Family – Frugal Novice
Browsing Category

Family

Five Fun Things Dads Can do with Kids #AveenoDad

“I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for AVEENO. I received product samples to facilitate my review a promotional item to thank me for participating.”

Hi everyone – I’m Brian, Christi’s husband. In honor of Father’s Day this coming weekend, Christi asked me to guest post, and I thought I’d share a list of five things dads can do to have fun with their kids.

First, though, a little background. If you’re new to the blog, we’ve got three kids – a six (& a half) year old, a five year old, and an almost two year old. Needless to say, we’re busy all the time and Christi and I have to make sure we work together as a team to tackle things like homework, house cleaning, cooking dinner, bath time, and more. Of course, we also make a conscious effort to each have good, fun quality time with the kids too. I’ve found several things the kids and I enjoy together, and they’re things any dad can do:

1) Building. In our house, we use LEGO bricks, but you can use things like blocks, magnet tiles, and cardboard boxes too. Building encourages creativity, problem solving, spatial thinking, and it’s just plain FUN.

2) Video games. Some would say this shouldn’t count as quality time, but I strongly disagree. If you pick the right games to play, video games are a great way to have a blast and interact with the kids. Sometimes we’ll play against each other, like in racing games, or sometimes I’ll play a game and the kids will help me solve puzzles.

3) Art. I’m a graphic designer and was an art major in college, so maybe I’m biased. But art is a great way for kids to express themselves, and it’s fun to get involved as a parent. Even if you think you can’t draw, the likelihood is you can draw better than your child, and they’ll love having you draw their favorite character. You could also work on a picture together, taking turns adding one element at a time. You may end up with a crazy finished product, but your kids will probably think it is hilarious.

4) Cooking. Maybe not the first thing you’d think of, but I think this is great for both dads and kids. A study in Psychological Science shows that dads who do things around the house raise daughters with higher career aspirations. I think it’s good for kids to see that cooking is something anyone can do. It’s another way to be creative, and our kids are proud of creating food our family can eat and enjoy.

5) Everyday Fun. I mentioned above that Christi and I divide and tackle tasks on our lists, and bath time is one of those tasks. That doesn’t mean it has to be a chore, though. We have a set of measuring cups, colanders and other kitchen utensils that we keep in the bathroom, and the boys love to “cook” (soup is a common dish I am served during bath time). The boys like for me to take our Aveeno shampoo and suds up their hair really good so we can come up with crazy hair styles. I think their favorite bath memory is the time we put a little shampoo in the water to create bubbles, and then turned on the jets. It turns out jets + soapy water= TONS of bubbles.

Aveeno_Bath_Pic

We use Aveeno Baby products for bath time with the kids, and they’re our go-to products because they’re gentle on their skin while still cleaning really well, they create ample bubbles (a must-have from the kids’ perspective) and they smell great, too. While the kids and I are having fun making mohawks and bubble soup, they’re also getting clean from head-to-toe. A win-win situation, for sure.

Regardless of what you do with your child, the main point is making the effort to do something. They’ll remember the effort, and they’ll see how much you care through the time you spend with them.

Happy Father’s Day to all the other dads out there! Hope you get some good quality time with your kids this weekend. I’ll leave you with a video Christi made, asking me a few questions about being a dad.

Moms, You’re Doing OK!

Note: This post is sponsored by Johnson’s Baby Cares and the Motherhood. Johnson’s Baby Cares is the Johnson’s Baby brand charitable platform.

MomOK

It’s easy to feel less than as a mom. There are always other moms out there who seem to have it more together than you do, and it’s easy to wonder what they know that you don’t.

I’ve had many instances of second-guessing myself. Is it OK that I’m working full-time? Is it OK that my babies slept in pack n’ plays in our room way longer than they probably should’ve?

Lately my issue has been housecleaning. We’ve got three kids ages 6 and under, and our house gets cluttered with toys, shoes (ok, some of those are mine), backpacks, and art projects. The clutter bothered me for a while, I’ll admit. And we are pros at the 10-minute flight-of-the-bumblebee cleanup before company comes over.

