We Took the AvoDerm All-Natural Pet Food Challenge & You Should, Too!

I received AvoDerm products for the purpose of this review. This post was made possible by Mom Spark Media. Thoughts are my own. 
I love my cats and talk to them like they are my little babies. In fact, my Mama cat just had her babies about 3 months ago and the kittens are absolutely adorable. Now that they are weened from their mama's milk, they are eating real cat food like no tomorrow. I've been feeding them AvoDerm Natural cat food, which is an amazing quality food for our kitties. I only want the best for them so they grow up healthy and strong. It just so happens that AvoDerm contains high quality meat proteins, are rich in omega 3 and 6 fatty acids from natural avocados and provides pets with a healthy balanced meal!
We are participating in the AvoDerm Challenge and invite you to do so also! AvoDerm has dog and cat foods, so if you have a dog or cat, register for the challenge to receive a $5 coupon. What is the AvoDerm Challenge? You take the challenge by feeding your pet AvoDerm food to see a softer, shinier coat in only 6 weeks time... guaranteed! So, you get a $5 off coupon for your AvoDerm purchase, your pet gets delicious, all-natural food and they become healthier. It's really win-win!  Also, when you register for the challenge, you can also enter AvoDerm's Sweepstakes for a chance to win a year's supply of AvoDerm.
Scaredy Cat & Doodle eating their lunch!
I received two bags of Salmon & Brown Rice AvoDerm Cat Food and immediately started feeding it to Tiger Kitty, Moo-Moo Mama Cat and her babies. They've been eating it for almost two weeks now and absolutely love the food. All of them come running as soon as the hear me pouring food, which is really a new occurrence and it makes me feel like we made the right choice by switching to AvoDerm. I love having a natural cat food for my babies and they seem to enjoy it as well. As for their coat, they are super soft and fluffy kitties, but the coats definitely look shinier since eating AvoDerm. I can't wait to see what it looks like after 6 weeks!

If you have pets, give the AvoDerm Challenge a try and let me know what you (and your pets) thought about it! We'd love to hear about other experiences! Also, be sure to follow AvoDerm via Facebook and Twitter to keep up with all the latest info.

I received AvoDerm products for the purpose of this review. This post was made possible by Mom Spark Media. Thoughts are my own. 

Bet On Your Baby Blog App & 3 Luvs Jumbo Pack Diapers Giveaway

Bet On Your Baby is a new show coming on ABC Saturdays at 8/7c in partnership with Luvs brand! The premise of the show is to see how well parents really know their baby. Bet on Your Baby is a new show where parents play fun games with their toddlers in the Baby Dome and try to "bet" on what the child will do next. If they are correct, the family wins $5,000 in college tuition money and a chance to play for $50,000! Wouldn't you love to be on that show? I know I would!

So, we want to know how well do YOU know the behavior of babies? How do you think the toddlers will act when playing games on the show? Take the Survive The Baby Dome Quiz on the Bet on Your Baby Blog App! You can also play some of the cutest clips from the show in the Game Gallery, watch babies and parents and action and laugh out loud.

Giveaway Time
To celebrate the show and blog app, we have a great Giveaway for readers! One Lucky Reader Will Receive 3 Coupons For Free Packs of Luvs Super Absorbent Jumbo Diaper Packs.

100th Birthday American Cancer Society Twitter Party Today At 2pm ET #FinishtheFight

Disclosure: This post was written for American Cancer Society in conjunction with The Motherhood. This is a sponsored post, though all opinions written are my own. 

First off I want to say Happy Birthday to the American Cancer Society. We want to thank you for everything done to fight cancer and find a cure. As I've mentioned before, my youngest son, Liam, has Neurofibromatosis, which causes brain tumors and we are so grateful for ACS and his cancer treatment team. Celebrate today with an awesome Twitter party in honor of American Cancer Society's 100th birthday. We want to help finish the fight against cancer once and for all.

Help us create a buzz by taking a pledge and creating your life list via the Facebook app on the ACS Facebook page. It's fun, easy and you can also invite others to join in.

The Twitter party begins today at 2pm EST and will definitely be a great time! There are 5 $25 VISA Gift Card prizes to be given away during the party, too. Prizes will be awarded based on correct trivia question answers. Winners are chosen randomly from everyone's correct responses. Click here to get all the info and to RSVP for the Twitter party.

Children Teaching Mama will be there to celebrate along with The Motherhood and some other wonderful bloggers. We hope to see you there!


Online Educational Fun With Curiosityville!

Summer has officially begun and Josiah couldn't be more excited. His homeschool lessons ended last week and he's ready for all the fun we have planned over the next few months for summer vacation. Even though we have a busy summer planned, I don't want Josiah to completely neglect his studies. Did you know that, on average, children lose 2.6 months of learned materials during the summer. This means when going back to school children are already behind by a good 2-4 weeks as teachers re-teach those skills. Since Josiah will enter our local school system next year for first grade, I want him to be ready and prepared for what is in store. That's why I was so excited to work with The Motherhood on a review of Curiosityville!
Curiosityville is an online learning world for children ages 3 to 8! The website is completely personalized and not only helps children with their education, but also helps parents and caregivers become great teachers. Children have fun learning new and interesting subjects and activities while parents can track the goals reached and via the Learning Tree.

My three year old, Liam, along with my soon-to-be six year old, Josiah, know all about online games and programs because their homeschool studies are online! They also have their own tablets and enjoy playing learning games, so they were excited to give Curiosityville a try and couldn't wait to get started. 

Once my account was activated, I entered their personalized information, allowing me to sign in and go to their own "account", which keeps up with their progress separately. There are 5 different animals in Curiosityville who are ready to teach children different subjects and skills, including Jack, Rosie, Joe, Ruby and Pablo. 

The characters are interested in different subjects and introduce children to different activities. For example, when we clicked on Rosie, we found that she studies neuroscience and is a doctor, so all of the activities with Rosie are related to science! Liam particularly likes puzzles, so when we found a body parts puzzle, he was the first to volunteer. 

