Happy Shark Week!

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Are you huge fans of Shark Week like my family is?  We just love it, even if all the shows make the ocean a wee bit scary!  *cue Jaws theme*

I made this fun snuggle sack for Noah last summer, it was the perfect project for summer time, and it kept him warm all fall and winter.  It is made with Bernat Blanket yarn, so it is super plush and cuddly!

Every night when I tuck him in, I tell him to “Feed the shark!”  He giggles and then climbs right in.

You can find the pattern for the Shark Snuggle Sack from Yarnspirations by clicking HERE.

Enjoy Shark Week, and don’t feed the sharks!  Unless they are made with fluffy yarn!  😉

 

Thankful Thursday 7/13/17

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I think it’s easy to get overwhelmed by life and forget to appreciate the small things we have in our lives that are true blessings.  Sometimes, just being mindful of what you have can help you to take a breath and reset your entire way of thinking.  With that said, I thought I would share a few things that I am thankful for today.

1. Air Conditioning.  It is hot, friends.  Over 100 degrees with heat index well above that.  I am so lucky to have a home with air conditioning, and the ability to pay the electric bill to run it.  I won’t lie.  There have been times in my past when I had air conditioning and simply couldn’t afford to run it.  I have also had a broken air conditioner with a house full of pets and babies that suffered from the sweltering heat.  Today I sit in a beautiful home with a brand new air conditioner and I feel very blessed.

2. Tomatoes.  This year, being back in our home, we were able to plant tomatoes again!  What a luxury, being able to step outside and pick fresh fruit to eat!  And how delicious they are!  So flavorful and sweet!  And the accomplishment of growing them ourselves, well, that is pretty awesome too.

3. Summer Vacation.  I love having my kids home for the summer.  The school year is so busy with dance and sports and scouts, you name it.  To have them home, without having anywhere to rush to, is simply lovely.  We do crafts and read books and even do workbooks to be ready for the new school year, but we are all together.  We can wear jammies all day, play outside and make sand castles all morning and stay up late playing board games.  It is relaxed and precious to me.  And it goes by too quickly!

I hope you all have a fabulous day, and that you can take some time to reflect on the things you have to be thankful for.  Until next time, my friends!

Back to School Times Four

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I knew it was coming, that I could not escape it.  It was inevitable, but it still took my breath away and has me typing this at one in the morning.

This year, our youngest baby starts kindergarten.  For the very first time, in the history of sending our babies off to their first day of school, I will be coming home alone.  No little hand in mine, walking home together, collecting leaves and planning our day.  No little voice singing along to the radio as we drive the older kids to school.  No kids shows as background noise.  No little shadow following me around the house.

Just me.  And the fur babies.

Every single last piece of my heart will be leaving me at home by myself all day.  Just the thought has me sobbing and in tears.

For over fourteen years, my life has been my children.  I went on maternity leave with my eldest and once he was born, I never looked back.  My entire day centered around my babies, it’s all I’ve known for so long, I feel lost knowing this chapter of my life is closing.

Sara still feels like a little baby to me, not ready to be sent away all day.  She still says words that take us several minutes, to her great frustration, for us to understand.  She just barely turned 5 a little over a month ago, and already, she has been stamped as ready for school and will be starting her journey outside of our home.  Away from me.

This all feels greatly rushed, especially not being in our own home, still living in a rental house as our place is in the process of being put back together from the fire.  I feel cheated out of our last summer.  I had so many plans, so many dreams of the perfect summer vacation with my babies before school started.  I allowed our circumstances to steal that away from us.  Shame on me.

Already, the hectic school year schedule has started, with dance and marching band kicking off earlier this month.  The days are flying by, I am running out of summer, and there is nothing I can do.

So I cry.  And I type at 1 in the morning, trying to make some sense of my sadness until my brain is too tired, too exhausted to think one more sad thing, and I finally drift off to sleep.

Tomorrow, I will hold my babies.  I will kiss their sweet, chubby, little baby hands, and I will cherish every last glorious minute I have with them before the school year steals them away from me.

I don’t know how moms survive this.  It feels unbearable to me, watching my babies grow up so quickly right before my eyes.

