Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Pediped Flex for the Confident Walker {Giveaway - Ends 3/15}

With kids there seems to be a constant need for new shoes. Their feet are always growing and kids just play hard in general, causing shoes to wear out faster than we would like. The positive side to this is that it's easier to keep up with new seasonal shoe trends, and it's a great excuse for needing to buy from several high quality brands throughout the year. I think Buddy is going through a little growth spurt, so he's excited to have yet another pair or shoes just for him instead of all this baby stuff! This time, a pair from the Pediped Flex Fit System line arrived.

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

The Pediped style we received was a surprise, and turned out to be the Charleston Flex. I've very quickly grown to love this style with it's all black leather and white inside trim that sort of peaks out when worn. It's easy to dress this style up or down, and is probably very appealing for students with a uniform dress code at school. Likewise, it's a hearty style for playing on the playground and even has a reinforced rubber toe that continues up from the soles.

This casual sneaker features a real leather and suede upper and a flexible rubber sole with good grip - an important feature that my son checks out and "approves" with every new pair of shoes he gets! According to him these are very comfortable too. They passed his run-through-the-house-as-fast-as-you-can test..

Buddy hasn't had a pair of Pedipeds in a while, and quite honestly I forgot just how much I love the high quality materials and craftsmanship. Pedipeds hold up really well with regular usage as a result! 

The Pediped Flex line is perfect for established walkers who have developed a confident, natural stride up to older kiddos. They offer great flexibility and comfort for growing feet. The Flex Fit System styles include an additional 2 millimeter insole so you can customize the fit. By reducing the shoe size by almost half a size with these Flex insoles, you can extend the life of your child's shoes.

One of my favorite features of the Charleston is the tongue that is fully attached on one side. This prevents the tongue from sliding down or possibly becoming uneven to one side while worn. Small details such as this really show off a company's dedication to quality. 

As much as I'd like to continue helping Buddy move forward with tying shoe laces, the fact remains that he'll only be able to pull off velcro closure styles a bit longer. He has large feet for 6 years old and mostly shoe lace styles are all we'll find in just a few more sizes anyway. The convenience factor is super appealing, especially with how busy I will be when the new baby comes within the next few weeks!

Pediped footwear is sold in over 2,500 stores in the United States and 40 countries worldwide, with an offering of more than 140 designs for boys and girls between its three signature lines: Originals®, Grip ‘n’ Go™, and Flex®. Pediped footwear is approved by the American Podiatric Medical Association for promoting healthy foot development, and are recommended by pediatricians as the next best thing to bare feet

The Charleston Flex is available in sizes EU 22-36 for $55.

NEW Spring/Summer 2015 Collection
Pediped just released it's new children's footwear collection for the upcoming seasons with over 100 new styles and colors across it's three lines! Sizes start at newborn and go up to an EU 36 (US Youth 4.5). Shop www.pediped.com or use the store locator to find a retailer near you.

Enter to WIN a Family Getaway to San Diego!
In celebration of the all new movie “Disney’s Tinker Bell and the Legend of the Neverbeast”, Pediped invites you to enter for a chance to win a Funjet Vacations family trip for four to San Diego plus a $200 Visa gift card! Enter this sweepstakes now through March 31.

Follow Pediped
Facebook: Facebook.com/pedipedfootwear
Twitter: @pedipedfootwear
Pinterest: Pinterest.com/pediped
Instagram: Instagram.com/pedipedfootwear

Enter To Win:
One of my readers will receive a pair of Pediped Flex shoes!
{Winner may choose boy or girl and size, not style}

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A Look Into the Process of Surrogacy

 My own infertility journey has been very educational and eye-opening. There are so many options to help families grow thanks to modern medicine and technology, from IUI, drugs or IVF to surrogacy or adoption. If you are struggling with infertilty, what options are on the table for your family?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

10 Baby Registry Must-Haves at buybuy BABY {Giveaway - Ends 3/4}

This may be my second baby, but it really feels like my first in a lot of ways! We started off with practically nothing baby at all at the beginning of this pregnancy, plus A LOT has changed in the baby realm in the six years since I had Buddy. I thought preparing for baby was overwhelming back then, but holy moly have options increased immensely in those six years!

