Friday, July 27, 2012

SwimSpot $50 Giveaway

If you're anything like me, the thought of having to shop for a swimsuit sends you running for the nearest darkest corner, bottle of wine and wholesale-sized canister of cheese puffs. However with the record-breaking temperatures we've been having lately, I couldn't very well sit out by the pool in my husband's workout shorts and ratty college t-shirts. 

Here's where Swimspot came to the rescue. With their incredible selection of suits featuring a variety of designer swimwear brands such as Splendid, Athena, Hurley (and more!) as well as their super helpful and easy to navigate website, I had a new suit on it's way to my doorstep in a matter of minutes. 

Truth be told, the hardest part was selecting which suit I wanted to take home with me!

One of my favorite SwimSpot tools is their unique Fit Specialist page that offers a personalized shopping experience to help you find the suit that is right for your body type. Whether you are "athletic," "pear-shaped," "busty," or "petite," will help you put together the perfect pool or beach-side look! They even offer one-on-one assistance with a Fit Specialist via email or phone.

Another unique feature of Swimspot is their Bikini Builder tool. This tool allows you to further customize your suit with a variety of both bikini and tankini top and bottom options. I can count on both hands the number of times I've found a swimsuit that I've loved but couldn't decide which specific bottoms to pair with it! With this tool, the decision making is made easy as it is all laid out in front of you with easy to toggle-through options. 

It's no surprise that I just gave birth to my second baby and things aren't exactly what they were last summer. Needless to say, I will not be baring this midriff any time soon. With that being said, Swimspot offers a variety of chic, classy and affordable tankinis and one pieces. As I mentioned earlier, I truly had a hard time narrowing down my choices and at one point, I had no less than 6 suits in my checkout cart! These ain't your Mamas one pieces, my friends!

I ended up choosing this suit by Hurley and let me tell you, it is SUCH a flattering Mom-Suit. With just the right amount of coverage in all the right areas and with a deep plunging neckline (for an added touch of sass), I'll have no worries as I'm chasing The Crazy Wildebesst Toddler across the pool deck. 

Hurley Every Rose Tankini and Tunnel Side Bottom

Here are just a few more of my favorites: 

If you've already procured this summer's swimsuit and are in the market for a cover up perhaps, Swimspot also offers a great selection of fashionable cover ups!

All in all, I couldn't have had a better shopping experience using Swimspot and would absolutely recommend it to any and all of my friends. 

One last thing before the best part of this post, be sure to follow them on Twitter as they will often share spur of the moment coupon codes! 

Use the Rafflecopter widget below to easily and quickly enter to win a $50 credit to SwimSpot!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Twice As Much.

It takes me twice as long to leave the house each day. 

I change twice as many diapers. 

My days are twice as crazy, my life twice as hectic.

I wipe twice as many noses. 

I sing twice as many lullabies. 

I laugh twice as hard and I love twice as much

Although, I may cry twice as many times as I may have once done. 

My nights feel twice as long, my days twice as short.

I learn twice as much and require twice as much patience.

My house may be twice as loud

My kitchen twice as dirty

The sink full of twice as many bottles. 

But I am twice blessed, twice exhausted, twice as thankful. 

I'm twice as much the Mom I once was. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Long Live Summer :: Shutterfly Facebook Photo Contest

We all know I'm a sucker for a great photo and what better time to pick up your camera and make some memories than while you're outside having fun in the sun? 

Once you've immortalized those moments forever, be sure to check out Shutterfly's latest photo contest: Long Live Summer Facebook Photo Contest. 

Enter to win a trip for four to The Bahamas (yes, please!) and a professional photo shoot so you’ll remember your vacation forever.  
All you need to do is upload your favorite photo and caption based on the theme of the week.  
Get a gift from Shutterfly just for entering! 
You can enter at any point during the 5-week sweepstakes period.

This week's photo theme is: WATER FUN
Upcoming Week Four: Sports & Activities 
Upcoming Week Five: Parties & Celebrations

*I was compensated with a promotion code 
for a free 8x8 hardcover photo book for composition of this post.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Toddlers Are A Rare Breed.

Surviving Motherhood is one thing but nothing, I repeat nothing, prepares you for mothering a toddler. 

Toddlers are a rare breed. One minute you are gazing upon them lovingly, wondering how in the world you were ever so lucky as to have been blessed with such a wonderful human being, a perfectly melded miniature reflection of both you and your partner. 

And the next minute? You're calling local circuses and trying to barter with them to come and take said toddler away. 

When mothering a toddler you need to be prepared for anything and everything. And I mean anything. Although I only have a single toddler year underneath my proverbial Mom-Belt, I will be the first to tell you it was the single most trying year of parenthood I have ever experienced. 

