SOCIAL MEDIA

12.15.2016

Toffee Bar Recipe

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You guys enjoyed my mini smores recipe so much that with the holidays approaching, I wanted to share my other go to sweet treat recipe- Toffee bars!  I have been making these during the holidays for years.  They are easy to make, require no fancy ingredients and are so, so good!!!!  Enjoy!

12.10.2016

Family Photo Time!

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I don't know about you but I always agonize over what to wear for family photos.  This year, I knew it was going to be chilly out so I started off with Ava's Hatley Pea Coat that I bought off Amazon last spring in a great deal.  From there, I found Ryan's sweater from Children's Place which incorporated a few different colors and our red, blue and ivory color scheme was born! My sweater was one I have had for years and poor Alex is usually a "day of" decision. I think things came together and despite it being FREEZING the day of our shoot, I was happy with the results!


Thanks to Teresa G Photography for our awesome pictures!


11.28.2016

Let's Ride a Train

One of my favorite experiences as a parent is experiencing things with my kids for the first time.  Ryan loves Thomas the train but has never actually rode on a train.  We decided to take the kids to local state park that has an old train ride.  It is fairly short and inexpensive so it is perfect for first timers (including a restless toddler)!

The kids had a blast and I think Alex and I had just as much fun watching the world through their eyes!


11.15.2016

Baby's First Visit to the ER

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Ava was crawling at 6 months, walking at 10 months and was running around full force shortly thereafter.  She is my little "ninja warrior" and although I am constantly telling her to slow down, she doesn't seem to want to listen.  A couple days ago, one of my biggest mom fears came true.  

Ava was running around our living room and I heard a familiar "thump."  Generally, A is a pretty tough girl.  This time she cried hard so I  ran over and picked her up.  There was a nasty cut on her cheek.  Insert mom freakout. It was one of those moments where I didn't feel fully qualified to be responsible for another human being.  How do I know what requires an ER visit?!?!  


After a few frantic texts to friends (complete with pictures...sorry guys!), I brought her in and after a quick exam, I learned my poor baby needed a few layers of stitches.  As a mom it was absolutely heartbreaking to watch them stitch her back up but she was a total trooper.  After the procedure when we were waiting to be discharged, she even took a nap on me.  I couldn't remember the last time Ava slept on me so I laid back and enjoyed the sweet moment with my baby girl.


We left with Doctor's orders of ensuring she won't run around for a few days (uh, ok) and not letting her sleep on that side of her face (does he realize she is ONE??  I'll be sure to tell her that).  She is now back to herself and sporting tough looking bandage!  


I can now check this off my list of "things my kids have done to give me a mini heart attack." I deserve glass of wine!


11.06.2016

My Early Toddler Favorite Products!

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The response to my Infant Product Hits and Misses post in my deal group was awesome!  I loved our discussion on what you all agreed with and didn't agree with.  Now that Miss Ava is 17 months (where did time go?! ) I figured it was time to update you all on the products we have been loving these days from 12-18 months.  For your buying pleasure (the holidays are right around the corner) you can go straight to the product on Amazon by clicking the picture at the bottom of this post- there are some AWESOME deals so check them out!  Enjoy!

Step2 Push Around Buggy- Every cool kid needs a cool ride and Ava sure does have one.  We gave her the buggy for her first birthday and she has been obsessed.  One of my favorite things is pushing her along while my son rides his balance bike.   She gets a huge kick out of it and cruises contently driving along.


Zoli Bot Straw Cup- I tried a LOT of straw cups with my kids.  This was the winner with both kids when it came to transitioning from a bottle to a straw cup.  Disclaimer: it does leak out the top occasionally due to the pressure (especially in warmer months) but I still love it.  It seemed to be a perfect early learner cup and I preferred it to all the others I tried (Nuk, Munchkin, etc).



Mega Bloks- My son got the First Builders Bag of Mega Bloks for his first birthday and he has loved them ever since.  From towers to houses to cars, we have gotten our money's worth from them.  It is really fun seeing my daughter showing interest in them (and I can feel like super mom building her motor and problem solving skills).  These are one of those "must have toys" in my book!




