Minecraft Holiday Gifts For Kids

The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free.  If you have followed along on my families adventure on Instagram, you can easily see that Minecraft plays a major role in Branden's life. It's one of those super cool games that I'm okay with him playing as a parent since it strengthens so many different skills and he has even taken classes for working with the Minecraft platform - it's pretty awesome in our eyes. (He has also dressed as both Steve and a Creeper for Halloween two years in a row now.) So, with Christmas "creeping" it's way rather quickly, here's what I have to say about gifting Minecraft gifts this holiday season. First and foremost, Best Buy has so many amazing assortments of Minecraft games and collectables to choose from, there is something for all the kids in your life no matter what stage in the game they are. We've been spending an awful lot of time at Best Buy lately because my computer crashed and I've been working with Geek Squad, so I've had lots of time to peruse their selection. Not sure what Minecraft is? Minecraft is a game about placing blocks and going on adventures. You get the chance to explore randomly generated worlds and build amazing things from the simplest of homes to the grandest of castles. You can play in Creative Mode with unlimited resources or mine deep in Survival Mode, crafting weapons and armor to fend off dangerous mobs. Do all this … [Read more...]

Smart Music For a Smart Baby

  Being a full time work from home mama is super, duper tough stuff. Yes, my schedule is more flexible and no, I don't need to have a babysitter full time (yet!), but my days are still a balancing game. When Branden was a baby, I had more time to give him undivided attention, and he definitely excelled because of that. Sometimes, I worry about Blake not getting my full attention to start educational activities, so being introduced to the Nuryl music app put my mind at ease, at it has so easily been integrated into our daily lives for a smarter future. There have been so many studies done (including this one from University of Washington's Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences) that link together the role music plays in how smart babies can become and it makes perfect sense to me. We noticed really early on that when we played music, any music for Blake on Pandora that it instantly made her happy and calm and when we found Nuryl, it just took things to a whole new level. (Follow along on Instagram this week where I will be sharing behind the scenes of our experience using Nuryl!) The Nuryl music app can be easily downloaded on your phone for free, but there is an annual subscription for $89.99 or monthly subscription for $9.99 - totally worth it! The program was developed by Rick Beato, a classically trained musician. It is a music immersion program, specifically designed to improve cognac development for babies still in the womb to age two years … [Read more...]

The Easy Pillsbury Holiday Cookies You Want This Season

This post is sponsored by Pillsbury. As always, opinions are my own.  Spoiler alert: I'm not much of a baker. I know. Gasp. All the noises. BUT, that doesn't mean that I don't love doing it. In fact, baking is probably one of my favorite things to do with Branden (and I hope that Blake joins in next year!) - especially around the holidays. I will say this though, nothing complicated in the baking (or cooking for the matter) department for this girl. I'm all about simplicity so that I can focus on more time with the ones I love most, which is why my holiday baking always these easy Pillsbury holiday cookies. These easy Pillsbury holiday cookies may not look like much, which is why making them in a total stress-free experience - but holy crap they taste amazing. The secret is buried deep within the flawless, turns out perfect every single time Pillsbury sugar cookies and this icing - or is it actually icing? Read on to find out, you just might be surprised! So before I share my secret icing ingredients, I want to tell a little backstory about our holiday baking. If you follow along, you know that I'm from Pittsburgh and almost every year we travel there to spend the holiday with my family. So that we can spread the baking love, we always bring cookies that we bake with us for the holiday and share Christmas eve with everyone. My parents host Christmas eve at their house, we we fill plates will loads of sweet treats and these super easily Pillsbury holiday cookies are the … [Read more...]