Thank you to buybuy BABY for sponsoring today's discussion and providing me with a gift card, diapers and wipes. All opinions are 100% my own.

My recent visit to the Roseville, California buybuy BABY was a fun one. I chatted about baby products for over two hours with their product experts, Bobbie Jo and Joel. I have a feeling we could have gone out to lunch together and all had a grand time. What a delightful bunch! Employees receive extensive product training from buybuy BABY and brand vendors, and also take into account the personal experiences they hear of from moms, so there's no question that these folks know what they're talking about. I started my baby registry while there (although I don't need too much more at this point!), which I should mention there are plenty of awesome reasons to register at buybuy BABY.  

Now that I'm almost officially a mom for the second time, I've compiled my top 10 must-haves for your baby registry. These can perhaps be viewed as generically obvious must-haves to some, but I wanted to help new moms-to-be get a quick start on their registries. Of course a full registry includes a lot more than this! I have included brand recommendations as well, based on personal experience or that of my mama friends. And remember moms, you should register for everything you think you'll need in the first year.

10 Must-Haves for your Baby Registry 

1. Swaddle Blankets
Swaddling your baby is all the rage and for good reason. Most infants enjoy being snugly swaddled in those first few months since it imitates the snug space they occupied in the womb for 9 months! Choosing a thin, breathable material like 100% cotton muslin or flannel, or bamboo is best. Plus, after the swaddling stage, these blankets are perfect for many other uses including tummy time, as a nursing cover or just for snuggle time. Brands I like: Aden + Anais and SwaddleDesigns.

2. Co-Sleeper or Bassinet
Baby needs to be near mom practically 24/7 during those early weeks and months. If bed-sharing isn't your thing, a co-sleeper or bassinet cozied right up to your bedside is a convenient option for soothing baby and those frequent middle of the night feedings. A versatile play yard will also serve the same purpose, but will grow with your child and serve as a great sleeping space at grandma's house too. Brands I like: Arm's Reach and HALO Bassinest.  

3. Sophie the Giraffe
For the newbie parents out there, I'm with you. Sophie wasn't a hot find when I had Buddy, but after his teething days were over, all I've heard since is that Sophie is the best teething toy on the market. She's made in France from 100% natural rubber and her appendages are apparently irresistible for teething babies. She even squeaks! 

4. Nursing Pillow
No matter how your baby is being fed, a nursing pillow is essential to your postpartum recovery (and sanity) as your arms adjust to holding your new baby. A good nursing pillow allows you to bring baby up closer to the breast for nursing, and also keeps baby propped up (with proper supervision) as they get older. Brands I like: Boppy, My Brest Friend, and Bebe au Lait. 

5. Baby Monitor
Depending on the layout of your home, you'll likely want to have a baby monitor for when baby is sleeping in another room. Give yourself piece of mind that your baby is sleeping soundly and not needing you every two seconds. Buddy was born before there were wireless, video or audio options, so I'm thrilled to do a major upgrade this time around! Brands I like: Summer Infant and Motorola. 

6. Fisher Price Rock 'n Play Sleeper
Everyone seems to RAVE about this product - including all my sisters who use theirs with their new babies. Mama, you need a safe place to put baby down on occasion, and the Rock 'n Play is what you want in your everyday living area! It's inclined seat and rocking ability make it a must-have for new moms. It's portable, lightweight and pretty compact for any situation. I have mine ready to go!  

7. A Functional and Lightweight Stroller
When choosing a stroller, buybuy BABY expert, Joel, sees two main features to consider - it's weight and functionality. Can you easily fold up and load the stroller into the trunk of your car? Is the stroller compatible with your selected brand of infant car seat? Does the stroller's seat change positions? Is the basket large and easily accessible? It's also important to think about your lifestyle - will you need a jogging stroller or are you a mall walker like myself? A good stroller is a quality investment that should be carefully researched. Brands I like: UPPAbaby and Britax.

8. Blooming Bath
A registry favorite, this innovative bath option is a large, soft flower that molds to fit any kitchen sink. Babies seem to love how comfortable this bathtime option is. Bonus: it's machine washable!

