We Love the Transparency in Beech-Nut Baby Food!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

From their first moments, I have tried hard to give my children the right foods and nutrients. It has been quite a learning process for me. At first, I didn’t even know to think about what was in the jars of baby food I spooned into my baby’s mouth – or what might be in the snack I just fed them. Now, I’m constantly wondering what makes up the food that I’m buying. 

 I’ve learned a lot from friends who faithfully make their own homemade baby food – but I don’t always have time for that. Which is why I am thrilled when I find products like Beech-Nut’s baby food jars and pouches that make the journey easier.

"It shows that the company has nothing to hide." says CSPI Executive Director Michael F. Jacobson. Beech-Nut is the first baby food company in the U.S. to reveal exact percentage of ingredients in its jars and pouches. They understood the importance for parents to know exactly what was in their babies’ food, so they’ve made it easy to find out. They have included percentage breakdowns of ingredients in their jars and pouches that’s easily accessible on their website. Hop over here to view the ingredient breakdown!

Which Beech-Nut products are you currently buying? Which are your favorites?



Ironman R2O FuelBelt

Monday, March 16, 2015

I've been searching for a better way (for me) to hydrate during long runs and be able to easily access any nutrients that I may need for refueling. Most of my running clothes do not have pockets large enough for the few pretzels or gels that I need when I'm out on a long run. I also despise running with a bottle of water in hand. I tend to dehydrate easily - so leaving it at home isn't an option for me. I also don't ruck every run, so I don't always have that extra space for items.

The Ironman R2O FuelBelt came in handy on its first use this past weekend. Though its trial run was on the treadmill, it held up for the 13.2 mile run. I had worried that the Velcro closure wouldn't hold up to the inclines and general bouncing around but it did just fine.


  • Fully adjustable elastic stretch waistband for a customized, comfortable no-bounce fit and Velcro closure
  • Revenge holster design provides for single handed entry and exit
  • Removable pocket with zipper for gels, keys, cash or up to iPhone sized electronics
  • Breathable thermoform backing wicks moisture away and keeps you cool
  • Two ergonomic, leak proof, dishwasher safe and BPA-free 7 oz bottles included

I had hoped that the pocket would be large enough to hold my cell phone in case I wanted to switch from placing the phone in an armband and putting it in the belt instead. The pocket is not large enough to hold a cell phone unless your smart phone. If your phone isn't a smart phone then it may work. Though it couldn't hold the phone - it did hold the few items that I need for refueling during a long run. The zipper was smooth, didn't snag or cause any problems while opening and closing.

The holster for the water bottles were also easy to maneuver. The bottles slide in and out with ease yet the bottles are gripped firmly enough to keep them in place during the run. I also enjoyed the padding on the the belt that separated me from the water bottles.

I do wish that this belt had a place to attach a race bib. Though I find most races (races, not runs in general) over a 10K to be boring - I'll do them every once in a while and it would be handy to be able to hang the bib from the belt.

Need an Ironman R2O FuelBelt?  Hop over here to grab yours!

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5 Ways to Stay Healthy This Winter

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Walgreens via Mode Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Walgreens

Though signs of spring are slowly beginning to appear – it’s still winter and it could last for several more weeks. We’re very happy, mama especially, that this winter wasn’t marked with a lot of coughs, colds or time spent at the doctor’s office. In fact, other than a sniffle here and there, we had a very healthy winter! That makes mama happy! I know we can’t always avoid getting sick – but we can be proactive in trying to protect ourselves in an effort to stay healthy. Here are a few things we focused on this winter.

1. Taking Vitamins

Walgreens brand vitamins (and supplements) are a staple in our home. It’s amazing how much better I feel when I take the vitamins that my body needs. We’re all different and will have different needs – but there are a few that each member of our family takes. At the top of our list is Vitamins A, B6, B12, C, and D. We also make sure to get a lot of calcium! 

When shopping for vitamins, you might find it useful to know that you can help a child in need with every vitamins or supplements purchase at Walgreens. Millions of children around the world are suffering from ‘hidden hunger’, a lack of micronutrients that can lead to disease and even death. In fact, 45% of all childhood deaths are attributable to under-nutrition. Walgreens is giving a portion of all vitamin retail sales to Vitamin Angels to help 100 million children in the U.S. and abroad get the vitamins they need to live well.

2. Keep Hands Clean

We touch a lot of surfaces and objects throughout the day. That can add up to a lot of germs collected and transferred to our face, lips and mouth. I think my kids touch everything they see when we are out grocery shopping, etc. While I’m working to remind them that we can’t go around touching everything we see – I’m also reminding them to wash their hands often. 

If we’ve been out an about – I have them wash their hands when we return home. Hands are also washed before handling food and meal time. When water and soap aren’t available, we use hand sanitizer. Remember to monitor your child’s use of hand sanitizer to help keep them from using too much or ingesting any of the gel.

