Tuesday, July 22, 2014

2k Fan Giveaway! Day 2: Disney's Squish: Mickey Mouse Clubhouse App Giveaway!

Disclosure: I received a copy of this app from Disney Publishing to facilitate the review previously posted here. No other compensation was received and all opinions are 100% honest and my own.



In early June, I reached 2,000 Facebook fans and I was so excited that I decided to celebrate by offering a series of giveaways for my wonderful readers. I originally planned to host 5 giveaways, but I had so many companies respond with amazing products that I am thrilled to announce that I will be hosting 12 days of giveaways!

I am humbled and extremely happy that so many people take time out of their day to read about our family. This blog started as a journal about our daily adventures and has grown into a means to help support my family, something I never imagined possible. So for the next 11 days, visit each day to learn about a new company. On the final day, be sure to check out a special giveaway prize provided by me as a thank you to all of you.

Thank you to each and every one of you for reading my posts and sharing your thoughts and opinions in the comments!


Does your child love Mickey Mouse? If you watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse non stop in your house like we do, this giveaway is for you! Enter to win a code for a free download of the new Disney Publishing app Squish: Mickey Mouse Clubhouse for iPhone and iPad. Kids can choose a clay figure of Mickey or Minnie and accessorize, squish, and stretch the clay to their heart’s content.



My kids both love this app. Check out my review here.


Giveaway


Disney Publishing has generously offered one of my readers a download code for this app. I also have a code to give away so there will be 2 winners!

How to Enter:
This is a Rafflecopter giveaway.  Follow the instructions on the widget to enter. All current likes/follows count! Please contact me if you run into any technical difficulties with Rafflecopter.  The giveaway runs through Tuesday, August 5th at 11:59 PM CST! The winners will have 48 hours to respond to the notification email or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is open to US residents only.

Good luck!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Apple is not affiliated and does not endorse, sponsor or support this third party app. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

2k Fan Giveaway! Day 1: SwimZip Swimsuit!

Disclosure: I received a swimsuit for Grace from SwimZip to facilitate the review previously posted here. No other compensation was received and all opinions are 100% honest and my own.


In early June, I reached 2,000 Facebook fans and I was so excited that I decided to celebrate by offering a series of giveaways for my wonderful readers. I originally planned to host 5 giveaways, but I had so many companies respond with amazing products that I am thrilled to announce that I will be hosting 12 days of giveaways!

I am humbled and extremely happy that so many people take time out of their day to read about our family. This blog started as a journal about our daily adventures and has grown into a means to help support my family, something I never imagined possible. So for the next 11 days, visit each day to learn about a new company. On the final day, be sure to check out a special giveaway prize provided by me as a thank you to all of you.

Thank you to each and every one of you for reading my posts and sharing your thoughts and opinions in the comments!

I'm starting my celebration with one of my new favorite companies, SwimZip. They offer functional, cute swimsuits for all ages. Plus they are a local Kansas company. How cute is Grace in this suit?


SwimZip suits offer sun protection without the discomfort of a pull over rash guard. Read my full review of Grace's SwimZip suit here.

Giveaway

SwimZip has generously offered one of my readers a gift card valued at $29.99 (this is enough to cover the cost of any swimsuit on their site). 

How to Enter:
This is a Rafflecopter giveaway.  Follow the instructions on the widget to enter. All current likes/follows count! Please contact me if you run into any technical difficulties with Rafflecopter.  The giveaway runs through Monday, August 4th at 11:59 PM CST! The winner will have 48 hours to respond to the notification email or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is open to readers worldwide.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Family Movie Night Popcorn with the Perfect Pop App

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Pop Secret. All opinions are 100% honest and my own. 

We love movie nights in our house. The kids enjoy picking out the movies and cuddling with us on the couch while we eat our family movie night popcorn! Who doesn't love popcorn?? If you don't, you're obviously crazy and can stop reading this post since it's all about popcorn.

I have mentioned before on this blog that I am not a great cook. I have a tendency to burn things and I'm ashamed to say that I have burned popcorn on more than one occasion. Even Grace, who adores popcorn, tells me it's gross when it's burned. So a few days during our weekly movie night, I was excited to try Pop Secret's new app, Perfect Pop!

