Goldfish Swim School

Disclaimer: I was asked to review the item or service below in exchange for compensation and/or free items. All opinions, however, are 100% my own.

Our ‘lil guy will be starting Swim School soon, and we’re thinking some of you may be interested in checking out Goldfish Swim School, too.

Goldfish Swim School will open in the Pittsburgh area on November 16. The pools are always 90 degrees, so there’s no worries about chilly water when you’re learning to swim in the winter! We’re excited about this and will be telling you more as we head over to this new opportunity in the next few months. There are even Family Swims scheduled during times that working parents can come, too!

You can find out more about this school in Wexford by going to www.goldfishswimschool.com or their Facebook page to see what they have going on.

GoldfishSwimSchool

Ringling Bros. Circus

Disclaimer: I was asked to review the item or service below in exchange for compensation and/or free items. All opinions, however, are 100% my own.

I’ll be for real. I have a serious thing about clowns. My brother got picked on by one when we were little, and I sort of can’t get over it. But my kids? They love the circus and elephants and clowns and all things fun that Ringling Bros. Circus will be bringing to town on November 5 and 6.

And well, we’ll be there to enjoy it all. They tell me they’ll hold me and make me feel ok. They’d better be on their promise. I’m looking for some Pittsburghers who want to spend an evening with their family at the Circus, too. That’s why when I was asked to give away a family four-pack of tickets, I couldn’t say no. This is going to be a quick giveaway, though. Ringling Bros. Circus will be in Pittsburgh at Consol Energy Center, presenting Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Presents Built to Amaze on November 5 -9. The giveaway will be for 4 tickets for November 5 or 6 7 PM performance.

Circus performers from across the globe create the perfect blend of athleticism and bravery, where power meets fearlessness and amazement has no bounds.  Magnificent elephants, ferocious tigers, astonishing acrobats and awe-inspiring aerialists are engineered into one spectacular performance.

(Source: www.ringling.com)

Ok, I should be just fine. How fun does this look?

Ringling Bros. Circus

Source: @ringlingbros Twitter Account

 

And clowns? I see none. I got this. But it will  be more fun if you can join us. So enter this giveaway today, and tell your friends.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Prenatal Multi

Disclaimer: I was asked to review the item or service below in exchange for compensation and/or free items. All opinions, however, are 100% my own.

I’m very open in admitting that my first two pregnancies were not at all healthy. With Arianna, I was stressed out and lost weight, living on crackers and tacos between [nine-month] morning sickness. With Evan, I was in a happy place and ate and ate and ate my way to my heaviest weight through [nine-month] morning sickness. Taking a Prenatal Multi Vitamin just did not happen. I could not swallow or handle the taste of “horse pills”.

When Garden of Life offered to send me their Kind Organics Prenatal Multi (a whole food multivitamin that is naturally gluten free and has no GMOs), I decided to give them a try for this round of babymaking. I was surprised that I needed to take three vitamins to get my “fill” of daily needed vitamins (like A, B6, Iron, and more), but after reading all the organic foods (like carrot, parsley, lemon, beet, broccoli…over 30 fruits, veggies, and herbs) that go into it, it made sense to me. Yeah, the pills are big, but they look like chocolate and smell like berries. They aren’t that bad to swallow and do include a “Certified Organic Stomach Soothing Blend” that includes ginger and peppermint (both organic). And, the vitamins don’t have to be taken with food, so if mama isn’t feeling her best, she still can give them a try.

prenatal multi

Did you know some prenatals (this one!) can be used for pre-conception, pregnancy, and lactation? Yup. This multivitamin will help me keep up energy, develop the babies, and comfortably digest what I am eating (and I am eating this time around, healthy!).

If you’re expecting and are interested in giving the Kind Organics Prenatal Multi, or would like to see what other vitamins Garden of Life has to offer, check out the product list at organicmulti.com!

Demanding Dudley

Disclaimer: I was asked to review the item or service below in exchange for compensation and/or free items. All opinions, however, are 100% my own.

 

“Say please.”

“What’s the magic word?”

“Pardon me! Is that how we ask for something we want?”

If you are saying these things daily (over and over again) like Greg and I do, perhaps it’s time to introduce a picture book from The Wiblets
collection that will teach your children about respect and the right way to get what they want. Our kids heard about 4 pages of Demanding Dudley before they realized the message we were trying to get through to them.

