Starting a New Tradition of Giving at Christmastime

While I don’t have a lot of free time, I still like to try to stay relatively connected to the outside world. I spend a lot of time on social media and I love reading articles because they are the perfect length for me to finish while waiting to pick Shane up from school or while waiting for a pot of water to boil. My husband has his mobile homepage set to Yahoo for the same reason and is always telling me about this or that article that he found so I decided to check out Yahoo, too. It had been awhile since I had been to their website so I was pleasantly surprised to find the Yahoo Parenting section! One article in particular really got me thinking- “Does Your Child Have Too Many Toys?”

Does your child have too many toys

I almost didn’t want to read the article because without even reading it, I knew the answer was yes! I grew up not having much so now that I’m the adult, I am pretty quick to buy new toys for the boys. Half the reason is that I get bored playing the same things with them, but also I just really like that I can say yes, since so many times my parents were forced to say “No.”

However, it’s because I grew up with so little that I feel so strongly about teaching my boys to give back. We regularly donate to everything from food drives to animal shelters, and I always remind him that it’s important to make sure we are doing what we can to help others.

Operation Christmas Child giving

A couple of years ago we made a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child and donated a box of necessities and gifts to a child who otherwise wouldn’t have anything (or would have very little) for Christmas. Shane was only three at the time, but he was really excited to be able to make another kid happy at Christmas. Because of that experience, and because we have way too many toys, I decided to start a new tradition this Christmas: donating toys to charity!

We are going to approach this in two ways: first, I’ll be helping Shane to choose some toys that he no longer needs or wants. Aside from a couple of sentimental selections that I might save for Zac, we will bag them up and donate them to either a shelter for women and children or to a similar charity. Secondly, we will be purchasing some brand new toys to give to Toys for Tots- and encouraging our friends and family members to do the same! I want Shane to be able to experience the joy of helping others, so I will let him pick some toys out at the store to donate.

Christmas Tree with presents

I’m really glad that I stumbled upon that article and I’m so excited to start our new tradition! Whether you’re looking for a new holiday tradition or just want to read up on the latest parenting tips and tricks, be sure to check out Yahoo Parenting!

How do you deal with toy overload?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

5 Tips for Adjusting to Daylight Saving Time with Kids {&Giveaway!}

This review was made possible by Double Duty Divas and Pampers. I was provided the featured product free of charge to facilitate my review, but all opinions are 100% mine.

They always say that two kids born to the same family can be completely different, and my boys have proven that to be very true. While Shane was always very flexible with naps, Zac makes sure he gets his three naps every day like clockwork. So to say that I’m nervous for this coming weekend when the clocks change is an understatement!

Shane sleeping at 13 months

Shane, circa October 2010

With Halloween coming up on Friday, Daylight Saving Time is sneaking up on us all. On Sunday, November 2nd, it’ll be time {no pun intended} to “Fall back” an hour and effectively set back all naps, bedtimes, and midnight Halloween candy binges. While I’m still a bit nervous to see how my Type-A baby handles the transition, I’ve come across a number of great sleep tips over the years that definitely helped with Shane.

1. Listen to white noise. Not only does white noise help baby to fall asleep, but using it every night can condition your child to associate it with sleep and make them more tired just by hearing it!

2. Follow a set bedtime routine. A bedtime routine is a nice way to bond with your child and create a bit of calm after a busy day. It can also work like the white noise by giving your baby cues that bedtime is approaching. Whether your routine consists of a story, a song, a bath, brushing teeth, rocking, or a combination of those, choosing a soothing and not-too-stimulating way to end the day is a great way to send your baby off to slumber.

3. Prepare for Daylight Saving Time ahead of time. Start putting your baby to bed a little bit later in the days leading up to the time change {so, this week!} so that when Sunday rolls around, they are right on schedule.

4. Be prepared to be flexible yourself for a few days. Babies can’t tell time, so their little bodies will not get tired or wake up just because your clock says so. It can take a few days for baby to adjust to a new schedule, so try not to plan anything that can get interrupted by naptime or bedtime.