This app saves movie night by listening to the pops in your microwave and letting you know the precise moment your popcorn is perfect. I thought it sounded too good to be true, but I was determined not to burn our popcorn again. So I downloaded the app from the App Store (users must have iPhone 5+ on iOS 7+). We went through the instructions on the app where we learned to turn the volume all the way up on the iPhone and to point the phone’s speaker towards the microwave. For the app to work, it must be held within 3 feet of the microwave the entire time.  Grace was excited to help me so we put our Pop Secret Homestyle Popcorn in the microwave for the suggested cooking time.

When we pushed the start button on the app, we noticed the little stop watch starting to move in the bottom right hand corner of the screen. Grace enjoyed watching that while I read the fun facts that popped up on the screen. 

As we started hearing the pops from the microwave, Grace got so excited to see popcorn popping right on the screen. She was yelling "mama, popcorn, it's popping!!!"

I guess we've taught her enough about stoplights because when the red circle appeared on the screen saying "stop microwave" she told me to "stop, popcorn done!!"

We poured the bag out to find perfectly popped popcorn. There were only a couple of unpopped kernels and no burned pieces at all. Popcorn perfection for our movie night thanks to the Perfect Pop app by Pop Secret!

The kids were ready for our movie snack and they quickly claimed the big bowl for themselves.

I tried to get them to smile for a picture but they were too excited to eat their popcorn and watch their movie so this is the best I got. Yes their mouths are full of popcorn.

Mike and I had to make another bowl so we could eat some too! After finishing that bowl, Grace asked to use the app again, but we decided she'd had enough. She's asking every day so I'm pretty sure we're going to be using this app a lot!

Thanks to Pop Secret for the delicious popcorn and for the Pop Perfect app that will help me make perfect popcorn every time!

Apple is not affiliated and does not endorse, sponsor or support this third party app.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

I just wanted a relaxing evening out!

Yesterday was a particularly difficult day with the kids. Connor's favorite word is no and he's entered the terrible two stage a little early. I spent most of the day putting him in time out over and over while he laughed about doing the things he knows he's not supposed to do. Disciplining him is extremely difficult! By the end of the day, I was beyond frustrated. When Mike got home, I told him we were going out to dinner.  Being the smart man he is, he agreed and we loaded up in the car to head to one of our favorite restaurants, Buffalo Wild Wings. I needed a relaxing night out. That's not what I got.

Dinner was not good. We arrived and they had no high chairs available for Connor as they were all being used. That should of been a sign to us to go somewhere else. But I thought that we could try the booster seat. Now we know that he still NEEDS the highchair. He enjoyed climbing in and out of the booster multiple times in the booth and messing with the window shade despite being told no. He tried to climb on the table, climb under the table, climb on me, you get the picture. Then they got my order wrong twice. The second time I finally just decided to eat it so that we could get out of there. Connor was a mess and I was more frustrated than I had been when we arrived. I was ready to get home and get everybody to bed so I could write a post and relax.

I took Connor and headed to the van only to step off the curb and turn my ankle. Before I knew it, I heard a snap and Connor and I were both on the concrete. He was screaming and I was in so much pain that I couldn't even move to get him. Mike was able to get to him quickly and checked him over. Luckily he was fine, but my knee was bleeding and my ankle had swelled up to three times its normal size. All of the urgent care locations had just closed so off to the local ER we went. I am so grateful that the ER was practically empty and I was in and out in about 1 hour. They did an X-ray and decided that it is just a very bad sprain. I'm supposed to keep it wrapped with a brace on it for support and try to rest it as much as possible.

By the time we went to pick up the kids from grandma and papa's house and got home, it was 11 PM. I was on pain killers and could barely keep my eyes open during the drive. Mike got them both to bed while I tried to hobble around to get ready for bed. I quickly realized that I can't really put much weight on it at all.

