Wrapy Baby Carrier

[Review Disclaimer] Today’s post is provided courtesy of the Wrapy Baby Carrier.

As a baby wearing family, we’ve run through many different types of baby carriers, all working differently for each of our kids, our adventures, and our budgets. I’m really not tied to one particular type or brand, though I will say that those with straps and buckles seem to help me feel safer when I’m also chasing the older two around. The Wrapy Baby Carrier is one of the carriers that we’ve given a try.

The Wrapy Baby Carrier

wrapy baby carrier

I’ll start by saying that we tried a similar carrier when Evan was a babe and again when the twins were fresh newborns. It worked, but I couldn’t get the hang of wrapping by myself (which is really the winning point of baby carrying in my book). The Wrapy was no different, unfortunately. With 9 feet of extra wide material, I would struggle to figure out how to get it wrapped just right without Greg’s help. Bummer! Double bummer? I would drag it on the floor when putting it on and because we have dogs, dog hair all over the cotton/spandex blend. Sigh.

That being said, a few positives about the Wrapy Baby Carrier:

  • The Wrapy is one size fits all. Although I’m somewhere (weirdly) between a 14 and a 20 (I know), it was long enough to wrap around my body and also to hold baby (mine are about 16 pounds). It’s the same length as the one I wore when I was a size 26, so I’d lean toward saying the one size fits all is pretty legit.
  • Baby is held close to the heart. This carrier is for front carries only. You’re able to see and kiss baby’s head because they are right there and safe against you.
  • Baby wearing is sleepy dust. I wore Isla when she was sick and it made a world of difference.
  • Breastfeeding is possible if your baby is in the seated position. Personally, I do not like the forward face in a carrier like this, so I only tried seated against me and Isla was able to eat while she hung out.

wrapy baby carrier

Would I wear the Wrapy in the summer? Maybe! It’s a lot of fabric, so I’m weary about sweat and me feeling uncomfortable, but it’s possible.

Will we keep using the Wrapy? From time to time, yes. Just like all of our carriers, there is a time and a place for it. Greg would probably work better with it, but I won’t rule it out.

If your interest is sparked and you’d like to try one of your own, you can purchase on Amazon and find out more on their website: http://wrapy.net

 

#FreeToBe a New Mom with all free clear

Today’s post is sponsored by all free clear, but my love for the brand is all my own! Okay, I probably also should disclose to you that laundry is Greg’s thing around here…but writing this post inspired me to run a few loads and lighten the load on my teammate. *wink*

As a new mom, I’ve learned there are some things that you have to accept as a new reality – like that your schedule is no longer your own. There’s always someone needing attention or food. And with that attention and feeding usually comes a mess (whether it’s finger paints with the big kids or blow-outs from the baby’s bottom). Being a new mom (or dad) is tough enough, so anything that makes life a ‘lil easier is welcomed.

That’s why I am happy to share with you the awesomeness of all free clear.

all free clearThat’s why I am happy to share with you the awesomeness of all free clear.

It is a pediatrician recommended detergent that relieves the worry about your laundry routine AND what’s in the products you are using. You see, with all free clear, you know your baby is safe from harsh dyes and synthetic scents. That’s across their entire line of products (from detergent to fabric softener to dryer sheets), so as long as you combine the three, you are #FreeToBe with your new ‘lil bundle of love and joy.

When we started to wash newborn clothes and sheets to prepare for the birth of the twins, the choice was easy as to what laundry line to pick. Our oldest has some allergies and Eczema, so when we went to the store, it was obvious that a free clear laundry detergent was the way to go. A few reasons why:

  • all® free clear detergent (liquid and mighty pacs), fabric softener and dryer sheets have received the National Eczema Association (NEA) Seal of Acceptance™.
  • Products with the NEA Seal of Acceptance™ are those that avoid certain chemicals, dyes, perfumes and residues that are known to be unsuitable for use by persons with eczema or a sensitive skin condition.
  • all free clear has only 9 ingredients, that’s less than half the ingredients found in other brands!

Since we went this route to wash all our newborn onesies, blankets, and burp cloths, we are spending less time worrying and more time snuggling. Thank to all free clear, my husband and I are able to spend less time worrying about laundry or dry, irritated skin on our ‘lil ones and more time:

  • having family dance parties
  • singing lullabies to our sleepy girls
  • snuggling under a soft blanket with a twin in one arm and a big kid in the other
  • taking walks around our neighborhood
  • enjoying the springtime air

How would having less to worry about help you as a new (or experienced) mom?