Teacher Gifts

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Can you believe that December is already here?!  Craziness!!  I like to get all the grunt work done as early in the month as possible, so I can try and enjoy the fun and traditions with the kiddos without worrying about last minute shopping, baking, etc.

Yesterday, between our water being turned off accidentally by the water company (new computer system apparently, but holyhell was that a major headache!!), a sick baby coughing her cute little head off, and our internet not working for most of the day…….I happened to hop online and quickly had my holiday spirit squashed like a bug.

I’m not sure exactly what I had searched, but I happened upon a blog with a list of items teachers really want for Christmas, along with a very long list of things they apparently hate getting for Christmas.  Basically, it boiled down to giving them cash or gift cards because they hate anything teacher related, handmade, or simply bought out of the goodness of your heart.  The post had soooooooo many comments from real teachers, agreeing with the list and groaning and moaning about all the tacky stuff they get each year.

Wow.

It got real ugly real quick, and the overwhelming vibe was how ungrateful the list and the people replying to it really were.

Now, valid points were made.  I guess.  Of course, the teacher won’t like every single lotion or candle or goodie that they receive.  But shouldn’t they love the thought behind it??  The love and the intention of someone carving out precious time and money during the holiday season to show their appreciation??

If I were swimming in money, oh the gifts I would give!!!  I would spoil every single person around me!  Being without oodles of cash, I still make a point to try and show our love and appreciation to our loved ones and the amazing teachers we have in our lives.  Isn’t that enough?  Shouldn’t the recipient of any gift at all just be grateful that you thought of them and made sure to include them?

This one little post soured my mood and filled me with more bah humbug than I care to admit.  Of course, I want to believe that we are the exception, and that anything we ever give is greatly received and appreciated, but now I am filled with doubt.  One thing this girl can’t stand to be is unappreciated.

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For the most part, each year, we give a gift to the main teacher, and then I have my kids make hand drawn cards for all the extra awesome people they encounter daily, like the special area teachers, the lunch ladies, the bus driver, janitor, school nurse, everyone we can think of that is a part of making each day awesome.  Along with the homemade cards, we usually attach a piece of candy or something of the like.

The response from all of the usually forgotten people has always been amazing, and we will continue that tradition for sure.  But I find myself on the fence now with the teacher gift because, well, I want to be appreciated for appreciating!  Is that so crazy?  I have four kids who are all very busy with school, scouting, dance, band, etc.  For me to carve precious time and money from our already overstretched schedule and pocketbook is a big deal to us.  I want to give a gift that is appreciated and makes the teacher feel loved and cherished.  I don’t want to imagine them rolling their eyes and throwing our gift in a pile of perceived crappy gifts.

I guess really, I will give them whatever the heck I want to, try and forget that crappy blog post I read, and just hope that the people in our lives are not as ungrateful and awful as the people that felt the need to trash the things they get for Christmas each year.  It’s hard to feel sorry for people who are showered with gifts, whether they are up to their snooty standards or not.

I choose to believe that we put good thought and intentions with our gift giving, and if the people want to be jerks about it, so long as I don’t hear about it, I don’t care!  Pffffffffft!!!

I guess I should get off this soap box before it splinters…….

Last thought, and something I am constantly saying to my kids since they were teeny tiny:

You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.

Rant over.  🙂

 

Little Box Play Things

As we are oh so quickly approaching the holidays, it seems to always bring on the panic of gift hunting.  We are constantly bombarded by ads for the latest, greatest technology, or this fad toy, or this awesome gadget, it’s easy to overlook the beauty in simplicity.  This is where my awesomely talented cousin comes in and I tell you about her gorgeous gifts that can be custom tailored for any kid, big or small!

Please meet Little Box Play Things, artfully crafted by my cousin, Ashley.

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She creates these amazing, personalized treasure boxes, perfect for keeping all kinds of goodies in!  You have the ability to choose colors, names, themes, whatever your little heart desires!  Princesses, Mickey Mouse, Avengers, Game of Thrones even! If you have an idea, I guarantee you that she can run with it and leave you amazed. What a great gift idea for the hard to shop for guy!  Or girl!  She has lots of themes to choose from, and an amazing knack for really getting even the tiniest details in.  My girls keep all sorts of fun things in their boxes, anything from jewelry, lip gloss, pretty rocks, you name it!

