Trendy Mom Reviews
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Saturday, April 22, 2017

April 2017 Paper Pumpkin Box


The monthly Paper Pumpkin subscription always surprises with fun projects that make me look like a pro! This month's kit for April 2017 is fabulous. It is perfect timing since the school year will come to an end next month and the customizable cards are perfect for the teachers and staff that have been so kind to my children throughout the year.

The kit contains:

  • A Sara Thing Photopolymer Stamp Seet
  • Basic Black Archival Stampin' Spot
  • 4 Watercolor pencils
  • 12 black card bases
  • 12 printed envelopes
  • 12 white card liners (for inside of cards)
  • 8 resist watercolor paper pieces
  • 4 sheets of watercolor paper
  • 4 black & white striped sticker sheets
  • 4 white sticker sheets
  • 1 sheet die-cut banners
  • 1 sheet leaf stickers
  • 12 liter acrylic flowers
  • 350 adhesive dots
  • 60 dimensionals
  • 1 toll washi tape
  • 1 paintbrush
It was really interesting to use the watercolor pencils and then smear the color with the paintbrush. My first  attempt was colorful and I love how it turned out.




My second attempt was to have a solid pink color with orange blended in the center. I think that it turned out well. 



I then used the stamps, ink, stickers, washi tape, and acrylic glitter flowers to make the cards pop.  I am excited about how they turned out and look forward to surprising people with them!



If you want to try a Paper Pumpkin subscription, visit them here. I absolutely love them because their kits are fun and easy to work with.  It's a nice investment because the kits provide entertainment and then it's useful to always have beautiful birthday cards, thank you cards, and more on hand. I love people's reactions to my handmade designs!  Really though, I would have never come up with such intricate and beautiful cards if I didn't have the guidance from Paper Pumpkin.
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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Everyday Tips for Helping Your Baby to Learn


Nothing is better than a sweet little baby that is learning a new trick such as smiling, rolling, crawling, or babbling.  In today's post, I'll share everyday tips to help your baby to learn and show you products that we use daily with our baby. I'll also tell you about my favorite baby store - The Baby Cubby.  They are so much more than a "baby store".

Everyday Tips for Helping Your Baby to Learn

1. Create a bath time routine:  Now that our baby is several months old, we give him a bath around 7pm each night before feeding him and putting him to sleep. Having a routine is helpful for little ones. In addition, bath time also offers the opportunity for little ones to have fun while learning.  For instance, we use the adorable little Boon Cogs Bath Toys and Boon Pipes Bath Toys. These toys are a lot of fun because there are many ways to configure them. It's fun for little ones to see what happens when the water pours through the different pieces!   We also love the Oball O-Duckie that floats and has holes for little fingers to grab.



2. Create a cleanup routine: We sing the "Clean Up" song and then put our bath toys into the Boon Frog Pod Bath Toy Scoop.  This is a fun routine that combines a fun song and colorful frog character!



3. Encourage them to talk with excitement: My first son was a late talker. We were lucky to have a professor at a local university that helped us with his delayed speech.  One tip that she shared was to use animated words during activities. For instance, we taught my son to say his first real word - BOOM - by bouncing a ball and saying the word with excitement.   We are doing something similar with my baby. We use the Oball 4" Classic Rattle Ball and roll it into his hands while saying, "boom."  He giggles and loves it!  We also use the Skip Hop Treetop Friends Ball Trio and roll them into his hands while exclaiming, "boom." This makes learning fun!



4. Practice music: Musical instruments are fun for little ones.  We took our older son to baby music classes at a university and learned many tips.  One of the most important takeaways from our class  was to teach them patterns.  We use the Skip Hop Hedgehog Accordion to let him explore music and to teach him short musical patterns.



5. Let them explore at mealtimes: Mealtime is an opportunity to learn new things.  We let our little one hold the spoon and feel the texture of his food.  We use the Boon Serve Baby Feeding Spoons that are soft to grip and supervise him closely.