A Very Minted Holiday

  Every year I try to add at least one new thing to our home to help make it a little bit more magical around the holidays. We have a holiday tradition that Santa always brings 1 ornament of Branden each year, (which we will start for Blake this year), but I knew I wanted some more gold and a few updates to our regular decor. So, last year, as we packed everything away after new year's, and I promised that I would try to update a little bit more than just one thing - I was just plain sick of our current decorations. So keeping my promise with myself, we updated this year with Minted holiday decorations. You have seen how we worked with Minted on our living room decorations here and birth announcements here, so you know how much I love this brand for unique gifts that are always Eco-friendly and breathtaking. I seriously get the most wonderful compliments every time I purchase from their site and each product is so deserving of all the lovely remarks. Even Blake was ecstatic about how fun it is to get into the holiday spirit! Prepping for Christmas is always a big deal for our family, so with the help of Minted holiday decorations we added a few special things to our decor this year. I'm really obsessing over these Wintry Mix Gold Foil Pressed Ornaments. They come in packs of 3, are very lightweight and do some serious twinkling. We just love how they made our tree look this year! Boy did our tree skirt need updating! It was that thing that has … [Read more...]

Only The Best

This post was sponsored by WaterWipes as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own. We find ourselves saying it over and over again in new parenthood: "only the best for my little one." It couldn't be more true because this is really something that we all want when exposing delicate skin to anything and everything that will be touching it. But whenever you are busy running in and out of the store picking up baby essentials like wipes and diapers, and there are so many options - what do you choose? With little Blake's arrival, we made the choice to use chemical free wipes by WaterWipes from Walmart. It's so important to me that we protect these kiddos from everything bad in the world. With a new baby in the house, I have to say that we think about protection in a completely different way. She's always being covered with hats and blankets as we go outside and I have no problem removing her from a situation where someone is smoking in public to shield her from those chemicals, but her skin is something that I focus on every single day of our lives. After all, skin is our largest organ and there is so much focus on what's being put into the body that we often forget about what's being absorbed. What makes them so special? WaterWipes are chemical free wipes that are literally made of only two ingredients: 99.9% pure Irish water and 0.1% grapefruit seed extract. Unlike many products of it's kind, WaterWipes are … [Read more...]

The Mom’s Guide to Taking the Stress Out of Car Buying

  Stress and motherhood go pretty much hand and hand, right? As much as we try to take time for ourselves to chill out, there is just no erasing the amount of worry, to-do list, and thoughts that go through our heads on a daily basis. Adding car shopping to the mix and that stress level rises to it's max- but it doesn't have to be that way. While I can't promise to take all of your stress away, I can promise some easy ways to take the stress out of car buying. My husband bought his first car whenever we were dating, but not married yet, so I didn't need to deal with much there besides act all excited whenever everything worked out in his favor. The second car was when we were married and one expensive mistake that I was not there to witness. The third car, which I discussed when I knew it was time for an upgrade, is our Camaro that's just way too small for our growing family. Now, I have a voice in it all and the financial decisions that have come with being older and wiser are definitely a cause for stress in the process. How to Take the Stress Out of Car Buying It is possible. Here's how I'm trying to calm myself down. Do your research. I can't stress this enough. Know what is out there, know what upgrades you are interested in, know what color you want the car to be - everything. Seriously. Talk with your partner ahead of time and come to resolutions together on anything you may be at odds about and squash it. You want to walk into the car dealership … [Read more...]

Mom on the Move

This post is brought to you by Luggage Online and The Motherhood. All opinions are my own. I've been planning our latest vacation in my head for a while now. Since being pregnant over the summer and paranoid about the zika virus, we stayed local. Now, I'm ready for a vacation filled with sun, sand and many pina coladas. Vacations obviously mean different things to different families. Some like to go warm places, some cold, some like to relax while others like to be on the move - and you have to make sure you do what works best for your family instead of what someone else tell you that you should be doing. Here are some lessons learned while traveling that I will change next time around. Lessons Learned While Traveling For the perfect family vacation - learn from my mistakes! 1. Make sure your luggage is organized and in good condition. Two summer's ago, we completely neglected this when traveling to the beach and when we went to get our luggage out of the closet, it was ripped open - and it only got worse. This time, we have learned our lesson and got rid of the old stuff and bought new pieces from Luggage Online, where we found pieces for the whole family that are affordable and most importantly - super durable. Why do we love them so? They offer FREE ground shipping on all orders $99 or more (we always spend more!), they offer a 110% low price guarantee (which means I don't have to waste time shopping around) and we always find everything we need, whether it's … [Read more...]

