Last year was the first time (since we had kids) that I didn’t send out photo cards and it made me feel like a bah humbug! This year I have ordered my cards early and am all excited about them. Its easy to stress about getting the perfect “Christmas card picture” but having four kids has forced me to lighten up and sort of give up on that. Instead I opt for holiday cards with spots for four photos and just pick my favorite close up of each kid. Minted offered to send me holiday cards to review this year and they had tons of options! I found quite a few that I loved with four photos but there are lots of options from one big photo to a collage of many. I really had fun making my card and I was very happy that I could really customize their design. I looked through all of the Christmas cards and new years cards (many of which are great for a general holiday card) and chose the “Photo Booth New Years” card that I pictured first below but mine looks very different. I changed the background color to a pale green, changed the color of the text on some of the words so that I had 3 different colors, I changed the font size on our last name so that it didn’t overlap the bottom picture too much and I shifted the words “happiest of Holidays to you” so that the H didn’t block the very close up pictures I selected in the top two photo spots. That may sound like a lot but the editing is super user friendly and I was able to make my nit-picky changes quickly and made the card exactly how I wanted it to be! I chose one sided flat cards but there are two sided options and folded cards that you can customize with more photos and text (for those of you who love to do holiday newsletters). If you would like to check the holiday cards off your to do list early like I did, here is a coupon code so that you can get 15% off your order from Minted good through 11/28/11. Code: READERS51
- Aqua Sphere makes the BEST goggles that we could find for our kids. After going through several junky pairs and finding nothing we were happy with in stores, John went online and found Aqua Sphere goggles for the kids a few years ago. I can’t say enough good things about them because we are on our third summer with these goggles! With the exception of some scratches on the lens our goggles have taken years of abuse (like being baked out in the sun and being left on the bottom of the pool for days). They didn’t even get the winters off because the kids like using them in the bathtub (good for playing scuba diver with all our ocean creatures and for keeping shampoo out of their eyes). I of course said yes to review the goggles because now we have a great supply when the kids’ friends come over! Ethan got a new pair that is tinted like sunglasses but all of the goggles provide 100% UVB and UVA protection. Jamie got a pink pair and this is her first summer with goggles. Until now we didn’t have to worry about long hair and goggles but the VERY easy to adjust straps allow us to put the goggles on her loosely and then tighten them once they are in position. The boys are only 4 and 6 years old and can do the goggles by themselves most of the time.
- Knowing the high quality of the goggles made me very excited to review the Stingray Core Warmer suit for kids. It is so well made and perfect for our needs. The neoprene body shows no signs of wear, snagging or piling. The zipper is really chunky and sturdy so I can’t see it ever breaking. We got a small for Jamie and an XL for the boys to share but we will be purchasing a second boy suit since it is great AND at $30 a great bargain compared to lesser quality suits I’ve seen. The suits definitely have some stretch to them since Ethan accidentally put on Jamie’s suit and swam in it for about an hour. I think it will fit her fine for another year and the boys should get two more years out of the XL since we ordered on the big size for them. Our kids live in the water all summer so I love suits that blocks out harmful rays and provide good coverage but I never thought about getting the kids suits that would keep them warm. They want to get in the pool in early spring and I recall the boys taking a very chilly swim in mid October last year and these suits would have been perfect (oh and if we ever go to that beach in Maine again…). Even now in June our NY pool is too cold for me and the Stingray suits definitely extend the time the kids can swim comfortably (before they get out and “sunbath” on the deck). We don’t have a pool that ever gets hot so I don’t see why the kids can’t use the suits all summer even when its really hot out.
- This was a review that wasn’t just for the kids, I got an Aqua Sphere Lady’s top and ladies goggles as well! I love the look of my top and the fact that it will keep me warmer in the pool. My only issue with my top is that I wish they offered some larger sizes (the XL is a pretty snug fit on me currently but I hope to fix that). I am a wimp with chilly water so I haven’t actually tried mine in the pool yet though! My goggles fit well and seem great but again I haven’t ventured into the pool to try them yet!
- Aqua Sphere offers a variety of suits and goggles for men, woman and kids and right now Aqua Sphere is offering a limited time only 15% promotional discount to all “My Family Loves It” visitors to use at their website www.aquasphereswim.com : Promo Code: ASKID09 (Limit one use per customer. Promotion begins June 1 and will be available through the end of July (6/1/2009 – 7/31/09)
*Right now you can get 10% off all products on www.oliverslabels.com from May 5th to May 10th (discount automatically taken off items in your shopping cart)!
