A Modern Day Fairy Tale: July 2014

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Summer Style with Cloth Diapers

A huge thanks to Buttons Diapers for providing the adorable diapers that can be seen in this post. All thoughts are my own.

We all know the benefits of using cloth diapers. They save money. They're better for baby. They're better for the planet. These are all great, responsible and logical reasons to choose cloth. But there is another not so practical reason that many of us love cloth...they're absolutely, positively adorable! And when it comes to being adorable, Buttons Diapers are at the top of my list!

Let's face it...disposable diapers aren't really that cute. They're boring with their plain white style...sure some have favorite characters, but still are nothing in comparison to the many fun designs and colors available with cloth. Once they've been on for a bit- soiled or not- they seem to start to look dingy...it's like the dirt just goes straight to them. Truly, they just aren't as FUN as cloth!

During the summer, using cloth is even better! Why? A cute top and diaper is all you need to have a stylish baby in the summer heat! Why wear pants with diapers this cute!?

I love solid colored diapers with a cute top for a simple summer look...but want to take it up a notch? Bring on the prints! Seriously, how perfect is the new Acres diaper for summer (and fall) trips to the farm!? I adore it!!

This is only one of the 4 fabulous prints just introduced by Buttons. Take a look at these other cute diapers (and a few style ideas I put together with clothing from Carters). How would YOU style them?

The great thing about Buttons (aside from being stinkin' adorable!)? They are an all in two system...which means you simply change the insert, NOT the whole diaper...the cuteness can last throughout the day! This certainly is another great thing to love about cloth...Pants? No, thank you!!

Want to add some cute diapers to your child's summer wardrobe. Be sure to connect with Buttons at the links below:

Visit the Website.
Like on Facebook.
Follow on Twitter.

Do you enjoy coordinating diapers and creating fun summer styles for your child? What fun ways would you style the new Buttons prints? Which is your favorite?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

For the Little Men: A Green Scene Mom Giveaway

Little girls are super easy to shop for aren't they? With my daughter I feel I'm constantly telling myself she has too much stuff and doesn't need anymore. Cute GIRL stuff is EVERYWHERE! Boy stuff? In my experience, it was a little harder to find! So, if you have a little boy who needs a little spoiling, then this giveaway is for YOU! 

Green Scene MomThese adorable products are designed especially for little boys to encourage imaginative play, inspire healthy eating and simple mealtimes, and cover the basic essentials. Check out Green Scene Mom's favorite products for little rambunctious boys to use and enjoy as they explore the world around them. Moms will also love these companies for encouraging eco-friendly lifestyles through their innovative product designs.
Green Scene Mom - Alex Toys GiveawayAlex Toys' Busy Fire Truck is a new twist to a classic wood toy! Baby will love playing with 8 fun colorful activities on every side of the Busy Fire Truck! Actives include rolling wheels, a curvy bead maze, a mirror, turning picture tiles, a spinning gear, a movable ladder and a discovery wheel. Includes a pop-up feature too. For ages 10+ mos. For more information, visit alextoys.com.
Green Scene Mom - Pacific Baby GiveawayPacific Baby thermal bottles keep liquids hot or cold for up to ten hours. These high quality bottles are versatile to use from birth to 5 years old and make feeding and drinking simple during outings and while traveling.

The wide neck offers greater visibility and the inner scale simplifies measuring out formula. The bottle nipples come in three speeds and are naturally shaped. Just add handles and a spout to transform this bottle into a sippy cup for older kids. For more information, visit pacificbabyworld.com.
Green Scene Mom - pediped Giveawaypediped's adorable shoes are perfect for going on summer adventures! These stylish shoes fit comfortably and ensure healthy foot development. They are available in more than 140 designs for boys and girls.

Exceptional quality, unsurpassed comfort and distinctive styling have made pediped the fastest growing children's footwear brand in the United States. pediped footwear is sold in over 2,500 stores in the United States and 40 countries worldwide. pediped has also received many awards for their innovative footwear designs. For more information, visit pediped.com.
Green Scene Mom - BreathableBaby GiveawayBreathableBaby is a child product safety company dedicated to breathable innovations that address parents' concern for baby's safety inside the crib.

