End with Summer with Shutterfly

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It’s Back to School time which means Summer 2015 is coming to an end. Before things get too busy heading into the fall, visit these sites to take advantage of these details today and get all of those summer memories in print and on gifts. I have yet to be disappointed with any of the items I have purchased through Shutterfly, and you won’t be either.

Shutterfly:

All customers enjoy 101 free 4×6 prints with promo code 101TREATS at checkout

All customers enjoy $10 off qualifying merchandise orders of $10-$49.99; $25 off $50-$99.99; $50 off $100-$149.99 and $75 off $150+ or more with promo code BIGSAVINGS at checkout

Don’t forget to use CARD4U for a free card and receive free shipping on orders $39+ or more with promo code SHIP39!

Wedding Paper Divas:

Save 40% off Save the Date orders using the code 0806DEAL at checkout

New customers save $50 off orders of $159 or more using the code WPDSAVE50159 at checkout

Tiny Prints:

Save 20% off home décor orders using the code 20DECORAUG at checkout

Save 40% off address label, gift tag and name label orders using the code 0808DEAL at checkout

Also, right now there is a Groupon for Shutterfly Photo Books starting at $9.99!

Happy shopping!

 

*Post contains affiliate links. I was compensated for this post but opinions are my own.*

Encouraging STEM with My Daughters

2015_04_04_9419I was never very good in math growing up. When it came to the sciences, I did well in biology and anatomy but horrible in chemistry or anything that required working with numbers. I know part of it is innate ability, but I am hoping that my daughters won’t be quite so math-phobic especially as the world is more and more geared to the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) related areas.

Regardless of whether or not they pursue careers in STEM, I want my girls to be able to keep up with the new demands of school as they get older and know that any career path could be for them. I am hoping that the everyday things I have been doing with my now 4 year old and almost 2 year old since they were born are laying the groundwork for math skills once she begins school.

  • Counting everything – Whether it’s the number of horses, the red fish at the aquarium, or the number of apples at the store. I try to remember to incorporate counting, adding and subtracting into everyday life so it becomes second nature. I am happy that my 4 year old can already do simple addition and subtraction.1415100_10100655504401116_470902690_o
  • Helping around the house – Whether it’s matching socks or setting a plate and fork at each place at the table, they are working on basic concepts for math.
  • Helping in the kitchen – Counting out how many scoops of flour, adding up fractions, and learning the differences in sizes are all incorporated in assisting with making cookies. Cutting up an apple is a great chance to review fractions so we’ll talk about cutting in half makes two, cut those in half marks 4, etc.
  • Children’s programs – whether it’s science museums or the monthly kids builds at home improvement stores, I use children’s programs to gain access to other toys and ways to encourage design.
  • Puzzles and building sets – In addition to matching and sorting, I encourage them to play with a variety of building sets to explore creating something from pieces that can then serve a function.

As my daughter starts the transition from preschooler to kindergartener, I’m exploring fun new ways to keep her interest. I was happy to get the chance to review ThinkFun’s Maker Studio Gears Set. It comes with a variety of pieces and gears to build a racecar, a cable car, a 3-wheeler and a motorcycle.

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Each kit includes:
• 1 Spool
• 2 Long Connectors, 3 Medium Connectors
• 1 Large Gear, 1 Medium Gear
• 2 Large Wheels, 2 Medium Wheels, 2 Small Wheels
• 3 5.5″ Rods, 3 1.5″ Rods
• 13 Hub Caps
• 1 Hole Punch
• 3 Rubber Bands
• 10 Engineering Challenges

For each build you’re given Engineering Challenges – experiment with friction, torque and propulsion as you engineer your solutions. My 4 year old is also working on following picture directions so I like that she could work with her father on identifying the parts and putting them together. The challenges do a good job of walking you through so that even if you aren’t an engineering expert, you, as the parent, can follow along and understand the concepts, too. Once you’ve mastered all four builds, you can get creative and design something that’s all your own! My husband enjoyed following along right with daughter.

