Tuesday, November 9, 2010

30 Days of Giveaways

What mom doesn't love a good giveaway? Or how about 30? Go here
Ni Hao Y'all
to find a fabulous blog with some great giveaways and enter yourself!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Holiday greetings made easy

It's almost that time of year again - time to start thinking about the holiday cards. In the past I've taken weeks to pick out and order the perfect cards, write the perfect Christmas letter, order and cut out the Christmas photos - then assemble, address, stamp and mail them. It's exhausting. This year, particularly because we'll have a new addition to the family and time will be limited, I'll simplify the process. But I don't plan on sacrificing on style. Shutterfly makes buying and mailing the perfect holiday cards so easy!

The cards come in 3 fun sizes, flat or folded styles, and hundreds of designs. You can upload your favorite family photos, pick the perfect holiday greetings, and have them mailed right to you - no assembly required. Or, for a very small fee, Shutterfly will address and mail your cards for you! How much easier could this be?

My personal favorite designs this year are the 5x7 flat style Glitter Glamour Joy card and the 5x7 folded All Of Us Christmas card - I just have to decide how many photos I want to include. So gorgeous and so simple!

And they don't just offer Christmas cards. They also have a great selection of Thanksgiving cards, birth announcements, calendars and more. So this year, do yourself a favor and check out Shutterfly.com for your holiday card needs. I'm sure glad that I did!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Restaurants I Love

Grandma likes to take us - all of us - out to eat a couple times a month. It's such a wonderful treat, but it can be tough coming up with kid-friendly places to eat. Our kids are loud. And messy. And picky. Here are some of our favorite restaurants that cater to all these, er, quirks.

Red Robin - Perhaps the ultimate kid-friendly restaurant. Not only do they have balloons floating freely in the entrance, but if you're really lucky, the Robin himself will stop by to entertain your kids during a meal (although, one of my boys was afraid of him as a baby). They're always packed and noisy so no one minds if the kids scream a little, and they're extremely accommodating about messes. Best of all, their kids' menu actually includes some healthy choices. Among the usual mac'n'cheese and hamburgers, they have grilled chicken on a stick with plenty of dunking sauce, and tons of healthy sides, like salad, melons, broccoli and (my kids' personal favorite) mandarin oranges. In fact, they've even been known to fill up on oranges and then throw their pizza on the floor. They're popular enough that the wait can be spmewhat harrowing, but it's always worth it once we're seated.

Carlos O'Kellys' - If we're in the mood for Mexican, this is the place for us. Again their kids' menu is extensive, including both easy-to-eat Mexican staples as well as some typical American dishes (like mac'n'cheese). And there are plenty of chips and salsa on the table to keep our kids occupied (and quiet!) until the food arrives. They also have balloons available upon request, and the kids' menus come with crayons and activities inside.

Freddy's Frozen Custard - Freddy's is admittedly not particularly friendly to people with gluten allergy - therefore I am unable to eat there. However, this restaurant is Grandma's favorite place to take the boys as a special treat when they spend the weekend with her. The menu is chock full of items that the boys love - especially the frozen custard. If we ask my oldest where he wants to eat, he'll immediately shout "Custard!" The diner style atmosphere is also conducive to drowning out the occasional screams - which are rare since the kids have such a great time people-watching while they eat.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Nursing Aids

Let's face it, breastfeeding, though rewarding, is already hard enough. But without the proper tools, it can be downright painful and emotionally draining. These are some items I found invaluable while nursing my own babies.

My Brest Friend nursing pillow - This pillow is wonderful not only because of it's cushy design and great back support, but also because it buckles/velcros around your waist - which means you can literally nurse on the go (it's also great for transfering a sleeping baby to a crib). And the little pocket on the front is very handy for keeping burpies, a water bottle, a magazine - whatever you might need!

Medela Pump In Style breastpump- I tried a lot of pumps when nursing and this was the only model that managed to produce any significant yield of milk. Single electrics got nothing, and even other double electrics didn't do the job like this one. For someone who always struggled with supply issues, having a truly effective pump to help increase milk supply was a HUGE blessing. Not to mention the sleek carrying case that's perfect for toting the pump along to work, vacation, wherever you might need it. Works with an outlet adaptor or on batteries.

Nursing Cover - There are so many brands available in so many locations (etsy.com has some really cute ones) that I haven't bothered to single one out. However, the nursing covers with neck strap and boning at the top are wonderful! If you're shy about nursing in public, or tired of the negativity of others, these are indispensible. They stay put and are more breathable than most baby blankets as well.

Olive Oil - A lot of women I know swear by Lansinoh's nipple cream - but I've found plain old olive oil to be just as effective - and it doesn't cause nursing pads to stick. Helps keep things moist and prevent/heal cracking. Also pretty cheap :)

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding - Every nursing mother should have a copy of this book by her rocker. You never know what problems might crop up, and this book covers pretty much all of them in great detail. I'd say it was very instrumental in preventing me from giving up and switching to formula when the going got tough.

