Tuesday, December 15, 2015

12 Reasons I Love Netflix... and a giveaway! #StreamTeam

As a member of the Netflix #StreamTeam, I'm so happy to be able to experience and share amazing info about Netflix with you each month.  Mind you, when I'm not posting on twitter, instagram, facebook, or on here about it, you can bet Netflix is always in use in my house.  So what better time of year to share with y'all my very own, in no particular order...


12.  The amount of money we save by not having cable! We cut the proverbial cord, two years ago and haven't looked back. Netflix sealed the deal for me.

11. Binge watching. Hate to admit it, but yep. I'm a total binge watcher. Find a new-to-me show and I just. can't. stop.  How to Get Away with Murder was my latest! SO good!

10.  Looking for something to watch?  Dust off a shelfie and finally dive into what you've got waiting on your list! Army Wives is still hanging out on my virtual shelf.

9. Original programs!  House of Cards? Orange is the New Black? Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt? Yes! Yes! Yes!  And not just for grown ups! There are original kids shows too! Veggie Tales in the House and Project MC2

8.  No commercials! Hello??! My little girls have no idea about that silly unicorn that parents are scrambling to find this Christmas!

7. Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood and Mister Roger's Neighborhood.  My daughters' childhood and my childhood come together in one place.  Makes my heart so happy! Yeah, I'm sappy and nostalgic.

6. Family movie any night and when you have a husband who works weekends, well that's just a double blessing!

5.  Need to get some baking done?  How 'bout wrapping gifts?  Or basically anything else. :) Have the Gilmore Girls keep you company the whole time!

4.  We can watch it anywhere!  The ipad, the tv, a phone.  Yep. I like flexibility.

3. It's so easy that even my five and two year olds can navigate it to find their shows like Lego FriendsLittle Einstens, Peg + Cat, My Little Pony. Independence is a blessing!

2. I love that Netflix sends recommendations based on shows we watch. It helps me to find shows I might not have otherwise found.  It's like my own personal concierge!

1. I love that we can have 5 different profiles to work for my whole family! Lily and Violet share theirs which is perfect. Having a separate profile for all of us is so nice to keep the tween stuff out of my lineup! It's a win for everyone!


And now that I've shared 12 reasons that I love Netflix, I'd love to share 6 months of a Netflix subscription with you!   This giveaway has a quick turn around, so be sure to get your entries in! Contest ends 12/17/15 at 11:59pm.  I will contact the winner ASAP to get info submitted so you can either keep this subscription for yourself or spread more Netflix cheer yourself!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Here's a few holiday goodies for the fam on Netflix right now plus some new kids & family shows coming up!  Snuggle in with a cup of hot chocolate and some popcorn. Enjoy!

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Saving Santa
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White Christmas
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The Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About Christmas
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Radio City Christmas Spectacular
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And for mom and dad... A Very Murray Christmas
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New on Netflix for Kids and Families

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Dawn of the Croods! (12/24)


PIB
The Adventures of Puss in Boots: Season 2 (12/11)
Glitter Force
Glitter Force: Season 1 (12/18)
 Disclosure: As a member of the Netflix #StreamTeam I was provided subscription to Netflix and also exclusive insights or other products. All opinions are my 100% my own and I was already a proud Netflix subscriber prior to this opportunity. Please see my full disclosure.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

Well, I still haven't caught up on Halloween or even the first day of school, so I figure I should probably get Thanksgiving handled before it gets any later.  Good thing I like to catch up when I can and add 'em in for family history sake.

Thanksgiving has been a simple holiday in our family. We stay home.  Sometimes we have all of us, Andrew has been with his dad in Tennessee a couple times, and Reagan alternates each year whether she's with us or not.  We've always extended our table to include friends.  The last few years we have had Thanksgiving with part of our "framily."  This year my mom was also visiting from Arizona, so even though this was an off year for us with Reagan, we had a full table. It was the first holiday we've spent with my mom in 8 years, so Lily and Violet's first holiday with her and possibly only one ever.

We started the day off with cinnamon rolls for breakfast, a little parade watching, a little cleaning and preparing food.




