January Bluum Toddler Box

Well, it finally arrived. The new and improved Bluum toddler box, and it’s wonderful! The items are selected to fit my son’s exact age. It’s not just for babies anymore!

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Toddler Mum Mums This snack is healthy, organic, and crunchy! Mayhem loves rice cakes, so I’m hoping that he likes these too. This box included a box of 24 snacks.

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Brain Quest for ages 2-3. This is an activity that encourages interaction between you and your child, and it’s great for working on speech. I also love that the flash cards are bound together, so I’m not playing 52 card pickup after using them!

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Crayola Snack Packer. This isn’t very useful for Mayhem, but luckily I have Little J who can definitely use one of these! I suppose we could use it for crayons in the diaper bag, as well.

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Table manners cards. I think that these are great to focus on while you have dinner as a family. It’s a non-nagging way to remind children of proper table manners.

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Stretch marks cream While I cannot vouch for this product (yet), I appreciate that Bluum still threw something in for Mom!

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Little Pim Learn French DVD I love this idea! I’m so glad this was included, as I have been wanting to try something like this with both boys- and now I can give Little Pim a try. It comes very highly recommended.

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Totz Toothbrush With all the illness we have had going around this household, I’m happy to toss Mayhem’s previous toothbrush and use this one. It is BPA free, and the bristles are 100% vegetable based.

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Melissa and Doug puzzle Mayhem is currently very into puzzles, so I’m happy to see a new one for him to master. This particular puzzle is wonderful because there are pictures underneath the numbers, so he can count and name the pictures.

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You can see the effort that has gone into this new toddler box. Bluum has outdone themselves, selecting age-appropriate items that cater to individual needs. I think the Bluum Mamas are going to be very happy!

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Quick and Healthy Snacks for Preschoolers

Little J is somewhat of a challenge when it comes to eating ‘meals’. He is not very interested in eating, sometimes I wonder if he would eat at all if not for me! This post is as much for me, as for you. I’ve gathered a few snack ideas that are quick and easy. Yogurt and applesauce are my old standbys, but he’s been refusing me by saying, “I had that already.” So I’ve attempted to mix it up a bit.

1. English muffin pizza. We used to make these as kids, and I still love them. J seems more interested in eating things that he can help me make. So I’m hopefully on this one! If all else fails, Mayhem would be happy to help me make and eat these. I use whole wheat English Muffins, marinara sauce, and shredded mozzarella.

2. Frozen fruit bars. The fact that liquids freeze in the freezer makes this treat fascinating to the boys. Mix up the 100% juice and some fruit, toss it in the freezer. The next day, wow! homemade frozen fruit bars.

3. Smoothies. We use ice, milk, yogurt and fruit. Blenders are loud, and boys LOVE loud!

4. Whole grain waffles. Peanut butter is the favorite topping at our house.

5. Dips. Mayhem loves to dip. Rather than ranch dressing, I’m trying to steer him towards hummus and veggies. J prefers strawberries with yogurt dip.

And, in the ‘candy jar’ I’m using raw almonds. This goes without saying, but be sure your little ones can handle an almond before you allow this. But I’m happy to have us all eating those instead of M&Ms! What healthy snacks do you serve at your house?

The Honest Company – Family Essentials Box Review

I ordered a free trial from The Honest Company, just because I was curious to see what Jessica Alba’s company was all about. The website tells their story well- the company was founded by parents who wanted eco-friendly, safe, and affordable products for their family. The products are non-toxic and beautifully packaged.

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There are two options for a free trial: the Diapers Bundle or the Family Essentials Pack. I selected the Family Essentials Pack, and the included items are: shampoo, lotion, hand soap, laundry detergent, and body balm. The package arrived quickly, and the products inside were:

