Category: Product Reviews

Sago Mini

sagomini-banner

S. and I knew from day one we wouldn’t keep Mike from glowing screens. We agreed that while we live in a technology based world and our son should be a digital native, screen time still needed to be limited and purposeful. Do we use the iPad or Disney Junior as a babysitter? Yes, occasionally. Let’s face it – sometimes a sure-fire distraction is necessary for survival. But do we keep an iPad in his crib or channel surf on a Saturday? Absolutely not.

We started looking at apps that were free, but quickly found that we got what we paid for – either an eventual purchase or something that didn’t interest our discerning child. Also, we were less than thrilled with the non-stop advertising.

Luckily we found the answer we were looking for in the Sago Mini, a cool and creative collection of apps for toddlers and pre-schoolers. (Full disclosure: We purchased our apps at full price and were sent free downloads by Sago. But hopefully you all know me well enough to know it’s going to take a lot more than a free app for me to recommend a product.)

Sago Mini apps are not free; they run about $2.99 each and are worth every penny. We have built our library to approximately five games so far, but I use the word ‘game’ loosely because there is no end goal, no level, no rewards. The apps are more based on free play and discovery.

Mike’s current favorite (and ours too!) is a simple one called Space Explorer. With his chubby little finger, he drags the space dog round the galaxy where robots, stars, aliens, and the moon are encountered. At each stop, something happens to the dog – the alien hugs him, the robot sings, the stars disappear. There is no set course or a right or wrong way to go. Mike, by way of the dog, simply glides around space seeing what there is to discover.

Mike’s other Sago Mini favorite is Monsters. This one is slightly more structured than Space Explorer but still allows him to follow his own plan. A monster appears on the screen and has to be dressed, fed, and have his teeth brushed (something Mike is strongly opposed to). After all that is completed, the Monster’s picture must be taken. It’s a simple app that leads to lots of giggling when Mike decides to brush something other than the Monster’s teeth. I confess that after the Monster eats, he burbs, causing Mike to laughs like a crazy man before he politely says “excuse me”.

Sago Mini’s company quote really sums up what they are working towards and have successfully achieved so far:

“The scandal of education is that every time you teach something, you deprive a child of the pleasure and benefit of discovery.” – Seymour Papert

I can’t praise Sago Mini enough for creating unique, simple apps for toddlers and preschoolers. Because I have become so enamored of their products, I contacted them with a compliment. Much to my surprise, they thanked me by providing five free downloads. That’s what I call good customer service! Enter to win one of FIVE free downloads this week below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Huggies Wipes to Save the Day!

We are patiently waiting for the day when Mikey is out of diapers, but one thing we will keep in our home until the day we are too senile to ask our great grandkids to restock them is baby wipes.  I don’t claim to be a label snob, but since Mikey was born, we use ONLY Huggies ® One & Done ® and here’s why:

Triple clean technology – It sounds fancy, but these babies are THICK. So you don’t need to worry about ickies touching your hand, whether it’s from cleaning up a spill or the *ahem* traditional use for baby wipes.

Smell – While I love the baby powder smell, I am always happily surprised by the sweet smell of cucumber and green tea.

Convenient – I never thought I would ever be saying this, but one of my pet peeves is when I pull out a wipe and instead of just one, I pull out half the pack. I need to be able to tug, snap and have in my hand exactly one wipe. Huggies ® One & Done ® meets this need every time.

I also love Huggies wipes because they did this:

PicMonkey Collage

Our little artist managed to get dry erase marker all over the throw pillows. After a few swipes with Huggies ® One & Done ® wipes the evidence was gone! Playtime should be fun right? Imagine all the places you could need Huggies wipes to get out stains – the office, the car, the garage, even your purse!

Check out Walmart’s video “101 Uses of Huggies Wipes” and let me know if they missed anything!

 

Well Hello Fresh!

I’ve seen so much hype around subscription boxes lately, I even tried RocksBox a few months ago and loved getting mail. So when my Momma and Sister-in-Law started raving about HelloFresh, I was cautiously interested. Here’s how it works:

Each week I log into my account and chose 3 meals out of the 5 they are offering. All the ingredients are surprisingly fresh as the name would lead you to believe. To be honest, the meals are not what I would normally pick if I was looking through a cookbook, but that’s half the fun. Did you know I like Tilapia? Me neither!  It also guarantees that my family is eating 3 healthy meals a week – which as a family with working parents is a huge win.

