Teaching Children About Thanks & Giving This Holiday Season #GivingTuesday #sponsored

The holidays are finally here and I absolutely love this time of year! As Thanksgiving nears, we start to think about our family, who and what is important to us and all the things for which we are so very thankful. The holidays also invite the spirit of giving. I think it is so important not only to give back, but to also teach my own children about the importance of giving. This is why I was so excited when The Motherhood contacted us about #GivingTuesday and teaching my own children the importance of giving.
My son, Liam, has been through so much this year and we've repeatedly seen the spirit of giving in action. It's such a wonderful feeling to be supported, understood, and loved. Friends and family members have stepped up to give us support and I've learned that even a simple hug or 'I love you' can really help raise spirits and make a day much better. For all of these reasons, this year I am more grateful and want nothing more than to give back this holiday season! We are celebrating the holidays a bit differently this year because I want to teach my children to truly appreciate what we have as a family and how/why we give back to others. I am a big believer in learning through participation and experience. That's why we are going to work hands-on to learn about giving. How can we do this? Here are some of my ideas:

1. Volunteering - Find nonprofit organizations around your county who need volunteers. We will be volunteering our time at a local soup kitchen this year. We will set up, serve others and clean up afterwards. I think this is such a great way to introduce children to volunteer work and encourage them to do so for years to come. You are never to young to lend a helping hand. There is always something you can do, even if it is just by coloring a card for overseas soldiers or singing Christmas carols at a nursing home.

2. The Big Thank You - Each year The Bert Show puts together this amazing program. The idea is for every single soldier overseas to receive a piece of mail during the holidays. Each year people from around the country send in letters and cards for these soldiers, including us. Since the ages of 3, Liam and Josiah have participated in The Big Thank You by coloring cards.

3. Educate - Sit down with your kids and explain the different between basic needs and wants. Go around the house and ask them to point out items that are necessities for living and others that are not needed, but wanted, such as toys. This great starting point for teaching them that others do not always have these items and that's why it is so important to give to others.

4. Making Donations- Just last week we went through all of our clothes, toys and items we either don't use or no longer need. The boys sat in their room with me and we went through each and every toy, deciding which ones to give to other boys and girls who would enjoy them and, after finishing up, we had over 5 boxes of toys, clothing and other goods to donate.

From this point on we will participate in #GivingTuesday and invite all of our readers to do so!

What is #GivingTuesday? 
#GivingTuesday is a movement dedicated to create a national giving day, which will officially kick off the giving season on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving. The 2nd annual #GivingTuesday will be on December 3rd, 2013. There are so many different ways for you to give and this wonderful movement really depends upon the participation of YOU! Do your part to support #GivingTuesday by sharing this information with others and giving back in some way. All families and individuals are encouraged to be generous in whatever ways matter to them, whether that means volunteering at a local charity or donating to a favorite cause. 

Disclosure: This post was written for The Motherhood and #GivingTuesday. Compensation was provided, though all written opinions are my own.

Germs Be Gone: Flu Prevention Tips & Suggestions #MC #sponsored

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting (#MC) for MedImmune Specialty Care. I received a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

During the summertime, we enjoy family time together and usually don't have to worry about sickness, but this time of year is a totally different story! The cold and flu season is now in full effect and we must do our part, as parents, to protect the family from these unwanted germs. As you may already know, this is sometimes easier said than done, but we have some great tips to keep your family healthy!

Here are our top 5 tips to stay healthy during flu season:

1. Wash hands often - We always wash ours as soon as we get home, before meals and when we come indoors from playing outside. You really can't be too careful. I have also talked to my oldest son about washing hands at school since he is in first grade and around so many germs each day. He is always so proud to come home and tell me he washed hands before his snack and lunch period.

2. Clean & Disinfect - I keep disinfectant wipes and spray stocked at our home to clean up any messes. I use them pretty much everywhere, but especially in the bathroom, bedroom and kitchen. TOYS are huge germ carriers, so it is very important to clean them often, so we clean the ones the boys play with the most and we also go through and disinfect after other children come to visit.

3. Flu shots - Over the past two years, we've gone in to get flu shots. My youngest is in the middle of chemotherapy, so keeping him healthy is are ultimate goal and, to do that, we all must be healthy. Plus, as a busy on-the-go family, my husband and I really can't afford to be sick. There's just too much to do!

4. Teach kids about germs- Before school began, I sat Josiah down and talked to him about germs and told him that sometimes there would be sick kids at school with him. We talked about washing hands before eating, not putting his dirty hands on his face, covering his face when coughing and using tissues when needed. I also bought antibacterial gel for him to keep in his backpack just in case.

5. Take vitamins - Our whole family takes vitamins and probiotics. The boys take a gummy vitamin each day with echinacea to boost their immune systems and my husband and I take a multivitamin, too.