The Ultimate Guide to Babywearing Like a Pro

  Babywearing is my life. We did it a tiny bit with Branden, but I knew being a city mama this time around that it was going to be a way of life for me this time around. Babywearing is how I get around the city, as we only use the stroller whenever my hubbs is there to help us carry the beast up and down subway steps. But it's also so much more than that as I cart her around the house in it, too. Babywearing has become a way of life for me and now I want to share my ultimate guide to babywearing like a pro so that you can master and benefit from it, too. So first things first, you need to find the right baby carrier for you. There are SO many different ones out there now that you really need to do your research to narrow down what works best for you and your partner. For us, we wanted something that was gender neutral since both my husband and I would be using it (he automatically vetoed any kind that was a wrap style) and I wanted something I felt secure wearing. For me, the wrap style made me a little bit nervous - but that's just me! I also wanted something that could be worn on the front or back and was lightweight, so we settled on the Baby Bjorn Air One in Silver. I have to admit that I was a little bit nervous strapping her in and wearing it for the first time (so much that I made Chris wear her on our trip home from the hospital, which you can see a picture of HERE), so I recommend playing with is a bit before putting baby inside. The … [Read more...]

When You Feel Like Motherhood Got The Best of You, Remember This

  Monday was a day I took the world on and won. Tuesday I gave up at noon. Wednesday was a day I texted my husband reaching out for some major help - texting through tears because I was overwhelmed. We were both tired, I knew that, he new that - and I needed him to push through his exhaustion and just be there to take over things that I just couldn't that day. And of course he was there for me, no questions asked. You could say that motherhood got the best of me and you would be 100 percent accurate. I'm the kind of person who writes her to-do lists for the week every Monday and if a day comes where I begin to get behind, anxiety starts to swell within me. Monday, I kicked that to-do list's butt and even squeezed in a shower and a workout. I felt like I could take on anything. Then evening crept and I started to feel that chill creep within me and knew I was starting to get sick. Tuesday I got up and got writing that I owed my editor turned in, but not without a struggle. I was achy and had the chills and Blake would not go down for a nap. So we fought with sleep all morning and every single time I went to put her down, she of course woke up. I looked at the clock at 12:46pm and said "screw it." I placed her in the bed next to me (which I never ever do) and took a nap next to our little sweetie. So needless to say, I woke up Wednesday morning frazzled with a to-do list a mile long. And that's when it all really hit me. Crap. I still wasn't … [Read more...]

The Most Beautiful Birth Announcements {Giveaway}

  I'm behind. Again. I guess this is what happens when you have another baby, or what some refer to as "second child syndrome." Either way, I had it all together whenever Branden was born and I only had to focus on him and now poor little Blake is lost in the shuffle between school bus pickup and writing gigs. Whomp Whomp. Well, our little princess finally has had her birth announcements printed thanks to our friends at Minted and I am beyond obsessed. (Keep scrolling for a chance to win $150 to Minted for yourself!) I'm sure that you remember the beautiful pictures from our Newborn Portrait Session With Christina Marotto Photography - this one was one of my top MANY favorites. View the full image below, absolute perfection! Again, I can't recommend Christina enough, if you are looking for a newborn photographer - she's your girl! (You can contact her through her website HERE.) In the midst of a world where technology has pretty much taken over, I love to be super traditional about things like birth announcements, thank you cards and we always send out a family Christmas card each year. I think it's nice to have something tangible instead of electronic. Anyways, I fell in love with these Minted Modern Glow Foil Printed Birth Announcements while I was pregnant and saved a screen shot of them in my phone - they are just so beautiful and seriously do twinkle because of the rose gold foil print. (They also make the "thank you card" version you can … [Read more...]