BreathableBaby products include breathable mesh crib liners which are designed to address the risks of suffocation and entanglement, breathable wearable blankets and blankets with moisture wicking mesh fabrics to keep your baby comfortable by reducing overheating, and breathable toys that are safer for baby to snuggle with. For more information, visit breathablebaby.com.
Green Scene Mom - Yummi Pouch GiveawayYummi Pouch makes eco-friendly snack solutions that encourage healthy snacks for active kids. Their reusable food pouches are freezer safe, dishwasher safe, BPA-free, Phthalate-free, and can be filled with healthy blended snacks and easily taken on-the-go, no spoon required.

Yummi Pouch also recently introduced cloth snack and sandwich bags, each lined with a water resistant interior and decorated with colorful prints. They're perfect for crackers, chips, and sandwiches and also make great little storage bags for hair accessories and cosmetics. For more information, visit yummipouch.com.
Green Scene Mom - Baby Bump Bundle GiveawayBaby Bump Bundle creates care packages for moms-to-be by trimester, newborn babies, and nursing new moms. Baby Bump Bundle also offers high quality products for moms and babies individually, so you can build your own bundle or just buy an item that catches your eye! For more information, visit babybumpbundle.com.
Green Scene Mom - oogaa Giveawayoogaa designs and manufactures non-toxic feeding products for baby and young children. Their award-winning divided plate is stackable, soft, durable and easy to clean. It's also dishwasher, microwave, freezer and oven safe. oogaa's tugboat spoon makes mealtime fun! Toot-toot... open wide, here comes the tugboat! For more information, visit oogaa.com.
Green Scene Mom - Buttons Diapers GiveawayButtons Cloth Diapers are quality, affordable, and adorable cloth diapers that are an easy to use two-in-one system. Buttons' one-size diaper covers can snap to fit babies from 9-35 lbs, and are made of 2 layers of soft wipeable PUL with double gussets around the legs. Their snap-in diaper inserts are soft and absorbant, and come in two sizes. For more information, visit buttonsdiapers.com.

These wonderful companies have allowed us to give away an amazing gift set! One lucky mom will win these great Little Man Summer Essentials for their little guy!

Prize Gift Set - Retail Value $260

BreathableBaby buried treasure sheet, mesh blanket & toy elephant - $45.99
pediped pair of boys shoes - $35
Alex Toys Busy Fire Truck - $43.95
Pacific Baby bottle set - $50
Baby Bundle 3 item gift set - $30
Yummi Pouch Spunky snack bags & mustache dishwasher safe stickers - $15.99
oogaa silicone divided plate & silicone tugboat spoon - $16.99
Buttons Diapers diaper cover, 2 daytime inserts & 1 nighttime doubler - $24.50
Little Man Giveaway
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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

First Day of First Grade (and First Day of Mainstream!)

Yesterday was my little man's first day of the first grade! (Yes, back to school already! All of our local schools are on a modified school year- longer breaks throughout the year and a shorter summer.)

As some of you may recall, this particular first day was a big one for him for a few reasons. First of all, he started at a new school! Being in a developmental kindergarten class last year meant he had to go where that class was offered, even though it wasn't his 'home' school. So, now that he is out of that class, it was time to change. Scary for a kid who doesn't handle transition well, but we started preparing him early and he could not be more thrilled with the change!

But in even bigger news, this is his very first year in a mainstream classroom! Up until this point, he has been in a solely special education classroom (aside from a brief month immediately after our move when they placed him in an inclusion preschool class...which did NOT go well). When you have a child in special education, mainstreaming is a goal that you truly strive for, and the fact they they believe he is ready is an amazing sign of how much progress he has made over the last year. He will still be offered support throughout the day of course, but still in a classroom with typically developing children.

Still, despite the excitement, it's also just a little bit scary. It means that he will be expected to act appropriately socially- something he still struggles with- and will have less support throughout the day than he has become used to. It means that he will need to be able to focus and stay seated and quiet more than before. And it means he will be in a classroom with peers who may not understand his differences. You see, Shaun so desperately wants to make friends, but like many on the spectrum isn't quite sure how to do so. He is VERY loving and loves to give hugs and be right next to those he loves- not understanding personal boundaries or that not everyone likes being hugged constantly. He doesn't understand that not everyone is into the same things he is, or wants to talk about that same thing over and over and over again. (Or answer the same question 10 times!) In his mind, this is how conversation and friendships work. Unfortunately, we've already seen that many kids (and adults alike) are annoyed by this. Kids especially don't know why he talks the way he does. I'm not worried about him academically. He's the smartest kid I know, and I know he will thrive. My hope for him this year is to find a friend or two who he can relate to and form a real relationship...and that he continues to do better socially and behaviorally.