I think all of these tips have greatly helped our family. No one has gotten the flu and only Josiah and I had minor colds that only lasted a few days and then disappeared. We have been very fortunate! How do you protect your family against the flu during this time of year? We found some great information in Elizabeth Pantley's ebooklet, "A Parent's Guide to Flu Season". She is a wonderful author and I've read several of her books, so I was excited to check this out. The ebooklet begins with information about the flu season- what it is, who is at greatest risk, how it is spread, what months are peak times for the flu, etc. I thought the informational chart comparing the flu with a cold was very interesting and helpful because I didn't know all of these facts. For example, symptoms of the flu may include chills, warm, flushed skin, diarrhea, vomiting and irritability. A cold does not typically include those symptoms, but do include symptoms that are primarily in the head (nose and throat).

I completely agree with Pantley that prevention is key! Her tips are also similar to the ones I mentioned above, including keeping hands clean and getting a flu vaccination, but she goes into depth about each of those and even includes a list of different flu vaccinations that are offered, how they are administered, how often, possible side effects and more. She really hits all the important points about flu season and prevention, which is something I believe all parents should take a moment to educate themselves about and then also teach their children. The flu is such a serious sickness and I remember having it as a child. It was the most miserable experience of my life and I never want my own children to go through that. I can't guarantee that they will never get the flu, but I want to do my best to help prevent it and to keep them healthy.

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting (#MC) for MedImmune Specialty Care. I received a promotional item as a thank you for participating.


Enjoy The Holidays With Suave Products #suavescents #sponsored

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The holidays have always been my very favorite time of year and I get so excited as they near. Thanksgiving is just next week and my boys have already been talking about our big dinner feast and everything they want to eat. It makes me think back to my own childhood and the delicious foods my mom would make and all of the scents that started in the kitchen and spread their way throughout the entire house. Pumpkin pie and all-spice, cinnamon apples and, of course, turkey and ham all have a distinct smell and each are guaranteed to make your mouth water. Every Thanksgiving Eve and Christmas Eve I would help my mom prepare everything for the next day and she taught me so very much, including my most favorite snowball cookies that she still makes every single year. What are your own favorite scents around the holidays?

The holidays also bring in many guests from out of town, so not only does our home have to look beautiful and smell great, but I want my hair to look great and smell wonderful, too. I have a secret I don't tell many people... I love going to Walmart and smelling all the different shampoos on the hair care aisles. I remember picking out Suave products as a child and particularly loved their shampoo. Just like my parents back then, we are on a budget, but I still want quality products and Suave fits the bill.
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Searching at Walmart in-store and online, I have been amazed at all of the different scents Suave offers. I remember my favorite shampoo back then was Strawberry, but now I really like Suave Professionals Rosemary Mint, one I think is perfect for the holiday season. My kids love Suave Cowabunga 2 In 1 Shampoo and so do I because of the coconut scent. They smell so delicious after a good bath. We just recently decided to try a different shampoo and Josiah picked out the Suave Kids Natural Soothing Lavender Head to Toe Wash. It has a very light lavender smell with other sweet flowery tones. A variety of scents can be found not only with shampoos, but also with Suave body washes and body lotions. Suave Naturals Sweet Pea & Violet Lotion has to be my favorite right now and I use it every single day. It smells so sweet and flowery!

With the holidays quickly approaching, we went  and stocked up on Suave products at Walmart this weekend not only for us, but also for our guests. My parents, cousins, nephews, nieces and grandma will be visiting and I want our home to feel just like their own. I can pamper them with Suave products without spending a bundle! I even purchased some Suave For Men Deep Cleaning Shampoo for my dad, husband and nephews because it smells so great. I can't wait to see what they think. I know the holidays can sometimes be stressful and busy, but I know one thing is for sure: we will all smell great!

Be sure to check out the huge selection of Suave Products at Walmart this holiday season. Give them the sniff test, come back and then tell me which is your favorite!

Disclosure: This sponsored post was written for Global Influence and exchange for monetary compensation. All opinions provided are my own.

Look Good, Feel Good Everyday
Suave® offers products for the entire family so everyone can look good and feel good everyday! The best part – Suave® products are available atWalmart so you can get the best value locally.
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Suave® Naturals offers a variety of delicious smelling body washes and body lotions perfect for this holiday season! Have guests coming into town? Stock up the bathroom with Suave® to make them feel right at home.
Join the Conversation
The holidays are all about different scents – pumpkin pie, fall foliage, turkey dinners – each smell brings up different memories of the holidays. Spark a conversation with your readers by asking them what their favorite scents are and what holiday memories those scents evoke. Use the hashtag #suavescents to share with your followers via Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.
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Head in-store or online to shop for all Suave® products at the best value!

1)      Open your post with a brief paragraph on what your favorite scents are and what holiday memories those scents evoke. Please encourage readers to their own favorite scents and memories.

2)      Let readers know about the many wonderful scents available with Suave Naturals products and that they are available at Walmart as they prepare for holiday guests this season. Complete information and assets are available at: http://resource.lbox.com/epk/suave-november/

3)      Banners and images for your post can be found at: http://resource.lbox.com/epk/suave-november/

4)      As always, please disclose that your post was sponsored as per FTC regulations and be sure to share on your social channels. You can use the hashtag #suavescents


Our Fall Vacation Destination: Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort in Sandestin, Florida

It's rainy and 40 degrees at our house tonight and I'm wrapped up in a blanket. Boy am I missing summer weather and could use some nice days in the sun. Luckily, my wish is coming true and tomorrow we leave for our fall vacation to Sandestin, Florida! I love vacationing on the Gulf Coast because the sand is so beautifully white and the water is almost always clear and blue. Although we have on the Gulf many, many times, we've never actually vacationed in Sandestin, so this will be a completely new experience for the family and I cannot wait.

