Tuesday, December 2, 2014

No Chimney No Problem

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Trulia for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.

One of the things I love most about having kids is listening to them talk. It's incredible how quickly kids go from tiny helpless babies to little people with their own thoughts and ideas. Seriously, the crazy things my kids say make me crack up each and every day. Sometimes they seem so wise with a fresh, unique, and innocent perspective, and other times they sound like they are living in some strange dream world.

If you love hearing how kids explain things then you will love the great contest that Trulia is hosting. To enter for a chance to win $500 towards holiday shopping, take a quick video of your kid or kids answering the question "How does Santa get into homes without a chimney?" You can submit the video to Trulia on twitter by tweeting a link to the video, tagging @Trulia, and using the hashtag #NoChimneyNoProblem. The contest ends on December 8, and 10 lucky winners will be chosen and a matching donation of $5000 will be given to Toys for Tots. (Check out all of the contest rules and details)

Here is the video I took of Lyla (she turns 4 this week). At some points she is a little hard to understand because she talks so quickly, but I just love listening to her. Apparently, Santa goes through the front door but is really really quiet so he doesn't wake anyone. She also wanted to make the video in her pajamas, haha.

Have you heard of Trulia? It's a leading home search resource that helps you find a place to live. The helpful website is filled with up-to-date listings, useful tools, and content from the experts and it makes finding a place to live enjoyable. Trulia's website and mobile apps provide info on everything from finding an agent, to financing, local market trends, selling, buying, and even renting.

Be sure to enter the contest, and Follow Trulia on Twitter.

Visit Sponsor's Site

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Introducing Dr. Cocoa

I've always felt that the hardest thing about being a mother is getting sick. Whether you are a stay at home mom or a full time working mother, being a mother is a 24-7 job. And usually, when you're sick, your kids are sick too. So when other people can just call out sick from work and spend the day resting in bed, mothers not only don't get to "call out" but they also then have to struggle through one of the most difficult days on the job.

The past couple of weeks have been pretty rough around our house. I'm convinced there were two separate colds that traveled from person to person. The kids weren't quite as sick as I was. In fact, Benjamin only missed one day of Kindergarten.

Fortunately, a box of Dr. Cocoa arrived at our house to try out in the midst of these colds. It had been a huge struggle getting the kids to take cold medicine. Especially when they would wake up coughing in the middle of the night, they seemed to be especially stubborn and picky. Now I'm not a huge fan of bribing your kids to do things, but when it's 4 am and they are sick, you feel like you'd do anything to get them to take their medicine. This includes promises of special treats or activities the next day.

One of my kids really loved Dr. Cocoa. It totally changed the medicine giving experience and dynamic. Dr. Cocoa has a real chocolate taste and a thicker texture. Lyla was literally licking every last drop out of the spoon! (Be sure to keep this tasty medicine secure and out of the reach of your children!) My son Benjamin doesn't really like chocolate at all, so I knew he wouldn't be a huge fan.

...and EVERYONE was a huge fan of our Dr. Cocoa puppet. Seriously it is the cutest thing, and now we've started using him to help "take care of" the kids when they are sick. Oliver (8 months old) in particular was just cracking up uncontrollably whenever Dr. Cocoa would say "Hoo hoo, who has a boo boo?"

Since you never know when a cold will strike your house, it's a good idea to keep some medicine in stock just in case. Be sure to stop by Dr.Cocoa's website to print off this great money-saving coupon.

Learn more about Dr. Cocoa by following along on Facebook, or by checking out this informational video.

Visit www.drcocoa.com for a $4-off coupon offer.

This is a product-provided, sponsored conversation that contains affiliate links. However, all opinions, text and experiences are my own.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

10 Tips for Growing Long and Healthy Hair

We've all been there. Maybe you compulsively cut your hair short only to discover you hate the way it looks and feels. Maybe you had to trim a lot of hair because it was damaged from sun, chlorine, and bleach. Maybe you saw someone with gorgeous long hair or a cute hairstyle in a magazine and you want a fairy godmother to magically make your hair long right then and there. Whatever your reason for wanting longer hair, everyone has the same problem: there is no fairy godmother, and growing out your hair takes a lot of time. However, there are a lot of things you can do to help your hair grow faster and stay healthier. Here are 10 tips and tricks for growing out long and healthy hair.

1. Protect your hair! Especially when you're trying to grow your hair out longer, avoid all sorts of things that can damage your hair. Some of the worst culprits are the sun, chlorine, and bleach. Wear a hat or a light scarf over your hair if you plan on spending a lot of time in the sun. Consider skipping the highlights for a while if you're trying to grow your hair out long.