Early afternoon, our "framily" arrived to hang out and help out before it was time to eat.
Lily and Charlie, were happy to be coloring the tablecloth, playing tic-tac-toe, and dressing up while supper was being prepared.




George had the carving honors and discovered part of the bird needed more cooking time which was a first for me! We had enough that was done to be able to feed the kids while the rest of the adults waited. Oh well, life goes on.




After we ate, the kids played a new game that my mom got called Pie Face. It was pretty funny! Violet was just interested in eating the whipped cream.

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After Pie Face was complete, the kids scattered to play other things, and we woke up the men to play a game of Apples to Apples.  We had a lot of fun!

Tracy was taking a photo of the game too. :)

It was a relaxing, enjoyable day and I'm so very thankful for my husband and my little turkeys! Thanks for spending the day with us, Framily!

Friday, December 4, 2015

Holiday Greetings are my Favorite ...Thanks to Shutterfly!

It's beginning to look a lot like...


It's been a few years since we've sent out Christmas cards--things were just too crazy when Violet was born 2 years ago and last year well, juggling schedules never afforded opportunity for pictures of everyone. It didn't stop me from longingly looking at the designs I wanted to use. This year I was determined to make sure to get cards.

My go-to for Christmas cards has always been Shutterfly.  The variety of choices is exceptional!

This year Shutterfly has added a lot of new options. Their designs are easy to use and completely able to be personalized. There are so many choices to make your card absolutely unique to you.

I'm really loving the foil stamped colors available:  red, gold, silver, gold sparkle?! Yes, please!   It's like beautiful glittery goodness without the mess. My husband is a glitter grinch.  This is a perfect way to get the look I love! The other new feature I love this year is adding colored envelopes and a festive liner inside the envelope! Such a simple, classy way to add a bit of "me" to our cards.  I've always loved the back of the card designs.  Just a sweet, little send off that makes me happy!

Not going to lie, it was hard to choose because there are  many options even within each card! But, without question, these foil-stamped cards are classy and beautiful and I couldn't have gone wrong with any of them!  You'll have to wait and see what I picked. ;)

These are a few of my favorite choices for cards this year:

Another unique way to spread holiday cheer is to send out ornament cards!  I think these would be super fun to receive and what a unique way to display cards at home! Shutterfly pretty much has you covered no matter what type of card you choose!  Matching address labels and gift stickers simply seal the deal! 

I have some more of my favorite Shutterfly products to share soon, so you can add them to your own wish lists or make amazingly personal gifts for loved ones!

Shutterfly amazes me with the quality, affordability, and customer service.  There are always coupon codes available to help save money, so you don't have to scrimp on the extras! I lovelovelove Shutterfly and saving money!



Amazing ways to save right now!

new customers:
You can save $10 off of $30+ by using the code: 10OFF30. {expires 12/7 11:59pm PT}

 OR



If you're a veteran customer, like me, there are also savings to be had!

{expires 12/7 11:59pm PT}

AND one of my faves




Stay tuned! Monday I'll be back with photo gift ideas and even some home decor that can be used year 'round ---the perfect gifts! 

Which cards are you loving this year?

Disclosure: I was provided exclusive insights or other products for this post. Shutterfly is my favorite photo gift provider and I've been a loysal customer for years! All opinions are my 100% my own. Please see my full disclosure.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Milestones Aplenty!

Raising kids is full of so many amazing moments and also lots of questions. Am I doing this right? Is my baby learning appropriately? When should they be walking/talking/reading etc?

Luckily for all of us in this day and age of the internet, when you're looking for some answers, VTech, a trusted name in childrens' products, has an Expert Panel that is compiled of six experts including Dr. Lise Eliot--an Early Childhood Mental Development Expert.  Dr. Eliot collaborated with VTech to develop the Milestones resource that is so helpful!

  • The milestones in that resource are broken down in ages newborn to 9 years old. 
  • Each age range is broken down into 3 categories of development:  Language & Cognitive, Social & Emotional, and Physical & Motor.
  • The categories explain different characteristics and developments that your child is faced with at that specific age and followed by products recommended to best suit your child.