During our 4 day, 3 night vacation as a family, we will be at the Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort, a 2,400-acre full-service resort for seasons and full of fun for the entire family. Yes, there is much to explore around the area, but you may never even want to leave the resort. This is a completely different world with 30 neighborhoods, 16 world-class tennis courts, 19 swimming pools, a marina, children's programs, fitness center and spa, and much, much more.
We will arrive Saturday afternoon and there will still be plenty to do, including a bonfire that night. I think I am most excited about the Village of Baytowne Wharf, a unique village with boutique shops, casual and fine dining and nightlife venues! Plus, resort guests can enjoy a variety of complimentary amenities during their stay, including bicycle rental, fitness center access, tennis court time, resort transportation, seasonal water amenties (kayaks and boogie boards) and more. Also, for all  you golf lovers, Sandestin is home to 72 holes of golf on four championship courses!

My husband will be working up until Thanksgiving, so I will be on my own the the two kiddos during this trip, but that's okay! We are going to have a blast and they have been asking every day if it is time to go to the beach yet. They love going to the beach and Liam was just a baby the last time we went to the beach in Florida, so he has no idea what to expect. We will be staying in a 2-bedroom condo in the Beachside Towers I building within the resort. The first day we are there, the weather will be nice and warm, but for 2 days, the temperature will dip down into the 60s. That's okay, though, because there is a heated pool and hot tub in the building, as well as a fitness center and restaurant! We can also catch a ride to the Baytowne Wharf for some additional shopping.
Beachside Towers
The more I write, the more excited I get about visiting Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort! We are getting up at 7am in the morning and will be off to the beach in no time at all. It will be a six hour drive, so hopefully we will get there with plenty of time to go for a walk on the beach and take a look around the area. When we get home, I'll be sure to write another post with some great photos and let you all know just how much fun we had!

Ready to go to the beach now? Be sure to check out their current specials and save 30% off  your rental pricing. They also have events year-round. The next will be the Thanksgiving Brunch on the Bay for a delicious holiday feast.

Disclosure: This post was written for Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort in exchange for accommodations. All opinions provided are my own.


Fall Frenzy Indie Author Kindle Paperwhite FREE Blogger Giveaway Event Sign-Ups

Welcome to the Fall Frenzy Indie Author Kindle Paperwhite Blogger Giveaway Sign-Ups sponsored by Reader Spoils. This is the first of two events this we are promoting over the next two months and we'd love for you to sign up and join the fun. The past two events gained over 100,000 combined entries, so you will definitely receive many new followers for your social media. We are capping the number of participants for this one, so sign up quickly!

This giveaway will begin on Saturday, November 30th at 12:01am and ends on Sunday, December 15th at 11:59pm. One winner will be randomly selected from all valid entries to receive a 6 inch Kindle Paperwhite valued at $139!

  • Each blogger receives 1 free link of choice (Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram).
  • Additional Links can be purchased at $2 each. These links can be Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and/or Pinterest.
  • We have 3 co-host spots available for $10 each. This includes your choice of links (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and/or Pinterest) and you get to host one of the pages (Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram or Facebook) during the event!
  • The giveaway html will be sent out by Wednesday, November 27th and posts must be live by noon on Monday, December 2nd. We will send out reminder emails for those who forget to post.
  • Payments can be made via Paypal to childrenteachingmama@gmail.com
(YOU can win prizes, too!!)
  • The blogger who refers the most bloggers to sign up will win a $10 Amazon gift card! Announcements are not mandatory, but are a great way to increase sign-ups so you can win. If you'd like, feel free to cut/paste the event details above as your own announcement post with a link here or to the sign-up form. 
  • An additional $10 Amazon gift card winner will be chosen from the bloggers who post an announcement. So, post an announcement on your blog and you have another chance to win!

This is going to be such a great giveaway and we hope you will be a part of it! Below I have included the button along with html for you to cut and paste into a post or to include on your sidebar. This is not mandatory, but we would love for you to use it and spread the word. You can also share the post with your friends and followers via Facebook and Twitter with the widget at the top of the post. This is a good way to increase sign-ups, which also increases your change to win a gift card!

If you have any questions or comments, please contact me at childrenteachingmama@gmail.com. 

Create Unique & Custom Holiday Cards at Cardstore & 50 Card Giveaway #TopoftheMantel #Sponsored #MC

I participated in an Ambassador Program on behalf of Mom Central Consulting (#MC) for Cardstore. I received complimentary cards and a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

Can you believe the holidays are almost here? I am still in denial that Thanksgiving is next week and all the craziness will begin very soon. We are always super busy during the holidays and never fail to plan way more than we should. I've been such a procrastinator in the past and don't want to do it this year, so I've been shopping already and only have a few more things to take care of, thank goodness, but there are some other items on our to-do list that I never look forward to, including cleaning the entire house and cooking! Yuck! However, there are many other reasons that make the holidays completely worthwhile and this is why I look forward to them every single year.