On Friday, when I chose my meals to be delivered, I come home to a well packed box with 3 bags. Each bag contains the measured ingredients  for each meal and a recipe card with pictures and detailed instructions. When I am ready to make a meal, I just pull out the recipe and bag and get started!

Each dish can be prepared in about 30 minutes and is more than enough for 2 people, and you can upgrade to 4 people if your family is bigger or you are having guests. Meat-free house? No biggie! They have veggie boxes too. The food is also kid friendly and Mikey is at the perfect age to instill a love of vegetables.

PicMonkey Collage

It’s really nice to know that I have everything I need to make a meal. While I do my best meal planning and shopping, it was inevitable that I would go to make chicken for dinner and be out of chicken. Everything I need is right there from HelloFresh (but stock up on butter, oil and oddball utensils like a garlic press and zester). Here’s some of the meals we’ve had:

Parmesan Crusted Chicken with Tangy Balsamic Potato Salad
Pan-Roasted Salmon with Mustard-Butter Bean Salad
Roasted Pork Chops with Onion Gravy & Rosemary Mashed Potatoes

Did I mention that each week is $69 and you are not locked in? Each week I am able to see what the menu is either opt in or opt out. I love not committing based on our tastes, schedule and budget.

The only downside is you still actually have to make the meal. But if you HAVE to make dinner (and Child Protective Services likes to know kids are eating), HelloFresh is the easiest and healthiest option. Want to try HelloFresh? Use this link to get $40 off your first box. I bet you couldn’t buy ingredients for 3 fresh, healthy meals for $29.

I signed up and after my first week, I told HelloFresh I was going to do a review, so they gave me a free week to try. They can’t afford to pay me for a good review, so I gave them an honest one.

What’s Under Our Tree?

Someone is going to have a super fun Christmas this year, and anticipating that means S. and I will have a blast as well. Last year Mikey was six months old and we were trying to convince him to crawl. Now he is 18 months old and we are trying to convince him to sit down for 5 minutes.

We’ve talked for years about how our holidays would look and it was agreed that gifts would never be the main focus. But man, it’s hard. There are so many things that Mike would LOVE. It’s hard not to go overboard.  Also, a toddler’s interests are as fleeting as a snowflake. I made a call to Santa to make sure we didn’t double up on gifts, and he gave me a list of what he is going to be bringing Mike. Along with our gifts – here is what will be under our tree this year:

xmas

{Wheelie} This is really a Hanukkah present, but one of my favorite finds. When we went to Chibis they had a few of these, and he loved ‘driving’ it around. Plus, he is into carrying tall things – windshield scrapers, brooms, umbrellas and his corn popper.

{Nerf Balls} S. picked this set out for Mike in hopes of encouraging an athlete who will make lots of money when we are in our old age. Not really (but really), but what toddler doesn’t love throwing things? At least these are soft.  I also like that S. picking out one gift is fast becoming a tradition.

{Twilight Turtle} This is a baby shower staple I didn’t register for, but is going to be the gift I picked out for Mike. Since we are moving a few weeks after Christmas, I thought it might be a nice, calming bedtime ritual that will help ease the transition.

{Books} Of course we got Mike a bunch of books and not because we want to encourage him to read – he has that down pat. I was excited to combine two of his favorite things: The Itsy Bitsy Spider and finger puppet books. We also got him a few Curious George books as well.

{KidKraft Toolbench} I had no idea there were so many tool bench options out there. This one got great reviews and seemed on par with our budget. I think Mike will really like having his own ‘station’ to stand at and do ‘stuff’. In his head he is doing important things, I am sure.

{B. Parum Pum Pum Drum} This kid. If he can hit it and it makes noise, he is going to beat on it. This is SO darn cute with all the shakers inside.