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Psst! There will be a #WithMyBlanket sweepstakes kicking off in mid-May. More information is to come over on the all free clear Facebook page – watch for it!

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Speck Cases- Amplifying My World

*articles may contain affiliate links*

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It took me a few looks at Samsung Galaxy S5 cases to find one that worked for me. I wanted something that didn’t make my phone too bulky but provided protection. That’s when Speck happened to email me about their holiday offerings and I decided to give one of the new Speck cases a try.

What really caught my eye was the Sound Amplification case with military-grade protection in raspberry/flamingo for the Samsung Galaxy S5. My thinking was that this case was going to solve a problem I had with a cheap-o case I picked up in the interim (I couldn’t use speaker or my car’s integrated sound system to talk on the go). Even better? With military-grade protection, I wasn’t going to worry about corraling all the kids with phone in hand on trips out to the garage or in the mall.

So, how did my choice hold up?

The Sound. When the product arrived, I was a little skeptical. There’s this really cool looking integration, the Speck exclusive Horn Design, where “sound is 2x louder and clearer” because it “equalizes the sound of your Samsung S5 for fuller, richer sound” by redirecting the sound from your speaker where it needs to go. My skepticism came because the design looked awesome, but I am not an engineer, so it didn’t look to me like this would really do the job. See?

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I showed it to my brother who is an engineer and he got it, so I trusted. The only problem I’ve had with this was one call on the day of Evan’s birthday party. I tried to call a local pizza shop on speaker with my car off and all doors/windows shut. I ended up hanging up on them because the employee said, “There’s something wrong with your phone, I can’t hear you at all”, but let me be honest and say I think the issue was on his end – there was a lot  of background noise and the shop I’d called before and after had no problems hearing me. But, I want to throw that out there that out of about 100 calls since, I did have “one issue”. Can’t win them all, right?

The protection. Thankfully, I haven’t tested the military-grade protection (I refused to throw my phone and have been very careful with it), but based on the thickness of it, I am sure it would protect if I did have an incident. That’s the thing, though. It’s solid and a bit heavier than I’d like in a case. (My last Speck case was super-light.)

Other thoughts. Also, Speck has cases with “grippy lines” (my words) on them that make it hard to lose my phone in the car. This one is smooth on the back, save for some scratches I’ve got on it now, so it doesn’t really “stick” to anything and slides everywhere. This part I’m not thrilled with, but am willing to work with for the protection. I love the color I chose, but there are three other color options in this offering, too.

If you are like me and searching for Samsung Galaxy S5 cases, consider this one. It might be the right fit for you, or Speck just might have other cases that fit your needs better. This particular case retails for $44.95 and was provided to me for the purposes of this review.

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We’re Speck

Speck is an award-winning leader of mighty slim protective cases for the world’s top smartphones, tablets, and laptops. From iPad cases and iPhone cases to Samsung Galaxy cases and everything in between, we design cases that are slim, good looking and most importantly, the most effective protection possible.

Our roots are in the heart of Silicon Valley, at the intersection of design and technology, inspiring forward-thinking innovation to craft masterfully engineered and patented designs. Our design philosophy delivers the best looking and most effective slim protection because we believe protection doesn’t need to be ugly, nor bulky. It’s all in the details; we create our cases to enable you to go more places and enjoy more from your mobile devices. Get to know us at speckproducts.com or follow us on TwitterFacebookInstagram, and Pinterest.

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Kidecals

*articles may contain affiliate links*

 

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!

Styleout on a Sunday

Disclaimer: I was asked to review services at a local business. All opinions are 100% my own. I received services in exchange for this post.

Sundays are a great day for some me time (usually). Today I had planned on traveling out to Ross Park Mall (off of McKnight Road in Pittsburgh) to review Styleout Bar and get some me time. Arianna has been sick, so since she was finally feeling better, we made it a family trip instead. When we got there and she asked to stay with, however, family time had to come to an end. Ladies, if you’ve never had a blowout, set yourself up for one and be open to the hour of pampering. Trust me, you’ll just feel better.