Today Mike had to go into work so the kids and I have spent most of the day on the couch watching movies. I've learned that my pain meds make me very sleepy, I actually ended up napping while Connor napped today which I haven't done in ages. Mike brought a rolling office chair upstairs for me to roll around in so that I can make food for the kids and change diapers. Grace has been so sweet about it, she's very concerned about me. This morning when she heard Connor wake up, she said "mama, hold my hand. We're almost there!" as I limped down the hallway. Then she told Connor "be careful, mama's foot ouchie!" Connor however thinks my brace is a fun toy and that stealing my ice pack and running away is hilarious. It's made for an interesting day! Hopefully the rest of the week will be very calm.

All I wanted was a peaceful, relaxing night out!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Encouraging Independent Play in Toddlers

As a stay at home mom, I would love to spend my entire day playing with my kids. Unfortunately, that doesn't happen most days as I have to clean the house, make meals, work on the blog, etc etc. I don't know how many times I've said "why won't they just go play by themselves???" It seems that when my to do list is the longest, they need the most attention.

I've been working hard the last couple of months to find ways to encourage their independent play and I thought I'd share them with you! It's a daily struggle in our house and I'm certainly not an expert but things are slowly getting easier.

Encouraging Independent Play in Toddlers

1. I've noticed that when I spend an hour or two purely focused on my kids in the morning, they are much more likely to enjoy independent playtime later in the day. If I try to start on my to do list first thing in the morning, they throw tantrums and fight. Giving them some undivided attention right away fills some of their "mommy time" needs and gives me time later to focus on things I need to get done.

2. Both of my kids thrive when I give them "jobs" to do. Toddlers love to imitate and I've taken the opportunity to teach them how to help me. If I need to do the dishes, I'll give them each a wet washcloth and let them wash the fronts of the cabinets. If I need to do laundry, they help put things away or drag their empty hampers back to the laundry room. When I vacuum, Connor runs his ball popper toy behind me. I'm able to get my cleaning done and they feel like they've gotten to help!
Helping me clean. Obviously Grace dressed herself that day!
3. If I know that I have a blog deadline coming up or that I need to deep clean the house before guests arrive, I try to plan a fun outing early in the day so that they can get some energy out. Just an hour at the park in the morning can totally transform their moods. They're much more likely to play happily that afternoon if I've given them a chance to run off some of their energy.

4. Both of my kids tend to look at me like I'm crazy when I tell them to just "go play!" But if I set out one or two toys, they are much more likely to get engaged. I like to put away some of the toys they get for Christmas and their birthdays and rotate them out so they get new toys all year round. I can pack up the old ones to bring out again later in the year or donate/sell them. It's more fun to play with "new" toys than with old familiar ones.

5. I've learned through the years that Grace loves more structured activities. Connor will play with toys for hours, but Grace gets bored with them pretty fast. For those toddlers who need more structured playtime check out some of my favorite toddler activities. Most require just a few minutes of set up and then she is able play independently while I write a post or pay bills.

6. This is a hard one for me, but I've learned that to encourage independence, I need to let my kids play. If they get a little dirty or a little messy, that's okay unless they are going to hurt themselves or damage something. They don't need to play with toys exactly how they are supposed to be played with and they don't always need to follow the instructions. If they're having fun, let them be. I often have to stop myself from correcting them. When I'm able to get 30 minutes of work done, the little mess is totally worth it (I do ask them to help clean up when they are done). I always have to remind myself that they are learning and I should encourage them to be creative and have fun.

I laid out a sheet and let them make a huge mess while I got dishes and lots of laundry done.
Totally worth the mess and they had so much fun!
Some day these tips work perfectly and others they don't. There are days that I simply have to push my to do list to the side and remember that my kids need me now. There will be many days later in their lives where I will wish I could go back and cuddle or play with them.

How do you encourage independent play in your house?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Toddler Activities Tuesday: Planes Fire & Rescue Activities!

Planes: Fire & Rescue Coloring Pages and Crafts

Grace saw the preview for "Planes: Fire & Rescue" the other day and has watched it about 20 times since then. She and Connor both love the Planes.


We can't wait until it is released July 18th! If your kids are as excited about this movie as mine are, make sure to check out these great free coloring pages and printable activities from Disney.

I printed some out last week and we've had fun working on them since.
Coloring their favorite characters
Our mobile!
"Look Mom, Planes are flying!"


Click on the links below to download each activity now.












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