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Show Your Kids How Much You Love Them with Hallmark [Giveaway Coming!]

Thursday, January 31, 2013

We generally think of Valentine’s Day as a time for romance, a chance to tell our sweethearts how much they mean to us (and vice versa!) And while that’s certainly true, love comes in many forms – none of which is greater than the love a mother has for her child.

Marlie's half birthday falls around Valentine's Day so the holiday has extra significance for me. I show and tell her how much she means to me all the time, but Valentine’s Day provides a special opportunity to give her tokens of adoration to remind her year-round.

To help moms celebrate the little loved ones in their lives, Hallmark created a special line of Valentine’s gifts and greetings just for kids:
  • Until We Hug Again: Miss a special child? Record your voice into a cuddly Until We Hug Again bunny or bear and they’ll be able to hear your words each time they give the plush a hug. These also make great gifts for grandparents or aunts and uncles who want to send their voice to a beloved child across the miles. 

  • Hallmark Pooh Card
  • Special Delivery Card Presenters for Kids: These cute critters and characters have Valentine messages tucked inside. After a child removes the valentine, he or she can keep this little friend around to store little reminders of how much they’re loved. 

  • Valentine’s Day Greetings for Kids: Tell a special little one what makes him or her your Valentine with kid-friendly Valentine’s Day greetings.

Hallmark Until We Hug AgainBunny Hallmark Valentine's Card for Kids

I had a chance to put all three products to a kid test and they all passed with flying colors. When I gave Marlie the Until We Hug Again bunny she first asked what it did. I told her to hug it and she was surprised to hear a message I had recorded. She hugged it over and over so she could listen to it again and again. The greetings cards were a big hit too, especially the Minnie Mouse and Snoopy special delivery card presenters. The 3-D quality and furry touch make them an instant keepsake.

One of you will win a Until We Hug Again and Valentine's Greetings gift pack in the Crazy Cupid Giveaway Hop February 1st-15th. Hint: Leave a comment on this post for extra entries!

 photo img_reviewgiveawaydisclosure_zps6aa41ede.jpg

The Kid's Log: January 20-26, 2013

Sunday, January 27, 2013

No photos this week, sorry!

I had my cavity filled on Thursday and I never, ever want to go through that again. So I started researching natural methods for preventing and reversing tooth decay. One article stood out. I am going to start making re-mineralizing toothpaste.

Toddler Log: 3 Years and 23 Weeks Old
Marlie had a challenging week. She has been acting extra needy as in she suddenly can't do anything without help. She's been extra cranky too and taking it out on her brother. I hope this is just a rough patch because she is usually gentle with him. She starts gymnastics this week and I hope that brings her out of her funk.

Baby Log: 41 Weeks Old
Desmond had his first peer play date on Tuesday at a neighborhood park. There was a baby three months younger than him and one 3 months older than him. He was the only one who could walk which he gladly showed off. He was the toast of the playground. At one point there was a crowd of moms gathered to watch him go! I wish I could say all that activity wears him out. But he is on a nap strike. I wish I could say that means he sleeps late. But he is waking up between 5 am-5:30 am every morning ready to party. I'm the one who isworn out!

#GiveAHoot Giveaway Hop: $25 GreenDeals.org + Owl Tee

Thursday, January 24, 2013

This is my first giveaway of the new year and I am tickled to be participating in the Giveaway a Hoot Hop hosted by A Spectacled Owl and Kids, Clutter & Chaos. All of the bloggers are offering prizes that are owl-related. You have until midnight January 31st to enter them all. It's going to be a hoot!

My prize package is worth $37 and open to US residents:

A $25 credit to GreenDeals.org to buy something environmentally-friendly. Read my review. Remember to Give a Hoot and Don't Pollute!

owl T shirtAn awesome "Owl ♥ U Forever" Tee from Target similar to the one in this photo (source polvore). It has pink sleeves and collar and is size XL. Perfect for Valentine's Day! It's so soft I would sleep in it.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wordful Wednesday: Swinging

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Some snaps from our lazy Sunday at the park:
tire swinging with daddy
All three of them on the tire swing.

tire swinging with daddy
Faster, daddy! Higher, daddy!

tire swinging with daddy
Is that look a mix of fear and excitement? That's my daredevil!