You may not realize it, but your little one is learning everyday!  These tips are fun and easy ways to help them to learn about the world around them.

Finally, I want to tell you about our favorite baby store - The Baby Cubby. This trendy store is popular in Utah. They are also popular online as they are more than just "another baby store".  I feel like they are a great resource for parents.  Let me give an overview: 
The Baby Cubby is for every parent out there who has ever felt overwhelmed or discouraged about becoming a parent. Our Baby Cubby team is made up of parents who have been there, we know what it’s like and we are passionate about encouraging, inspiring, and reminding parents how amazing they are and how important their role is.
The way we do that is by finding the best and safest baby gear and providing it to parents in a fun shopping experience where we do things like test strollers on our stroller track, price match everyday - even amazon, offer free shipping nationwide at BabyCubby.com and actively engage with parents via social media and our cubby community blog to discuss some of those hard topics of parenting.  Read more about what they are passionate about and why they do what they do on their about us page here.
We hope that you enjoy our tips and the precious time that you have with your baby! 
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My Baby's First Easter Basket


I am in a baby group where we had a long discussion about whether a baby should receive an Easter basket when they are under one year old.  Some moms think that it's fun. Others say to skip it because they won't remember.  Personally, I think that it is a fun idea that gives me happiness and lasts in photos. I have two children, so my older son appreciates knowing that the Easter Bunny is there for his baby brother.  So, let me share his Easter basket!

We use the Easter Basket Totes from Lands' End.  My older son already had one that we reuse each year. Their totes are amazing because they are adorable and durable.  My older son has stress tested his Easter Basket Tote since he was 2 years old.  It has survived Easter Egg Hunts in the rain and mud. It has survived melted chocolate, spilled drinks, and sticky cotton candy. I've had to tell him that he isn't allowed to use it as a hat or as a pretend boot.  Yes, my child has stress tested his Easter Basket Tote over the years!  Amazingly, it has held up to his stress testing and still looks as good as new.  I simply wash it with gentle laundry soap in my sink and let it air dry at the end of each season so that it is ready for next year. In addition to the durability, I have to add that my son loves the generous size of this Easter basket.  It holds approximately one gallon worth of treats.  This trendy little Easter Basket Tote has been a big part of his childhood and appears in Easter photos every year.  

Here is a photo of the whimsical Easter Basket Tote that has lasted 5 years and looks like new!



Now that we have another baby, we decided to order matching Easter Basket Totes from Lands' End for both of them since we know that we will use them from year-to-year.  We had them embroidered with their names.  We love the camouflage eggs this year, but they also have several other patterns available.  

Here is a photo of the new Easter Basket Totes.



As I mentioned earlier, this is my baby's first Easter.  We filled his Easter Basket Tote with a few fun items. The toys include a rubber ducky, ball, gears, and tubes for bathtub fun. 

We hope that you have a wonderful Easter weekend!  If you love the Easter Basket Totes, you will find them on Lands' End website here
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Gift Ideas for Second Babies


Have you ever wondered, What do you buy for a baby shower gift if it is a second baby?  In today's post, I'll share some ideas of gifts that I personally loved.

1. Nice quality outfits.
My favorite baby gifts are clothing.  I think that every baby is unique and photos of them in their favorite little outfits are wonderful memories.  I have hand-me-down clothing from my older son, but I love to give my baby new clothing that is just for him.  It feels so special to me.  For instance, I received the cute outfit below by Hallmark Baby that includes the Silly Snake Henley and Lime Loungers. The outfit is adorable, but best of all, it is super soft and comfortable for my little mover! It's fun to cuddle with him in this cozy outfit.



2. A baby book to document their first year.
A baby book to document his birth, first steps, first words, and more is always a special gift.  My boys both have baby books from Hallmark that I treasure.  I am sure that they will treasure them when they are older!

3. Disposable diapers.
Let's be practical.  Every baby requires diapers.  We recommend buying larger sizes in case the mom receives diapers from multiple people.  Keep in mind that some babies may skip the newborn size and grow out size one quickly.  Size three diapers are a great gift. My son was in size three diapers at ages 3 to 7 months, so they lasted quite a while.

