October 22, 2014

Picture Day Fail


           

So my sweet girl started day care about a month ago, and the transition has been rough... to put it mildly. I love her teachers and someone from the school updates me with pictures and emails a few times during the week. They are going above and beyond to get her settled in and so far this week, she has been doing much better.

My son was the same way when he started, which was also around this same age. (19-20 months) He would cry and scream and I just felt horrible. But now he LOVES school, he ASKED me to put him into after-care, and he is super social. So I know that this too shall pass.

Mila recently had her very first picture day. I had two cute dresses I let her choose from. She looked at them both, said, "No, momma!" and proceeded to go to her drawers and pick out a shirt and jean skirt. I told her she was getting her pictures taken today and I thought she might want to wear a dress. She shook her head no and handed me her outfit. So I put her in it and told her how pretty she looked and what a good job she did picking her own clothes. That even got me a twirl. (baby girl loves to do a good twirl)  If you have read some of my other posts, you know I don't care much about what my kids wear. I like that she felt fantastic in what she chose.

She picked out her socks and shoes, and out the door we went.  But first I told her we were going to practice for picture day, so I had her sit on her chair and say, "Cheese!" She nailed it. I was prepared for one super cute first school picture. I dropped her off and told her teachers how she would always smile if you asked her to say cheese...

She nailed her practice picture before school!
When my husband picked her up that day, they told him she cried moments after she sat down for pictures. They next day when I took her in, the photographers were still there, so they asked if I wanted to do a re-take. I tried to sit Mila down and she just started crying and said, "NOOOO Momma!"  I said, "But don't you want to take a picture?" And she looked me dead in the face and said, "NO!" The photographer said, "Just try to sit her down real quick." I said, "Nah.. she doesn't want to, so I'm not going to make her... I never buy the pictures anyway, it's not a big deal, promise."

Well, on Monday we got the proofs. My husband texted me a picture as soon as he saw it. I felt horrible seeing her sweet, sad face... but at the same time, I just could not stop laughing. I was crying at work... that's how hard I was laughing.

Here are the 4 pictures we got to choose from, it's basically the anatomy of a toddler breakdown.
I posted the pic on my Instagram, and I was relieved to see that I was not the worst mom ever for thinking this picture was funny. Everyone says I should buy it and I am. Maureen, who has her own Etsy shop, said I should buy it and hang it on the ladies room door on her wedding day. I thought that was hysterical... and I just hope I remember to do it when that day comes! 

                       
I decided to leave you with some smiling pictures of my sweet girl, since I couldn't bring myself to end a post with that pathetic, sad face! 


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October 20, 2014

Jake & the Never Land Pirates Battle for the Book & the Epic Battle Build Sweepstakes!

Tracking PixelThis is a sponsored for Disney Junior, a network I know and love... and have watched CONSTANTLY since having my kids. All opinions are my own.
http://on.fb.me/1njub43
We love Disney Junior in our house. The addiction started when Hudson was born. He loved Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and our nephews did as well. My husband and I would find ourselves saying "Oh Toodles!!" and singing the theme song at random moments. Disney Junior is great since they don't play commercials and all the shows are really educational. Also, there is never anything violent or inappropriate. (I can't say that for all the cartoons that are on TV these days)

When Jake and the Never Land Pirates came along, my son was SO excited. It quickly became his favorite Disney Junior show, and it still is to this day. We have a massive list of Jake shows on our TiVo, since Hudson wants to keep ALL of the episodes. He has really been loving the Halloween ones they have been playing, but now he is counting down until this Sunday (October 26th) to watch Jake and the Never Land Pirates Battle for the Book. He already made me set the TiVo, even though I told him it comes on at 6pm (EST) and he will be able to watch it. We love when they do specials like this, since we all enjoy it together as a family.
http://on.fb.me/1njub43
Yes, we have 28 Jake's saved on our TiVo right now! 28!
Jake and his pals must save the storybook after Captain Hook steals it. This one has all the beloved Peter Pan characters: Wendy, John, Michael, Peter Pan (duh), and I am sure Tinkerbell will make an appearance! After the special, Jake is going to have his very first LEGO® DUPLO® adventure! Watch the trailer to see what I am talking about:


Since Jake is going LEGO® DUPLO® crazy, we did too! Hudson and Mila had a blast playing with the new Jake and the Never Land Pirates LEGO® DUPLO® set. Hudson was able to quickly put it together, and it is a great set! It has Bucky, Jake, Captain Hook... and lots of fun accessories. (what would a pirate set be without a treasure chest?) Hudson even brought Bucky in the pool (it floats!) and had a blast using the cannon, since it really shoots!
http://on.fb.me/1njub43
Even the wheel on the ship turns!
http://on.fb.me/1njub43
Hudson and Mila both love this toy!
http://on.fb.me/1njub43
Yes, Bucky floats!
There is so much to do with this set, and you can win one by entering Jake's Epic Battle Build. All you have to do is build a scene, tell a story, then upload a picture or video of your child with what they built! To enter, just go to Disney Junior's Facebook page or click here. There is one winner every day through October 31st!

http://on.fb.me/1njub43

So go enter, set your DVR and start planning your own family fun night for Sunday, October 26th to watch Jake and the Never Land Pirates in Battle for the Book!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Disney Junior.