But you know what I figured out? Leaving the house cluttered also leaves more time for board games, movie night, bike rides around the neighborhood, and baking cookies together in the kitchen.

I figured out that I’m doing ok as a mom. And you know what? You are, too.

We’ve got to remember that everyone has something that’s difficult for them, and that’s okay. None of us are perfect, but our kids don’t need perfect parents. They need us. 

To my friend who’s newly navigating the waters of single parenthood, you’re doing OK. To my friend who’s been a single mom to two beautiful girls for several years now, you’re doing OK. To my friend who’s had to seek out treatment for her daughter’s extreme eczema, you’re doing OK. In fact, y’all are doing better than ok. You’re all amazing and inspirations to me, and I hope you know what a wonderful job you’re doing for your kids. I’m so proud of each of you, and of all my friends that are moms.

With Mother’s Day coming soon, it’s a great time to remind every mom around us that she’s doing OK.

JOHNSON’S® Baby CARES, the JOHNSON’S® Baby brand’s charitable platform, is committed to ensuring that every baby has a healthy and happy start through educational and social initiatives, product donations, and financial support. In fact, they’ve got an awesome initiative going on right now – for every view of their “You’re Doing OK, Mom” video between now and Mother’s Day, JOHNSON’S® Baby will donate $1 to Save the Children® up to $50,000. Save the Children is an organization that gives children around the world a healthy start, the opportunity to learn, and protection from harm.

You can get started right now – view the video below and help us send a message of love to a deserving mom – and share this with your friends! It’s SUCH an easy way to make a difference.

I hope you’ll also join me May 8 at 12 p.m. Central for a Twitter party honoring moms everywhere with the simple reminder that “you’re doing OK.”

Join us for this special Twitter party as we share stories acknowledging the moms in our lives who are doing OK, along with our own experiences with motherhood after becoming moms ourselves.

JOHNSON’S® Baby CARES, the JOHNSON’S® Baby brand’s charitable platform, is committed to ensuring that every baby has a healthy and happy start. To extend this promise, for every view of the “You’re Doing OK, Mom” video between May 1 and Mother’s Day, JOHNSON’S® Baby will donate $1 to Save the Children®, up to $50,000. We can’t wait to share and discuss this video during the party!

When: Thursday, May 8, at 1p ET (12p CT / 10a PT)

Where: We’ll be on Twitter – follow the #YoureDoingOKMom hashtag to track the conversation. You can see more details and RSVP using the Twtvite: http://twtvite.com/youredoingokmom

Hashtag: #YoureDoingOKMom

Prizes: Five prizes will be awarded to randomly selected participants who correctly answer the trivia questions tweeted by @theMotherhood25. Each prize includes an assortment of JOHNSON’S® Baby products worth $50 in value. Prizes are limited to U.S. participants only, ages 18 and older.

Share the Joy of Beneful with Your Four-Legged Friends! {Giveaway}

Beneful

Note: Beneful provided me with product samples, and with the opportunity to host this giveaway. I was not compensated monetarily for this post. All opinions are honest and are my own.

Our Lab/Golden Retriever mix, Sally, is huge – especially compared to our three kids, each of whom she greatly outweighs – but she is incredibly sweet and patient, loyal and loving.

When one of the kids goes to time out, Sally is always right there to keep them company and give them plenty of kisses. Lately she and baby E have been teaming up to provide time out company!

Sally_TimeOut

Sally was tiny when we got her. Totally soft and snuggly, and content to lay around in our laps.

Sally_Puppy2

The boys wanted to name her Lightning McQueen, but we were (thankfully!) able to shift their preference over to Sally, and now we often call her Sal, or Sally O’Malley – or Woof Woof, if baby E is the one doing the talking.

She’s full of energy and is all over the place, but you’ll very rarely find her alone. She wants to be with us, and it makes sense, because she is part of our family.