2. Don't wash it every day. Not everyone can get away with this, but the process of washing and drying your hair can cause dryness and breaks. It's better for your hair to only wash it every other day.

3. Avoid using a drier and straightener. Any kind of heat on your hair causes damage. Sometimes you're going to need to blow dry your hair, or straighten it, or use a curling iron to create a cute look. However, all of these things damage your hair, so avoid them whenever possible. When you have time, air dry your hair. When you're using a flat iron, try to only go over the same piece of hair one time. Also use some sort of heat protecting spray or product on your hair before you dry or straighten. Especially when you're trying to grow your hair out longer, it's important to minimize things that will damage your hair.

4. Eat healthy foods. This one is sort of obvious, but easy to forget. Since your hair is a part of your body, if you are eating healthy foods and taking good care of yourself, this will show in your hair as well. Hair healthy foods include: salmon, walnuts, oysters, sweet potatoes, eggs, spinach, lentils, Greek yogurt, blueberries, and poultry. (Source)

5. Take hair healthy vitamins like Hairfinity. Hairfinity is a nutritional supplement formulated with essential nutrients for healthy hair. This hair specific formula contains Vitamins A, C, and D, a B-Vitamin Complex, Biotin, MSM, and more. Hairfinity is clinically proven to increase the hair growth rate by 155% while decreasing shedding. Two capsules are taken per day, and each bottle contains a one-month supply. Check out their website for more info and great testimonials (like these two below. Chelsea saw results after just 2 weeks, and KP documented her hair growth over a year.)

6. Pamper your hair and scalp. Deep condition your hair once ever couple of weeks. Try out some hair masks. Massage essential oils or coconut oil into your scalp.

7. Avoid breakage. Your hair is the most vulnerable when it's wet. Try combing through your hair in the shower after you've applied conditioner, and then lightly drying with a towel. Then try not to brush or even play with your hair as much as possible until it has dried.

8. Stimulate your scalp. This will help keep your scalp healthy and your hair growing properly. When you're washing your hair, spend a few minutes massaging your scalp. Hairfinity also has vitamins like Vitamin B3, Vitamin B Complex, and Vitamin A that all help keep your scalp healthy. Brushing your dry hair gently and regularly is another great way to keep your scalp healthy and promote hair growth. Use a great brush with natural bristles and make sure that you're brushing your scalp and not just the ends of your hair.

9. Remember it's okay to go a long time without getting a trim. If you don't have split ends, and you're taking good care of your hair, skipping the trim is the fastest way to keep your hair growing longer. When you do get your hair cut, make sure that your hair dresser really understands that you are trying to grow your hair out and to cut as little as possible.

10. Be wary of hair ties and tight ponytails. Make sure that you are using good hair ties that don't pinch or pull your hair. Avoid hairstyles where your hair is pulled really tight, because this can often cause your hair to break and tear. Also don't sleep in a ponytail. This will just cause your hair to knot and tear.

Monday, November 10, 2014

My Thankful Banner - Teaching Toddlers Thankfulness

Whenever November rolls around, there is a lot of talk about Thankfulness. Sincere gratitude is so important. It helps counter act the sense of entitlement that we can all tend to have, and leads to more contentment and happiness in our lives. Plus, when you express thankfulness to others, it brightens their days as well. Teaching toddlers thankfulness is especially important and challenging. #SimplyHealthy #CollectiveBias

However, if you have a toddler, you might have noticed that thankfulness is not always something that comes naturally or easily to them. It can be frustrating to see how naturally your three year old can ask for more and more and more and how unnatural it seems sometimes to get them to express true gratitude. Recently I read this wonderful article about Teaching Thankfulness to Toddlers in the digital Healthy Living Made Simple App on my phone by Tovah Klein, author, mother, and psychologist. Dr. Klein describes how thankfulness is not something that is natural or even easy to understand for 2 and 3 year olds. She encourages parents to be patient and not to worry when you're child's first reaction to a gift is to look for another one instead of to say thank you. One of the best ways to teach thankfulness to your toddler, she says, is to lead by example and to talk about what it means to be thankful with your toddler.

I wanted to spend time talking with my sweet 3 year old daughter, Lyla, about being thankful. And of course when it comes to Lyla the best way to get her attention is to get crafty and to bring out the glitter. We talked a lot about how many wonderful things and people she has in her life, and about all of the things she has to be thankful for. Since it's fall, we decided to make a glittery leaf banner that lists lots of things Lyla is thankful for.