What do I look forward to each year? Well, of course, I get excited about decorating our home with Christmas trees, ornaments and all of our holiday decor. I also enjoy seeing friends and family that we don't get to see often during the year. Plus, I really love giving gifts and watching people open them, but one thing I really enjoy doing on my own each year is making our holiday cards!

Yes, I really enjoy making our custom personalized holiday cards each year and start looking at them a month ahead of time. This year I had the opportunity to check out a website that is just awesome. Cardstore is a great online resource that makes mailing out holiday cards easier than ever. Okay, so how many of you are guilty of buying holiday cards and then forgetting to actually mail them out? I've done that a few times thanks to procrastination and get so frustrated that I wasted money. Well, that is NOT going to happen this year because I am buying my cards from Cardstore and they take care of the shipping for me. That's right, they will not only help you create a custom card that is unique and perfect for your family, but they will also print, stamp and then send the cards for you!
I took a look at all of the photo cards on Cardstore and there was such a great selection. You could find cards with only one photo or with multiple photos. Then, you could customize the message and signature that appears on the card. The entire process was so simple! I decided on one of the Merry Christmas tagline photo cards featuring one photo. During our Disney Make A Wish trip, we actually had a chance to meet Santa for a special night and took some great photos, so that's what I used for this card. Since it was still 80 degrees in Florida, we are all wearing shorts and short sleeves, but I was able to zoom in on the photo so the legs weren't as visible without making the picture fuzzy or out of focus at all. Here's our holiday card creation:

Making our card seriously took me all of 5 minutes and only because I stressed over which card I liked the best and what I wanted our message to be. Once I finished the card, I made my own Cardstore account so I could save all of my work for the future. When I did this, I had the option to create an address book. I immediately added in several addresses, including my parents. Then I could pick/choose who I wanted to send our card to and when I'd like Cardstore to send them! Then, I went straight to checkout and purchase them. It seriously doesn't get any easier than that.
As much as I enjoy making holiday cards each year, I always have too much on my plate and 9 times out of 10 I lose track of time and end up sending the cards out late. This is why I love Cardstore so much! I can make my cards, pick out who I'd like them sent to and then pick which date they should be sent. The hardest part is trying to decide which card(s) you like the best, but you don't even have to stick with one card design. You can make several and send them to different people in your address book.

Go online and see how easy it is to create your own card on Cardstore. Then, let me know what you think! I am positive you will love it just like I do. When you purchase, don't forget to check out their current promotion codes. From 11/14-11/20 Cardstore is offering $20 off your $50 order with code: CCN3250 and, from 11/21-11/26, Cardstore is offering 30% off holiday cards. Plus, you receive free shipping with all orders over $30! You can create some unique holiday cards and save money at the same time.

Ready For A Giveaway?
One Lucky Children Teaching Mama will win a code for 50 FREE Holiday Cards and Free Shipping! 


Graco Little Lounger Is Simply Heaven For Babies... and Moms! { Graco Little Lounger Event #Graco15ForMe }

A few weeks ago, I was invited to attend an event with some other amazing Atlanta area bloggers to learn all about the new Graco Little Lounger! I couldn't wait to go because we love Graco products and have owned/used several over the past years, including carseats and strollers. Krystyn, from Really? Are You Serious? Blog hosted the event and we had a blast. We also had a special guest, Meryl, from a local Yoga studio, Sacred Thread Yoga, to teach us some easy Yoga routines for moms. It's so important to take some time for yourself each day, especially when you have a baby. While they are napping in their Graco Little Lounger, take 15 minutes to stretch and do some Yoga. It's amazing what that that 15 minutes can do for mind and body.

Here's what I learned about the Graco Little Lounger:

Liam had a lounger when he was a baby and it ended up being his most favorite item we owned. In fact, it was the only thing he would sleep in for quite a while and we had quite a time trying to transition him to his crib. As much as he liked his lounger, the Graco Little Lounger has it topped in many, many ways and I can't wait to try it out... hopefully sooner than later.

What is the Graco Little Lounger?
It is both a rocking seat and a vibrating lounger! You can strap in baby with the 3-point harness, keeping baby snug and secure, a safety feature I adore. Plus, it also has Rock Locks, which are locks to keep older children from accidentally being too rough with baby and prevents them from falling out.

Does baby want to sleep or play? You can adjust the incline angle to multiple positions to please baby! The Graco Little Lounger also comes with a removable toy bar for some fun entertainment.

What I love the very most about the Graco Little Lounger is the size. For those of us who live in a small home, this is such an amazing space saver. With the squeeze of a button, this company lounger folds together and is stored easily. It's also super lightweight and easy to move around the house. I can set it up in my son's room and move it to the living room in no time at all. This is especially helpful for those of us who travel often for the holidays and for vacations. The Graco Little Lounger is so compact that we have no problem fitting it into our car for trips. Love it!
The Graco Little Lounger is safe for infants up to 30 pounds OR until they are able to move into a seated position on their own. Until then, believe me, your baby will love this luxurious lounger and, if they are anything like Liam, they will sleep like a rock every single time, especially with the vibrating feature.

