A Maine Mom sharing her adventures in life and parenting.
Mindy is a stay-at-home Mom to her 2 year old daughter and infant son. She previously worked full-time as a Paralegal for more than 10 years. She loves cooking & baking, classic rock, coffee and wine, sunshine and spending time with her children.
Being a stay at home Mom to two toddlers, I try to find deals and save money whenever I can, especially when it comes to clothing. I NEVER pay full price for my kids’ clothes. My husband and I are on a tight budget, and every dollar counts.
One of my new favorite places to search for coupons to use at my favorite stores is Groupon Coupons. You may have used Groupon in the past to save on events and experiences, but now you can save even more!
With Groupon Coupons, you can easily search for coupons, and you never have to pay any kind of fees. It’s completely free! I just took a look tonight, and saw so many great deals! Back-to-school is just around the corner, so it’s time to start thinking about new clothes for the kiddos!
These are just a few of the great deals that I found:
Aeropostale – Enjoy an extra 40% off clearance plus get free shipping on orders $100+ or $5 flat rate shipping.
Target – Save an extra 20% on Kids’ Clearance clothing items.
Old Navy – 40% off purchase with Old Navy credit card, or 30% off without credit card.
Macy’s – 25% off with free shipping on orders of $50 or more.
Payless – Save 20%.
These coupons all expire soon, so you’ll want to head on over to Groupon Coupons to check them out before they’re gone! There, you will find so many more great deals. Shopping on a budget has never been easier! I really love having all of these awesome coupon codes available right in one place. It makes searching for savings quick and painless.
Some of the other places you can find great deals on with Groupon Coupons include:
You can search for coupons based on where you live or which store you would like to shop at. You can also find some coupons that are exclusive to Groupon and can’t be found anywhere else. How awesome is that?!
Head on over to Groupon Coupons to see how much you can save on your purchases, and let me know which coupons you are most excited about!
Thereviewer 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.
As I have mentioned before, my husband, John, has worked in IT/Network Security for many years, so he is always keeping up with the latest technology. He tries to keep our kids involved in technology, too, and it’s a dream of his for them to eventually learn coding. He always says “coding is the future” and he’s not wrong. In this technology-driven world we live in now, coding is definitely a very valuable skill to have, and it’s really beneficial to start teaching children to code at a young age.
When I saw the new Fisher-Price Code-a-Pillar, available at Best Buy, I jumped at the opportunity to review it with my three year old daughter, Kayleigh. She has always been very inquisitive and loves to learn new things. I just knew she would love the Code-a-Pillar!
The Code-a-Pillar is an adorable caterpillar toy that teaches kids ages 3-6 some amazing skills, including sequencing, critical thinking, reasoning, discovery, memory, problem solving and experimentation.
The Code-a-Pillar has eight segments with unique command icons (1 sound segment, 3 straights, 2 right turns and 2 left turns).
Kids can direct the caterpillar to move in a certain direction, simply by rearranging the segments. The segments hook together via a USB port, and are very easy for kids to connect by themselves. Kayleigh got the hang of it it no time at all.
She had an absolute blast playing with the Code-a-Pillar, and has played with it every single day since we have opened it. It has quickly become one of her favorite toys, and my 1 year old son, Logan, loves it, too! They are just amazed with the lights, noises and the way it moves, and I love that it is teaching them great skills at the same time.
Kids can use the Code-a-Pillar on its own, and it also comes with a companion app that allows them to partake in challenges or experiment with different patterns. Kids can use their imaginations and set up obstacle courses for the Code-a-Pillar to navigate through. This toy will definitely grow with Kayleigh and Logan over the next few years, and I’m really excited about that.
If you have young kids at home, they are sure to love this learning toy. Check out the Code-a-Pillar at your local Best Buy!
Summer is here, and I have been so busy that I can hardly keep up with everything I have going on! Between a family vacation to Boston, Kayleigh’s 3rd birthday, Father’s Day, my parents’ 35th wedding anniversary, the 4th of July, two bridal showers, two weddings and my niece and nephew’s birthday parties, I feel like I don’t even have time to breathe. On top of that, I have started babysitting my two nephews (a 1 year old, and a 3 month old) three days a week, in addition to caring for my own two children (a 3 year old and a 1 year old).