I love sticky labels with my kid’s names on them! With 4 kids we are bound to lose things and I hate that, so I slap labels on whatever is most likely to be left behind and what is most valuable (both sentimentally and monetarily). There are quite a few companies selling labels now BUT Oliver’s Labels have something new and different: a special tracking code so people who find your things can get them back to you! We tried out a variety of their labels (sticky labels, mini labels, shoe labels & stick-eez but they have others) and they are holding up well and give me peace of mind that if we lose something we have a good chance at getting it back. I chose the SPORTS designs and put just our last name on the labels so that we could use them for our various (sometimes expensive) sports equipment that the kids share. The sports design is really cute and there are so many other nice designs. The designs of these Oliver’s Labels are much more detailed and colorful than other brands I’ve seen. Oliver’s Labels gets a big thumbs up from me!
To explain a little how the tracking system works, here is what Oliver’s Labels says will happen if you lose something:
“If you ever lose an item with a Found-it™ tracking system code, have no fear! When someone finds it they will be prompted to go to a special page on our website (see “A” in diagram below) with instructions to enter the code on the label (see “B” in diagram below). We then match you to your Found-it™ tracking system code and send you a notification email right away. Oliver’s Labels acts as an intermediary between you and the finder so you never have to share any of your personal information!”
One of the fun perks about doing this blog is the occasional offer to review a product that I had never heard of but instantly love. After Jillian was born I was given the wonderful gift of designing a Fill In The Blankie blanket for her. It is much more than personalized, you get to customize all 4 sides of the blankets edges with the baby’s info, sweet sentiments or a favorite lullaby. I chose to write Jillian’s full name and the date and time of birth on the 1st side; her length and weight on the 2nd side; “Ethan, Bennett & Jamie love their little sister” on the 3rd side and “Mommy & Daddy love Jillian very much” on the 4th side. I also got to choose from 27 fonts & 12 thread colors for the message. There are options for cute icons and even some glow in the dark thread! Of course there are A LOT of choices for the actual blankets (32 blanket styles/colors) and I couldn’t resist the Pink Magnolias print with solid pink on the back for Jillian’s. It is great quality blanket and the perfect size for using with her infant car seat, over a bouncy seat (like in these pictures) or in the stroller. When she is a little older I’m sure she’ll like to snuggle with it but for now she likes to feel the satin trim and put it in her mouth. This cute blankie will be a nice keepsake but for now its something functional that we really use! If you are looking for a gift for a new baby in your life I think designing one of these blankets would be a great idea (ours arrived really quickly after I placed the order online)!
I have a lot of breastmilk in the freezer right now that I don’t feel is stored very well. I wish that the Parent Bloggers Network had asked me to review this smart breastmilk storage system 2 months ago when I was basically pumping round the clock to get my milk supply back after a rough start feeding Jillian. I have milk in glass bottles, plastic containers and breastmilk bags but if only it was all vacuum sealed in these MilkBank bottles so that it would last longer. I am with 3 1/2 month old Jillian at all times so I don’t really need bottles much at this point but saving milk is still important to me. You never know if I’ll need to leave her for a few hours but mainly I love to have a supply of frozen milk to mix with solids when she starts them. Saving milk for mixing with food means it needs to last a long time since my kids all start solids at 6-7 months. With the MilkBank system milk can be stored even longer than that because air is removed from the bottles to hold off spoiling and freezer burn. You put the milk in the MilkBank bottles, simply place the vacuum top on, then a few pumps later and you’re bottle is ready to go into the fridge or freezer. Even if you aren’t planning to store milk for as many months as I am you still need to think about the flavor changing and nutrients being lost from being stored in the freezer in bottles or bags that contain air. If you are doing your best by feeding your baby breastmilk you want that milk to stay fresh! When you are ready to use the stored milk the storage bottles screw right into an insulated outer bottle so there is no need to transfer the milk. The MilkBank bottles have a special venting system that I’ve never seen before so that the bottles don’t leak and cause less gas. The bottles are made out of plastic that is free of BPA, phthalates and PVC. I would prefer if the bottles were glass but I still really like this system and would have loved to have had it sooner when I was packing the freezer with milk a few months ago!
You can buy MilkBank products online at BabysRUs and the MilkBank site has a store locator! BUT one lucky reader of mine can win a MilkBank system!
- leave a comment with why you would like to try MilkBank
- one entry per person
- US mailing addresses only
- contest closes on February 24th
My sister in law recently asked if I really like the products I review here and I just wanted to answer that before this review. The answer is YES because I am picky about what I say yes to review and also because if I do get something and it disappoints me I just don’t review it! Classy Kid’s Clean & Green line of products are certainly something I like and I wish I had them sooner! I am a reforming germaphobe (now that I have so many kids its hard not to loosen up on that one) BUT there are certain situations in public places that still totally gross me out. Now I have some solutions (and they are environmentally conscious so there is no guilt like with other brands), here are the products I was given and my thoughts on them:
Since my first son I have always used disposable placemats when the kids are toddlers. They are great for when kids can feed themselves but are at an age that they might throw a plate on the floor! Even if they are good with a plate I like the placemats for cheerios while we wait for our food. These ones are cute and are for coloring too so they keep your little one happy with an early snack and an activity. I like that there are 3 different designs in each 10 pack of placemats. They are nice and thick and stick to the table. They are made with biodegradable plastic so there is no guilt! Are the necessary? Well have you ever looked at the cloths that they use to wipe off restaurant tables??? YUCK!