Source: thewiblets.com

It was that powerful that they knew right away what Dudley’s mama was going to teach them about how screaming and stomping does not get you the apple juice you want. Does it mean they took the message to heart and haven’t screamed or cried or stomped or yelled to get something they want, but it does mean that they think a little more about where those actions get them (the stairs for a ‘lil timeout!). But, all we have to do is remind them of Dudley:

In the case of Demanding Dudley, The Wiblets take on issues of thanklessness and impatience. Children will see the harmful effects of such negative behavior through the example of Dudley, a young Wiblet who forgets the value and importance of “using his magic words.” Dudley and his mother discuss the hows and whys of self-control and gratitude, ultimately demonstrating in a positive light how kindness and patience can go a long way in making and granting requests. After reading and discussing the story of Dudley with their children, parents can make use of the positive trigger question, “Are you being a Demanding Dudley?” in order to establish an immediate understanding with their child if and when the lessons taught by the book have been forgotten.

(From The Wiblets Press Release)

And you know what? I was actually supposed to share this info with you over a month ago, but the kids. Those kids of mine. They “stole” the book from my review pile and were “reading” it to each other to remind themselves (and their imaginary students) of how to ask for the right things. When I asked for it back to remind me of the colorful pictures and [adorable] text tone to show Dudley’s emotions, they told me they appreciated me asking with my magic words. Dudley taught them some big words,  not just the magic ones! Mom win.

If you’d like your own copy of Demanding Dudley, you can visit thewiblets.com or get a copy on Amazon for around $11. If your kids like Dudley, there are other Wiblets ready to teach them lessons through books and games on their website.

 

October: Standing for Her

I was given some information on Pittsburgh’s Center for Victims to help raise awareness of domestic violence and what we can do to help victims. October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. This post is not sponsored, but brought to from the bottom of my heart. 

Source: www.centerforvictims.org

Being honest, October is a tough month for me. Almost seven years ago, I got out of an abusive relationship, then in October, had a baby as a single mother. Knowing this month is the month to bring about awareness should make me feel stronger that I got out, but it does bring up some bad memories and angry feelings that there are still women out there in situations like I was.

Situations where women feel like they have to wear long sleeves, explain bruises, or not go out to see their friends at all because it’s just too hard to tell your story. Situations where women cannot give the whole truth to their families and friends (like I have yet to really, truly do because I carried such shame and baggage over it). Situations where children hide their ears under their pillows at night because they don’t want to hear dad yelling at or hitting mom.

We joke that “the struggle is real”, but it is. 

It really is. I found stats on the No More campaign page that states:

  • 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men experience violence from their partners in their lifetime
  • 1 in 5 women are survivors of rape

That’s a really frightening statistic, considering how many women and men we know, right? It’s real. And let me tell you, even a small hit or verbal abuse is unacceptable in my book. Everyone deserves to be safe and supported, which is why I am thankful for places like Center for Victims.

With this being Domestic Violence Awareness Month, there are plenty of ways we can get involved in helping victims of domestic violence such as men taking a pledge to not participate in violence in women or wearing purple and telling people you are doing it in honor (or memory) of a loved one who has been in a DV relationship. Places like Pittsburgh’s Center for Victims are here to provide “free and confidential services, advocacy, and education for victims of all crime in Allegheny County”, not just victims of domestic violence. They also accept financial donations or goods (such as used cell phones, toiletries, or diapers).

I’d like to ask my friends, family, and followers to consider making a donation to the Center for Victims via either a used cell phone or a financial donation. Sure, we’re mostly virtual connections around here, so if you’d like to donate financially, you can send a donation right online. If you’re interested in donating a used cell phone, drop me a line at lilburghers@gmail.com so we can coordinate a pickup.

If you or someone you know is in an unsafe or abusive relationship and are in Pittsburgh, you can contact the Center for Victims via their 24-hour support line (1-866-644-2882). If not, you can use this state-by-state resource from the National Network to End Domestic Violence website. You deserve it. You are worth it. 

Stretch and Breathe: Family Yoga

Disclaimer: I was asked to review the item or service below in exchange for compensation and/or free items. All opinions, however, are 100% my own.
Family Yoga

Greg and the kids before Class

In the midst of all the crazy that’s been happening around here, the ‘lil Burghers and their parents got a chance to stretch and breathe at Yoga Innovations in Bethel Park for Family Yoga. Arianna and I have done yoga together before, but Evan hadn’t been old enough. The great thing about this class? There were wee ‘lil ones there, so we all fit in. Om! 

Sure, Bethel Park is a hike for us, but it was very fun to watch Evan get into poses and be my partner for some “mom and me” time. Arianna had a bit of a pout session at one point…she wanted to play with the babies instead of be in down dog. But guess what? That’s just fine. Yoga Innovations is prepared for this. There’s a toy box at the back of the room for when the kids get distracted so mom (and DAD) can keep on breathing and stretching.