We are two days in and already he is thrilled to be there! He is enjoying his teacher and the new school and seems to like his classmates as well. I cannot wait to see how much he learns and grows this year! He is going to be AMAZING!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Wake Up & Get Back to School with NESTLE for Breakfast {#MyGoodLife #shop #CollectiveBias}

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MyGoodLife, #CollectiveBias

Ah, back to school time. New clothes, fun school supplies, new friends...back to school can be a super exciting time. But it's not ALL exciting. Back to school also means no more sleeping in! For the kids, or for mommy! And I'll be honest, this mommy is NOT a morning person. Quite frankly, I'm lucky to remember to make sure my child leaves the house fully dressed! Getting up, dressed AND preparing a big fancy breakfast for the two of us? Uh-uh...NOT happening! So, I headed over to my local Walmart to grab a few items for the perfect early morning, back to school pick me up!

Before I do anything else in the morning, I need to WAKE UP. Like I said, I am NOT a morning person.
So I need something to wake me up, and I need it quick! What better way to wake up then with a nice hot cup of coffee!?
But again, I'm lucky to remember pants...working the coffee machine in my state of sleep deprivation? That's just a bad cup of coffee waiting to happen. Besides, who has time for that? For the Nescafe Taster's Choice instant coffee is ideal. I get that great coffee taste I need, and I get it FAST! And of course I can't forget the Coffee-mate creamers to take it to the next level. Most mornings I'm a Classic Vanilla kinda girl...but if I'm looking for a little extra umph, the Caramel Macchiato makes the perfect morning treat!
Now that I've gotten myself woken up, it's time to feed the boy! Sure, I might be more awake now, but our time is still limited, so I still need something fast. A bowl of cereal? Eh, that gets old really fast. Instead, I want a warm breakfast that will fill him up and keep him focused during the day ahead. Stouffer's Morning Classics are perfect...they have the classic morning breakfast varieties everyone loves...but without taking the time! He seems to think they are pretty delicious as well.

Back to school is such a busy time, and unfortunately, means less time with our kiddos. So, why would we not make the most of our time that we DO have with them? With these great breakfast treats, we can share a wonderful meal each morning. It's ready in minutes, so there's no worry about wasting our moments over the stove, instead we can spend them around the table. I can take that time to remind him each and every morning how absolutely awesome he is and encourage him to go to school and be GREAT. When he is grown and old and he looks back on our early mornings before school, he's not going to remember how much time I spent on each meal. He's going to remember the conversations, the hugs, the MOMENTS we shared. Isn't that what motherhood is truly all about? Want to see some more ways to share flavorful moments with your loved one? Visit this site for fun ideas from more wonderful bloggers! How do you make time each morning to share special moments with your family? Do you enjoy a warm breakfast? Early morning snuggles before getting out of bed? How can Nestle and Stouffer's make your mornings even better?

Friday, July 25, 2014

Why Do YOU Cloth Diaper? (+ 5 Surprising Reasons to Fall in Love With Cloth)

Why do YOU cloth diaper?

Is it to save money? To keep harsh chemicals away from your baby? Reduce waste in the landfills? Or perhaps you just like the way cloth looks over disposable? Or even feel like that's what you're 'supposed' to do?

For me, it was a combination of factors that weighed into my decision to use cloth. I loved that it was better for baby and the environment...and yes, even that they were cute. But the number one deciding factor for us was the cost. When we decided to add onto our family, we knew that as a single income military family we would have to watch our budget carefully in order to make it work. Cloth diapering was one easy way that we knew we could save a ton of money. Sure the initial investment was steep, but at 11 months old we've paid just around $200 to diaper our girl...well worth the cost!

Regardless of why you started to cloth diaper, most of us find MANY more reasons to love it as we go. In fact, some of us might even become a little bit addicted! (It's hard not to become addicted when there are so many adorable options, right?) Want to know some surprising reasons I've found to love cloth more? Check out my post here at the Smarti Pants blog!!