We also visited Joe, the mayor of Curiosityville. He enjoys tinkering and we also found puzzles at his house, too. When clicking on the television, we found fun exercise videos. The boys were both fans of this and love doing daily exercise, so this is a great way to get the heart pumping and ready for learning. The great thing is that there are several different videos, so you can come back for more exercise or keep going. We've come back to watch videos many times now.

Josiah's favorite animal is Jack, Curiosityville's police officer. Josiah is just learning to read and, when we clicked on the aquarium in Jack's office, we found a fun letter game that was perfect for him. We had to catch letters, first uppercase and then lowercase. Then, he had to catch all the pictures of items with a "b" sound. He has struggled with letters and sounds in the past, so I really wanted to keep up with phonics during the summer, so this has made it fun for him.

How will I know how Josiah and Liam progress? They collect apples and badges based on participation. Josiah has earned 8 apples with Joe and 3 apples with Dr. Rosie. In addition, I can look at their own Learning Tree to see what they have learned for the day, week, month and quarter. 

As a homeschooling mom, I want to make learning fun and this is what Curiosityville is all about! The website introduces children to exciting subjects with familiar settings. Want to focus on math skills? Children can visit Ms. Ruby. Does your child enjoy art? Pablo, the artist, has some fun activities, too. I'm very impressed with this wide variety of interactive games the kids can play and how well it keeps kids entertained. Plus, the content on Curiosityville changes weekly, so there is always something new to learn and see! 

I highly recommend Curiosityville as a fun way to educate children, especially during the summer months when so much can be forgotten. The great thing is that the first month is FREE! Sign up and give it a try. If your kids like it, you can extend your subscription for only $7.95 a month or, if you pay for a year, you also get a Pablo stuffed animal. It's totally risk-free, so give Curiosityville a try and let me know what you think. I bet your kids will love it just as much as mine do.

Twitter Party For Moms and Dads
Kids don't get to have all the fun! Join the Curiosityville Twitter Party on Monday, June 4th at 1pm EST. Join in on the fun with the hashtag #Curiosityville. 

5 Great Ways To Spend Your Lunchtime

When I was younger, there was one time during school that I looked forward to every single day... lunchtime! The definition of lunchtime was simple and meant it was our free time to interact with friends, eat lunch and just relax. Now that I'm older, the meaning of lunchtime has completely changed. At work, we take turns going to lunch, so my hour has become a quiet "me" time and one I still look forward to each day, but I've found some other ways to fill my time. Here are five great ways to make the most of your lunchtime:

This is the perfect amount of time to workout. If your gym is nearby, head over for a quick 45 minute workout. It's great for your health and increases the heart rate making you ready to go back to work. Working out mid-day is a great pick-me-up and gives you that extra energy you need to get through the rest of the day.
Don't have a gym close by? Go for a walk, jog or run! When I worked on a college campus, many of us would go on walks during lunch breaks. We could take in the scenery and get exercise at the same time. You could even bring a change of clothes and shoes. We kept ours in a desk drawer so we could change into them when we were ready to go.

Lunchtime also provides the perfect amount of time to get beautified, so go get a manicure or pedicure. This is such a relaxing activity and an hour break gives you just enough time to do something enjoyable for yourself. I love getting my feet massaged during a pedicure. What a great way to relax and get back in work mode for the last part of the day.

Speaking of getting beautified, many of my friends have been considering cosmetic surgery. Since our workplace is near the downtown area, we could pop in quickly for botox injections and be back at work in no time. I've even heard of lunchtime botox parties. It's amazing how quick the process is and how the fine lines just disappear in a matter of seconds.

Our last suggestion is to play games! Most everyone has a smartphone or tablet these days, so bring them along for lunch and play some fun games. Games can be relaxing, fun and even uplifting. I take a break each day to play my favorite word game on my tablet and I feel like this not only clears my mind, but gets my brain working and ready to go!

Work can be especially stressful, so it is very important to relax and take time out for yourself each week. I notice how frazzled I get if I don't have my own quite time, even if it is just for a few minutes each day. Many moms forget to take a moment of "me" time, so do yourself a favor and go for it! Do something fun and enjoy every minute of it! How do you spend your lunchtime?


Join Unicef's Efforts to Provide Much Needed Aid For The Children of Syria

Today is Memorial Day and I am reminded of just how lucky we are and how much we take for granted every single day. Just imagine living in a war-torn country where every day is uncertain. The Syrian conflict began on March 15, 2011 when protesters demanded the resignation of their president and the end of the Ba'ath Party rule. Now entering the third year, the rebellion continues with now over 60,000 deaths reported. Supporters of the government are on one side while the rebels are on the other. Meanwhile, the children are caught in the middle of this civil war and left without many of the everyday necessities we often overlook, including schooling and basic healthcare.

Did you know 1 in 5 school houses (over 2,000) have either been destroyed, damaged or turned into shelters for displaced families in Syria? In addition, clean water is not readily available and, with nonworking sewage systems, this means very unsanitary conditions for children and a higher risk of disease. Wartime has taken its toll on the children of Syria not only physically, but mentally. One in five Syrian refugees are under the age of five. Just imagine the impact these occurrences can have on a child and the psychological trauma it can and has already caused. The Unicef Syria crisis appeal addresses all of these issues and more.

Over 2 million children are effected each and every day and I believe we should all do our part to help support and take care of these innocent children who suffer because of war. They deserve clean water, food, a safe place to live and much, much more. Donations to Unicef can help make all of this possible and, as you know, every little penny counts. One donation of $50 can provide clothing, blankets and other essentials most families have left behind when fleeing.

With no end in sight, the rebellion continues and the need for resources grows. Please do your part by educating yourself on the Syrian conflict, donating, and/or joining Unicef in advocating for the rights of children.