I have been so busy that it has been really challenging for me to stay on top of everything I have going on. My Outlook calendar is my best friend right now. It helps me to keep track of my scheduled and not miss any important deadlines. Another thing that is helping me out tremendously right now is being able to stock up on my family’s favorite household items at www.avoidtheoops.com.
As a stay-at-home Mom of two toddlers, it’s not very convenient for me to get out to the store. I really try to avoid having any of those emergency moments where I have run out of something really important (like toilet paper, baby wipes, etc.) and need to run out to the store to get it immediately. Anyone who has toddlers knows that it’s not easy to get out of the house with them, and I’d rather just save myself the trouble by taking a little time to stock up, and make sure that I never run out.
I recently placed an order on www.avoidtheoops.com for some of the items my family uses quite often. I got a 6-pack of Bounty Select-A-Size Paper Towels. These are super rolls, so it is really like having 11 rolls. I have run out of paper towels while cooking bacon in the past, and it was very difficult to drain the fat off of the bacon without them. We use paper towels for other things around our home, too, but that really sticks out in my mind as one occasion where I don’t want to be without them again.
You can never have too much toilet paper on hand, so I stocked up on that by ordering a 24 pack of Charmin Ultra Strong Toilet Paper Double Rolls. I won’t be running out of toilet paper any time soon, and that is a very good thing!
Next up, I ordered some toiletries – a 3 pack of Crest Cavity Protection Toothpaste, a double pack of Crest ProHealth Mouthwash, and a 2 pack of Old Spice Deodorant for my husband.
We go through a tremendous amount of baby wipes in this house, so I also stocked up on those by ordering a large box of Pampers baby wipes refills. I also grabbed a huge bottle of my favorite Dawn dish detergent.
Finally, I ordered a smaller bottle of Tide Free and Clear Liquid Laundry Detergent which I keep as my back up in case I ever do run out of my bigger bottles of laundry detergent.
If you’re as busy as I am this summer, make sure you visit www.avoidtheoops.com to stock up on your favorite household items, too. You don’t want to be caught in an “oops” moment!
Ice cream is one of my biggest weaknesses, and now that I’ve learned how to make no-churn ice cream at home, I may be in trouble! I just can’t stop making it… and eating it! It’s so incredibly easy to make, and I love that I can put anything I want in it to make it my own. I also love the fact that it’s not full of artificial ingredients. It makes me feel just a little bit better about eating so much of it!
I’ve been experimenting with some of my favorite flavors lately, and have come up with some pretty good combinations. I’ll be sharing my recipe for a no-churn s’mores ice cream soon, but I thought I would share this delicious No-Churn Banana Split Ice Cream recipe first.
I love a good banana split, and I thought it would be neat to make a No-Churn Banana Split Ice Cream. To make this ice cream, I just added a bunch of the usual banana split ingredients to my vanilla no-churn ice cream base, and it came out amazing! I am very pleased with the end result, and I think you will really enjoy it too!
NO-CHURN BANANA SPLIT ICE CREAM
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
1 cup (10 oz. container) frozen strawberries in syrup
2 bananas, sliced
1/2 cup crushed pineapple, drained
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Whip cold heavy cream and vanilla extract in a stand mixer, or with a hand mixer, until it forms stiff peaks. Be careful not to over whip it, or you’ll end up with butter instead!
Gently fold sweetened condensed milk into whipped cream mixture.
Gently fold the remaining ingredients into whipped cream mixture and pour into a 9×5 loaf pan.
Top ice cream with extra strawberries, crushed pineapple, banana slices and walnuts, if desired.
Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 6 hours.
Do you make no-churn ice cream at home? What are your favorite flavor combinations?
We all know toddlers can be picky eaters. One day they will love something so much that they will request to eat it all day long, and then the next day they won’t want anything to do with it. Luckily, Gerber has lots of great snack options available that even the pickiest of toddlers will reach for time and time again.