Not a fan of hand sanitizer? Baby wipes are also great for keeping hands clean! I keep a pack in the car and if we’re hiking, enjoying a festival or amusement park – they are toted around with us.

3. Eat Healthy

I think we (at our home) are more tempted to have unhealthy eating habits when the weather has turned cold and we spend more time indoors. When we’re curled up on the couch, the comfort foods are just a little more appealing for some reason.
Make it a point to include fruits and veggies into your diet during these winter months. You may need their nutrients more than ever during this time of year. We’ve made sure to have at least one meal that includes a salad each week and to keep fruits and vegetables available for snacking.

4. Stay Active

The winter is a great excuse to stay inside and become inactive. The short days and long evenings can easily keep us on the couch. Make sure to remain active during these months. A brisk walk or ice skating with the kids can help to keep you feeling better, boost your immune system and relieve any tension that builds up from being indoors too long.

Can’t make it outside? Include an exercise routine to your day. Order a video exercise series or search online for free instructional videos. You’ll find that there are even exercises your kids can enjoy alongside you.

5. Proper Rest

Getting the right amount of sleep is important no matter the time of year. I’ve noticed that it’s easier for me to stay up later working or watching movies when the days have become shorter and I’m inside more. However, for my vitamins, nutrients and foods to be used properly by my body – my body needs rest. Ensure that you are getting to bed at a good time and sleeping long enough for your body to get the rest it needs.


Create your own DINO TALES learning adventure

Monday, March 9, 2015

It's my goal to raise children who forever see the world as an exciting place where they can always be learning.  That means that I am forever on the hunt for new and exciting ways that my children can learn.  I love when I am able to find a subject that fits their interest and is also presented in such a fun fashion that they don't immediately recognize that they are learning.

With the DINO TALES app, available in the App Store, your child can not only enjoy a fun learning experience - but create their own story! “The game combines a fun exploratory world with a beautiful story book to encourage children’s reading, writing, listening and speaking skills.” explains David Miller, award-winning educational expert at Kuato Studios. DINO TALES allows your child to capture their session of play and turn it into a digital storybook.

Aimed at children aged between 4 and 10, DINO TALES is designed to strengthen literacy, reasoning, and inquiry skills - in and beyond the classroom. The game has also been developed alongside pupils and teachers to ensure that language and content are age-appropriate, and that all opportunities for learning have been explored.

Game Features

  • Hatch 6 baby dinosaurs to play with and nurture
  • Discover an island teeming with prehistoric wildlife
  • Use Word Wheels to ask Darwin, the talking dino, any questions you have about dinosaurs
  • Explore an epic land filled with caves, forests, rivers and even an erupting volcano
  • Enjoy the musical boneyard, river rapids, boulder bowling, lava slides and more
  • Unleash your creativity with the Berry Blaster to make your dino stand out from the rest!
  • Fill a Storybook with your own Dino Tales, to be personalized and read with others
  • Collect loads of fossils and minerals to add to your Treasure Trove

While playing DINO TALES children will uncover a wealth of paleontological facts and fictions, enough to satisfy the most curious of minds. Using the intuitive Word Wheels, children can construct thousands of questions to ask Darwin, the in-game learning buddy, who answers in a child-friendly voice.

Parent Corner

I love this feature within Dino Tales. The Parent Corner is a pin-secure area where you can set your child’s reading age, session length and get email notifications when your child creates a new Dino Tale. It's great that you can customize it to your child and keep up with their app activity.

What others are saying

Fantastic Reading and Dinosaur fun

The kids set their age the minute the start the game and have fun meeting new dinosaur friends on each new level. What I love particularly is the fact that you have the game- which is fun and entertaining but can touch the bottom right corner to ask random "dinosaur facts"--- it's such a great way for kids to raise their confidence for reading as well as teaches them fun new facts to share . Best new reading app I've seen in a long time!! - Jennifer Arcuri


Planning a Family Vacation

Friday, March 6, 2015

I'm not certain if it's the snow covered yard or the bitterly cold winds that seem to pierce my face when I step outside - but something has me craving a vacation getaway. When I glance at the calendar, there are still weeks upon weeks that separate me from summer and our travel plans. Yet in a blink of an eye, we'll be wrapping up school and summer will be here before we know it! So, it's time to start planning the travel details: finding our destination, booking a hotel online, budgeting the cost and reviewing area attractions.

Though it can seem as if I'm thwarting the point of a fun-filled and relaxing time by pouring over the details - I've found that if I don't, we not only spend more money but we also spend more time trying to decide what to do than actually enjoying our destination. Here are a few things I keep in mind when planning our family vacations.