Top 5 Savings for Summer

I am so excited to announce the beginning of summer for us. Josiah's last day of school was yesterday and the boys could not be more excited. Every summer we spend a great amount of time on the go and this summer is already filled with excited adventures for our entire family. Summer can also mean spending money. My husband can see the dollar signs flash before his eyes, I am sure, so I do what I can to save money. There are many great ways to save during the summer and I wanted to share my top five ideas!

Each summer I end up buying myself a new wardrobe. I can never resist a new swimsuit and a few new outfits for our beach vacations. Mango promotions online has us covered this year with some great discount codes on clothing and much more. I've learned never to pay full price for items and love finding great discounts. Need some new clothes, too? Now's the time to check out the great deals and go for it.

Going on vacation this summer like us? Save money in a very unique way this year by renting a home or apartment. When we visited Italy, we searched online for rental apartments in the area, so we were able to find a bigger space for our money. Four of us traveled together from Germany to Italy and our apartment was not only spacious, but right in the middle of town, so we were able to be right in the mix of everything. Not only did we save money, but we also had an amazing time. This is such a great alternative to hotels. You can also list your home for free while on holiday and make money when others stay at your own home!

Cards for Father's Day
Father's Day is on Sunday, June 16th this year and my boys have already been planning gifts for him. We have actually already planned a birthday/Father's Day party that Sunday and saved money by renting a pavilion at our local park. The boys have decided to buy their Papa a new football, which will be perfect for our time at the park. In addition, we found 3 for 2 on cards at MoonPig.com, so not only did we get a card for my husband, but also for my father and my husband's.

During the summer, we spend a great deal of time outdoors. Plus, Josiah's birthday falls in June, so this is the time of year we do much of our shopping. Did you know there is a Lego Sale and up to 50% off at Toys R Us? The gift my son has requested for months now is the Lord of the Rings Battle of Helm's Deep Lego set. Don't tell him, but I got it... for less than $100! I saved well over $30 on this set and was absolutely amazed. I cannot wait to see his face when he opens this gift.

Josiah is a redhead and, if you have red hair or a child that does, you know this pretty much ensures pink sunburned skin in the summer. The poor boy burns so easily, unlike his brother who immediately tans when in the sun. This is why I have to stock up on sunscreen at the beginning of the summer. Yes, sunscreen can get expensive, especially name-brands, but do not pay full price. You can find up to Half Price savings at Superdrug.

How do you plan to save money this summer? We are going to the beach twice, to an aquarium, visiting grandparents and also going to Six Flags, so we need all the help we can get with expenses. Thankfully we've found so many great deals so far!


Does Your Teen Need Braces? Invisalign Is the Perfect Alternative To Metal Braces! #ad #INVStraightTalk

This is an embarrassingly true story. My teeth were pretty straight until I reached high school and some of my front teeth were pushing too closely against each other. I was so upset when, going to the orthodontist, I was told about my need for braces. I was 16 years old and getting braces for the first time. The metal pieces were not only uncomfortable, but embarrassing for a teen just trying to fit in. I had braces for three long years, including a year of college. Fortunately for teens, Invisalign Teen is an amazing alternative to ugly metal braces now.

What is Invisalign? This is a modern approach to teeth straightening which can correct complex dental issues just like I had. These include overly crowded teeth, widely spaced teeth, overbite, underbite and crossbite! My teeth were overly crowded on top, so this would have been a great alternative for me. Check out the results others have seen from the Invisalign treatment.

Why Invisalign? Well, besides the obvious being they are much less visible than traditional braces, they roughly cost about the same amount. Plus, Invisalign treatment usually requires less office visits and shorter visits. In addition, you don't have to worry about broken braces that require special appointments and, quite honestly, just plain hurt your mouth. I can think of many other reasons I experienced, too, including getting food stuck in teeth and looking much too young for your age. I was often mistaken for being a middle school student.... in college!

To find out if Invisalign is right for you or your teen, check out the Invisalign Smile Assessment. This will give you more information about the process so you can decide if this is the right choice. I've heard great things about Invisalign. Just look at the photo above at the amazing results.

Do you know someone who needs braces? They may want to consider Invisalign. I know if my boys need braces when they get older, this will be my first choice!

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. However, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Hailey Ruth Children's Boutique: Adorable Personalized Clothing For Children Review & Giveaway

I am a fan of personalized items and you can find all sorts of special items around our home, but I am an even bigger fan of personalized clothing for my kids. I simply cannot resist a cute personalized shirt for Liam and Josiah, especially when it has matching shorts or pants to go with it. When one of my friends told me about Hailey Ruth, I was so excited to check it out and order.

About Hailey Ruth Children's Boutique
The idea of Hailey Ruth Children's Boutique came about because stay-at-home-mom, Amy, enjoyed creating unique clothing for her three children. She put together her love of clothing and her background in retail to begin Hailey Ruth! Amy enjoys making special, unique and customer designs for customers and wants every interaction and transaction to have a custom, personal feel. Just recently, Hailey Ruth took on a new partner, Emily, who will be training seamstresses, collaborating on new designs and much more. This means that you will see the same amazing quality, just more and more of it! With a variety of cute designs for boys and girls, ages 3 months to 8 years of age, you are sure to find something perfect for your little ones. You can also check out their Facebook page for newest designs and clothing additions for spring and summer!

My Thoughts
I have purchased a few different items from Hailey Ruth and absolutely love them all. The first shirt I purchased was this Christmas. I got the cutest little Christmas Owl shirt with Liam's name embroidered on the bottom. I was immediately impressed with the quality of the shirt because it was made of thicker, soft cotton. Plus, the shirt was just so stinkin' cute and we got many, many compliments.
For the review, we received two adorable Easter bunny shirts for the boys. There were so many different designs from which to choose, so I let them pick their favorites. We went to the beach this Easter and took the shirts with us. As you can see, the boys looked adorable on Easter Sunday wearing their shirts everywhere.
Josiah's shirt has the bunny sitting in the back of a truck and Liam's bunny is in a wagon. The shirts were absolutely perfect and the boys were so proud to show them off to everyone. These shirts, just like the owl shirt, were of great quality and were so soft! The designs as well as the names are embroidered, which just adds something special to the shirts and makes them stand out. The sizes are also true to size and fit the boys very well.