{VTech Touch and Swipe Phone} Mike has already mastered the touch and swipe on our devices, so why not get him one of his own? This was originally a stocking stuffer, but I think it would be better wrapped.  Last year we got him a Fisher Price Flip Phone. It’s time to upgrade, dontcha think?

What’s under your tree?

Rain Drops on Roses

I was laying in bed this morning thinking of all the things I love right now. That’s normal right?

I decided to channel my inner Oprah and compile a list of my favorite things. And guess what? Most are in your budget. How much are bright copper kettles going for these days anyway?

fav things

{Peapod Grocery Pickup} I have always enjoyed grocery shopping, but I’ve been so busy that taking two hours out of my weekend seems like too much. Enter Peapod‘s grocery pickup. I’ve seen this concept for awhile and decided to try it out. I downloaded the app, entered our list and sent it to our local Giant for a pickup window that worked for my commute home. Last night was cold and rainy, but I pulled up to the sign, called the number and a [poor, underpaid] employee came out and loaded up my car. So stinking easy and only $5 charge. BUT I saved a lot of money on not impulse buying in the store.

{Spark of Amber Bracelet} When Mike was teething we used an amber necklace because of amber’s healing properties. I am not 100% sure if it worked, but anyone with a teething baby understands that parents try crazy things to help. Amber is the only fossil resin containing 3 to 8% of succinic acid which acts as a major therapeutic substance to the human body so many adults also wear amber jewelry for their ailments (I make no claims that this is true). Spark of Amber sent me their Mother’s Bracelet (complete with Mike’s, S’s and my birthstone) to try. I’ve been wearing it for a few days and feel calmer. Perhaps it’s just in my head, but either way – being calmer helps! It is also a reminder of those I love. It makes a great gift for a new parent!

{Snack and Play} We travel quite a bit this time of year to my parent’s house which is about three hours. Mike has decided he doesn’t want to sleep in the car anymore, he much rather throw his books and Wubba on the floor and then cry. What’s a parent to do (aside from move closer like we are)? Buy a Snack and Play Travel Tray. It’s genius. It snaps around the kid and is a soft tray with a lip. Throw some Goldfish on there, unpack the crayons … it all stays on the soft tray. Unless your kid is a thrower of course. It even has pockets on the side for extras. If you are a family on the go, you need this product. Star Kids sent me this product for free to test, but they didn’t pay for my review. 

{Serial Podcast} It is no secret my love of podcasts, but this one? This is amazing. It’s hosted by Sarah Koenig and from the creators of This American Life, hosted by Sarah Koenig. Serial follows one true story over the course of a whole season. They follow the plot and characters and no one knows what happens at the end of the story until they get there. This season (the first one) is based around a local murder from 1999. I could tell you what happened, but after listening to the podcast so far, I am not sure myself. All I know is a 19 year old was arrested for murdering his girlfriend and was sentenced to life in prison, but the facts don’t totally add up. It’s REALLY well done and worth the binge listen.

{Gilmore Girls} I have never seen the popular teen dramedy Gilmore Girls. Shocking right? I am not sure how I missed this because I now know it is right up my alley. I mean, a fast talking, mother and daughter team, living in a place where it is always autumn, overcoming odds while always being in a love triangle? It’s like my life story. But not. I have been binge watching on Netflix and so far it everything I hoped it would be and more.

In Case of Emergency

Now is the time of year in the DC Metro area when the weather becomes a bit of a problem. The rest of the country makes fun of us for shutting everything down the minute the weatherman calls for flurries, but it’s honestly for the good of the people. Though we are a transient area, not all of us know how to throw on snow tires and drive 10 over the speed limit safely.

This is also the time of the year when I get over paranoid and over prepared when it comes to keeping our cars stocked with necessities. I am convinced we need to have at least two weeks worth of supplies on the floor of the backseat (you know, so when we are stuck in the snow and can’t get to the trunk). Perhaps I am exaggerating the two weeks, but it’s pretty damn close.

Also, as a parent, an emergency is not what it used to be. Mike having a major meltdown in the car seat because it is past mealtime is an emergency. Realizing I forgot to put more diapers in the diaper bag is an emergency.

car

Here’s what I am keeping in our cars (in this handy bag):

{Diapers and wipes} These should probably be in the car anyway, just in case.