Speaking of which, it's also wise to keep on hand the phone number for your local La Leche League leaders. Just in case you need someone to talk you through a problem or even come over and give you a hand - these women are a wonderful resource. You can find the numbers for your local chapter here.

Breastfeeding is so rewarding (and so economical) - and these little tools can make the experience that much more rewarding.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

More fabulous books

Tiger Can't Sleep by S. J Fore and R. W. Alley - My toddler begged for this story every night for weeks. A sleepy little boys tries to get some zzzzzs -but he has a very noisy tiger in his closet.

The Runaway Pumpkin by Kevin Lewis - very creative rhymes and a catchy refrain as we follow the giant pumpkin's descent down the hill. Great story for the approaching fall!

Don't You Feel Well, Sam? by Amy Hest - a very sweet story about a quiet evening for a little boy with a cough and his sympathetic mother. Another favorite of our toddler who actually cried when it was time to return it to the library.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Favorite newborn things

Our littlest baby is almost a whole year old already! Oh my. Which made me think back on what were my favorite newborn items. I know a lot of you have (or will soon have) a tiny new baby of your own, so here are my recommendations:

Parents of Invention Ultimate Wrap - fantastic baby wrap! It's lightweight and comfortable to wear and you can carry baby in so many different positions. This has been my babies' favorite sling to ride in. A little bit of a learning curve in the beginning, but once you have it down, it's really quite simple and convenient. And it has a great pocket on the front for storing keys, a phone, pacifiers, etc.

Kiddopotamus' Swaddleme blankets - no-brainer swaddling blankets so easy to use even a sleep deprived new parent can't screw up. They hold baby securely and have a convenient flap for diaper changes. They helped my baby sleep soundly in no time.

Playtex Drop-ins bottles - the silicone nipples are just the right shape to use while breastfeeding and the bottle itself is easy for even tiny babies to grip. It's super easy to clean (I even washed the disposable liners to be more 'eco-friendly') and holds up really well to being tossed around. We've tried a few other brands, but this is by far our favorite. Oh, and no leaks!

Burt's Bees Baby Bee baby wash - smells so sweet and is so gentle on baby's skin. Has never given our kids a rash like some washes have and doesn't sting their eyes at all. And is mostly all natural.

The First Years Close and Secure Sleeper - if you're going to co-sleep, this is a great option. It keeps baby in the bed and close at hand for convenient nursing, but reduces the danger of rolling on baby or baby getting caught in the sheets. Nice hard sides to protect baby, comfy mattress inside. Works really well until baby learns to roll.

Fisher Price papasan chair - very comfy shape and well padded. Also has vibrate and music settings. This was our younger two's favorite place to sit and watch the action around them, and they even took many naps there. Keeps baby upright which is great for colds or reflux. Calmed our baby like magic.

Those are my top recommendations - what products did you love the most for your baby?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Cute shops

This morning at circle we were treated to a really adorable kids' fashion show. I loved everything I saw and wanted to pass on the sites so y'all can enjoy the shops as well!

First we have Loolabelle which sells super cute baby accessories like bibs and burpies. All items can come monogramed as well - great for gifts!

Next is Mollie Wetta's shop on etsy where you can find incredible adorable crocheted baby shoes and other accessories.

And finally, for all the locals, check out Hannah Banana consignment boutique for all kinds of great deals on darling kids' clothes.

That's all for now!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Dining out with baby

Taking the kids out to dinner is never easy. But we've discovered some great products that have made the process a little more manageable.

The Clean Shopper makes a great cover that fits both shopping carts and high chairs. It has lots of velcro to keep it in place, as well as loops for attaching toys to keep baby busy.

Kiddopotamus makes a great reusable placemat for dining out. I'll admit, once we had two tiny toddlers on our hands we switched to disposables (if you forget to bring it in and wash it, it will grow mold). But if you're feeling eco-friendly, want to keep meals sanitary for your kids, and can remember to toss it in the dishwasher, this is a great tool for dining out. It attaches with suction cups which even our very determined 2 year old couldn't wrench off (only a problem if you're going somewhere nice enough to use tablecloths). And it comes in cute colors and designs.

And if your kid loves to toss things as much as mine do, it can't hurt to keep some pacifier wipes in the diaper bag.

Also, this great website has a wonderful tutorial for making your own sippy cup leash to keep those cups off the ground.

With all these things in tow, we've found dinner out to be a lot more sanitary and a little more tidy.

Easy Street

Thing of the Day:

Easy Street by Rita Gray and Mary Bono

My kids are obsessed with books about cars and construction and these pictures are so cute and engaging. And, on a practical note, it describes in great detail how streets are made. Fun!
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