This past year has made the first two weeks of Newborn-dom seem like a cake walk. How come nobody tells you these things? How to survive mothering a toddler is like one giant well kept secret.

You may be saying to yourselves, "AP, get to the point. Tell us what is so trying about the toddler years." And oh, don't worry. I'm about to. 

Let's start with the absolutely, freakishly unreasonable demands, for starters. Demands such as bathing with one's dinner plate, wearing one's obvious pajama shirt to run public errands in and using one's baby brother as a foot rest. 

My toddler demands each of these on an almost daily basis and I've now learned that a) bathing with one's dinner plate means one less plate to wash in the dishwasher b) nobody cares if your two year old wears his jammie shirt to Hobby Lobby as long as you can keep him from emptying the check-out candy counter into your cart and c) 10lb infants can withstand quite a bit of weight resting on their bums. 

But don't get me wrong, I tried to fight each of the above mentioned bears for quite some time. In fact, I would turn almost blue in the face while patiently explaining to my toddler that dinner plates belong in the sink, jammies are for night-night time only and baby brothers are not for resting on. 

Although, I will admit, it is quite difficult to tell your toddler he cannot wear his jammies to Hobby Lobby when Mommy, herself, is clearly wearing the same black yoga pants to run errands in that she slept in over night. 

Not only are toddlers King and Queen of Unreasonable Demands, but they are also notorious for tantrums. Before I proceed, I love a good tantrum as much as the next kid. There are plenty of days where, by 4:30pm, I'm about ready to lay on the floor kicking and screaming. However as adults, we at least have the option of kicking and screaming our way into a bottle of wine after lunch. Toddlers do not. 

I have to wonder how one so small can go from zero to limp-fish-kicking-and-screaming-on-the-market-floor in mere seconds and over something as small as having your waffle cut in two, rather than being given it whole, something that, mind you, has never happened in your two years of life. 

Now would be the time when I would appreciate a Toddler Survival Guide or at least some sort of quick and dirty instruction manual. 

I understand that tantrums are a normal part of toddler development and it's purely them struggling with their tiny need for independence and frustration when it comes to communication- but for the love of all things holy, a simple shout and shake of the head would do. 

Falling to the floor in a fit of legs and arms, yells and screams is highly unnecessary, especially when it causes those around us to wonder if I am, in fact, your mother and not some stranger attempting to kidnap you. 

Although, I do have to wonder WHY anyone would EVER want to kidnap said kicking and screaming banshee. 

Toddlers. They are a rare breed indeed.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Pregnancy Essentials :: My Guide To Surviving The First Forty.

Now, I'm no Michelle Duggar but as you all know, this last pregnancy was not my first Pregnant Rodeo. After publishing this post all about the nitty-gritty newborn necessities imperative to surviving those crucial first few weeks of motherhood, I received a number of emails asking me to share my list of Pregnancy Must-Haves. 

Granted, the things on this list aren't nearly as cute as the ones you'd find on this post, but they are certainly things, in my opinion, that any pregnant mama shouldn't be without. In no particular order, here are the things I couldn't have survived either of my pregnancies without: 

1. Humor
Belly Laughs: The Naked Truth About Pregnancy And Childbirth

Be prepared to laugh at yourself. I understand wholly that this will become harder and harder to do as both your belly and behind begin to expand, but I promise you, you will not survive 40 weeks with your sanity intact if you cannot laugh. With my first pregnancy, I read Jenny McCarthy's book "Belly Laughs" and its a book I recommend to all of my newly pregnant friends. With my second, I read blogs. Lots and lots of mom blogs. You know, like the one you're reading now. 

2. A Great Pair (or four) of Maternity Denim

7 For All Mankind Secret Fit Belly(tm) 5 Pocket Boot Cut Maternity Jeans

Speaking of growing behinds, nothing makes you feel better about yourself than a great pair of jeans, am I right? The same goes for pregnancy. I invested in a couple of pairs of fabulous designer denim very early on. With my first pregnancy, I was working full time and had the funds to procure my most favorite pair of jeans found here. With my second, the budget was much tighter but I turned to eBay to find even more designer denim at an absolute steal. If you're ever in a rut when it comes to dressing your bump, I wrote a post here about how to do so without feeling "frump-tastic."

3. A Maternity Body Pillow such as The Snoogle

Snoogle Chic Jersey - Snoogle Total Body Pregnancy Pillow with 100% Jersey Cotton Knit Easy on-off Zippered Cover

I have no other words for this pillow other than "life-changing." Unfortunately, you may need to ask your significant other to sleep on the couch in order to accommodate this sucker into your bed at night but believe me, it is well worth it. You may even find your significant other spooning your maternity body pillow in the wee hours of the morning, much like mine did. Relegated to sleeping on your sides for much of your pregnancy, I found that this pillow helped maintain alignment in my hips and spine and helped to alleviate some of the pressure that my shoulders, neck and hips often bared the brunt of. 