I always thought disposable bibs were wasteful but these are made of biodegradable material! They work well and you flip up the bottom to make a pocket to catch spills. They are thin but do the job well and can fit nicely in your pocket or even your wallet. I love that the peal and stick tab to fasten it allows you to make the neck opening any size you need. I think they are made well and great for eating out.
TOILET SEAT COVER:
Okay here is my FAVORITE product from this line because without it I don’t think I’d ever let my kids use a public toilet (besides the boys standing to pee in one). I HATE the thought of my kids using public toilets so much that I use a potty seat in the minivan. With my 2 year old daughter approaching potty training time I am SO THANKFUL for this wonderful product. It is big enough to totally cover the part of the toilet kids touch. I will definitely be buying more when we run out of these! *I think the ones we have are a little different than the one is this picture, ours look like they hang lower in the front to hide more of the toilet where your kids legs are.
CHANGING TABLE COVER:
I have only used one of these changing tables once because I just don’t want to put any of my babies on one and I’m good at changing them on my lap or in the car BUT these pads are great in case of emergency for me and I need to use one of these tables. I plan to use them when I change my kids out places like on the carpet at someone’s house or in the stroller so that we don’t leave any messes.
I like that these are again BIODEGRADABLE and now that I use my cloth shopping bags (and don’t have a supply of plastic bags) I really needed these for poopy diapers when we are out. They are scented and do the job. No more stink when there isn’t a garbage nearby and I have just changed a diaper in the car AND no guilt when I have to throw out a diaper at someone’s house. These bags are very thin and don’t take up room in the diaper bag and I like that they come in a 75 count pack.
***All of these Classy Kid products come packed in zip close bags that you can toss in a diaper bag or keep in the car – very convenient and no wasteful packaging. Classy Kids makes lots of other products so here is the link to their home page too (the whole BOO-BOO Care line looks great!).
One of the best parts of doing product reviews is learning about toys that we had never seen before. Our latest product is Ridemakerz, a remote control car that you put together like a Build-A-Bear. Their website walks you through selecting the car, chassis, free-wheel or remote control, and additional parts that you can swap in and out like the spoiler, hub caps, engine blocks, and even sound effects.
Everything arrives in a cardboard box with a handle, like a large lunch box. The boys and I got all the pieces out and started following the directions to assemble the car.
The only tool you need is the one that comes with the kit. The boys had no trouble putting the tires on the wheels, but I helped get the screws started to attach the chassis and I put the wheels on the chassis to make sure nothing broke. They finished screwing it all together.
A couple things I really love about the design.
1) The engine block attaches to the hood using a magnet. Makes it so easy to swap on and off.
2) Side pipes are also easy to attach, but kept catching on our carpet so we went without.
3) The spoiler was on really tight so we never bothered swapping it for another one. This didn’t bother us though since we liked the black one better.
You will need a phillips screwdriver to open the battery compartment. I was thrilled that AA batteries were included, but unfortunately ours did not have enough juice for the car to drive on our carpet. We swapped them out for a fresh set and were ready to go. A rechargeable battery pack is an available option.
Once we had fresh batteries in I fell in love with this car. The sound effects are cool, but the working headlights and brakelights are awesome. The car is a great speed for indoor driving. Fast enough to be lots of fun, but not so fast to be out of control. Steering works great although it is almost 12 inches long so the turning radius is a bit wide for smaller rooms.
My worry once I turned the control over to the boys was our brick fireplace. I gave a lesson on how to stop and do three point turns to get around obstacles, but each crash made me jump. I was sure our review product wouldn’t last long enough for me to take pictures. Boy was I wrong. The car is made out of very sturdy plastic and after multiple high speed collisions into brick,wooden furniture legs, brothers, dad’s shoes, and numerous toys there are no cracks and only minor scuffing. It works just as well as the first drive
Here’s our car with all the bells and whistles.
For driving we went with the sleek look.
The best thing we can say about Ridemakerz is that we loved our review product so much that Santa will be bringing a second one so the boys will be able race.
I love products like this one where every detail was so well thought. I also found the pricing quite reasonable for the quality of the car and the extra features (swappable parts) that it comes with. From ordering, assembly, to driving the experience is a lot of fun.
Ridemakerz is offering $10 off orders of $30 or more. Just use coupon code 93453. Offer expires January 4th.
Looking for a last minute Christmas gift? Their shipping prices are very reasonable. 2 day Fedex is $9.50 and overnight is $16.75.