Monday Morning Parenting: What To Do When You and Your Kid Have a Personality Conflict

Monday, January 21, 2013

Robert Bevan [Public domain]
via Wikimedia Commons
When my obstetrician confirmed my belief that my firstborn was going to be a girl my heart soared with joy, my mind filled with happy thoughts, and my spirit floated to cloud nine. I vowed we'd have a mother-daughter relationship to rival Hillary and Chelsea, Beyonce and Tina, Joan and Melissa!

My beautiful baby girl was born August 15, a numerical mirror of my birthday May 18, which I took as a symbol of how tight we'd be. I began daydreaming of all the things we'd do together...wear matching outfits, host tea parties for the teddy bears, read books under the covers. Later on, we'd have conversations with our foreheads touching and shop for her prom dress. I even built a blog around my great expectations.

Then my daughter turned 1, and she became a little person complete with her own developing identity and individual personality. Imagine my shock (and horror) that she was the opposite of me in almost every way. I'm introverted, she's extroverted. I'm low energy, she's high energy. I'm a neat freak, she likes to get messy. I'm a homebody, she's a social butterfly. I'm a people-pleaser, she does what she pleases. You get the point.

Our divergent personalities became more pronounced as she got older. I would want to snuggle on the couch reading books and she would get fidgety after two minutes because she can't stand to sit still. Things came to a head when she was about 2.5 years old. Our personalities were constantly clashing and I inwardly lamented that we'd never be close. Then her preschool teacher recommended a book that changed my outlook and changed the course our relationship. How to Raise Your Spirited Child opened my eyes to a new world of parental engagement. I learned how to work with my daughter's personality type and our interactions have improved.

But our differences still cause problems sometimes. Marlie is a button-pusher, sassy, and possesses a self-confidence that borders on obnoxious. I find myself being unnerved by these qualities because they are so not me. After one particular exhausting day of butting heads, I put my psychology hat on and came up with two solutions:

  • Find common ground: Even "odd couples" have things in common. Luckily for me and my daughter, I didn't have to dig deep to find our shared interests. We both like reading, creating art, and running. I make sure we bond over these activities. When we engage in activities that we both enjoy there is no tension or resentment and everyone is fulfilled.

  • Find a surrogate: When the gap between you and your child seems so wide that you cannot imagine a way to bridge it, find someone or something to fill in. For me that person is my daughter's father. They are very much alike so he can relate to her better on many levels. Am I jealous? I used to be, but now I am relieved that she has someone in her life who understands her. I also enrolled her in preschool and extracurricular activities so that she is getting her social needs met because I'd spend all day curled up on the couch with a book if it were up to me.
Are you and your kid(s) alike or different? How do you bond?

The Kids' Log: January 13-19, 2013

Sunday, January 20, 2013

This was a good week. A really good week. And I have pictures!

The weather has been awesome. No rain and temperatures in the mid-60s. It was so pleasantly warm that I walked the kids to the organic ice cream shop after our park play date on Friday. On the way home I saw the most beautiful hummingbird in a flower garden. It was iridescent and just stopped me in my tracks. I fumbled in the diaper bag for my camera and scared it away.

Our mortgage bank accepted an offer on our home in Dallas. It will be a short sale, but that's better than no sale and foreclosure!

Toddler Log: 3 Years and 22 Weeks Old
kid eating ice creamMarlie is such a drama queen. All little kids have dramatic moments, but my child is a true dramatic actress. She moves and speaks with such performance. Even eating is like a mini play. When she is accepting her first academy award, I hope she mentions that her mother recognized her talent early on.

I don't know when she learned about dying. After a I squashed an ant she I told me I "died" it.