Why did you choose to use cloth? Have there been any surprising reasons you've fallen even more in love? I'd love to hear all about it!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Clean Bums...For Everyone with Cottonelle (Plus a Coupon!) #LetsTalkBums

Many thanks to Cottonelle for sponsoring today's story, and keeping all the bums in my household clean!

Here at A Modern Day Fairy Tale, we talk about bums quite often, right? From diaper brands to diaper accessories to poop and more...we've talked about it all. But let's be honest, baby bottoms are not the ONLY bottoms that need wiping around here! That's right,  today we're talking bathroom routines for the REST of the household.

We all know a good toilet paper is a must, don't we? I'll be honest, I'm known to pinch pennies and buy the cheapest options available on just about anything...but when it comes to toilet paper, cost- while still important- is not priority one. Instead, I want to find the right paper that is gentle on the skin and tough on the...ahem, well the mess! Cottonelle Clean Care Toilet Paper is a great choice for my household. It's strong and effective and still soft too.

In my household the biggest mess-maker is certainly my 6 year old son. You see, as is fairly common with children on the spectrum, he still struggles with potty training. Accidents are an every day occurrence...and cleaning them up...well, it's not a job I look forward to! To be entirely honest, sometimes even the best toilet paper is just NOT enough. Sometimes I feel like I could easily go through half a role of toilet paper before finally giving up and sending him to have yet another bath. There HAD to be an easier way. Cottonelle once again has us covered with their Fresh Care Flushable Cleansing Wipes. I couldn't wait to give them a try.

I am happy to say that they've made potty time a much more pleasant experience around here. No longer am I scrubbing and scrubbing with no results. His bottom stays clean, and my sanity stays a little more intact.

But these wipes aren't just great for potty training, they are truly useful for EVERY member of the household who wants a better clean. I mean, we use wipes for baby bottoms because we know wet wipes get the job done better...why stop once we're out of diapers? Cottonelle Clean Care provides the perfect clean for normal messes, and Fresh Care covers the messes that need a little more umph! Together they are an unbeatable team!

Here are a few quick facts about both products:

Cottonelle Fresh Care Flushable Cleansing Cloths:

- Flushable
- Break up after flushing
- Sewer- and septic-safe
- Alcohol-free
- OneTouch dispensing tub
- Great for the entire family

Cottonelle Clean Care Toilet Paper

• Strong and effective for a confident clean
• Tuggable, huggable softness that goes a long way
• Two-ply
• Pairs well with Cottonelle Flushable Cleansing Cloths for the ultimate in clean

But don't just take my word for it... you can try them for yourselves! And because we all LOVE saving money, you can use this coupon for $1.50 off! What are you waiting for? Start shopping! Your bum will thank you!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Summer Travel Made Fun with Tiny Love {A Giveaway}

**Product received for review.

Ah, summertime...the season of swimming pools, ice cream and lots of fun. For many of us, it's also the season of travel. In my family, we may not do any real vacations...but we do travel 3.5 hours to visit family quite often. And traveling with kids...well, let's just say it can be rather interesting. My son was always a great traveler, but my daughter...well, not so much. By the last hour or so, our usually super happy, laid back child is ready to be done! So, what are we to do? When traveling with a kiddo who hates her car seat, entertainment is key. And for that the new Tiny Love Woodland Take-Along Arch is perfect! Let's take a look:

Stroller rides are even more fun for baby with the Woodland Take Along Arch. The soft arch, which clips easily onto most strollers, car seats and other baby gear, features three dangling toys with a variety of activities, textures and sounds.  A baby’s visual development and gross motor skills will be stimulated as he grabs for the snail teether or rattling owl, plays with the crinkly peek-a-boo leaf or smiles at himself in the mirror.  The Woodland Take Along Arch can be easily angled and positioned for baby to reach, and it folds conveniently to fit in mom’s diaper bag or backpack.  (ARP: $24.99-29.99)

We have had the opportunity to try out many fantastic Tiny Love products over the past year and have found many of them have become household favorites. We are always impressed with their fun designs and great features. This one is certainly no different! The first thing that struck me was the cuteness of the arch itself...I adored the sweet cloud design and the bright vibrant colors. Super cute! The attached toys shared that same vibrant look and were certainly perfect for catching my daughter's eyes! Even before it was taken out of the package she was drawn to it.

