Monday, February 22, 2016

The Best Easter Books for Babies, Toddlers & Beginner Readers

Whether you're looking for the perfect Easter basket stuffer or perhaps a book to help get your little family into the Easter spirit, we've gone ahead and put together our version of "The Best Easter Books for Babies, Toddlers and Beginner Readers." 

Since my oldest is almost six years old, many of these books are already a part of our library and have been for quite some time. Every March we look forward to pulling our favorites out to add to the nightly before-bed rotation, most notably anything Pete the Cat or Llama Llama.

In particular, The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes, was one of MY first books that I was ever given around Easter time and although it's quite long, it's one of my most favorite stories. 

A few new ones that we've added to our collection this year include Peep, Peep I Love You, Easter Has Eggs and Silly Tilly and the Easter Bunny.

Below, we've broken down our favorites into easy to find categories. Happy Reading!
For Babies and Toddlers
Happy Easter Mouse / Duck and Goose: Here Comes The Easter Bunny / Llama Llama Easter Egg / I Love You Honey Bunny / Pat the Bunny / Peep Peep, I Love You / You're My Little Chickadee
For Beginner Readers
It's Not Easy Being A Bunny / Silly Tilly and the Easter Bunny / Easter Has Eggs

Read To Me Books 
Pete The Cat: Big Easter Adventure / The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes / The Story of the Easter Bunny / The Story of the Easter Robin

For Level II Readers
Fancy Nancy's Elegant Easter / Junie B. Jones Has A Peep In Her Pocket / Easter Bunny Blues

Searching for additional Easter Basket Ideas? 
Check out these posts below for more inspiration!

Easter Basket Ideas for 6 Month Old to One Year with shoppable links included

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Thursday, February 18, 2016

Growing Up On Cherry ChapStick.

I received product from Pfizer Consumer Healthcare for free 
in exchange for my honest thoughts on ChapStick brand.

For as long as I can remember, ChapStick® was an integral part of my childhood. In fact, just the smell of the Original Cherry ChapStick® brings me right back to Sundays riding in the backseat of my dad's Mercedes, the smell of the pristine gray leather making me nauseous (because dad's car always smelled new), my little pink purse in my lap, on our way to church. I must've been 4 or 5 at the time and I distinctly recall unsnapping the shiny flap of that patent leather purses and pulling out my cherry-flavored ChapStick®, unscrewing the cap and sniffing it all the way to church. 

The ChapStick® was my "big girl" lipstick. It's what I would apply generously while watching my mom apply her makeup every morning. I would sit on the floor next to her vanity chair and while she would brush and swipe and dab, I would be swiping, smacking and smoothing, admiring my "makeup" smile. 

My love for ChapStick® only grew over the years and in middle school when I was only allowed to wear clear mascara and non-tinted lip-glosses, ChapStick® was there for me. I remember once in 6th grade bending the rules a bit and taking crushed up powder blush and mixing it with my ChapStick® to give me just a hint of color to impress Chris D., the 7th grade boy I was madly in love with.

In high school, I kept a tube of ChapStick® in the rolled waistband of my plaid uniform skirt, the roll made it flattering, the hidden tube of ChapStick® made it functional. Although I left my love of Cherry ChapStick® behind in my youth, my love for the brand never waned as I was rarely ever without a tube of the Original flavor.

When I turned 17 and bought my first car, I drove right to the drugstore where I picked up a two-pack of Original ChapStick® to keep in my glove box. I believe I was also playing Nelly on the radio. You win some, you lose some.

Today, at 32, ChapStick® is still very much a part of my every day life. Although my beauty routine and love of various beauty products has vastly changed over the last thirty-something years and especially so after the births of my three boys, one thing has always remained and that's ChapStick®.

Perhaps my favorite part of my morning beauty routine is, after using a lip exfoliator, applying a layer of ChapStick® to seal in moisture and keep my lips soft and supple beneath my lipstick of choice.

My husband laughs at me because I keep tubes of ChapStick® all over the place. There's a tube in my car, a tube in my makeup organizer in the bathroom, a tube in the pocket of my favorite winter coat, a tube in the junk drawer in the kitchen, two tubes in my handbag, one in my son's lunchbox, one in his backpack and one in my middle son's underwear drawer for the ever-important Before Bed Application. 

Not to mention the tubes in our laundry room that have been rescued from pants pockets before they hit the wash. 

With a specialized formula for every lip need, ChapStick® is without a doubt an everyday essential that goes with me wherever I go. Whether it's ChapStick® Classic Range for everyday wear, ChapStick® Moisturizer for a softer, more supple pout or ChapStick® Sun Defense which delivers SPF protection along with moisturizing ingredients, I know there's a formula I can count on. My oldest son loves the brand new Chapstick® Tropical Paradise Collection which delivers not only the traditional softness and hydration associated with the brand but also a refreshing tropical tasting flavor! 

