Sunday, March 29, 2015

5 Ways to Save Money in the Home This Summer

Disclosure: This is a guest post.

As the months begin to get warmer, it's time to start preparing the home for the changes in temperature. By getting things taken care of now, you can reduce the money you spend during these months in utilities and other costs. Much like battening down the hatches during the winter, it's time to start preparing the house for the summer.

Time Water Fun with Lawn Care

Some areas may be faced with drought conditions. If you're location schedules certain days of the week you can water the lawn, time the outdoor water sports of the home to coincide. You and the children can enjoy home-based water slides while you water the lawn. You can still enjoy the outdoor water play while keeping the grass from dying out or facing fines from the city.

Regular Filter Cleaning

Make it a habit to clean all filters in the home from air conditioning units to the vacuum. When filters get clogged, the machines they are attached do have to work harder in order to move a specific amount of air. This will reduce efficiency and use up more energy. If you keep vacuums clean, then there are less particulates in the air affecting AC units and other large appliances to get clogged.

Plan More Outdoor Activities

Not only is getting outdoors helping you get active and healthy, but it's less electricity you will use since no one is glued to game consoles and television. Playing in the park, going on a nature walk on a nearby trail or a simple picnic can be beneficial for everyone.

Automatic Power Switches


Some have found electric timers to be effective when connected to various devices. By limiting when an appliance or electronic device can be used throughout the day, you can ensure that it won't be used constantly. This can be greatly beneficial if you don't want the children playing games all day long.

Bike Rides

Instead of piling the family in a car or driving to the corner store, use bicycles. A family ride can be enjoyable while saving a great deal of money on gasoline. You'll spend time with the family while promoting a healthier way to travel.

By doing what you can to reduce your spending, you keep more money in your pocket. This can help you enjoy the entertainment and other fun things during the summer whether you're by yourself or living with children. Companies such as Columbia utilities often give tips of how you can save energy costs. Why not allow your cash to go further by reviewing more of these tips and suggestions?

 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Preparing For Birth with Birth Affirmations

I am officially "due" today! I'll be spending the remainder of my pregnancy relaxing as I prepare for labor to start at any point now. Every woman copes with labor in different ways and quite frankly I don't know how I'll cope since Buddy's birth was a scheduled c-section. This time around I'm planning on experiencing labor. Some coping methods I hope to use are my birth ball, massage, breathing techniques, essential oils, changing positions, shower/birth tub, music, and of course, lots of helpful verbal support from my birth team. 

When preparing for birth, the process of creating a "birth plan" is merely the act of writing out your birth hopes and truly learning about all the possibilities that could occur in birth. You really can't plan, but you can prepare in many ways for your birth to make it a positive experience no matter what. And so I've found birth affirmations to be a positive way to help me prepare now and while in actual labor.

For me, I love positive encouragement that says "YOU CAN DO THIS!" I know my body can achieve a VBAC, I know it's safe for me to do so, and I have a lot of support to carry me through. Through the process of finding these birth affirmations, I've been able to see where I might be vulnerable to weakness and "crack" in my labor - and thus what areas I need the most support. 

I don't want my fear of the pain to be an obstacle that stalls my labor or prevents me from progressing. In the moments of difficult, painful contractions, I don't want to cave into fear, and mostly, into medications that can lead me down a road to unnecessary interventions and possibly a repeat c-section if baby is totally fine and it's just ME that can't find a way to cope. Even if I find I can't cope without an epidural, or I do end up with a repeat c-section, I want to know that I've done everything I possibly can before that point. 

And so, here's my compilation of birth affirmations - statements that I have started reading now, and plan on reading while in labor (or having my husband, mom or doula read to me) with great conviction! I've read through hundreds of birth affirmations from dozens resources in preparation for my upcoming birth, and these are my favorite. Some are very similar, but worded in ways that might be just what I need to hear in the moment - we shall see!

I believe in myself and I have nothing to fear.

