language as they attempted to order a burger and fries. Each order took at least 5 minutes of negotiation. After two of my classmates had ordered, the waitress walked away. And never came back. 45 minutes later we left, confused as to what had happened. We didn't try to go back. We didn't call the restaurant and speak to the manager. Why would we? Did we really want to be served by that place anyway?

A client was looking for housing for herself and her 3-year-old son. She told me that she had put in applications at over 15 apartment complexes and that only a few had called her back. She shrugged and said if they didn't want her then she didn't want them.

If people are being discriminated against by a company for any reason, what can they do? They can claim discrimination and sue the company. They can find another company that will do what they want and work with them, thus supporting a company that does not discriminate (well, at least against them). If the outcome is to get the service, to get a house built, it makes sense to find another contractor who will work with you. While it hasn't been legally accepted to do so, discrimination of this type has been going on for many years. Patrons have been not served, asked to leave, or told they needed to change their behavior if they wanted to stay, all without religious affiliation reasons.

The bill will be sent on to Arizona Governor Jan Brewer's office for approval next. It saddens me to think that people thought this needed to be made a law. I understand that people want the freedom to live within their religion, but these same folks have been not watching certain TV shows or movies because they went against their faith, but they haven't been asking for that TV show or movie to be outlawed. They have simply turned off the show/movie or not paid money to watch it.

As a parent I have been teaching my children to be interested in others' experiences and to be open to the idea that everyone my have different experiences. While we may not agree with you or how you live, that doesn't mean that I need a law to say I don't have to hang out with you. But that knowledge requires that I accept that we're different and that your experience doesn't have anything to do with me, it doesn't hurt me, it doesn't change how I think about myself or my life or my relationship.

What is your view on Arizona's SB 1062? I'd love to hear about others' thoughts as we maintain respect for others' opinions.
Sunday, February 23, 2014

What We Learned (February 23 Edition)


After a busy week, we've got some things to write about. Every Sunday we write about what we learned or experienced as Moms, spouses, and humans in the past week, and we give you the opportunity to share with us in the Comments as well.

Liz:
1) I learned that my sneaky pre-school age son can dress himself. Every morning before school he whines helplessly that he can't do it, he can't get dressed. A few nights ago he disappeared into the bathroom and when I went to check on him he had his pajama shirt on, his night time diaper on, and was working on his diaper cover. He can so dress himself. Note to self, Mommy.

2) My younger son is slowly picking up and saying new words, but he falls into the "I won't say it if you ask me" camp. Don't bother saying, "Sage, can you say X?" because he will look at you as if you're loco. But if you just talk to him and enunciate certain words you want him to say, he will repeat them within the next few minutes. You just have to listen carefully. I've been working on saying "open" with him for a few weeks because it seems he wants everything "opened" for him - toys, boxes, doors, etc. Yesterday he handed me the dominoes container and cried, "O-en!" Score! He also repeated "train" after he heard it 1 billion times. We just need to have patience with him apparently.

3) This week we finally bit the bullet and changed cell phone providers to Republic Wireless. A good friend has used them for a while now and had nothing but good things to say, so I decided to check them out. They use WiFi and 3G or 4G (depending on what plan you have) to provide unlimited talk, text, and data - $25/month for 3G or $40/month for 4G. Granted you have to buy a new phone (Moto X), but after doing out all the math for a year, I would still save $800 after ditching my $107/month iPhone. Interested in learning more? Check them out here - if you use that link and sign up you'll get a free month of service for one line and I will too. Yay!

Lisa:
1. It was 60 degrees and I felt like walking around naked!!! It felt amazing. We went for a hippotherapy session for Banshee and she did well. She was super proud of herself for riding backwards and doing everything the OT asked of her. Sailor and Pixy cheered her on!
Banshee on Romeo
2. I started going to the gym again. I feel good, if a bit sore. My legs and arms are good, surprisingly, but my trunk needs some work. Don't even wanna know what my butt looks like. I started with some spinning and made some respectable RPMs on the bike. Gonna keep it up!
 

3. I was surprised by a gift from a friend. I wasn't expecting it but I'd had a really bad week and I was looking for something to give me hope. Well, it came in a brightly colored package from Kansas. Lots of beautiful things for Cubby and breastmilk storage bags, which I needed and hadn't gotten around to buying. Someone was thinking of me and it made me feel special. Like I could take on anything!! It worked and it gave me the energy to get through this week. Love it!!

Robyn: 
1. I've learned that sex is like air...it's not important until you're not getting any. 

2. I've learned that boys don't care about matching. When I saw what Sean was wearing when he came home on the bus on Monday, I was embarrassed. He didn't have two clean socks, so he wore his only clean one, and one of my clean ones. Kudos to him for finding two socks, and thankfully his teacher is understanding when it comes to his sensory issues! 