{Bottles of water} Bottles of water tends sit in my car anyway since we are too lazy to bring it in with groceries and too forgetful to remember.

{Snacks} These are probably used the most on days when traffic is bad on the way home from work and I am starving. Thankfully Mike’s snacks double as Momma’s snacks. Goldfish anyone?

{Book and distraction} Waiting for a tow truck with a toddler? A book and small toy are a good choice to keep him occupied.

{First Aid Kit} We bought some pre-made, but make your own with band-aids, alcohol wipes, first aid cream, etc.

{Hand sanitizer} Because kids are gross.

{Glass cracker/seatbelt cutter} Driving over the Bay Bridge regularly it has crossed my mind that I might have an accident and go off the edge. I am prepared for the worst!

Now is a great time to print out or update your car seat emergency sticker too!

TDCLBlogtober14– 10 Things I Couldn’t Live Without

Today’s DC Ladies prompt is about the 10 things I can’t live without. I could easily tick off Diet Coke, Blissoma Stress Relief Serum (how have they not made me a brand ambassador yet?) and my knock-off Toms, but this blog leans more towards parenting (I can’t bring myself to call it a ‘mommy blog’ yet), so how about ‘10 Things I Couldn’t Have Lived Without for the Past 16 Months‘? It’s a long title, but it is what it is. And I probably have mentioned a few of these before in my Registry Must Haves post, but they are SO worth mentioning again.

top10things

 

{Teething Necklace} The concept of a teething necklace is amazing. Especially if you ‘wear’ your kid regularly. It kept Mike busy chewing while I working and I didn’t have to worry about him ruining my ‘good jewelry’ (harhar) or swallowing a bead. I am a big fan of Chunky Potatoes because they are really well made and pretty enough to wear around without looking like a frazzled Mom with tacky jewelry.

{Pinch Guards} Mike’s favorite thing to do right now is open and close doors and open them again. We are moving in a few month and didn’t want to buy a ton of childproof door locks and in some cases (like his bedroom door) we didn’t mind if he went in and out as he pleases. But we worry about his little fingers. Enter pinch guards. A stupid simple, cheap solution. They are foam, slip on the edge of the door and keep it from closing. Plus they are easy on and off.

{Burts Bees Multipurpose Ointment} Have you seen the Frank’s Red Hot commercial where the old lady says she ‘puts that shit on everything’? Well when it comes to BBMO I put that shit on everything. Diaper rash, dry skin, dry lips, everything. Even if you don’t have kids, buy this – I even slather it on me! It’s like petroleum jelly without the petroleum (apparently that’s bad) and the icky smell and feel. That tub lasts freaking forever too.

{Summer Infant Video Monitor} This is a case where S. was right. I poo-pooed a video monitor since we lived in a small apartment, but it has been such a blessing. We can see when Mike is mumbling in his sleep, if his diaper leaked and even listen to him when he is playing alone in his room. It was worth the investment AND the Summer Infant model we got is on the low end and has worked perfectly.

{Baby K’Tan} If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram you know I love me some baby wearing. I don’t do it as often anymore since I am not working from home with a baby, but I recommend it to everyone I know. While Moby is a popular brand (I haven’t tried it, so I don’t have an opinion), I recommend the Baby K’Tan. It is 2 pieces and really easy to put on, stick the kid in and take off solo. There isn’t a lot of room for error. Also, I am a plus sized momma (size 18/20) and the XL fits me perfect.

{Wubba Nubba} Oh Wubba Nubba. While other kids were starting to wean from their pacifier, Mike was discovering his. I might be in denial, but Mike doesn’t seem too addicted, we can easily take it away from him, but for now he loves it. I am not about to defend my 16 month old and his Wubba. They are hard to lose too!

{Ergo} Before Mike made an appearance I found an Ergo on Craigslist dirt cheap and now that he is getting bigger and heavier, it’s our carrier of choice. It is easy to maneuver solo and Mike is comfortable in it. It’s worth the price point because it can be used for so long. Also, the Ergo company is amazing – they do a lot of social good and have a lot of resources for their products.