This would make such a great shower present or holiday gift for someone who is expecting or has a newborn, especially because it is something they would use often. Retailing at only $79.99 makes this also a very affordable gift.

I received a complementary Graco Little Lounger™ in Caraway fashion that is exclusively sold at Babies-R-Us (other fashions sold at various locations) and compensation for this post. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.

Holiday Gift Guide: HALO giggleBaby SleepSack Review & Giveaway

“HALO Innovations became the standard for hospital nurseries and parents alike. In fact, 1,000 hospital nurseries use the HALO SleepSack Swaddle instead of blankets through the HALO Safer Way to Sleep Initiative. That is 1.5 million births getting first-hand, in-hospital experience with the HALO SleepSack Swaddle and safe sleep practices! Modeling safe sleep practices for parents in the hospital is the key to safer sleep practices at home.  HALO Innovations also offers free Safe Sleep Practices kits to childbirth educators to help further the cause of SIDS prevention.”
Last month was SIDS Awareness Month, and I wrote a post about how HALO Innovations is working to make sleep safer for babies and toddlers.  HALO also partnered with us to promote their Facebook “LIKE” campaign, where they donated $1 for every new “LIKE” during October.  Throughout last month, they were able to donate $15,000 to organizations that promote safe sleep education with all of your new likes!
In our home, we are big fans of HALO SleepSacks.  Baby Ezra was even HALO’s Baby of the Week back in September (in the photo he was 1 day old!)
HALO has been working to place SleepSacks in more stores for easier access to moms and babes.  Their newest line, part of the giggleBABY Shop at JCPenney, is now available exclusively in select JCPenney stores across the US.
To launch the new giggleBABY line, we were able to try out one of JCPenney’s brand new HALO designs- the giggleBABY HALO SleepSack Microfleece Wearable Blanket in Cream Sheep.
With winter and Christmas coming up, we LOVE our microfleece SleepSacks!  As always, HALO has a soft, safe, warm product that we can enjoy with Ezra.  The SleepSack is made as an alternative to traditional blankets in the crib, allowing baby to stay warm while safely keeping the blanket below the face and mouth.  It’s perfect to slip over a onesie or thin jammies, to snuggle in for the night while knowing that no blankets will occlude Ezra’s airways.
HALO even took the time to create a zipper that opens from the bottom, away from baby’s face, for maximum comfort and easy diaper changes.  Sometimes it even allows for diaper changes that don’t wake up baby!
You can follow HALO on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest to keep up-to-date with all of their new products and tips for safe sleep.
Ezra wants you to know that SleepSacks make an amazing Christmas gift for those littles that are still too small to enjoy toys yet but still deserve a wonderful gift.  He said that they make the perfect warm, snuggly, and safe present for under the tree.  He also told me that HALO would like to give one away to our awesome readers. 
Ready For A Giveaway?

One Lucky Reader Will Receive Their Own HALO giggleBaby SleepSack! 

Yala Designs- Comfort Meets Fashion Review & $50 Gift Card Giveaway

This review review was written by Danielle from Happenings of the Harper Household for our annual Holiday Gift Guide event.
Babies don’t care what their clothing looks like, but they do care what it feels like.  Don’t believe me?  Well maybe they can’t tell you in actual words but their facial expressions and body language speaks loud and clear.  My girls have never been happy in clothing with stiff collars – I will never understand who’s bright idea it was to put collars on baby pajamas. Oh and baby dresses with all the ruffles, lace, and itchy netted material that makes the dress look poofy – Easter is like torture for babies!  And so I listen to my babies and put them in clothing that is super comfortable which is what they want and that is super cute… because what mom doesn’t want their kid to look adorable?  I’m so excited to share a company that has the comfy and cute all wrapped in one – Yala Designs.
Willow received the BambooDreams Bateau Set in Paradise Chevron, but it is also available in five other colors/patterns including boy and gender neutral options.  In fact, we might need to get a few more sets!
I absolutely love chevron and so when I saw these pants I practically died from the cute, hehe.  And since chevron can be a bit “loud” when there is too much I love that Yala paired the pants with a solid long sleeved shirt.  After digesting how cute this set was the next thing I noticed was the softness of the fabric which is 95% Viscose from Bamboo and 5% Spandex.  It’s the kind of soft that you just want to rub against your face and snuggle with til you fall asleep….. or you could dress your baby in it like it’s intended to be, hehe.  Not only is the material amazing because of how soft it is, but also because it is organically grown in sustainably managed forests.
It was quite obvious that Willow was very comfortable in her BambooDreams Bateau Set because she was only focused on playing.  If something is irritating her skin she will mess around with it til she gets it off.  Willow has literally mastered the art of taking off her clothes at only fourteen months old, but she almost didn’t even seem aware she had clothing on.  This could be due to the fact that the bamboo material is so silky soft that it almost feels weightless against your skin.  
Willow was so comfy that she even took her first two steps unassisted while wearing this outfit today!  And after she was done playing she fell asleep and took a nice long nap – comfy enough for play and sleep!
I definitely want to get Willow a bunch more BambooDreams clothing. Luckily Yala Designs carries a large selection including onesies, blankets, dresses, crib sheets, beanies, and more.  Plus they even have clothing for men and women as well as for the bed and bath.  I would love to have an outfit just as comfy as Willow’s…. yup, I’m a tad jealous, hehe.
If you would love to feel just how soft this bamboo is I suggest entering the giveaway below.  One lucky Happenings of the Harper Household reader is going to win a $50 gift card to Yala Designs!  And if you plan to go shopping be sure to use the coupon code “HOUSEHOLD20” which will get you 20% off now through December 3rd 2013. Good luck!
Ready For A Giveaway
One Lucky Reader Will Receive a $50 Yala Designs Gift Card! 