My 3 year old daughter, Kayleigh, and my 1 year old son, Logan, have both enjoyed trying out Gerber’s new Lil’ Beanies snacks. They are available in original and white cheddar and broccoli varieties. Not only are these snacks toddler approved, but parents will love them too because they are made with navy beans and pack 2 grams of protein (A 9% Daily Value), 1 gram of fiber and 10% Daily value of Vitamin E per serving!
We do most of our grocery shopping at Walmart, and I always visit the baby aisles to pick up diapers, wipes and snacks for the kids, so I picked up a few cans of Gerber Lil’ Beanies the last time we were there. The kids were so excited to open up the can when we got home. They can’t get enough of them!
It can be difficult to get toddlers to eat enough healthy foods, so here are a few ways I like to make toddler snack time fun in our home:
Offer a Variety of Healthy Snacks – Toddlers love variety, so I serve my kids an assortment of snacks on a divided plate. It’s visually appealing to them and they love to point out the different colors and textures.
Make a Funny Face – Toddlers love playing with their food and they will love making funny faces with their snacks. Gerber Lil’ Beanies make perfect eyebrows, and you can use an assortment of fruits and vegetables to make eyes, a nose, a mouth, and even hair!
Make a Game Out of It – Toddlers love to play games, so I often times will turn snack time into a fun, and educational, game. One of our favorites is a counting game. Just arrange your snacks in different numbered groups and let your toddler count how many are in each group.
Have a Picnic – Having a picnic is a great way to put a fun spin on snack time. If it’s a nice day outside, grab a blanket and head out for an outdoor picnic. If the weather’s not so great outside, have a picnic on the living room floor instead. You could even make a blanket fort, and have a picnic inside of it!
How do you make toddler snack time fun in your home?
Thereviewer 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.
My husband, John, has worked in IT and network security for several years now. Even as a kid, he was always into the latest technology, so it’s really no wonder he chose the field of work that he did. He is always checking out the latest phones, computers, televisions, etc., and he is really into gaming.
One of the latest advancements in gaming technology is the Samsung Gear VR. Mobile virtual reality has finally arrived, and now you can socialize with friends, be at the center of exciting games, watch the best of Hollywood in your own private cinema, and so much more. The Samsung Gear VR puts you right in the action!
Here are just a few examples of the fun you can have with the Samsung Gear VR:
Step Back in Time – Jurassic World Apatosaurus lets you wander through a prehistoric forest, so you can relish the sense of extraordinary wonder as you anticipate the approach of an Apatosaurus.
Rocket Through Space – EVE:Gunjack blasts you right into the middle of an epic space battle. Jump right in and fight as the action unfolds all around you.
Instant Movie Night – A cozy sofa. Your favorite flicks. Netflix* for Gear VR sweeps you away to a virtual living room for the ultimate watching experience.
Doesn’t that sound like so much fun? With full access to more than 1 million Vimeo videos and Twitch, a leading video platform and community for gamers, there’s always something new to experience. I’d like to drop myself into a beach setting somewhere. Wouldn’t that be fantastic?!
Samsung Gear VR Savings for Father’s Day
Now through June 18, 2016, you can get the Samsung Gear VR for FREE online or at Best Buy stores, plus $50 of Virtual Reality content with your purchase, or lease, and activation of select Samsung Smartphones. So, if Dad’s in the market for a new phone, this is the perfect time to surprise him with one, plus this exciting bonus!
Do you think the Dad in your life would love to get in on this mobile virtual reality?
This post was developed in partnership with Tom’s of Maine. All opinions are my own.
Over the past few years, I have slowly been changing out the products I use for ones with natural ingredients. This transition started when I became pregnant with my daughter, Kayleigh. I knew I wanted to use natural products with my children, as I was concerned about ingredients in various household products and their effect on our well-being.
Finding the right products for my family has taken a bit of trial and error, and I am not absolutely perfect in my endeavors to use only natural products, but I have taken a huge step in the right direction. As they say, any progress is good progress. When I go shopping now, I try to take a look at the ingredients list in the products I buy, and look for simple ingredients lists with ingredients that I recognize.
I was born and raised in the state of Maine, so when I finally made the #DeoSwitch, naturally I chose to switch to Tom’s of Maine natural deodorant. I was really drawn to all of the different varieties available – unscented, lavender, powder, tea tree, apricot and lemongrass.
