Archive for the ‘Reviews & Sponsored’ Category

Backyard Campfire Fun

Thursday, September 29th, 2016

 

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It’s fallllllll! (Imagine me saying that in my best Oprah voice.) But that doesn’t mean it’s time to hide inside. It’s the most magical time of the year here in New England, where the days are still warm enough to be by the water but you have to close the windows at night or you can’t feel your nose in the morning. There’s chowder and donuts and cider and wine and oysters to enjoy outdoors. And it’s the perfect time of year to have a backyard campfire, right on our own patio.

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You can check out my idea board at the end of this post for links to items (or similar items) from Wayfair. They’ve got just what you need.

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Cozy, easy care cotton throws and fun pillows gave our old furniture new life.

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Lantern string lights add ambiance and warmth while you’re waiting for the fire to warm up.

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Plastic wine glasses = no chance of shattering them on the patio stones.

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Same deal with the tray – looks like rattan, but it’s actually plastic for easier clean up and no chance of breaking it.

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We’ve had this fire pit for years now and every time we use it we think “Why don’t we do this more often?!” Now that the cool nights are mostly bug-free, I see a lot more s’mores and wine in our future.
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This metal wall art makes our outdoor space feel more like a room.

One of the best parts about a backyard campfire is the ability to leave my newborn sleeping in the house while we roast marshmallows. Newborns near the fire pit seem like a poor choice – it’s hard enough controlling a clumsy toddler near the fire pit – so it was nice to be able to relax a little. In previous years, the kids seemed to like the idea of s’mores only in theory, but this year they ate as many as we would allow.

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Those blankets are my new favorite thing and I can’t wait to use them for lots of fall photo sessions. I’m sure the wine glasses will find a way to be useful as well. A big thanks to Wayfair for sponsoring this post and encouraging us to get out and enjoy our backyard campfire!

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Game Night Get Together with Ellio’s Pizza

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

Thank you Ellio’s Pizza for sponsoring this post. Visit your local retailer to pick up your own Ellio’s Pizza for a pizza night in!

Once a month – or more often, if we can manage – we share a game night with one of E’s coworkers and his family. We taught them a card game called Hand and Foot, which I was forced to learn before I was allowed to marry into the Davis family and which we now force other people to learn as a requirement for friendship. I mean, we don’t make ALL our friends learn, but if you hang out in our general vicinity for more than 6 hours at some point E will volunteer to teach you because he probably has the card box waiting right over here just in case there is a card-playing emergency. He’s prepared! He made a special box to keep the cards in! Don’t worry if you have never played, there is a cheat sheet right in the box to help you!

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I’m teasing a little bit, but I absolutely love our game nights. With 5 (now 6!) children between us, babysitters are expensive and hard to come by so hanging out as a family is much easier. Plus Amanda is an amaaaazing cook and baker and always feeds us super well when she hosts.

Since I was 84.5 months pregnant at our last game night, my desire to spend two days in front of the oven making a gourmet dessert for game night was missing. My desire to eat lots of delicious food was still more than available though, so I was thrilled with this chance partner with Ellio’s Pizza for a fun family dinner option.

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The husbands – who are not from New England – were puzzled why Amanda and I were super excited about frozen pizza. Amanda, who is from here, said “This tastes just like my childhood!” And it’s totally true. Ellio’s Pizza is a Northeast tradition, founded on Long Island in 1963 and one of the things parents have been feeding their kids as a quick dinner or after-school snack for the last 5 decades. Available in six different flavors and made with 100% real cheese and zero artificial flavoring, it’s super fast, super delicious, and super kid- (and parent) approved.

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Along with a plate of veggies, it was a balanced meal everyone enjoyed and I didn’t waste any precious card-playing energy to make. That’s probably why Amanda and I TROUNCED the guys in the first round (we won’t talk about the second round). I’m stocking my freezer with more Ellio’s Pepperoni Pizza (our favorite) for the back-to-school craziness combined with the end-of-summer laziness and the having-a-fourth-baby insanity that is all about to hit us at once. Frozen pizza is exactly what those situations call for. Get in on the goodness yourself and check out the store locator at the top of the Ellio’s homepage to see where Ellio’s Pizza is sold near you.

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You can follow Ellio’s on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram.

This is a sponsored post on behalf of Dr. Oetker USA LLC. I received compensation for this post, however all opinions stated are my own.

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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

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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.

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

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

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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!

www.gymboree.com/babybundle

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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It’s Time…To Talk About Back To School #FirstDayEveryday {Sponsored}

Friday, July 29th, 2016

Kohl’s and Carter’s were kind enough to partner with me on this post, so I could shop for back to school. I was compensated as part of the #firstdayeveryday campaign but all opinions and pictures are my own. 

The current temperature around here is about equivalent to that of the surface of the sun, but that doesn’t mean the end of summer isn’t on the way. Also, our district doesn’t seem to believe in the idea that school should start after Labor Day, so the big kids go back the last week of August. I’d be lying a little if I didn’t admit I was mostly ready for it – as fun as summer is, entertaining 3 kids 24 hours a day is a lot of hours of constant needs.

I’m NEVER ready for how much the kids grow between seasons though. Caroline was down to two pairs of leggings and zero pairs of actual pants for fall, Evan had only one pair of jeans, and poor Linc survived last fall in footie pajamas, which isn’t going to cut it this year when he’s an actual person. Thanks to Kohl’s, Carter’s and Caroline’s excellent shopping assistance, we’re no longer in desperate need of ALL THE THINGS and instead can stock up on freshly sharpened pencils, markers for important coloring homework, and thinking about the fact that I’m due to have a baby the same day school starts. Actually, no, let’s not think about that last thing. Let’s look at clothes instead!