Not his socks
3. I've learned how to reupholster without sewing. Don't ask! It looks good, and that's all you need to know! 
How'd you do that?!


And what about you? Tell us about your week and what things you learned by Commenting below.
Thursday, February 20, 2014

What We Learned (The Late February 16 Edition)

After spending the weekend looking googly-eyed our loves, it's back to the writing. And Friday was Robyn's birthday! Everyone say "HAPPY BIRTHDAY ROBYN!"

Every Sunday we review our weeks and write about what we learned. Then we ask you to write about what you learned in the comments. This week we were delayed but you don't mind. Be sure to share your week in the comments!

Robyn:

I've learned a new decor technique...Shabby Chic! Reagan's room is my next project. Glitter, glam, glitz, and of course pics to come as projects get completed!

Having a pretty gym partner is a blessing in disguise. Often, I'm looked at as a bimbo because I'm blonde. But, when we started doing push-ups, a lot of heads turned. Uh huh, That's right! Pretty, smart and athletic! Now if I could only get my gym partner to stop complaining...

My birthday was truly amazing. I came downstairs to an animal themed kitchen. Pink zebra stripes, cheetah print napkins, 3 bouquets of flowers, and pink and black happy birthday/valentines balloons. Therefore, I've learned that my husband is finally starting to pay attention to things that I love. Thanks, dear husband, for not buying my the pots and pans you thought that I needed as a birthday presents!


Lisa:
1. I am over winter. Seriously. After this snowstorm that dumped over 25in of snow here, and more on the way tonight, I need it to be warm. STAT! We did make the best of it:

Lisa's fam enjoying the snow

2. Before Cubby's pregnancy kept me bedridden, I was going to the gym daily for an hour class. It helped me keep my brain going and helped me be fit, if not skinny. I don't think I will be a size 3 again (cue the Sailor cheering in the background. He hated me skinny), but I do miss getting out. So, tomorrow I've made a date with myself to get to the gym for a spin class. I've got my new sneakers and the bike seat my girlfriend Brenda gave me. Will keep ya posted!

3. Valentine's day will be a movie, Chinese food, and snacks kind of night. QT (quality time) together is always a great present to each other. I bet the following will happen: Cubby will fall asleep, Banshee will do an impromptu interpretive dance number, Pixy will explain every joke in the movie, Sailor will egg her on, and I will pretend that the dogs are not fighting for the last piece of sandwich someone left on the table. It's bliss, I tell ya!! ;)

Liz:

1. This week Sage had his Early Intervention evaluation. The times they had available didn’t fit well with my work schedule so we ended up doing his evaluation during his nap time. They were able to get enough information to recognize that he was delayed enough to receive services, so he starts speech therapy this week.

2. The SLP (speech and language pathologist) that will be working with Sage doesn’t use “please” and “thank you.” I never realized how much this bothered me in another person who interacts with my child until she came into our lives. I think it’s the fact that she’s supposed to be a language model for my son and as the language Queen at this house, we use our manners. I’m going to ask if there’s a reason for it, like a speech teaching reason, when I know her better.

3. My sons love Valentine’s Day. I should rephrase. They love presents. They each received a stuffed animal and a small gift (Silas received a snake and Sage received bubbles which his SLP had and he loved) and they were all OMG! Thank you Target’s dollar section, I rock as a mom.

4. I’m ready for the high calorie holidays to be over. I mean seriously, how messed up are we as humans in this country – we spend 4 months over fall and winter having high calorie holidays and then we’re all, “Ahh bathing suit weather! Shorts!”

You're turn - share with us in the comments something funny, silly, strange, or amazing that you learned this week.
Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Sticky Shoes Review

Robyn had the opportunity to review Sticky Shoes, a solution to the worry of falling out of your shoes and hurting yourself in the process! Robyn received a package of Sticky Shoes complimentary for testing purposes and she is happy to share her review and experiences with our readers. 


Oh man, oh man, do I love shoes? Flats, heels, platforms, sneakers, boots and flip flops totally make me a happy girl! I have run into a problem though. You see, I have these super cute Lucky Brand sandals that I absolutely adore. I am not missing a leg, FYI. My daughter must share the same shoe obsession. In the 10 seconds or less it took to take this picture, she had crawled away with my left shoe. 

The test shoes

They pretty much go with anything. My heel, though, will slide so much that it takes a balancing act to keep stable. I've feared that on a rainy day, that my foot will slip out with the wrong turn, and then BAM! A twisted ankle. Lucky for me, Lindsay Steele has come to my rescue with the help of Sticky Shoes. 

Sticky Shoes
As I was getting ready to head out of the house, I opened the Sticky Shoe back and found a semi perforated edge. While unsure if this was supposed to be two pieces or one, I decided to rip the strip in half. 