5. Make sure baby stays dry. A 2013 survey conducted by Pampers found that 24% of mothers felt that a dry diaper was the number one thing that enabled their baby to sleep through the night. Pampers diapers have three absorbent layers that provide up to 12 hours of overnight dryness protection

Twitter Party Alert

To help you get ready for Daylight Saving Time, the Double Duty Divas and Pampers will be holding a Twitter party tomorrow night where you can win great prizes! {You can win a prize here, too- see more below!}

To participate, follow your hosts @DoubleDutyDivas, @BridgetteLA, @CeceliaMecca @AngieKcom @WhatMommiesNeed @RamblingChick, and our sponsor @Pampers.

Twitter Party Prizes Include:

-Prize 1Twinkles Nightlight in Blue, 148 ct of Pampers diapers and a pack of wipes.

-Prize 2 – Pottery Barn plush security blanket, $50 Barnes & Noble gift card, a pack of Pampers diapers and wipes.

-Prize 3 – A gift card to The $125 Children’s Place for pajamas, a pack of Pampers diapers/wipes

-Prize 4 – A Kindle Fire so parents can purchase baby bedtime books, an $100 Amazon gift card to purchase the e-books, a pack of Pampers diapers and wipes.

Click here to learn more and RSVP!

Win It: One lucky reader will also win two free product coupons for FREE Pampers diapers and wipes! Just enter using the form below. Good luck!

[Read more...]

Learning How to Use the Internet to #ShareAwesome


My life is on the internet. My job involves running a website, my list of hobbies practically starts and ends with Facebook stalking, and most of my best friends are people that I met online, who live all around the country. It sounds weird to some, but I grew up this way. And this is how our kids are growing up as well.

Computer 2000

Me at my spiffy computer circa 2000. {Most likely printing out pictures of the Backstreet Boys for my walls because OMGTHEYARESODREAMY.}

Shane has just started going online {he has used the iPad for years, but not beyond his educational apps}, so we’re trying to navigate the depths of the internet as a family. Anything he does is monitored and he has parental controls in place just in case. At five years old, this is easy to keep a handle on, but I’m sure as he grows older we will need to be ever vigilant to keep him protected!

The internet can be a wonderful “place”, full of friends with common interests and the answer to any question you can think of. It can also be a scary place, though, and it is important for us to teach our children how to conduct themselves online. I was part of the first generation to grow up online, and back then we didn’t know much about internet safety. Now that it’s our turn to raise tech-savvy kids, it’s important to teach them how to safely walk that fine line between over-sharing and sharing awesome.

What is sharing awesome? It’s using social media in a positive way- keeping out-of-town relatives updated on what’s going on in your child’s life, keeping in touch with friends after school in a friendly way, or just generally using digital media in an uplifting way. To help parents teach their children about the both safe and positive way to use digital media, the National PTA has partnered with LifeLock to share awesome ways families can create an open, evolving conversation about positive, safe decisions when using digital tools. It’s all part of having a happy, healthy lifestyle. You, your family, your friends, and the whole world- everyone benefits when you #ShareAwesome {like I did below}!

Right now, the National PTA & LifeLock are hosting the #ShareAwesome contest. The contest invites social media users to share a smart and safe decision, uplifting accomplishment, or positive action for the good of others using hashtag #ShareAwesome on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Visit ShareAwesomeNow.org to learn more.

Snap a photo of an awesome moment in your day and share it on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram with the #ShareAwesome hashtag!

Students who enter the #ShareAwesome contest between September 15 – November 30, 2014 will have a chance to win fantastic prizes, including tablets and a $2,500 scholarship!

How do you #ShareAwesome?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

5 Tips for Conquering Kids’ Public Restroom Anxiety #LetsTalkBums

This post is sponsored by Cottonelle, but my love for their fresh care flushable cleansing cloths on-the-go soft packs is all my own!

Now that Shane’s getting ready to start kindergarten in the fall, we’re tackling his fear of public restrooms. He has no problem using the bathroom at home, but when we leave, he’d rather just do a potty dance for an hour and beg to go home than take two minutes to use the restroom. Apparently a fear of public restrooms is very common for his age, but that doesn’t mean it should continue! Below are five of the techniques that we’re implementing to try to help him with his public bathroom anxiety:

5 Tips for Conquering Kids’ Public Restroom Anxiety

1. Use the bathroom before you go. Of course, if you’re only gone for a short time, the opportunity to use the restroom may not come up. However, if you’ll be gone for awhile, making sure your child has a little bit of time to familiarize themselves with the place you’re at can help them feel more comfortable than they would if they had to rush to the bathroom the minute they got to the strange new place.