I really like wearing the unscented version when I am spending time outside going for walks, playing with the kids, gardening, etc. I find that it helps to keep the bugs away from me, as there is no scent for them to be attracted to.
My favorite of all of the scents is the natural powder one, but I really do enjoy them all. I have been using this deodorant for a little while now, and it really does work very well.
Tom’s of Maine is a company that I trust. They make high quality natural toothpaste, mouthwash, dental floss, deodorant, bar soap and baby care products,and their team consists of distinguished dentists, scientists and herbal experts that are leaders in their fields. I love that they have developed a wide range of products and choices so people can decide what best fits with their needs and values.
Tom’s of Maine natural deodorant contains no aluminum, artificial fragrances or preservatives and no petrochemicals, and offers clinically proven, 24-hour odor protection using odor-fighting hops, the mineral zinc and only natural fragrances.
One more thing I really love about Tom’s of Maine is their fully recyclable packaging through local municipalities or the TerraCycle Tom’s of Maine Natural Care Brigade. I think it’s so great that they not only offer natural products, but packaging that can be easily recycled too. If that wasn’t enough, they also give 10% of their profits back to helping people and the planet!
A Note About Natural Products:
When trying a natural personal care product for the first time it’s important to give your body time to adjust. If your body is used to a conventional product, you might need a little time to adjust to a natural formula free of chemicals and artificial ingredients. Trying the deodorant for at least 3-7 days, including testing out different scents (or unscented), can help determine the best fit for your body’s unique chemistry.
Enter for a chance to win three Tom’s of Maine Long Lasting deodorants!
This giveaway is open to US residents only, ages 18+ and ends on 6/26/16 at 11:59 PM EST.
Laundry is one of my least favorite chores. I used to not really mind it too much when I was single and only had my own clothes to take care of, but now that I have to wash my husband’s and kids’ clothes, too, it can easily become overwhelming.
After struggling to keep up with my laundry for what seemed like forever, I finally decided I had to make a change. I was so tired of watching the piles of laundry stack up around me and not ever being able to find anything I was looking for. After a bit of trial and error, I have finally found a system that works great for me.
Buy Two Laundry Baskets for Each Person in Your Home – One of the biggest problems I faced with doing laundry was that everyone’s clothes would just end up in one big pile and I could never find anything I was looking for. When it was time to take the kids out to the park or a doctor appointment, I would waste several minutes digging through a huge pile of laundry, trying to find each of them an outfit.
Now, I have two laundry baskets for each person in my home – my husband, myself, my son and my daughter. I know this may sound like overkill, but there is a method to my madness, I swear! I like to use the tall laundry baskets with handles on them, as they hold a lot, and are easy to carry around the house. Label your baskets, or designate a specific color of basket for each person to make things even easier.
I keep one laundry basket for each of us in our bedrooms, and I keep a second laundry basket for each of us in my laundry room. When the bedroom baskets get full, I take all of the dirty laundry to the laundry room to be washed, but I leave those laundry baskets in the bedrooms so they are available for putting future dirty laundry in. This prevents dirty laundry from being scattered all over my house, as everyone always has a designated place to put their dirty laundry.
After I have washed and dried the laundry, I separate it by person as I take it out of the dryer. Having a laundry basket for each of us in the laundry room makes this part super easy. After the laundry has been sorted, I bring each laundry basket upstairs, and into the bedroom it belongs in. The empty laundry baskets are then brought back to the laundry room.
Fold or Hang Laundry as You Take it Out of the Dryer – Instead of just throwing all of your clean clothes into a basket to deal with at a later time, take a few minutes to fold or hang your clothes as you take them out of the dryer. Keep a stash of clothes hangers in your laundry room for convenience. Having a rod to hang them up on also helps. Now that I have empty laundry baskets in my laundry room for each person in my home, I can simply fold a piece of clothing as I take it out of the dryer, place it in the basket it belongs in, then bring it upstairs to put it away.
Buy Two Separate Laundry Baskets for Towels – I wash towels separately from clothes, so I keep one laundry basket upstairs in my bathroom closet. This makes it easy for us to toss used towels in as we are done with them, and prevents them from being thrown on my bathroom floor.
