Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Celebrate Christmas with Oriental Trading this Year!

We received free product to facilitate this review. No other compensation was received. 
All opinions expressed are our own.

'Tis the season for decorations, crafts, gift giving, and so many other good things! I have always been excited to celebrate Christmas but this joyful season has taken on a whole new excitement with young children in the mix! I always turn to Oriental Trading as I prepare for holidays and Christmas is certainly no exception.

Oriental Trading has crafts, party supplies, gifts, and more to help ring in the season and get you in the holiday spirit! Our Christmas shopping spree included Christmas tree ornaments, crafts, gifts for family and friends, home decorations, and even goodie bags for our holiday cookies.

I'm always pleased with the variety, quality, and affordability of Oriental Trading products. Here are some of the goodies we chose to help get us ready for Christmas this year!

I fell in love with this Vintage Christmas Tree the moment I saw it on the Oriental Trading website. When it arrived at my home, I loved it even more. It is adorable and added the perfect, simple, Christmas touch to the shelf above our front doorway.

We added these fun Christmas Goodies Ornaments to our tree this year. Reminiscent of all our favorite holiday treats, this set of 12 resin ornaments comes with colorful, glittery ornaments in the shapes of cupcakes and decorated sugar cookies. 

We are always looking for new craft ideas around here and the holidays are the perfect time for crafts - to use as both decorations and gifts! There is no shortage of holiday craft ideas, supplies, and kits available through Oriental Trading. 

This craft that my daughter has spent hours working on so far, is a life-size, cardboard, playhouse! Our Color Your Own Santa's Workshop is still not complete, but our goal is to have it fully colored and built by Christmas Eve! This little girl who loves imaginative play is so excited for this new fun house to play in with her newly crawling baby sister. This playhouse even has windows and doors that open and close. We can't wait to see the finished project!

We've also been hard at work coloring these Color Your Own Christmas Ornament Bulbs. These plastic bulbs open and close easily to reveal a two sided snowman picture for coloring. This pack of 12 ornaments is plenty for us to decorate our own tree and gift some colored masterpieces to friends and family!

The Beaded Christmas Tree Ornament Craft Kit comes with all the beads and pipe cleaners necessary to make 12 super cute and festive ornaments. I adore these. They are so easy to make, with just the right about of fancy! They make for a fun activity, and a great gift!

Stickers, stickers, stickers. It's become a tradition for us to get new Peanuts themed stickers for each holiday! The Peanuts Christmas Stickers were a perfect addition to our Christmas card mailing this year and they have, of course, made their way onto many a note or picture for school friends. These stickers are fun, festive, and come in a roll of 100!

I am so grateful that my sweet 6 year old daughter loves gift giving as much as I do. Before Christmas vacation every year since she was 3 years old, she has requested to bring cookies to her friends and teachers at school. This year is no exception. Oriental Trading has a huge assortment of seasonal goody bags. These Snowman Goody Bags will be perfect for our cookie gifts this year!

She also plans to gift her friends some Mini Gingerbread Men. These sweet little vinyl toys look just like the real thing (keep out of reach of the little littles!). They are so cute and I think my daughter is right that her friends will adore them. There are 48 little decorated gingerbread men that come in this set so I'm guessing she'll be giving each classmate a few. Aren't they the perfect little gift?

The selection of festive and fun holiday items available through Oriental Trading will not disappoint! Whether you're looking to decorate, find a creative gift, or craft with your kiddos there are a variety of affordable options to choose from. Christmas is right around the corner but it's not too late to order your holiday goodies from Oriental Trading today!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Mother Nurture: Treats for Mom, Nutrition for Mom & Baby

This post was sponsored by MomSelect and Mother Nurture. All opinions expressed are my own.

I'm almost at the nine month mark breastfeeding my youngest daughter. When I think back on how difficult the first few weeks were, I'm in awe at how far we've come - how natural it feels to breastfeed now - and how amazing that we've been able to reintroduce so many previously allergenic foods to both my and her diet. I can't think about this breastfeeding journey without being in awe of the fact that one person can provide life-sustaining nutrients to another. The fact that what I eat and drink gets passed along to my baby to help keep her healthy and strong is incredible. That's why it's so important that nursing moms stay committed to keeping themselves hydrated and snacking on nutritious things. The benefits to baby are real.