Baby Log: 40 Weeks Old
baby in the grass
Desmond has moved onto climbing. Stairs, chairs, the couch are all obstacle courses now. He tasted pineapple for the first time this week and he is a big fan. He is definitely a bigger eater than Marlie was at his age. He is also more physically aggressive than she was (hence the early walking). He attacks me when he's nursing. He pinches my ears, knees me in the ribs, tweaks my collar bone, and sometimes he goes for the jugular and squeezes my throat. He is like a scary character out of Shakespeare.

Save Big on Green Products

Friday, January 18, 2013

I am hooked on daily deal sites! I scour my inbox for offers every morning and I hit the BUY button at least once a week. So imagine my delight now that I can satisfy my passions for online bargain-hunting and green shopping at GreenDeals.org.

GreenDeals.org launched in October 2010 to offer discounts and deals from local and national green businesses approved by Green America. GreenDeals also offers contests, content, tips, and promotes green living to thousands of consumers. Here's a sample of one the deals currently available:
yoga grip socks yoga grip socks
GreenDeals is offering these Yoga Grips Socks that retail for $20 for 25% off. They can be yours for $15 and shipping is included! I have never heard of yoga socks, but they look comfy and useful. That's the beauty of GreenDeals. You will discover new green brands and feel good about your purchase. 

But you don't have to wait for GreenDeals daily specials to buy eco-friendly, fair trade and organic products. Thanks to their newly re-branded Go Green Marketplace you can shop from over 1,500 apparel, personal care, and home goods from the comfort of your home. New items are being added weekly and shipping is free on orders over $50. 

Get a jump start on green shopping at GreenDeals and Go Green Marketplace with a $5 off coupon code: marlieandme5. Hurry. it expires a month from today!

Fire up February & Ignite Your Senses Giveaway Signup

Thursday, January 17, 2013

M.O.O.N. button


ignite your senses blog hop 

Co-Hosted by:

"Fire up February and Ignite Your Senses"

This Blog Hop Giveaway Event is all about you, me, us, and them!  We want our readers to feel great about themselves especially during the month of passion!  Since this is an "Ignite Your Senses" themed hop, prizes can be anything related to the 5 senses - Taste, Touch, Sight, Smell, and Hearing.  *Ideas for each category will be provided in the Facebook Group to help with sponsor/prize ideas*

Because this is a Blog Hop, each Blogger is responsible for securing their OWN giveaway on their OWN blog  at a minimum of $25 total.  The prize can be sponsored or you can self-sponsor.  Each blog can have more than one winner, but each winner must win a prize valued at $25 or more.   2 links on the GP Rafflecopter are free for anyone participating!

Joining this event is FREE with announcement!!  

If you are participating with your own giveaway the cost is for a spot on the Grand Prize is FREE
Link Options:
Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest
Daily Picket Fence Votes or Daily Klout are $3
**If you are a business or organization interested in sponsoring a prize in the "Fire up February and Ignite Your Senses" Event please contact ldybug1682@gmail.com** 

When: 2/11-2/25

Who: Open to US residents in the continental 48 states
**Bloggers worldwide can join in the participation as long as you have at least 50% US readership
Sign-ups close 2/4
**The blogger with the most referrals will receive the additional links at no cost
Click HERE to sign up and for more html info.
Also DON'T FORGET to add yourself to the linkie below if you are participating in the hop.

M.O.O.N. has now added several perks/discounts for frequent participation in our events but you must be a member of our Facebook group to be eligible.  Please visit the M.O.O.N. group if you are a blogger and would like more information regarding these perks and other group events.

Wordful Wednesday: Here Comes the Hotstepper

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Desmond has progressed from taking a few small steps to walking like a drum major in a matter of days. His favorite thing right now is to walk from room to room, the kitchen being his favorite place to roam. I followed him yesterday and captured a few action shots of his moves...

Desmond walking
I sneak up behind him as he passes through a stream of light
Desmond walking
He hears me and quickly turns around without falling down, he is very agile! 
Desmond walking
He notices the camera and gives chase.

