Sunday, February 27, 2011

Warm Up!

Want to take the chill off your cold winter day? Check out these pics from the last day of our San Diego trip, at Oceanside Beach.

If these don't make you want to be a kid again, I don't know what will!

Doesn't that just look like the most idyllic day at the beach?
It was actually kinda cold that day, but the kids didn't care. My girls are true little beach lovers, just like their mommy and daddy! I look at these pictures, and I want to be a little kid again. Playing in the waves, running around in the sand, without a care in the world. It doesn't matter to them that the air's a bit chilly. It doesn't matter how they look in their swimsuits, or how sandy and dirty they get. They've got only one thing on their minds. . . FUN. It's how I want to live my life!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Fun Finds For Kids and Babies!

I don't know if it's just a "mom thing", but I get a lot of pleasure out of researching and finding adorable, fun, and awesome products and designs for my kids.

Absolute cutest kid wall EVER. . . found!!!

Isn't that just adorable beyond words??? I fell in love with it the second I saw the Scroll Tree MegaPack from RoomMates Peel and Stick Decor. The RoomMates website is one of the best I've seen for wall decals, featuring tons of variety for every room in your home! Here's why I totally love 'em:

*Their products are completely innovative! They have peel-and-stick mirrors (genius!), and chalkboard and dry erase decals that can be repositioned at any time. The endless options for using these in playrooms and kids' bedrooms are just spinning through my mind!
*These are the easiest things in the world to apply! Seriously. . . just peel and stick. If you make a mistake, you can just pull it off and position it again, since these are removable and can be reused over and over again.
*RoomMates leave no residue behind and are totally safe for your paint. They can attach to any smooth, dry surface, and they are non-toxic and safe for children to play with.

They literally do have designs for ANY decor or design style, and my favorite are their kid designs. They're very affordable too! The whole mega-pack that comes with everything to create the adorable Scrolled Tree scene (80 decals total!) is $40.49!

I have really loved being an Infantino Test Drive Mom, and the latest product they sent for me to try out just makes me happy. . . the Infantino Savvy Bag Baby Changing Clutch!
If you ever feel weighed down by a huge, heavy diaper bag (my hand is raised for sure) and want something smaller and lightweight, you'll love this. Since I have more than one small child I usually have to heft my huge diaper bag around, but this bag is perfect for going on outings with just one child. Some stuff to note about it:

*I love the bright, happy pattern! Seriously cute!
*I love the removeable changing pad that folds out from the bag. The bag is so slim that you wouldn't think it would fit such a large changing pad, but it somehow does! The changing pad is even cushy and provides plenty of padding to make your baby comfy when you're changing her on the go.
*It's a great size to hold exactly what you need for quick outings. . . diapers, wipes, and a few little extras.
*The price is pretty amazing. . . $22.99!

Thinking ahead for when I'll be packing lunches for Kirsten in the fall. . . I was pretty pleased to find this Bento Box from My Square Meal.
I love this concept! My inner organizer (the one who does exist there despite what my house looks like) squeals at how tidy and cute the little compartments are. I can just envision myself packing healthy, well-rounded lunches by filling each compartment with something different. No squished, soggy sandwiches! No millions of Ziploc baggies! I love it!

The Bento Box has a hinged lid, and it's recyclable AND dishwasher-safe! It sells for only $9.99, and at that price it would be easy to have two or three or them so you don't have to wash it every single night. It comes with the spork too! Their website has a great page featuring some fun lunch ideas for these boxes. I'm feeling inspired.

Okay, if you are a mom of little girls, I'm guessing that dressing up and dancing takes up a portion of your day. I know it does at my house! My girls (and me!) absolutely LOVE the Prima Princessa Presents The Nutcracker DVD. It's the perfect way to introduce your little girls to a famous ballet, while keeping it interesting for them and helping them learn some ballet steps while they're at it!

Dancers from the Birmingham Royal Ballet perform excerpts from the Nutcracker, while kid-friendly narration tells the story so that young kids can understand. Then they take "breaks" and teach some dance steps. Kirsten is really enthralled with it. Sometimes she dances along and other times she just likes to sit and watch the dancers. You're not going to believe the price tag. . . $6.99 on Amazon! Amazing, huh? Go here and order one for every little girl you know!