I can do ANYTHING for a minute.

Focus on each contraction - just get through this one.

Birth is a safe and wonderful experience.

I am not afraid.

My contractions can never be stronger than me. They ARE me.

I trust in my ability to give birth.

I CAN DO THIS.

My body knows exactly what to do.

Good strong contractions help my baby come into the world.

I will breathe deeply and slowly to relax my muscles, making it easier for my uterus to work.

Breathe deeply and slowly. Relax. Let the contractions work.

My body is completely relaxed. All I need to do is relax and breathe - nothing else.


I am ready and prepared for childbirth.

I visualize my baby moving gently through the birth canal.

I'm doing this for my baby!

Each contraction brings me closer to meeting my baby.

I can, and I will.

I trust in my ability to birth my baby.

I let go of my anxiety and focus on the task ahead.

I let go of the unfinished, so that my baby can be born healthy and strong.

It always seems impossible until it is done.

I trust the process.

I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. 1 Samuel 1:27


The moment I'm ready to quit is usually the moment right before the miracle happens. DON'T GIVE UP.

I am a strong and capable woman.

I have patience. There is no need for us to hurry.

I am strong and calm and beautiful.

I am surrounded by love and support.

I am whole and at peace.

My body knows how to birth my baby.

I have everything I need.

I put all fear aside and relax to focus on this contraction.

My mind is relaxed. My body is relaxed.

I feel confident. I feel safe. I feel secure.

My cervix opens outward and allows my baby to ease down.

Each surge of my body brings my baby closer to me.

I deserve this. I have waited for this moment!

I put all fear aside and welcome my baby with happiness and joy.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

Every effort I make brings me closer to my baby.

I am riding each wave as it comes. Take one at a time!

Do not fear!

I am opening for my baby.

I surrender all and let my body work.

My birth will go exactly as it should, no matter what happens.



Are you preparing for birth soon? What coping strategies are you planning to use during labor?

 

Friday, March 20, 2015

Florsheim Kids :: Spring Collection 2015 {Giveaway - Ends 4/3}

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

As we ring in the new season today, I'm excited to share one of Florsheim Kids' new styles from the spring collection - the Cove Mesh Jr.

The Cove Mesh Jr. is a wonderful slip-on shoe for spring, featuring breathable mesh and waxed-canvas accents for added durability. Built to withstand warm-weather adventures that involve water, I welcome the hose, watering cans, and any other water contraption that Buddy chooses to inevitably use while he's "working" in the backyard. Although the EVA insoles are not removable, they still dry out just fine outside. Boys will be boys, so make sure their shoes don't stand in the way!

The outsoles are rubber for plenty of grip, with the added bonus of a colorful accents to match the stretchy panels of this slip-on style. Annnnd of course Buddy loves orange, so this color in particular was easy for him to choose. There are actually five different color combinations for the Cove Mesh Jr. to coordinate with whatever your child's favorite color is at the moment - we're going on several years of all things orange.

I love that the midsole of this style is not a bright white! The grey tone hides dirt really well and has kept these looking new for much longer than normal. I also like that these are a close-toed option for nicer occasions during the spring and summer months, but that can also get wet if the occasion arises. When Buddy needs his actual sandals, of course we'll wear those, but you never know when a jaunt to Grandpa's will end up resulting in exploration of a rocky creek and a sturdy close-toed shoe is preferred.

Buddy really likes this style, especially since they are an slip-on-and-go shoe. No velcro to mess with or laces to tie. They seem rather sturdy and supportive of his growing feet too. And in his own words, Buddy likes that they have "stretchy material" on top, which I'm assuming he's referring to the mesh which is somewhat malleable. 

Be sure to check out more old-school styles and classic looks from Florsheim Kids in this new collection, especially if you need a versatile style like the Cove Mesh Jr.

Enter To Win:
One of my readers will win a $60 gift card!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

A Few Simple Lifehacks That Might Actually Change Your Life

Disclosure: This is a sponsored guest article submitted by McNemar Cosmetic Surgery. 