After you pick out your amazing treasure boxes, how about fill it with imagination building toys?  She also custom makes gorgeous magnet play sets with lots of fun themes including big Disney favorites!  My kids have had hours of fun with the magnet sets, playing out favorite stories or episodes or even making up their very own stories to go along with their favorite characters!  So cute, so fun, and no batteries required!!

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To round out the fun themes, you can even have a mini bowling set created to match everything and provide lots of fun and giggles with the little ones.  Everything is gorgeous, and made with love!

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So many cute things to choose from!  Make sure you stop by and say hi and tell her what kinds of fun themes would make the perfect gift for your loved ones this holiday season or any time at all!  Nothing beats handmade with love!

Check out Little Box Play Things Etsy shop by clicking HERE.

Check out Little Shop Play Things Theme Ideas by clicking HERE.

Follow Little Shop Play Things on Facebook by clicking HERE.

Citrus Lane September 2014 Review!

We just got our September Citrus Lane box and I am happy to share with you all the fun little goodies we received!!  Let’s jump in!

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This month’s box was quite heavy, and no wonder, because it has a big, chunky, wodden Melissa and Doug item included!!  This month’s box contained:

Red Shape Sorting Clock from Melissa and Doug

This is an awesome addition to the box, I am always so excited to get Melissa and Doug anything!!  This is a very substantial toy, serving double duty as a tool to learn shapes when the little ones are smaller, and to help establish time telling skills when they are a bit older!  I love the bright colors and am very excited to add this to our daily home school routine for my two little ones!

Pieces Foam Bath Puzzle from Boon

A bath toy that doesn’t squirt or hold icky water, woo hoo!!  This will be a very welcome addition to splash time, a fun, bright jellyfish design in a puzzle that sticks directly to the tub wall for bathtime problem solving!  This is very cool and Sara is huge into puzzles right now, so I know she will definitely enjoy this toy!

Little Red Hen Book & CD Set from Barefoot Books

We are book hoarders in our house, so I am always super excited when we receive a book in our box!  This one is no exception, and has the fun bonus of a story cd read by Debra Messing and even a bread recipe to add a super fun activity to go along with the well loved children’s classic!  Love, love, love!

Cinnamon Crunch from Somersault Snacks

Snack time!  This month’s box included a new treat I had never heard of, a healthy new snack that is nut free and made from sunflower and sesame seeds.  Crunchy, sweet, yummy….was I supposed to share these with my kids?  Oops!!  Hehe!  They are a very yummy addition to snack time, and definitely something I am looking forward to having again!

Free Box for a Friend!

We also got a coupon to receive a free box for a friend, a nice way to introduce someone to the awesomeness of Citrus Lane!

 

So ends another awesome month of Citrus Lane!  If you are totally jelly and wishing you had your very own box of goodies delivered right to your door each month, carefully curated just for your child, then click HERE and give Citrus Lane a try!  Shipping is always free, and you get an awesome array of goodies each month specifically for your child’s age.

 

There is also a great promotion going on right now, but ending soon!  Click HERE and be sure to enter code HALFOFF to get 50% off your first box!!

March 2014 Nerd Block Jr Girls Review!

Woo hoo!  We got TWO Nerd Blocks at our house this month!!  As you have heard me gripe before, the regular Nerd Block, while definitely awesome and highly loved by all the stinky boys in my family, does not have enough girly stuff!!!  Like, we don’t need tampons or makeup or anything, but how about some awesome Disney Villains, or even women super heroes??!  Just sayin’.  It definitely seems geared towards the boys.

That said, when I saw that they were now offering Nerd Block Jr for Boys and Girls, I was excited to give it a try!  Of course, I opted for the Girls version, and it had some super cool stuff inside!  I have high hopes for this box, I hope it continues in it’s awesomeness!  Take a look!

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*Mega Blocks Moshi Monsters 73 Piece Katsuma estimated value $8.00

*Disney Pixar Brave Triplet Bear estimated value $10.00

*Funko My Little Pony Tin-Tastic Creative Activity Set estimate value $15.00

*My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic Slap Band estimated value $5.00

*Mega Blocks Hello Kitty Series 2 Collectible Figure estimated value $3.00

Lot’s of awesome, right?!  Admittedly, more for my girls than me, but so much fun and what a value!  Nerd Block Jr, both for boys and girls is only $13.99 plus shipping!  You can see by the estimated values, taken from Amazon.com searches, that the products value far exceeds the monthly subscription price!  I am very happy with this month’s Nerd Block Jr for Girls and am definitely looking forward to more!