What you need:

1. Cereal boxes or kraft paper cardstock
2. Scissors
3. Mini hole punch
4. Twine
5. A Sharpie
6. Mod Podge (we used the washable kid kind!)
7. Glitter

What you do:

1. Cut out a lot of leaf shapes. I traced the same shape over and over, but I wasn't too precise.

2. Punch two small holes in the tops of each leaf.

3. Write things that your toddler is thankful for on each leaf. Help give ideas and suggestions, but don't discount the little things (like Lyla's soft pants, haha).

4. Use Mod Podge to cover the tips of all of the leaves. Then sprinkle on ultra fine glitter. Lyla LOVES helping with the Mod Podge and glitter. I'm almost surprised those weren't the first two things on her thankful list.

5. Once the Mod Podge has dried, dust off the extra glitter and string the leaves along your twine, ribbon, or string. I used a little washi tape to secure the leaves to the string.

6. Hang and enjoy. Looking at the thankful banner is also a great conversation starter to think of more things to be thankful for.

Lyla and I really had fun talking about some of her favorite things. Be sure to check out the Healthy Living Made Simple online magazine and app, brought to you by Sam's Club. You can also download the free app on your iPhone or iPad and check out some of the articles on the go.

...and Lyla, I think we're all very thankful for cake!

How do you teach your toddler to be thankful?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Froot Loops Caterpillars #goodnightsnack #cbias

Ever since the cute little bundle of joy (known as the Pumpkin) arrived in March, it's been harder to find time to spend with Benjamin and Lyla. Even though I'm with them all of the time, I usually have baby Oliver in my arms and I can be distracted. It's important to me to make and spend quality time with just the two of them where I am completely focused on them, so we can play games together, read books, or do crafts. Lately, the new special time we've found is in the evenings. After Oliver is asleep in his crib, the kids and I spend time together before their bedtime. By the time I've gotten Oliver to sleep, the kids have already gotten their snack bowls for our good night snack. One of our favorite activities is the snack and craft - where we snack on Froot Loops while we make something fun with them, like these colorful caterpillars. #CollectiveBias

Benjamin especially is obsessed with Froot Loops, and while I think they are a little too sugary for him to eat all the time, they make a great late night snack and a better alternative to candy or desserts. Of course I will grab a bowl of cereal and join them (since cereal is also a healthier alternative to other desserts for a mom trying to loose baby weight). Did you know that Kellogg's® has started making 2 new cereals: a delicious Jif™ Peanut Butter Cereal (YUM!) and a Rice Krispies Multigrain Shapes cereal with lightly sweetened graham flavored cereal in fun shapes?

Of course Bejamin was pretty excited to pick out (and show off) his box. Lyla is mostly excited about the crafts we are going to do together. She even picked out some colorful buttons while we were at Walmart, along with all of the other supplies we needed for our little caterpillars: Popsicle sticks, glue, googly eyes, and pipe cleaners.

Gather your supplies and get to work. Benjamin and Lyla are learning to use the glue all by themselves without making giant glue puddles everywhere. Each kid got their own bowl of fruit loops for snacking, and a separate little cup for crafting. Just make sure your kids don't end out eating Froot Loops covered in glue!

What you do:

1. Start with a Popsicle stick, some glue, and some Froot Loops. We used wide Popsickle sticks that were slightly bigger than the cereal.

2. Put glue all over your Popsicle stick, and add your Froot Loops one at a time. I made one with the kids and I glued mine in the order of the rainbow. This is a fun activity for creating colors and patterns. Maybe make an all red caterpillar, or one that is blue-yellow-blue-yellow. Talk about the different colors and what kinds of patterns you can create.

3. Add some glue to the backs of your googly eyes and attach them to the first Froot Loop.

4. Add some pipe cleaner antennae. Lyla and I glued ours inside of the first Froot Loop, but Benjamin wanted to glue his behind the first one.