Try to be flexible

Be flexible on the length of your vacation, destination, hotel, dining and attractions. I've found that our trips are most enjoyable when we travel to a destination that the entire family can enjoy, we make an effort to find attractions that fit the various interest of each family member and find restaurants that satisfy everyone's taste buds.

Set a budget

If you set a travel budget during the planning stage - I believe that you're less likely to overspend or feel you're missing out on adventures while on vacation. If your finances allow, go ahead and be flexible with your budgeting. Whatever the budget, it is possible to have a fun and stress-free trip.

Remember to take everything into account when planning the budget. Think of: transportation, lodging, attracting, shopping, dining, and entertainment. The best part of planning your family vacation and budgeting ahead of time - is that you'll give yourself time to find creative ways to save money for the trip.

Choose a destination

Now that you've set a budget - you can decide what destination fits your budget. The cost of transportation will be a large factor. Driving a long distance will have high fuel costs and flying can be expensive as well - even before you factor in car rental once you land. However, if you drive - you can pack a lot of food to bring if you have the space. We've currently only vacationed in areas that are very family-friendly.

You'll need to decide what is important to you in a destination. Are you wanting to lounge on the beach, spend a few days hiking and fishing or spend time in a metropolis? Once you know that - you're choices will be quickly narrowed.

Keep in mind the cost to get to your destination and the general cost of staying there (including lodging and dining). Remember to research your destination before you book your stay. Find out what time of year is best to visit and what events may be happening in the area that you'd like to attend or avoid.

Affordable lodging

Knowing where you'd like to go now makes it possible to choose a place to stay. Though I want to find a hotel or resort that is affordable - I'm always, always nervous about this stage of planning. Though you may not spend a lot of time at your hotel - your lodging choice can weigh heavily on how much you enjoy your vacation. I spend a lot of time researching all options. When you first begin searching online for a hotel - it's likely that the most expensive options will be at the top of the results. I suggest scrolling down a bit and browsing through all of the hotels. You are very likely to find a place that fits your needs and budget. You may also want to consider, motels, camping sites, bed and breakfasts and short-term rentals. Or perhaps you know someone who owns a condo in that area and is willing to rent it to you during your stay.

Attraction deals and discounts

Before I purchase tickets to local attractions - I try to find any deals or discounts available. Sometime, the hotel or resort you're staying at have special arrangements for discounts at local attractions. Be sure to ask this when booking your stay. Local travel guides and attraction passes are good ways to help save space in your budget. The large the destination, the more likely you are to find an attraction pass. Check out the visitor's bureaus for added savings, discounts and information.

The time of year that you visit can also change pricing on attractions and deals. Going during an off-season may result in lower lodging rates and attraction ticket prices.

Find Free or Cheap Local Activities.

My favorite activity is a free one! When we visit the Smoky Mountains - we love taking advantage of the national park. It's free and it is beautiful! If we stay near the beach - going to the beach is also free unless you need to pay for parking. We often try to find a hotel right on the beach to save ourselves time.

Some museums may offer free days, there may be local festivals happening that you can attend and there are always lower cost activities such as put-put.


National Read Across America Day - Dr. Seuss Day

Monday, March 2, 2015

We love to read and encourage this by trips to the library and by allowing the kids to own as many books as they choose. Dan and I chose a few favorite series of our from childhood and very purposefully added them to our collection when the children were very little. That included The Berenstain Bears and Dr. Seuss.

Today is Dr. Seuss Day - so we have set aside special time to read our favorites. Actually, as I'm writing this, Joey is reading Hooper Humperdink...? Not Him! to me. He's reciting most of it from memory. Yes, he's had that read to him and read it quite a lot over the years.

There are many fun and simple things you can do today to celebrate Dr. Seuss's birthday. For lunch or breakfast, you can serve Green Eggs and Ham. Create a The Cat in the Hat dessert parfait with yogurt and strawberries. Snack on Goldfish Colors and read One Fish Two Fish .

My top 5 Dr. Seuss Favorites

What are your favorite Dr. Seuss books?

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How would you spend $1,000 on Amazon?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

I've had an injury that has kept me indoors. I'm thankful that the weather has been cold and snowy during my recovery as opposed to sunny, warm and inviting weather. It has helped me to not want to be out and about as much as I normally would. But today, Savannah and I began talking about shopping. We were chatting and chatting about how much we wanted to get out and go store to store and just shop to our heart's content.

Since we weren't able to actually get out and do this - we decided to window-shop online. Logging on to Amazon, we decided that we could each fill a wishlist with $1,000 worth of merchandise. From new sandals, to beach totes and toys - we had a blast. It was great fun for a snowy day indoors and somewhat helped to squelch that urge to shop.

So, what would you do if you could log on to Amazon and spend $1,000 on anything you wanted?

Browse around and let us know in the comments all of the items you chose! Hop over here, browse and be sure to tell us what you would do with that much on Amazon.

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