4. Therma-Care Wraps - Heating Pad - Hot Water Bottle

ThermaCare Air-Activated Heatwraps, Back & Hip

Whether it's round ligament pain or a lower backache, during pregnancy both can feel like the end of the world. In the beginning, a simple nap with the heating pad did wonders but as a pregnant Mom to the Crazy Wildebeest Toddler, a simple nap wasn't always in the cards. That's where the Therma-Care wraps came in handy. Worn like a belt, these wraps did wonders for the insane lower back pain that I felt towards the end of my second pregnancy.

5. Mocktails and Sparkling Water 

Zero Proof Cocktails: Alcohol-Free Beverages for Every Occasion

We all know how important water is during pregnancy. If you're anything like me, you'd rather gouge your eyes out with molten hot blunt forks before consuming the recommended amount of water per day in which case, sparkling water was a god send. Even better, when mixed with fruit juice during the hot summer months, you can almost, almost trick your body into thinking you're actually drinking some sort of spritz-y wine cooler. No matter where you are, try drinking it out of a wine glass. Believe me, it makes it taste that much better. 

6. Stretch Mark Cream

Bio-Oil PurCellin Oil Facial Treatment Products

As a nurse, I'll be the first one to call bullshit on these products. Why? Because I remember learning somewhere, sometime that stretch marks during pregnancy were more genetic than anything else. So friends? If you're wondering how your midriff will fare during those forty weeks, I suggest you talk to your mamas about it. That being said, that certainly didn't stop me from trying a handful of products out on the market designed to prevent/hide/treat those suckers. If nothing else, at least it helps with the crazy itchiness that comes along with a growing belly. 

7. Morning Sickness Remedies

Preggie Pop Drops (21 Pieces) - Assortment of Sour Flavors

My morning sickness- wait, who am I kidding? My ALL DAY sickness was never so terrible to warrant prescribed medication. Had it been so, you know I'd be first in line for some Zofran. During those first few weeks of pregnancy, however, when you wake up with the sudden urge to run to the nearest porcelain throne, I suggest having the following on hand: 

8. The Belly Bandit

Okay, so this little ditty may not be something you use during your pregnancy but you sure as heck are going to want to use it just days after giving birth. With my first pregnancy, I used the cheap (read: flimsy) abdominal binder that was given to me in the hospital in the weeks following Carter's birth. By week 3 it was so stretched out that it hardly "sucked" me in so I made a mental note to purchase The Belly Bandit should I find myself pregnant again. Not only had this compression wrap done wonders to shrink my postpartum belly but having had a repeat C-section, it really helped reduce a lot of my post-surgical and incision pain. 

So... Congratulations! Hopefully you find this list helpful now that you've peed on a stick (or ten, or twelve) and are preparing yourself for the wild adventure that lies ahead. Remember above all else, don't forget to laugh!

If you have any questions about anything, feel free to email me at iloveyoumorethancarrots (at) gmail (dot) com. 

Happy Friday! 

**I was not and will not be compensated for the purchase of any of the above mentioned items. I am simply expressing my personal and honest opinion regarding products I love.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Baby And His Sheepie.

As if there was ever any question as to how much
Sullivan loved his newest brother... It is in these moments
 I am so thankful to have my camera within arms reach.

And for what it is worth, these pictures were completely un-staged. I want to remember that about this moment. I turned my back to grab Carter some juice from the kitchen and returned to "Sheepie" resting his head on his littlest brother. 

Sometimes the "un-staged" moments are the best.

Bibs & Burp Cloths & More :: A Mimi & Chip Giveaway!

When Meg from Mimi & Chip contacted me and offered to send Maclane a custom Mimi & Chip original bib, I couldn't help but accept. I mean, how stinking cute is it? After checking out Mimi & Chip on Facebook, it's easy to see why I was so easily smitten with this adorable little business. 

When asked to share a bit about herself and her business, Meg said, 
"I used to teach high school Family and Consumer Sciences (Home Ec.) in the Twin Cities, MN. Then we had kids, 13 months apart, yikes! Now I'm a stay-at-home mom and I answer to Meredith and Charlie. I started sewing for friends and family during nap time and that's how it all started. I really enjoy sewing, so it's fun for me, and I love to work with people and take their vision and make it into the perfect gift!"

I'm so happy to have been introduced to Meg and Mimi & Chip and I'm even happier that she has offered one lucky Loyal a FREE Custom bib! 

Meg also creates one-of-a-kind custom burp clothes, children's t-shirts and tote bags! Be sure to stop by the Mimi & Chip Facebook page to check it all out!

Please use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter! Easy peasy.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Newborn Sneaky Peek

Now that Maclane's announcements have gone out, of course I'll share just a few of my favorites with you! I had such fun taking Maclane's newborn pictures and I'm so glad that I was able to take them in such a relaxed atmosphere. 