I cannot say enough about Hailey Ruth. In fact, I am getting Josiah's 6th Birthday shirt from them, too, and can't wait to post pictures of it, too. Since he is having a knight birthday party, the shirt will have a knight and a number six. He will love this shirt and I know he'll end up wearing it all summer.

Now that you've read all about Hailey Ruth, how about a giveaway?

It's Giveaway Time!
One Lucky Reader Will Receive Their Choice of Personalized Embroidered T-Shirt (A $25 Value!)


Chick-fil- A New Salads & Wraps Blog App & Giveaway #FreshMade (Ends 5/25)

We’re proud to announce the Chick-fil-A #FreshMade Blog App!

We love our Chick-Fil-A and their #FreshMade salads are delicious. 
Chick-fil-A is helping you make today #FreshMade, by creating new menu options that you can feel good about! They are introducing 3 new premium salads and an improved wrap all under 430 calories made with premium ingredients.

Be sure to take the Chick-fil-A #Freshmade Blog App Quiz above to find out if you are a starter? Are you the type of person to get up and go, go, go? Find out if you are already raring to go or if you need a little help getting the good time rolling! You can also do some other fun activities from the app, including  selecting your mode with quotes and images, taking a behind-the scenes look at how the salads are #Freshmade just for you, and you can also get social by sharing on your own social media accounts! 

Ready for an awesome giveaway? 

One Lucky Children Teaching Mama Reader Will Receive 2 Coupons For a Chick-fil-a Salads! Yummy! 


Send a Johnson's Baby Care Card To a Mama & Support Early Childhood Education

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for JOHNSON's Baby. I received a promotional item as a thank you for participating.
Last week was Mother's Day and when my husband asked what I would like to do for the day, I told him I just wanted to spend the day outdoors as a family, so that is exactly what we did. We sat outside on the porch, watching the kids and reminiscing about becoming parents for the first time. The day I found out I was pregnant with my first son, Josiah, I sat in disbelief and happiness. I couldn't believe I was going to be a mom and was so excited, but there were also those nagging thoughts in the back of my head. I wondered if I would be a good mom or how I would be able to handle staying at home with the baby and I have to admit that there were some tough days as a new mom. Well, here I am almost 6 years later with two beautiful little boys and I couldn't be happier. However, there are days as a stay at home mom that are just plain hard. I'm sure all other moms can relate to those "bad mom days" where we just can't do anything right. I feel this way when Liam gets a boo boo from falling on the stairs or when Josiah has a hard time with his homework and I just can't seem to explain it correctly.
My sweet boy cuddling his teddy bear, Peanut Butter.
On days like this, I sure need some kind of reassurance to keep me going and to make me feel like everything is going to be okay. Just recently, I was talking to one of my friends about Liam's chemotherapy treatment and he said, "You know, you are so strong and such a great mom". He had no idea, of course, but that really made me feel great. Today, as I was working on the computer, Josiah came in, reached over and kissed me and said, "I love you, Mama". Even those small, sweet actions are all the reassurance I need to keep me smiling.

One of our favorite brands, Johnson's also knows just how important these types of reassurances are for moms, especially on those tough days that never end. Johnson's has made it easier than ever to share some encouraging words to a mom with the Johnson's Baby Care Cards. After clicking the link you just select a message, choose an image that you think best fits your message, and send it to a mom! This is such a creative way to let another mom know how much you care. Plus, you can send the card via Facebook, Twitter or e-mail.
The great thing about sending a Johnson's Baby Cares Card is that for ever card that is sent, shared or liked, Johnson's Baby will donate $1 to Save the Children (up to $150,000) to benefit early childhood education! So, not only can you really do something sweet for a mom, but you will also help benefit the education of children. If that isn't incentive enough to send a card, I don't know what is, so get over to the website and send a card (or three) to one of your friends or family members who could use some words of encouragement.

I shared my card with my best friend, Holly, who just became a new mom for the second time. She's staying home with her little one for the next 4 months and is such an awesome mom. She deserves something special and, since I don't get to see her or tell her often enough, I thought this would be a great way to say I love you!

What do your kids do for you to give you that extra reassurance you need each day? To whom will you send a card?

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for JOHNSON's Baby. I received a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

Biggest Investments For Families

There are many investments that we, as parents and adults, make as we grow older, but some of these have more of an impact on our lives than others. When I think of huge investments, I automatically think of buying our house and buying a new car. These are big ones, but there is another investment that is even bigger. What is it? Your own children! Yes, that's right! According to a report by USDA, it costs an estimated $295,000 to raise a kid from birth to the age of 17. That's a great deal of money and that isn't even factoring in the cost of a college education. I think my husband would pass out if he saw that total. The cost of raising a child seems never-ending, but you can ensure that your children have a better concept of the value of money by including them in family spending ideas and actions.

When I was growing up, I remember watching my parents sort out bills each month and knew we lived on a budget, but as far as how much money was spent and how money was saved, I was clueless. So, when it came time for me to move out and attend college, I had no idea my bills and rent would be so expensive and I certainly didn't know how to budget everything. I learned the hard way that teaching children about spending and money is a must to prepare them for their own futures.

How can we teach our children about money? Well, there are some great ways to include them in family money discussions according to Gregg Murset, owner of MyJobChart. Parents should never be afraid to discuss the costs the experience on a daily and monthly bases. For example, gas prices are so high these days, so this is something to talk about with kids because going to school and other after-school activities directly effects the amount of gas used. Take a look at the graphic above for more great ideas.

Do you engage your children in the discussion of money? Just by following some simple steps you can help them understand and grasp the concept of money much better. Plus, they will be more prepared when the time comes to move out one day. I sure wish my parents had included me in money discussions!