October 16, 2014

Halloween Cupcakes

                   

I have a slight cupcake obsession. I think decorating cupcakes is such a fun activity to do with kids, so we usually end up doing some sort of cupcake for each and every holiday. When my son was younger he was never really into craft projects, but when it came to decorating cookies or cupcakes he was always game. Every kid knows that once you decorate food, you get to eat it. Duh.

My Easter cupcake post was super popular, so obviously I am not the only one obsessed with cupcakes. I wasn't really sure what kind to make this year, but then I found an awesome deal on some Wilson decorating kits. Boom. Done. I loved the kit with the characters, but I also decided to get the mummy kit, after I saw how awesome they came out when Krafts & Kiddos made them.

 
We made Halloween funfetti cupcakes, since funfetti is the ONLY type of cupcake allowed in my house. I let Hudson select what colors he wanted the base frosting to be. We did a small batch of 12 cupcakes. (I plan on using the rest of the decorations to set up a cupcake station for the kids when we have our annual family pumpkin carving party) I used the rest of the batter to make mini-cupcakes which I put in the kids lunches, without any frosting. (almost like mini-muffins)
 
               

Once the cupcakes were ready, we all went to town! We used the boxes for inspiration. For some reason our mummy ones didn't turn out very good, but the white mummy 'tape' was very tasty so that made up for it. Also, my husband cut up the tape to make teeth on his monster, which I thought was very creative!

                    

So here's how our first batch turned out... I think they look pretty good! What are your favorite Halloween treats to make or buy? Also I am looking for fun, spooky foods to serve... so if you have ideas or a link for me to check out please leave it for me in the comments and I will check it out!


Any guesses on who made which cupcakes?
                



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October 15, 2014

Family Favorites: Books we Love in October featuring I See Me!

 
              

We have tons of new books in our house this month, thanks to two school book fairs (my favorite) and Grandma has been helping us out A LOT since both kids have been sick at different times, and she never shows up empty-handed. (she loves bringing books, which is AWESOME!)

So here's what books our kids are loving this month:

Both:
ALL Halloween Books!
I found some great ones at Marshalls last week, for a great deal. The Who's at the Door book has a working doorbell on it, and each page had a flap door that you open. It is really cute and both kids love it. Grandma also has been bringing over lots of fun Halloween books for the kids, some are at her house and others we have. This Halloween Jack book cracks both of them up, especially Mila! She also got them 10 Trick or Treaters, which is a fun countdown book.

                   

Hudson:
Minecraft Combat Handbook
Hudson recently bought himself the Minecraft app, since he has been wanting it forever. (but he never manages to hold onto his money long enough to buy it) But he finally decided he wasn't going to touch his money until he saved up the $7.00 (!!) needed to buy the app. He loves the game and is always showing me what he is building and explaining how he did it. He gets to buy two books when his school has a book fair, and this is one of the books he selected. Since he mainly builds on Minecraft right now, he probably would have been better off buying the Construction Handbook, but my husband says this was the only Minecraft book they had. He loves this book! He brings it to school almost everyday and he says all the kids in aftercare love it, too. So cute. 

                 www.workingmommagic.com

Mila:
I See Me books
Grandma bought her one of these books soon after she was born and she is just now starting to get into it. These books are so cute, since they are personalized to your child. The book Grandma got her is called My Own Fairytale Storybook and it spells out Mila's first and last name using fairies and each letter fairy tells a different story. So when the company reached out to me about sending me their newest 'I See Me' book they have out, I was thrilled, since I knew Mila already loved them.

                

This Princess Personalized book is adorable! They are really creative the way they use your child's name to make a story just for them. This book includes a picture of Mila, which she LOVES! She always tries to get me to flip right to that page, and when she sees herself she points, claps, and gets super excited. Every story is full of personalized elements. (they include things like the city you live in, the name of brothers or sisters, the name of your pet, etc.) I think this book would be a great, unique gift for any child! They also sent me some adorable stickers, using her picture. Also super cute, and great quality. They also make personalized puzzles, placemats, and other fun stuff. The company is on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook... so check them out!  (Hint, hint: they often send you deals if you 'like' them on Facebook!)