Wanna get your paws on your very own awesome Nerd Block Jr?  CLICK HERE! You can choose between a Boys block or a Girls block, each catered especially for kids between ages 6-11 (and their parents, if they so choose….).  Each box is filled with fun toys and collectibles from some pretty awesome brands like Disney, Nintendo, My Little Pony, Adventure Time, etc.  Win/Win!

Citrus Lane Box January 2014!

Time for our monthly Citrus Lane review!  🙂

I have aged Saraphina’s box up one full year after being a little bit disappointed in a few of her previous boxes.  Now, that’s not to say her boxes weren’t great!  The problem is when I compared her box to some of the other boxes that I saw on the Citrus Lane Facebook page.  Hehe!  Rather than be envious of the older boxes, I decided to just age her up and honestly, I have been very happy with the aged up boxes!  That said, here is a quick peek at our January 2014 Citrus Lane box!

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*Zig Zag Zebra Coloring Book from Barefoot Books (estimated value: $6.29)

Super cute book this month that is no ordinary coloring book!  The interactive pages have your little one adding their mad artistic skillz to the cute activity pages.  Every page is full color and sturdy, making this book not feel at all like a simple coloring book, which it most definitely is not!  Very fun way to introduce drawing and shapes and even colors to the little kids.

*Duo Tip Washable Markers from Faber-Castel (estimated value: $4.99)

These awesome markers have a colored tip on each side, one wide and one fine, plus they are made from food grade vegetable dyes, so when they inevitably get on your child’s clothes, the stains easily wash out!  Yay!  These are a perfect companion to the coloring book!

*Fruit Set from Plan Toys (estimated value: $8)

This set was exclusively made for Citrus Lane, so I estimated the price by looking up a larger, 6 piece set that was $16.  These super cute fruits are made from wood and Velcro, so you can “slice” them with the included play knife for fun pretend kitchen play.  My kids LOVE cooking with pretend food!  We have had lots of play food over the years, and wood is definitely the way to go!  The plastic play foods get smashed and unrecognizable, and the little cardboard boxes?  Yeah, they don’t last ten minutes in our crazy house.  We have been slowly replacing all the old smooshed stuff with wooden pieces, so this set was an exciting addition!  It’s also fun to “slice” the food and get that satisfying crunch from the Velcro!  🙂

*Upset Tummy & Nausea Relief from Mommy’s Bliss (estimated value: $10.49)

This is perfect to have on hand!!!  I noticed a lot of moms saying they had no use for this item, just wait until their kids get their first case of the stomach flu!  Trust and believe, this is a must have for the medicine cabinet!  All ingredients are completely natural and 100% vegetarian/vegan with no gluten, dairy, soy or sugar.  Even if it’s just a queasy tummy from motion sickness, indigestion or gas, it’s nice to know you have something ready to go to ease your little one’s discomfort.  Yes, yes, yes, I love it!

So ends another awesome month of Citrus Lane!  If you are totally jelly and wishing you had your very own box of goodies delivered right to your door each month, carefully curated just for your child, then click HERE and give Citrus Lane a try!  Shipping is always free, and you get an awesome array of goodies each month specifically for your child’s age.  Use coupon code FEBHALFOFF to get 50% off your February box!

Natures Paradise Organics Review!

I have recently discovered another awesome company that specializes in organic products, with lines for baby, beauty, household, you name it!  Natures Paradise Organics is a company that started with the founder’s great grandmother’s family recipe for skin irritations, something she cooked up herself on her stove top and gave out to family and friends to soothe their irritated skin.

This is a company that is passionate about providing it’s customers with organic, safe, and natural products.  Their recipes include no chemicals, no toxins, no petroleum, no synthetics, no parabens, no phtalates, no BPA, no sulfates and are 100% vegan!  Safe ingredients equal a safe product, and one that you can feel 100% confident in using both on yourself and on your precious baby’s skin!