With Sally being such an important part of our lives, it only makes sense that we want to give her the very best.

Beneful provides delicious and healthy food for dogs. In a recent survey by Beneful, they found that nearly half of the dog owners surveyed (46 percent) say their dogs get bored eating the same food every day and 89% agree that their dogs’ nutrition is as important to them as their own. It only makes sense, then, to choose food and treats for your dog that she can enjoy.

DinnerDoldrums

ShareTheJoy_Sally

Beneful has a wide variety of flavors and options, with high-quality ingredients your four-legged family member will love.

BenefulProducts_Collage 

Sally was really excited about the Beneful treats I gave her last night – she could hardly even wait for me to open the package:

SallyCantWait_Beneful

The Stars treats are packed full of bacon and cheese, so I can imagine why she was extra eager! Being the good girl that she is, she (semi-) patiently waited.

SallyBlurred_TreatForefront

Update: I’ve compiled an album on the Frugal Novice Facebook page of all the adorable dog photos that have been submitted! Click here to check them out, and don’t forget to send me a pic of your pup that would love to win Beneful food & treats! 

Win_it

I’m thrilled to be able to offer a pretty amazing giveaway thanks to Beneful – one lucky winner will receive ONE WHOLE YEAR’s supply of Beneful brand wet & dry dog food and treats! This giveaway is open to all US residents aged 18+. Entries will be accepted until the end of the day (midnight Central) Wednesday, May 14. By entering this giveaway you agree to the Official Rules. Just enter via the Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Stork Provides Reproductive Aid in the Comfort of Your Own Home

Note: This post was sponsored by The Stork and The Motherhood. All opinions are honest and are my own.

PregnancyTest

 

When you and your spouse first start trying to conceive, you eagerly anticipate the day you’ll see the two pink lines (or + sign, or “Yes”, depending on your brand of test!) and know that you are pregnant and expecting your own bundle of joy.

Now more than ever, couples are experiencing issues with infertility that make those two pink lines an elusive vision. Approximately 1 in 6 couples (that’s about 7.3 million couples) have difficulty conceiving – and that’s just in the United States alone! I was surprised to discover the percentages of success for women in various age ranges, too:

  • Females age 20-25, 25% chance per month of conceiving
  • Females age 30-35, 15% chance per month of conceiving
  • Females age 35-40, 10% chance per month of conceiving
  • Female age 40, 5% chance per month of conceiving

With many women waiting to have children later in life, these lower rates of success can play a big factor in couples seeking out fertility help. There are many options to pick from, with the most popular being Intra Uterine Insemination (IUI) and In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). IUI’s typically cost $1,000-$5,000 per cycle, and IVF costs anywhere from $12,400-$20,000 per cycle – the cost is really staggering, and it can be financially crippling to couples who must undergo multiple rounds of treatment.

Now there’s a new reproductive aid that costs much less than other treatments – The Stork. The Stork is a physician-used technique now available for use in the privacy of your home. It’s FDA-authorized via prescription, requires no drugs, injections, or surgery, and is extremely easy to use. It just costs $79 for one, or $210 for a supply of three.

What’s great about The Stork (besides its affordable cost) is that it’s incredibly easy to use, so it doesn’t add another layer of confusion and frustration to an already frustrating time. The Stork is a really simple device and they even provide a video with clear-cut instructions explaining every step of the process.

TheStork_Features1

 

Right now The Stork requires a prescription, so just go to your provider and ask for them to supply you with one. Then you’re able to purchase The Stork from their website and have it shipped directly to your home. Soon, though, The Stork will be available over the counter on Amazon.com and at CVS in the family planning aisle. It’ll be even easier for you to access this great device and use it for help in trying to conceive.

Be sure and follow The Stork via their social media channels so you can stay up to date on all their news, including when they’re available over the counter! You can find them on Facebook,

Vimeo.