Here’s how I got styled out today…

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First, I should let you know that I did not set my own appointment the Styleout Bar. A PR Rep assisted me with finding the best hour in my schedule, and we decided 12-1 today worked best. But, I did get an email confirmation on Thursday that was 1) super helpful and 2) slightly confusing as to whether or not I confirmed I’d be there. (I was able to click confirm more than once and it didn’t ever give me a message that I was truly confirmed, but AWESOME nonetheless.)

I learned ahead of time (and some while on site) that Styleout Bar has four locations, one of which is in Pittsburgh. These blowout bars are designed to place focus on luxury blowouts – so there’s no hair cutting or coloring to be found in these salons. You can, however, get your eyebrows threaded, nails done (enamel or gel), and professionally applied makeup in addition to the blowouts.

On our way to Ross Park, I had to figure out where would be best to park. Parking in our city stresses me out. Even at locations that have abundant parking (like the mall). Luckily, I hopped on the Ross Park Mall’s website and was directly guided to entrance 4 (between Nordstrom and Sears). Major win in my book.

RossParkMallInfoStyleoutBar

 

When I first arrived at Styelout Bar, it was pretty much what I expected from their website information. It was bright and clean, and I knew right away it was where I was going (without having to consult the storefront signage). The only thing that disheartened me is that I was the lone customer until someone came in as I was checking out. Hint: More ladies need to be treating themselves in this city.

Styleout Bar

 

And clearly, I needed to treat myself. Well, to be fair, I went for a run and tan this morning, so I was looking a ‘lil disheveled before going inside. Let me be honest. I am a busy mom and a I probably often look like this:

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I needed help.

Cynthia was more than willing to help out, and she not only made me feel beautiful, she was friendly and welcoming, too. I got seated in a comfy salon chair and didn’t have to look at my mop anymore (the mirrors are above the bar that the stylists use to hold their tools which is awesome because you can’t see how things are progressing). We talked about my hair and what I typically (don’t) do to it and she gave me a book with a list of several different looks to pick from. I liked the Classic Straight which would have given some volume, but because my hair does have a natural wave, opted for a mesh between that and the loose curls of Muse (just to see what my fine hair would do).

I got to partake in my favorite activity – having someone else wash my hair – and relax. My stylish (Cynthia) gave me a very large wineglass of water which made me feel special, too. It was an all around comforting experience. Before I knew it, the hour passed by and my hair was ready for the reveal. I was pleased (but I’m gonna make you wait another minute before sharing the photo).

We talked about h0w long it will last (I’ll likely have volume for a few days and not need to shampoo my hair until Tuesday or Wednesday). Some ladies (with thick hair, for instance) can  make a blowout last  a week. My hair felt light and airy, but she used products on me – so we talked about the two she used and I eagerly purchased them with the promise I’d go light with t hem.

While we didn’t talk about me setting up a return visit, I think I might. Or, I might think about bringing a friend or two there for a girl’s night (they’ve got packages) or perhaps let Arianna get a blowout someday. To be pampered is definitely worth it.

I left Sytleout and tried to find my family. Greg and the kids walked right toward me and didn’t even recognize me. I had to follow them into a store and say HEY. It was that good. Now I just need to learn to take more morning me time and do this more often. Right?

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You can schedule your own time at Styleout Bar at http://www.styleoutbar.com/. They are on Facebook and Twitter, too. Blowouts start at $35.

Lost and Found

Disclaimer: I received this book from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review. All opinions, however, are 100% my own.

Lost and Found
Source: Bethany House

Growing up in my own fishbowl, I really felt like eyes were always on me. What I didn’t think about is that I wasn’t alone. Other PK’s (Preacher’s Kids) were most likely feeling the same things I was. Reading Lost and Found, I got to hear the story of Sarah Jakes, daughter of Bishop T.D. Jakes. (If you don’t know, he is a high profile minister and author…one my dad often mentions.)

As a teen mom, Sarah felt shunned by the people who you’d think would love her most. She fell out of her relationship with God and into a tumultuous series of ups and downs with her college flame.

While it was clear throughout the memoir that she wasn’t always tight with the Lord, He was still keeping her in the fold. In her darkest moments, he was there, paving the way for the successful life full of love and good that she has today.

In one night, I read the entire book. It’s likely because I identified with the story. Feeling under a microscope. Being in an abusive relationship. Becoming a single mother. Not realizing that God was there the whole time, and then landing smack dab in His welcoming arms to a life of blessings. He was just waiting for me to make the move, just like he was waiting for Sarah.