Mother Nurture is a new solution to prenatal and postnatal nutrition for moms. Their line of chocolate truffles (yes! chocolate truffles!) and enhanced waters combine two things that all pregnant and nursing moms need - nutritious ingredients and delicious taste! What a treat to not have to choose one of those things over the other!

I'll be honest - I was excited to try Mother Nurture products, but I was skeptical as well. I've tried "delicious" pre- and post-natal "treats" before and have found the "pre- and post-natal" part of the description to be stronger than the "delicious treats" part. I tried Mother Nurture expecting that I'd get something a little tasty with a lot of vitamin-y flavor. You know what I'm talking about - that grassy, grainy, powdery, medicinal taste that comes along with supplement-type foods and beverages.

So, my opinion after trying Mother Nurture? These treats truly are delicious - not just palatable. It's not just "okay, yeah, vitamin-chocolate...", but more like, "Wait. Did they forget to put the healthy stuff in?"

Mother Nurture Enhanced Chocolate Truffles come in two delicious flavors - Milk Chocolate and Dark Chocolate Raspberry. They are rich, creamy, and full of chocolatey deliciousness. They are also full of nutrition for mom and baby - folic acid, DHA, calcium, and vitamin D. They are non-GMO, gluten-free, kosher, and contain all natural ingredients.

Mother Nurture Enhanced Waters come in three delicious flavors - Tropical Splash, Mixed Berry, and Pink Grapefruit. These delicious drinks encourages pregnant and nursing moms to stay hydrated while providing a boost of folic acid, calcium, vitamin B12, and choline. They are non-GMO, allergen free, and made with all natural ingredients.

Growing babies - while in the womb and out - is hard work. Treat yourself! Although neither Mother Nurture product replaces the nutrition received from prenatal vitamins, they both provide beneficial nutrition and truly are a treat you'll look forward to enjoying regularly.

Visit Mother Nurture's website to learn more and purchase some goodies for yourself today.

Find Mother Nurture on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Monday, October 10, 2016

October is RSV Awareness Month: Learn About RSV Symptoms and Prevention

This post was sponsored by AstraZeneca as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central. 
All opinions expressed in this post are my own.

My oldest daughter was born in the summer and it was more than a year before she got sick for the first time. I didn't quite know what to expect this past year when I had a baby born in the winter. My youngest was born in February and despite my best efforts to keep her healthy, unwanted germs entered our home and before I knew it, I had a very sick baby. Just 7 weeks after she was born, we were in the pediatrician's office with nasal and chest congestion and a fussy baby that could hardly eat because she couldn't breathe through her nose. She was wheezing, and our pediatrician, along with a nurse and nurse practitioner spent two hours trying to stabilize her oxygen levels. Normal is 100%, acceptable is in the 90%'s. We were sitting steady at 80%.

Infant airways and lungs are so tiny and so fragile and I learned through our experience that it doesn't take much for a baby's illness to escalate to the point of not getting enough oxygen. Thankfully babies - and their lungs - are incredibly resilient. Still, it's scary. As parents, we need understand what's happening, when to seek help, and what we can do to attempt to avoid it.

October is RSV Awareness Month, a great time to learn about what RSV is and how to prevent it. RSV - Respiratory Syncytial Disease - is more common than you might think. In fact, most babies will contract RSV before the age of two. Thankfully, it's not nearly as common for symptoms to become severe enough to require hospitalization. RSV is a seasonal virus that typically shows it's ugly head between November and March. It's the leading cause of hospitalization for babies in their first year of life.

We did everything we could think of to try to avoid illness in our baby, but with an older child who was unknowingly bringing germs home from school, it wasn't too surprising that despite our best efforts, we ended up with a sick baby. Thankfully we had a team of people that helped her to get well really fast and our hospital stay was short and sweet. We're hopeful that we'll make it through this RSV season without another hospitalization and we'll be sure to do what we can to prevent it - frequent hand washing, keeping baby away from crowds and young children (especially those with colds) as much as possible, washing toys and bedding often to get rid of any stowaway germs, and of course, avoiding any exposure to cigarette smoke.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Halloween Headquarters at Oriental Trading: Costumes and Candy and Crafts, Oh My!

We received free product to facilitate this review. No other compensation was received. 
All opinions expressed are our own.