I had the opportunity to submit some of my own child development questions for Dr. Eliot along with other parents and I'm excited to share that one of my questions was randomly chosen! {The first question about reading is mine.}

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"In this day of pushing children to do everything earlier and earlier, what age range is truly developmentally appropriate for early reading skills?
As always, it depends on the child, but for the average kid, age 5-6 is plenty early to begin formal reading instruction.  Before that age, focus on your child's mastery of the alphabet and letter sounds. ABC books are great for this, especially if they have clever pictures that tell a story using many words with the same beginning sound. Rhyming books and songs are also great for teaching letter sounds, so once children start focusing on letter patterns, they will already be familiar with the rhyming sounds they make. You can also look for toys that serve as vocabulary builders, like VTech’s Spinning Lights Learning Hippo, which promote phonics and language development that can help with early reading skills.

My youngest seems to be developing later than her older siblings, is this normal and is there anything I can do to encourage her progress? If she is delayed when it comes to early Milestones, will it affect her progress later?
Every child develops differently, so if you have two kids, there is almost no way they will develop on the same timetable.  Parents and teachers tend to focus on the more overt milestones, like vocabulary and motor skills.  But children are learning in many domains simultaneously, and chances are that your child is absorbing plenty about the social and physical world which may not be obvious from her behavior.  Unfortunately, our school culture awards children who mature faster, so look for ways to counteract this for your daughter by finding other areas (art, music, crafts, building toys, sports, dance, etc.) in which she can develop confidence.

What are some inexpensive toys or games that will help encourage gross motor skills in my children?
The least expensive way to build motor skills is to go outside!  The extra room is often all kids need to start running, skipping, and jumping in ways that parents often frown on indoors. Your nearest playground adds opportunity for climbing and swinging that also build children's strength, stamina and coordination. If you are looking or something for your own yard, hang a tree swing, or purchase a jump rope or a soccer goal and ball.  A tumbling mat is also a great addition for indoors if you have room in your basement or playroom. And if your child is old enough (5+) for organized sports, many communities have recreational leagues that are less expensive than the fancier club sports.

If my 18-month-old is not speaking words yet, what can I do as a parent to help them with their development?
The most important stimulation any young child receives is verbal--talk to your baby; sing to him; read to him; engage him in "dialogue" even if you are only pretending that his babbles make sense.  Your child understands words, even if he cannot say them, and will appreciate the sense of being understood.  However, if your child really has no spoken vocabulary at 18 months, you should talk to your pediatrician, who may refer you to a speech therapist.

How do I encourage my 12-month-old to walk, when he seems content to crawl everywhere?
Don't worry about it!  Crawling is a delightful, too-short phase that many children skip outright.  And yet, there is evidence that crawling develops a child's visual-spatial abilities in unique ways that walking cannot replicate. As long as your child is learning to balance on two feet (holding on to a coffee-table or walker toy like VTech’s Sit-to-Stand Ultimate Alphabet Train he will eventually master those first independent steps.  Before long, he'll be running and racing and you will barely remember this adorable crawling phase."

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Recent milestones in my house have included a language explosion in Violet, who is now 25 months! (I really just say 2, but specific months matter too!) She is completing complex sentences,asking questions, repeating numbers and letters, recognizing patterns. She is making such amazing connections! She also loves building with blocks too, so the Vtech Sit to Stand Ultimate Alphabet Train has been a favorite!
  • Kids can play ten activities while learning letters, numbers, colors and more
  • The train helps build motor skills with six manipulative features including a storybook, clock, gears and 13 double-sided letter blocks that little ones can plug into the side of the train to learn letters and build their vocabulary
  • When little conductors get older, the caboose converts into a wagon they can fill with toys and pull along to develop gross motor skills
Violet loves riding toys complete with her keys and sunglasses and a kiss before she goes.


Lily is officially a reader! She loves kindergarten and all her love of learning just spills over into everything she does. She is sounding out words everywhere she looks and not just when she sees words, but looking at objects, she sounds out how she thinks they should be spelled! She wants to read and write all the time! I love it so much! Often kids are only hearing beginning and ending sounds at this point in kindergarten. Lily does all the middle sounds too. Learning to write is my favorite! She wrote a letter the other day and said a baby was "cuoote" and made sure to tell me that the "bossy 'e'" is the reason those vowels are saying their name. :)  Lily STILL loves to use the VTech Alphabet Apple  and it's fun to watch her beam when she knows correctly!