Important Steps To Creating A Bedtime Routine With Children

Before my son started preschool, we really didn't have a set schedule, which meant complete chaos in our home, especially around bedtime. However, Josiah is now in kindergarten and everything has completely changed. Now that we do have a set routine, I've noticed how much more we get out of our days. Every night I feel like we have accomplished quite a bit and this is very satisfying. What's more satisfying is having kids go to bed without struggle or reading ten books before they settle down. This used to be a nightly issue. I've come to find that a bedtime ritual is, indeed, the key to good sleep and happy kids ready to get up and go in the morning.

Here are my suggestions for establishing a daily routine preparing kids for bed:

The first part of our night always begins with bath time. It is a great way to begin the process of slowing down and relaxing muscles. You can also follow the bath time with a massage. I do this often with my youngest son who sometimes has growing pains and this seems to help him sleep much better.
About an hour before bedtime, encourage quite "me" play time, which means no running around, screaming or playing competitive games. This gives children a chance to slow down, relax and wind down from a long day. Once the hour is up, its time to begin your nighttime routine. My husband and I talked about our routine for the boys ahead of time so we were both on the same page. You should keep a routine that generally lasts around 15 minutes: putting toys away, brushing teeth, using the potty, etc. You may want to keep a chart kids can check off each night as they complete tasks. We have a chore chart the kids check off each day and they get $1 at the end of the week if they have every space filled. This just gives some extra incentive for them to follow the routine.

Once all of the chart items are complete, it's time to pick out a book and get into bed. I've found that the types of mattresses we have really make a difference in restful sleep, which is why we found adorable toddler mattresses that are not only comfortable, but also fun for the kids. We turn off all bright lights and just have on a lamp during this time. Our reading time is my favorite part of our nightly routine and is our special bonding time as a family.
After story time, I always give kisses and tuck the boys in, one by one. Then, I turn off the lamp and turn on their little night light. Of course, routines should be personalized to your own children's needs, but as long as you stick to the schedule, you should see a huge change in attitude and happiness. My boys were much more rested and ready to play in the morning, which just made getting up that much easier for all of us.

Do you have a nightly sleep routine? If so, how does it differ from ours? 


Happiness is a Aden+Anais Daydream Blanket: Review & Giveaway

Last year we worked with aden+anais on a review of their unbelievably soft Dream Blankets for babies. The muslin material is not only breathable, but so soft that I couldn't help but be a bit jealous of my little ones for getting such a cuddly blanket. In fact, I had spoken with some other friends about their products and we all agreed that they should also offer products for adults. Can you imagine having their soft muslin sheets on your bed? How about a muslin blanket? Well, imagine my surprise when I found out about the aden+anais Daydream Blanket!

The aden+anais Daydream Blanket is the adult-sized version of the Dream Blanket for babies. This amazing blanket has four layers of 100% cotton muslin and I couldn't wait to get my hands on one! The great thing about muslin is that the more you wash, the softer it gets, so as soon as it was delivered, I put it in the washing machine so we could use it that night.

The Daydream Blanket comes in three unique designs, including ocean's edge, circle dance, and branch out. We received the beautiful ocean's edge blanket, which is a beautiful blue-green color. I knew the Daydream Blanket would be big, but I had no idea just how big.
This is a King-sized bed and blanket almost fits entirely across! I absolutely love my blanket and have been carrying it around everywhere with me. The kids have tried to steal it away from me and so has my husband, but I'm not going to take my eyes off of my blanket. The mornings here are still a little cool, so I bring it to the living room to keep warm and, at night, it is always on my bed at night.
Snuggling in the living room watching cartoons in the morning!
The great thing about muslin is that it is breathable, but also warm, making it the perfect blanket for all seasons. If adults had blankies to carry around like children, this would be it. I've even packed it when we go out of town and know I will do so for our summer vacations as well. This would make a wonderful Mother's Day gift or a present for any occasion. Anyone would love this blanket! Be sure to check out the other great items on the Aden+Anais website, too. I'm sure you will be hooked as I am, which is why I am so excited to share this awesome giveaway with you...

Giveaway Time
One Lucky Reader Will Receive Their Very Own Aden+Anais Daydream Blanket (A $125 RV)!


Dunkin' Donuts Coffee With New Delicious Seasonal Flavors

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom CentralConsulting for DunkinDonuts. I received a DunkinDonuts Party Kit to facilitate my review and a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

Living in a rural area, our dining options are quite limited. So, when we noticed a sign posted near home announcing the opening of a new Dunkin' Donuts, the boys were so excited, especially Josiah. I have to admit, I was excited, too. The boys love the Donut Holes and I am a Boston Creme fan. Of course, when our Dunkin' Donuts opened, we were there within a day and I decided to try out their coffee for the first time.

Let me back up and say I am very picky about my coffee, so liking Dunkin' Donuts is really saying something. Some coffee is not strong enough and others are too strong for me, but their coffee is just right for me. After trying their coffee in-store, I noticed it at our grocery store, too, and had to give it a try. I was amazed at how great it tasted. Being able to make a cup of Dunkin' Donuts coffee anytime is just satisfying and I love brewing it when we have special guests! I actually made it for my parents when they were visiting earlier this year and my mom also loved it. When I was asked to throw a fun party with friends and family to introduce the new Dunkin' Donuts Spring line of seasonal flavored coffee, I was so excited and couldn't wait to give the new flavors a try!

What are the new flavors?

  • Coconut 
  • Triple Berry
  • Strawberry Shortcake

Who came to our party?
Well, I threw the party in conjunction with my nephew's 2nd birthday party. What better time for all the mamas to try some delicious coffee, right? We always give out gift bags for the kiddos, but at this party, the mamas got a gift bag, too, and they could not have been happier. Plus, we all needed a little pick-me-up after running around all day!