Just supposed to be one!

Whoops! Guess it's suppose to be only one! 

I applied the sticky strip to the heel portion if the shoe, and strapped those puppies to my feet. Good fit! 

Let's get ready to rumble.

Whoa, stick factor of 10! My heel absolutely DID NOT move. I even had to readjust once for the proper fit while standing. I was a bit taken back because I wondered if this sticky tape would have the same effect that other "tapes" would have. If tape has been left on for a long period of time on anything, it can remove the outer coat, and sometimes inner layers too! I decided to test my theory. 

Working outside, still sticking

While watering the trees in the backyard, my foot was still one with my sandal. 

Busy Mommy loves Sticky Shoes

Even while holding my daughter and cooking dinner at the end of the day, my feet and sandals were still intact! To think, I've been wearing these shoes all day, and not once have I had to readjust my foot because it was out of my shoe. 

I highly recommend sticky shoes as a shoe solution to heel slipping needs! I can't wait to use them in my heels and platforms, come summertime! Thanks Lindsay!!! 

Interested in trying these? You can find Sticky Shoes at their website, on Facebook, and on Twitter. Purchase Sticky Shoes for yourself here!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Parenting with Pain Meds

I grew up watching people in pain. My Mom had migraines and developed fibromyalgia, Lupus, epilepsy, and chronic fatigue in her late 40s. Grandma had Lupus as well, but I don't remember seeing her pain very often except as she aged and arthritis pain caused her to decrease her sewing and knitting and take a lot of Excedrin. I had always hoped ailments would skip a generation and my mother did too.

My health and pain were fine until I experienced a stroke in 2008 and two small heart attacks in 2009. I was diagnosed with a blood clotting disorder but nobody really worried about that until I became pregnant with my first son in late 2009. I started anticoagulant shots every day. That pain was easy, bearable. After that pregnancy my wrist (where the IV was) was in constant pain. I started semi-annual steroid shots and that kicked that pain for a while.

My second pregnancy saw the addition of a lot of pain. It seemed that every three weeks something happened - bleeding, prolapse, contractions at 34 weeks. Our second son was born at 35 weeks and I hoped that would end my pain. After he was born my hips never seemed to go back into place. There was always a twinge, a concern that a slight pain might stick with me and continue. I was diagnosed with Lupus. My joints flared and relaxed sometimes just with the weather. Sitting on the floor with my sons could lead to hours of shooting pain on the lower right half of my body.

I was my Mother's daughter, just without the headaches.

While parenting is typically a blessed struggle to find balance with love and work, I found myself adding pain, sometimes daily, to the picture. I would lay on the floor in pain hoping I could get up to help my husband with baths or to participate in teeth brushing and bedtime. 

I imagined how seeing this may influence my sons as I had vivid memories of my Mom's pain. She would sit on the stairs and cry during a migraine and as a child I felt this extreme inability to do anything helpful aside from getting her a cold facecloth for her face and helping her to bed. As an adult, I look back at those experiences and I think that they have influenced me to be the empathic and attentive adult that I am today - if you're in pain I will do whatever I can to help, even if it's just to sit in the dark and hold your hand.

My older son, Silas, has started to be a keen observer of people in pain as well. There have been multiple nights where I was in pain and he stopped playing, sat down with me, and held my hand. "Does it hurt Mommy? I sorry you hurt," he tells me. This is not something I've taught him, I never said, "Come sit with me and hold my hand when I hurt because it makes me feel better." But he does. And it does make me feel better. It amazes me to see an almost four-year-old who typically is running around stop and sit quietly for 20 minutes to tend to his Mom.

Silas and a Momma in pain

While parenting with pain can teach adults to enjoy their pain-free moments as much as possible, I believe that it can teach children some valuable things as well: empathy and the power of being with others in their pain.
Wednesday, February 12, 2014

What's better than chocolate?

A monthly box of beauty is better than chocolate - don't you agree? If so, then you must be a Maven - a Julep Maven that is! 

Julep Maven Subscription - first box free 

WHAT IS MAVEN?
The Julep Maven subscription program gives you exclusive access to the latest trendsetting new nail colors and beauty products that are just right for you each month. Take the Maven Style Quiz to get started and get your Welcome Box for free (use code FREEBOX and pay $3.99 shipping). Around the 20th of each month you will receive an email letting you know the Maven window is open and you can preview, change and upgrade the coming month's Maven box. 

WANT REVIEWS?
Want to see reviews of the Maven program before trying? Check here to read Liz's review of the products and the Maven subscription program.
Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A Girl and Her Horse

There is no joy comparable to the kind of joy you feel when a horse gifts you with his kind of freedom. The moment when he lets you into his world and for the briefest of glimpses, there is no distinction between horse and rider. They're one. A big powerful machine wreaking havoc on the landscape. I knew this kind of abandon from my youth and I felt it was time to teach this to my girls.