1. Shampoo: The first thing I did with this product was smell it. It smells like an Orange Julius, but very fresh and clean. It is supposedly tear-free, so I’ll definitely try this on my boys. It is also plant based, organic, and uses essential oils and fruit extracts.
2. Lotion: This lotion was great. It has no scent to it, and it’s not greasy. Organic, hypoallergenic and non-toxic. This is great for sensitive skin that may react to anything unnatural.
3. Hand soap: This product is biodegradable, all natural and made with organic lemongrass oil and grapeseed botanical extracts. This will be great to bring on our family camping trips!
4. Laundry detergent: This is a winner. You can use it on all of your laundry, including hand wash items. It is also biodegradable and hypoallergenic. I would like to see if using this regularly clears up one of our family member’s skin issues…
5. Balm: This can be used as a diaper rash cream, or Dad’s razor burns- according to The Honest Company. It contains organic essential oils and olive oil. This seems like a versatile item to keep in a family household, and I used it on my dry elbows- worked great!
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As I mentioned above, I was happy with the products. The reason that I didn’t sign up was the cost. I am already splurging on the Bluum monthly subscription box. A membership to The Honest Company Essentials Bundle costs $35.95/month. You can add up to 3 additional products each month at a 25% discount, and no additional shipping charge. For the other items available in this monthly bundle, options include: sunscreen, dish detergent, hand sanitizer, bubble bath, multi-surface cleaner, and stain remover.
The separate Diapers Bundle is $79.95/month. You can also combine the Diapers Bundle and the Essentials Bundle for $115.90 per month. And I have to say, the diapers from this company are absolutely adorable. They are plant-based, disposable diapers and they come in all kinds of cute patterns like: skulls, gingham, dinosaurs, pink stars, etc. I will keep these in mind for baby showers, because they are just so unique!

A Long, Wonderful, Family-Filled Weekend

This past weekend was a great one. We got to spend a lot of quality time together as a family, and we did some really fun activities! I personally had a 4 day weekend, which was sooooo needed. Here’s a run down of the weekend’s main events.

SaturdayHow to Train Your Dragon, Live Spectacular. My MIL took us to Anaheim to see this amazing show. It was truly astounding what they were able to do! The dragons breathed real fire, flew, and interacted with the actors. It’s a cute story to begin with, and if you have not seen the movie I highly recommend it. Of course, we had to bring home a dragon toy to commemorate the occasion. Little J LOVED it! I think we all enjoyed it a lot more than we originally imagined. It was a 2 hour show, so I wouldn’t recommend bringing really little ones.

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J had so much fun!

Sunday: We got up early and headed to Disneyland. We were unaware of the Tinkerbell Half Marathon that was going on in the morning, and it took us half an hour to get from the freeway exit to the parking lot. But, when we finally got into CA Adventure- we secured FastPass tickets to the World of Color show at 8 pm. Then we went on a few rides, and checked into our hotel. Disney’s Grand Californian has bunk beds in the rooms, and the boys LOVED them! It’s also just a gorgeous hotel, and you get into the Disney parks an hour early when you stay there.

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Mayhem is hard to catch SITTING STILL … this was the best I could do!

We went to dinner for my cousin’s birthday, then we went to see the World of Color. My husband had been pressing to see this for a long time- I wasn’t really that interested. But this too exceeded my expectations! It was water special effects, Disney music, scenes from Disney movies projected on the water… hard to explain. I’ll just say that I was skeptical, but I very much enjoyed the experience. It was crowded, but we left the boys with my parents so we got to enjoy a little ‘adult’ time.

Monday: We got up at 6 am and headed to CA Adventure at 7 am. We did this so we could get on Radiator Springs Racers before the line got too long. I thought this ride was really well done, and exciting. J told me, “I will NEVER go on that again. It was TOO FAST!” Oh well, at least we didn’t wait 2 hours for him to tell me that. We spent the rest of the morning at the park, then headed back to the hotel for brunch with the characters. I was so happy that the boys weren’t too afraid! When we see them in the park, neither of them wants to get too close. But J gave Pluto a big hug, which was so adorable.

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I can NEVER get him to approach the characters! I was so happy that he gave Pluto a hug 🙂

Monday afternoon, we drove home and the boys were exhausted. They both took naps, and I cleaned out the car and got ready for the week. All in all, a very fun weekend! Hopefully this coming weekend will be a bit more relaxing- but I can’t complain. I think the girls (Mollie and Kallie, the dogs) will be happy if we stay home ALL WEEKEND.

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Everyone was tired. Great time to snuggle.

What did you do this weekend?

5 DIY Valentine’s Day Treats for Kids

baking with kids valentine's day treat ideas recipes

This Valentine’s Day since Little J is in school, I wanted to put together some treats for the kids. I wanted SIMPLE, and something that we could make together. Below are some DIY Valentine treats for those important people in your life — from your sweetheart, neighbor or co-workers, even your child’s teacher. There are so many great DIY Valentine ideas this year, here are a few of my favorites:

Rice Krispie Treats – Use a heart shaped cookie cutter to make this delicious treat into a Valentine’s Day treat.

Chocolate covered pretzels – Can you tell that my kids are into sprinkles? This is another treat that you can decorate with Valentine’s Day sprinkles.