The arch fits easily onto most car seats, making it the perfect choice regardless of what brand you might have. With its fun design and great variety of attached toys, there is plenty to keep your child occupied while on the road. It also attaches to strollers as well, making it perfect for trips to the zoo, the mall, etc... We don't personally use our stroller very often, but we tried it out and found it worked well and my daughter seemed to enjoy it! And the best part is, it folds up easily and compactly making it ideal for travel, without taking up too much space.

Regardless of where your summer travels are taking you this year, Tiny Love Woodland Take Along Arch is sure to keep your baby happy and entertained! Want to learn more and see other great product available through Tiny Love? Check out the links below:

Visit the Website.
Like on Facebook.
Follow on Twitter.

And Tiny Love is giving one lucky reader the chance to win one of their very own! Enter using the Rafflecopter form below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Winner will be contacted via e-mail after giveaway ends, and will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen. One entry per household, winning entry will be verified. Odds of winning depend on valid entries received. A Modern Day Fairy Tale is not responsible for prize delivery.

Disclosure: I received the product mentioned above in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Finley Grace, 11 Months.

It seems like we just welcomed Miss Finley into our lives...and yet here we are at 11 months old...just one month shy of her very first birthday! This first year has gone by MUCH too quickly! Here is a look at what 11 month old Finley has been up to:

  • Finley is wearing 18 month clothes. Such a big girl!
  • She weighs about 22 pounds, but is still rather short it seems. (No official measurements).
  • Since her 10 month post, Finley took her very first steps! She is getting better and better every day. She tends to try to run and get a little ahead of herself, but she's getting there. Needless to say, she's keeping us VERY busy!!
  • Finley has finally mastered saying Daddy...and now says it CONSTANTLY! She still says Mama and Bubba as well.
  • She has become a master at pointing...adorable! Her waving is also slowly coming along.
  • Her primary source of nutrition is still breastmilk, but does love her fresh fruits and veggies as well. Her favorite certainly seems to be blueberries, but squash is up there as well.
  • She is still obsessed with Frozen. We recently took a trip to visit family (3.5 hours away) and discovered listening to the movie was the only way to calm her. We also found some Frozen tissue boxes at the Dollar Tree a few days ago and she was THRILLED! Forget toys, that box is all she needs!
  • But seriously, as far as toys, her favorites are still her dolls and her Olaf plush. She also really enjoys big brother's Thomas toys.
  • In addition to the four teeth she'd already had, two more have popped through the top this month. She has two more bottom teeth she's working on as well.
  • Big brother is her favorite...she loves being with him and watching him be silly!
  • She does better in the carseat for trips around town...but still isn't a huge fan of long trips.
Overall, Finley is still a super happy, laid back baby. She brings joy to everyone that meets her. Though I am nowhere near ready to celebrate her first birthday in just one short month, I look forward to seeing her learn and grow more each day.

The Taste of Childhood: Making Summer Memories with Juicy Fruit {#JuicyFruitFunSide #shop #cbias}

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #JuicyFruitFunSide #CollectiveBias

Isn't it amazing how each of our senses can seemingly transport us back in time- hearing a familiar song, a scent from days past, or even a classic taste. When I was a child, there was nothing better in the world than chewing gum. Sounds so simple and unexciting, right? But it's absolutely true. There was something about chewing gum that is just the best for kids! I remember each week in church, one of the fellow church goers would give my sisters and I each a stick of gum. It was something we looked forward to each week. I remember using whatever little change I could find in the couch to buy my own pack- an inexpensive and delicious treat. I remember sitting outside, reading my book- chewing gum and popping bubbles. Even then, one of my absolute favorite flavors was Juicy Fruit. I loved it. The problem? I loved blowing bubbles, and it just wasn't ideal for that. So, I was thrilled when I went to my local Walmart and discovered the newest products available from Juicy Fruit- Fruity Chews and BUBBLEGUM!!!!

That's right, it's the same great flavor that I enjoyed as a child, but in a form that's actually MADE for blowing bubbles. (They also offer a fun strawberry flavor, if that's more your cup of tea, but I'm a classic kinda girl!) Now, I may be an adult now, but I still enjoying blowing bubbles from time to time myself. More importantly, I've passed on that love of gum to my son too! He's constantly asking for bubblegum, and working on mastering the art of bubble blowing...a talent he has not yet developed, but one that I hope to share with and teach him before the summer's end.