4. Baby toys.
Many toys are too gross to hand down from one child to another. My older son "loved" some of his toys a bit too much.  We threw out toys with bite marks or other wear and tear.  Baby toys also change over the years, so it's fun for a new mom to have the latest toys for their little one. 

5. Gift cards to go out to eat.
Having a second child seems exponentially more challenging to me. I'm always exhausted. Another one of my favorite gifts was gift cards to order take-out. These were especially nice during growth spurts when my baby didn't let me have much sleep.

We hope that you enjoy these special gift ideas for moms that are having their second baby!  Of course, these are also great gift ideas for a first baby too.  
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(Win it!) A Non-Candy Easter Egg Hunt Idea with Books



Easter is just a few days away. This is one of my favorite holidays because it is fun to see my children caught up in whimsical Easter traditions such as Easter egg hunts. However, I love alternatives to candy for Easter morning. In today's post, I'll share a fun alternative to hiding candy -- hide trendy books in each room of your house for your little ones.  


A Non-Candy Easter Egg Hunt Idea with Books
Supplies:
Directions:
1. Set Easter Baskets out for your children with a letter from the Easter Bunny for your children.  Explain that there are books hidden in each room of your home!  

2. Hide the books in each room. Scholastic has some great options that they are sure to enjoy. Personally, I listed a variety of books that have different topics and characters in the supply list above because it's fun for children to immerse themselves into different worlds through books.  The books are priced between approximately $4 to $10 each and they have free shipping if you spend $35 or more, so it's easy to stock up on a dozen books to hide throughout your house.  Plus, you will be doing something good for your children instead of having them binge on sugar!   

If our book tastes are different than yours, check out this list of popular book recommendations from the pros at Scholastic and the latest findings from the Kids & Family Reading Report. You will also appreciate this list of 5 things that kids and parents want in children's books.

We are big advocates of reading at our house. Our son tests ahead of grade level because we make it a priority to read together as a family and to provide him with books. The image below is interesting because it shows that 52% of frequent book readers have over 100 books in their home.  Personally, we have 100+ books for our children and love reading to our children before bedtime every evening.  It's a great way to give our children an advantage in life.


We hope that you enjoy our suggestions and have fun on Easter morning!  This fun alternative to candy is sure to keep your little ones happy and entertained.

Win it!
One lucky winner will receive the 10 books featured above. Enter using the Rafflecopter below. The winner must have a U.S. shipping address. The winner will have 72 hours to respond to our email with their shipping address or else we will select a different winner. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Learn More
The data that I shared above about the books is from the latest Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report: 6th Edition – a biannual national survey of children ages 6—17 and their parents, as well as parents of kids ages 0—5, exploring their attitudes and behaviors around reading. Parents can learn more at Scholastic.com/ReadingReport. The full press release can be found here.
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My Experience with Hydroxatone Moisturizing Masks to Help My Dry 40-something Old Skin


If you follow regularly, you know that I am annoyed by the fine lines, sun damage, and dryness that my skin is suffering from after 40 years on this earth.  Good skincare is one of my top priorities. I invest in finding the best skincare products. In today's post, I'll tell you about my Operation Hydration - my attempt to improve my dry skin.  My quest includes using two amazing moisturize masks that I received as a gift.  They include the Hydroxatone Hydrologic Active Infusion Moisture Mask and the Hydrologic Deep-Moisture Serum Sheet Mask.  These products are amazing!

Let's talk about my Operation Hydration. My skin has always been very dry.  The dryness has become worse with time. If I wash my face, I need to promptly apply moisturizer or else my skin feels very tight and uncomfortable. It's a serious problem that looks worse with the fine lines that have been appearing over the years.  I decided that enough is enough and started my quest for better skincare!