9. Baby Carrier
Whether it's a wrap, sling or soft-structured carrier, babywearing is so healthy for baby and can be a sanity-saver for mom so she can have both hands. Watch out for crotch dangler styles that aren't good for baby's pelvis, but otherwise you can go wrong with these brands I like: Boba, Ergo, Moby and Baby K'tan.

10. Diapers and Wipes
This should be a no-brainer, but a lot of new parents seem to underestimate the cost and amount of diapers their new baby will use in that first year! Whether you plan on using cloth, disposables or a combination of the two, registering for your diapering needs is definitely warranted. Buybuy BABY brand disposables and wipes are a great value, and cloth brands I like include Bumgenius, Charlie Banana and Grovia.

What else would YOU add to this list?

Enter To Win:
One of my readers will receive a $50 gift card to buybuy BABY!

Monday, February 16, 2015

UnitedHealthcare Children's Foundation :: New “Oliver and Hope’s Superhero Saturday” Book to Help Families in Need #UHCCF

Disclosure: This post is brought to by UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation.

The new inspirational children's book, “Oliver and Hope’s Superhero Saturday," was just unveiled by the UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation (UHCCF) this past weekend at the North American International Toy Fair in New York City! This exciting new adventure is the third book in the award-winning Oliver & Hope™ series, and proceeds help fund UHCCF grants.

Filled with colorful illustrations and a heartwarming story of friendship, resiliency and imagination, this 32-page book is sure to delight your youngsters age 3-8. When the characters put on their hero capes, they have fun pretending to save a pirate ship, rescue a hot air balloon and face an evil mud monster. But when they discover their friend Chewie™ the English bulldog really needs their help, the friends must work together to become real heroes.

“We created the Oliver & Hope series to provide joy and inspiration for children. We are grateful to have received such positive feedback on the books, especially since the proceeds from the books and toys are helping children access medical care that will improve their health and quality of life,” said UHCCF President Matt Peterson.

All three books from the Oliver & Hope™ series are available for $13.95 each. To purchase this new book and more from the Oliver & Hope™ series, visit uhccf.org/shop.

About UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation
The UHCCF is a charitable organization that provides medical grants to help with children’s medical expenses not covered, or not fully covered, by their parents’ commercial health insurance plan. Last year, UHCCF awarded medical grants worth an estimated $5.4 million to more than 2,000 children across the United States. To apply for a grant, donate or learn more, please visit www.UHCCF.org.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Bring Your Digital Photos to Life with Polaroid Fotobar {Giveaway - Ends 2/27}

Do you print the photos you've taken with your smart phone? What about all those captured moments from your recent family photoshoot? I didn't think so.

Even with all the devices and grand technology that make it possible to have a camera on our person at all times, I'm surely not the only guilty of never actually printing any photos. Well, in a very long time. It's been years since I sent off photos to be printed! Years. That's why my family and I really enjoyed the convenience of our recent visit to the new Polaroid Fotobar at the Galleria at Roseville. The Roseville Galleria location is the sixth micro-store to open up in California.

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

Polaroid Fotobar is a fun retail concept that allows users an easy way to "liberate" their photos and turn them into a unique photo products. Simply add photos to your account from anywhere (phone, Facebook, Instagram, computer etc), select from several printing options and choose some photo accessories if you wish. Photos are printed on a 1.2mm thick silky board using an eight-color HD printing process. These are really sturdy, non-bendable, and available in three sizes - original, medium and large.

Knowing we would be visiting Polaroid Fotobar, I created my account online at PolaroidFotobar.com and downloaded all the photos from my computer that I wanted to print. This way we could simply just choose photo sizes, quantities and photo accessories while there from their computers. We were able to test out the process for adding photos from your smartphone though, since Hubby had a few he wanted to print. It was as simple as having him email the photos to the specific email address associated with my Polaroid Fotobar account. For Facebook or Instagram you need to just sign in and authorize access to your photos.

Fun Photo Gifts for Everyone
There are so many great options when it comes to photo accessories. From the modern, bright colored shadowboxes to the vintage-style rustic photo clip or clothesline frame, Polaroid Fotobar has a lot to choose from in every price range.