{Fisher Price iPad Protector} Shall we debate how much ‘screen time’ kids should have? No? Good. Mike has a normal amount of screen time on the iPad playing lots of fun games, but money doesn’t grow on trees. Every time he presses on the screen I hold my breath. Thankfully Fisher Price heard our gasps and created an iPad protector. Now, I need to say, it is a flawed product – you need a coin to open it, you can’t manage the volume or the home button (hint – flip the iPad around in the case). However, it’s the best thing on the market. You can drop it, push on it and yes, drool on it without incident.

{Homedics Sound Spa} Have I talked to you about Sleep Sense by Dana Olbeman? If not, you are lucky. I really want to invite her to Thanksgiving dinner. That woman is a saint. A SAINT! I digress. So Sleep Sense mentions getting a noise machine to help with sleep and Homedics has a great one. It has a variety of sounds and a timer. The best feature is it is PERFECT for travel. It can run on batteries and slide right into the diaper bag.

{Medicine Bottle} It’s amazing how the smallest thing makes the biggest difference. Mike wasn’t a fan of any liquid medicine and we tried everything. It was like wrestling an alligator. We stumbled upon a medicine bottle and ta-da! We fill it, put a few drops of formula and he is none the wiser. Granted, he has gotten much better with medicine in a dropper, but I am not tossing our medicine bottle supply any time soon. And at $2.50 get a couple.

What did I miss? Anything you couldn’t live without?

TDCLBlogtober14 – Current Obsessions

The DC Ladies want to know about my fall obsessions, but really all my fall obsessions are just, well, obsessions. I mean, yeah. I like pumpkin lattes, falling leaves and sweaters, but what else is new? How about we just talk about my 10 current obsessions.

obsession

{Podcasts} I’ve always talked about my craptastic commute and my undying love of podcasts. I work for a great company, but my office is SILENT. We are the satellite office and the technology department, so the AC and keyboard taps are all you hear. My podcasts, specifically the Mike O’Meara Show, Dear Mattie and Truth and Iliza keep me company. What are your favorites?

{Infused Water} Drinking water is about as much fun as being water boarded. I finally dove into some Pinterest boards and made a few mason jars of infused waters. Wow! I am loving having a big ole quart of water with pretty peaches and kiwis floating about. I am for sure drinking more water these days AND wearing a path in the carpet between my desk and the bathroom.

{Atkins Candies} Did I mention we are back on the Atkins low carb living train? We fell off and then said train backed over us. Me specifically. It’s still the first week and I am not sure how much I’ve lost, but I’ve FELT better and that’s what matters. Sugar is my vice and the Atkins Candies really fill that void. It’s a pretty sizable bag and they taste JUST like ‘real’ M&Ms!

{Boogie Wipes} Who said Boogie Wipes are for babies? I have a huge pack at my desk, a travel size in my car, another huge pack at home and I use them constantly. They are soft saline wipes for runny, sore noses. Grape scented of course.

{Lane Bryant Tanks} I seem to wear a cami every day and I LOVE Lane Bryant’s Smooth Stretch Cami. I’ve been really disappointed lately with LB’s offerings AND price point, but these are worth every penny.

{Watching Mike Play Alone} I am going to blog on this later, but I love watching Mike play alone. After a day at daycare with his friends he seems to really need some time alone and S. is great about giving him that (since he does pickup and has about an hour before I get home). There is something really cool to see how his imagination works and what he THINKS he should be doing with toys. It’s hard not to correct him on ‘how to play’ (who knew?) but it is vital to his independence and creativity.

{Jane the Virgin} Have you seen the CW’s new show Jane the Virgin? It’s so cute and has a great storyline. Even S. likes it!

{Stylus Pens} Now that I am using my iPad at work I picked up a few stylus pens from the Dollar Tree. The price was right and turns out I actually LOVE these pens! They write nicely and are convenient.

{Method Bodywash} I love Method brand and even though their body wash is a little more than I would spend I deserve something that smells awesome. Right now I am lathering up with the Kelly Moss scent. I am pretty sure you can only get it at Target.