Celebrate Spring with Starbucks Spring Blend Coffee

Note: I received samples from Starbucks & Modern Mom to facilitate this post. All opinions are honest and are my own.

love spring. In Texas, things start to get brown at the end of summer from how hot and dry the weather is, so by the time winter is ending I am really ready to see some green. The weather isn’t hitting triple-digit temperatures, and we can enjoy being outside as a family.

I’ve got many great family memories of being outside together, but one of my favorites involves my grandparents up in Illinois. Every year we would make the 12-hour trek up to see my dad’s parents in their tiny little Illinois town. And every morning I would wake up (usually the latest of anyone!) and go out to their side porch to find everyone sitting around sipping coffee and chatting. Here’s a pic of grandma on her porch, waiting for everyone to come join her:

Grandma_Porch

 

After I got married, Brian started joining us on the trips – I informed my late-sleeper husband of the morning coffee on the porch, and he began to join in on the tradition, too. When our two boys were still just toddlers, they got to visit Illinois and experience the porch tradition, too (although they preferred to wander around and collect rocks!).

You never know what memories will end up sticking out most in your mind, but sitting around on grandma’s porch together with coffee and visiting will always be something I remember fondly.

For whatever your spring traditions are, Starbucks has a Spring Blend that is a perfect complement to your celebrations and gatherings. It combines exquisite beans from Latin America and East Africa and was created to perfectly pair with buttery shortbread and early harvest berries—a love poem to the season of renewal.

Starbucks_Spring-Blend_Coffee

 

Whether you’re sitting around on your porch visiting with family or are enjoying another special spring tradition, the Starbucks Spring Blend is sure to bring another pleasant note to the memories you’re creating.

You Can Win Big at Chuck E Cheese’s!

Note: We received guest passes to facilitate our trip to Chuck E Cheese’s. All opinions in this post are honest and are my own.

0

Our kids adore going to Chuck E Cheese’s, so they were thrilled when we told them we were going to meet some friends there this past weekend. They think the pizza is really good, and of course their favorite part is playing games and winning tickets.

Right now Chuck E Cheese’s is running a “Let the Good Times Rip!” in-store game where parents can get excited about winning prizes, too! To play, just peel off the game piece on your 18-ounce adult-size cup to see what you won. You could win a $5,000 Disney® Cruise Line Vacation, XBox One™ Console, Razor Crazy Cart™, PlayStation® 4 Console, Chuck E. Cheese’s gift cards, board games, tickets and more. This in-store game is going on now until March 31st so don’t miss out!

ChuckECheeseCupPromo

ChuckECheeseCups

The kids had fun peeling off their game pieces to see what they won – we all got extra tickets, which is always a good thing!

J_ChuckECheeseCup

C_ChuckECheeseCup

 

Cups_ChuckECheese

 

Be sure and pop in to play the game before March 31 – don’t forget, every cup has a prize! And of course, while you’re there you and your family can get in some great quality time and good food.

Group_ChuckECheese

 

E_ChuckECheesePizza

 

ChuckECheese_RacingGame

 

Boys_ChuckECheese

 

Share What’s Good with Welch’s Photo Contest!

Note: I received compensation for participating in this campaign through MomCentral Consulting.

As a busy mom to three kids who also works full-time outside of the home, finding quality family moments is very important to me! We try to make sure and have real conversations with the kids at the dinner table, so we can hear what really went on during their day. Everyone (mom & dad too!) has to share their best and worst moments of the day, and that usually opens up the floor for more conversation from the kids.

Another way our family has quality time is with stories before bed. This is a favorite photo of mine from one of those story times:

StoryTime

 

Welch’s believes in the magic of “kitchen table” moments, and has been helping families enjoy them for generations. In the time it takes to drink a glass of juice or share a sandwich, a special moment can happen. That’s why Welch’s just launched a new movement called “Share what’s good™” It’s all about sharing those special moments that occur each day with family, friends and loved ones – whether it’s at home or on the go. At Sharewhatsgood.com you’ll find a variety of great content from fun family ideas to delicious recipes. You can share photos of your every-day moments and see how others are doing the same.