Operation Hydration - Part 1 - Daily Pampering
I've been using a daily moisturizing mask - the Hydroxatone Hydrologic Active Infusion Moisture Mask. It has been a miracle!  The mask is supposed to provide a more luminous complexion that is lit-from-within radiance.  I use it in the evenings before I go to sleep.  I apply a quarter-size amount onto my clean and damp face. I then gently massage for 60 seconds while avoiding my eye area. I leave on for 3 minutes before rinses with warm water.  The results have been fabulous!  My skin feels softer and it looks more luminous.

Operation Hydration - Part 2 - Weekly Pampering
In addition to my daily pampering, I use the Hydrologic Deep-Moisture Serum Sheet Mask. This is a nice luxury that helps with both anti-aging and dryness.  I use it once a week before I go to sleep.  I gently remove the mask from the pouch and unfold it. I then apply it to my cleansed face and leave it on for 10 minutes. When the time is up, I remove and discard the mask. I then gently pat any essence that remains in the pouch onto my skin.  This product is a keeper! I look forward to using it every Friday evening.

I am sure that many of you have felt the need for an Operation Hydration, especially here in the Dallas / Fort Worth metro when the air is dry.  I hope that you enjoyed my tips. 
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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Visit the New Steel City Pops in Southlake, TX


In today's post, I will tell you about the new Steel City Pops that opened in Park Village (Southlake). This trendy shop offers unique desserts and truly has something for everyone. There is a combinatorial explosion when you consider the different types of popsicles that may be combined with a variety of dips, dredges, drizzles, and/or dusts.  We are convinced that life in our "Southlake Bubble" is now complete thanks to Steel City Pops!  

Let's start with the location. Steel City Pops is located next to Sur la Table and across from Modern Market in Park Village.  You won't miss it as crowds of happy people typically sit outside to enjoy their treats. 



The menu includes a variety of popsicles that fall under three categories - Fruit, Creamy, and Cookie Pops.   Something that I really like is that they use high quality ingredients and the menu offers transparency. One of my children has a food allergy, so the menu transparency is convenient.  

The way that is works is that you first choose your popsicle. Once you choose your popsicle, you may eat it plain or dip, dredge, drizzle, and/or dust it.




While they give the option to order a plain popsicle, I recommend ordering a dip, dredge, drizzle, and/or dust because it is a fun part of the experience.  





Now, let's share some of the amazing treats that we tried!  My favorite vegan option is the Avocado popsicle. This trendy popsicle contains: avocado, lime, organic cane sugar, and water.  The staff told me that every dip, drizzle, dredge, and dust option is vegan with the exception of the milk chocolate and caramel. The photo below shows the avocado popsicle (1) dipped in dark chocolate, (2) plain, and (3) dipped in dark chocolate with the cayenne dust. They are all amazing, but my favorite combination is the avocado popsicle dipped in dark chocolate.  It is the best vegan dessert in Southlake!



The next photo is my husband's dream creation of a Lemon Cream popsicle dipped in dark chocolate.  My husband is not big on desserts, but he reported that this was the most amazing popsicle that he has ever had because the creamy lemon and dark chocolate are rich and compliment each other well. He looks forward to visiting again.


My 6-year old's dream creation is the Buttermilk popsicle drizzled with caramel and dusted with cinnamon.  He was thrilled with his creation!  He looks forward to visiting again to create a new "popsicle recipe".



In summary, Steel City Pops is a family friendly shop that is perfect for our community here in Southlake.  My family is already craving another visit!  We hope that you enjoyed reading about our visit to Steel City Pops and that you have an opportunity to visit with your family.  If you want to plan your visit in advance, you will find the menu here.
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Visit the New Chipotle in Rowlett, TX!


The DFW metro is growing so quickly. One of the best things about the rapid growth is that many restaurants open in our area. The latest is one of my favorites - a new Chipotle! The new location in Rowlett is at 3109 Lakeview Pkwy, Rowlett, TX 75088. This trendy location is now open, so stop by with your family!