This is a medium size (9" x 11") print in a Rustic Shadowbox - it's gorgeous! I love the way that prints appear to be floating inside the frame. This shadowbox will also fit six original size (3.5" x 4.25") prints if you choose. The entire line of Rustic photo accessories is just beautiful!

We ordered about 40 of the smallest, original size prints and a few fun photo accessories for displaying. I think many of these prints will be sent to family with magnets on the back for displaying on the fridge - we printed lots of just Buddy. There is the option of having the classic white space at the bottom, and including text if you want, but most of our photos worked better without the text this time. The shadowboxes are really neat because photos are interchangeable and just snap in with magnets.

I have to say that I think the printing quality is better than I expected for just $1 each for the original size. However, some prints showed the printing lines and the coloring was just off on a few compared to reality (my green maternity dress was totally teal for example). Some prints that we got double of even looked different. The interesting thing is that our medium print looks amazing!

Ready to Shop?
The instant gratification of ordering your prints and having them in your hands just a short time later, is an awesome concept. Now, technically you could just send your photos to be printed at a 1-hour place, but how fun is this!? You won't get the classic Polaroid style anywhere else. Find a retail location near you or order whatever you want on PolaroidFotobar.com.

Enter To Win:
One of my readers will receive a $50 code to Polaroid Fotobar!

Monday, February 9, 2015

34 Week Pregnancy Update + Photoshoot + More from PinkBlush Maternity

Can you believe I'm already 34 weeks?! My last update was at 28 weeks...this sweet time in our lives is rushing by without an extra moment to share more. BUT, at 32 weeks we were blessed with an opportunity to have a family/maternity photoshoot done so I really want to share some of those shots, complete with the latest pregnancy details after.

On the day of our photoshoot it was freezing, and the sun had yet to appear even by 1 o'clock on that overcast day despite the clear forecast. However, it made way for a really unique tone and landscape to our photos and I LOVE THEM. Our AMAZING friend and photographer truly captured our family - something we haven't really done in years! Here are a few of my favorites (some fully edited, some a bit raw)...

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

PinkBlush Maternity sent me several outfits for our photoshoot. I picked out the Emerald Green Draped Accent Maternity Maxi Dress myself (no longer available), but the Ivory Lace Belted Maternity Dress ($44) and Beige Knit Crochet Neckline Long Sleeve Maternity Top ($32) were a total surprises! And guess what? They all fit like they were made just for me!! That's one thing I absolutely adore about PinkBlush Maternity. There's consistency in the fit of their huge array of maternity apparel, which is so so so important for the short period of time a woman actually needs to wear maternity. I also wore my PinkBlush Maternity Dark Wash Maternity Skinny Jeans ($45) with the beige top (along with my brown boots). A HUGE thank you to PinkBlush Maternity for my photoshoot wardrobe!

How Far Along: 34 Weeks

Due Date: March 23, 2015

Weight gain: +24 pounds

Boy or girl:
GIRL!!!! :)

Symptoms: Wow, have I hit the third trimester or what!?! I feel like a bit of a mess, and my body feels very pregnant at this point. The past two weeks of sleep have been quite miserable, waking every hour to pee and even sooner to flip over because my hips hurt. I've decided to not return to the Chiropractor despite this because it's technically manageable now, just uncomfortable and the intensity comes and goes. There's just something scary about being adjusted while pregnant anyway! Hormones are flaring with high emotions and also hot/cold spells at night. This past week I've been waking up so hungry in the wee hours of the morning that I have to eat something before I can even try to get some more shut eye in. So that means two breakfasts! Baby's clearly needing the extra calories which makes perfect sense since this is when she should be mostly just gaining fat now.
I also noticed at about 31 weeks that despite my belly not growing much (from my view anyway), baby grew a lot! She's definitely starting to run out of room!

Cravings: Cottage cheese, pickles, chocolate milk, anything else chocolate and candy.
I'm having a difficult time taming my major impulsiveness at the grocery store lately!