Banshee was up first. Because of her age and her condition, she would ride (for now) in a therapeutic sense. She rides a pony trained to be more patient and kind with little ones and with the guidance of an occupational therapist, the pony helps to teach life skills.

I was so excited for her. I wanted Banshee to not feel so awkward on her body. She might be built like a Viking but she's still 3! With a little hesitation, Banshee met Bob the pony. She said hello and he asked for a little pet before she got on. It was like magic. Banshee, who rode bareback, made an instant friend. They were an extension of the other for the hour they were together. She learned the lingo, did her stretches and exercises on the horse. Banshee and Bob got a treat, when they were allowed to trot fast in the arena. The smile on that child's face and the way she reacted to Bob the pony were priceless. In fact, Bob began listening and following Banshee's commands. The OT mentioned that Bob liked Banshee and that's why he was doing that. I guess Bob figured out that Banshee needed him and would be a good friend. I was a proud Mama, even more so when Cubby started to cry and stopped when the closest mare came over on her own to soothe him. He quieted right down.


A great first ride!

There's an old saying that animals and children know who they can trust. I was humbled by how these wonderful animals knew what my spawn needed. Nature knows what she's doing.

Next up on the saddle, Pixy. She went to ride closer to home at our local horse center. With a little anxiety, she put on her riding helmet and her paddock boots. She took a deep breath and walked to the arena. There she found her horse, who thankfully looked like Secretariat, whom she's loved since she was a baby. She politely said hello to her horse and tentatively, stroked his nose. Pixy looked so small next to her mount, that for a moment I thought to myself: maybe this is too early. I chased that thought away as soon as I remembered my childhood and my family's love for all animals, especially horses.

Turns out, Pixy just needed a minute to get to know her horse and they were both fine. She moved on her saddle and held the reins as if she was born with them in her hands. A few times around the ring and you could hear her happiness. The grin she had on her face was truly priceless. Pixy loved her horse and she kept hugging him, talking to him, and learning what he needed from her. It was magic. They both did wonderfully and the confidence that Pixy had been lacking these past couple of weeks came back in  no time. Her instructor praised her spirit and obvious interest in the horse: "you took good care of him while he was with you. That's what makes a good rider. You have to care about your animal."


Happy rider!
It's a legacy that I'm sure my great-grandparents would be proud I've passed on. Treat all living things with respect, take care of your partner animal or non, and be happy. Yeah, I think both girls have this down. We cannot wait to continue down this new road with our chins up and moccasins pointing forward.

All this horse love at our camp made me think of this poem I'd read a while ago. Truer words have not been spoken:
My horse's feet are as swift as rolling thunder
He carries me away from all my fears
And when the world threatens to fall asunder
His mane is there to wipe away my tears.
~Bonnie Lewis




Have you introduced your children to an activity that you were fond of as a child? How did it turn out? Let us know by leaving a comment below!
Sunday, February 9, 2014

What We Learned (February 9th Edition)

Who's looking forward to spring?! We are! Today the Mamas dish about their weeks. Tell us about your week in the comments.

Lisa:
1. It is hard sometimes for a parent with a special needs child to not look for those telltale signs that something is off(yes even at 2mos! The earliest test at Kennedy Krieger is at 3mos. Cool, huh?). So, as I was playing with Cubby and worrying he wasn't making eye contact, he gifted me with this:

Cubby smiles and makes eye contact
Yup, here's looking at you, Mama! Thanks, Cubs.
2. I was able to enjoy an episode of Swamp People. Sweet!! I love watching those tough guys and gals because they remind me of my father's uncles. They fish in the high seas and it's a tough job. I like that they know the value of hard work. Also, I like to eat gator on rice, so it makes me a bit hungry. I'm a huge fan of The Landrys, Willie and Junior, and Trapper Joe and Trigger Tommy. Good stuff!

3. We hurried to get chores done today so we could play. The ice is now gone and it was snowing lightly, but we needed time out!  The girls were restless. They went out to play for a bit and then Sailor took them to our gym to play in their daycare. He wanted to go run for a bit too. Turns out the girls got to dance, play with a friend or two, and do some crafts...all in the hour while he was running! I stayed home with Cubby and got some paperwork done. Win win!

Robyn: 

1. Could you, would you, in a car? I could, but never again will I pump and drive a car. 

2. I've learned that Kasen wants to go to a Spanish church to learn Spanish songs. "But I hope the guy doesn't speak Spanish, cause I don't understand it, " he said. 

3. After one week of playing Flappy Bird, my high score is a 12. A damn 12. Flappy Bird is the devil. Eff you flappy bird. Until we meet tomorrow...muahaha!