I have written about my trouble breastfeeding Jillian last month and because of that I was using a pump and bottles way more than I ever had with the other kids. That meant lots of washing and I hate washing! Even though I ran the dishwasher once a day I still needed to wash the pump and bottles by hand since I needed them so frequently. A bottle of Dapple dish liquid came at the perfect time for me and even though I don’t like doing dishes I really like Dapple. It is a product that I didn’t have to worry about using on things that went into my newborn’s mouth and one less thing to worry about was very important to me at such a stressful time! Dapple is very safe and natural, it smells good (without being overpowering or fake smelling), its not antibacterial, it doesn’t dry out your hands when you use it and IT WORKS WELL!
This is what sold me when I was offered the product to review: “The Dapple products were created by two moms with the help of leading pediatricians and green chemists. They are designed not only to be baby-safe, but also baby-specific: using ingredients found in nature that have been proven to zero in on the unique residues that babies leave behind, from dried milk on bottles to sticky fingers on toys. That means Dapple really works – without synthetic dyes or fragrances, and no harmful SLES, parabens, or phthalates.”
Dapple doesn’t just make dish liquid, there is a whole line to check out! I really love that the line is NOT antibacterial, I think people have gone overboard with the whole antibacterial thing. I want my kids’ bottles, dishes and toys clean but I believe kids need to be exposed to things to build immunity. I also have had some problems with antibacterial soaps severely drying my hands. I think I’d like to try the dishwasher detergent and the toy cleaner spray next!
I LOVE LOVE LOVE Jillian’s JJ Cole BundleMe! We were sent an Urban BundleMe to review and I hope my sleep deprived brain can describe just how wonderful it is and how much easier it makes my life with 4 kids in winter. I don’t know how I lived without a BundleMe with the other kids, its one piece of “baby gear” that I would recommend as a must have (I’d say its more important than a bouncy seat in my case!). I hate getting the kids in coats before driving to school and if I had to fuss with getting tiny Jillian into a snowsuit mornings we’d be late to school every day! With her BundleMe its like I get to put her in a warm sleeping bag every day and all I need to add is a hat and she is ready (when she is a little more active we’ll add mittens too). Because I keep her infant carseat in the house, her BundleMe is always warm and ready to go. Another huge bonus of the BundleMe is that if she falls asleep in her seat I don’t have to wake her to take off her snowsuit when we get back home (or in the grocery store or wherever we are). You won’t wake the baby when all you have to do is unzip the BundleMe and uncover her so that she doesn’t overheat. This would be great for during a long car trip too because you can uncover her without unbuckling the carseat straps and then you can quick zip it back up when its time to get out of the car. The BundleMe fits any infant carseat, we have a Combi and it works perfectly. The straps are easy to use with it and if it gets dirty it quickly comes off for washing. BundleMe comes in a larger size also for when baby graduates to a regular carseat. It is great for stroller use especially if you are walk or run year round! I am so thankful to have our BundleMe for Jillian, I can honestly say its my favorite new baby item we have and certainly makes my life less stressful. If you are pregnant, have a newborn or need to buy a baby gift I would recommend this in an instant!
*Oh I didn’t even mention how great it looks! I love the hot pink quilted outside and the warm fuzzy fleece inside. I get lots of compliments on how cute it is. I forgot something else, there is a wonderful zippered pocket on the outside where you can stash a pacifier, toy or a snack. I probably forgot to mention some other great feature (and the fact that they make an original and lite version) so make sure to check out the website and get a better look at the BundleMe and their other products!
Ever get a magnetic photo card in the mail? Thanks to the Parent Bloggers Network and Magnet Street we got these ADORABLE magnetic birth announcements so that all our family and friends can be greeted by Jillian when they get a snack from the fridge! Of course they’d be great to stick up at work too so I’m sending John with one this morning for the cabinet above his desk. This is one coolest ideas I’ve seen to announce a new baby and I’m hoping it catches on. I wish I knew about these when our other kids were born! With Ethan and Ben I went nuts making scrapbook type of announcements and it took a lot of time to do. By the time I had Jamie I just sent a photo that I added text to but even that took me awhile on the computer and it was pretty simple looking. This time I had a ton of fun designing the announcement and I was able to personalize my colors and text. It was really easy to do, I mean really easy! I actually made two different designs online and then had a tough time choosing which to get. There are so many options and lots of ways to customize them. Here is the one I picked, I kept the text the same but I changed the border color and the main color. I was very happy with how I could match the colors to my photos, it really made a big difference when I was playing around with the options and I am very proud of my creation! Magnet Street is not just for birth announcements, what a fun idea for a wedding or party invitation or a holiday card! Honestly I am so excited about these and I am almost done writing out all of the addresses so I can’t wait to mail them and hear what everyone thinks!
*Just a note, John edited out our last name for the blog image so our names are not off center.