Monday, April 29, 2013

A Wow Toys Review- A Train Table Alternative?


Disclosure: I have reviewed Wow Toys on the blog in the past and thought they were really great. This week Wow sent us more complementary toys to review. No other compensation was received.  All opinions and experiences are 100% my own. 


     Its my experience that there just seems to be something magical about a children's train table. Our local Barnes and Noble has one and it is the highlight of our every visit. It is a veritable watering hole for all of the children, boys and girls alike. They flock and then congregate, drawn like moths to a flame. I can't be sure if it is the height of the table that so enthralls them? It must be fun for them to have something just at the right level for them. Or perhaps its all of the pieces? Whatever the case, its no secret that train tables are special. The cons of a train table? Well, they are BIG, bulky, semi-permanent, unable to be put away, and they aren't cheap either. When Wow Toys contacted me about their new playmat I immediately wondered if it could be a substitute for a train table in our house.



   This playmat is pretty large at about 59 inches by 39 inches. I would estimate that the playmat is roughly the size of most train tables. It kind of a felt like texture to it. I love that (unlike a train table) you can roll this up when your done with it and put it away or even hide it under the couch. The print on the playmat is very detailed with a variety locales pictured such as a beach, playground, castle and many more.  For the very young toddler that doesn't mind, not having to buy all the tracks,stations, and various entrapments of a standard train table is an added money savings. Weston really enjoyed driving Stanley the Street Sweeper through the "streets." It is really fun that the yellow sweepers actually "sweep."


     The only thing I don't love about the playmat is that it is spot clean only. There is no throwing this thing in the wash. On the Wow Toys website they have a little profile description of each toy and for this toy they even state that it likes "rainy afternoons" but dislikes "muddy feet." I think that is a really good description because muddy feet would definitely be a disaster on this playmat.  

   In summary I think this playmat is great for the younger toddler set, can double as a starter train "table", and is good for the parent that doesn't want it out all of the time and would like to be able to throw it in a closet or under a couch. If you would like to enter to win a playmat from Wow Toys please enter the rafflecopter below.  This giveaway is open world wide! 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Trying to Get Radiant With Aveeno #Sponsored


    First off: I really, really, really, love Influenster!! If you are a blogger, social media whore, or just a random person with a penchant for new products you should join Influenster if you have not already. When I joined I wasn't really sure what to expect. After a few trys at various programs I have found that there really is no catch. You apply, they select you (or not), they send you some great products to try, and all that they ask in return is that you share on social media about their products. There is no commitment. No mandatory requests except that you confirm you received the product and complete a survey following the campaign. Pretty fair if you ask me. 


So now on to the point of this post. This week Influenster Vox sent me a complimentary full size sample of Aveeno Positively Radiant Intensive Night Cream. I was excited about this because I am notorious for neglecting my skin. Why you may ask?  First I just haven't ever carved out time in my routine for very much skincare. Secondly, I am just too darn cheap. If you are buying a cleanser, toner, moisturizer, and makeup it all adds up very quickly. Thus, I am a one facial product wonder. Sadly, Cetaphil face wash is my one product. As my age is quickly tabulating and the fine lines are starting to crop up I realize that I need some more products in my routine. 


   I am not a beauty product blogger so I figured I would first post Aveeno's own description of their product: "Brighten and even skin tone with AVEENO® POSITIVELY RADIANT® Intensive Night Cream. Formulated with ACTIVE NATURALS® Total Soy Complex and vitamin B3, this advanced night cream leaves skin smooth and healthy looking. This oil-free night cream will help keep you looking fresh and luminous."  I have been using this cream for about a week and my most important observation is that it has not made me break out like many new products will. Despite the fact that I have combination dry and oily skin this cream has not made any part of my face feel more oily. It is lightweight  has very little fragrance, and makes my skin feel clean and fresh. I have noticed that my skin feels more soft in the morning. The box touts the fact that the cream improves upon the five factors of radiance including, tone, dullness, brown spots, texture, and blotchiness. While I can't honestly say that any of those things (other than the softness or texture) have improved I am pretty sure that with an improved skincare routine over time I might be able to achieve some improvement

Have you ever tried Aveeno Positively Radiant Night Cream? What is your night time facial routine?