As part of the Share what’s good campaign, Welch’s has launched the “Share Your Moments” photo contest! From 9/16 to 10/25 upload a photo of your favorite family moment for a chance to win $5,000! While there is only one grand prize, everyone who enters will get a $1.50 coupon for Welch’s 100% Grape Juice – or $2.00 if you share the news. VisitSharewhatsgood.com to enter. Post your photos to Twitter & Instagram, too, and use the hashtag #sharewhatsgood with your image.

FB_PostImages_3

Be sure and keep up with Welch’s on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram too!

Britax Booster – Parkway SGL 2013 • Continuing Car Safety for Kids!

J_Britax_Booster

Note: We received the Britax Parkway SGL 2013 to facilitate our review. All opinions in this post are honest and are entirely our own. We are huge Britax fans and have purchased two Britax seats for our kids prior to this review.

Britax_Booster_SeatI have always been very aware of car seat safety for my kids, and J has still been in his five-point harness Britax Marathon seat up until very recently (can I just say that I love that the Britax seats have such a high weight limit? We’ve definitely gotten our money’s worth with the seats). He started kindergarten this week, which I’m still slightly in denial about, and he asked us multiple times about switching to a “big kid” seat. We knew we wanted to get him a booster, but to be honest the switch from a five-point harness made me a little nervous. So, after a lot of research we learned what we already knew – the Britax Parkway SGL 2013 has the features we want that make the booster incredibly safe and functional.

First off, if you’ve looked into booster seats at all you know there are two kinds – those with backs, and those without. We wanted one with a back, which the Parkway has… BUT you can also remove the back and use it as a backless booster. I love this, because that means this can be the seat he’s in until he’s big enough to not need a booster anymore. It’s just another way that Britax shows their value, in my opinion. I’ll talk about the features in a minute, which are what really impress us… but the sheer length of time you’re able to use Britax seats is enough on its own to make these worthwhile.

Now let’s talk about features. This is no ordinary booster – it’s SO well designed for safety and for easy use.

• ISOFLEX Flexible Lower LATCH Connection System secures the booster seat to the vehicle in seconds from either side of the booster seat with two clicks and a pull. ISOFLEX prevents the booster seat from becoming a projectile when not in use, and stabilizes it during a crash. This was SO easy to do. Brian placed the seat in the car, as you can see above, and then he used the two LATCH straps to connect to our anchors in the car:

Britax_LATCH  And then – without having to climb into the seat and awkwardly shove his knee into it – he just easily pulled the strap on each side, heard the clicks, and voila! the seat was securely anchored.
• Base with SafeCell Technology designed to keep your child safe and secure in a crash by compressing and significantly lowering the center of gravity, reducing the forward movement of the car seat.
• SecureGuard works with the vehicle safety belt to prevent the child from sliding under the lap-belt portion of the safety belt (submarining) during impact, thus minimizing the risk of abdominal injury. We love this feature, too – the shoulder guide keeps the top strap where it needs to be, but there’s also the SecureGuard “hook” – for lack of a better term – that slips over the lap-belt and keeps it in place over your child’s legs rather than on  their abdomen, (the soft abdomen is not safe placement in the instance of a crash, so this is really an awesome feature). Of course, since the SecureGuard is between your child’s legs, it also serves to help keep them from slipping down underneath the lap belt.