Vtech is going above and beyond just providing quality learning toys. They're conferring with experts to help find specific products to help your little ones hit all the milestones and love learning while they play!

Disclosure: The VTech product and information have been provided by VTech.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Veggies CAN #BeFlavorFull

We are a busy family, period.

A teenager, a tween, a 5 year old, and a 2 year old, plus the grown ups. Someone always has something going on. Marching band has ended for this season just in time to ramp up into concert band concerts, choir concerts. That means there are still rehearsals, meetings for spring trips, holiday events, plus all the other activities we like to participate in. B U S Y always.

Lily and Reagan don't even get off the bus until after 4pm, so by the time we get home, get homework done, catch up with what's going on, often it's time to head out the door for the evening rehearsal or activity. That means I need simple and quick for supper.

Many days I do crockpot meals to save time. I always like to make sure that I have a veggie for my family to eat try no matter what we're having! So timesavers are a necessity during the week!

Sometimes getting my family to try new vegetables is tough. They like what they like. We tend to sing a preschooler song about trying new foods pretty often to encourage the little girls...and sometimes the big kids too. ;)  Singing, "You gotta try new foods 'cause it might taste goooood," to my just turned 16 year old to remind him that like or not he's a model for the little ones works pretty well... Most of the time.

BirdsEye vegetables in Steamfresh bags help make having veggies quick and easy and helps me spend less time cooking and more time with my family!

BirdsEye has launched a whole new line of Flavor Full veggies in their Steamfresh bags-- meaning, you don't have to scrimp on flavor to save time!  You can bet these are sure to turn my picky veggie loving kids into well-rounded veggie lovers!  Barbecue Sweet Corn, Fiesta Lime Corn, Buffalo Cauliflower, Wasabi Peas, Sour Cream and Onion Potatoes, Ranch Broccoli, Teriyaki Broccoli, and Sweet Chili Carrots.  Bold, exciting flavors that are nutritional?!  Yes, please!


We decided to try the Flavor Full Ranch Broccoli, Barbecue Sweet Corn, and the Sour Cream and Onion Potatoes on this trip.

Andrew picked the Flavor Full Ranch Broccoli to try first.


You can find where these Flavor Full vegetables are by checking here


Right now, you can save money trying some of these new Birds Eye Flavor Full vegetables by clicking here for a $1 off coupon or on the image right below!


Stay tuned...I'll share what the verdict is with more pictures!

A Life-Sized Toy Box!

Remember how awesome those classic Fisher Price toys were when we were kids?!  I loved the record player so much!  All my kids have loved the chatterbox phone. Such a classic!  We actually still have mine from when I was a kid and I bought one for Andrew when he was a baby that has lasted through all my kids even now that he's 16! Violet and Lily both play with that same one!

Your little ones can now play inside a real life toy box when Fisher-Price and the Monroeville Mall unveil their brand new Toy Box play area that features larger than life Fisher-Price toys and characters this Friday, December 4!
The opening celebration will kick off at 11am with a ribbon cutting ceremony and a special appearance from Santa Claus! This life sized toy box will be located in the Lower Level Macy's Wing of the mall.



Monroeville Mall, just outside Pittsburgh, is one of the very first malls in the country to debut the new Toy Box play area that features iconic children's brands like Little People,Thomas & Friends and more with other locations to follow!  Although we'll miss the Mister Rogers' play area that has found a new home in Latrobe, we are so happy to be one of the first to welcome this innovative play area to encourage physical, social, and imaginative play!

I hope we'll see you there!


Wait!  There's more....
I've been asked to share a little bit of love this holiday season by giving away a couple of these classic toys inspiring this new Toy Box play area-- A FisherPrice Chatterbox Telephone and three Thomas & Friends mini trains!   Giveaway will run through the end of the Grand Opening weekend at 12/06/15 11:59pm and winner will be notified by email.  Good luck! (Open to anyone in the United States, not just Pittsburgh.)




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a Rafflecopter giveaway  Disclosure: I was provided exclusive insights or other products for this post. All opinions are my 100% my own. Please see my full disclosure.