Archive for the ‘Giveaways’ Category

One Big Happy Hello

Monday, September 12th, 2016

A big happy thank you to Gymboree for sponsoring this post! They’ve been delightful to work with and we’re all thrilled with the new fall clothes. Be sure to check out their giveaway for an amazing baby bundle here


After we came home from the hospital the first time, we didn’t really have a chance to adjust to our new 4-kid family before poor Baby Finnegan had to go back to the hospital for his light therapy. When we finally did make it home, school had started and the big kids were gone all the time. It’s made our first two weeks home feel sort of disjointed and hectic, not the calm, cuddly, peaceful time I had imagined in my head. It hasn’t helped that along with school, it was the first week of soccer, E had to go back to work and the toddler has been trying to give up napping, so even WITHOUT a brand new baby things would have been a little crazy. Still, we are so excited about our one big happy hello moment – completing our family with baby #4.

One thing that HAS been just as good (or better!) than I could have hoped is how Evan, Caroline, and Lincoln have all fallen in love with their new baby brother. They adore him completely. It’s such a joy to see and makes my heart want to burst every time I find one of them patting his head or singing Twinkle Twinkle to calm him down or saying “I just LOVE Baby Finn!” Obviously, this isn’t my first new-sibling rodeo and I’ve learned a few things over the past 3 kids. I think applying them all has really made this transition easier. Here are some of the things that have worked for us:

  1. Don’t change anything you don’t have to in the days before the baby comes. Linc is 2 now and probably getting close to potty learning, but we didn’t even consider trying right now. That’s a big change for a small person and adjusting to sharing Mommy with a baby is hard enough. I couldn’t avoid sending the big kids to school the same week the baby came home, but we kept our routine as normal and typical as possible. No new expectations or demands, no new charts or schedules, and I cut back on this year’s fall enrichment activities so they have more time at home in the evening to relax.
  2. Bring the kids to the hospital to meet the new baby. The kids visited us twice before we got to come home, which gave them a chance to interact with Finnegan without having him immediately in “their” space. It also helped them build up excitement for the moment when he (and I) would be released  and back under the same roof with the rest of the family. We let them all hold and cuddle the baby as much as they wanted in the hospital and made a Big Deal about how proud we were when they were loving and gentle.
  3. Put them to work! “Helping” with the baby is a favorite chore around here, especially for Lincoln. He loves bringing diapers and burp cloths for Finn or snacks and drinks for Mommy. Caroline and Evan are expected to do the same stuff, as well as contribute to general household well-being by feeding the dog, picking up after themselves, and helping Linc with things that are slightly above his abilities. Everyone likes to feel useful and important, and they all love their Big Kid Helper status.
  4. Do your best to give everyone some one-on-one attention. I know that’s easier said than done, especially if you’re adding a 3rd, 4th, 5th, etc etc child to the family. Just do your best. I’ve taken Caroline alone with me to do errands or pick up food, E took Linc with him to Home Depot and watched a movie with Evan, my mother reads endless books patiently to anyone who asks. Even if I am holding or feeding Finnegan, I try to make room next to me for whoever needs a snuggle.  It’s easy to get touched out, exhausted and want nothing more than 10 minutes of quiet, but try to remind yourself it’s not forever and some day you’ll kids who don’t even want to be seen with you, let alone sit in your lap. This too shall pass, and probably way faster than you want it to when you look back.
  5. Accept help. The more time you can spend with the kids – or the more people around who can also spend time with the kids – the less likely they’ll see the baby as an attention-stealing monster. It can be tempting to try to prove you can do everything on your own (and you probably can, Supermom) but you don’t HAVE to turn down help. Try saying yes. A freezer meal means you could spend that time snuggling instead of cooking. Someone whisking away older kids for a playdate means you can take a nap while the baby does. Someone who wants to come over and just hold your baby for an hour means you can take a shower. I am one of those people who says “No, really, I’m fine! We’re good! I don’t need anything!” but when people ignore me – and I’m so lucky to have people in my life who ignore me – and help anyway it’s amazing. The less stressed you are, the easier it is to make a smooth transition to +1 more kids without major meltdowns.

Another way to get ready for baby is to shop for newborn essentials like onesies, socks, bibs, blankets and hats. Gymboree has all that and more covered with 100% combed cotton baby items, which are crazy soft and incredibly cute too. The newborn styles are easy to mix-and-match (who has time to hunt for the ONE pair of matching leggings on 3 hours of sleep?) and reversible bibs and blankets mean you can get twice the use out of them.