Ball Pit (and 200 balls)- Best.purchase.ever.  Both my 3 year old and 17 month old are OBSESSED with this thing.  I have rotated it out for a week at a time and every time I bring it back, it is guaranteed to keep them occupied for enough time to allow me to make dinner!  Why didn't we have these things when we were kids?!?!

(note: this was with 100 balls, I eventually added another 100 )

Dinosaur Train Dino Bones Tunnel- I decided to buy this after both my kids seemed to love the tunnel at my daughter's kiddie gym.  To say it is a hit is an understatement.  I liked it from the second I opened the package and it didn't smell like so many toys do.  It is very well made and extremely durable.  They love crawling around in it, putting toys in and doing other random things that keep them occupied while mama sits and observes.  This is a MUST have!


Board books....so.many.board books.  My daughter is obsessed with books.  Her favorites right now are Moo Ba La La La and Brown Bear, Brown Bear What do you See.  Those two books account for around 75% of our book reading.  While, reading the same 2 books may get repetitive, it does have its advantage that I don't actually have to look at the words anymore since I have them memorized.  Plus, books make kids smart, right?! :)


Gazillion Bubbles Machine- I bought this after I posted it in my group.  I was nervous because reviews seemed mixed but I am SO happy I picked it up. Both my kids LOVE it and there is something truly magical about watching your kids run around with looks of joy on their faces while popping bubbles! :)


Skip Hop Utensils - One of my most dreaded tasks as a mom has been introducing utensils to my kids.  Meal times become messy and drawn out. Through trial and error with my son (poor first child), I learned that the plastic utensils are more difficult for them to use than stainless steel ones.  I picked these up for my daughter and LOVE them! They are wide at the handle so it is super easy for her to grip.  I now have 3 sets and mealtime is a little less painful.


Ava's Picks:




11.03.2016

Potty Training: What Worked for Us

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I don't think there have been 2 more dreaded words in my experience as a mom as these two: potty training.  I felt like it was the SAT's of being a mom- how the heck am I supposed to teach a stubborn 2-3 year old how to abandon something he knew and was comfortable with and do something different?!  It seemed impossible and I felt like I was screwing things up constantly. Thankfully, I passed the test and my kid is now potty trained (MOM WIN)!  
In hopes of helping someone else who finds this whole potty training thing totally intimidating, here is how things went down with us. Disclaimer: I am by no means an expert and I fully expect things with my daughter to be totally different.

At 18 months, I got Ryan the Lil' Loo Potty. It was inexpensive and felt like a prepared super mom ready to tackle potty training.  Riiiiight.  Funny thing was, Ryan wanted absolutely nothing to do with it. Sometimes he would sit on it fully clothed, occasionally he would sit on it before bath time but mostly he just yelled "NO!" when I made the horrendous suggestion of sitting on it.  I wanted the potty to be a positive thing so I never pushed it.  It sat lonely and unused in the corner of both our bathrooms.

I also picked up a few books about potty training.  My favorite was Once Upon a Potty because it explained EVERYTHING.  My son, for whatever reason, absolutely loved The Potty Train.  It is a little cheesy but he loved it.  It got him asking questions about underpants and relating the potty to himself.  Others that were in the rotation were Prince of the Potty and Potty Superhero: Get ready for big boy pants! We read a LOT of potty books....



As Ryan's 3rd birthday approached, he still wanted nothing to do with the potty.  While his classmates were slowly all becoming trained, he had still never gone in the potty.  As much as I tried to keep the "I am going to be so casual about this" attitude, I was getting antsy that he would still be in diapers in college.  However, I saw signs of readiness- he loved his potty books, he asked for underwear so I made a big deal of taking him to the store to pick out some (he picked Paw Patrol), and he would wake up dry some nights, pee and ask to be changed.  I deemed him ready.  Whether he liked it or not, it was time. Hellllp me....
Ryan's school had a week long February break approaching so I decided we would do the 3 day "boot camp" style method.   I had prepped him the week before by saying things like "on Friday, we are going to give your diapers away to Ava!  You are big now so you get to use the potty!"  (not sure if this is the right or wrong thing to do, it worked for us).  Friday morning came and he helped me collect all his diapers and we "gave" them to his little sister.  Let the fun begin...