I am sure that you have all been to a Chipotle before. However, did you know that Chipotle uses preservative/additive-free ingredients? They make it easy to go out to eat without worrying about exposure to hormones, nitrates, food coloring, and other additives. If you follow regularly, you know that I am cautious about my family's meals, avoiding ingredients that contain hormones, nitrates, or additives. It's nice that Chipotle is dedicated to providing healthy food for customers. For instance, here is a quote that I found on their website:
“We have always used high quality ingredients and prepared them using classic cooking techniques,” said Steve Ells, Chipotle Founder, Chairman and CEO. “We never resorted to using added colors or flavors like many other fast food companies do simply because these industrial additives often interfere with the taste of the food. However, commercially available tortillas, whether they are for us or someone else, use dough conditioners and preservatives. I’ve been on a quest for a better tasting tortilla for years, and we finally achieved a tortilla made the way you would make them at home, and they are simply delicious. Ultimately, all of the decisions we make about the ingredients we use are about making the very best tasting food we can.” 
Chipotle has long been a pioneer in serving better quality ingredients. This includes the use of local and organically grown produce when available and practical, dairy from cows raised on pasture and meats from animals raised without hormones or non-therapeutic antibiotics. Additionally, none of the ingredients used in Chipotle’s food have been genetically modified. With the introduction of its new tortillas, the company now touts only 51 real ingredients used to prepare all of its food. This is in stark contrast to most other fast food chains where a single menu item can contain 40 or more ingredients — many of which are added flavors, colors, preservatives and other industrial additives.
Another thing that I love about Chipotle is that their menu is very transparent. We have some food allergies in our family that I am able to check on their menu here.




In addition to enjoying the food at Chipotle, we love that they encourage healthy habits for our 6-year old. Not only do they have healthy food options, but they also have the "RAD Lands" outreach project. This is an original video series about food for kids between the ages of 7 and 10. The show is available exclusively on iTunes at iTunes.com/RadLands. The unbranded series, created in partnership with CAA Marketing and The Magic Store (the team behind the Daytime Emmy-nominated series “Yo Gabba Gabba!”), features celebrity chefs, musicians and YouTube personalities, and is aimed at educating families about where their food comes from and how it is prepared.

As the mom of a little one, I love that this video encourages him to think about smarter and informed choices about food.  This unbranded video has good messages that are presented in an entertaining and engaging way. The main storytelling component of “RAD Lands” is an animated segment called "The Cultivators" that follows a small rebel squad’s epic journey to help save the galaxy’s plants and animals to preserve their access to real, fresh food. The squad is challenged by a nemesis trying to homogenize food across the galaxy and turn it all into highly processed junk food.

Season one will be available exclusively on iTunes in the US and Canada for $4.99, bringing the series to a wide and digital savvy audience on the world’s premium destination for music, TV and movie content. Alternatively, families can download the first episode for free, and the remaining five episodes for $1.99 each. As part of the “RAD Lands” launch and to support school lunches, Chipotle will donate $100,000 to the Chef Ann Foundation, a non-profit organization that works with schools nationwide to provide the tools and resources they need to serve healthy, nutritious, and delicious food to every student, every day.

“RAD Lands” continues Chipotle’s tradition of producing innovative unbranded content focusing on fresh ingredients and a wholesome lifestyle. The series was created by Chipotle in partnership with CAA Marketing and The Magic Store, one of the most respected producers of children’s television and the team behind the popular television series “Yo Gabba Gabba!” The culinary and musical talent appearing in “RAD Lands” includes chefs Amanda Freitag, Michael Voltaggio, and Duff Goldman, along with musicians Neon Trees, Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips, Biz Markie and Portugal. The Man, among others.
We hope that you have the opportunity to visit the trendy new Chipotle in Rowlett and other locations in the DFW metro!
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Sunday, April 9, 2017

Registration is Now Open for Sky Ranch Summer Camps in the Dallas / Fort Worth Metro

We are lucky that there are hundreds of summer camps in the Dallas / Fort Worth metro. It's actually a bit overwhelming to go through the options to find the perfect set of camps for your little one.  Personally, I look to other moms for recommendations on the best camps for my son.  In today's post, I will pay their helpfulness forward by telling you about our favorite camp - Sky Ranch Launch Camp.  