Did you know there are plenty of non-lip uses for ChapStick® as well? Try using it as a quick fix for those unruly eyebrows, or rub a little bit on the backs of chapped hands in the winter. You could even use it to remove rings that get stuck on  your fingers or blend it with a bit of powder blush to create cream blush or even a new eye shadow pigment. If you're really in a bind, ChapStick can also help loosen stuck zippers and stop the bleeding of minor cuts (think: shaving).

In 1987, from the backseat of my Dad's car on the way to church to my very first kiss in the basement of my friend Joey's house at age 14, to the operating room and successive births of all three of my boys, ChapStick® has always been there for me and just as my mom shared the ChapStick® brand with me thirty-something years ago, I love that I'm able to do the same with my kids. 

Do you love ChapStick®  too? My good friends at ChapStick® are 
generously giving away a prize pack of ChapStick® goodies to one lucky reader. 
Entry is easy! In the comments section below, tell me: 

What One Smell  Brings You Right Back To Your Childhood
Winner will be announced 2/23/16. Open to US residents only. Must have valid email address for entry. Good luck to all those who enter! 

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Friday, February 12, 2016

Snapchat Made Me Do It.

As I looked around my kitchen last night, I couldn't help but notice a horde of things I had purchased because of seeing others use them and/or rave about them on Snapchat. I'm relatively new to Snapchat in so much as I've only been "snapping" for a couple of months or so (and still have no idea what I'm doing) but that hasn't kept me from making a mental list of things I wanted to buy, try, eat and wear thanks to some other savvy snappers. 

I'm usually pretty good at refraining from instantly purchasing something when I come across it on social media (I learned that lesson well after the chevron craze) but I'm blaming the recent arctic temperatures and less than stellar attitudes of my three little heathens for my most recent purchases. Perhaps you're in need of a little retail therapy too in which case I'm happy to be sharing my haul with you.

1. e.l.f. Lip Exfoliator
Ever since I started adulting several months ago and applying my make up like a big girl, I've been looking for a good lip scrub to use instead of my previous method of warm water and an old toothbrush. I had been eyeing the tinted LUSH brand lip scrub but wasn't super stoked about it so when I saw someone post about this clear exfoliator from e.l.f, I didn't hesitate to click "buy" on Amazon. I love that it's in a lipstick tube and how I can roll it on without using a brush or my fingers. It goes on smooth and does the trick beneath the lipstick I wear each day. Love it!

e.l.f. Lip Exfoliator, 0.16 Ounce

2. ASOS Cardigan with detachable fur collar
Lynzy was cleaning out her closet and as soon as I saw her list an ASOS cardigan similar to the one posted below, I immediately headed to the website and took a screen shot of this cardigan. I had been on the hunt to add a little faux fur to my wardrobe and the fact that this fur collar is removable was an added bonus. It's basically like buying two sweaters for the price of one. Rather than buy it totally on impulse I let it sit in the queue of browsers I keep open on my phone for several days and finally made the purchase two days ago. I can't wait to see how it looks on (this fluffy mom of 3 who looks nothing like that model down there ;))

Image 4 of ASOS TALL Biker Jacket with Oversized Faux Fur Collar
3. Urban Decay Naked Smoky Palette
I love following Meg O. on Snapchat and Instagram mostly because I want her to come do my makeup for me every morning. I've followed Meg for YEARS and met her at a blogging conference a while back and she continues to be one of my daily reads. When my original Naked palette finally bit the dust, I purchased this one and I'm so glad I did! Now when I have fifteen minutes to myself each day I chug hot coffee and play with make up and I'm a much better mother for it. 
UD Naked Smoky Eyeshadow Palette - 100% Authentic
4. Coffee Break Bliss by Chobani Flip
Snapchat didn't introduce me to the Chobani Flip but it did make me try this new flavor and I'm downright obsessed. You had me at biscotti bites and chocolate chunks and this may or may not have been last night's dinner. So good. 

Coffee Break Bliss

5. TOMS Majorca Peep Toe Bootie
Okay, so I didn't buy this one for myself but I did slyly suggest to my husband that it would make for an excellent Valentine's Day gift. It's no secret that I have a major bootie/shoe-tie obsession and with Spring on the horizon, I've been wanting to expand my collection to feature some Spring-worthy styles. Thanks to several stylish Snapchatters I follow, I'm hoping these make their way to my closet sometime soon.

6. Yeti Coffee Tumbler
I can count on two hands the number of expertly staged naps I've seen with perfectly manicured hands holding this tumbler while sitting parked in their car. Advertising at it's finest, am I right? This one actually wasn't for me but a gift for my husband for Valentine's Day. That said, I may just need to get one for myself now that he has one and probably won't want to share. 
I think it's safe to say I'm a fantastic target audience. Sheesh! Maybe I need to step away from snapping for a little while.. 
Your turn! What has the Internet made you do/try/buy lately?