Day 1 aka "I know it is 8am but can I start drinking wine now?"-  Day 1 SUCKS. Sorry but it does. After getting dressed and doing a big celebration of him wearing Paw Patrol underpants, I made a point put him on the potty every 20 minutes to try to go.  I also made a conscious effort to ask him if his underpants were dry in between so that it was on his mind. My rationale was that this would remind him that he needs to be aware of if he needs to go.
I learned quickly that he was afraid of the potty and was going to hold it as long as he could.  By mid-morning, I could tell he was uncomfortable but still fighting it.  I was ready to google "can my kid hurt himself from holding pee?"  Then IT HAPPENED! I never thought I would get so excited about pee.  I was jumping up and down...and he was crying.  He had a couple accidents that day and I did a pull up at naps/night.  By bedtime, I was exhausted and definitely poured myself a nice glass of wine as a reward to myself for surviving day 1.


Day 2-way better.  One accident, some resistance but he was getting it. I also employed a little bribery when it came to going #2 on the potty.  He didn't do it but the cookie was waiting if he did.

Day 3- NO ACCIDENTS and we even decided to ditch the pull up at naps!!!  I was shocked that by day 3, he was accident free!  Going #2 was a different story as he was holding it but eventually he had no choice but to go in the potty (also earning the cookie motivated him somewhat).

The first day back at school, Ryan had an accident on the way to the potty but other than that, 3 days was all it took for us! I stopped with pull ups entirely after about 6 days.  It is important to note that he went through a period where he was wetting the bed at night about 6 weeks after we trained (confused the heck out of me) but I cut off liquids an hour before he went to bed and that solved the problem!

So that is our story!  Potty training did suck but it wasn't as bad as I thought. I really am a believer in waiting until they are ready because he seemed to catch on seamlessly and I (thankfully) didn't have to deal with many accidents at all.  We will see how things go the next time I have to do this but I am hoping it is as easy as it was my first time (yeah, right).

Here are my 8 potty training essentials that helped in our journey...


After a good discussion in our group, here are some additional suggestions that PinkRoseMama readers had!
11.01.2016

All About Amazon Subscribe and Save!

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I often post subscribe and save deals on my Facebook page and group.   Since discovering it, Subscribe and Save has essentially taken away the need for me to go to bulk stores like Costco.  I buy so many of of my household products, baby food, beauty products and more through Subscribe and Save!   I no longer have to lug a giant bag of dog food or wrangle a giant thing of paper towels while carrying bags of groceries into my house!  These things are now delivered right to my door!

Halloween 2016

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It is hard to believe another Halloween is in the books.  Halloween is one of those holidays that seems to get better and better as the kids get older!  My little fairy and scary dinosaur had such a great time trick or treating and mama had an awesome time watching them get me candy go house to house.  Just wanted to share a few pictures from our day! 

We participated in the trunk or treat at R's school.  While other parents had elaborate themes, dressed in costume and played downloaded Halloween music, my theme was "I went to Target at 8pm the night before"


The weather actually turned out to be really nice and was perfect for trick or treating!


 Sadly, the dinosaur head did not make it past our walkway but that was ok.  Ryan cracked us up exclaiming "I got CANDY!" after each house.  I love the pure excitement of this day!


Another successful holiday is in the books!  I hope you had a great one, too!  
Bring on Thanksgiving...


10.15.2016

October Is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month: My Story



While I was pregnant with my son, I was terrified of becoming a mom.  Would I be a good mom?  Would it be hard?  Would I be enough for them? Would kids change things completely? So.many.questions. The entire pregnancy, my mind raced and I was more scared than I was excited.  Sure, I took the obligatory pictures, swooned over ultrasound photos and enjoyed the fuss but my excitement was only to a point because I knew my life was going to change and that scared the crap out of me.

Then Ryan was born.  I fell more deeply in love than I ever could have imagined was possible.  Motherhood was so much better than I anticipated and my little guy brought so much joy to our lives.  I couldn't wait to do it again.  While I had always said I wanted 3 years between kids, I quickly went into baby fever mode and wanted another asap.

My husband and I started trying to conceive #2 when Ryan was 15 months old.  While I was nervous to add another to the mix, I was excited.  I couldn't wait to have another and I couldn't wait to try for that VBAC birth that I had missed out on with my emergency c-section with Ryan.  I couldn't wait to be pregnant and feel the movement, go to the ultrasounds and spend 9 months in anticipation of this little person I knew I would fall in love with.