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While we are still working up to being able to complete the projects (at 4, she’s not quite ready for utilizing the entire kit just yet) it will be a product we’ll be able to keep coming back to and trying new things. I also can’t wait to explore some of ThinkFun’s other offerings – Robot Turtles Game just went on the Christmas Wish List! To pick up a kit of your own, visit ThinkFun’s website or order through Amazon. You can also check them out on YouTube, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Websites I like to follow:

Home Depot and Lowe’s have free kid’s workshops every month. If you are military, be sure to check the Blue Star Museums program for free admission to museums and centers nationwide.

*I received a product in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own. Post contains affiliate links.*

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Pure Sleep Little Pillow and Back to Reality Giveaway Hop



My little one is not so little any more. She will be 2 next month. Where has the time gone? We haven’t set a time line for it yet but we will eventually take the side off her crib and convert it to a daybed, especially once she starts potty training.

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She likes to climb up on her sisters bed and lay down on her pillow so I know having her own pillow will help her feel a little more like a big girl in her own bed. I was pleasantly surprised when this Organic Pure Sleep Little Pillow by Dreamtown Kids appeared on my doorstep. Every morning, I find my little one curled up with this pillow, it’s so comfortable.

I like that it is was designed neck position in mind so its chiropractor recommended. The 100% certified organic cotton fabric casing and fiber cluster fill is hypoallergenic, soft, and breathable and machine washable. It’s great for bed, daycare, while traveling, anywhere!

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The Pure Sleep Little Pillow is made right here in the USA by Dreamtown Kids, a small family run business known for outstanding customer service. Looking for a custom amount of filling? Call them and they’ll make one just for you. Visit Dreamtown Kids on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Here’s my YouTube review.

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Here is your chance to win a Pure Sleep Little Pillow of your own. Follow the link under the graphic to enter by 8/25/2015, 11:59pm then keep scrolling to find out more about the Back to Reality Giveaway Blog Hop. Good luck!

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Click here: Organic Pure Sleep Little Pillow Giveaway!


Back to Reality Giveaway HopWelcome to The Back to Reality Giveaway Hop, brought to you by The Hopping Bloggers.
HOSTED BY: Mama Smith’s Blog & Women and Their Pretties CO-HOSTED BY: Our Mini Family Each blogger participating in this hop has a giveaway with a prize value of at least $15 – and some are much more than that! Be sure to scroll down the whole list and visit them all – there is no limit to how many you can win! Good luck and have fun!

 

*I received this product to review in exchange for my honest opinion. All opinions are my own. Post contains affiliate links.*

Win a bundle of goodies in Tea Collection’s Back to School Sweepstakes! Enter now!


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Birthday in Dayton

I have officially been on this planet for 35 years. My birthday fell on a Friday that I had off but since it wasn’t a holiday, both girls were at daycare for the day. I decided to spend most of my day checking out some spots around Dayton, Ohio. Thankfully it was also a gorgeous weather day.

After my frugal start to the day utilizing a free breakfast at a restaurant then yard sale shopping – snow boots for a $1? Yes, please!

My husband decided to take the day off, too, to get some things done so we were able to meet for lunch at Olive, An Urban Dive. Typically, you need a reservation to get a table since it’s a small place, so since I wasn’t at work, I knew I’d be able to keep it. It doesn’t look like much from the outside since the exterior is off the original restaurant, Wympee Diner but the inside has been completely redone.

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They serve fresh meals with local ingredients as much as possible (they have their farm just to assist in the fresh produce) and since their kitchen is so small, they say they don’t even own a freezer or microwave since their ingredients are brought in almost daily. The have every “friendly” kind of option possible to fit anyone’s needs and everything tasted delicious. I had the “Over the Top” Tuna Melt, salad and sweet potato soup and my husband had the day’s special, the Atomic Sloppy Joe with sweet potato fries. We were definitely full but I didn’t feel heavy nor was I starving an hour later – those things count in my book!

I stopped by Sew Dayton to peek at what fabrics they had in and decided to grab this unicorn print to make some skirts for the girls. Then, I grabbed a cup of cold brew coffee from Press Coffee Bar.

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My last stop was for a little hair therapy at Salon J Ladner. It is a little sad to admit how long it has been since I’ve been to an actual salon to have some attention on my hair. Along with a cut I ended up getting PM Shine, a semi-permanent gloss to give my hair back a little shine. It definitely beats trying to dye it at home while trying not to get liquid all over the place. Plus, it’s s great chance to support a military spouses’ business.