The latest obsession for my kids involves a simple, glowing, portable nightlight. Seriously, they fight over it and I make them take turns carrying it around. The GloMate Jr from Mobi is just that cool. My kids are fascinated by the glowing colors, and you can choose to put it in color-changing mode or single-color mode. One thing that I really appreciate is the 15-minute timer mode, where the light will slowly fade to off so it doesn't zap your batteries too quickly. It's a cute, safe nightlight that kids can carry around and keep in bed with them and I think it would be helpful for children who are transitioning from crib to bed or moving to a new home. It comes with 3 AAA batteries, and it's a really great value too. . . $9.99!

Hope you found something you liked here! Don't kids get the greatest stuff???

My disclaimer: I received some free products in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated, and all reviews are my own opinions. I am a participant in a Mom Central Consulting campaign for Infantino and have received various Infantino products as part of my participation.

Some Fabulous Finds!

Here I go with my backyard envy again. . . I'm wishing for a big, tree-filled backyard with a trampoline, lots of space for the kids to run and play, and one of these amazing backyard swing sets. Sigh. . . someday!!!

I'm happy to be sharing with all my readers my #1 favorite product for cleaning up kid messes and pet messes. . . Kids N Pets!
This stuff is such a lifesaver! You can buy it at WalMart, and it comes in a large bottle that will last you awhile. I spray it all over carpets, couches, chairs, mattresses, really anything and it does such an amazing job of removing odors and stains. It doesn't use any cover-up scents or perfumes, but it saturates into the area and really does get rid of nasty smells.

Here are just a few of the many times this has come in handy:
-Baby spits up. . . all over the recliner chair
-Cats, dogs, or kids throw up on the carpet
-Cat pees outside the litter box on your couch or carpet
-Kid spills juice on the couch or carpet

I like to stock several of these bottles so that I don't run out when I need it most. I have tried many other cat-specific products to remove urine smells (like Nature's Miracle) and this Kids N Pets stuff really does work the best to get rid of it! Another bonus: It's non-toxic and biodegradable!

Here's a first on my blog. . . a fabulous find for your little furry friends! We have cats in our house (three of them, and we love 'em to death!), and I was sent the Dolce Diner from Loving Pets for our kitties to review. This is definitely an upgrade from the cheap plastic food dishes we usually use for them! These are suited well for dogs or cats, and here's some things fellow animal-lovers will appreciate about them:

*The removable stainless steel bowls are great! Instead of using a pet food scoop, I can just take these bowls out and scoop the food up directly into the bowls. The stainless steel is also bacteria-resistant.
*They have rubber feet to ensure skid-free eating. Since our cat food goes on top of our dryer, this is great to ensure their food dishes won't slide around on the surface. You can also remove the rubber feet when you wash the dishwasher-safe food dish!
*Comes in five different colors!

I can't believe it's already time for preschool registration for the fall. Crazy! There's still around six months to go until school begins for the new year, but it's never too early to start thinking about some great school supplies like a custom promotional pen.
I remember being so excited as a kid starting the new school year to get personalized pencils and pens you can customize. I need to start looking for a cute backpack for my new little preschooler too! When do you start thinking ahead about new school supplies?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Angels In the Metro

I've been to a whole lot of great cities around the world, but ask me which city is my favorite and I will answer without hesitation. . .


Unbelievably amazing, gorgeous, exciting. . .there are no words to describe my love for this city. And for those of you who think all French people are rude, have I got a story for you. . .

It was 2003 and I was on an art history study abroad tour through Europe with Brigham Young University. We finished our incredible two-week stay in Paris and were all packed up and ready to hop on the train to Belgium, our next destination. We had to navigate our way through multiple stops on the Paris Metro (their subway system) to get to the train station, and lots of the metro lines were on strike and not running reliably. So we got up at the crack of dawn, thinking we'd have enough time, only to find ourselves literally running through the metro station, trying to make our train.

The problem for me with running through the metro station?

My suitcase.

My giant, mammoth, behemoth of a suitcase, dubbed "The Titanic" by the other members of my group. It was holding me back big time.

In the middle of our mad dash between metro stops, we came to a massive flight of stairs. As I struggled with my suitcase, I soon came to realize that my group was gone. Nowhere to be found. Nobody had noticed that "The Titanic" and I had fallen behind. I started stressing out, as I pulled that darn suitcase as hard as I could and tried to get it up the stairs. My mind was spinning as I realized I was almost certainly going to get left behind in Paris, and I had no idea what I was going to do.

Right at that point, two Parisian natives were walking by on the level above me and noticed me struggling my way up the staircase. They stopped, came down the stairs to me and helped me get my suitcase and backpack and other bags up the stairs. I told them my group had left me behind and I was trying to get the train station, and these two kind people (a man and a woman, who didn't even know each other!) walked with me to my next stop and gave me detailed instructions about which metro trains I needed to take to reach the train station. I felt such relief and such immense gratitude towards them. I couldn't believe that they had even noticed my plight in the first place, and then gone so far out of their way to help me. I hope that I would do the same for someone else.