First, we made the Triple Berry coffee to start the party. As we all sat around chatting and watching the kids go crazy playing with each other, the coffee was actually relaxing and really did have the essence of spring time.
The kiddos being entertained while we mamas enjoyed our coffee!
To go along with the chocolate cupcakes for dessert and fruit cups, we made the Strawberry Shortcake blend Dunkin' Donut Coffee, which was a HUGE hit. Even some of the husbands chimed in to say it was delicious. I was shocked when my own husband agreed and he doesn't even drink coffee! While some of the ladies had tried the coffee in-store, some had no idea it was available at the grocery store. They were excited to not only find out about it, but to receive a coupon in their gift bags.
The delicious eats! The strawberry shortcake coffee was perfect with the chocolate cupcakes!
Each of the guests also got a one full-size bag coffee to take home with them and try out, too. My sister-in-law ended up with the Coconut blend and said she was a little skeptical, but gave the Coconut Iced Coffee recipe a try that was included in the gift bag. What did she think? Her exact words were, "It was so yummy!" I cannot wait to give it a try.

My sister-in-law said she enjoyed the coconut flavor and thought it added something special to the coffee that was not at all overwhelming. In fact, that seemed to be the consensus about all of the new seasonal flavors. The flavor was part of the coffee and did not overpower the coffee flavor mixed in with it. The flavors mixed well together to make three great coffee blends that I think everyone would enjoy. They definitely have a hint of spring in them and I think they are perfect for this season.

Want to give them a try? These delicious spring seasonal flavors are only available for a limited time in grocery stores, so go get yours today. Do not delay because you do not want to miss out on these. Believe me!

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom CentralConsulting for DunkinDonuts. I received a DunkinDonuts Party Kit to facilitate my review and a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

Make Some Delicious Recipes With Lactose-Free #Lactaid & Giveaway

Disclosure: This sponsored post was written for LACTAID in conjunction with The Motherhood. All opinions provided are my own.

When I was about 8 years old, I came home with a stomach ache almost every day. My parents were at a loss until going to the doctor and finding out I was lactose intolerant. The chocolate milk I had to drink each day with school lunches was a big no no for my stomach and something I had to forgo from them on. Luckily, I've never been much of a milk drinker, but some of my favorite foods are made with milk and those are things I just cannot do without! It just so happens that I not only married someone who is lactose intolerant, but we also have a lactose intolerant son. We, as a family, love to eat and try new dishes, so we don't let this issue stop us at all. After all, I cannot live without my blueberry muffins and pastas, especially pasta with cream sauces!

I had a very informative discussion with Melissa d' Arabian, a celebrity chef and LACTAID Brand Spokesperson along with Michelle Harrington, R.D. and LACTAID Regulatory and Nutritional Affairs Manager all about what it means to be lactose intolerant and what LACTAID can do for those who suffer from it. I learned so much from them and had to share the information with my readers!
LACTAID Products
What does it mean to be lactose intolerant?
By definition, it means the small intestine does not make enough of an enzyme called lactase and, in order to digest lactose, the body needs this enzyme. Since lactose is in the sugar of milk and other dairy products, these cause adverse effects when ingested. What type of effects? It varies depending on the person and while I can handle small amounts of milk, my son can get very sick to his stomach just by drinking it.

What is LACTAID?
This delicious product provides the delicious creamy taste of dairy without stomach discomfort! LACTAID actually provides the lactase our bodies need to break down lactose! This means LACTAID products are 100% real dairy. The only difference is the added natural yeast-derived lactase enzyme! They have many great lactose-free products, including milks, cottage cheese, ice-cream and eggnog.

LACTAID has provided a freedom of food choices for our family. We are not limited in our daily meal selections because we can use LACTAID products in place of those with lactose. Plus, there are some delicious recipe suggestions on the LACTAID website that I cannot wait to try out. We will be trying out LACTAID all this month and reporting back shortly with more thoughts, information and our favorite recipe we've tried with it. We've already made blueberry muffins with it and, of course, they were a hit. Actually, the boys seemed to like them more than usual because they were gone 2 days later!

In our next post, we will write all about cooking with LACTAID, so check back for the next post. Until then, how about a giveaway?
Giveaway Time
One Lucky Children Teaching Mama Reader Will Receive A Coupon Good For Any One Free LACTAID Product! That includes milk, cottage cheese, ice-cream, eggnog and dietary supplements.

How To Enter
Leave a comment below telling why you would like to win OR a recipe you would like to try out with LACTAID! Be sure to leave your email address, too, so I can get in touch with the winner.
This giveaway is open to US Readers 18+ years of age and older. It ends on Monday, May 27th at 11:59pm. Good Luck!


Calculate Future Financial Possibilities With The Aflac Real Cost Calculator

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Aflac. I received a product sample to facilitate my review and a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

Illness is something we never like to think about and something we generally do not talk about unless it happens. Unfortunately, illness struck our family in many unexpected ways that blindsided us last year. For this reason, I believe it is best for others to educate themselves about the possibility of medical emergencies and illnesses. Just because they haven't happened doesn't mean they won't in the future. Why not educate yourself about the costs and possibilities? This way you are already prepared if the situation arises. If I had done this, I believe everything would have been much less stressful for our family.

My son Liam has been diagnosed with Neurofibromatosis for about two years and every 6 months we get MRIs to track the growth of his brain tumors. Until last August, they had stayed the same size, but all of a sudden they started growing. The doctor's wanted to take action immediately. So, on top of the expenses of 3 doctors, MRIs and travel expenses, we added on his port placement operation and chemotherapy every single week. It was a complete life change for our family and one that hit the bank much more than expected.  We read that medical debt is the leading cause for bankruptcy, so we wanted to take action immediately to prepare for any future costs.

Luckily, Aflac has something called the Real Cost Calculator, which helps people prepare for their own financial future in case of an unexpected illness or medical emergency. Yes, our insurance luckily covers a great deal of our costs, but we also have to factor in out of pocket expenses as well as our monthly household costs. All of these add up very quickly and the Real Cost Calculator has helped tremendously with our budget planning. Plus, it is very easy to use.