Marshmallow pops – Instead of cake pops, try marshmallow pops! You can use white chocolate, and decorate with festive pink/red/hearts sprinkles.

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Gluten Free! Image source

Heart Shaped Sugar Cookies – Super easy, and fun for the kids to decorate.

Goody bags for any of the items above – Jaime and Jacinda from Prudent Baby have some adorable free printables up on their site. 

Get the kids involved, and enjoy this Valentine’s Day!

2013 New Year’s Resolutions

Each year in January, we ‘reset’. We try to realign our ideals with our reality. I normally don’t truly set resolutions for myself. But this year, I’ve decided to give it a try. You can keep me honest, and call me out. Here goes!

1. Being In The Moment– I’m going to try not to worry so much about what the future holds, since this just adds stress to my life. It’s important for me to enjoy the ‘here and now’ with our boys growing up so fast!

2. Stay Focused– When I’m at work, I want to be doing my best. When I’m at home, I want to be focused on being a better parent. The boys deserve my full attention. It’s easy to be too tired, or too cranky to really be there with them. I want to focus on them. Tangible results for this goal to me include getting on the floor and playing trains or dinosaurs. That doesn’t sound too bad!

3. Looking My Best– Because I believe that this will translate to feeling my best- which will help with all the other resolutions! I want to try to be ‘put together’ as much as I can. Since I get up so early for work, I tend to get lazy with my appearance towards the end of the week (by this I mean, after Monday). I would like to look professional, and after seeing photos of myself with my hair up- I need to keep my HAIR DOWN! More likely, I’ll search Pinterest for ‘professional updos’ – see below!

4. Being Nicer– I want to put positive vibes out there, and I know that I’ll get positivity back! You never know why people behave the way they do, but this year I’m focusing on being a better ME. I’m not going to worry about what’s causing other people to behave badly. I want my children to be pleasant, and easy to get along with- so I need to be a role model!

5. Eating Healthier- I know this is very general, but I would like to shift our family’s diet towards more veggies and organic produce and milk. If I present my children (and my husband) with healthy options, everyone will benefit. Simple, healthy and fresh food is the goal here. Less processed, sugary and ‘thrown together’ meals.

What are YOUR New Year’s Resolutions? Have you kept them so far? It has been 10 days! 

DIY Chore Charts

When my husband and I started discussing chores for Little J- I knew I would want a chore chart. It’s just in my nature- I like clear goals and measurable success. I figured Little J would enjoy the visual aspect of the chore chart- and hopefully feel a sense of accomplishment. I don’t often log onto Pinterest thinking that I can conquer a DIY project. But after doing a little research, I wanted to share how easy this project can be!

These bad boys are 98 cents each at Home Depot, in the roofing department near the rain gutters. They are 8 by 12 inches.

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Next, you’ll need Mod Podge. I got an 8 oz jar at Michael’s for $6.50, and a foam tip brush for $0.50.

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Then, the frames. I picked 8 by 12 inch frames, so I wouldn’t have to cut the magnetic backing. I know it can be done, but I wasn’t up for it! Those were $10 each at Michael’s.
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I got alphabet stickers, which added $2 to the project but removed the stress of trying to write in a straight line and added some color. The background of the chart is $0.30 per sheet of scrapbook paper, and I purchased two sheets.

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You will need clear glass pebbles, about 1 inch diameter. Those set me back $2.80 at Michael’s. Those are for the chore magnets.

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Also, you’ll need button magnets. These were $6.99, but I used a coupon to get them at $4.19. (40% off one item)

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Here’s what I started with…

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HOW TO: This was super simple!

1. Print out chore chart icons/clip art, keeping in mind that you will want them to be approximately one inch in diameter.

2. Take a glass pebble and trace a circle around your icon. Cut out the circle you traced.

3. Put a thin layer of Mod Podge on the flat part of the glass pebble and place one of the cut outs on the pebble.

4. Using a hot glue gun, glue a button magnet onto the back of the glass pebble with the paper cut out on it.

5. While those are drying, frame your magnetic backing and scrapbook sheet in the picture frame. Decorate with your child’s name and stickers.

I hope that covers it. It was so quick and easy! Here is a picture of how mine came out- I spent $38 for two chore charts.

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December Bluum Box – Snow Angel

This month, Bluum themed their box Snow Angel. The box was great- once again! I also got a note about Bluum Toddler- which will be a bigger box, have new features, and is for babies 13 months and up (AKA Baby Mayhem). Apparently, I will be entered automatically. I can’t wait to see what it includes! I hope that they maintain the ‘mama and baby’ aspect of the subscription- which is what drew me to this box in the first place.