And you.

It was inspirational to read Sarah’s words and remember that even in our darkest moments, He is there.

If you are interested in reading Sarah’s story, Lost and Found, is available through Bethany House with a suggested retail price of $24.99.

From BethanyHouse.com:

Don’t let your past keep you from a full future.

Like every girl, Sarah Jakes dreamed of a life full of love, laughter, and happy endings. But her dreams changed dramatically when she became pregnant at age thirteen, a reality only compounded by the fact that her father, Bishop T.D. Jakes, was one of the most influential megachurch pastors in the nation. As a teen mom and a high-profile preacher’s kid, her road was lonely. She was shunned at school, gossiped about at church. And a few years later, when a fairy-tale marriage ended in a spiral of hurt and rejection, she could have let her pain dictate her future.

Instead, she found herself surrounded by a God she’d given up on, crashing headlong with Him into a destiny she’d never dreamed of. Sarah’s captivating story, unflinchingly honest and deeply vulnerable, is a vivid reminder that God can turn even the deepest pain into His perfection.

More than a memoir, Lost and Found offers hope and encouragement. Perhaps you, like Sarah, find yourself wandering the detours of life. Regardless of how lost you feel, you, too, can be found.

Twigtale

Disclaimer: This post contains a review and giveaway – I received the product(s) reviewed below in exchange for my review. All opinions, however, are 100% my own.

‘lil Mister Willis (Evan) has been giving us a time when it comes to going to bed. A few weeks ago, we implemented an 8 o’clock bedtime. It helped for a while, but it was really over a month ago and included nights when Mama wasn’t home until after “bedtime” to police it.

Twigtale.com actually has helped with bedtime this past week. Twigtale is a service that lets parents to select a book written by child development experts to help kids with kid “stuff” (such as transitions) and make it customized to the child and their situation. One of the options is a book about going to sleep. After reviewing the options, I knew this was the one I was going to check out.

Once I selected the book, I was able to print a PDF of photos that I needed Greg to take (or find on our hard drives) that would go into the book. I’ll be honest – this took time and preparation. The photos were cute, but are definitely staged because they weren’t all “handy”. But maybe that’s okay!

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Pictures in “hand”, I got on my computer to upload. Be sure your photos are at least 2 MB in size – they don’t print nicely if not. I wasn’t thinking about what this would mean for the upload process. A few “been there done that” tips? Select ONLY the photos you want in the box and upload those. I didn’t do that. Because of that, I give my next tip – be patient as all of these photos upload! It will take some time (unless you have ridiculously high speed ‘net). And finally, don’t put more than 50 photos in an album. I tried this. Twice. Third time, I realized there was a limit (but the site didn’t tell me there was).

Next up was plugging the photos into the pages and editing the text. This was fairly easy, except I missed a few spots where I should have had “he” and left it out – because I didn’t read carefully and was likely multi-tasking. Since the book is written by child development experts, the text is kid-friendly and helps guide them through transitions. All parents really need to do is make it fit their family’s life (such as entering the child’s name and “Mama” or “Daddy” as appropriate). (Huge win for diverse families!)

After the book was done and I reviewed, I added it to my cart. Less than a week later, I had our very own copy of “Evan Goes to Sleep” in my hands!

Twigtale

The service is really cool and unique, but the book has been helpful. We read it (Arianna LOVED it the first time, “Bubby! It’s so cool that there’s a book about YOU!”; Evan was not so sure). It’s helped a bit after the first read, I think ‘lil Man is really getting this bedtime thing. That doesn’t mean it’s been easy, just BETTER.

Twigtale has offered me a code for a reader to get a free book of their own! Enter below, or visit http://twigtale.com to get your own copy today.

Goodnight Songs

Odds are, you have not only read Margaret Wise Brown’s Goodnight Moon but also have read it to your children. A new book by Brown is being published this month, Goodnight Songs, and it is sure to delight you just as much as your other Brown favorites.

Goodnight Songs is a collection of poems found in Margaret Wise Brown’s unpublished collections. Within the poems, readers will find comfort in the familiar routine of going to sleep. Children and adults alike will be captivated by the words and rhymes, finding peace.