Liz:

1. Flappy Bird is the devil, I completely agree with Robyn. If it makes you feel any better, my high score is a 4. Mike's is a 5. Silas' score is 0 (he flaps once and then doesn't keep tapping). My students were playing this game before class started and I made the mistake of asking what it was and trying for a turn. For some reason the noise when the bird hits something makes me giggle every time. But I only downloaded the free version...I'm not invested ;)

2. This week I was reminded that people do appreciate when you work hard and enjoy your work. I was notified Friday that I'll be receiving a NISOD (National Institute of Student and Organizational Development) Teaching Excellence award in May in Austin. Pretty cool stuff!

3. I've never been one for co-sleeping. I think it's a fantastic idea but it's just not for us. I tried it when the boys were babies and I never felt comfortable doing it - it's as if I was worried about something bad happening (baby falls out of bed, baby gets rolled on, etc.). I also kind of worried that I wouldn't be able to sleep because I'd be constantly vigilant that the Bad Things previously mentioned might happen. Now that my sons are older, I think that it's sweet whenever Silas comes into my room at night and asks to sleep in our bed so I always say yes (to Mike's chagrin). But I always forget that he moves around a ton in his sleep and that I end up almost falling out of bed myself because he takes up over 1/3 of the bed. Cute but not so restful.


Your turn! Tell us about something amazing that happened to you in the comments.
Saturday, February 8, 2014

Madison Reed Hair Color Review



As a blogger who writes about beauty products (and of course parenting), Liz was asked to review Madison Reed hair color. She received this product complimentary for testing purposes from Madison Reed.

Why Color at Home?
As someone who is experienced in home hair color, I was really excited to try this product. I've been dying my hair since I was 16, so at 37 I've experienced a lot of home hair coloring. I can count the number of times I've been to a salon for color on my hands. I typically color at home for two reasons: it's faster and since I have to color often, it's more economical. My hair has been "going gray" since I was 16 (insert sad face here) and it grows very quickly, so roots tend to show quickly as well. For those reasons, home hair color is the way to go for me.

Madison Reed: The Order
Madison Reed provides at home hair color delivered to your door. It's such a fantastic idea - you go to their website, choose your color, and you can have it delivered once or you can schedule deliveries. If you opt to have it sent every X number of weeks, it will be sent automatically without you having to go back to the website (but you can always change your color or opt to stop receiving coloring kits). Customer service is fantastic and readily available - you can send their Color Crew a photo of your hair and they'll help you pick the right color for you if you have questions. The selection is amazing - you'll definitely be able to find your color (or the color you want) from their selection. 

Madison Reed: The Package
When you order, what comes in your package? Everything you'll need to color at home well - gloves, shampoo and conditioner, a cap to put over your colored hair, a cloth to remove color from the skin, and even a package of lotion to help prevent skin/color contact in the first place. The instructions are easy to understand, and the process is easy. The only things you'll need from your beauty drawer are hair clips to section off your hair into four sections.



Madison Reed: The Process
As someone who colors at home often, I have things I look for. How easy is the mixing process? How useful is the applicator bottle? How is the smell? How easily does the mixture apply? How long does it take? The mixing process here is easy. Take the tube of color, open it by flipping over the cap and puncturing the seal, and squeeze the color into the bottle. Once all the color is in the bottle, close the bottle and shake it to mix. Easy! What about the applicator bottle? I liked the size and shape of their bottle as it felt comfortable in my hand. It's also clear so you can see how much product you have left. How is the smell? There is little to no smell - Madison Reed products do not contain ammonia,  so even when I closed the bathroom door I wasn't feeling smell overwhelmed as I do often with hair color. How easily does the mixture apply? It applies fairly easily. I found that the bottle held a lot of air and thus the mixture stayed at the bottom of the bottle. Even when held upside down I had to shake it a little to get the product to come out. Once I realized that, it wasn't a problem. How long does it take? It took me the normal amount of time to color my hair and the wait time was 35 minutes. If you're just dying your roots then it's 15 minutes.

Let's do this!
Conclusions
When I ordered my package to try out Madison Reed a friend who is a stylist commented "No, not box color!" When I received my package I asked her to review the ingredients to see if her complaint was warranted. She compared the ingredients to the ingredients in the products she was trained with at a high-end salon, and found that they were very similar. She also said that many at home color products contain metals that are harsh and hard to remove from the hair, but the ingredients from the Madison Reed products did not contain these.


When I color at home I've had so many experiences - hair feels dry and straw-like after coloring, the scent is overpowering (and stays with you). I've found that my hair after using Madison Reed is soft, bouncy, "happy" hair. I have to say I especially love the shampoo and conditioner they provide. The color is true to my selection, is easy to apply, and washes out to healthy, "happy" hair. I would suggest their products to women who color at home or are interested in trying home hair color.

