Learn Through Play at Gymboree Play & Music! {Giveaway!}

This post is brought to you by Gymboree Play & Music, but all opinions are my own.

If you follow along on Instagram, you already know that we spend a lot of time at Gymboree Play & Music. We first discovered the classes when Shane was just ten months old. I wanted to make some “mommy friends”, and wanted Shane to have the opportunity to interact with kids his age, so we signed up for a free preview class. We ended up signing up on the spot, and continued going for years, until Shane aged out of the play classes.

Gymboree

When Zac was just over 3 months old, I started taking him to their Level 1 class. I never experienced this class with Shane since he was already older when I heard about Gymboree, so it was completely new to me {like many things have been} with Zac. It was so different, but in a good way!

Zac at Gymboree

The class is focused on babies who are 0-6 months old, so there isn’t that much that they can actually do, of course. For that reason, a lot of this particular class is geared toward the parents more than the kids. Each class begins with an icebreaker- a topic of interest that the parents talk about, like how your baby is sleeping or what baby gear they seem to really like. Afterwards, the babies get to enjoy some tummy time over a mirror while playing with an assortment of fun toys- some babies can actually play with them, some chew on them, and some just lay there- but all of them are learning in their own way. This is also a time for discussion, and a chance to bring up milestones your baby has reached {there are so many in the first six months!} and ask the other parents for input or advice on any issues.

Zac and Gymbo

The rest of the class is full of fun! Whether it’s a “baby boogie” {a song, usually with some corresponding dance moves} or a fun activity like flashlight play, the babies get to spend time learning through play. The best part is that it’s a great bonding experience for you and your baby as well- and you can “take home” the activities you learn in class to extend the experience!

So what are some of the fun activities we did in Level 1?

Beach Ball Balancing: Take an inflatable beach ball, and inflate it a little more than halfway. Securely place your child on it {it should look like a bean bag chair} and while holding them, rock them slowly back and forth, then side to side. Bonus points for singing a fun song while you do it!

Flashlight Play: Turn off the lights and introduce your baby to flashlights with a light show! Use a light scarf to show how you can change the color, or play peek-a-boo with the light. Slowly move the light back and forth across a wall or the ceiling to get them to practice their eye tracking!

Tactile Exploration: Find a wide array of household items with different textures. When we did it in our class, we had paintbrushes {regular and foam rollers}, loofahs, poof balls, and feathers. Gently rub each item on their skin {hands, feet, cheeks} and then depending on your baby’s age, let them have a moment or two to explore each item. This teaches them about the sense of touch!

Music Medley: Gather an assortment of musical instruments- maracas, castanets, jingle bells, you name it! {If you don’t have any, the Gymboree website sells a variety of baby-safe ones.} One by one, demonstrate for your baby what sounds each instrument makes and let them play with their favorites- even if this just means chewing on them for a moment. They’ll get it soon enough!

This is just a small sampling of the games and activities that we did in our 3 months in Level 1. I loved going to class and getting to chat with other moms of babies, and it was great being able to go home with some new activity ideas to do with Zac!

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Try It: If you are lucky enough to have a Gymboree Play & Music near you, sign up for a free class here! You and your child will build creativity, confidence and lifelong friendships! {I’m still really good friends with many of the women I met there over 4 years ago now!}

Win It: One lucky reader will win $100 in toys from Gymboree Play & Music! To enter, just use the simple form below. Good luck!

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Cleaning Big Messes at School with Viva Vantage

This article is sponsored by Viva Vantage and Walmart. All opinions are my own.

Yesterday, Shane started kindergarten. It was hard to say goodbye and leave him in that classroom, but I just barely held it together. Part of the reason I was able to stifle the tears is that he went to preschool last year, so this wasn’t really the first time- even though kindergarten is more official and “real”. The other reason is that we’ve been preparing for this day for months!

One of the things we did to get ready for back to school was go shopping for our school supplies. Shane’s school provides all of the supplies he will need, but they did send home a list of optional supplies that the classroom could use. We are fortunate enough to be able to contribute to the class, so we have been picking up some supplies the last few weeks!

Send the Best Supplies to Kindergarten

Here’s what we got:

-baby wipes

-cleaning wipes

-storage bags

-glue sticks

-Viva Vantage paper towels

Why Viva? Viva Vantage paper towels, available at Walmart, are high quality paper towels at a low price! I didn’t want to send Shane with paper towels that would just break apart when the kids tried to use them, but I also didn’t want to spend more on class supplies than his clothing. Since Shane’s in kindergarten, I anticipate there being a lot of arts & crafts messes for them to clean up- and that’s not easy with thin paper towels! These paper towels stretch, making it easy for little hands to clean big messes.

Viva Vantage Paper Towels

Viva Vantage Towels are made with a revolutionary V-Flex Weave, which provides stretch- which in turn helps deliver great scrubbing power! They also have sponge-like absorbency to help soak up major spills. That makes them the perfect paper towels- not just for at school, but at home, too! We picked up some extra rolls while we were out so that we can clean up any messes the boys throw our way.

Buy It: You can find Viva Vantage Towels at Walmart or at Walmart.com.

How do you handle big messes?

Getting Older with Confidence with Poise Microliners

This post is sponsored by Poise, but all opinions are my own.