IMG_20140928_145507

This class was my first yoga class since finding out I’m pregnant with twins, and I’ll be honest. It wasn’t easy on me but at the same time, the stretch felt so good. (The thing to remember, for people like me who just can’t take no? Sometimes, you have to say no and stay on your back, use the blocks, and let everyone else invert while you just breathe.) Greg enjoyed actually getting a chance to exercise while the kids were “busy”, too.

Evan cleaning up after class

At $8 per family, this once a month (on the fourth Sunday) experience is worth it. There are other classes yogis (both experienced and aspiring) can participate in. There’s prenatal yoga, strong moms yoga, and your typical classes like basic yoga, power flow, and warm yoga…just find what fits your schedule. If you go and have never done yoga before, Yoga Innovations has a great resource for what to expect at your first class on their website. For example, a rented mat will cost you $2, and you’re going to want to take a bottle of water.

Seriously, how relaxed do these two look? You owe it to yourself to find a place to get a chance to breathe and stretch. We promise. And if you are in the Bethel Park area, give Yoga Innovations a try!

IMG_20140928_143254

Arianna’s feet! I can’t get enough of this picture.

Kidecals

Disclaimer: I was asked to review the item or service below in exchange for compensation and/or free items. All opinions, however, are 100% my own.

 

A sweet company is going to be a very helpful part of the upcoming changes in our lives – Kidecals! When I was asked to take a look at these labels and told that…

Kidecals are personalized labels that are dishwasher, washing machine, and dryer safe!  Plus they stick to any surface! You can use these stickers on clothing, backpacks, tupperware, devices…you name it. If you don’t need any name labels, there are still plenty of options to choose from for both kids and adults! We offer keyboard stickers canning/baking labels, chalkboard labels, and much more!

…you know that there was no way I could resist saying yes. Just having two kids, we’re always forgetting something here or there. So, as soon as I got a chance to breathe, I headed over to the Kidecals website and searched for labels that would work for all four of us. I decided the best option would be this one with our last name and phone number. I had no idea what I would do with them, but I thought they were classy and useful.

Ordering online was super fun and easy (once I weeded out the options that I wanted). The site is super cute and easy to navigate – it’s very organized to help you get exactly what you want to label all the things in your life. The value is there, too – the labels range from $20 to $30 — especially when you think about all the things you can label for safe keeping.

It took just a few days for my order to arrive, and unfortunately, I got to see the waterproof effect right away. Our (old) mailbox was pretty bad about keeping things dry, and it happened to be raining the day they arrived. No issues with the labels, hallelujah!

What took longest for me was figuring out what to put the labels on, but then, our trip came up and I was super worried we’d leave a charger, kindle, or phone behind. The Kidecals were super easy to apply, they didn’t peel off, and made it really easy when we were with people who had the same phone chargers. I’m super thrilled with my decision, and can’t wait to decide on baby names and start an order for labeling all their “stuff”!

kidecals

(I did swipe out our phone number!)

 

Want to snag your own? Head over to Kidecals.com and pick out your favorites today!

We Don’t Have a Home

Last week we were in Disney. At the end of a ride, a Cast Member mentioned something about “when you go home, don’t forget the magic here”. Arianna turned to me and said, “But Mama! We don’t have a home anymore!” Turn on the sad face.

It’s finally official, our first home is sold and we are in transition before moving into our next home. This is a really weird place to be. Arianna is starting a new school tomorrow for just a few weeks. Evan may or may not start in his new Head Start program (because it’s in our new town and doesn’t exactly fit our schedule). And soon, Rowdy and Shadow will be hanging with Unca Jack. Me? I’m commuting to stay near work a few days then working at home others. Somehow, Greg is trying to keep all this straight.

But, it’s a good feeling not having to worry about selling our house. Huge thanks to our Realtor for making this a reality!

Source: John Marzullo – Realtor (Facebook)

5 Kitchen Counter Must-Haves

By Emily Creswick of Zillow

kitchencounters

Source: Julians Interiors

Innovative countertop elements streamline the cooking process and boost overall organization of kitchens. Additionally, these elements add a touch of style and character to the highly-functional space.

Review these five countertop must-haves to optimize kitchen functionality and aesthetics.

1. Toaster
Ensure breakfast staples including toast, bagels and pastries are cooked to perfection by including a great toaster. The market is inundated with modern toasters models with special features including bread warmers, defrosters and sliding trays. If high tech gadgets don’t appeal, choose a contemporary style in a bright color such as turquoise or tangerine.