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Angel Dear Ring Rattle– We got the duck rattle, and it’s so soft! Baby Mayhem picked this up out of the box and loved it!

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Child’s Play Publishing’s Pocket Pals– We got the Panda book, and we are learning facts about this interesting animal. This is a very cute item to keep in the diaper bag, and read to them when we have a quiet moment.

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Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Skin Therapy Oil– I love that this is cocoa butter in an oil format. It has a pump dispenser too. I swear by Palmer’s Cocoa Butter, and I am excited to try this product.

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Bonne Maman Preserves and Jellies– Made with 100% natural ingredients, tastes delicious! This little jar is pure sweetness, and the kids love it!

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Emergen-C Orange– Our family has been sick for what feels like 2 months straight, so I am very familiar with this product! This packet includes a blend of vitamin C, nutrients and antioxidants to help you feel your best when chasing a toddler!

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Montagne Jeunesse, 7th Heaven Mud Mask– This was supposed to be in the November box, but Hurricane Sandy had other plans. I’ll have to try this when I put the boys to bed!

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Let me know if you got anything different in your December Bluum box!

Ten White Elephant Gift Ideas – Under $25

white elephant gift ideas under 25 office holiday part gift exchange

‘Tis the season of the office Christmas party, or the family gift exchange. Either way, it’s likely that you’ll be involved in some kind of White Elephant Gift exchange this year. The gift should be gender neutral and inexpensive. I’ve compiled a list of ideas, to help you select a gift!

1. Wine-Related Gifts. There are many items at Target, but if you still have time some- the Corksicle is super cute! It keeps the wine chilled to the ‘correct’ temperature, and doubles as a bottle stopper. You could also do decorative bottle stoppers, a nice electric bottle opener, a pretty pair of wine glasses, or an aerator.

2. Gift Card. This is a super-easy, last minute gift that actually would make me very happy to walk away with! I’d recommend Starbucks or Trader Joe’s.

3. Edibles. No, not underwear. Chocolate, cookies or any other holiday goodies! I’d recommend ‘buying local’- for extra points. I know that a pound of See’s candy would make just about anyone in my office happy! Or try a local bakery, and support small businesses.

4. Popcorn and Movie Tickets. Last year, someone brought a gift card for two movie tickets and chocolate drizzled popcorn – and it was a hit. It is essentially a free date night!

5. Candy dish. Another item from uncommon goods, this clever candy dish caught my eye a while back- and this would be a perfect occasion for it!

6. Stationary. This is primarily a female gift, but Thank you cards or nice note cards are always handy to have. I love Papyrus for this type of gift.

7. Gag gifts. I’m terrible at these, and they give me anxiety. But if you are the type of person who could pull it off- this blog has a great list!

8. Board game. Who doesn’t love board games?! You can get these for under $20 at Target or Walmart.

9. Chia Pet. I’ve always wanted to bring one to a gift exchange. I think this would be an awesome gift to take home! There is quite a variety available on Amazon.com.

http://www.target.com/p/philips-usb-powered-lighted-green-glass-tree/-/A-14092995#prodSlot=medium_1_1&term=USB christmas tree

LED USB-Powered Christmas Tree

10. USB Plug In Desktop Items. This seems to be a new trend. Our Executive Assistant has this one, from Target. Just Google it, there are so many options!

And lastly, you can always go with a bottle of alcohol (or wine). It’s not very creative, but that always works. I hope I’ve given you some decent ideas. Are you going to a gift exchange this year?

 

What’s your favorite item that you’ve received at one of these events?

Just Another Morning…

In Pre-K, J made a lovely…thing… with playdough. Apparently, it was made with flour, water, salt and other ‘edible’ items. Mollie decided to try that out, after we went to bed last night.

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When I saw the empty plate, I thought, “Why would you want to eat that?” I mean, this THING had pipe cleaners, buttons, and other random things sticking out of it!

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Then I found it on the carpet, so I figured we were OK. No x-rays to determine how many pipe-cleaners needed to be removed. As I was figuring that we were in the clear… I saw this…

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I know. You’re welcome. Who doesn’t enjoy seeing someone else’s dog vomit? I spared you from the other photos, there was so much more! So I spent my morning cleaning the dog bed, the kitchen floor, and finding random pieces of play dough on my living room floor. How was YOUR morning?!