This week, I’ve had several moments that made me realize I am getting older. The other day I saw a photo of myself and I could see the first hints of my mother looking back at me. {She’s a beautiful woman who I hope to resemble one day- but not quite yet!} On Monday, Shane started kindergarten, which means I have a child in real school now. Just today, I was talking to Justin and I realized that our high school reunions are going to be taking place over the next two years!

First day of kindergartenI look more & more like my mother every day.

Combined, all of these things have me thinking about growing older. Funny things tend to happen when you get older- I already have back problems {unrelated, but they’re just going to get worse}, soon I’ll start getting wrinkles, and according to every older woman I know, soon I’ll start to pee a little when I sneeze. Great.

No one likes to talk about it, but I bet most of us have already had an experience with LBL (light bladder leakage). In fact, one in three women experiences it- it can be triggered by coughing, sneezing, laughing, or exercise, so there are plenty of opportunities to encounter it. It doesn’t happen to me often but I am lucky enough to be married to a man who makes me laugh- hard. Who hasn’t had a time when they laughed so hard they peed a little? {Of course, that can make it even funnier- making it even worse!}

Poise Microliners

When LBL happens, many women rely on feminine care products {or nothing at all!} because they don’t know that there are options. Poise has these incredibly thin microliners that absorb way more liquid than you’d think possible considering that they are the thinnest liners in the light incontinence category. They are very discreet to carry and so thin they won’t get in the way of comfort. They feature SAM {Super Absorbent Material} to provide discreet LBL protection that helps keep you dry and comfortable all day long so you can face the day with confidence!

Try It: If you want a free sample, head over to the Poise website!

Buy It: You can pick up a pack of Poise Microliners at major retailers in the incontinence section. Be sure to pick up this coupon first!

Who makes you laugh the hardest?

Show You Care with Dove Men + Care {Walgreens Gift Card Giveaway}

Sponsored post by Lunchbox, all opinions are 100% my own.

I am one lucky woman. I don’t take the time to recognize Justin publicly enough for all that he does for our family. He works way too hard, but still comes home and helps out with the kids every night- he has even taken over Shane’s bedtime since Zac came along. I know that not every Mama out there has such a helpful hubby by her side, and so whenever the opportunity comes up, I like to remind him of how grateful that I am for everything he does.

Dove Men + Care Gift

Walgreens makes it easy to let him know how much I care with small gestures- between their great prices and wide selection, it’s easy to treat him to something nice! The other day he hurt his back at work, so I picked him up a back brace, some Ben & Jerry’s, and a couple of bottles of Dove Men + Care that he needed.

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If you want to pick up some Dove Men + Care for a man in your life, now’s the time! Right now at Walgreens, you can buy any 2 participating Dove Men + Care products for just $9 at your local Walgreens- and you’ll earn 2,000 balance rewards points with your purchase! This deal is only good until 8/31, so don’t wait too long!

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Win It: One lucky reader will win a $50 Walgreens gift card, plus a Dove Men + Care gift pack for someone in your life {or yourself} to try! Just enter using the simple form below. Good luck!

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What We Did on Our Summer Vacation

This post is brought to you by my partnership with Tommee Tippee as a Tommee Mommee. All opinions are my own.

Now that school is starting on Monday, we’ve been trying to race the clock and have the last bit of fun before summer ends. I asked Shane the other day if there was anything that we didn’t get to do and he said the only thing we haven’t done is go to the splash pad- we did everything else he dreamt of doing this summer! {&Don’t tell Shane, but I’m totally taking him to the Splash pad on Friday.} So what have we been up to?

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We hit some of Shane’s favorite restaurants, including the BBQ joint with the giant bear statue and the Hawaiian BBQ place.

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We did some crafts as a family- here we made our own campfire!

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We went to the library, where Shane maxed out the amount of books he could bring home within two minutes and then played puzzles for half an hour.

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We hit the pool whenever we could!

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Shane had his family birthday party…

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…and his friend birthday party! He had a blast at both.

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We spent a lot of time at Gymboree, since they are basically an indoor {i.e. air conditioned} playground.

hanging out

We even had some more casual days, watching TV or movies on the couch.

We had a lot of fun, but we hit some major milestones, too! Zac turned 6 months old on July 31st and Shane turned 5 on August 13th. Zac learned how to crawl, and began eating solid foods! He can even drink from a sippy cup now, which is kind of amazing.

Zac and his Tommee Tippee cup

Zac loves his Tommee Tippee sippy cup. It has two handles {not that he always uses them}, so he can hold it easily, and it’s the perfect size for him to be able to raise it up to drink from it. He can easily get his juice or water out of it, and he loves to gnaw on it, too. {Along with everything else in the house.}

Shane and his Tommee Tippee cup

Shane and Zac both love their Tommee Tippee products- even Shane drinks from Tommee Tippee cups {without a lid usually since he’s 5- but when he wants to bring drinks downstairs where there’s carpet, we do use the lids with the valve taken out, just to provide a little extra protection against stains from my clumsy kiddo}. Zac loves their pacifiers, too! He usually only uses one while he’s sleeping and he’s too light of a sleeper to take a photo when he’s sleeping, but it’s really cute.

You can find Tommee Tippee products at major retailers near you, including Babies R Us & Target. {You can also find them online.} As for the fun memories, you’ll have to make your own! I hope you had even half as much fun as we had this summer!

What did you do this summer?

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