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The salon just happened to be right down from Twist Cupcakery, which seemed like a sign from above that I should get myself a happy-birthday-to-me cupcake. I’ll have to remember them next time we need some birthday treats around the office.

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After a little down time back at home – because I could – my husband and I picked up the girls and went to the annual Dayton Celtic Festival in downtown Dayton for dinner and a show. More about that here.

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Pretty laid back, fun day in and around Dayton. We kept the festivities going by checking out Fifth Street Brewpub Monday night while the guest bartenders for the evening were raising money for the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance Alumni Society, Wright State University. It was nice to check out a new place and give back to an alumni group on date night. Talk about multitasking!

Many beer options, most brewed right there the rest are local, and a short but tasty food menu. I was surprised to find out they have a kids menu and even changing tables in the bathroom. We ended up splitting the Cheesy Baja Roll, my husband got The Fifth Street Steakhouse Sandwich, I got the Asian Lettuce Wraps with chicken as my meal, and we got Blonde Brownies a la Mode drizzled with chocolate and caramel sauces. Every thing was really good. In the beer selections, we each got a flight so we could sample a few different beers. The FSB Dandelion Saison was an interesting favorite – a Belgian style Saison brewed with organic dandelion greens.

This year is off to a good start, let’s see what the rest of it brings!

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Enjoying Festival Season with Little Ones


This past weekend we went as a family to the annual Dayton Celtic Festival. It is just one of the many festivals around Dayton that happens from Spring until Fall every year.  We enjoy going to them as an opportunity to get a glimpse of other cultures and try new foods. Even though my husband and I aren’t crazy about large crowds, we have learned a few tricks to make attending festivals and other large events a little more bearable with small kids.

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Pick the best times. I always try to get there a little before the actual start time to get a decent parking spot and be ahead of any food lines. If something is happening all weekend long, we opt for the first weeknight or Sunday for the lightest crowds.

Snacks and drinks. If you are able to, always pack some water or drinks and small snacks. You never know for sure how long the lines will be or if your child will actually find something they like to eat, plus bringing some “sides” will help you save a few bucks, too.

We got there at about 5:30p on a Friday afternoon with a quick snack of Cheerios available for the girls to munch on while we walked around a little bit looking at the vendors and picked up dinner. As soon as the event officially started, my husband got drink tickets while I snagged a table by a show tent that was about to have Irish dancers performing. By the time everyone was back together, the girls food had cooled enough for them to actually eat it, we had drinks, and the first performing group was up on stage – dinner and a show!

Plan your time there. Look up schedules on line before you go so you can decide if there is a presentation or act you want to see and plan accordingly.

Pick the right gear. As much as I love the baby carrier, for this festival, the right choice for us was the double, side-by-side stroller. I like being able to give each girl a seat to eat in or watch performers from (just in case we couldn’t find one) and be able to get them through the crowds without running the risk of one or more of them stopping to check out what is on a vendors table. In this case, I knew most of the areas would be paved and ramps available, plus we could put items in the storage area underneath.

While I have gotten a lot of use of the side-by-side, a draw back is that there isn’t much in the way of cup holders or a tray for the driver. I like being to have things like my phone, cash, something to drink, and maps easily accessible when we are out and about and I was always having to dig around for items in the little pockets of the stroller or in my bag underneath. That’s why I was happy to get the chance to review the SavvyBaby Stroller Organizer. #savvybaby

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The SavvyBaby Stroller Organizer attaches to the handle bar with strong hook and loop strips and has multifunctional pockets. Two main part has two cup holder compartments, plus a divider running the middle to keep items from getting lost. It’s made from a neoprene fabric that helps hold items and stretches to fit there shape while be easy to clean. The front pocket was the perfect size for my phone, cash, and ID and has a little port to pass your headphones through. Need to step away from the stroller for a minute? Just unzip the whole front piece and take it with you.

It comes in black or a great chevron print and they toss in a free snack or toy leash that attached in a couple different ways so it will be perfect for any container or item and any stroller. It has been the perfect addition to the stroller for us plus, since it’s fabric, we can just leave it attached and the stroller folds right up when we are done. It would make a great baby shower gift, too.