I will certainly never forget that act of kindness from the two French strangers who I will never see again. I wish I could let them know how much that meant to me. I ended up getting on the train. . . barely, by the skin of my teeth! Without their help, I would have been stranded alone in Paris.

Should I write more of my travel experiences on my blog? I realize I hardly ever post about them, and I'm wondering if people are interested in reading about them. I've been having a down kind of day, and I really wanted to write this story about my two "angels in the Metro" to uplift myself and anyone else who is reading this post.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Love Day!

"There is no surprise more magical than the surprise of being loved. It is God's finger on man's shoulder."
~Charles Morgan

Happy Valentine's Day! I'm so blessed to be loved by so many people. I'm thankful for a wonderful husband, sweet little girls, and incredible family and friends. I love you all a whole lot!!!

All the little objects of my affection are currently needing my attention, so I only have time to do a quick post. Last year's Valentine's pictures were SO cute that it's worth posting them again.

Love from Natalie, 9 months old in this picture!

Awww, and here's Kirsten's first Valentine's day when she was 9 months old. I can hardly remember her being so small and sweet!

I hope everyone reading this has a LOVEly Valentines day!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Fabulous Finds Craft and Recipe Round-Up: Valentine's Edition!!!

♥Get ready for the absolute CUTEST crafts and recipes you'll ever see from all over the web, all in honor of the day of love♥

This is my first edition of the Fabulous Finds Craft and Recipe Round-Up: Valentine's Edition!!! I wish my little girls had the attention span to make all of these with me, because I seriously want to make them ALL. Just click on the links to go straight to the tutorials and find out how to make them yourself!

Here we go. . .

♥These Brookie Bites are way too cute to eat! I'm dying over these!

They're called Brookie Bites because it's a cookie inside a brownie bite (genius, I say!), but I think I need to make some in honor of my own little baby Brookie.

♥How beautiful are these Crayon Hearts? It's a nice, fresh take on the classic iron-crayons-in-wax-paper art project.

♥I wish I had snow in my front yard right now! If I did, I'd definitely be making this adorable Valentine's Snowman. But since a lot of you around the country are enjoying some snow, go build one!

♥This is just about the easiest thing ever! Download these Valentine Fruit Stickers for free and add some love to the fruit you're packing in school lunches!

♥LOVING these Candy Cane Heart Suckers. I must make them!

♥I've seen a lot of different Valentine wreath ideas on blogs and magazines. This one is definitely my fave! If only I could figure out where to buy a cranberry wreath for the base. . .

♥Marshmallow love bugs! I think my kids would gobble these up long before they ever looked this cute, but I still love the idea!

♥Such an easy little tweak packs some serious cuteness factor. Who could say no to Valentine Pizza?

♥My kids love pretty much anything involving pom poms, so maybe they'd actually sit still to make this Valentine window garland.

♥Gumball necklaces! Every little girl's dream!

♥This has got to be the cutest craft involving doilies I've ever seen. And so simple and cheap to make! We're so making these hearts on a string!

♥Another awesome free printable! You could make cookie cartons or paste them onto anything else!

♥This is such a perfect love day snack. . . Valentine Confetti!

♥And these Cupid's Cups would make an awesome dessert!

Are you feeling inspired??? I know I am!

Please let me know how you like my Craft and Recipe Round-up, and if it's popular I'll do more of these in the future! All these ideas are just too adorable not to share!!!

Happy ♥ day!

Fun Finds: Toddler Essentials Super-Giveaway!!!

If you have toddlers, preschoolers, or babies, you're going to love these awesome products I'm reviewing! And all of these companies are offering giveaways too, so this giveaway will have four different winners! All four products have been fully tested by me with my seal of approval. :)

#1~ TruKid All-Natural Hair Products for kids!
This company has a GREAT line of products for kids' hair and bodies, and I got to review the Silly Shampoo, Cool Conditioner, and Dancing Detangler.

Why these are awesome products:
~They're all-natural and biodegradeable!
~The scent is GREAT. The problem I have with many all-natural or organic products is that they smell like weeds or herbs with a strong, terrible scent. The TruKid products are all lightly scented with their citrus essential oil blend and it smells yummy! It's a very kid-friendly scent and makes their hair smell so good afterward.
~The colors of their packaging are so fun, it gets kids excited to use them!
~They work really well. The shampoo and conditioner make the kids' hair really shiny, and the detangler is a great, non-sticky way to make wet hair easier to comb through.