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I received the  Baby Organic Coconut Moisturizing Lotion for review, and I just have to say, the formulation is heavenly!  It is silky smooth right out of the bottle and the scent is just divine!  It is a very light and delicious coconut smell that leaves skin fresh and moisturized without weighing it down with a greasy, sticky mess.  It absorbs well and best of all, it works wonders on dry winter skin!

This is a product that you can feel good using on your children and yourself, along with their many other amazing products.  As the year is coming to an end, now is the perfect time to go through your cabinets, throw out the old, toxic, nasty, chemical laden products and replace them with something better both for you and for the environment.  Even better, Natures Paradise Organics is having a sale on their products!

Go to their website by clicking HERE, and enter code “blackfriday” to get 60% off!  That is a steal!  Browse through their many products and stock up now, it is a great way to start the new year and an amazing gift for the loved ones on your holiday shopping list!

“Like” Natures Paradise Organics Facebook page by clicking HERE.

Follow Natures Paradise Organics on Twitter by clicking HERE.

The 60% off sale has been extended to include Cyber Monday!  What are you waiting for?  Go shop!  🙂

The awesome folks at Natures Paradise Organics provided me with free product for review purposes only and I was not compensated in any other way.  All opinions are my own, and I really do love their products!

October 2013 Citrus Lane Box!

With the craziness of the recent move, I have been neglecting my Citrus Lane reviews!  I still get this awesome box each month, it’s one of the highlights of the month!  🙂

This month’s box, instead of sunny yellow on the outside packaging, was pink in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness month!

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And as usual, it was filled with lots of awesome goodies!

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BOPS from Good Boy Organics

Okay, snacks are always good, but this one is even good for you!  Well, better for you than regular potato chips anyway!  BOPS stands for Baked Organic Potato Snacks.  Now, there are plenty of baked potato chips out there, but they tend to be very lacking in flavor.  These snacks are 65% less fat than regular chips, certified USDA organic, and completely free of gluten, preservatives and trans fats.  They are also chock full of yummy flavor!  Sara had these with her lunch yesterday, and let Mommy sneak one or two.  Very good, and no icky, greasy mess!

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Rythym Sticks from Hohner Kids

We are gathering quite the collection of musical instruments from our Citrus Lane boxes!  We may need to start a neighborhood baby band!  🙂  These sticks are easy for any little one to grasp and painted with durable paint that can stand the test of many a jam session.  There are lots of ways to play with these, and if you have Rock Band fans in your house, this is a fun way to let the little ones play along with the older kids!  Who doesn’t olove to rock?!

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Twinkles To Go by Cloud B

Okay.  I love Cloud B.  I mean, seriously, I love every single product they make, everything is super high quality, well thought out and just super adorable!  Imagine how excited I was to see this adorable little octopus friend in our box this month!  This is a perfect companion for on the go, or just the regular night time routine.  With a simple press of a button, she shines beautiful stars and bubbles onto the walls and ceiling!  You can change colors, from blue to red and there is even an automatic timer so you don’t have to worry about the batteries wearing out too quickly.  Our little Octopus friend will be right at home with our Twilight Turtle, also from Cloud B!

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Ladybug Magazine

What a gorgeous, lovely magazine!  Filled with stories and poems and beautiful artwork, this magazine is just perfect for a quick story before naptime or even just relaxing together.  Sara is a big bookworm, just like her mama, so how exciting to have her very own magazine!  Included along with this awesome magazine was a really generous offer for a FREE 3 month digital subscription from Cricket Magazine!  Yay!

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Besides the outside of the box being different this month, the inside also had some surprises!  What better way to remind moms and dads (and grandmas and grandpas and aunts and uncles, etc!) to take care of themselves and to raise awareness?!  We had a lot of fun with the mustache, in honor of Men’s Health Awareness Month and Breast Cancer Awareness Month!  I love the extra little activity, and of course, the kiddos loved playing with the mustache!

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So ends another awesome month of Citrus Lane!  If you are totally jelly and wishing you had your very own box of goodies delivered right to your door each month, carefully curated just for your child, then click HERE and give Citrus Lane a try!  Shipping is always free, and you get an awesome array of goodies each month specifically for your child’s age.  Use coupon code FIRSTBOX to get 50% off your first box!