As of now, we have Aflac insurance and have been so happy with our coverage and with the service they have provided. In fact, my son gets his chemotherapy at the Aflac Cancer Center at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta! So, we are not only thankful for Aflac, but appreciative of all they do for customers. The calculator is just one of many things they have done for us. For once I actually feel empowered by my insurance because I am covered well and have been educated on what to expect cost-wise.

Have you taken a look at the Aflac Real Cost Calculator? I was just playing around with it tonight and was amazed at some of the prices to be expected. For example, a family with a child who has leukemia can expect an estimated $62,910 in medical expenses based on previous Aflac payouts in the past with about $9,700 out of pocket payments. Although Liam does not have leukemia, his treatment is very similar, so this really hits home. The calculator also estimates household expenses, which end up being around $8,963. I love that the calculator not only estimates the medical and out of pocket expenses, but also takes other bills into account. These are often overlooked and this has caused us to underestimate expenses in the past, which has lead to overspending. Fortunately, this does not happen any longer!

Take a look at the Aflac Real Cost Calculator, come back and let me know something you learned. I'm sure you will be amazed at how much information is provided! Take it from me, it is best to research and be prepared for your family and yourself.

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Aflac. I received a promotional item as a thank you for participating.


Mother's Day: EatSmart Precision Retro Mechanical Kitchen Scale Review & Giveaway

My husband has high blood pressure and so does my mother-in-law, so we are trying harder than ever to eat more at home and to eat healthier. Last year we worked with EatSmart Products for our Mother's Day Gift Guide and received a great kitchen scale, which has gotten much use from my husband when cooking salmon and chicken especially. This time we received the EatSmart Precision Retro Mechanical Kitchen Scale and I am so in love with this one that I put it out on our counter for everyone to see.

About the EatSmart Precision Retro Mechanical Kitchen Scale
This retro kitchen scale is a beautiful and bright red color that is sure to liven up any kitchen. The scale comes with a removable stainless steel mixing bowl, so just add items to the bowl and sit on top of the scale for quick and accurate measurements. Plus, the mixing bowl is dishwasher safe!
Our Thoughts
I love retro kitchen items and am always scouring stores for vintage items. I just recently added some owl containers and a mushroom recipe holder to my collection, so when I saw this beautiful scale from EatSmart, I knew I had to have it. I've gotten so many compliments about the EatSmart Precision Retro Mechanical Kitchen Scale. It's such a pretty red color that it really stands out and catches everyone's attention.
I didn't realize before receiving the scale, but the stainless steel bowl is separate from the scale, so this means we can weigh fruits and multiple items in the bowl or even liquid items. It also means I can place other containers, plates and bowls on the scale, too. I'm not just stuck with the bowl option. I can pretty much use this for all of my measuring needs in the kitchen. Plus, the bowl easily fits into our fruit bowl, so I could slide it and use it there if needed. 
Since we've been cooking more and I've been trying more recipes, I've had to also measure out items more often. We make meals for a family of four, so measuring by pounds is often a must when cooking meats, veggies and sometimes fruits. I absolutely love the EatSmart Precision Retro Mechanical Kitchen Scale and couldn't be happier!

Now that you've read all about the EatSmart Precision Retro Mechanical Kitchen Scale, would you like a chance to win one?
One Lucky Reader Will Win a Red EatSmart Precision Retro Mechanical Kitchen Scale ($50 RV)!

Take the AvoDerm Challenge with AvoDerm Natural Premium Pet Food #ad

 I was compensated for this sponsored post made possible by Mom Spark Media. Thoughts are my own. 

Do you have a cat or a dog? My boys love all animals and, at the moment, we happen to own cats and dogs In fact, one of our cats just had the cutest little kittens. Our cats and dogs are like our babies and, just like with other family members, we only want the best for them. Our family has begun eating healthier and we eat mostly all-natural foods. For this reason, I've been looking for a natural food for our cats and dogs, too. When I heard about the AvoDerm Challenge, I had to tell my readers about it!
One of our new baby kittens!
AvoDerm Natural premium dog and cat food formulas are complete with high quality meat proteins rich in omega 3 and 6 fatty acids from natural avocados to provide a balanced and nutritious meal for pets. Take the AvoDerm Challenge to see your pet's hair get softer and shinier in only 6 weeks... guaranteed!

Sign up for the AvoDerm Challenge and you will immediately get a $5 off coupon for your purchase. In addition, you will also have an opportunity to enter a giveaway to win a year's supply of AvoDerm! So, sign up to take the challenge and, in 6 weeks, AvoDerm will check in on your pet to see how he/she is doing.
Liam with his new kitten he named "Applesauce"!
You can also follow AvoDerm on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with all the latest news and promos! After you take the challenge, be sure to come back and tell me how it went! We want to know about all those cute pets out there.

 I was compensated for this sponsored post made possible by Mom Spark Media. Thoughts are my own. 

Spray 'N Splash 2 Inflatable Water Park Giveaway

Welcome to the Spray 'n Splash 2 Inflatable Water Park Giveaway hosted by Sweet Silly Sara, Sublime Media Connection, It's Free At Last, Simplified Saving, With a Side Of Thriftiness, and The Adventures of My Family of 8.
The Spray 'n Splash 2 brings all the fun of a the water park to your backyard. This inflatable will bring hours upon hours of enjoyment to your family and it will save you time and money. Imagine not having to spend a lot of time in the car, a lot of money on gas or admission to a water park and still hearing  delighted laughter from your kids. The Spray 'n Splash 2 from Blast Zone can accomplish all of that and then some.
This is a durable, high quality inflatable that is super easy to set up. Within minutes you can have this inflatable water park set up and ready for summer fun with your family. The fun doesn't have to end when swimming season does. You can add play balls to the pool area and create super sliding ball pit style fun for your kids, making this a great multi-season source of recreation. Sweet Silly Sara had the chance to review this really cool product from Blast Zone. You can check out her review and find out if this product lived up to her expectations of family fun by clicking here. One very lucky reader is going to win the Spray 'n Splash 2  inflatable water park just in time for summer! This giveaway begins on 5/10/13 and ends on 5/17/13. This prize is valued at $299.99. The participating bloggers are not responsible for the delivery of this prize, the sponsor Blast Zone will handle shipment of the Spray 'n Splash 2. Blast Zone offers a variety of commercial inflatables and bounce houses in assorted sizes and prices to bring endless hours of fun to your family. This giveaway is in no way affiliated with Facebook. I hereby release Facebook from any possible liabilities.