(Note: After the writing of this post, Shaun DID figure out how to blow a bubble...he's unstoppable now!)
In many ways, my son's summers will be much different than those of my own childhood. I grew up in the country where our only form of entertainment was playing in the creek. My son is growing up in the city with ample opportunities for fun activities. I grew up without video games at home. My son LOVES his game consoles...all 5 6 7...oh I've lost count already! I preferred quiet activities like reading books or writing on the porch swing. My son is all about anything active- he's always moving! Despite how different our summer experiences might be, I love that we have this simple activity that we can share. My hope for my son is that one day when he is an adult, he can chew a piece of Juicy Fruit gum, and like me have that never changing flavor transport him back to these days of carefree childhood and the memories we created together.

Want to learn more this great new bubblegum from Juicy Fruit and start creating your own summer gum memories? Be sure to check out the live product demos coming to Walmart stores across the country very soon. Demos will take place on July 25-27 from 11 am-4 pm and again on August 1-3 from 11 am- 4 pm (Fri. & Sat.) and 1 pm- 6 pm (Sun.).
Do YOU have childhood memories of chewing gum? Or how might you create fun summer memories featuring Juicy Fruit Bubblegum? As always, I'd love to hear YOUR thoughts!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Celebrate Your Big Kid with I See Me! {A Review & Sweepstakes}

A few months ago, I introduced you all to a wonderful company called I See Me! and their amazing personalized children's books. In case you missed it, here's a little bit about what this company is all about:

I See Me! books offer personalized children's books in a variety of stories perfect for ALL kids. Their mission is to ' increase self esteem in children through personalized books that celebrate the uniqueness of each child. The goal of our books is to show each child how absolutely unique and special he or she is, to teach the child how to spell his or her name, and to build vocabulary skills.'

After receiving the last book, my Shaun was immediately in LOVE. 'Shaun is An All-Star' quickly became his favorite book and he begged for more I See Me! Books. So, when they contacted me again asking if I'd share their newest selection, 'I'm A Big Boy Now', we were BOTH thrilled.

This adorable personalized storybook praises young children for becoming “big kids” and doing “big kid” things, such as going on the potty, sleeping in a “big kid” bed, getting himself/herself dressed, saying “please” and “thank you”, brushing his/her teeth, trying new foods at dinner time, and more. The book increases self-esteem by encouraging young children that they CAN DO IT…. and it emphasizes how great the child will feel when he/she learns to do “big kid” things.

This personalized big kid book is perfect for kids ages 2-5, so perhaps you're wondering why on earth I would want it for my nearly SEVEN year old!? In my last review, I mentioned that I See Me! Books were great for kiddos like my son who are on the autism spectrum. They can serve as a great social story, and relate easier to kids because it's about THEM, not some random character in a book. This was great in the all star book all about sportsmanship, but even better in this book about all things 'big kid'. You see, my son may be just a few weeks shy of his 7th birthday, but in some ways, he is at the maturity level this book is intended for. The biggest example I can give is that he is still not potty trained, but this is only one of the big kid things mentioned in the book that can serve as a great reminder for my little guy.

I See Me! books may not be specifically designed for children on the spectrum, but they certainly provide a useful tool! Sure, we can create little social stories for all these things on our own at home, but these are not nearly as exciting as an actual book, all about them...at least, not for MY son! Whether you're purchasing this book for an older child on the spectrum, or a younger child just learning these lessons, this book is a fun reminder for ALL kids that it's FUN to be a big kid!! We LOVED it!

In addition to the book, we also received some of the personalized stickers! What kid doesn't like stickers, right? And a sticker with their face or name on it? Perfect! I personally found these to be GREAT for back to school...could there be a more fun way to mark school folders and notebooks? I loved them because they were cute and practical...my son loved them because well, they're stickers of HIM!