2. Lead by example. When possible, use the public restroom yourself, bringing your child in with you when appropriate. If they see you use the public restroom without anxiety enough times, they may realize that there’s nothing for them to be afraid of.

3. Go somewhere fun. For example, take your child to the park. Once they start showing signs of needing to use the restroom, tell them that they need to stop playing until they have taken care of business- after all, you truly don’t want them to have an accident on the playground and get the equipment all gross & germy for the other children.

4. Go somewhere familiar. The one place besides our house that Shane will use the restroom is his Grandma & Grandpa’s house. It’s his home-away-from-home and he spends so much time there that he literally can’t hold it long enough to skip using their restroom. At first, he still put up a fight, but now he will go straight to the bathroom without a word.

5. Take something from home. Whether that’s the insert for the seat, a favorite toy that they can play with for a few minutes while sitting on the potty, or wipes like Cottonelle Fresh Care Flushable Cleansing Cloths, bring something to help your child realize that going potty out & about is the same as going at home!

Cottonelle On-the-Go soft packs

Shane really likes using the Cottonelle Flushable Cleansing Cloths that we use at home, so to help him feel more at home in public restrooms, we picked up some of the new Flushable Cleansing Cloths On-The-Go soft packs! Unlike baby wipes, which should not be flushed, Cottonelle Fresh Care Flushable Cleansing Cloths {including the On-The-Go packs} include SafeFlush Technology, so they start to break down immediately after flushing. They are sewer and septic safe, so no matter where your summer travel takes you, you can bring them along for a quick, refreshing clean.

Cottonelle Clean Care

We’ve always been a Cottonelle family- I originally bought it because of the adorable puppy on the package but we stick with it because it’s strong yet soft, and it pairs well with the Flushable Cleansing Cloths for a bit of a one-two punch of clean. Now, Cottonelle is even helping us conquer Shane’s restroom anxiety fears!

To learn more about Cottonelle’s line of products, get a $1.50 off coupon, and watch videos of Cherry Healey talking bums, be sure to check out Cottonelle’s website!

Have you tried the Cottonelle Flushable Cleansing Cloths On-the-Go soft packs? What do you think of the wet & dry combo?

Finding the Best Educational Apps & Games for Children- Interview with Expert Dr. Jody Sherman LeVos

I grew up using electronics all the time. I had handheld video games, went to Computers class to play Oregon Trail & KidPix once a week at school, and logged onto AOL after school. Since I’ve always been around electronics, I can’t imagine life without them- and I know the value of them as well.

Electronic toys can be very educational, so long as you get the right ones. My handheld Ms. Pacman game? Fun, but not particularly educational. My “laptop” that taught me everything from synonyms to phonics to algebra? Much more educational. Allowing your children to “plug in” and use electronics is definitely not a bad thing- so long as you choose them wisely.

In the 20 years since I was Shane’s age, things have come a long, long, long way. Not only has technology come a long way, but toys are so much more educational now. Entire teams come together to develop, research and create each item &the top professionals are consulted to ensure that the educational component is up to standards. So while I don’t let Shane substitute real life, education or play time with electronics, I do let electronics enhance those things.

Dr Jody Sherman LeVos LeapFrog LeapPad

I recently had the chance to interview Dr. Jody Sherman LeVos, a child development and learning expert, on how to give your kids the best apps & e-games. It’s easy to waste your money on something that your kid just has to have because it has their favorite character or a cute animal- but how do you make sure you only pick games that are worth both your money & your child’s time? In this interview, Dr. LeVos answers:

1. How do I find the best educational content, games & apps for children?
2. How can parents ensure their children are having a “balanced e-diet”?
3. What are the best apps & devices for children?

Be sure to check out the interview below!

You all know how much I already love LeapFrog products, and I want to share them with all of you, so be sure to check out this great LeapPad2 Power Prize Pack giveaway going on now until November 6th!

Note: I was provided with a sample product to thank me for my time on this campaign. All opinions are my own.

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