Saturday, April 19, 2014

Introducing SwaddleClub from SwaddleDesigns & their NEW Muslin Collection {Giveaway - Ends 5/2}

I received complimentary product for review purposes. All opinions are 100% my own.

I used SwaddleDesigns swaddle blankets when Buddy was a baby, and I've gifted a few to new moms since then. It's safe to say that in those early months of Buddy's life, those swaddle blankets saved my sanity! He loved to be swaddled and those blankets are some of the few things I saved from when he was a baby.

SwaddleDesigns' mission is to help parents calm and comfort their baby, especially in ways that are safe. When baby sleeps better, parents sleep better too! For new moms, the 123 Swaddle® label sewn into SwaddleDesigns swaddle blankets is a big help, especially during those sleep-deprived moments of frustration that somehow seem to make you forget the simplest of things.

Now, after 10 years of helping parents with this label, SwaddleDesigns is introducing the new SwaddleClub QR label to give parents easy access to online resources from your smartphone, tablet or computer.

SwaddleClub is a new free service from SwaddleDesigns that offers baby care videos, white noise, and safe sleep tips for parents. Thanks to SwaddleDesigns' partnership with Dr. Harvey Karp, creator of the Happiest Baby on the Block and internationally renowned pediatrician, you can stream full-length Happiest Baby white noise and access short baby care videos all from your smartphone.
introducing SwaddleClub
SwaddleClub features include:
  • Calming Sounds
  • Sleep Sounds
  • How to Swaddle Instructions
  • Safe Sleep
  • Benefits of Swaddling
  • Baby Care Videos

After browsing around SwaddleClub, I found that there is a wealth of information for parents, all in one place. The focus is around sleeping of course, with lots of helpful short tips that are categorized in an easy to read format. SwaddleClub is neatly organized for use on your smartphone, so all this is right at your fingertips if you choose.

SwaddleClub hopes to help new parents learn how to calm and comfort their baby and make safe sleep choices. Having easy access to helpful, relevant information from SwaddleClub is so important for when parents are overwhelmed, sleep deprived or feel frustrated. I've been there, and oh how I wish I had all of this available to me when I had Buddy. Honestly, the first year was not easy for us and I didn't know how badly I needed help until it had already passed. SwaddleClub will surely help many parents get through some difficult phases as baby grows.

SwaddleDesigns' new Sunwashed Pastels Collection Ultimate Receiving Blankets and new Muslin Collection Cotton Muslin Swaddles feature the new SwaddleClub QR label. I received a 4-pack of the Boutique Quality Muslin Swaddle Blankets to check out.

As with all SwaddleDesigns blankets, the Cotton Muslin Swaddles are large and measure 46 x 46 inches. Made from premium 100% cotton muslin, they are breathable swaddles and perfect no matter what time of year. They're machine washable, and get softer over time.

Once your baby decides she is done with swaddling, these are still great as a privacy blanket, a stroller or carseat cover and more. I remember Buddy still liked to cuddle with his as a toddler.

I love the subdued colors of these swaddles! I chose the sterling set which is pretty gender neutral. They also have pastel pink and pastel blue too. Be sure to check out the entire Muslin Collection which also offers bibs, lovies, burpies and sleep sacks.
Win It!
One winner will receive 4-pack of Boutique Quality Muslin Swaddle Blankets from the Muslin Collection, a $50 value!

Become a Toxin Freedom Fighter & help Seventh Generation #FightToxins

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Millennial Central for Seventh Generation. I received a promotional item and product samples as a thank you for participating.

Toxic chemicals are everywhere and sadly they're severely unregulated. Did you know that more than 80,000 synthetic chemicals available in the United States have never been fully tested for their effects on our health and environment? What a scary thought!

The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which was passed in 1976, has never been updated. In a country as advanced as America, we have failed our citizens in so many ways and are in desperate need of chemical reform to protect our health. Our exposure to toxic chemicals carries many health risks that have been studied by scientists, including Cancer, Alzheimer’s, learning disabilities, asthma, birth defects, and various reproductive problems.