I found out I was pregnant on my second cycle TTC.  With Ryan, I found out really early- 8 days past ovulation.  This time, it took a bit longer and I got my positive at 12 days past ovulation.  Still, I was thrilled.  I had a dentist appointment that morning and I remember excitedly answering "I'm pregnant!" when they said they needed to take x-rays.  We joked that they were finding out before my husband since he was at work and my plan was to tell him in person later that day.

I went to the store later that afternoon and bought a big brother book.  I'm pregnant!!!!  I could hardly contain my excitement when my husband came home.  Once he had settled in, I had my son take the book to him- "Ryan has a new book he wants you to read him" I said.  It took a moment to register but I still remember the look on my husband's face as he realized what it meant.  Finally, he said "really?!" with a grin.  We hugged with my son in the middle and it was an amazing moment.  My heart was full.

I had continued to take pregnancy tests (because I am a paranoid freak) and the lines never seemed to get darker.  Google didn't help but I still downloaded pregnancy apps on my phone, joined a March internet birth month group and brought all my pregnancy books down from the attic.  This pregnancy was going to be different I will allow myself to be excited. When I was about 6 weeks pregnant, I took another digital pregnancy test just to ease my mind.  Not pregnant.  I started bleeding the next day.

I was crushed.

An early loss is tough.  On one hand, you feel guilty being so devastated because you never made it to an ultrasound.  You didn't have that first appointment.  There are people who were much further along than you and lost their pregnancy.  Despite all those thoughts, the emotional pain was almost unbearable those first couple days.  All the excitement, the planning (and oh, I had planned), and feelings of happiness came crashing down.  I was shocked at how well I WASN'T. I knew we would try again, I knew it was early and I knew we would have another...but at the time I didn't want another baby.  I wanted that March baby.

The pain subsided and we tried again.  We conceived Ava 2 cycles after my loss.   I told my husband while standing in the kitchen instead of in some cutesy way like I did with my other 2 pregnancies.   Her pregnancy was more guarded. While I had always been on edge in the first tri, this time was different.  I knew the pain a loss would cause and I was terrified.  Thankfully, everything went smoothly with her pregnancy, but I always wonder about the "what ifs" of my March baby that wasn't meant to be.

October 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.  I share this story with you all because many people don't share their story of loss with others, especially if it is an early loss.  I grieved alone because not many people even knew of the pregnancy.  So, to any of you mamas who have gone through a loss, I am so sorry and I want to give you all a great big virtual hug.  You are not alone.


9.22.2016

Is this how it will go?!


Oh man- another hiatus from blogging!  Fire me!  No, please don't!  Summer came and went and I neglected this space on the web...again!  I really hope to get on more of a regular schedule one of these days but my Facebook group is flourishing and my kids are keeping me on my toes!  

What have we been up to??

Took a family beach vacation

Both kiddies started at preschool. Mama gets 2.5 hours to get stuff done twice a week!



Lots of family time.  I am so sad to see summer come to an end but excited for all the fall activities!

Thanks for checking in and make sure to check me out on Facebook!  I have been much more active there these days! LINK

7.11.2016

Meal Delivery Showdown- Hello Fresh vs. Green Chef vs. Blue Apron vs. Home Chef

This post may contain affiliate links.  Read full disclosure here.

For those of you who follow my deal group or Instagram, you know that I am obsessed with getting meal box delivery services!  No, it is not take out- it is a big 'ole box with ingredients and recipes sent right to your door.  You then channel your inner Martha Stewart and prepare them on your own. Fresh, home cooked meals that could very well be take out but with minimal effort beforehand on your part! Recipes generally take 30-40 minutes to prepare and you are provided with step by step instructions (with pictures)!

There various services out there and I get so many questions about the differences that I decided to order a different service each week over the course of a month so I could compare.  In full disclosure, these all were boxes I paid for-this is NOT one of those reviews in exchange for free items.   

Here is a showdown of Hello Fresh vs. Green Chef vs. Blue Apron vs. Home Chef!  

Hello Fresh


Meal Selection- You are able to choose from 5 meal choices.  User friendly to select and somewhat varied selection.  I do wish there were a few more choices. I also wish you could preview the recipes.  My husband and I like white meat chicken but there was no way to make sure we were getting white meat in our recipes.  I selected 2 chicken meals and one was dark meat, which neither of us particularly like.