              
*I See Me sent me a Princess book for free, but I am only including them in my Family Favorites post since it really is one of Mila's favorite books this month. And we already had one of their books that we paid for, so there. ;)


October 13, 2014

I finally went to Trader Joe's!


This weekend I went to Trader Joe's for the very first time! One FINALLY opened close to me on Friday, and I was really excited to check it out. I had heard the hype for a very long time, and after going there I have to say, I think the place is worthy of it.

Leading up to my big trip, I did my research. I wanted to make sure I knew which 'must-have' items to get. There are a few obvious ones... like the Cookie Butter and 2 Buck Chuck, but there is a long list of extremely popular items.

Since I wanted to know what was good at Trader Joe's.. I decided to email Nathan, since he has a blog aptly titled What's Good at Trader Joe's. Nathan got back to me that same day, linking me to his "Pantheon" list. Out of the 570 items that he's blogged about (so far) only 35 have made this elite list. He also recommended I try their frozen Indian Dishes. I got the Coconut Oil Spray, the Chicken Curry Salad, and some other items based on his suggestions. He has TONS of stuff on this blog, so if you want even MORE Trader Joe's... you should check it out by clicking here.

Another big help was this Huffington Post article about the 17 top selling items at Trader Joe's. A few of them I had seen on other lists, like the Corn Relish, Triple Ginger Snap cookies, the Marcona Almonds with Rosemary, and the Spinach and Kale Greek Yogurt Dip. I ended up buying A LOT of the stuff on this list, since it looked so good.

Now that I knew what I wanted to buy... the next big issue was deciding when I should go. Since it opened Friday, everyone told me I was CRAZY to go this weekend. But I just couldn't wait. I figured I would go Sunday morning, since NOTHING is busy in Pembroke Pines early Sunday morning. (Trader's Joes or not) My hubby still said there was no way he was going, so I went by myself... which was probably best since I didn't need kids distracting me from my very important must-buy list. Anyway, I got there at about 9am and it was perfect. There were people in the store, but not that many. It didn't feel hectic at all and I was in and out without any issues.

Empty store, prepared salad and dips, pumpkin mania, cheapie wine!
I was impressed by the prepared salads and dips. I got a Super Spinach salad for lunch with quinoa, chickpeas, edamame, and some ginger miso dressing. It was REALLY good. I bought my hubby a spicy chicken thai noodle salad which was also good, he heated it up... but I'm pretty sure it was ment to be served cold. (and I think it tasted better that way) The bagged organic spinach was noticeably cheaper than at my other favorite organic supermarket. Actually, a lot of stuff was way cheaper. I know some people say they don't see a huge difference when comparing Trader Joe's to the other place, but I did.

I saw tons of interesting items, but I basically stuck to my must-try list for this trip. I was THRILLED to discover tons of pumpkin flavored items, but I only got the Pumpkin Spice Chai Tea and the Pumpkin Butter.

So far everything we have tried is really good. The Speculoos Cookie Butter is worth the hype. (at least in my house!) I could swim in the Chicken Curry Salad, but after seeing how much fat and calories are in it, I'm afraid this will be the one and only time that I purchase it! I was also surprised how much the whole family liked those Ginger Snaps. The cold brew coffee concentrate is good, but it doesn't compare to the Starbucks Iced Coffee that made our family favorites last month.

So there you go, I am a new Trader Joe's fan! We will be using a lot of the stuff I got for lunches and dinners this week, so I will be tweeting and Instagramming any honorable mentions! (and if anything sucks, I will definitely tell you that too)

What do you think of Trader Joe's? Worth all the fanfare or just another grocery store?

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October 10, 2014

Scary Cheap Halloween Decorations!

                 

I love, love, love Halloween. I start decorating in September. It is really easy to decorate your entire home for Halloween with very little money, since there are so many low price options out there these days!

I get most of my stuff at Wal-Mart and the Dollar Store. Since I have two young kids, I don't want items that are too scary or that can break easily, so the cheaper stuff works well for the look I am going for. I also don't have time to make stuff myself. I see tons of cute crafty ideas out there, but by the time I buy all the supplies (since I own very few craft items, even the common ones!) and make it (and inevitably... screw it up) I could have just bought it! (and probably for less money!)

                        

This year Wal-Mart was a gold mine of Halloween stuff... but if you are not into sparkles, then you will hate most of what they have. Lucky for me, I love everything that glitters and most of my holiday decor shows it. (glitter Christmas tree? Sure!! Why not?)

They had signs, skulls, and pumpkins all covered in glitter, and almost everything was less than $2! These signs were $1.97... the pumpkins were $.97 and the large skulls were a bit more (I think $2.97??) The glitter skulls are my favorite, since even though they are Styrofoam... they look way more expensive. I saw many similar glitter skulls at HomeGoods for $20 or more! I also got a bag of mini skulls for my apothecary jars and some tattered 'scary' fabric. My shopping cart was literally leaving behind a trail of glitter and I couldn't have been happier.