No nonsense colored tights add flare to my mom-fashion style

Monday, January 14, 2013

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of No nonsense for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.
My fashion style took a sharp turn toward practical after I became a mom. I cannot chase a toddler in 5 inch heels and I don't have time to run to the dry cleaners to get jelly stains out of silk shirts. I define mom-fashion as pieces that are comfortable and easy to clean, but in no way does it mean boring!
Thanks to the new No nonsense tights and leggings I can spice up my mom-on-the go look with trendy pops of color. Check out this outfit I put together on polyvore. It's perfect for the school fundraiser, dining out with family or book club meeting.
mom fashion
Don't you agree that the No nonsense tights turned my functional outfit into a totally fun outfit?! Plus they will keep my legs warm in these chilly NorCal winter nights. I want one in in every color! At less than $10/pair, I can afford to buy them all. No nonsense tights/leggings can be easily found at food & drug stores as well as mass retail stores. I am going to be keeping my eyes open for them in the hoisery section.
No nonsense wants women to know that anyone can rock colored tights so they've partnered with Style Expert Jill Martin. As the new brand ambassador, Jill will be featured in a series of online vignettes that show women how to wear the latest trends that include colored tights and essential leggings.

Stay connected with No nonsense on Facebook and on Twiiter @benononsense so you can get fashion tips from Jill and enter the Facebook contest where a winner and her friend will meet Jill in NYC for a shopping spree and lots of great style advice!
Visit Sponsor's Site

The Kids' Log: Jan.6-12, 2013

Sunday, January 13, 2013

My apologies for another picture-less post. I must get better about that. I'm just so busy being in the moment, soaking up the experience with my kids that I forget to whip out the camera. That's not necessarily a bad thing, right? Speaking of photos, thanks for the votes in the contest! I think we won, but I haven't received notice yet.

This has been an up and down week. One positive was the return of Downton Abbey last Sunday. Did you watch? It was so worth the wait! The downside of this week is the overwhelming exhaustion I have been experiencing lately. The kind of tired that has me passing out on the couch at 7:30 pm most nights. It's no way to live. I am missing out on so much by falling asleep so early. I am pretty sure it's adrenal fatigue and now I have to go get checked out. The last time this happened I couldn't exercise for six months while I recovered. That would throw a huge monkey wrench in my marathon plans. That might be a non-issue since I don't seem to have the energy to go past 15 miles. Plus my training is suffering not being about to do serious mileage during the week. I might have to scale back to the half marathon.

I've answered my last door bell ring at 7 o'clock in the evening. It was bad enough with the political canvassers during election season, but a new wave of solicitations have started that consist of college students selling all sorts of crap to fund trips abroad and whatnot. They have no respect for sleeping babies or dinnertime. I decided a sign was in order. I was going to make one, but then turned to tried and true etsy and found a sizable selection. I picked a rustic design to match our exterior paint and I am eagerly awaiting it's arrival. I almost went with a sign that read, "We already found Jesus, We already know who we are voting for and My kid is selling the same crap." But I decided to go with a less cheeky message.

Toddler Log: 3 Years and 21 Weeks Old
Marlie had an interesting week. She was definitely happy to be back at school for a full week. She was so excited that she fell off the monkey bars again and bumped her chin on a bar on the way down. Ouch! She had a play date at our house on Saturday with the neighbors girls and they made sand art necklaces, terrariums, and paper plate insects. She is not the most gracious hostess. I had to keep reminding her to share and not boss her friends around. I have a feeling I am wasting my breath though. The girls are older so they are real patient with her and I am thankful for that.

Her vocabulary astounds me sometimes. Like when she says actually, mommy, I already went to the potty.

Baby Log: 39 Weeks Old
Desmond had his 9 month wellness check with the new pediatrician on Wednesday. We could no longer afford our beloved former pediatrician who was out-of-network. He is a super healthy little guy, but has only gained about 4 ounces in three months. I know this is due to his rather active lifestyle, but I want my chubby wubby Magoo back! He's added new moves to his walk, including pivoting and turning around in a circle.