2. Coffee Machine or French Press
Like toasters, coffee machines come in many shapes and sizes. Popular models include the standard drip-style and single-cup coffee makers. Drip coffee makers are available in 4 to 12 cup capacities, making them ideal for busy households and entertaining. Pod-style coffee makers are generally smaller, equipped to make single servings for individuals. Alternatively, avoid cords and a bulky machine by using a French press to make the morning coffee.

3. Blender
A blender is a year-round appliance with many uses. Create fresh fruit juices and smoothies in the morning. In the evening, blend vegetables and stock to create hearty soups. Entertain friends and family with blended beverages and frozen cocktails on the weekend. Choose a size that best suits the kitchen and amount of expected use. A large blender is ideal for a busy family, whereas a personal blender with interchangeable travel mugs is perfect for singles and couples on the go.

4. Induction Cooktops
Induction cooktops use electromagnetism to heat pots and pans faster than gas and electric versions. Designed in Europe, induction cooktops are energy-efficient, helping reduce the cost of monthly energy bills. The cooktops don’t get hot, allowing owners to touch the surfaces without burning themselves or inquisitive children. The warm plates are also easy to clean because foods and sauces don’t burn and stick.

5. Hidden Outlets
Reduce visual clutter in kitchens by removing outlets from walls and replacing with covered versions. Mount a multi-outlet strip discreetly under counter overhangs or hide outlets inside cupboards or cabinets. Kitchens with limited counter space benefit from dock or popup outlets. These styles are designed to retract from the countertop when not in use.

Staple appliances and innovative countertop updates are sure to benefit the look and function of the kitchen. Such updates are appealing and practical for residents, and, when it comes time to sell, attract buyers searching for homes. Enjoy the benefits now and reap the rewards in the future by ensuring the finest kitchen counter appearance and function.

This post is brought to you by the folks at Zillow.com. I was not compensated to share this information. 

 

Winter’s Almost Here – Get Ready with a Smart Home

Full disclosure: this article is financially supported by Direct Energy.

Well, hello there, winter. At least it seems that way. Today alone, it’s hailed three times and I’ve definitely wished I was wearing boots and pants versus my capris. We moved, and appropriately it has me thinking about ways we’ll be welcoming winter with a Smart Home.

One of the things that I do to have a Smart Home is not turn on the A/C or heat until it is absolutely necessary. In my  mind, that’s June 1 for the A/C and at least October 15 for the heat (although it definitely crossed my mind today to break my rule). But that’s not the only thing you can do to have a Smart Home. I learned a few things from Direct Energy that will help make your home smarter and more convenient this winter (and all year long).

1. Install a smart thermostat, such as the Nest Learning Thermostat. Smart thermostats offer you climate control, the convenience of programming away from home, and more.

2. Your living room typically has multiple active light sources available. Make sure your lighting is energy efficient by switching traditional bulbs to CFLs or LEDs.

3. Replace your old, inefficient appliances with new, efficient, Energy Star® appliances. Old appliances tend to run inefficiently.

4. Replace the showerhead in your bathroom(s) with low flow showerheads. These showerheads regulate the flow of water, assuring you a more efficient shower.

5. Make sure you have a strong Wi-fi signal from your smart thermostat and smart devices. Because you can remotely control your smart thermostat via the internet, periodically check the signal strength in the network settings on the thermostat’s control screen.

6. Installing light dimmers can save cut your electricity use 40% over time and make your lightbulbs last 20 times longer.

7. Use an automated pet food and water dispensing system so you don’t have to worry about feeding your pets if you happen to be away from home for longer than you had intended.

8. Planting trees in optimal spots on your property will provide shade during the warmer months making your system work less hard to cool your home down.

9. Even when your appliances are turned off, they are still using electricity. Use smart power strips to combat energy vampires.

10. Use a smart sprinkler to control your sprinkler system from your smartphone. They adjust setting based on weather and time of day so you don’t have to.

I think it’s be great to have a smart thermostat like the Nest Learning Thermostat to keep our house climate controlled all year long. Good news, Direct Energy is hosting a sweepstakes where 5 lucky winners will have the chance to win Nest Learning Thermostats!

To enter the sweepstakes, visit this page and simply fill out the entry form. How easy is that?

The giveaway will take place from Wednesday, October 1st to Wednesday, October 22nd. Winners will be selected in Mid-November.

While you are there, you can also find out more about Direct Energy’s Comfort & Control Plans that include a Nest Learning Thermometer and helps you lower your heating and cooling bills by 20%. We will be looking into this come November when we’re in our new place, but for now, you’ll find us comfy and cozy at Grammie and Pappy’s house until then.

Thanks to Direct Energy  for asking me to share these tips for a smart home with you. 

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