I had an accidentally enlightening weekend a few months ago. I went online to research the best ways to organize my kitchen (yes, seriously), and hours later I finally came up for air. I completely fell down the virtual rabbit hole, stumbling from one online "lifehack" article to the next. What started with organization tips turned into "maximum productivity" day planning, then how to live in the present every second, and somehow I ended up feeling sure I had learned how to feel young, be great all the time, and love life. All I really needed was a better strategy for spice storage, but once I started reading motivational material, I couldn't wait to start changing my life immediately. Sunday night, after reading all of this, I was on top of the world with plans in hand to change my perspective. I was ready to truly live, laugh, and love!


Then Monday morning came.

Monday, March 16, 2015

39 Week Pregnancy Update!

 
Our precious baby girl is almost here! As of today, I'm 39 weeks and she can come at any point. Am I finally ready? Yes! In every sense! I can't wait to finally meet this miracle that has been growing inside me for 9 months.

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

Yay for a tripod and a 6 year-old willing to snap photos during daylight while daddy's at work! He kept reposing me and telling me when to smile or move my hair. It was hysterical. Can I consider that a homeschool lesson on creativity?! 

I'm wearing a mint green crochet accent top (no longer available, but lots of other mint tops are!) and my favorite Dark Wash Maternity Skinny Jeans ($31), both from PinkBlushMaternity.com. I wore this at my baby shower, and also at the baby sprinkle that Hubby's work threw for us too. :) I only wish I had discovered PinkBlush Maternity earlier in my pregnancy! Their clothes fit me so well, despite my very out-there belly and otherwise small-ish body. I highly recommend snagging some of their pieces that will make you feel pretty and feminine throughout your pregnancy. My favorite part about this top is that there is no side ruching, so I can totally rock it with my non-pregnancy wardrobe as well.


WOAH, side view! My belly really sticks out. Like the whole, you-have-a-basketball-under-your-shirt thing. It's a bit outrageous at this point!!

This will be my last pregnancy update before baby girl arrives! If you don't see much posted over the next few weeks, I hope you can understand why. I'm resting as much as possible as I wait for this little one to come, then I'll be busy with a newborn for a while as I recover (hopefully from a VBAC, not a c-section this time). I have A LOT of awesome baby products to share with you, along with some sweet giveaways coming in late April and beyond, so stay tuned! 

How Far Along: 39 Weeks

Due Date: March 23, 2015

Weight gain: +31 pounds

Boy or girl:
GIRL!!!! :)

Symptoms: I'm feeling WAY better than I did with Buddy at this point, which is a major surprise. THANK YOU BIRTH BALL! I've been walking, shopping, and staying on my feet most of the day without too much fatigue or pain at all. I'm also sleeping a little better now, which is odd considering how bad it had been for a couple months. I'm grateful that as things wind down, I'm able to really, truly enjoy it and take it all in! Baby girl has officially dropped in the past couple weeks, so I am now carrying super low and my OB isn't concerned about my planned VBAC at all. Everything is right on track!

Cravings: Cottage cheese and chocolate, but not together! LOL

Next appointment: Today is my 39 week appointment and I'll likely ask to be checked for dilation just like the last few weeks where we found that baby is very low and I'm quite effaced already. I won't feel disappointed in case there is no progress because it doesn't necessarily mean much. However, I would like to know
(it's the 45+ minute drive in active labor I'm thinking of)!

Recent happenings: My baby shower was a couple weeks ago and it was so wonderful to see family and friends and to celebrate this sweet girl. Baby girl's nursery is pretty much done, although I'm still on the hunt for a cute lamp and perhaps some window treatments. It's ready otherwise though, so I'm ready for her to come!
Although I was getting a lot of looks before, now that I've dropped everyone and their mother in public asks me when I'm due and comments after just how low and OUT I carry - I'm not too bothered by that and I'm trying to just enjoy it all. Hubby and I just get a good chuckle on our mall walks and shopping trips!