But again, these is only some of the many fabulous selections available. This book and others from I See Me! make the perfect personalized children's gifts for ALL occasions, but they also offer a variety of other fun gift ideas like Lunchboxes / Puzzles /Coloring BooksPlacemats / Stickers and Growth Charts!You can find out more and connect at the links below:

Twitter:  @ISeeMe_Maia 

Email promos/discounts and updates:  http://www.iseeme.com/preference-center.html

And the fun doesn't stop there! I see Me! is offering a super amazing Summer Reading Sweepstakes! The grand prize winner will receive a $250 Visa Gift Card and 5 personalized books! 25 runners up will receive a personalized coloring book! The sweepstakes ends 8/31...so what are you waiting for? Enter NOW!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Surviving Summer Road Trips {with Bigelow Tea} #AmericasTea #shop #CollectiveBias

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #AmericasTea #shop #CollectiveBias

If there is one thing our time in the military has taught us...it's how to road trip!! You see, for the first five years of our marriage, my husband was stationed in California while our families were across the country in Indiana and Illinois. Flying with a family could be quite expensive and inconvenient for everyone, so at least once a year we would find ourselves driving from California to the Midwest- approximately 30 hours on the road (going nonstop)...and did I mention this was with a CHILD! Our son Shaun took his very first cross country road trip at less than five months old. As I said, we KNOW road trips! Our road trips to visit family are now a mere 3.5 hours, but we still put many of the lessons we learned during those longer trips to good use. Are you planning a summer trip with the family? Whether you're traveling across the country or just a few hours away, I've compiled just a few tips to help you travel while keeping your sanity (and without breaking the bank too!). But first, I stopped by my local Walmart for a few trip essentials.

Hope for the Best, Plan for the Worst. Despite all your best efforts to plan the smoothest trip possible, things happen. We've had broken down cars, bad weather, a sick kiddo...not to mention that one time we nearly ended up in Mexico by mistake. Oops! Summer travels are a bit easier as you don't have to worry about icy roads, but do be prepared for any other obstacles that may arise. Pack a few extra outfits more than what you might need (if you're like me, that's NOT a problem!). Keep your phone charged and a charger handy. Chances are, everything will go well...but if they don't, make sure you're covered!

Pick Your Music Wisely. A good music choice can really make a long drive more bearable. When I'm doing the driving, I prefer some good upbeat 90s pop music. My husband is a big classic rock fan. On our most recent road trips, our carseat hating 10 month old could only be calmed by the Frozen soundtrack. Which leads us to:

Entertainment for the Kids. Travel games, coloring books, electronics, small toys...whatever it takes! For our son, it's usually something to watch a movie on...or a portable game system. Let's face it...kids get bored fast, and when you're on a long trip, bored kids will make you lose your sanity quicker than they can utter, 'Are we there yet?'. One great tip that we found helpful was to buy something new just for the trip...with any luck, the newness will keep them occupied longer than the same old toys they've grown accustomed to.

Quench Your Thirst (& Hunger Too!). Perhaps this goes along with the first tip, but it's such a big one that it deserves being mentioned twice. A small thermal with snacks for the trip is a MUST. Of course, you can always buy along the way, but having made that mistake I can assure you, it's not the best option. First of all, the cost of shopping convenience stores can be a little ridiculous! We can buy the same snacks we could pick up along the way beforehand and pay MUCH less. Second, you never know where you'll be when hunger/thirst hits you. In our experience, it's never when there are gas stations and restaurants galore, but when you're on the long stretches with nothing in sight. Of course!!

During the summer months, staying hydrated is especially important. For my husband it's all about the tea...he could drink it by the gallon. Buying individual cans or bottles may be convenient, but again adds up quickly...especially when you drink it as my husband does. Instead, we brew at home and take it along. For that, Bigelow Tea is ideal!!

Why choose Bigelow Tea?
  • They offer MANY varieties! From herbal to mint to more classic flavors, there is truly a little something for everyone. When it comes to summer tea, my husband prefers to keep it simple, so I chose the tea that started it all, their 'Constant Comment'.
  • They're delicious! No matter the variety you choose, they are sure to be just what your taste buds are craving during your trip! You truly can do no wrong. Their foil pouches keep it fresh, so you get a quality cup of tea, every time.
  • They are made right here in the USA. Bigelow Tea is a family owned company, spanning three generations! How great is that?
  • They're inexpensive and convenient. When it comes to traveling, it's great to save money where you can and Bigelow Tea is great for that. They can be found at Walmart and fit into every budget easily!
So rather than risk going thirsty on the road...or breaking your budget to stay hydrated- trust Bigelow Tea to keep you going. Pack a gallon in a cooler of ice to pour as you go...or pre fill water bottles before you go. Fast and easy! And don't forget to take a box along. You'll want to enjoy the same great taste once you get where you're going too!