This giveaway is for a whole set of the three TruKid hair products, just like the one I reviewed!

This is such an awesome stool to use for potty training. It fits around the toilet and lets kids rest their legs on it while they're learning to use it. Even if your little ones are already potty-trained, it's a really good replacement for the little step-stool you probably already own.

Why you'll like the Little Looster:
~It never needs to be moved around the bathroom. It just stays in one spot.
~It's comfortable for little kids to use.
~Because it's such a sturdy place for them to put their legs and feet, kids don't get scared about falling in or feeling insecure.
~Since it's white, it matches with any bathroom decor just fine.

I received this soon after I started potty training Kirsten, and I really noticed a difference in how secure she felt. It's far superior to any other potty stool I've ever seen!
At $39.99, I think the price is a little steep if you've never tried it before. So enter to win one here and try it out for yourself!

#3~ The Innobaby Packin' Smart Stack 'N Seal!
I have tried a whole lot of different traveling container options (since you have to have snacks with you at ALL times when you have babies and toddlers!), and this is one of my very favorites I've tried!

Why you'll love the Stack 'N Seal:
~I always like taking a whole variety of snacks with me (raisins, crackers, fruit snacks, etc.) but with all those little containers floating around in your diaper bag it's always so hard to find them! This container has four different tiers that all stack together, so you can take four different snacks with you and have them all in the same place! No more rummaging around your bag looking for the snacks!
~The design is very space-conscious, since it's long and tall. It won't take up a ton of space in your diaper bag.
~It's really easy to fit the tiers together or take them apart. You just twist them, and they seal up!
~Each container comes with a dispensing lid, and you can use them to store both dry and liquid foods. You can also use the tiers to store powdered formula, freeing up even more space in your bag!
~The containers are BPA-, Phthalates-, PVC-, and lead free. And they're safe for dishwashers, microwaves, and freezers!
~4 different color options!

Innobaby has so many awesome-looking products that I would love to try out. Enter to win your very own Packin' Smart Stack 'N Seal!

#4~ A Toddler Pillow and Blanket Set in any fabric of your choice from BobbleRoos!

This super cute set includes a 12x16" kid-sized pillow insert with pillowcase, and a super-sized 60x44" blanket sewn from soft 100% cotton flannel.

Why we love BobbleRoos:
~The pillow is a great size for Kirsten to use. She sleeps with it every night.
~The blanket is a nice size too. You can also use it as an oversized baby blanket, if you're ever frustrated that baby blankets are just too small.
~The fabric is really soft, and stays soft after it's been washed. There's also lots of fabric choices for boys or girls, and you can add personalization! I wish some of the fabric choices were more modern and beautiful, but they are all kid-friendly fabrics that a toddler or older child would really enjoy.

Here's how to enter to win all these great products (yes, there will be 4 separate winners!!!):
*Become a follower of my blog! Or let me know if you already follow me. Either way, leave me a comment and tell me you're a follower! (Just click 'Google Friends Connect' on my sidebar!)

Get extra entries (up to 15 this time!!!) when you:
1. Like me on Facebook! Just click the button on my sidebar to become a Facebook fan!
2. Go to the TruKid website and tell me which of their products you'd most like to try with your kids.
3. Sign up for the TruKid Mailing List, found on the bottom left-hand corner of their website.
4. Tell me why you'd like to try the Little Looster.
5. Go here and follow Little Looster on Twitter.
6. Look around the Innobaby website and tell me which product looks the coolest to you.
7. Sign up for the Innobaby Newsletter, found on the bottom right-hand side of their website.
8. Check out BobbleRoos and tell me which fabric you'd choose if you're the winner.
9. "Like" BobbleRoos on Facebook here.
10. Talk about this giveaway on your Facebook status and link to this post!
11. Tweet about this giveaway and link to me.
12. Mention this giveaway on your blog and link to me!
13. Grab my button off my sidebar and display it somewhere on your blog.
14. Leave a new comment on any of my other recent blog posts (doesn't matter which one, I just love to read your comments!), and let me know you did.
15. Tell me which prize you'd be most excited to win.

*Please leave a separate comment for EACH entry, and make sure I have a way to contact you if you are the winner! This giveaway will close on February 21'st. Good luck!!!

My Disclaimer: I received some free products in exchange for writing honest reviews. All opinions are totally mine and I was not compensated!