Of the 80,000 synthetic chemicals that have been introduced since the TSCA was passed, only 10% have been required to undergo testing by the EPA. Only 10%!! Surely not all of these are safe - I bet only a small amount are.
Chemical reform is crucial for the future of our next generation and beyond. I would like to see every single chemical individually tested, and also together with other chemicals for potential cross-reactions. We continue to use toxic chemicals that lack proper testing, and we also lack full disclosure from companies who use them. The Natural Resources Defense Council website can provide you with more information.

Become a Toxin Freedom Fighter

I think it's time we come together and create real change. I'm a longtime fan of Seventh Generation and I'm excited to partner with them on this Toxin Freedom Fighter campaign to spread awareness about our need for chemical reform in the United States. 

Seventh Generation is leading the way and asking YOU to sign a petition to urge Congress to reevaluate the TSCA for the first time since 1976.
Click on the badge above and help Seventh Generation reach its goal of collecting 100,000 Signatures by April 24th. Just sign the petition for chemical reform and urge your friends and family to do the same!

Make Small Changes

Making healthier choices starts at home - not by waiting for the government to tell you what's healthy for you. The key to making large strides of improvement in your daily life is to make small changes first. Choose products with fewer ingredients, and become an avid label reader. Whether it's switching out your toxic body wash for a simple organic soap or cutting back on refined sugars, small changes are the ones that last in the long run for the best impact.

It's scary to think about the link of toxin exposure and me own health issues. In recent years I've become more educated on chemicals in every food and product I used to eat or use, therefore allowing me to make informed, smarter choices. From my makeup to the snack foods I enjoy now, I'm certainly not the same person I was four years ago.

Go Green

Earth Day is just a few days away, so let's all decide to make some changes. A green and eco-friendly lifestyle is important to me personally because my son's future depends on it. If we don't take care of the earth, it won't take care of us.

By continuing to use toxic chemicals without consistent testing or strict regulations, we not only harm our health, but the earth too. Spilling out toxic waste into our streams and air is not sustainable for our future.

Choose brands that resonate with your personal convictions on toxins, just as I have. Without getting too excited and naming dozens of my favorite organic and natural brands, I will say that Seventh Generation is one that I trust and use often. It's nice to see a big name in green products take a stand like this!

Please join me and thousands of others who want to #FightToxins by becoming a Toxin Freedom Fighter today - it's time for chemical reform!


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Give the Gift of a College Education with a 529 College Savings Plan

This sponsored post was written by me on behalf of TIAA-CREF. All opinions are 100% my own.

Hubby paid his way through college by working full-time and still managed to graduate with a bachelor's degree in four years. As much as I hope Buddy will pay for some of his college education himself, I certainly hope Hubby and I are able to take most of the load off by helping him pay for school.

Although Buddy is just 5 years old, it's by no means too early to plan ahead for his future. There are many ways to be financially smart for the here and now. But sometimes we overlook the distant future, thinking it's just not important to focus on yet. However, beginning to invest in our childrens' future as early as possible is the best way to ensure a nice cushion for their college education and for the brightest future possible.

For one very special Elk Grove, California elementary school student, hoping to attend college will not just be a dream, but a reality. Last Friday, nine-year-old Duncan Nakamoto received the surprise of his life as he learned he won TIAA-CREF's Big Dreams Start Small $100,000 College Fund Contest.

Entrants in this nationwide contest submitted a photo and caption showing their child "dreaming big" for the future. Duncan's winning entry was revealed at a school assembly in front of 800 schoolmates, faculty and parents at Joseph Sims Elementary School. It was so exciting to be there and see Duncan's reaction to the news. To say this lucky kiddo was thrilled is a major understatement!

Duncan's father will receive $100,000 to be deposited in a new 529 college savings plan account until Duncan is ready for college. What a gift Duncan has received for his future!

What is a 529 college savings plan?

A 529 college savings plan, or simply called a 529 plan, is a tax-advantaged investment account for families to put aside money for their kids' college education

TIAA-CREF is one of the leading 529 plan service providers around and currently manages the ScholarShare 529 college savings plan in California. Each state sponsors their own 529 plans, and you can open one in any state you choose depending on your needs. The beneficiary can attend any school in the country, no matter what state the 529 plan was opened.

The funds from a 529 plan can be used on tuition, books, housing and more at most accredited colleges, universities, and vocational and technical schools nationwide. Pretty much any college expense qualifies for use of 529 plan funds.