Britax_ShoulderStrap_Guide

Shoulder Strap Guide

Britax_Strap_Guide

SecureGuard

Some other great Parkway SGL 2013 features include:J_Britax_Booster

  • 120-pound Weight Capacity for safety and comfort as your child grows
  • Quick- Adjust Head Restraint easily adjusts the head restraint from the front of the seat for a more comfortable fit and enhanced safety (this is SO easy to move up and down as needed, just by squeezing a handle on the back of the head restraint)
  • High Density Comfort Foam (under removable cover) provides an extra layer of padding to cushion your child
  • Easy-Remove Cover allows easy cleaning (no more wrangling it off in the inevitable instance of a spill!)
  • Color-Coded Vehicle Belt Guides provide clear indication of the positioning of the vehicle lap and shoulder belt
  • True Side Impact Protection distributes crash forces, shields from vehicle intrusion, contains the head and body, and keeps the head, neck and spine “in true” or aligned, to limit injury
  • Armrests provide a natural and comfortable place to rest arms
  • Retractable Cup Holders are designed to hold children’s cups and snacks (J’s FAVORITE feature of the seat… he also likes to hide toys in the cup holders and then stick them back into the booster)
  • Removable Back allows the booster seat to easily convert to a backless booster while maintaining safety of SecureGuard
  • MSRP (USD) $159.99 – You can buy it on Amazon for $119.99, though!

We weren’t surprised at all to find that we loved this booster. It gives me the peace of mind, and J the sense of independence – a perfect balance. We will always be a Britax family when it comes to car seats for our kiddos.

Kid-Friendly Style with FLOR Carpet Tiles

FLORphoto 11

Note: We received FLOR carpet tiles to facilitate our review. We were not compensated monetarily. All opinions in this post are honest and are my own.

Since getting married, Brian and I have always enjoyed decorating the space in which we live. We share a modern aesthetic, which has made the process pretty fun for us. When our kids came along, we were still able to keep the style we like by picking furniture with clean, straight lines.

Of course, as we all know, kids do make it harder to keep things clean. We’ve had to be particular in the fabric we picked for our couch, for instance, because we knew spills would inevitably grace its surface. And at our old house, the beige carpet was SO hard to keep clean! It was constantly spotted from some spill or another, but it would’ve been too expensive to recarpet the whole house, so we just cleaned it as best we could.

We were really thankful to find a new house with tile in the main living areas, though, and we’ve been in the new house about a month. There are a few downsides to tile, though. It’s a hard surface, for one thing. And kids fall down a lot. Especially babies learning to walk… and little boys who love to wrestle. So, yeah, tile has the potential for disaster. Another negative to tile is that it can make the house seem… echo-y, for lack of a better word. Moving in couches and chairs and other soft surfaces helps with this, but we knew what the real solution to both of our tile-related problems would be – a rug.

We knew we wanted a rug around the couch, so that our feet could have a cozy spot to land, and so that if kids roll off the couch, they come in contact with something soft. It would also really ground the sofa in the room, and add a little color (which we love!) to the decor. Of course, rugs can come with a lot of the same problems as carpet. They’re big, they’re expensive, and if you spill something on one you really just have to deal with it unless you want to buy a whole new rug. We also, in our searching, had a hard time finding a rug that was the color scheme we wanted for our space – blues and greens, and certain shades of these blues and greens, at that.

Enter FLOR – the perfect solution. If you haven’t heard of them before, they’re a system of carpet tiles that you (easily) assemble with adhesive dots to create a rug (or even wall-to-wall carpeting) of any size. Each tile is 19.7″ square, so a grid of 12 squares makes about a 5’x7′ rug. I looked at all the different styles – there are a LOT – and decided that the slightly shaggy Rake Me Over style was perfect for us. There were tons of colors to pick from, too, which made me happy. I knew I wanted blues and greens, but wasn’t sure about the layout. FLOR makes it really easy with a customization tool that lets you play with your layout sooooo easily. I had a lot of fun with it!

Screen Shot 2013-07-19 at 11.10.30 AM

 

Once I figured out the layout, it generated the list of which squares we needed. I saved my design to my account, which made it really easy for laying out the tiles when they arrived. They came in two boxes, neatly stacked inside:

FLORphoto 2

 

And we also got adhesive dots, and instructions (which you really don’t even need – it’s very intuitive to put the rug together):

FLORphoto 1

 

FLORphoto 13

You can see in the next photo how large the dots are – and they’ve got lines to make it really easy to put them exactly where they need to go:

 

FLORphoto 14

 

You can also see all our squares ready to be laid out:

FLORphoto 5

 

 

Here’s a side view of one of the tiles – love the shaggy texture!