Dayton has tons of festivals, from sweet corn to ribs, from Greek to German, and everything in between and we are looking forward to the rest of the season. What kind of festivals are in your neck of the woods?

*I was provided with a product in exchange for my honest review. Post contains affiliate links.*

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Garden Fresh

Tis the season for fresh fruits and vegetables everywhere you look. Farmer’s markets, u-pick, farm stands – we are trying to make the most of what is seasonally available. We are still working on the first batch of ice cream I made in my new ice cream maker, Blueberry Ice Cream, and I just put another batch of popsicles in the freezer, Watermelon Mint.

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I have two recent posts on Dayton Moms Blog that I wanted to share with you. While there is some information local to Dayton, Ohio in them, but the ideas translate to where ever you happen to live.

Farmer’s Market Fun for Kids

That’s My Jam: Making Homemade Freezer Jam

I recommend exploring your area’s farmer’s markets. If you are near Shelbyville or Bedford County in Tennessee, check out Bedford County Locally Grown Farmers Market. My sister-in-law is one of the masterminds behind it and it is unique in that it lets you pick exactly what you want from the participating growers. They offer everything from produce, to eggs, to bread, to handmade soaps and you make one stop to pick them all up once a week.

In the Garden

This year we scaled back what we are growing in the garden. We wanted to keep the girls interested in the growing and caring for plants but honestly didn’t know how dedicated we would be able to be to it this year. With all the rain, we haven’t had to water the garden and the flowers too often, but it is a chore the girls enjoy in addition to pulling weeds and just digging in the dirt, just because. Besides, it turns out we are awesome at growing leaves.

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We had a good run of spinach at the beginning of the season and the kale is about ready to start getting picked regularly. We tried broccoli but it didn’t really seem to take. It’s still in the garden in the hopes it attracts butterflies and the girls still pick the little buds and eat them right off the plant.

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The herbs are doing well, as usual. The mint is huge and I am happy we decided to put it in its own container last year because it was the first thing to take off running this year. We got new basil and rosemary plants and they are doing great. The surprise of the season has been the dill Kelsey grew from a seed at a program at our local parks system last year. It came back on its own this year and has been an interesting addition. Although, we still haven’t really figured out anything to do with it.

What’s in your garden this year?

MommyCon 2015 Ticket Giveaway!

MommyCon 2015 Ticket Giveaway!

I told you guys a little about MommyCon when I became a MommyCon blogger. I have been counting down the months until it comes to Columbus, Ohio on September 19, 2015. It has been fun connecting with other moms in the Facebook groups and learning from the veterans about how to make the most of the day.

Here are a few tips I have picked up:

  • Get ready to geek out. MommyCon is very kid-friendly but don’t be afraid to leave the little ones at home and enjoy your Mom time.
  • Look for deals for the area now. People have been able to get great deals on everything from hotels to parking to things to do with the kids before and after the event by keeping an eye out over the past few months.
  • Bring snacks. Even though there is food for sale, the lines tend to be long. If you have little ones with you, have dietary restrictions, or are just impatient, it’s a good idea to pack your lunch, or at least snacks and drinks. Also, leave it in the car if you can.
  • Standing room only. If you are taking kids with you, your best bet for the day is to plan on using a baby carrier and wearing a backpack. It sounds like they try to have a stroller check if you need to use one to get to the event but it will be pretty full of people so plan to carry babies and leave space in the backpack for fun finds and session materials.

For information about the Washington D.C., Columbus, Newport Beach and Seattle events, visit MommyCon. If there is a location you are interested in, scroll to the bottom to find the link to the Facebook group for the event and get in touch with other attendees. Of course, you can also follow them on social media to keep up to date with what is going on (and there are giveaways every now and then). Then, get ready for VIP tickets to go on sale closer to the actual date.

The ladies at MommyCon have been so great to work with. I am thrilled to be able to offer you a chance to win two general admission tickets to any MommyCon city in 2015! Follow the link below to enter by August 3, 2015, 11:59pm. Winner will be notified by email and have 24 hours to claim their prize. Good luck!

Click here: Rafflecopter giveaway

If you don’t want to wait and take your chances, use the promo code DOMESTIC15 for $5 off your general admission ticket today (only good on general admission, not pre-sale or VIP). Military moms, check out the Military Ticketing Program.

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