As the 529 plan account holder, you designate the beneficiary. Whether it's a child or grandchild, a niece or nephew, or even yourself, you have control of the 529 plan funds. The beneficiary can be changed, and you also determine distribution.

Once a 529 plan has been opened, family, friends or anyone can contribute. This is a fantastic way for anyone who wishes to pitch in, to do so. Also, initial contribution requirements to open a 529 plan can be as low as $25, and most 529 plans do not require regular contributions.

529 plans allow you to invest and grow college savings federal tax-free. As an added bonus, in California legislation was passed that provides a 20% state tax credit on for ScholarShare (California's 529 plan) contributions of up to $2,500 (for qualified individuals). Be sure to check with a representative of TIAA-CREF for more information on choosing the 529 plan that's right for you.

A 529 plan is definitely a smart way to help fund a college education little by little over many years, so there's no better time to start planning ahead for your child's future than right now. The gift of higher education is one of the best investments you can make to help him reach his potential in life!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Update Your Space with an Area Rug from Mohawk Home {#ilovemymohawkrug} Giveaway - Ends 4/30

 I received complimentary product for review purposes. All opinions are 100% my own.

For the decor-challenged like myself, an area rug can do wonders to a boring, lifeless space. It's a no-brainer piece of decor that's large enough to make a huge impact all by itself, or it can bring an entire room together and add warmth to an otherwise cold space. This has been especially true in my home, with the Fancy Trellis

Mohawk Home is global brand and a leader in home fashion. You've probably seen their many types of rugs and doormats at a store near you. In addition to the consistent high quality rugs and mats they produce, Mohawk Home is proud to share that their products are made in the USA, just as they always have.

We've been in the middle of our home remodel since January. At this point, we've finished our two bedrooms, the office/schoolroom and two bathrooms, complete with new paint, carpet, and tile. But we're not finished.

For a while, our living and dining area looked like this while we were moved out of our rooms. Seriously awful. Not only was this space a mess, but it also took up Buddy's entire potential play area since his room was off limits for a while too.

My poor kid had no real place to play for a couple months, and even when he did wedge himself in here, he was destroying my hardwood floors with his trains, cars, and LEGO thrown around everywhere. So we bit our tongues and just waited, knowing we'd have to find a solution for when we put our house back together so he could actually have this area to play in, in addition to his room.

And today, here's where we're at. This area is cleared out, with just a train table, and small toy storage bins. And our beautiful new Mohawk Home area rug!

This is the 5'x8' Fancy Trellis area rug. How gorgeous is this rug? While vibrant and sharp, it's lattice pattern and lovely silvery gray and white give it a simple elegance. It's 100% Nylon, with a short pile for major durability. It also features a latex backing, which not only keeps the rug in place, but won't contribute to my beat-up wood floors with additional scratching from the underside.

I love that this rug is the perfect size for Buddy to play with his toys, totally contained on the rug (for the most part...). He just loves his space.

Just the other day Buddy had built his biggest Island of Sodor EVER (Thomas & Friends, anyone?), covering the entire rug, to each edge. It was magical to him, and this mama loves seeing her boy so thrilled.

Eventually this living and dining area will have a fresh coat of paint and new window coverings too. But for now, my poor floors have a bit of protection, and this space isn't so bare and plain-jane as before all this remodeling began. It has a bit of an elevated, clean sophistication to it. And I love it!

Some day we'll have a formal living and dining area, but I'm perfectly content with having all this space for Buddy for a few more years. With a 'no shoes' rule on this rug, just like we have with our new carpet, I have no doubt that this rug will see many years in our home. It's absolutely beautiful. My next area rug for my family room will likely come from Mohawk Home.

The 5'x8' Fancy Trellis area rug we received is available at for $138.73. Mohawk Home area rugs are sold at many online retailers including,, and many more.
Win It!
One winner will receive a 5'x8' Mohawk Home rug, up to $150!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Chevys Fresh Mex® Kids Coloring Contest :: April 15-20 {At Participating Locations}

This post is brought to you by Chevys Fresh Mex®. I will receive a gift card for posting. All opinions are 100% my own.