Goodnight Songs
Source: bn.com

Twelve award-winning illustrators came together to provide beautiful scenes to accompany the words. While yes, the words are moving and beautiful, the images accompanying them are also a delight. With calming colors and various artistic styles, there’s sure to be a handful of favorites for each member of your family.  They’ve put together a video about the work that went into creating this book and have shared it on YouTube.

Additionally, musicians came together to bring Margaret’s music to life. (She began writing scores for her poems shortly before passing at age 42.) The accompanying CD, filled with soothing mandolin, guitar, harmonica, and light percussion beats, further brings these poems to life.

This gorgeous book and CD pair were found enjoyable by my ‘lil Burghers, and they evoked a sense of stillness and quiet in our nightly routine. We recommend adding this collection of poems to your child’s library or select several to become a routine lullaby. It’s definitely a perfect choice for a new parent or parents fighting the sleep battle with their ‘lil ones.

Goodnight Songs is available from Sterling Publishing for $17.95. It is a hardback book that contains a 12-song CD.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book/cd in exchange for this review. All opinions, however, remain my own.

Love, Sweet Love: See’s Candies

Disclaimer: I received product in exchange for this review and giveaway. All opinions, however, are 100% my own.

Oh, Love, Sweet Love. When I got the chance to work with See’s Candies, I took it. Remove preservatives and get me fresh candy straight from San Francisco and I am all about it. Shh, one can still be healthy and enjoy good candy.

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Greg and I went to See’s back in October when they opened their first retail store here in Pittsburgh, so I was prepared for the amazingness that would be waiting for me with Valentine’s Day displays. I was so right. It was gorgeous and tempting.

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So many beautiful boxes to choose from, right? I’m just saying, I know my valentine would be pretty happy with me if he got one of those in two weeks. Because he’s very happy with the just under one pound personalized mixed box of chocolates he hand selected with the chocolatier last night.

I’ve had a weakness for sweets my whole life, especially cinnamon, so these options had me pretty happy:

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And then there is the fact that a limited time special Strawberry Truffle that melted in my mouth when I got to sample it…and about three other chocolates. Thank goodness I have a stop button. Maybe. Maybe.

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‘Cause when you walk in to See’s Candies, you’re greeted with these trays and the mantra to just tell them what you’d like to try. See’s wants to be certain you have something you like, you know?

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And it’s hard to resist. You’ll be like us and be walking out the door with a few boxes, easy. Promise. Especially because Valentine’s Day is coming.

Since Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, See’s Candies is offering a $25 gift card to one of my readers. That’s enough to hand select a one-pound box of chocolates and some extras. Yum! Even better, See’s isn’t just here in Pittsburgh. Visit their site to find one near you. You’ve got from now until February 7th to enter – good luck!

Mixed-Up Love

Disclosure: I received the book discussed below in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are 100% my own.

Mixed-Up Love, written by a Jewish rabbi, Michal Woll, and her husband, Jon Sweeney, a prolific Catholic writer, explores their experience as an interfaith couple. Between deciding if and how to get married, how to practice religion, and how to raise their family, there were a lot of decisions to make.

I connected with the text as Greg and I are living this life. As a Christian married to a Baha’i, I often worry that my decisions to have our kids be raised in the UMC might not be the approved way…but it is the way that works for us. As Michal and Jon write in this book, families need to talk about how their faiths will work together and do it in a fashion that works for them.

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My favorite part of Mixed-Up Love was the section on “Coming Together”-going from friendship to dating to marriage. While some people in my life may not get it, faith was was a big player in our decision to marry. We followed the Baha’i practice of holding our wedding ceremony within 90 days of our engagement (talk about whirlwind). We followed UMC marriage ceremony norms and had a separate Baha’i ceremony immediately afterword. Later that night, my dad handed us the state certificate. All of this followed 90 days of making sure it was all *just* right and we weren’t conflicting any practice. It wasn’t easy, but growing up kids of faith leaders, we felt right doing it this way.

And if you ask Greg what one of the things that made him fall in love with me was? He would tell you my dedication to my faith.

Reading this book, I found myself nodding a lot. While I don’t understand the Catholic and Jewish references,  I get the concept and reason they wrote it. And, I appreciate knowing other couples are doing what we are…living our lives as individuals engaged in our relationships and faiths.

You can get a copy of Mixed-Up Love on Amazon. Retail value is $15.