Want to learn more about how Bigelow Tea can fit into your life? Check out the links below:

Visit their website: https://www.bigelowtea.com
Bigelow Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bigelowtea
Bigelow Twitter:  https://twitter.com/bigelowtea

And be sure to check out this awesome Pinterest board for more Bigelow Tea inspirations:

And to make your summer even more exciting, be sure to enter the Bigelow Tea Made in the USA Sweepstakes for your chance to win a Plantation Mint Tea Gift Set! 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The One We Didn't See Coming.

Last week, I shared our big announcement that after 11 years in the Marine Corps, my husband will be leaving the military at the end of September. What I did not mention at that time is that this is not the only big unexpected change happening in our life right now. But if you've been following on Instagram, you may have already come to the realization: we're MOVING!

They say bad things come in threes and it certainly seems to be the case for us. Bad thing number one came a few months ago when my husband crashed his motorcycle. He walked away with a broken shoulder, but it was certainly not an experience we anticipated or would like to repeat. Then came the news of my husband's reenlistment. Not great news, but we remained hopeful and came up with a plan...we'd stay in our current home until my husband found a good steady job (hopefully with the police department) and were able to buy a house. Our lease was good until March so it seemed like a good solution.

Last Monday, we were reminded of another great lesson the military life has taught us: never plan anything...or at least, write your plans in pencil. Our landlady announced that she was selling the house and we have just 30 days to move! Needless to say, we were blindsided by the news. Now on top of all our preparations for getting out of the military (job hunting, doctors' appointments, etc), we must also find a place to live VERY quickly...before school starts in a few short weeks!

It has been a stressful few weeks, and quite honestly, things are still up in the air. We are packing all we can as we wait for news on an apartment and trying to figure out what to do about school, since the area we are likely moving is a different district than what we have been prepping Shaun for for MONTHS. Thankfully, we had already started talking to him about moving in the future when we bought a house, so he seems to be taking the news well. Still, we know he does not handle transition well, as with most children with autism. It is  probably the affect this will have on him that I find most upsetting about the entire situation, but we are trying to do what we can with the situation we were put in.

So, things kinda suck a little bit right now. But I keep reminding myself that things always get worse before they get better, and that once again, God has something great in store for us in the coming months. For now, we just keep pushing forward and hoping and praying for the best.

Friday, July 11, 2014

June via Instagram

I cannot believe it's already the middle of JULY...time certainly has gotten away from me.
So, perhaps it's a bit late, but he's a look back at our June via Instagram.

 Miss Finley showing off some of her Disney Princess collection. Since this photo was taken she also added about 4 more dolls!! We love Disney princesses!!!

Shaun recently developed a fascination with Alice in Wonderland. Here he is painting the flowers red...we didn't have roses!!

He also developed a love of basketball, so Mommy bought him his very own basketball goal. 
He's been having a blast with it, and is pretty good I must say. Daddy has been getting in on the fun too!

This was taken just after Fin took her very first steps!! So big!!

We made homemade, baby-friendly blueberry pops! Yum!!

This was Shaun's sword and shield...isn't he cute?

Shaun got a new pet- a firefly he named Stanley. He went everywhere with us for about a day...unfortunately, his lifespan was short. Shaun was devastated.

The sign said, 'No Pets'.

Shaun decided he wanted a beard like my dad...the goof!

I couldn't resist buying him a Coke with his name!

We bought a little pool to beat the summer heat...the kids LOVED it!!

Shaun showing off his newest I See Me! book. They are his favorites!

Shaun found this adorable Little Mermaid toy at a yard sale for 75 cents...Finley LOVES it!!

 Fin and Mommy- I just adore her eyes.

I just love this photo of Shaun and Finley...she was trying to get him to sneak her food, but I love how she always looks up at him with such adoration.

We recently bought a second vehicle for the first time since we've been married, and I needed something to show that the family car was MINE. This decal did the trick.

July has started off with a bang and has already proven to be quite...exciting. I honestly have know idea what the rest of this month will hold...but more on that later! To keep up with my family as we go, follow me on Instagram as randikaye.