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

6 Valentine's Day Gift ideas For Mom

If you're anything like my husband and still have yet to find the perfect Valentine's Day gift for the carrier, grower and bearer of your adorable genetic material, let me propose 6 simple yet amazing gift ideas for you. 

For Valentine's Day we tend to keep things pretty simple around these parts and by simple we're talking flowers, chocolates and love letters from my husband and three sons.  While I really do love each of those things, I can't say that I would hate it if a much larger, romantic production or, say, a limitless shopping spree and spa day was sprung on me. 

The sole fact that you, the reader, is even here, checking out this gift guide, speaks volumes. It shows you care and want to surprise that special mom in your life with something that lets her know she's on your mind. And that's pretty awesome. What's even better is that this kind of gift guide is also great for birthdays, Mother's Day and yes, even that random Wednesday when you may or may not need to say "I'm sorry."

Think of things moms like and then buy them lots of that stuff. I'll give you some hints: moms like quiet things, sparkly things, things they can do by themselves, for themselves and even eat themselves without their children begging for bites. Things that make her feel extra special. Pretty things. Things that smell nice. 

Things moms don't like: underwear that doesn't have a crotch or looks like a doily that takes thirteen minutes to climb into and out of and homemade "coupons" for "free massages" that leave her wondering just who that gift was intended for in the first place. Things that require her to feed and water them in addition to her small children. Just saying.. 

Being a mom isn't the nicest smelling profession. Between the diapers, the sports equipment and the rotten milk sippies found in the darnedest of places, being a mom STINKS sometimes. Do you know what doesn't stink? This amazing Capri Blue Volcano Candle.

As an avid F-word user, this is a Mug I wouldn't mind drinking my thrice-reheated morning coffee from. How f*&^ing fantastic is that?

Even though we moms may not want to spend every waking moment with our darling children, the truth is we would love to wear them everywhere we go and show them off to complete strangers at Target and the grocery store. This custom Necklace from the Miracle Links line at Kay Jewelers is the perfect piece to do just that. 

Champagne. Need I say more? And yes, spring for the fancy kind, especially if she's a fan of the bubbly.

Being an adult isn't all it's cracked up to be especially when it comes to getting the mail every day. Bills, bills, bills and the occasional registration packet for pre-school can leave a mom feeling down in the dumps. But when mail includes, say, a Subscription Box, you just might find her skipping down the driveway!
I don't know what it is about being a mom (yes, yes I do) but clothes never fit the same after having babies. Furthermore, going clothes shopping isn't always the party it once was. Do you want to know what always fits great after having a baby, provided you know the right size to buy? Shoes. And these Flats never disappoint. Not to mention that they're one thing that can't be ruined by spit-up or stray peanut butter laden fingers. 

Now go on, check out these ideas and I know you'll find the perfect gift for her! Happy Shopping!

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Monday, February 8, 2016

Baby's First Valentine's Day: Stuff We LOVE!

With love in the air and Valentine's Day right around the corner, I wanted to share a festive little list of some of our favorite baby products from some of our favorite brands in celebration of the day! Each item featured comes from a brand we absolutely LOVE and if there's anything we're about this Valentine's season, it's spreading that love!

First up is the Quinny Moodd Stroller. We've been long time fans of the Quinny brand, as our affection for them started with the Quinny Buzz Xtra and blossomed with the addition of their colorful South Beach Collection Zapp Xtra. Excellent maneuverability and quality come to mind when we think of Quinny and the Moodd stroller is no exception. It's the perfect blend of style and function with it's two reclining options, automatic folding and unfolding capability and bright bold fabric options. 

Next up you'll find Just Born's Cotton Deluxe Swaddle and Luxury Sparkle Blanket. I equate each of these things to changing out of jeans the minute you get home from an outing, even if it's 11am in the morning. Sure, any swaddle or blanket would do but each of these items goes above and beyond the standard of quality for baby items. The Luxury Blanket features a soft, plush fabric that's perfect for snuggling at home or on the go while the Cotton Deluxe swaddle comes in a sweet heart print that's sure to help your baby sleep safely and soundly. 

LLama LLama I Love You and Eric Carle's Love From the Very Hungry Caterpillar are two of our most favorite books to bring out at the start of February. Not only are they classics but also must-have staples in any child's early library. With rhyming story lines, durable pages and a size just perfect for tiny hands, these books are perfect for the tiniest readers.  

The NEW Maxi-Cosi Pria 70 is a convertible car seat that provides optimal child safety and comfort from 9-70 pounds. With Air Protect technology and CosiCushion premium fabrics and padding, both forward- and rear-facing children are guaranteed maximum protection. Our youngest rides around in this seat in the Herringbone pattern and it's hands down one of my top three convertible car seats on the market. One of my favorite features is how the seat pad unsnaps and removes easily from the seat frame for a quick, easy and thorough cleaning. It fits children rear-facing starting at 9lbs. and keeps them cozy up to 40lbs. When they're ready to forward face, it safely fits children up to seventy pounds.