FLORphoto 4

I referred to my design and it took mere minutes to lay it out on the floor.

FLORphoto 11

 

Then, all I did was lift up each corner where two or more squares met and install a dot:

FLORphoto 12

 

FLORphoto 15

 

FLORphoto 21

 

So, so, so easy to do, and voila! A beautiful rug that compliments our living room perfectly.

FLORphoto 23

 

Of course, beyond the ease of installation and the customization options, FLOR tiles are SO kid-friendly! Let’s say our 4-year-old spills his red juice on one of the tiles and stains it. Rather than having to replace a whole rug, we’d just need to pop up one square and spend less than $20 to have our rug looking like new again. And I say they’re kid-friendly… but really they’re Christi-friendly, too. We had some FLOR tiles in the dining area of our old house, and I spilled HOT PINK craft paint all over one tile. It was so nice to just replace the tile and not have to spend a lot of money to make it look good again.

FLOR has more than just solid-colored tiles, though. They have patterns galore, and you could really have a field day with different designs. As for us, we’re loving our rug! Be sure and check out flor.com, and play around with the customization tool to make a rug that’s perfect for your space.

Celebrate Summer – Share Iconic Summer Moments with Lay’s and Win! #Lays75

FrugalNovice_SummerPic

I participated in a campaign for Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Lay’s. I received a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

One of my kids’ favorite things to do in the summer is ride their bikes, so when I started thinking about a favorite, iconic summer photo, I chose this one. It’s from two years ago, and it shows my oldest son trying out his little bike after we decorated it for a Fourth of July parade:

FrugalNovice_SummerPic

 

What’s your favorite summer photo? Get to thinking about it, because this summer, Lay’s potato chips is celebrating its 75th anniversary by sharing iconic summer moments – re-created in Lay’s packaging – every day for 75 days on the brand’s social media channels. I thought this one was pretty great, and fitting with my favorite summer photo:

LaysBike

To join in the fun, they’re asking fans to share their favorite summer moment to Twitter and/or Instagram and tag @Lays. Be sure and use the hashtag #Lays75 to make it easy for them to see your photo! This will also enter you for a chance to win a daily $75 gift card! I just shared my iconic summer moment (I’m @FrugalNovice on Twitter & Instagram) – I hope you’ll share yours too. Also, be sure and check out the great tutorials on their Pinterest page show all of us how to re-create the adorable Lay’s images at home.

I participated in a campaign for Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Lay’s. I received a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

LISTERINE 21 Day Challenge Follow-Up

Listerine2

Well, we finished up the 21-day challenge, and our mouths are feeling “nice and shiny” as our three-year-old would put it! We’ve welcomed this opportunity to discuss oral hygiene with the kids and why it’s so important, and we are glad to be building great habits with them early on.

It was easy for Brian and me to incorporate using mouthwash into our routines, but we knew we wanted to make things fun for the kids so that they wanted to participate! Our three-year-old is still a little young for the mouthwash, but he is becoming a pro at brushing his teeth and getting all the nooks and crannies. We have a song that we sing throughout the two minutes of brushing – here’s a little peek of that song, & of C showing off his toothbrushing skills:

J – our 5-year-old – has been great about brushing for a while, but using mouthwash was new for him when we started this 21-day challenge. Here’s a video of him trying it out for the first time, and a little song we made up to go along with our toothbrushing song… we figured it was only fitting for the challenge!

Our mouths definitely feel cleaner after participating in the challenge – it’s hard to explain, but there’s just a freshness you get from using Listerine that covers every inch of your mouth, and it makes you realize how much you’ve been missing by just brushing. We’ll definitely be sticking with the challenge well beyond the 21 days, and we know our mouths will the better for it!