The Kids' Log: Dec. 30, 2012-Jan. 5-2013

Sunday, January 6, 2013

How was your first week of 2013?! Being on the west coast for New Year's Eve has it's perks like watching the Time Square countdown live at 8:59 pm local time and still getting to bed at a decent hour. With two little ones I just cannot hang until midnight anymore.

I need a favor folks. Please vote for the kids' in this photo contest. Go here: link. Scroll to the 2nd category, Grinch Photo Contest, and click the vote link under the photo titled "The Frog Grinch." It's the first photo of the kids in their Halloween costumes. Thanks, I owe you!

Toddler Log: 3 Years and 20 Weeks Old
Miss Sassy has a new catch phrase: "it's a sticky situation." I think she got it from Scooby-Doo. She returned to school on Wednesday, but it was a short week since she is off on Fridays. We met up with our Friday play date pals at Shorebird Park at the Berkeley Marina since it was a balmy 60 degrees! By the way, Marlie drew a map to help me get there after I told her I had to look up the directions. Armed with sand pails and shovels, the kids collected sea shells on the beach and waded in the surf with their rain boots. It was beautiful. I forgot to take pictures. See, I already broke my one new year's resolution.

Marlie has taken a sudden and very strong interest in the Earth. She is fascinated by our globe and she constantly wants to watch programs about Earth through the Netflix subscription. She asks a million questions to which we answer, "what do you think?"

Baby Log: 38 Weeks Old
Desmond has a serious case of the teething grumps. He likes to bite my knee caps (my guess is because they are bony). This week he officially became a walker! He's still wobbly, but he can walk across the room if he doesn't get too excited. Marlie is his biggest cheerleader. I tried to get him walking on video, but he fell every time I pointed my camera at him. Then the minute I put it down he would do the perfect walk. This is the best home movie of a sort of Franken-walk:

ModernGreetings Second Honeymoon Contest #4

Friday, January 4, 2013

second honeymoon contest

ModernGreetings.com wants to help four married couples re-celebrate their union with a second honeymoon in a series of individually-themed contests! Participants will be asked to complete various tasks via social media, such as submitting a funny photo, creating a video response or pinning pictures on Pinterest.

The final Contest Theme #4 is Most Memorable Wedding Moment Video! The contest runs Jan. 4th – 10th. Contestants must upload a video of their most memorable wedding moment OR (if you don’t have a video from your wedding) you can create a video explaining your most memorable wedding moment. The winner will be decided on votes this time, so share your entry and encourage friends and family to vote! Enter by uploading your video through the contest tab on ModernGreetings Facebook page. Note: If you are creating a video, use a smartphone or webcam for ease of shooting and uploading, it doesn't need to be cinema quality. This infographic explains more:

second honeymoon contest

The winning couple for each contest will win a trip to the destination of their choice up to $3,000, that can be used towards airfare, hotel, rental car, dining out, and additional expenses. Winners will also receive a professionally designed photo book for them to showcase their trip, so make sure you take lots of pictures! Participation in all contests is not required. Even if you don’t win the Grand Prize, all participants will receive a $5 ModernGreetings.com voucher, good towards any purchase on ModernGreetings.com, so everybody wins!


Wordful Wednesday: My One New Year's Resolution

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Grinch Baby Christmas Photo
You know I don't make New Year Resolutions, but I decided that one couldn't hurt. In 2013 I resolve to take more photos like this that capture the perfectly imperfect moments of my kids' lives because these are the ones with the good stories to tell them later. As in..."this was the day I was trying to get the lighting right for our family Christmas card photo and your brother was pitching a fit and you tried to hold and comfort him but he was not cooperating and you were so distraught by his squirming you said TAKE HIM BACK MOMMY!