Holiday Gift Guide : Be You With Lottie Doll This Christmas & Giveaway

This review was written my Danielle from Happenings of the Harper Household for our Holiday Gift Guide Event. 
I married into an awesome family- one that values each person and will be there for you no matter what, just because you are family. While I love them dearly, those silly people left me with little chance to birth a baby girl (the last girl born in the family was 60+ years ago!). Good thing I love my boys to the moon and back anyway! So when I had the chance to review a Lottie doll by Arklu, I was a bit out of my element. But when I looked into Lottie further, I knew that this was the doll I would want my own little girl to have (and by the way, my boys LOVED her too).
Meet Lottie, a wholesome doll alternative for girls aged 3-9 with a correctly proportioned body (except for her head) and childlike features (no makeup, high heels, or jewelry, and she can literally and figuratively stand on her own feet). She’s all about letting girls be girls, doing all the activities a child would do, not growing up too quickly, and presenting a healthy view on body image. Lottie embraces the idea that girls can be strong, smart, bold, and powerful, and can essentially do anything a boy counterpart can do in life. In other words, she encourages girls to Be Bold, Be Brave, Be You.
We received a Pirate Queen Lottie to try out at home and see how great she was. And, can I say, I was impressed! The first thing I noticed when I took Lottie out of her box was how different she felt in my hands than a traditional Barbie or Bratz doll. Her skin and hair were much softer, her feet were flat, and she was just over 7 inches tall. She had more of a straight waist, a flat chest, her knees were bendable, and her hips were an actual ball-and-

socket joint. Plus, she comes in a cute, re-usable doll box bag with handles to carry her and her accessories around in.

We also received an extra outfit for Lottie- the gymnast Raising the Bar outfit. I loved how many accessories there were, and my boys had a blast dressing her up with all of the different accessories. Everything was made of brightly colored materials, easy to put on, and had lots of attention to all of the small details. I also noticed that all of Lottie’s clothes were pretty modest compared to some other dolls currently on the market, and that’s something we value in our family.
Reese spent a lot of time playing with Lottie’s soft Saran nylon hair, and attaching different pieces to her outfit like bows, award medals, and pirate logos. Aiden enjoyed trying the different outfits on Lottie and posing her differently around the living room. In fact, Lottie was so much fun for them that they ended up fighting over her and we had to set up a timer system. Boys…
Lottie is available globally in 14 different countries including the US, and can be found on Amazon.com, the Lottie website, or your local neighborhood toy store (in 2014). She has won 15 awards in the US, UK, and Canada, and has the approval of many industry and child development experts.
Lottie dolls make a fun Christmas gift and are affordable with a price of $19.99 per doll and just $9.99 for each accessory kit. You can choose from a variety of smart and savvy professions, outfits, and activities such as Robot Girl Lottie, Butterfly Protector Lottie, Kawaii Karate Lottie, Girls United outfit (soccer), Body Boarder outfit, Raspberry Ripple outfit, Sweet Dreams outfit (pajamas), and even Biscuit the Beagle or Seren the Welsh Mountain Pony accessories set.

Ready for a giveaway? 
Arklu has offered to give one lucky reader a Lottie doll and an additional outfit. Enter the giveaway below and remember to Be Bold, Be Brave, Be You!

Holiday Gift Guide: Dreamworks Holiday Collection DVD Set Review & Giveaway

My kids look forward to the weekend for many reasons- getting to stay home from school, spending time with Papa and playing with their cousins. However, there is one activity we always get excited about and that's our Friday movie night! This past weekend, the kids got their pajamas on, we made popcorn and put a new movie in the DVD player, the Dreamworks Holiday Collection, which I knew the kids would really enjoy.

About the Dreamworks Holiday Collection
This 2 DVD set features four stories based on popular movies with a holiday twist the entire family can enjoy! Originally shown on tv for holiday specials, now this set is available for purchase so you can watch and enjoy any time.