The outcome!
Have you tried Madison Reed products? What is your favorite aspect of Madison Reed hair color from this review? Let us know in the comments.
Thursday, February 6, 2014

Parents and Their Tribe

I am lucky enough to have two husbands (not really, stick with me, it's a story) - my Husband, Mike, and my Office Husband, Adam. Mike I chose to marry, Adam, well, I got stuck with him by whomever chooses office mates, but we soon realized we were a good fit. Like eerily good fit. We have similar senses of humor. Our sons are very similar in age (his is 4, my older son will be 4 in April) and they do the same stuff. We both curse way too much when the office door is shut (and some of our colleagues will tell you we do that even when the door isn't shut). We're both interested in our boys as people at this age. We both love science (although he's a microbiologist....ew...and he calls what I do "phychology" as a house joke). And neither of us can go to sleep if there are dishes in the sink.

Now saying these things about us isn't automatically saying the opposite about our spouses. I'm not in any way saying that Mike isn't interested in our sons as people at this age. But what I can tell you is that he feels more comfortable with older kids, say 11 years old and older. Kids you can have a conversation with, those are his tribe. While I wouldn't choose tweens and teens as my tribe, I don't dislike them. But for me, people under 4 feet are where it's at. Even when I worked as a therapist I chose to work with children between the ages of 3 and 8. Adam and I were talking about this the other day and he agreed that he enjoyed hanging out with his 4 year old and that like Mike, his wife seemed to be more keen on older kids.

Liz's tribe - the small people

Adam brought up a good question - he wonders if our spouses will look back when our sons are, say, 11, and feel as if they "missed out" on the earlier years because we play similar roles at our separate houses. We're the organizers, the play-ers, the ones who the children approach and ask, "You play with me?" We're the ones who can name all the characters on our kids' shows (while Mike makes this pained, "What the F is this show?" face). Last weekend Adam texted me that he spent 4 hours setting up train tracks and taking them apart (and rebuilding them) with his son. Mike spent 4 hours playing video games and hanging out with my 13-year-old step son.

I'm sure that when the boys are older Mike will be taking them to ceramics classes (and I'll be making the pained "What the F is this?" face because the idea of touching slimy doesn't appeal to me) and playing video games, the things that he enjoys doing they'll be able to do. But at this point Sage would eat the clay and Silas would run around an art class yelling, "Hey guys! Hey! Do you want to play?" Just like "regular people," parents have things that they prefer to do. They have people they prefer to hang out with. Sometimes both parents enjoy all ages of development in their children. Other parents love the early years and are less joyful for the tween and teen years. Other parents are not matched - one loves Littles while the other loves Olders. And the more I think about it, the more I wonder if that's beneficial. While I may be feeling as if I'm more focused on the parenting thing right now, Mike may be The Guy that my sons talk to and need when they're teens. I have no idea how teen boys think. I wasn't one. And I didn't talk to many. They were weird.

How does this work in your house? Do you have a specific age group that you feel you can connect with better?
Tuesday, February 4, 2014

AngelCare Baby Bath Support Review and Giveaway Ends 2/18




Cubby doesn't like bath time. At first, the baby bathtub that we had was too small for him, so we got him a baby reclinable bathseat. This worked great but he would get cold. Trust me, this kid can scream when he is unhappy. I was starting to think that I'd be doomed to give him washcloth baths!! Enter the Angelcare Baby Bath Support Seat. Lisa received this product for free for review purposes.


It is a wonderful bath seat, that's almost like a baby recliner. It is made of durable plastic and the blue rubber mesh is sturdy and does not slip! In addition, I find that it retains the temperature of the water a bit, so Cubby's back doesn't get cold. The bottom of the bath also has the rubber anti-slip material, for a firm grip to the tub.


One handy feature that I am excited about, is that little rubber loop you see in this pic. You can hang it to dry or just for out of the way storage! No more tripping over baby things in the bathroom. That to me is worth gold.


Now, on to the bath! Here is the Angelcare in the tub. As you can see, it can fit in any tub with room to spare. I like that the maximum level of water that we can use is clearly labeled in the front, so as you're filling the tub, you can measure accurately the depth of the water.


In goes Cubby! <cue 'Rubber Ducky' song> As you can tell, bath time is a family affair. The girls like to keep him company and they help keep Cubby occupied enough not to scream. Pixy and Banshee both remarked that Cubby didn't cry during this bath: He really likes this bath, Mama!


He is a quiet happy baby! Cubby isn't smiling or wiggling because he isn't feeling well. Poor thing caught a viral cold and so his bath is mentholated. I think he was busy breathing in the awesome scent!