One of my favorite parts of this time of year is that there is a holiday to look forward to every month for the next several months! We're always counting down the days to something at this time of year. Right now, it's Halloween!

It's so exciting to enjoy fun holidays alongside my children. My six year old starts planning her Halloween costumes on November 1 each year for the following year. She usually changes her mind about 24 times before October 31... usually for the last time about 4 days before the big day, but every idea is super exciting and magical to her, so we just go with it!

This year, as soon as we hit the official first day of fall, we were ready to celebrate! Decorations, costumes, candy, and fun. We were ready for Halloween early this year - thanks to Oriental Trading!

Halloween Headquarters at Oriental Trading has absolutely everything you need to celebrate this year. Whether you're in the mood for festive or spooky, looking for a costume, some decorations, toys, crafts, or even candy, Oriental Trading has you covered. With a huge selection and affordable prices, you won't be disappointed. 

These Jack O'Lantern Dry Erase Stickers are great for decorating your home for the fun occasion! The set comes with one blank pumpkin and two more partially decorated ones just waiting for your finishing touches before hanging.

Our new Peanuts® Halloween Bowl is filled with Black Cat Character Suckers and Mini Swirl Pops. They are cute and something different for us this year. Usually our bowl is full of traditional chocolate favorites. Oriental Trading has those as well, but we went with lollipops this year and loved the look of these. Of course, we've taste-tasted them, and they were winners in that regard too!

Since we've spent much of this year dealing with some food allergies in our youngest, we were glad to see that Oriental Trading has stocked their shop with lots of non-food Halloween treat options. We ordered a Teal Pumpkin this year in honor of food allergy awareness - to signify that we'll have some non-food treats to offer to kiddos who may not be able to eat all the candy. 

We've filled a second treat bowl with these adorable Halloween Bears and Jack-O-Lantern Rubber Duckies. The vinyl bears really are the cutest and they come in sets of 48. My daughter has already gifted one to each of her classmates and we still have plenty to give away on Halloween night! These treats will be a fun option for any visiting kids who may not be able to eat our candy offerings. Most likely, we'll let everyone take one, because who could look at these cute faces and not want one?!

No holiday is complete without stickers, right? Actually in our home, no day is complete without stickers. These Peanuts® Halloween Stickers are great for the season and my daughter has been loving creating crafty cards for her friends with these. The roll comes with 100 assorted stickers.

We've also been doing some seasonal crafting with this Halloween Witch Clothespin Craft Kit. I adore these foam craft kids from Oriental Trading. They are so easy, mess-free, yet totally adorable and very fun for little crafters.

Perhaps most excitingly for this time of year, Oriental Trading has tons and tons and tons of costume options for both kids and adults! If there's something you have in mind, Oriental Trading is sure to have it. And if you just can't think of what to dress up as, Oriental Trading will give you some great ideas!

My daughter has decided to be an angel this year and Oriental Trading had the perfect costume for her. This Angel Costume with Wings & Candle is simple, sweet, beautiful, and perhaps most importantly, practical. I wasn't sure that I would love these feather wings but I do! They look fantastic and really fancy this costume up. You never know what the weather will be like around here on Halloween, but often it's a night to break out the winter jackets. This white angel dress will fit over whatever jacket we use. The only downside to this costume is the lack of halo, but we'll be able to make one of those without too much difficulty. Here's a costume sneak peek... I'm hoping she doesn't change her mind!

I know some of you might be surprised that we're not dressing at Shopkins this Halloween! For all you Shopkins fans, rest assured Oriental Trading does even have a costume for you! Strawberry Kiss and Cupcake Queen are full of glittery goodness, so if Shopkins are your thing this year, Oriental Trading has you covered.

We were so excited for Halloween this year as always, and even more so now that Oriental Trading hooked us up with everything we need for a great night. Check out Halloween Headquarters at Oriental Trading for anything and everything you need this year!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Canobie Lake Park - Summer Fun Year After Year!

We received complimentary admission to Canobie Lake Park to facilitate this review.
All opinions expressed are our own.

Our family just simply can't get enough of fun day trips in the summer! Amusement parks are always a favorite for our six-year-old thrill-seeker so we typically try to hit up as many as possible once school gets out. This year, with a new baby slowing us down just a bit, we cut our amusement park list down and chose our favorite - Canobie Lake Park - for some good old summer fun.