One of my favorite things about Gymboree is their kid clothes LOOK like kid clothes, whether you’re just looking for comfy play outfits or dressier looks for family photos. I also love matchy-sibling stuff and they are super great at carrying a theme/styles through their baby, toddler and kid’s collections each season. I had so much fun putting together looks for each of the kids and then surprising them with these fun orange boxes.









After everyone tried on their new clothes, they helped Baby Finnegan open his box and see what his new outfit looked like.







They are DELIGHTED with the outdoors/wolf theme, and I think it’s so cute that I have a whole “pack” of kids.
















You can expect to see these clothes in our weekly photos a LOT this fall – soft, comfy, and stylish (plus easy care) check all the boxes for the things that become instant favorites. Linc’s outfit comes from the Mountain Trail collection for toddlers, and Evan’s is from the matching boy’s stuff. Caroline’s owl dress and leggings are part of the mix & match collection.

And now for a GIVEAWAY!

Did you know September is one of the most popular birth months? To celebrate, Gymboree teamed up with 6 popular brands to bring parents the ultimate bundle for baby. They’re giving away over $2,000 in prizes from Gymboree, Land of Nod, Seventh Generation, 4moms, Baby Bjorn, and munchkin. You can enter to win this AMAZING prize pack by clicking here. It’s an AMAZING bundle, don’t miss out!

I will also surprise and delight one person who comments on this post with a $50 Gymboree gift card. (I apologize for taking down the Rafflecopter, I misunderstood some directions in my new-baby exhaustion fog and it’s totally my fault. I’ll still choose someone at random who comments on this post between yesterday and Monday Sept 19th with a $50 gift card.)

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How Does Your AeroGarden Grow?

Thursday, November 6th, 2014

Thank you to Scotts and AeroGarden for sponsoring this post and giveaway!!

I got an email from my friends at MiracleGro asking if I might be interested in an AeroGarden for review. I ignored it.

Want to know what happened to my last houseplants? Dead.

Wondering how long my cute indoor herb planter lasted? Not even long enough to sprout.

Ask me how many tomatoes I got from my garden this year. NONE. (And yes, I did plant tomatoes.)

But they followed up. And it looked so cute. And after I explained “NO REALLY, IT HAS TO BE FOOLPROOF” they assured me it is. So far, they’re right.

miraclegro aerogarden review


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Oh My Stars (Baby Boden Giveaway)

Friday, September 19th, 2014

Poor third baby got almost no new stuff. I literally got his crib yesterday, one day after his 8 week birthday. It’s not even out of the box yet.

So far Linc doesn’t seem to mind. He just hangs out and smiles and eats and sleeps. Ok, and sometimes he screams his head off, but that can usually be quickly fixed with a clean diaper and a snack. Then he’s back to smiling.

And what goes better with an adorable chubby baby than an adorable baby outfit?

mini boden baby gift set-6

mini boden baby gift set-5

My favorite people over at Baby Boden sent Linc and me one of their new Baby Boden gift sets to celebrate becoming the newest ginger bebeh. They come in sizes from newborn up to 6-9 months, include a gift box, jammies, hat, bib and blanket, and would be perfect for a baby shower…or as a special surprise for a new mom who wasn’t really expecting much for her third child :)

This is why Boden is one of my favorites: how cute is all this stuff they sent?

mini boden baby gift set

mini boden baby gift set-2

mini boden baby gift set-3

mini boden baby gift set-4

The fabric is SUPER soft and the blanket is very generously sized. But the best part might be the hat.

mini boden baby gift set-10

mini boden baby gift set-7

From now until October 12th you can take 15% off your Boden order using the code BABY.

Would you like a chance to win a Baby Boden gift set for you or to give to your favorite new or expecting mama? Just leave a comment on this post telling me your favorite Baby Boden item. 

Giveaway is open to those with a US shipping address and winner may select the Baby Boden gift set of their choice. Winner will be chosen from eligible comments using in 2 weeks. 

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Mother’s Day Gardening (and A Giveaway!)

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

This post was written as part of my partnership with MiracleGro.

Growing up in New England, Mother’s Day = planting day for my mom. Any sooner and you’re pretty much guaranteed to get a late frost that kills everything, and then you have a dead garden and an empty wallet. So she would wait for early May and then spend Mother’s Day in the garden putting in plants and flowers.

I’ve been planting with the kids on Mother’s Day since they were old enough to help and they love it (OMG just LOOK at tiny 2012 Evan and Caroline planting with me!!) This year Caroline asked every day if it was Mother’s Day yet because she wanted to plant “her” garden. She requested “pink and purple and pink and purple and red” flowers.

mothers day garden web size-8


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Five Ways to Celebrate Military Spouse Appreciation Day {and an iPad Mini Giveaway!}

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014
five ways to celebrate military spouse appreciation day

I took this at the boat homecoming I attended last fall – Homecomings are magical days for milspouses.