                     

The dollar store has great stuff for decorating outside. They have the cheapest spider webs there, which is a must have! I buy at least 5 bags. I let my son go to town with this stuff! He decorates all the shrubs with it however he likes! This year, I also used it on my large dining room mirror and I love it. They also have scary door knockers, pumpkins, spooky gates, and plastic skulls that we just throw around our yard.

                    

This year I also got some Halloween cups, bowls, & skull goblets (hello... wine glasses!) since we host a big pumpkin carving party every year for the family and I like to be prepared with fun stuff! Dollar Store score!

                    

Where do you go to find awesome Halloween decorations that are scary cheap? 

*Nothing in this post was sponsored or given to me for free, I just love cheap, sparkly things* 


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October 9, 2014

There Are Benefits of Co-Sleeping with Toddlers

                    

I occasionally write for SmartMom.com and I figured I should start sharing what I write with you guys, since it's still me... just published somewhere else. Here's my latest post for them!

There’s been a lot of talk about attachment parenting lately and I’ve always been skeptical. But it turns out there are actually a lot of benefits of co-sleeping with toddlers! A good friend of mine once told me, “Don’t ever let your kids in your bed, because you will never get them out.” That advice stayed with me. When I had my son, I was very careful not to bring him into our bed, since I didn’t want to start a “bad habit.” Even when he got a bit older, if something was wrong, or if he woke up scared… I would go back into his room with him and sleep in his bed, instead of letting him stay in ours.

Fast forward 5 years to my second child... click to to read the rest on SmartMom.com.

October 7, 2014

Pitbull and Enrique on Tour with Cricket Wireless



Disclaimer: "I participated in Influencer Activation on behalf of Mom Central for Cricket Wireless. I received a promotional item to thank me for participating."

I have a slight obsession with Pitbull and Enrique Iglesias. Not only are they fantastic artists, but they are Miami boys! Pitbull grew up here in South Florida, and I have had the opportunity to see him go from a local star with his music playing on a local stations... to Mr. Worldwide! 

Right now, Cricket Wireless is giving people something to smile about (#STSA) by sponsoring the widely popular Pitbull and Enrique Iglesias tour, connecting with consumers and music fans.

There are only a few tour dates left, and TWO of them are in South Florida, but tickets are going fast!


10/10 -- Los Angeles, CA -- STAPLES Center
10/11 -- Los Angeles, CA -- STAPLES Center 

10/12 -- Las Vegas  -- Mandalay Bay Events Center
10/14 -- San Jose, CA -- SAP Center at San Jose
10/15 -- San Diego, CA -- Valley View Casino Center
10/17 -- Dallas, TX  -- American Airlines Center
10/18 -- San Antonio -- Alamodome
10/19 -- Houston, TX -- Toyota Center
10/22 -- Atlanta, GA -- The Arena at Gwinnett Center
10/25 -- Hollywood, FL -- Hard Rock Live
10/26 -- Miami, FL -- AmericanAirlines Arena

10/28 -- Orlando, FL -- Amway Center


Check out this awesome pic Cricket Wireless posted on Twitter!

Cricket is making sure this concert is unforgettable for fans, by setting up some super cool activations, including:
  • Cricket Stage - A 10x20 stage erected at select tour stops where fans can hop up on stage and give their best "headliner" pose. Participants can share their 360 images on their social channels via "share kiosks" around the stage. Photos will be entered into a sweepstakes where a winner and 3 guests will get a trip to the Miami Latin Grammy Street Party. (Participants of "The Stage" activation all receive Cricket ear buds) 
  • VIP Meet & Greet - A backstage VIP area will be set up backstage. Meet & Greet participants will get to meet Pitbull or Enrique and take photos on a Cricket step & repeat.
  • Selfie Station - Mirrors in the ladies room encourage fans to snap selfies and post to social media. (I bet this will be a BIG hit!)
  • Ask Enrique - Fans can win a trip to the Pitbull and Enrique tour stop in Atlanta, meet Enrique in person and ask him that burning question they have.
  • Hologram Standee Billboards - Located at high-traffic spots within the activation venues, holograms of Enrique and Pitbull will create completely lifelike images of the musician for concert goers to check out! (how fun!)



If you don't know about Cricket Wireless, it is a great way to get a cell phone at a price that fits your life. They offer prepaid monthly phone plans that include mobile data access, unlimited talk, and messaging. So if you can't commit to a long contract, Cricket gives you another option. They have a reliable nationwide network and fast 4G LTE speeds. You get get the latest phones, or you can keep your current phone. 

If you are heading to the concert at the end of this month, I may just see you there!

 
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