With Easter next Sunday, Chevys Fresh Mex® is kicking off a Kids Coloring Contest starting tomorrow! One winner from each participating restaurant location will win a kids Fiesta themed party at Chevys Fresh Mex® with six of their friends (10 years old and under)! Plus, a parent or adult chaperone will receive a $50 gift card!

How To Enter
From April 15th-20th, visit your nearest participating Chevys Fresh Mex® restaurant where kids will receive a coloring sheet. Simply have your kiddo color their sheet there, write in your contact information on the back and hand it in to enter!

As an added bonus, kids who submit their coloring sheet entry will receive a coupon to have a free kid’s meal with the purchase of any adult entrĂ©e (offer valid April 21-May 11).

Winners will be randomly chosen on Easter Sunday and will be notified the following day. Fiesta parties must be booked in advance at the location of entry. Valid at participating locations, except Miami, Sioux Falls, Annapolis, Hanover, Brandywine, Clifton, Linden and Bloomington.

About Chevys
Chevys Fresh Mex® serves up delicious simplicity in a casual but energized atmosphere where it’s all about the food. Think California inspired Mesquite-fired flavor. Chevy’s creates your favorite traditional Mexican dishes from scratch, every day. We use only fresh, top-quality ingredients in our beloved recipes to create a one-of-a-kind fiesta of the senses that inspires celebration amongst food lovers, spice lovers and fun lovers. Come as you are—the fiesta awaits you!

Discover YOUR Inner Animal & Enter to Win a Trip to the San Diego Zoo {NEW Sweepstakes from Umi}

Umi Childrens Shoes has partnered with the San Diego Zoo for their BIGGEST giveaway EVER! 

One family will receive a free trip to the San Diego Zoo! This includes airfare, hotel AND an exclusive “Inside Look” tour during their visit to the zoo

To enter the sweepstakes, entrants need to complete a quick quiz to “discover their inner animal”. After taking the quiz, there will be an entry page and then your quiz results. It's not only fun, but you have an opportunity to win a wonderful trip for your family!

Go HERE to enter now!

{I received no compensation for this post.} Sweepstakes Official Rules: The Sweepstakes is open only to individuals who are (i) permanent legal residents of the 48 continental United States or the District of Columbia and (ii) who are at least 18 years of age or older at the time of entry (“Participants”). Directors, officers and employees of Sponsor or the Sweepstakes Affiliates, and members of their immediate families or persons residing at the same address (whether related or not), are NOT eligible to enter to win. Void where prohibited by law.

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Advantages of Dance Classes for Kids

Disclosure: This is a guest article. 

Kids who take dance classes benefit in a number of different ways. For one, dancing helps to build a kid's confidence. A kid who learns how to perfect a particular dance step has a feeling of accomplishment. In turn, he or she can build on that success and achieve even more. Here are some of the other ways that kids benefit from taking dance classes.

Kids who take dance are staying active in a fun way. They are exercising different muscles and building strength in their arms and legs. Kids who take dance are also improving their flexibility. Those who take these lessons are more likely to continue because they are participating in something they love. If they don't like one type of dance, they can try others until they find one that suits them. Jazz, tap, hip-hop and ballet are just a few of the many options for kids who are interested in taking dance lessons.

Another benefit of dance classes for kids is that they get to know other kids who share a common interest. For example, one kid may sign up for a ballet class and get to know another kid in the same class who absolutely loves ballet. This is a great way for a kid to establish solid friendships. Plus, kids who are learning a new dance can learn from one another. They can practice steps together and help each other to improve. It's possible that a life long friendship may be established during a dance class for kids.

Dance classes can also serve to improve a kid's coordination. Perhaps a kid has trouble keeping his or her balance. The moves in a ballet class or a tap class can help a kid to develop better balance. As a kid's coordination improves, his or her self-esteem gets a boost. A kid with high self-esteem has the power to succeed in other parts of his or her life as well as in a dance class. Parents who are interested in getting their kids in a dance class may want to consider a place like Intrigue Dance.

Finally, dance classes help kids to develop the habit of discipline. They know they are supposed to practice a certain amount of times per week as well as attend class. Learning discipline early on helps kids to understand the importance of being responsible and following through with what they are supposed to do.