{Essie Sleek Sticks} If you follow me on Instagram, you will know that I scored big at the Dollar Tree (do you see a trend?) a few weeks ago and found some Essie Sleek Sticks nail stickers. These retail about $10 at beauty stores so I stocked up. I am not usually a fan of the nail stickers but these are really nice and easy peasy.

#TDCLBlogtober14 – It’s in the Bag

I have so many purses, tote bags, big ones, small ones, new ones, old ones – yet I only use about 4 on a regular basis. I have three in rotation now depending on the situation. A Vera Bradley crossbody for when I am solo, a Thirty One Cindy Tote for when I am out with the kid and a Dakine Anya bag for work. I keep them all stocked with the necessities and just move my wallet. I did a blog post awhile back about what’s in my diaper bag a la US Weekly style, so I was excited when DC Ladies asked bloggers what is in their bag.

 

whatsinmybag

 

1. Dakine Anya Tote: This bag rocks. It is made by an active outdoor company, so it is really durable and the print is ‘calm’ enough for a professional. I also like the multi-strap option – I can do a cross-body messenger style, or use the shoulder straps.

2. Great Bites Mints: These are my mints of choice because of the fun packaging. Plus one will kill bad breath for hours. You’ve been warned!

3. Erin Condren Life Planner: I am in love with this massive life planner. I can’t go to work without it even if I don’t have to check it daily. It’s pricey, but worth it for what I need. Stay tuned for a review in a few weeks!

4. Blissoma Stress Relief Serum: Remember HeadOn? I was obsessed with that stuff as a chronic headache sufferer. When I got pregnant and couldn’t take Advil Migraine we discovered HeadOn was discontinued. S. did some research and ordered me some of this magic. It zaps my headaches, smells amazing and is organic. It goes everywhere with me.

5. Wooden Teether: Last Christmas we got Mike a wooden teething ring with his name on it, because why the heck not. I can honestly say he never used it, but it goes with me in my bags. I am not sure why, but it is comforting to have something of his with me during the day.

6. Emerald Cinnamon Almonds: We are back on the low-carb eating train so almonds are a necessity. I pretty much have them stashed everywhere and LOVE the cinnamon variety. It gives me a sweet taste while keeping me on track.

So, what’s in your bag?

Nellie’s All Natural Giveaway

I don’t give a lot of thought to laundry detergent. Someone asked me if I was going to use Dreft for Mike’s clothes when he was born which left this first time Muddling Momma confused – does that mean I have to wash his clothes separate from ours? Ain’t nobody got time for that!

I try to go all natural with cleaning products when I can, but you always read somewhere that they aren’t as ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ as they seem. Which led me to Nellie’s All Natural. For years I have used other organic, grocery store friendly, brands and they did okay – but even the non-scented had a scent. The first thing I noticed about Nellie’s (after the super cute tin container) was the lack of scent. Maybe I don’t want to smell like a tropical rain-forest after a thunderstorm or a beach on a humid summer day.

products_laundrysoda

I am really impressed that Nellie’s Laundry Soda has practically nothing in it yet still does a great job getting clothes clean. . I am not even sure what SLS or SLES are, but who cares? It isn’t in Nellie’s All-Natrual.

  • Hypoallergenic
  • Gluten Free
  • No SLS or SLES
  • No GMO’s
  • Chlorine Free
  • Phosphate Free
  • No animal testing (Leaping Bunny Certified)
  • Dye free
  • Non toxic
  • Paraben Free
  • Formaldehyde Free
  • Ammonia Free

After a few ‘trial’ washes, our clothes were clean, stains were gone, no one smelled like a Caribbean thunderstorm. Also, no one got weird rashes. Nellie’s All Natural Laundry Soda  has a fan for life!

Nellie’s All Naturals and I teamed up and we are giving away a tin of Laundry Soda. It’s really easy – just comment on this blog and tell me where your clothes get dirtiest. A commenter will be picked at random on Friday, October 3rd.

And we have a winner! Thanks everyone for your sharing your messiest adventures.

Capture

 

Yep, you guessed it. This post is sponsored. They might have offered the product, but I offered my honest opinion. This post also might have affiliate links. I might get a small kick back, nothing that will let me quit my day job and nothing that will raise the price for you. You’ve been warned.