My son attended Sky Ranch camps for the past two years.  These Christian Camps have been an amazing part of his childhood.  He attended Sky Ranch Wave Camp at Hawaiian Falls in Roanoke in 2015.  He then attended Sky Ranch Launch Camp in Keller in 2016.  He has many happy memories of the friendships and activities from these camps.  Let's start with an overview of Launch Camp.



Here is the overview from their website: "Sky Ranch is one of the leading North American Christian camps and our Launch Camps offer your child an extraordinary day camp experience – right in your neighborhood! It’s the perfect option for kids entering kindergarten through 5th grade who want to enjoy Sky Ranch Summer Camp, but are not quite ready to stay overnight."

Click here for a short video.

Schedule:
The camp lasts for one week, running from 9am until 4pm on Monday through Thursday and then 9am until 3pm on Friday.  There is a special closing ceremony on Friday at 3pm.

Locations:
Sky Ranch Launch Camps have multiple locations across the Dallas / Ft. Worth metroplex. Each location offers several different dates to choose from so that you can find the week and location that work best for your family.


Launch Camp's 2017 Dates and Locations:
All Saints Episcopal School
Fort Worth, Texas
Session 3: June 12-16
Session 4: June 19-23
The Clariden School
Southlake, Texas
Session 9: July 24-28
Cottonwood Creek Baptist Church
Allen, Texas
Session 10: July 31 - August 4
Session 11: August 7-11
Good Shepherd Episcopal School
Dallas, Texas
Session 8: July 17-21
Session 9: July 24-28
Grapevine Faith Christian School
Grapevine, Texas
Session 7: July 10-14
Highland Park Presbyterian Church
Dallas, Texas
Session 10: July 31 - August 4
Session 11: August 7-11
Liberty Christian School
Argyle, Texas
Session 1: May 29 - June 2
Session 2: June 5-9
Lighthouse Christian Fellowship Church
Prosper, Texas
Session 4: June 19-23
Session 5: June 26-30
McKinney Christian Academy
McKinney, Texas
Session 2: June 5-9
Prestonwood Christian Academy
Plano, Texas
Session 8: July 17-21
Session 9: July 24-28
Rockwall Presbyterian Church 
Rockwall, Texas
Session 4: June 19-23
Southwest Christian School
Fort Worth, Texas
Session 3: June 12-16
St. Andrew United Methodist Church
Plano, Texas
Session 5: June 26-30
St. Michaels and All Angels Episcopal Church
Dallas, Texas
Session 7: July 10-14

Trinity Christian Academy
Addison, Texas
Session 2: June 5-9
Session 3: June 12-16
As I mentioned earlier, my son loved the Sky Ranch camps that he participated in.  The counselors were very enthusiastic and caring.  They seemed to genuinely enjoy the opportunity to work with the children. My son looked up to his counselors as role models. 

They sent home a summary of the curriculum with him each day and my son and I enjoyed talking about it in our car ride home. Their enthusiasm clearly passed on to him.  My son's favorite day had the theme of Lights, Camera, Animals. He is so curious and loves animals, so this was his favorite day of the camp. He was such a happy little chatterbox after the lessons!
The Bible verses that they covered include Genesis 1:1-31, Colossians 1:16-17, and 1 Timothy 4:4. The questions to ask included:
  • What are some things God created?
  • What is God's favorite creation?
  • How powerful is God?
  • How has God creatively made you?

In addition to focusing on bible stories, they also organized many activities and games where the children bonded. Similar to most 6-year olds, my son is very energetic and appreciated the activities and games with the counselors and children in the group.   

My son is looking forward to attending Sky Ranch Launch Camp again this year.  We absolutely love their camps and look forward to more good childhood memories.
Check out all of the camps at Sky Ranch! While we personally rave about Launch Camp, they also offer many other camps that have great reputations.
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