Ready for a Giveaway?
WInner of this giveaway will receive a Spray 'n Splash 2 Inflatable Water Park ($299.99 Retail Value) from Blast Zone!


Come Join The MetLife #SocialBlackout Movement With Us On Mother's Day

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for MetLife. I received a promotional item as a thank you for participating.
#SocialBlackout Badge
Growing up, I remember my mom would get so excited when May came around because her birthday was right before Mother's Day, so we are had two reasons to celebrate! Now that I'm a mom, I have to admit I get very excited when Mother's Day gets closer, too. Why? Because the day is always centered around being together as a family. We are such a busy family, always on the go, at work or on the road, so having a day devoted to family time and mom is exactly what I need. For Mother's Day this year, we will be grilling out at Grandma's house with the entire family. That means there will be a house full of love and laughter for the day. My nephew's 2nd birthday is actually the day before Mother's Day, so we will party all weekend! My boys are growing up so quickly and I don't want to miss any special moments with them. Mother's Day is just another chance for us to make those special memories they will one day tell their own kids. What are you doing to celebrate for Mother's Day this year?
My Two Sweet Boys Are Growing Up So Quickly!
 MetLife has a special way to celebrate Mother's Day this year and would love for you to participate. They have created the #SocialBlackout movement. What does this mean? It is a challenge to log off of ALL social media on Mother's Day, May 12th, to spend time as a family and give Mom all of the time and attention she deserves! I completely support this idea and love the thought of us staying offline for the day and purely enjoying each other's company. Be sure to check out the MetLife Facebook page for more info about the #SocialBlackout event!
Our last special occasion that was spent offline was Easter & we had a great time!
As I write this, my husband is on his iPad reading the newspaper, which is a nightly occurrence. In addition, my six year old enjoys playing on his Nabi during the weekend. When they are playing or reading I know they will not listen to a word I say. I could basically say anything and my husband would just smile, say "uh-huh", and nod is head. It's fun to mess with him sometimes, but other times it is just plain annoying. This is why it will be nice to participate in the #SocialBlackout and also why I was so happy that he RSVP'ed for the event! You can RSVP, too, by clicking here. You should get your other family members and friends to join the event as well. This will be your pledge to stay off of social media on Mother's Day. Can you do it? I know that it will be hard for some of us to resist, but I guarantee you will have a great time as a family and can make it a day of great memories.

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for MetLife. I received a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

KMN Home Giveaway $50 Amazon Gift Card or DrawerDecor Organizer Set (Winner's Choice)

Welcome to the KMN Home Giveaway! One lucky reader will win a $50 Amazon Gift Card OR (2) DrawerDecor – Customizable Drawer Organizer Starter Kits ($50 ARV).
The KMN Home DrawerDecor system has been featured in magazines like Better Homes & Gardens and Real Simple as a sleek way to custom organize your kitchen drawers with modern style and a splash of color.
Messy kitchen drawers will be a thing of the past and will finally look as nice as the rest of your kitchen. With the DrawerDecor everything stays in place and looks fabulous. Kitchen drawers will never be the same.

Giveaway Time!


Celebrate the American Cancer Society's 100th Birthday: Make Your Life List #FinishtheFight

Disclosure: This post was written for American Cancer Society in conjunction with The Motherhood. This is a sponsored post, though all opinions written are my own. 

My son was diagnosed with brain tumors two years ago and, as of last year they began to grow at a rate that  concerned doctors. He began chemotherapy last September and he has been through so much. The first treatment did not work to shrink the tumors, but, as of last week, we found out that the tumors have begun to shrink! This is a small step for him, but an amazing piece of good news that we've been waiting for all these months. It's been a long road for him and he has been such a brave boy through the entire process.
Liam having his port placed for treatment.
Did you know the American Cancer Society began the fight to end cancer 100 years ago? They've done so much to help others with treatments and continue to do so. They are more determined than ever to finish this fight and we are right there with them, supporting them!
Watching Liam and his struggle with brain tumors, I've come to appreciate life and all the special moments we share as a family. Every second, every minute is a blessing and something for which I am forever grateful. The American Cancer Society wants everyone to celebrate those special moments in life, too. After all, shouldn't we all celebrate life and enjoy every minute of it?
Liam's 3rd Birthday celebration!
 How can you celebrate these moments with the American Cancer Society? You can create your own Life List on the American Cancer Society Facebook Page just like we did. Of which accomplishments are you most proud? Maybe you got your dream job, having a baby or maybe you are excited to celebrate your next birthday just like Liam. Just go to the Facebook page, click on "Your Life List" near the top of the page to begin your celebration.
We added our accomplishments first, which were graduating college, giving birth to my beautiful, happy boys and marrying my wonderful husband who supports all of us. Then, I had to think of my future aspirations, or things I still want to accomplish. At 33 years old, I still have much that I want to do in my lifetime, so it's hard to narrow it down, but more than anything I want to see my boys grow up happy and healthy. I am also determined to get my teacher's certification so I can begin teaching! You can also add to the list your hope for the future of cancer. My hope is that one day everyone who is diagnosed with this disease will be cured and live out their lives cancer-free. We've come so far in this fight that I think this will be possible one day and I am hoping that day will be very soon.

Please take a moment to wish the American Cancer Society a happy birthday and go create your Life List today! There will also be a fun Twitter Party coming up on May 22nd for the celebration, but I will tell you more about that in another post.