Hello Fresh website's menu selection

Organization- I LOVE the way Hello Fresh organizes!! You get 3 small boxes with all ingredients in them with the exception of meat.  They stack so nicely in the fridge and have labels on the outside so it is easy to grab and get started!



Recipe- All 4 services have very similarly laid out recipe cards. I found Hello Fresh's recipes to be fairly easy to follow although a couple recipes seemed as though they had left out steps in between.  The recipe card was the smallest, which I wasn't a fan of.


Food: Yum!  Meals were easy to assemble with a different twist on them.  I don't think I would necessarily pick out the meals that we made but I was glad we had a chance to try them.  We were definitely taken out of our comfort zone. Ingredients were fresh and we liked that we had a Jamie Oliver guest chef recipe!


Green Chef


Meal Selection- Um, there was none.  You selected your dietary preferences and they selected your menu for you.  Not a fan of this.  At all.

Organization- Items came loose but color coded by stickers on each item.  I suppose I could have organized it better when unpacking but I did not.  I ended up spending a bit of time searching for things before I started cooking.


Recipe: 
Recipe was easy to follow and pictures were really helpful.  I liked that the ingredients were bolded so I knew just what to get for each step and didn't miss anything.


Food: We LOVED that the ingredients were all organic.  Everything was very fresh and the recipes were very out of our comfort zone.  That being said, a couple were waaaaay out of our comfort zone and not something I would have selected had I had a choice.


Blue Apron


Meal Selection- I was not impressed with how Blue Apron structures meal selection.  While you have a choice, they make it so that certain combinations of meals are unavailable. For example, I did not want the fish meal but did want a certain beef meal.  If I selected the beef, I had to choose the fish.  If I unselected the fish, my option for the beef went away.  Very annoying.

Screenshot of my Menu Selection from the Blue Apron Website.
Note the dreaded "Combination not available"

Organization- My least favorite of the 4.  All ingredients came loose with a sticker on it.  Nothing was color coded or organized otherwise. I ended up spending (wasting) time searching for ingredients before making each meal.


Recipe- I found Blue Apron's recipes the least user friendly.  While other services bolded all ingredients (so you knew which items to grab) BA only did this for some steps.  Some directions were unclear and I would have to re-read.


Food- Meh.  One recipe was ok, one was not very good and one was terrible.  You know it is not good when your husband eats half his meal then elects to pour himself a bowl of cereal after.



Home Chef


Meal Selection- The best!  So.many.choices.  11 meals, a smoothie option and a fruit add on!  This is by far the best meal selection.  None of the others even compare because you get so many choices with Home Chef.

Screenshot of my Menu Selection from the Home Chef Website.

Organization- Ingredients come bundled in a large clear bag per meal.  Everything is portioned and labeled.  Although it takes up more storage space than Hello Fresh's boxes, it is just as easy to grab and start cooking!


Recipe- No complaints.  I found the recipes easy to follow and not complicated at all.  Home Chef lets you know how difficult they are (easy, medium or expert) so I always did the easy ones when my kids were being extra needy.  Even the expert ones were very user friendly.


Food- LOVE!!! Home Chef was the only one that I was legitimately sad when I took my last bite because I didn't want the meal to be over.  Spoiler: I have gotten Home Chef a few times since the one I did for this review and my husband always says things like "this is the best thing you have ever made" or "this is just as good as going to a restaurant." SOLD!  

Wine not included...sorry!

The Final Rankings

1. Home Chef
2. Hello Fresh
3. Green Chef
4. Blue Apron

In my opinion, Home Chef surpassed every other service out there on so many levels- food, ease of recipes, ordering and selection.  Hello Fresh came in a close second and I preferred how they package their food but it doesn't sway me enough from declaring Home Chef the overall winner!  

The Deals

Want to try them for yourself?  Here are some deals/referral links for the services!

Home Chef- Get $30 off your first order when you use my LINK
Hello Fresh- Go to Hellofresh.com and use code 3A9ZTF to get $40 off your first order
Green Chef (all organic)- Groupon for $35 for your first week (reg $89.94)
Blue Apron- Groupon for $29 for your first week (reg $59)