Disclosure: As stated clearly in the above blog post, I received these products complimentary from Influenster for the purposes of review. No other compensation was received. All opinions are 100% my own. 


Monday, April 15, 2013

The Fresh 20- A Better Meal Planning System

   

Disclosure: This blog post is completely independent of any connection to The Fresh 20. I bought my very own subscription out of pure curiosity. I would love it if in the future they would like to provide me a years membership (so that I can check out the archives and their lunches) and a giveaway for you all? Just puttin' in out there that that could be fun! 

   I first heard about The Fresh 20 from the girls over on The New Orleans Moms Blog. I am privy to a lot of the behind the scenes planning and conversations that go on and when I first heard about The Fresh 20 on our message boards I wasn't that excited. I am just not a fan of things where you pay but don't receive a tangible item. I am also very wary of programs and services that make promises of making your life better, easier, and healthier. I was pretty convinced that this was just another diet-like fad going around. That is until the girls really started discussing how much they liked The Fresh 20. Then I got curious....

   I decided to buy a three month membership.....why?  Well, because I need help. I am just plain sick of running to the grocery store (with no list) and trying to wrangle Weston while attempting to dream up a few meals and grab their respective ingredients. This has proved not only hard, but impossible. Instead of having nicely planned out meals with all the ingredients I always forget something and generally the week ends in some wasted food, a frozen pizza, and/or eating out.

  I have to tell you, at the time of writing this I am only on week 2 of The Fresh 20, but my life is kind of changed. For the better. For just $15.00 (for a 3 month membership) I receive 5 planned out meals and a grocery list per week. The lists are kind of a life savor. They provide me with direction and are not overwhelming. Like the namesake of the program, the list is for 20 fresh ingredients plus some pantry staples.

   Not only are the lists wonderful but the instructions for prep and night of cooking are great too. If you can put in an hour of prep work per week you can get the majority of the prep done in advance for your meals. It seems like a lot of work when you are doing it but every night of the week I am so grateful that the majority of the work is done. With the prep done it is then quick and easy to throw together my healthy fresh meals. Even my husband got in on the prep one night (we bartered: I dealt with the baby and he did the prep work for the week).


   You can choose a classic meal plan (what I chose), a vegetarian meal plan, or gluten free. So that you can get a feel of what the meal plan looks like, this is what we are having for dinner this week:

Monday- Chicken dijon with peppered egg noodles
Tuesday- Ginger shrimp lettuce Wraps with spicy peanut sauce
Wednesday- Chicken fajita burritos
Thursday- Turkey and black bean burritos with cheese quesadillas
Friday- Edamame rice noodle salad with peanut dressing

Sounds good right?

   I love the program so far but I do have a couple extra wishes, things that would really make the program amazing. I wish they posted pictures of the food online. I for one eat with my eyes and I also like to have an idea of what things should look like when they are done. I wish they provided some extra guidance on food storage. For example how to keep lettuce and herbs fresh for the week. I also wish they provided a crockpot option once a week. Cooking fresh for us has been so much fun and so delicious but it is a LOT of work. A crockpot night could help. 

  I would love it if you would share with me! How do you handle shopping for the week and prep? Have you come up with anything better? Or perhaps have you tried The Fresh 20?
  



 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Shaping Up For Spring with Baby Bee-haven and A Cooperative Baby



 Spring is in the air! The weather is growing warmer day by day and it's time to shape up!  What better way to make the act of exercising more enjoyable than giveaways!?  The Blogging Mamas Network is hosting the Shaping Up for Spring Hop from April 11th through the 25th to motivate you to get active and healthy!

Be sure to hop around to all of the participating bloggers, in the linky below my giveaway, as they have some great prizes to share with you!  Don't forget the GRAND PRIZE which includes, a 3 meal box from Hello Fresh, Aurorae Yoga Apparel and Yoga Mat, a Accessory Pouch and Hair Bands from Active Accessories, and the best way to get your greens from NewGreens Organic!