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Right away Caroline was in love with the trends for fall – lots of florals in different patterns and scales, leggings for under everything (including her uniforms on school days and dresses on weekends), and fun details like belts, lace, and embroidery. She decided she loved navy and pink together, so everything she tried on ended up coordinating.

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We bought two pairs of these jeggings. They have real pockets and a real zipper, but they are so soft and stretchy. She declared them the best pants ever and has worn them almost every day since. She loves the shirt too, with the flower corsage detail.

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Is it weird that I am jealous of my 5-year-old’s jean jacket? It’s like the perfect level of broken in already and is going to look SO GOOD this fall to extend the life of her summer dresses. You can expect to see it at least 100 times in my weekly photos.

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She is pretending to be a bird, because there are birds on her dress. Obviously.

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Lucky for Caroline, our Kohl’s also sells Carter’s accessories. Sparkle bracelets for the win! We also bought this two-pack of leggings to use as alternates to the jeans with the polka-dot top or to wear under the bird dress. I think we ended up with at least 5 different outfits when you mix and match.

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Our uniform code says “solid cardigans” are appropriate for over uniforms with no rules about color. What could be better than pink?

In the boy’s department, I found matching brother shirts and pants for Evan and Linc. Carter’s goes up to size 8 and runs true to size, in my experience, so Evan will still fit in the brand for at least another year. I got him a couple more t-shirts and a pair of jeans too, because you cannot have enough jeans when you are 7 and rip through the knees of your pants almost on a weekly basis.

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In the baby department, I bought a bunch of stuff from the outdoors/bear/camping collection and from the sheep/cloud collection. They also have great nautical stuff (MY FAVORITE).

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Look at those outer space jams!!

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Whales! To wear to the seaport!

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Baby boat shoes, just what every baby needs to wear with their red pants and button down woven shirts for the fall. Because of course I bought Linc and Baby #4 matching red pants and woven shirts for fall.

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While we were looking at pajamas, Caroline asked if they were for boys or girls. I told her they were for both, because anyone can like dinosaurs and trucks, so she was excited to pick out matching pajamas for her and Lincoln. We went with sharks and blue stripes.

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Linc also got a set of dinosaur pajamas, which are great for the transition from summer sleeping to cooler fall nights. (I’m really excited about cooler fall nights.)

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That blue flower shirt dress is another of Caroline’s new amazing fall choices. As you can see, she was really excited about our shopping trip.

Our last stop was to check out the Carter’s shoes.

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These were the winners. Easy to put on, closed-toe for school, goes with everything, and that adorable bow. I loved that the Carter’s brand finds that balance between trendy-fun and age appropriate (especially for Caroline), so I could let her shop without worrying that I’d have to say no to half her choices.

Once I have a new baby – fingers crossed for NOT the same day as the first day of school – I’ll have so many adorable new baby outfits for him to model. Until then, I hope all the photos of Caroline will do. She’s very good at style, you know. But here’s a sneak peek of what we found:

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Two onesie sets (dinosaurs and foxes), the outfit that matches Linc’s red pants, sheepy onesies, and of course, MORE FOXES.

Thank you so much to Kohl’s and Carter’s for including me in this super fun campaign. The kids and I LOVE new clothes and it’s such a great way to start the countdown to back to school!

Starting August 1st, Kohl’s is having $10 off a $40 purchase of back-to-school clothes and shoes! It runs 8/1 through 8/17 and you can shop online with the code BTS10.

 

HAPPY SHOPPING!

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The Simple Joys Of Summer, Fueled by Milk {Sponsored}

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

Summer is for bare feet, sunshine so bright it hurts your eyes, running through sprinklers, visiting local farms, playing in the dirt, mooing at cows, brushing up our checkers game, and doing all the other stuff that makes the long, hot days the best part of the year.

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We are SO excited that our school year is over and now we have the freedom to enjoy a schedule-free few months. But did you know more than 22 million children may miss out on milk’s nutrition this summer when they lose access to free or reduced-price meal programs at school? Although some programs like the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program help to deliver meals when school is not in session, the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program (which we use and love and appreciate so much during the school year) do not reach children during the summer months. That’s why food banks play an even more critical role in helping children access nutritious foods when class isn’t in session.

Fresh milk is one of the most requested, but least donated items at food banks, meaning children in need may be missing out on the essential nutrients, including high-quality protein, that it supplies. I never thought about that until I became part of this campaign – of course families want and need milk, and of course it can be hard to come by when food banks emphasize non-perishable donations. Now there’s something we can do about that shortage.

You can help feed a childhood in your community this summer with a small donation at milklife.com/give. A donation as little as $5 can deliver a highly desired and nutrient-rich gallon of fresh milk to children who need it most. Because all children deserve the chance to play, learn and grow, especially during the summer months when being a kid is supposed to be joyful and carefree. When you visit The Great American Milk Drive site and enter your zip code, you can direct your donation to the Feeding America food bank that helps right in your local area.

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We all love milk, but probably no one more than Linc. He couldn’t care less that it’s nutritious and a great source of protein – he just thinks it’s delicious. It also gives all the kids the energy they need to keep the fun going all afternoon. Sprinklers are basically the summer equivalent of baths in our house,  which is fine by me.

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For each share of Great American Milk Drive “Feed A Childhood” content with hashtag #milkdrive via Facebook and Twitter between 6/1/16 – 6/30/16, The Great American Milk Drive will contribute $1 to the Feeding America® network for the purchase of fluid milk, up to a maximum total donation of $5,000.

And as a thank you for taking the time to read about The Great American Milk Drive, they’re offering a giveaway to readers of this blog and the others participating in the campaign.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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