Canobie Lake Park is conveniently located in Salem, New Hampshire, just a little ways off of Route 93 -  an easy drive from most anywhere in New England. Parking is free and although you can't bring any food or drink in with you, the park is full of meal and snack options, so it's easy to arrive early, leave late, and spend the entire day making memories with your family!

I've been frequenting Canobie Lake Park since I was a kid. Someday I should dig through old photos and get one up on the blog! This park has been around for a long, long time... long before me! 

Canobie Lake Park is full of lots of family friendly fun. There are rides and activities for everyone - no matter their age or stage! This was our first year having two children with us at the park and our first year bringing an infant so my focus was a little bit different than in years past. 

Knowing about my options for breastfeeding at the park was at the top of my list of priorities. Canobie Lake Park allows breastfeeding throughout but also offers a cozy nursing room if privacy is preferred. I was able to find a shady spot at a picnic table under a tree during our family lunch but chose to check out the nursing room later in the evening when my baby was maxed out on stimulation from the crowds. It was such a nice space with a rocking chair, changing table, sink, and a locked door, only accessible with a key that can be obtained from an employee at the front of the park. It was exactly what both my baby and I needed to quietly unwind at the end of a long day.

Another focus for me this year was food allergies. Canobie Lake Park does not allow food to be brought in but they do have tons of dining options within the park. With a nursing infant struggling with sensitivities to multiple foods through my milk, I needed to know exactly what allergens were found in the foods that were available so that I could find something good to eat! My expectations were low and I was so pleasantly surprised! I was able to obtain a food allergy guide at the front of the park which listed every food option at every dining facility and which food allergens, if any, it had. Once I found something I was interested in, I was able to go to that dining area, share with them my dietary restrictions and view the packaging of the items I wanted to eat so that we could all confirm that they were safe. I was treated with the utmost respect and sensitivity - and I had the most delicious lunch!

Much to my oldest's excitement, we spent a bit more time than usual in the water portion of the park this year! The crowds are intense in this area on hot days, but the kiddos have so much fun! We had uncles and grandparents with us this year so plenty of playmates to help her manage the crowds.

Whether you're looking for water fun, roller coasters, a train ride, or some fun live music, you'll find it at Canobie Lake Park. Truly - there's something for everyone!

We can't wait to head back to the park again next summer for more fun!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Dolls, Accessories, and Loyal Pals from Our Generation

We received free product to facilitate this review. No other compensation was received. All opinions expressed are my own.

We've already shared with you our love of Our Generation Dolls from Battat. We love the quality and style these affordable 18" posable dolls with accessories, clothing, and options galore! We have several of these dolls and they - no surprise - love to play together! 

Our newest friend is Celeste. Her long blonde hair is beautiful and she comes with a shirt, vest, pair of pants, underwear, sandals (jelly shoes!), and a hairclip. We love that each of these girls comes with clothing and accessories that are interchangeable. Our six-year-old loves to mix-and-match the dolls and their clothes.

Besides dolls, Our Generation has a large assortment of Loyal Pals - animal friends for your doll (and your child!) to love and care for. There are dogs, cats, and horses of all different colors, shapes, and sizes. 

Celeste came to us with the Lusitano Horse. This horse is all about the hair! Sometimes I (like all moms, I'm sure) cringe when I see dolls and animal toys with long hair. The horror of those unruly tangles haunts me in my sleep. We haven't had the tangle horrors with these dolls or this horse! 

Besides coming with a saddle, top strap and bridle, this beautiful horse comes with a comb, a colorful hair extension, 2 ribbon extensions, a hair bow, hair gems, and hair elastics. Also included is a book of instructions for creating amazing hairstyles! 

The Lusitano Horse is the perfect size for Celeste and her friends. She's made of high quality hard plastic that makes her really easy to groom and bathe with a wet cloth. My six-year-old daughter, our horse lover, has spent hours on this task - washing her body and then styling her hair with all the included accessories.

You'll see that Celeste changed her clothes before her ride. Here she's wearing the Well Groomed Deluxe Outfit Set and is ready to go! This outfit set is sold separately. Our Generation has a huge variety of outfits for all sorts of occasions, so whatever your child's favorite activity is, there's sure to be a way to customize their doll to match! These clothes are easy to change and really make doll-play fun.