Featured Episodes
  • Shrek the Halls (2007) - Made in between Shrek 3 and Shrek Forever After, this great short film features Shrek, Fiona and their three kiddos. Shrek wants to give Fiona a very special Christmas surprise, but, with Donkey in tow, there are some shenanigans along the way! 
  • Merry Madagascar (2009) - While attempting to escape Africa and return to the zoo in New York in a hot air balloon, the gang unintentionally shoot down Santa Claus' sleigh. What will they do?
  • Gift of the Night Fury (2011) - Based on one of our favorite movies How to Train Your Dragon, this story is all about the preparation of a Viking winter holiday.
  • Kung Fu Panda Holiday (2010) - Po is picked to host the annual Winter Feast, a very important event where all Kung Fu masters will attend. Po needs help to pull off everything and wants to make the event a night to remember. Who knows what will happen!
Our Thoughts
I love this time of year and all of the special holiday features that come on each year. We caught a few last year, but hadn't seen any of these before. Each of the short movies are about 22-27 minutes, including the credits. I honestly didn't know what to expect from the DVD, but knew how much the kids had enjoyed the movies these were based upon. I think our favorite was definitely Shrek the Halls. The boys absolutely love Shrek and, after meeting Shrek at Universal Studios this fall, they were very excited about watching this one. As in all the Shrek movies, Donkey and Shrek get into trouble and almost every moment is hilarious. We were all laughing during this one. 

My youngest really enjoyed Merry Madagascar since he loves animals and he thought they were absolutely hilarious. My older son wants to be a knight when he "grows up", so he was very into Gift of the Night Fury and has been asking to watch it again already. 

I don't want to give too much away in my review, but I was happily surprised at this great collection of holiday films. This was the perfect length for children and I really like that the episodes are split up, making time for bathroom breaks and for making more popcorn. Oh, there were lots of extras on the DVDs, too. You will find funny shorts, songs and more. Watching the DVD was definitely a great kick-off to the holiday season. The boys are already asking when Santa will be here and it's not even Thanksgiving yet. I'm sorry to tell them it will be another month, but, in the meantime, we can watch great movies like these, set up our Christmas trees, decorate the house and listen to some holiday music!

Ready For A Giveaway?
One Lucky Reader Will Receive Their Own Dreamworks Holiday Collection DVD! 

Holiday Gift Guide: Eye-Fi Mobi SD Card Makes Transferring Photos Easier Than Ever

Disclosure: A product was received in exchange for a review. No other compensation was provided and all opinions are my own.

At only four years old, I remember carrying around an old 110 camera, snapping pictures of my family. So much has changed since the 80s and photo-taking is no limited to film. I have always loved taking photos and have picture books pretty much documenting my entire life, but now that I a parent and can take photos with my digital camera as well as my phone, you wouldn't believe how many photos I take on a daily basis! Just recently, on our Disney trip, I took over 500 pictures. No joke!

I have to admit that there are two downfalls to taking photos. Every time I take a great photo on my digital camera, be it of a sunset or of my kiddos, I can't wait to post it on my blog or on social media for everyone to see. However, it's a bit of a process because I have to take the SD card out of my camera, insert it in my laptop (which isn't always with me, unfortunately), download onto the computer and then upload the photos online. Secondly, if I do take a photo with my phone, the quality is always lacking and pixilated. If you enjoy taking photos like me, I am sure you can relate!
A typical blurry photo taken with my smartphone with low lighting and little detail.
What if there was a product that bypassed all of this work to post quality photos online or to message them to friends and family? 

Well, there now is an amazing product, the Eye-Fi Mobi SD Card, that makes transferring photos easier than ever before and I couldn't wait to give it a try.

What exactly does it do? Many of us love our social media these days. From blogs to Facebook and Twitter to Instagram, I love posting photos and do it often. I mentioned above that my phone doesn't take the best photos and it really lacks the quality my Canon Rebel photos have. I really dislike having to post mediocre photos, but I don't have to do this anymore! The Mobi SD card allows you to instantly transfer your best photos and videos from a camera to a smartphone or tablet! It completely cuts out that lengthy process, giving you the ability to bypass the middleman, aka your computer.

How does it work? What makes this SD card so unique is that it does not require a wireless network. I've heard bad things about other SD cards that work on a wireless network, mainly that they suck your battery life and the user often receives error messages. However, Mobi has its very own WiFi, so it can work anywhere you are. You install the free Eye-Fi App on your smartphone or tablet, which connects the card.

So, I went online to install the free app and found that it was readily available in the Apple App Store, Google Play and the Amazon Apps, making it accessible for just about any device. I easily installed it on my iPad and then on my phone. Once installed, you just enter the access code that is included in the Mobi SD Card package. Once you get that set up, you are ready to put the SD card in your camera!
A great photo taken with my camera and transferred to my phone via my Mobi SD Card!
Once my phone and iPad were connected to the card, I was ready to take some photos. As soon as I took a new photo, it is detected by the Mobi SD Card, which is triggered to transfer it immediately to your phone. Once the new content is transferred, the card disconnects from its WiFi! This feature is what completely saves battery life and one of the reasons I think the Mobi is so awesome. Not to mention, you can switch off the WiFi completely to use it as a regular SD card, BUT beware! If you do this, when you switch it back on, all of the photos you took will then be transferred, which may take a while, especially if you take as many photos as I do. I don't plan on turning mine off, though, so this shouldn't be an issue.

Once the photos are transferred to my phone, they show up on my camera roll and, from there, I can edit and show off. In no time at all, I was able to share beautiful quality photos with friends and family from my phone. No more low-lighted, blurry or pixilated photos will be shared anymore and it's so easy!

Another reason I love the Eye-Fi Mobi SD card is the price point. We received the 8gb, which retails at the affordable price of $49.99! Cards with more memory and features are also available and range in price up to $99.99. I think this would be such a great holiday gift idea for just about anyone. Parents and photographers alike would enjoy this product.