Last but not least, the Monogrammed Jellycat Bunny from our friends at Peekawhoo has been a long time love of ours from the very beginning. It is a gift that I have given to so many of my girlfriends whether at baby showers, births of their babies, first birthday's and beyond. All three of my boys have their very own bunnies that they sleep with each night and take with them on overnight trips and I've loved watching them grow alongside their favorite lovies. In fact, I'm totally that creepy mom who sniffs and rubs the worn ears of their lovies long after they've fallen asleep with them each night. I can't help it! 

You can connect with our favorite brands just like we do 
on their social media channels listed below. 

Quinny - FB - Twitter - Instagram
Just Born - FB - Twitter - Instagram
Maxi-Cosi- FB - Twitter - Instagram
Peekawhoo - FB - Twitter - Instagram 

How are you celebrating Valentine's Day with your little ones this year?

Monday, February 1, 2016

8 Cold Weather Essentials for Your Tot

Well, we've survived our first big blizzard of 2016. If there is anything I have learned as a parent who has seen six snowy winters with small humans it's that the secret to their (and therefore your) happiness is: 


Therefore, I've gone ahead and compiled a short list for you of some cold weather essentials we wouldn't be able to survive a winter without. I promise you, some of these might even pacify the pickiest of kids who refuse to put on torturous things like gloves and/or boots.

God speed my parents friends- remember, with each snow day that passes, you're one day closer to Spring. At least that's what I've been chanting to myself since last Friday... 

StrideRite Made2Play Sneaker Boot: If there is anything more difficult to squeeze your toddler into than gloves, it's boots. I don't know what it is about boots but my kids are incapable of shoving their foot all the way down on the first, second and third tries. These Made2Play Sneaker boots by StrideRite eliminate the hassle of shoving your child's foot into a clunky, heavy boot by bringing together a flexible lightweight sneaker and seam-sealed, fleece-lined upper designed to keep warmth in and water out. What's even better is that these "snoots" are so flexible they can easily be folded up and tossed into any bag for on--the-go fun. Available in many colors and even a couple of fun character prints, be sure to head to StrideRite to learn more about them. 

Kid's Snow Bib: If I learned anything at all from six winters as a parent, it's that snow bibs are greater than snow pants in all of the ways. Okay, maybe not so ideal when someone inevitably shouts, "I have to go potty!" but the less ways for snow to creep into someone's pants, the better. We love these snow bibs but the truth is, any snow bib will do whether it's a $70 Columbia brand suit or $15 suit from OshKosh. We've tried them all, trust me. 

SnowStoppers Waterproof Mittens: Hands down, no pun intended, these are the greatest waterproof mittens ever invented for kids. The best part about them is the extra fabric sleeve that reaches nearly to their elbows, making sure snow stays out and warmth stays in. I tell all of my mom friends that their kids need these mittens, that's how much I love them. Plus you don't have to scream at your child, "EVERY FINGER HAS A HOME" when putting them on because they're mittens and not stupid motherf*&^%ing gloves. (no? just me?)

Kid's Merino Ski Socks: One surefire way to ruin any fun snow day is wet feet. We've found that merino ski socks are the best at keeping little feet warm and dry and do you know what little warm and dry feet like to do? Not come inside three and a half minutes after they walked outside. Winner winner, chicken dinner. 

Lucky Bums Plastic Torpedo Sled: Lightweight and easy enough FOR THEM to drag back up the hill once a pull string is attached. Need I say more? 

The Ultimate Ideal Multiple Snowball Maker: We love it. I mean, my kids love it. Although I can't say who has used it more- my husband and I or the kids themselves. It's great for the ones who just can't quite perfect the art of snowball making on their own just yet. Gives them a bit of an advantage ;)

Original Turtle Fur Fleece Head/Neck Shell: Whether they're throwing snow, rolling in it or making snow angels, snow inevitably finds it way down the backs of my kids jackets and the minute it hits their warm chubby necks, you'd think they were melting in a pit of molten lava. Toddler scarves? Forget it. Turtle Fur is the way to go. It might look like we're headed out on an Alaskan Frontier adventure when my boys leave the house for snow play but one thing is for sure, once they're dressed they stay warm AND dry the entire time they're out there. This is a must-have. 

Monogram Knit Hat: Of course your child doesn't need a monogrammed knit hat for the winter months but this hat from Bridier Baubles The Monogram Shop is one of my absolute favorite winter pieces. The best part is that it starts getting use during the chilly Fall months and keeps our tiniest head warm clear through the winter ones. 

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