College Scholarship Opportunity from Nordic Naturals

My babies are pretty smart thanks to genetics (of course) and help from omega-3 fatty acids also called "smart fats." I'm not just bragging, there is research to back this up. According to scientific studies the consumption of omega-3 fatty acids is linked to improved attention, learning, memory, behavior and higher test scores in children.

I first learned about the importance of omega-3 fatty acids for brain development when I was pregnant. When I asked what brand was the best my obstetrician, the health food store manager, and my children's pediatrician all said Nordic Naturals. It was comforting to know that they all shared the same opinion! Nordic Naturals has become a staple of my family's diet because they help your brain continue to develop long after birth. My daughter gets the Omega-3 Jellies, my son gets the Cod Liver Oil and I still take Nordic Prenatal DHA, which has helped me overcome "mommy brain."

Nordic Naturals’ recently announced its “Learn. Inspire. Change. 2013 What’s Essential Essay Scholarship” for new and returning college students. As part of the company’s “What’s Essential” campaign, Nordic Naturals is challenging the next generation to learn what’s essential to them, inspire healthy and positive choices in others, and become the new face of change that shapes our world.

Nordic Naturals Scholarship Flyer

Scholarship applicants will be asked to answer the question:
What are the essential components of the education that your generation needs to make a positive impact on the world?
The applicant who best answers the question in 1000-1500 words will receive $5000 for college and a year’s supply of Nordic Naturals’ award-winning omega-3 products. The essay and accompanying application materials will be accepted on Nordic NaturalsFacebook page from January 1 through March 31, 2013. The scholarship recipient will be named on Facebook on or around June 1, 2013.

*All statements and products mentioned in this post have not been reviewed by the FDA and is not intended to diagnose, cure or treat any diseases.*


My Big Plans for 2013

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year Folks! I wish you joy and happiness, but above all this I wish you L-O-V-E!
Bonne année 2013
By PRA (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons
I don't make new year resolutions, I make plans and then I execute them.

And I have B-I-G plans for 2013 although it will be hard to top 2012's birth of my son, move to California, and re-election of President Obama.

I am going to try really hard to make 2013 a year to remember. I will be running walking a marathon, celebrating Magoo's 1st birthday, returning to the workforce, celebrating 13 years of marriage, celebrating Marlie's 4th birthday, and working on publishing a book. That's more than enough, don't you think?

But I also have big plans for this blog. I have been working behind the scenes to clean up this space. I have changed my FTC disclosure statements to images and combed my archives to make sure this blog is in compliance with Google's no-follow policy for sponsored posts, reviews and giveaways. I am also going back and adding alt tags to all photos and graphic images because that is just good SEO practice. I'm going after my PR 3 in 2013, y'all! Other forthcoming changes will be more obvious like a redesign. Stay tuned!

What I'm Watching on #Netflix

This week's picks from Netflix Instant Watch:

TV Show:
Death ValleyDeath Vallley. This is another Damon discovery. The Los Angeles police department assigns a special "Undead Task Force" to rid the San Fernando Valley of vampires, zombies and werewolves, but these monsters lust for more than your blood and brains (think about what the Valley is famous for exporting) and the cops have their own documentary film crew to capture their hilarious incompetence. It's like watching The Walking Dead crossed with Reno 911.

Mirror MirrorMirror Mirror. This modern update of the Snow White fairy tale was released around the same time as Snow White and The Huntsman, but they are completely different movies. This is a comedic revisionist take on the storybook classic. I think the writers were shooting for wink-wink tongue-in-cheek humor more so than belly laughs. The opulent costumes and set designs recall the Capitol lifestyle of The Hunger Games, all which leads me to believe that the movie is really a satirical love letter on Hollywood's obsession with youth, beauty, fashion and the money that buys it. Julia Roberts put just the right amount of wicked and funny in the Evil Queen, but she isn't believable as an aging beauty queen desperate to hold onto her title. Noteworthy performances by The Prince and the Seven Dwarfs round out a cast of crazy characters. Overall, I found the movie quite charming.
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