When the basket is full, I bring the towels into my laundry room, and the empty basket returns to the bathroom closet. After the towels are washed and dried, I fold them as I take them out of the dryer, and bring them upstairs to be put away.
Set Alarms on Your Washing Machine and Dryer – My laundry room is in the basement, so I was constantly forgetting when I had put a load in the washing machine. It would sit in there for a day or two, wet, and I would end up having to wash it all over again. Now, I set the alarms on both my washing machine and dryer. The alarm sounds when my laundry cycle is done, and I am reminded to go downstairs to switch the laundry over.
Protect Your Clothes with Downy Fabric Conditioner – It can be so frustrating to buy new clothes, only to have them fade, pill or lose their shape in the wash. It’s so easy to keep your clothes looking new with Downy Fabric Conditioner, though. While your clothes are in the wash, Downy conditions, strengthens, and lubricates each fiber to protect clothing from the friction, and agitation of typical washing cycle. Colors stay true and resist fading, towels are protected from pilling and fuzz and fabrics are softened for added comfort!
Downy Fabric Conditioner also provides clothes with long-lasting freshness, reduces wrinkles better than using detergent alone, and it makes your clothes smell amazing! I absolutely love the April Fresh scent.
To protect your clothes even more, turn garments inside out, and wash soft fabrics like cotton on the gentle cycle.
You can find Downy Fabric Conditioner at Walmart and Walmart.com for everyday low prices.
The 4th of July has always been my favorite holiday, even as a kid. Most kids love Christmas the best because of all of the gifts they get, but not me. I’d rather have everything that comes with celebrating the 4th of July – the warm summer weather, delicious BBQ food, and spectacular fireworks. I love to celebrate the 4th of July with a festive backyard party, and I’ve learned some great tips and tricks over the years for making it awesome. Here’s how you can throw a killer 4th of July party this year, too!
Sometimes Less is More
When it comes to throwing a killer 4th of July Party, decorations are always fun, but sometimes less is more. You don’t want your guests trying to squeeze through overpowering decorations or duck under red, white, and blue streamers. Not only can decorations get expensive, but you can really show the love for your country in the food that you eat, your drinks and the games that you play. Instead of spending time finding the perfect decorations to fill up your space, spend your time creating the perfect party essentials.
Here are some simple decoration ideas:
• Lights: You can use Christmas tree lights or change your bulbs in your outdoor lights to display red and blue colors as the sun falls. This is a fun idea and allows everyone to see what they are doing as it gets darker.
• Red, White, and Blue tablecloths: You can never go wrong with table cloths no matter what party you have. Check out this really festive US American Flag Tablecloth!
• A Flag: The 4th of July is about our freedom, and no 4th of July party can be complete without the symbol of our freedom displayed for all to see. Use small flags as centerpieces for your table or a large flag to hang on your porch.
Show your Spirit with your Food
When it comes to fewer decorations, you can really add some decorative touches using the snacks you provide. Here are just a few favorites for 4th of July:
• Flag Cake: Create a sheet cake and use red, white, and blue frosting to create a flag display. You could even do blueberries and strawberries over white frosting for this effect.
• Festive Skewers: Get creative with your fruit bowl by adding white cheese, red strawberries, and blueberries onto your skew sticks for a festive treat.
• Hamburgers with Flags: Mini-burgers are a great hit, but add a little flag toothpick for a decorative swing.
Get your Drink on
Just because it’s a party doesn’t mean you have to drink alcoholic beverages, of course, it doesn’t mean you can’t either. Here are some drink ideas that can go either way!
• Make a Kool-Aid Flag: This is a cool way to organize your drinks. Make blue, red, and white Kool-Aid. Pour into cups and start aligning them to make a flag. If you want to switch this to an alcoholic beverage, spike the Kool-Aid before pouring in the glasses.
• Layered Drinks: Fill ice cube trays with blue and red Gatorade and freeze. Add your Gatorade cubes to a glass and pour in some sprite. Watch the festivity appears before your eyes.
• Add a Festive Touch with Fruit: Use a star-shaped cookie cutter to cut star shapes from a honeydew melon, and add those, along with strawberries and blueberries to your 4th of July drinks for a festive touch.