5. Let them dry while you enjoy your goodnight snack. Maybe read The Very Hungry Caterpillar before bed.

Monday, July 14, 2014

10 Tips for Picky Eaters with Lifeway Kefir

My 4 year old son Benjamin is especially picky. When he was a baby, I tried really hard to introduce him to all sorts of new foods, and he was a great eater. However, the older he got the more picky he seemed to become. Fortunately, he loves a lot of healthy foods and generally dislikes foods that are greasy or sweet. He hates all kinds of sauces from syrup on pancakes to ketchup with his chicken. He won't even eat most desserts like cupcakes, ice cream, or some cookies. He hates peanut butter, eggs, sandwiches, soda, and even bananas. The list of foods he hates goes on and on, and yet I feel like he ends out eating healthy balanced meals, because he does love enough healthy foods (like Lifeway Kefir Cultured Milk Smoothies) and because we work hard to make sure that such a picky boy eats well. #KefirCreations #CollectiveBias

This is definitely a loaded topic where a lot of people have very strong opinions. Some people probably think we should be stricter parents and make Benjamin eat whatever we put in front of him. Others might think we push him too hard to eat what we want him to eat and that we should let him choose to eat whatever he wants to eat as long as it's reasonably healthy. I think parenting is a little more complicated than that, and each child/family/situation is unique. Here are some tips that have worked well for making sure your picky eater gets healthy meals:

1. Offer rewards - Bribing your child is not always the answer. However, offering small tangible rewards for reasonable goals can be a great strategy to help motivate your child to eat well. It could be something as simple as "you get dessert if you finish your whole dinner." For Benjamin, it helps to have even more specific goals. For example, he knows he has to finish his turkey before he is allowed to eat his chips (we get healthy chips that he loves). We may even have to remind him a few times, but the reward (the chips) really does seem to motivate him to eat his turkey well.

2. Play games - Most people play games when they are feeding babies and young toddlers, but who says the games have to stop when you get older. One fun game that my kids enjoy is where we all take a bite at the same time. Sometimes we will all take a "big bite"... sometimes a "teeny tiny bite"... sometimes a "shark bite"... This is also a great way to make the dinner table a more fun place and less of a stressful place. When your kid can tell you're geared up to battle with him to eat his food, he's more likely to prepare himself to be stubborn.

3. Eat the rainbow - Offering your kid different colors of foods is a great way to make sure they are getting a healthy variety. It's also a way to make their food seem fun and appetizing. One meal that I will make for my son would be purple grapes, blueberries, strawberries, oranges, grilled chicken, and peas. He gets excited to see the rainbow of foods, plus he's getting a wider variety of vitamins and nutrients. Color is fun! Use bright fun spoons, plates, and napkins.

4. Find healthy "treats" - This is such an important thing for us. There are a few foods and drinks that Benjamin really loves that are actually healthy. When we find these kinds of foods, we stock up on them and make them something that he gets to have every day. Sometimes, these healthy foods even become our rewards. We recently got the chance to try Lifeway's Kefir Smoothies. We found them in the milk aisle at our local Winn Dixie, and they are very healthy and delicious. Even though they taste almost like a dessert, they're low in fat and have no added sugar. Kefir is very similar to yogurt - full of probiotics and great for your immune and digestive systems. Plus, they're a great way for Benjamin to get protein and calcium. I'm obsessed with the strawberry banana flavor, while Benjamin and Lyla especially love the raspberry (it's a little more tart). I also love that it's made with milk from cows that are exclusively grass-fed and never treated with hormones, pesticides, or antibiotics. (You can also sign up to receive coupons for Lifeway Kefir products here.)

5. Have picnics - This is another way to make meal time more fun. You can pack up your food and have a picnic outside, or you can have a spontaneous picnic somewhere inside your own house. Sometimes the kids in I will get out our picnic blanket and set up a little meal on the floor of one of the rooms in our house. This is always a big hit, and helps get the kids more excited about meal times. Every so often I'll even let the kids have a special kids only picnic somewhere unusual, like standing up on stools at the kitchen counter, or fully clothed in the bathtub. It seems silly, but it really does make meal time more fun and make Benjamin a better eater.

6. Avoid snacking - This can be tough for us because we want to make sure Benjamin is getting enough to eat and he loves to snack. He love to carry around bags of goldfish or crackers and eat them. However, when it comes time for him to eat his dinner or lunch, he is so much less hungry and less likely to eat what we put in front of him. What we've found is that it's better to give him a small healthy snack in between lunch and dinner (like a glass of Lifeway Kefir Smoothie, a handful of goldfish, and some apple slices) instead of letting him snack at will. Then, after he's eaten all of his dinner, if he is still hungry, we will let him have more snacky foods.

7. Cover the food groups - Try to make sure that most of the food groups are covered at any given meal, and that your child eats something from each food group at least once a day. For a picky child this can be tricky. Benjamin loves a lot of different kinds of fruit, but veggies can be difficult. Fortunately, he really loves peas, broccoli, and olives but those are about the only veggies he will eat. So that means that he ends out getting peas, broccoli or olives every day.