We knew we loved Our Generation before we met Celeste and her Loyal Pal, the Lusitano Horse, and our feelings are even stronger now! We love the quality, affordability, accessibility, quality, and style of these products. And, of course, we love that for every Our Generation doll, outfit, or accessory sold, a portion of sales goes to Free The Children's Power of a Girl Initiate to help provide girls in developing countries and education.

Read more about the Our Generation Story and find these great toys at a Target near you.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Shopkins Birthday Party with Oriental Trading

We received free product to facilitate this review. No other compensation was received. 
All opinions expressed are our own.

Summer time means birthday time in our house! Our oldest daughter turned six years old this summer! Last year we had the most amazing summer birthday pool party with the help of Oriental Trading. It seriously was AMAZING. No exaggeration. It was so perfect - weather, snacks, party favors, friends, everything. Maybe it was a little risky for us to try to duplicate that party this year...

Not surprisingly - because it's hard to get perfection twice - the weather forecast for this year's pool party took a turn for the worse about a week before the big day. Cold, cloudy, rainy. Needless to say, we had to change our plans and move the party indoors. Thankfully our daughter had chosen a theme that could work for both an indoor or outdoor party! I had encouraged her to choose a "pool-ish" theme again this year, but when she studied the Oriental Trading website it was no surprise that she chose Shopkins.

I'll be honest, I was shocked with the amazingly fun variety of Shopkins themed items that Oriental Trading has to offer! We were able to pull of a fantastic Shopkins birthday party for our six year-old that she and her friends are sure to remember for a long time!

We stocked up on Shopkins dinner plates, dessert plates, and napkins. Shopkins Photo Booth Props doubled for decorations, along with some colorful streamers and Shopkins theme printables colored by the birthday girl herself.

This party was planned in full by the birthday girl. Knowing the things she and her friends love, we started our party with a Shopkins egg hunt! Each friend found one egg with a Shopkins friend inside for them to keep!

We set up crayons, markers, and colored pencils in these perfectly sized and colorful Neon Storage Bins with Lids and had a great time coloring Shopkins themed printables. These bins were perfect for this occasion but we actually use them on an ongoing basis too, to keep the crafting area of our playroom organized and ready for creativity. They are good quality plastic, include covers, stack perfectly, and are obviously perfectly colorful! You'll notice the Shopkins Tablecloth - it was the perfect decoration for our crafting and eating area. The Shopkins themed printables we used for coloring are available for free right on the brand's website. 

This Shopkins cupcake topper came from Oriental Trading's Shopkins Cake Decoration with Candles Set. My daughter insisted on having it to add a little something special to her birthday cupcake. It comes along with 8 colorful candles and truly was a nice touch to our birthday treats.

We never have a party around here without fancying up the drinks so water bottle labels were a must! Creating your own water bottle labels is so easy and fun. Feel free to check out my DIY Water Bottle Label Tutorial! We used our favorite free printable template and added Shopkins Stickers from Oriental Trading. Didn't these turn out super cute?

The Shopkins Photo Booth Props were a huge hit at this party! It's funny - I was nervous about how these would hold up at our outdoor pool party and almost didn't get them for that reason. I'm so glad we added them to our birthday list because they were so much fun at our indoor party and would have been if it had been outdoors too! We set up a photo booth with a basket of these props and took tons of pictures with our friends. Everyone's favorite Shopkins were included in the set. The photo booth made for such a fun party activity and a souvenir to remember the day. We took pictures of the birthday girl with each friend and then printed and used them for our thank you notes. What a fun memory!

Party favors were a mix of Shopkins themed and pool party themed since we were originally intending an outdoor party. From Shopkins Stickers, to Shopkins Tattoos, to Shopkins Pencils, and even Shopkins Bracelets, Oriental Trading has Shopkins goodies galore! I love that Oriental Trading party favors are so affordable and there are endless options for whatever party theme you choose! My daughter and her friends were thrilled with this years' treats.

We had lots of leftover goodie bags from last year's party. Oriental Trading sells these perfectly sized, quality, and super colorful Assorted Plastic Bags in a 50-pack for a steal. If you haven't picked these up for your parties, I highly recommend it! They will last you a long time!

We had such a fun time celebrating our birthday girl this summer! There's no better way to celebrate than to surround yourself with your favorite things - family, friends, and Shopkins! Oriental Trading was the perfect place to find everything we needed to pull off a great kid's birthday party!
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