My giveaway for this hop is brought to you by:



   Baby- BeeHaven is my fabulous sister-in-law Heather's company. Heather started this company when she recognized the power that her car dvd player held. In the car with the dvd player playing, her kids were transformed into passive and cooperative little ones (read NOT screaming). Striving to harness that power by incorporating a ipad into a stroller organizer she invented the See 'n Store. I have personally started using the See n' Store (which was a gifted to me long before I started blogging) when I am out on a long walk or run and just need my child to cooperate long enough to make it through the workout or back to our car.


   The See 'n Store is a multi-media stroller organizer. It is capable of holding your ipad in three helpful ways: facing you, facing baby, and also stored away where it cannot be seen. It also features a trash bag, a place for your keys, and a pocket for your water bottle. I personally love that you can organize all your things and choose to either use the ipad feature or not. I don't believe that ipads are meant for all times or every situation which is why I LOVE this organizer. It can have as much or as little to do with technology as you like: either way though it keeps you organized. If I am going to use the ipad in the See 'n Store (or think I might need to) I pack it away inside the pouch and then whip it out in moments of desperation. It is metaphorically another rabbit in my Mommy bag of magic tricks.




 I think the See n' Store is a great solution for Moms for several reasons:

-The stroller and my things are organized
- The ipad is neatly tucked away out of sight of baby
- Baby is engaged in the world and enjoying the sights and sounds until....he doesn't want to be contained anymore!
-When baby is tired of sitting quietly in the stroller and you need to buy your self just 20 more minutes so you can (round the park to get  back to your car or finish your stroller workout) you can flip out the ipad and play something educational for him or her. 
-Although the company states that you should spot clean the See 'n Store I have personally machine washed mine (oooopppps) and it came out great. 
- It fits a variety of rear facing strollers (you can use it as an organizer on front facing strollers)

       For all you haters out there: yes you....you know I am talking about you if you are reading this and rolling your eyes. I am not suggesting that you plop your kid in front of an ipad and play shows on it for them all day long. In my world, the See 'n Store is simply another trick that I use to get things done occasionally that would have otherwise been done with lots of screaming involved. The See 'n Store helps keep me organized and when needed keeps my kiddo entertained as well. It is pretty awesome if you ask me! 

Enter the rafflecopter below for your chance to win a See 'n Store

Disclosure: I was given this product as a gift by my sister in law (who is also the owner of this company) long before I ever blogged a day in my life. All opinions are my own, although I might be more than slightly biased because I am so proud of her and all of her accomplishments. :) AdditionallyAccording to Jenny, So Easy Being Green, the Blogging Mamas Network, and the Shaping Up for Spring participating bloggers are not responsible for sponsors who do not fulfill prize obligations.



Monday, April 8, 2013

Nuby iMonster Feeding Set- A fun toddler dining experience


First and foremost: I was sent these products for free in exchange for my participation as a Nuby Mommy Blogger. All that was asked of me is that I blog about my honest opinion of these products. 
         My baby sure is growing up fast. We are now in plate, fork, and spoon territory. Or perhaps I should say we are venturing into that zone? The Nuby iMonster plate is the first plate that we have attempted to use with Weston. I honestly think the only thing keeping him from flinging it like a boomerang is how fun it looks. He is fascinated by the three eyes, the large mouth print, and the fingers wrapped around the sides. This set is a great way to add some fun to the toddler dining experience. My only wish is that this plate had an optional suction cup base. It would have been great to be able to start with the suction cup and then move to a free standing plate.
   The fork and spoon that match are also fun for him to dine with. They are a great size for little hands and I appreciate that the ends of the work aren't especially sharp (although I always supervise him carefully). Weston also loves to cart around the one eyed bowl. Its great for throwing some raisins in and letting him travel around the backyard. I will be honest and say I still prefer the iMonster snack cup at this age for mess prevention. Its all about mess prevention in this house. 
 No thats not a mustache it's a black bean stache! 
   If you are looking for an interesting aesthetic in plates, forks, spoons, and bowls, one that will hold your childs attention, this might be the set for you. I think it is important to note that the bowl and plate are both microwave safe.  You can find these items at Buy Baby Direct, Cookies Kids, Amazon, and Diapers.com. 
 
You can connect with Nuby on any of their social media platforms using the icons below! 
    
 Disclaimer: I was provided a free product to trial as a part of the Nuby Mom Blogger Program. All opinions are 100% my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC regulations. 




Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Read About My Staycation

If you are a Mom on a budget you might not think you can fit in a vacation. Yesterday on the New Orleans Moms Blog I posted a list of reasons why I think every Mom should consider a staycation. I promise it will be worth it to take a staycation! I came back a new woman. Check out my list and decide if its worth giving it a try. 

staycation collage


Monday, April 1, 2013

To Squeak Or Not To Squeak? Toddler Shoes By Little Green Trike

Baby Shower Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the Showered With Love Event hosted by the Blogging Mamas Network!  We all know that April Showers bring May Flowers, this is an event where over 50 bloggers have come together throw a huge Shower of our own - a virtual Baby Shower!  The Showered  with Love Event will run from April 1-15. 
This gives you plenty of time to enter all of the great giveaways!
Make sure to check out the fabulous Baby Shower Grand Prize, including a Boba Wrap, Red Charlotte Doll Carrier, a $50 GC to Walls Need Love, AND 6 pocket cloth diapers from Little Monsters - worth over $300!

My giveaway for this event is brought to you by:

Little Green Trike Shoe Company was kind enough to send us a complimentary pair of shoes for review. Here are my thoughts and experiences. 

    I first heard about squeaking baby shoes at the ABC Kids Expo.  I went to the Expo (long before having a child) and back then I thought the idea was really cute. I even purchased one of my friends children a pair of silver mary janes with a black bow. I wondered who wouldn't like a baby that walks around squeaking? This week I had the chance to try out a pair of Squeakers for toddlers from the Little Green Trike Shoe Company. I was both excited and curious to see how I would feel about them now that my perspective has shifted (Motherhood will do that to you). 



   The shoes arrived in a super cute box with a peekaboo circle cut out of the front. The box also had a little carrying handle on the top made of ribbon which got a lot of attention from Weston. Prior to ordering the shoes I measured Weston's foot so that I could order based on the sizing chart. Unfortunately, the first pair I received were too small. Weston's toes were pressed up against the tip. The company quickly rectified the situation by sending out another pair but I recommend ordering a little on the larger side. I also checked out the company policies and was very pleased to see that they do accept returns within 30 days. This is very important to me! It can be so hard to order things online in the right size and I feel strongly about not ordering from companies that don't have a good return policy. 

   
   The shoes, on Weston's little feet, are beyond adorable. I love the soft feel of the material, the slightly cushioned lip on the heel, the white stitching, and the buckle. The buckle is a nice accessory to the shoe but the best part is that you don't actually have to buckle it! These shoes are velcro, which is a must considering I take his shoes off and put them on multiple times a day. It is also nice that you can pull the velcro tighter or looser depending on the shape and size of your child's foot. These shoes could be great for child with a high instep. Adjustable shoes are very helpful! 

  On to the most important part, the squeaking itself. The high pitch noise was super cute, at first. Weston was so proud of himself when he figured out that his own movement was causing the noise. His little smile really lit up the room! It was when we got to the park and received SEVERAL comments such as "Oh, wow your not going to loose him in those shoes", that we realized the sound might be annoying others. No worries though, we quickly popped the little squeaker valve out of the shoes and Weston went on to play (sans squeaks). The bottom line here: The squeaking is a really fun novelty but when your done hearing it you can just pop out the valves. It is important to note that due to the removable feature of the squeaker each shoe has a choking hazard warning! 

   After extended wear of the shoes I can honestly say that I love them (although I prefer them sans squeak). They have worn well despite the rough playground scuffs my boy gives them. After a month they still look like new. I know that when Weston outgrows these I will want to buy another pair. I think this is the ultimate compliment by a product review blogger. In my little part of the world I was excited to find two local children's boutiques that carry this brand (The Orient Expressed and Berry's Children's shoes). Check out the list of locations to see if you can find them in a store near you! 

Enter the rafflecopter below for a chance to win your choice of shoes from The Little Green Trike. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Disclosure: I was sent a complimentary product for review. All opinions are 100% my own. Additionally: According to Jenny, So Easy Being Green, the Blogging Mamas Network, and the Showered with Love participating bloggers are not responsible for sponsors who do not fulfill prize obligations.

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