While our 10th wedding anniversary isn’t until August, E and I broke the decade mark on our relationship last year. He’s been in the Navy the entire time I’ve known him. That’s 10 years of planning everything from vacations to oil changes to babies around someone else’s not-s0-flexible schedule.

I planned our wedding from the East Coast while he was deployed in the Pacific. We moved one week after the wedding to a city I had never seen. If you check the mortgage documents for our current house, you’ll only find my signature – a change in his boat’s schedule meant he was at sea we when bought it and I did the whole thing with a power of attorney. Right at this very moment, E is supposed to be gone (he is not). He was also supposed to be gone for Christmas (he was not). And we planned this next baby’s birth to fall in the “safe” summer window, where he was supposed to be done with sea trials (nope) and home (it is looking more and more likely he will be gone).

But I’m not thinking too much about that right now, because it could change again in the next breath. If there was one word to describe what it takes to be a military spouse – without giving yourself an ulcer – that word would be FLEXIBLE.

May 9th, 2014 has been officially designated as Military Spouse Appreciation Day. Since I’ve been a milspouse for 10 years now – and part of a military family my entire life – it’s nice to know we get a specific day to be appreciated. At any given time only 1% of Americans are serving in the military so you might not have a lot of military spouses in your life or social circle. (That seems crazy to me, since it’s always been such a HUGE part of my world, but I am the exception not the norm.) If you do know a milspouse, here are 5 ways to celebrate Military Spouse Appreciation Day. Although you could start with a hug and a “thank you for your sacrifice”. That always makes me cry.

1. Watch the kids. Or the dog. Or volunteer to water the plants. Whatever thing she (or he) is responsible for, take it off their hands for a few hours. There’s a lot of life-juggling involved in being a milspouse and having just ONE less ball in the air can make a huge difference. Plus during deployments or separations there’s one grown up managing 2+ lives, so a couple of hours to get a haircut or visit the dentist can be a total sanity-saver. (While we were engaged, I got a call from E’s San Diego apartment complex saying his rent check hadn’t gone through and they were going to pack up his stuff and evict him. He was unreachable under the ocean. While I was trying to straighten it all out it would have been AWESOME to have someone come and feed my cat so I could focus. For real, one of the most stressful weeks of my life.)

2. Provide a meal. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Heck, it doesn’t even have to be healthy. When E is gone we eat more fast food or hummus-for-dinner meals than I like to admit. But just like doing some free babysitting, feeding someone is the ultimate in kindness and one less thing they have to worry about.

3. Take care of some yard work. In the winter you can shovel their walk, in the summer you can mow the lawn. I assure you that it’s not a matter of “poor milspouse doesn’t even know how to start the lawn mower” but a case of “do I dare leave the kids in the house alone for 45 minutes while I do the yard work or will I find them swinging from the ceiling fan again?”

4. Learn about organizations that provide support. There’s a great website called Military OneSource that provides everything from legal and tax advice to confidential crisis counseling. For members of the Navy or Marine Corps, the Relief Society can provide emergency loans or financial support (would you believe I didn’t even know they existed until a few weeks ago?). The Army has a version too. Check out Joining Forces and the USO to learn about volunteer opportunities and ways you can help. If you know a military family that is struggling, having a website or phone number to access real, tangible help can be the lifeline they need.

5. Listen to them. Some days I just really, really need to complain about all the ways military life makes me crazy. I am very lucky to have plenty of people in my life to go to when I need to vent without having to start with a ton of qualifiers. There are a million ways my life could be worse, a billion ways we are very blessed, a zillion things that could go wrong and we could experience real tragedy. But dammit, some days I just want to whine about how I’m supposed to be going out of town NEXT WEEKEND and E’s job STILL can’t tell him whether or not he can have the days off to watch the kids. Or the whole maybe-giving-birth-while-he’s-on-a-submarine thing. Which I am still not thinking about. Nope, not thinking.

You know what else makes me feel appreciated? Presents. Who doesn’t like presents? To celebrate Military Spouse Appreciation Day, AT&T has very generously given me two gift bags – one to keep and one to give away to a reader. It has a hat, a t-shirt and -oh yeah!- an iPad mini! To enter, just use the Rafflecopter widget below. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

AT&T reached out because they wanted to do something nice for me and my readers as a #milspouse blogger. You can learn more about what AT&T does to support our troops and their families here. No monetary compensation was provided for my participation. I have the iPad mini for the giveaway in my possession RIGHT NOW and will send it to the randomly drawn winner.  

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