Favorite part of the past few weeks: Just soaking in these last few weeks, and now days, has been beautiful. Big brother Buddy is SO excited to meet his little sister and it's just a joy to watch him talk to her and tell her that he can't wait! I'm ready to meet this little girl that we've prayed for and dreamed of for so many years!

 

Friday, March 13, 2015

Kinsights.com :: Connect with Parents + Keep Your Child's Health Records in One Place {PLUS Amazon $50 Giveaway}


I received compensation for this post. All opinions are 100% my own.

Kinsights is an online Pediatric Personal Health Record Keeper for parents. Gone are the days where you’re being held responsible for keeping track of slips of paper or lugging files and folders containing your children’s health information. And in the event of an emergency, you can even have the health records sent to the ER or out-of-town doctor in a snap.


Organize your child’s growth and developmental milestones, immunizations, medications, allergies, and more. 
 

This tool is amazing and a godsend to parents. Kinsights is also a community where parents can safely seek and share answers to parenting questions. You can ask anything and Kinsights will find the right community members who can provide guidance. Kinsights even offers groups with similar interests their own pages, including single parents, grandparents, those interested in car seat safety, baby & kids fashion, potty training groups, and many more. What's really cool about this community is that it makes finding the best answers easy-community members vote up answers so the best content rises to the top.





Connect with Kinsights at their website to learn more and sign-up!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Cloud b :: Better Sleep with Mama Koala + Baby

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

Sleeping was perhaps one of the greatest challenges in Buddy's first year. Yes, we had some feeding issues that resulted in me exclusively pumping for a year and supplementing also, but sleep is crucial for a happy mom and baby! This time around, I plan on utilizing every resource possible to help this little girl sleep peacefully so that I can avoid feeling out of control and constantly in a bubble. Constant noise is well-known for helping babies sleep, which makes sense considering the environment baby grows in for 9 months.

Cloud b is all about it's innovative collection of cuddly companions that offer soothing features for your child's different senses. Through award-winning products that focus on sound, sight, scent, touch, and even those that are multi-sensory, these adorable sleep essentials aim to help your child achieve better sleep.

The latest plush creature to join the range of sound soothing products from Cloud b is the Mama Koala and Baby. Just like the Sleep Sheep that Cloud b is best known for, the Mama Koala plays 4 soothing sounds and has two sleep-timer options that make it very convenient for parents to step out of the room (granted baby is not crying) and not have to return to turn it off once she is asleep.

Yes, yes, I know! Nothing is supposed to be in the crib, so that was just for fun since baby Reynolds isn't here yet! The best way to use Mama Koala is to attach her to the outside of the crib with the velcro strap on her back as you can see in the photo above. She has velcro on her paws to carry her little Baby Koala, which doubles as a cute baby rattle.

Mama Koala has a removable sound box inside her back that offers the four soothing sounds of Mother’s Heartbeat, Spring Showers, Ocean Waves, and Whale Songs. The timer switch is just below the four sound options, and the timer can be set for 23-minutes or 45-minutes to continually soothe baby with whatever sound you choose. The volume can be controlled using the knob at the bottom, and I have to say I love the wide volume range it has so you can set it to whatever you individual needs are.

A closer look at the adorable Baby Koala! So stinkin' cute, and the perfect size for little hands.

We never used white noise, music, or any other sleep-inducing techniques with Buddy (oh how I want to kick myself now for not trying!), so I'm excited to use Mama Koala with this baby when sleep inevitably becomes a struggle. I love that this is a product that will also grow with your child, and the sound box is even removable if you need to place it in a small spot or travel lightly with your beloved sound soother. Need a baby shower gift? Consider a cuddly sound soother from Cloud b for new parents. 

The Mama Koala and Baby retails for $34.95. You can shop online at Cloudb.com, or use the store locator to find this and other Cloud b sound soothers and sleep products near you.