What made me cry recently: Ha! Everything makes me cry. I'm pretty sensitive right now and the anxiety of baby preparations and not feeling ready yet are totally getting to me. Every few days it seems to become too much and I'm just an anxious wreck, so I end up over doing it to compensate so I can "reset" and feel better until it happens again. I can't wait to have every little detail done!

Medical stuff/appointments: I'm nearly to weekly appointments! This Friday is my next regular appointment and I'm looking forward to confirming that baby girl is still head down. She flips and turns a lot, which makes me nervous considering Buddy was a transverse, very stuck baby. She seems to have a favorite spot though with her feet on my left side, always poking out quite a bit. I love it.

Something I am excited about: Over the weekend we took a 5-hour labor class that was amazing and left us feeling prepared for what's to come. With the support of my Hubby and our doula, I'm confident that a VBAC is totally achievable, and that I can handle the pain of labor and birth without medication. I'm so excited to meet our little girl!

Favorite part of the past few weeks: A lot has happened since my last update! Of course I love feeling my little girl move soooo much, but realizing this part's nearly over is bittersweet. I can't wait to actually have her in my arms though! Also, taking family/maternity photos a couple weeks ago was awesome! Seriously, I felt so anxious that I was thinking with my luck I'd go into preterm labor the night before our photoshoot or something crazy. We haven't had professional photos done for just our family in many years, so this was a real treat. The joyful memories I have associated with this time in my life were truly captured, and I'm so looking forward to printing and framing so many of them to build our gallery wall. Also since my last update we hired our doula, visited my mom to pick out nursery colors, and officially transferred care to the best VBAC-friendly OB/Midwife practice and hospital in the Sacramento region. We're wrapping up the many little details from here on!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Learning to Tie Our Shoes with Umi {Giveaway - Ends 2/20} #NewArrivals

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

It's only February, but we can count on warmer weather making it's appearance sooner than we may realize. You know what else that means? Umi Children's Shoes has a new Spring/Summer Collection! These new arrivals are fresh, colorful, and playful for the upcoming season.
As an Umi Certified Reviewer and Brand Ambassador, I've had the great privilege of being one of the first to get their hands on the new styles of each season. Umi is well known for their breathable, comfortable, flexible shoes and spacious toe boxes that put your kid's feet first.

Buddy has been wearing his last pair of Umi's (the Cruz II) to death, but I'm happy to report they have held up very well. The Jett B sneakers have similar features, but with an all canvas upper and laces instead of velcro. Buddy is now six years old and I figured it is time to teach him how to tie shoe laces!

This is the Jett B in the Taupe Multi color. We opted for the brown and taupe colors with the bold pop of orange this time since Buddy is becoming a bit more of a rough-and-tumble boy as he gets older. Hellooooo holy jeans and dirty shoes. 

This style arrives with elastic laces (making them slip-ons), but includes regular tie laces if you desire. The shoes were slipping off Buddy's heels a little with the elastic laces, but I'm sure we could have cut and tightened the elastic to make it work. My mission was learning how to tie shoes though!

This is our FIRST pair (of recent memory) that actually has laces! The convenience of velcro is great, but at some point I believe it's important that kids learn to tie shoes too. I think that waiting until your child has the dexterity necessary for tying shoes, it's not worth the frustration. Buddy is definitely ready, and picked it up almost immediately! We're working on keeping those loops tight and I'll still help if he asks, but I'm so excited he's learned this new skill. He's very proud of himself too, as he should be.

The all canvas upper is great for breathability as the weather gets warmer. The rubber toe-box is not only a classic sneaker feature I love, but it's added protection for my rough boy's little toes no matter what mischief he finds himself in.

As with the Cruz II we reviewed last, the rubber orange sole is a big hit with my orange-loving boy. It has definitely held up well with that pair, and so I'm glad that is a feature that was not changed at all! Buddy has wonderful grip in these!

The Jett B sneaker is available for $46 and comes in five colors - a couple girly ones too! For more adorable styles for boys and girls from Umi from this new collection, be sure to check them out at the links below.

Connect with Umi Children's Shoes
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Enter To Win:
One of my readers will receive a $60 gift card for a pair of Umi Children's Shoes!