8. Offer a variety - Kids love to pick and choose, so I like to offer a lot of choices. When I put 4 or 5 different kinds of foods on Benjamin's plate, he always seems to get excited about his food and is more likely to eat everything. When I put only 1 or 2 kinds of foods on his plate, he's more likely to put his hands over his mouth and say "I don't like that" even when I know he does. One fun idea is to fill up an ice tray or mini muffin tin with many different kinds of little foods. Kids get so excited about all of the fun choices and want to pick and choose what they are going to eat first.

9. Make a fun presentation - Pinterest is full of great ideas for this one. I certainly wouldn't do this at every meal, but it's another great way to make meal time more fun and healthy food seem more exciting. Kitchen Fun with My Three Sons is a great blog full or creative and artistic meal ideas for kids. You might even have more fun preparing the meals than your kids will have eating them.

10. Let them be picky, but not too picky - This is where balance becomes important. I think it's okay for your kid to be a little bit picky and if you try too hard to make your child eat and like absolutely everything, every meal will turn into a battle and it will be harder to get them to eat a healthy meal at all. For example, Benjamin has always HATED eggs. I'm not sure why he hates them so much, but he always has. About once or twice a year I will get him to try one little bite of eggs to see if he likes them, but otherwise he knows he doesn't have to eat eggs at all. However, if I see him suddenly starting to refuse and turn down a certain food that he used to love (he has done this with spaghetti a few times), I won't let him get away with it so easily because I know he does like spaghetti.

Are your kids picky eaters? What surprising foods do they hate? What tips and tricks do you have for getting them to eat healthy meals? 

Monday, July 7, 2014

No Free Hands? Paperless Coupons to the Rescue

*This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.

I love saving money whenever I can. So if there are coupons out there, I, of course, want to use them! However, being a mom of a four year old, a three year old, and a three month old, my hands are so full that I usually forget to clip coupons and when I am able to clip I never seem to have them when I need them. The Walgreens app is helping moms like me save money on the go with paperless coupons. I am able to open the app, clip the coupons that I need, and easily scan them at the checkout saving me valuable time and money.

This past holiday weekend, for example, we had a lot of family in town and a crazy schedule. We also were planning a quick beach trip (since we live in Orlando and the beach is 45 minutes away this can be a fun spontaneous adventure). However, we had been so busy that we needed to stop for a few baby necessities on the way.

Of course there was a convenient Walgreens location, and I opened the app to find coupons for diapers, baby shampoo, diaper rash cream, and pacifiers. #WalgreensPaperless #collectivebias

So after quickly picking up a few goodies for Baby Oliver (he loves his new pacifiers by the way), I let the big kids pick out something fun for the beach with the money I saved with the paperless coupons. They both picked out little on-the-go sets of Play-Doh and some bubbles. Then at the checkout it took just one scan to use all the coupons that I had clipped.

We only lost five or ten minutes on our way to the beach and saved money to boot. That means we got to spend much more time playing in the sand and the waves!

Lyla was having trouble finding her bubbles...

But when she finally did, she laughed with glee. The bubbles were a fun edition to our time on the beach!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Bing in the Classroom

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Bing in the Classroom. As always all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Have you heard about Bing in the Classroom ? It's a wonderful program that helps bring technology to schools in a number of different areas. The internet is such an important learning tool and platform, but it can also provide a lot of distractions. Bing in the Classroom is helping to make the internet more accessible and less distracting for students.

1. Ad-free search - Bing in the Classroom is a new ad-free search engine that is available to many schools. It also offers a safe search with strict filters to block adult content, while even preventing the students from being subject to ad targeting. This program is offered free of charge to many schools, and it only takes a few minutes for an administrator to sign up.

2. Free Suface Tablets for your school - You can also help your school, or a school of your choice earn rewards just by searching the web through the Bing platform. Once you've signed up ( Sign up for Bing Rewards! ), when you search the internet on your computer, tablet, or phone, you earn points for your school. Every time a school earns 30,000 credits, Bing sends the school a Microsoft Surface Tablet with Type Face.

3. Digital literacy lessons - Bing offers 3 daily learning activities based on the Bing homepage. They are basically puzzles that can't be solved with a simple search, but require a combination of computer search skills and critical thinking. They are a fun way to practice and build important skills.


Show support for #adfreesearch!
This post was created in partnership with Bing.


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