Enjoy Some Creative Games
No party is ever quite complete without a few fun activities in the mix. However, as stated above, you want to make your party feel festive without all the decorations. Here are a few festive games to play:
• Battle Ship Drinks: You can use two cardboard pizza boxes to create a battleship game of a lifetime. If you want an adult game, strategically place your shot glasses of liquor, otherwise fill those glasses with Kool-Aid for a fun battle of independence.
• Balloon Pop Relay: Blow up some red, white, and blue balloons for this game. Line everyone up into two teams. Each player must run down, sit on the balloon, pop it to find the note and do what it says all the way to the next person.
• Capture the Flag: Everyone loves a good ole’ game of capture the flag, and what better time to play it than on 4th of July. Don’t let the other team take away your independence!
Don’t Forget the Essentials
A 4th of July party wouldn’t be complete with the essentials. Don’t forget to stock up on plates, napkins, plastic silverware, and cups. If you are making festive drinks, remember to get clear glasses. If you choose not to do festive drinks, make your cups festive by getting blue and red.
If you want a killer 4th of July party, this is the way to go! Are you looking forward to 4th of July? What other ideas do you have for killing it this year?
My 15 month old son, Logan, has always been a good eater. He weighed over ten pounds at birth, and grew out of his clothes so quickly during the first year of his life, that I could hardly keep up. He always had a fierce appetite, and would devour pretty much everything I put in front of him.
Now that he’s a bit older, however, he’s started to go through a phase where he likes to play with his food a little more than he likes to eat it. He’s still a pretty good eater, in comparison to my 3 year old daughter who barely eats anything at all these days, but there are times when I’m really not sure exactly how much food he is eating, because a lot of it ends up splattered all over my kitchen floor, or rubbed through his hair, or all over his face!
Toddler mealtimes can be very messy, but they don’t have to be stressful. It’s all part of the learning and growing process, and some day it won’t be so worrisome. Until then, I just make sure my kids always have a variety of healthy and nutritious snacks and meals available to them. Some of our favorites are apple slices with peanut butter, cheese and whole grain crackers, nitrate free deli meats, vegetables with hummus and hard-boiled eggs. Even if they don’t eat everything on their plates, I at least know what they do end up eating is healthy and nutritious. I also try to sneak vegetables into our meals whenever possible. It’s really easy to add a bunch of different vegetables to their favorite meal of whole grain macaroni and cheese. Everything tastes better with a little cheese on it, right?
In addition, when I reward my children for doing something good, I usually opt for a small piece of dark chocolate, instead of cookies or candy, as it’s loaded with antioxidants and beneficial nutrients. They think they are getting a delicious treat, and I know they are getting something nourishing for their bodies.
MAINTAINING PROPER NUTRITION DURING THE TRANSITION TO TODDLERHOOD
Like most other toddlers, Logan stopped drinking formula when he turned a year old. Now that he is no longer drinking formula, I want to make sure he is still getting the proper nutrition his growing body needs, and after a little bit of research, I found Stage 3 Gerber® Good Start® Grow Toddler Drink.
This toddler drink is designed for ages 12 months to 24 months, and it has essential nutrients to help fill common nutrient gaps that many toddlers experience since toddler mealtimes can be so unpredictable. It also has probiotics to support digestive health. I love knowing that my toddler is getting the nourishment his body needs.
Learn more about Stage 3 Gerber® Good Start® Grow Toddler Drink here, and check the store locator on Gerber.com to find it in a store near you. I buy ours at Target!
“Welcome to Toddlerhood Kit” Giveaway
Gerber is giving you a chance to win a “Welcome to Toddlerhood Kit” so that you can experience Stage 3 Gerber® Good Start® Grow Toddler Drink (and some bonus goodies!) for yourself! For a chance to win this prize package, simply visit the Stage 3 Gerber® Good Start® Grow Toddler Drink page, then come back here and comment below with one thing you learned.
For an extra entry, leave a separate comment sharing an experience you have had with your little ones transitioning into toddlerhood, or a fun toddler mealtime story.
This giveaway is open to US residents only and will end on Monday, June 20, 2016 at 11:59pm EST. Good luck!