Rather than have to squeeze his entire newborn session into just a few hours, I was able to spread it out over days of life five through seven. Being able to nurse him repeatedly until he was sleepy enough to be moved and molded and take as much time as we needed in between takes was just perfect. 

I just adore capturing newborns and am so happy I was able to get behind the lens and capture my sweet little boy's first few days of life!

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Ultimate Girls Night Out :: AP-Style

Now that I'm a mom of two very precious, incredibly handsome (did I mention ridiculously exhausting?) boys, it's more important than ever that I make an effort to schedule some quality "me" time. 

As much as I love holing my kid-less self up, iPad in hand, in a dark Starbucks somewhere, it's no secret that the age old saying "the more the merrier" rings true. With a handful of close Mom-friends who similarly are in need of some kid-less "me" time, it's obvious that these women would be my company of choice when planning The Ultimate Girls Night Out. 

That being said, I can't remember the last time all of my girlfriends and I got together for a good ol' fashion Girls Night Out. You see, I'm at that age where someone in our group of friends is either getting married, changing jobs, peeing on a stick, or popping out a baby. Don't get me wrong, I love a good bridal shower or baby sprinkle, but for once, it would be great if we could all get together to both dance and drink our tired, exhausted, grown-up tushies off. 

So, with that being said, where does one start when planning The Ultimate Girls Night Out? Well, with the most important thing of course; the perfect outfit. I know I'm not just speaking for myself when I say that it's easy for us moms to get in the habit of wearing yesterday's black yoga pants every day and when paired with an old nursing tank or a husband's ratty college fraternity t-shirt, you've pretty much nailed my standard mom-i-form. 
The Ultimate Girls Night Out

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't just a little bit tempted to fill an online shopping cart with each of the following pretty little items in preparation of this figurative Ultimate Girls Night Out. In fact, I may just wet my whistle with a set of false eyelashes and those hottie-tottie pumps in the event that an emergency Girls Night Out suddenly comes to fruition. 

Now that I'm thinking about it, I may want to add a pair of Spanx to that outfit. 

The guest list is set and I've poured myself a glass or two of champagne into that flirty little mint green number you see pictured above. Where are we off to, you might be wondering? Well, that's easy. 
I Love New York

New York City. Far enough away from the kids and the husbands yet close enough to rush home barring any natural disaster. And by natural disaster I clearly mean, someone forgets their breast pump or comes down with a serious case of Separation Anxiety. 

Having grown up just minutes from Manhattan, I'm a sucker for the city's trendy bars, five star restaurants and fast-paced nightlife and what better place to let a few moms loose on the town? 

Did you know us moms have some pretty sweet dance moves? And I'm not talking about the Hokey Pokey or the Chicken Dance. Believe it or not, our dance moves excel far beyond those showcased during Saturday Morning Storytime at the local library.

Speaking of dance moves, Hpnotiq is currently hosting a super fun “Live Louder Dance Off” contest, where people can win a trip to Vegas just for entering their cutest dance video or photo. That means that YOU, yes YOU, can submit your photos or videos (by clicking those hyperlinks) of you and your girlfriends shaking what YOUR mamas gave you and maybe, just maybe, you'll be selected as the winner of a Girls Night Out VEGAS STYLE. 

The grand prize winner gets to bring up to 3 friends for the Ultimate VIP Weekend in Las Vegas including a 2-night stay at theHpnotiq Super Suite, a private dance lesson with Maksim Chmerkovskiy in Los Angeles, and $1,000 cash! 

So, are you in?
What would you wear for The Ultimate Girls Night Out?
Who would be on your VIP list?
Where would the night take you?

I'd love to hear your plans AND see both photos and videos 
of you shaking your groove thang! 

Also, now may be a good time to mention that the blogger whose post ends up with the highest number of combined shares and RT's also wins the aforementioned trip to Vegas. 

And Loyals? 
It's no secret that THIS MAMA NEEDS A GIRLS NIGHT. 
So, couldya wouldya share, please? 
I'd love you forever and ever. Even more than I already do!

JCrew Bubble Necklace but BETTER on GroopDealz!

Each day as I log into Twitter, I noticed more and more of my "tweeps" announcing that they are patiently waiting for their "look-a-like JCrew bubble necklace" to ship all the way from China. 

I wanted to quickly pop in and make sure you all know about the incredible sale that GroopDealz is currently having on twelve, yes TWELVE, different colors of the "infamous bubble necklace!" 

At just $19.99, these necklaces are an absolute steal and there's no waiting on lengthy ship times from halfway across the world!

Needless to say, I cannot wait for my navy bubble necklace to arrive!

Happy Shopping, Loyals and happiest of Mondays to you!

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