As you can see, his tootsies and legs are submerged in the water, with the rest of him in a comfortable reclined position. The age recommendation on this bath is from 0-6mos, but this boy might use it longer! He loves it!


Yes, my bathtub is blue. It's part of an 80s bathroom that rocks and I can't bring myself to change! Anyway, after bath, I just drain the tub and hang the Angelcare baby bath to dry: cleanup is done!

This was the most fun experience at bath time ever! Cubby didn't fuss or cry because he was cold (it was -5 outside at the time of this bath, so the whole house seemed chilly), and we all got to enjoy a fun bath time!

Would I recommend this bath? Absolutely! I have only experienced good things with this bath. My only gripe? I wish I'd known about it sooner! It would've made bath time less of a rush job in the beginning and even the girls mentioned how wonderful it looks. Didn't think the sibling jealousy thing started until later! Huh.

Would you like to win a blue or pink Angelcare Baby Bath support? Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter. Be sure to come back and Tweet often to get more points!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Kindle Fire HD Giveaway Event Ends 2/17

Kindle Fire HD Giveaway
Kindle Fire HD Giveaway Ends 2/17

Welcome to the Kindle Fire HD Giveaway!

Organized and hosted by
Summer That

Co-Hosted By:

So Simply Stephanie, My Turn for Us, Love Bakes Good Cakes, and Knitty Gritty Savings

The new Kindle Fire HD is a full-featured HD tablet at an SD price. There's more to enjoy than ever before with a stunning HD display, faster performance, longer battery life, and lighter design. Use your new Kindle to read your favorite books, watch your favorite movies, connect with friends on social media and more! Tablets are a great way to quickly get online even if you're away from your computer, and they're light and easy to carry.

One lucky reader will receive a Kindle Fire HD 16GB WiFi!

Retail Value $169
Enter the rafflecopter below for your chance to win.
Giveaway ends February 17th at 11:59pm, open to US and Canada, ages 18+.

Good luck!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Disclaimer: The participating bloggers were not compensated for this post. We are not associated with any of the companies named above. No purchase is necessary to enter. One entrant per household. Void where prohibited by law. The odds of winning are based on the number of entries received. Confirmed Winner(s) (by Random.org) will be contacted by email. Winner(s) have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen. SummerThat.com will be responsible for product shipment to winner(s) of this sweepstakes. Co-hosts and other blog participants are not responsible for product shipment/delivery. This event is in no way administered, sponsored, or endorsed by, or associated with, Facebook and/or Twitter, Google, Pinterest. This disclosure is done in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission 10 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
Please contact
SummerThatBlog@gmail.com
with any questions or to see your business or blog featured on the next big event!

What We Learned (February 2nd Edition)

Every week we review, reflect, and recap our weeks. Tell us what you learned in the comments!

Liz:
1) After months of taking a "wait and see" approach to Sage's not talking, I went to his doctor and asked for a hearing evaluation. He assessed his hearing, his ears, and his behaviors and agreed that Sage is delayed in expressive language and gave me the Early Intervention (EI) referral I was willing to fight him for (without a fight). We have his EI evaluation February 13. After working for EI in MA for a while I'm excited to see what happens next.

2) Speaking of what happens next, you know how you take your car to the mechanic and it doesn't "make the noise?" Well Sage was true to form at the doctor's, no talking, no pointing, screaming fit if you said no...BUT the day after his appointment he said 3 words and now it's 1 or 2 new ones every day. Wednesday he waved and said, "Bye-ee Da-ee" as we left for school. Friday he said "football" and Saturday he chased a "ball ball." Thursday he brought me a toy and made an "Ehh?" sound as if asking me to play with it. This is also brand new. Apparently he now realizes I'm serious about this "you need to talk" bit.

3) I am so very glad every day that I have a job that I enjoy and that I can have fun at. While my students and I were chastized for disrupting other classes (OK, I was), we had fun competing for the title of Loudest Class and I think we did it with the most style.

4) When you're doing kickboxing at home don't do it on the carpet if you're wearing sneakers. It seems like a "No duh" but for weeks I couldn't understand why I couldn't move my feet as well as I could at my actual class. Der Liz.

Robyn:
1. I've learned that I need to associate public breast pumping with people. I've been so used to pumping at home, that I have no need to cover up! I should get used to it again, because the dude with the briefcase that walked by and looked in and smiled while I was pumping in the car...you're welcome, if you're into that sorta thing! 

2. I've learned that the smell on coins isn't actually the 'smell of money'. It's the oils and skin cells from everyone that has touched it before you. 