Don’t forget, you can participate in the challenge too. Be sure and pop over to Listerine’s Facebook page and sign up!

Note: I received products from Johnson & Johnson Healthcare Products Division of McNEIL-PPC, Inc. and The Motherhood as part of my participation in the LISTERINE 21 Day Challenge. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are honest and are my own.

Transitioning

KidsPJs

KidsPJs

I couldn’t think of a good photo for this post, so I’m including a favorite one from Christmas – my attempt at a sweet PJ pic Christmas Eve night. Instead I got rolled eyes from C, a not-so-happy look from E, and J’s attempt at a convincing smile when all he wanted to do was unwrap one gift as promised. It makes me laugh every time I see it – love these kids!

Well, we’re only five days in to 2013 and I feel like it’s been a whirlwind of a year already.

I started a new job Thursday, designing magazines. I love what I’ll be doing, who I’ll be working for and with, and it’s in the same office space as my husband. I can’t see him from where I sit, but it’s still nice knowing he’s mere feet away – and we can carpool. So, I’ve only worked two days but it’s gotten off to a good start and I feel really good about the change. It was bittersweet leaving my old job, because there are a lot of people there who are wonderful and several who have become dear friends to me, but I feel confident this is the right path for me and for our family.

So, there was that change. And because I’m back to work in an office, that means baby E started day care. That was a rougher transition that starting a new job, although not nearly as traumatic as when J started back in 2008. I guess now I know from experience what a great nursery our day care has, and how well the kids have thrived there, so that helps. But still – as I walked away from her class that first day, there was a slight catch in my throat. She was fine, mind you. They said she did great and was her typical smiley self all day. I was smart and took her for a trial run the day before work began, so she could have a shorter day but I could still get that first day over with. It also helps that one of my great friend’s daughters is in the class with her, so I know she’ll have a little buddy there. When, y’know, they can actually interact with each other a little more than lying beside each other under the play mat arch. But still! BFFs in the making, I tell you.

Another transition is that our three year old, C, moved up to the “big kids” class. It’s the class he should’ve been in this past fall, but potty training challenges meant he was with the kids a few months younger than him. It was a blessing the way it worked out, because the teacher in that class was just what he needed, and he got to experience being a leader, which I think gave him a new level of confidence. Being a younger sibling to a very Type A older brother doesn’t give him a lot of chances to take the reins, and I think he really got to shine in that class. I really felt like it was time for him to move up, though. For one thing, the teacher he has now (whom I adore and think is really great) is much more strict, and I think his little three-year-old self could use some of that.

J’s still in his same class and is excited to be back with friends, which is a total 180 from the whiiiiiiiiiiining we heard on the way that first day – “I don’t waaaaaaaaaaant to go to school!” We’re trying to really make sure and enjoy this first half of 2013, while he hasn’t yet hit kindergarten and the new realms of big kidness. August will bring about a truly big transition for us, and I am trying to steel myself to prepare and not be a blubbering mess at my baby going off to school.

I haven’t blogged since New Year’s Eve, because we’ve been in the midst of adjusting to our new routine, and because I’m trying to really stick to my word – purpose. I want to be more present with the family when we have the opportunities to all be together and enjoy each other, so blogging has been pushed slightly to the back burner. I’ve still got a few commitments to fulfill so I’ll be taking care of those, and I do have some upcoming partnerships I’m excited about, but my hope is to write more posts like this. I’ve shied away from writing too much about our day to day life, because I’ve tried to post content that would be appealing to a broad audience, and I admittedly got swept up in a lot of product reviews. I’ll still do those from time to time (especially here at the beginning while completing agreements previously made) but you’ll notice a reduction in those, or at least more editorial content in proportion to those posts. Brian and I love to cook, and I’m trying to incorporate one new meal each week, so I hope to write more food-related posts this year, too. If you think of anything you want to see on this blog, let me know. I’m always looking for ideas!

Have a wonderful rest of the weekend, everyone.