Disclosure: A product was received in exchange for a review. No other compensation was provided and all opinions are my own.


Get Shiny Happy Wood Floors When Using Pledge FloorCare Wood Products: Our Review & Giveaway #sponsored #MC #Pledge

I participated in an Ambassador Program on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Pledge. I received a product samples to facilitate my review and promotional item as a thank you for participating.

We were so excited for the chance to be named as a Pledge FloorCare Wood Products Ambassador with Mom Central last month and to participate in the Pledge-To-Pledge Challenge. We absolutely love Pledge products and have used them for as long as I can remember. I guess you could say it's actually a family tradition to use Pledge because my parents always used the lemon scented Pledge when dusting the house and now we do, too. This is why I was so excited to try their new products from the Pledge FloorCare Wood line.

We received the entire new line of Pledge FloorCare Wood products and, since we have always had hardwood floors in our houses, I knew these would be perfect for our family. We participated in the Pledge Challenge, using the products for 2 weeks and documenting any differences we noticed after usage. If you have wood floors, you know that after a while they just lose their sparkly shiny look. At the beginning of each week they start our pretty and clean, but by Friday they are dull and dirty once again. This is exactly why I couldn't wait to put these products to use.

Here are all the Pledge products we received to try out:

  • Pledge® FloorCare Wood Concentrated Cleaner gently removes dirt and grime while restoring floor’s natural shine. It’s made with almond oil to moisturize wood and restore its natural beauty, and it leaves a fresh scent behind. The concentrated formula makes up to 16 gallons of cleaning solution.
  • Pledge® FloorCare Wood Squirt & Mop is a ready-to-use formula requiring no dilution before use. Its advanced formula removing dirt and grime that builds up over time to maintain a floor’s natural finish with no dull residue. It reveals wood’s natural beauty and leaves a fresh citrus scent behind. Also available in gallon size.
  • Pledge® FloorCare Wood Spray Cleaner is a ready-to-use formula designed specifically for spot cleaning. Its advanced formula cleans, shines, restores and protects—with no dulling, oily residue—leaving a fresh citrus scent behind.
  • Pledge® FloorCare Wood Finish goes beyond what you get from other floor cleaning products—this premium finish provides a beautiful, transparent, long-lasting shine and stands up to the wear of heavy traffic without yellowing. It can protect hardwood floors and help prevent dirt from getting trapped in floor grooves and indentations, making cleaning much easier. 
On a Friday afternoon, my weekly cleaning day, I took a picture of our living room floor and what it looks like after a week of foot traffic, play and the messiness of children.

As you can see, the floor just lacks shine more than anything. It used to be so beautiful and shiny when we first moved in, but I haven't been able to get it back to that pretty new shine, so I got to work!

I started out cleaning the floors thoroughly with Pledge FloorCare Wood Concentrated Cleaner which got my floors cleaner than they have been in a long time. I almost posted a photo of the mop, but it was so gross! I was amazed at just how clean they were and couldn't wait to put the finishing touches on it with Pledge FloorCare Wood Finish.

During the week it never fails that something spills, drops and/or makes a mess on my floor. With children and babies, this is pretty much a daily occurrence. For small spills like a drop of chocolate pudding or juice, I use Pledge FloorCare Wood Spray Cleaner because it's so easy to get out, spray at the area and clean up without dulling the beautiful shine I already had! Plus, the citrus scent smells great. Now, for bigger spills like something sticky, I use the Pledge FloorCare Wood Squirt & Mop. Because I can squirt it in an area and clean it easily with my mop. This is perfect for cleaning smaller areas, too, like our bathrooms.
Ready to see our after photo? Here you go:
Look at the difference! My floor is shiny once again. The only time I've gotten it to this amount of shine is when it is still wet after mopping, but guess what? The floors are absolutely dry in this photo. I'm absolutely amazed.

Which Pledge FloorCare Wood product is my favorite? That's a tough question because I really have enjoyed using all of them and will continue to do so. The Pledge FloorCare Wood Spray Cleaner is one of my favorites because I can easily clean up spills and small messes. However, I think the product that made such a difference on my floors is the Pledge FloorCare Wood Finish. Even near the end of the week, our floors still have shine left and I believe it really does work to protect the wood. I'm so impressed with all of the products, but I think using the Finish after cleaning my floors really was the cherry on top!

I am so thankful that I participated in the Pledge-To-Pledge Challenge and found these products. I honestly had no problem keeping up with the challenge whether or not my kids were at school because they were so easy to use. I do my major cleaning while they are occupied, but when there are smaller spills or when I had to use Squirt & Mop, they were immediately volunteering to help me out, so that made me extremely happy! It's nice having products that are specifically for my hardwood floors. The not only clean my hardwood floors, but also keep them shiny and protected.

Ready For A Giveaway?
Thanks to Pledge and Mom Central, One Lucky Children Teaching Mama Reader Will Receive a Pledge FloorCare Prize Package, which will include:

  • Wood Squirt & Mop
  • Wood Spray Cleaner
  • Wood Concentrate