Lisa:

1. I went out on a date!! On an impulse, and thanks to Pixy having a half day, I took the three spawn to the Frozen sing along. We had a blast singing at the top of our lungs. Thankfully, Cubby slept throwing most of it. It helped me break out if the weekly routine. Here they are after we got home:



Girls post Frozen sing along

2. Animals, like children, know who they can trust. That's a saying I've heard many times over the years and this week, Nature proved it to me again. Cubby was screaming his head off at Kennedy Krieger, so I took him out to the truck to calm down and so he wouldn't disturb anyone. While I was nursing him, we had someone spy on us:


Bird watchER not watchING

Mr. Mockingbird braved the cold breeze and came to check that Cubby was all right. I sent him on his way quietly and assured him everything was all right. Nature rocks.

3. We've enrolled Pixy in aftercare at her school because I can't make it down from the city to pick her up at dismissal. I'm prepping her again on what to expect, just so she doesn't get sad. Unfortunately, with all the schedule conflicts, poor Pixy is the one dealing with the discrepancies. The cool thing is, she has friends at aftercare to play with and it is run by the most grandmotherly and sweetest nun ever. Just what Pixy needs to ease her abandonment issues. She's been having a tough time since my father's death. Hopefully, she will forgive me not being able to teleport places or have octopus genetics: "Mama, I'm always the one having to wait for you and Banshee and Cubby. Can we make them wait sometimes too?" You're breaking my heart, kid. Wish us luck!!

Now it's your turn - comment with something you learned below. We look forward to reading about your week!
Saturday, February 1, 2014

Thirty-One Giveaway Ends 2/14

Welcome to the Thirty-One 3-pc. Organic Poppy Totes Giveaway!



A special thanks to all of the bloggers participating and helping promote this event! This giveaway could not be possible without all of them, so be sure to stop by and send them a thank you.

What a great way to try out Thirty-One products and learn more about them - with a giveaway! You can win three different types of bags in fun patterns for you, to share, or to gift!

**Giveaway Details**
February 1st - February 14th at 11:59 PM EST.
Open to Continental US residents only. Must be 18 years of age or older to participate.
Prize: One lucky winner will win Thirty-One's Timeless Memory Pouches 1 Large & 1 Small , Thermal Tote and Super Organizing Tote in Organic Poppy Pattern! (ARV $73)

**How to Enter**
Enter using the Entry Form below. By entering you agree to abide by the Terms and Conditions listed on the Entry Form. All winning entries will be verified. Winner will receive an email from Jennifer at simplysoutherncouponers@gmail.com and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. Good Luck and thanks for entering.



Disclosure: Mamas Around the House did not receive any compensation for promoting this event. Simply Southern Couponers is responsible for prize fulfillment. This giveaway is in no way sponsored, endorsed by, affiliated with, or associated with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google or any other social media platform. If you have any questions please email Jennifer at simplysoutherncouponers{dot}com.

$30 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway Ends 2/15



Do you want to learn how to make money online? Are you seeking new and interesting ways to bring in some extra money while you're at home? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, Write From Home is the book for you. In this Kindle exclusive eBook, you'll find everything that you need to know to get started writing from home. If that's not enough, check out the author's freelancing class on Udemy. Write Fast, Write Now: How to Become a Freelance Writer will show you everything that you need to know to become a freelance writer. This class normally costs $99, but enroll today using promo code BLOGGER to take it for just $20!





To celebrate the launch of both the book and the course, The Hungry Freelancer and Beth Jones are happy to announce a $30 Amazon gift card giveaway! Enter using the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win $30 to spend on anything you want!



a Rafflecopter giveaway




Disclaimer: This blog is not responsible for prize fulfillment. The gift card will be issued by The Hungry Freelancer upon selection of the winner.

SodaStream Giveaway Ends 2/28

SodaStream Giveaway

Hosts: Inside My Head.. ~ Co-Host: Reviewz & Newz



Fountain Jet home soda makers look great on your kitchen counter. Turn
water into sparkling water and soda in seconds with a Sodastream
Fountain Jet home soda maker.

Available in three colors: white, black/silver, and red.



PRIZE: Fountain Jet - Soda Starter Kit Fountain Jet – winner’s choice of color (black/silver, red/silver or white)
1 carbonating bottle, reusable for up to 3 years
Reusable carbonator to fizz up to 60L of soda
Variety 6-pack of popular sample-size flavors
3 full-sized flavors of the winner’s choice



SodaStream is an innovative company always expanding and re-engineering their awesome products with consumers needs in mind. Read my review of the New SodaStream Source for more information on how they are constantly improving!


If you've contemplated a SodaStream but haven't bought one, this is a great giveaway to enter. Even if you have one and love it, enter to win to gift to a friend!


GIVEAWAY
(2/1 - 2/28)
Enter through the Rafflecopter form below for your chance to win
Be sure to follow SodaStream on their social networking sites to stay up to date on current promotions and special offers!
SodaStream on Facebook / @SodaStreamUSA on Twitter / Instagram / Pinterest / YouTube