Oct 31, 2014

HAPPY HALLOWEEN! ...From The Halloween Grinch!

I just want to start by saying, I used to be cool. I used to be fun and throw caution to the wind... then I became a mother. I became an overprotective, paranoid, spineless, yet strict, mother.  A perfect example of this change is me being an asshat about Halloween.  I big mean over protective and over cautious ass!

This Halloween is my two-year-old's first Halloween to trick-or-treat and score an abundance of candy.

Candy that I won't let him eat.

Well, I won't let him eat it all. That's right, I'm THAT mom!  Never in my widest dreams did I think I would be such a stick-in-the-mud about Halloween with my toddler.  But, I am.

Funny how I finally get why my mom was the way she was about Halloween... I used to be so annoyed that I couldn't eat any candy without her inspecting it, or that I could only have 5 pieces after the inspection, and then a few more each day until it was gone.  All this time I thought my mom was just being mean... and now, I am totally going to do the same!

My Favorite Fall Family Vacation Destination #Sevierville

*This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Sevierville, TN . The opinions and text are all mine.

When I began planning our first family vacation, I realized the old favorite concrete jungle destinations FTD and I use to frequent would be absolutely no fun for a child. I needed to find a family friendly vacation destination if I had any hope of an entire week of fun for all. I need to find a place that offered fabulous shopping for me, family attractions for the kid and outdoor adventure for FTD. Then it dawned on me one of my favorite places, Sevierville, Tennessee, is a perfect family friendly vacation destination!

Being that I live within two hours of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, I have been there at least ten times in the last 15 years. From a wild bachelorette party, to a destination wedding, to a few girls weekends, to a super fun couples weekend, to now our first family fun weekend, I have done them all under the beautiful canopy of the Smoky Mountains. Of course, since camping is not my thing, we always stay in one of the fabulous hotels in Sevierville, Tennessee.

So what's all this excitement about Sevierville, Tennessee? Besides the fact that it boarders the most visited national park in the US, Great Smoky Mountains, and is the hometown of country music legend, Dolly Parton, it's also home to THOUSANDS of fun things to do!

My first trip to Sevierville, TN, was for a Girlfriend Getaway. Me and five other girls rented a cabin and spent the weekend shopping, drinking , eating and dancing. It all started at not one, but TWO amazing outlet malls with over 120 high-end, name brand outlets. Hello shopping bliss! As if that wasn't enough to break the bank, we went to the many galleries, specialty shops and for the two girls who are professional scrap-bookers, we spent two hours in Your Scrapbook Super-store, which holds the largest scrapbook inventory in the US. And what girls weekend would be complete without chauffeured limo wine tour?! Two fabulous wineries, Hillside and Apple Barn, had so many yummy wines to taste, we most definitely needed a chuffer. Oh yes, Sevierville, Tennessee, is a magical place!

Speaking of majestic, until my first trip to the, Great Smoky Mountains, I never quite understood why they were called "Smoky Mountains". I mean, aren't smoking mountains a bad thing? I'll never forget the first time I saw the Great Smokies. We came over a hill and before me were the most beautiful trees with the most beautiful fall colors all framed by smoke! Well, not smoke but misty fog emerging from the canopy of orange, yellow, red and purple trees. My heart flutters thinking about it. You all, there is absolutely nothing more beautiful than experiencing the Great Smoky Mountains in Fall. NOTHING!

Sorry, I am getting all carried away with my girls trip and the foliage of the Smoky Mountains, back to family fun! In addition to the amazing shopping, foliage and wine tastings, Sevierville, Tennessee offers loads of family outdoor and indoor adventures for all ages. From 800-miles of hiking trails through the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, to the super fun NASCAR Speed Park with 26-acres boasting 8 go cart tracks for all ages, to the Rain forest Adventure with the WORLD'S LARGEST reptile Zoo, to helicopter tours of the Great Smoky Mountains, to Wahoo Zip lines offering 2 hours of high flying zip lining through the Smoky Mountains (LOVE THIS!) to the underground adventure of a lifetime at Forbidden Caverns! Did you know, Tennessee is home to the most caves in the United States, with over 8,350 caves registered to date!

Thankfully, when you have completely worn yourself out shopping, racing cars, hiking the trails and exploring the caves, Sevierville, offers HUNDREDS of yummy places to eat! Ranging from down home cooking to international cuisine, you will find something for even he pickiest eater. Sure, there are plenty of chain restaurants, but it would be a crime to go to this beautiful mountain town and not eat the amazing authentic mountain cooking! You have not lived until you have had a stack of flap jacks and apple fritters with apple butter at where else, but the Applewood Farm house! YUM YUM YUM!

There is so much to see and do in Sevierville, Tennessee. I don't care who you are, you will have a blast in this small town wonderland. There is something for everyone and every occasion. The best part is that you can knock off two major bucket list items in Sevierville, Tennessee; hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains and staying in a true heartland hometown eating comfort cookin' at it's finest hour!

Oh! Before you go, don't forget to stop at the Sevierville visitors center to pick up coupon books filled with discounts for fun events, food and attractions! It's also a a great idea to connect with Sevierville on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube for updates, specials and upcoming events to make your vacation that much more special! And of course, there's and app for that! Definetly don't forget to download the Visit Sevierville App!
Have you ever been to the Sevierville, Tennessee or the Smokies?

*Comments submitted may be displayed on other websites owned by the sponsoring brand.

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Oct 30, 2014

Daylight Savings Time: This Is How It Goes Down I My House

After writing yesterday's post about "10 Fun Facts About Daylight Savings, All Parents Should Know..." a few readers reached out about concerns and questions they had in regard to the upcoming Daylight Saving Time (DST) change (November 2, 2014), and how it will effect their family.  I promised to write about my experiences, and how I deal with it. Of course, with the promise of a post came my full disclosure:
When I say my experiences and methods of dealing with it, I mean most likely not going to be scientifically backed up methods. Think more like my typical toddler run dumbassery.
So with that being said, here's how DST goes down in my house.

My very first DST change came in the spring when Ollie was only a couple of months old, so it didn't really screw us up, since we weren't sleeping anyway. It was when Ollie was a year old the true DST fun began. It became apparent that regardless of 'springing forward' or 'falling back', it screwed up our routine. Sure, I tried a few tips to make the adjustment easier like starting the bedtime routine 15 minutes early everyday the week leading up to the change, but they all failed, and here's why...

First of all, my kid is not a huge fan of sleep, so it's a battle regardless of the time on the clock. We can start bedtime 15 minutes early every night, but it doesn't make that much difference. My kid is not a robot, there is no off switch. He seems to fall asleep between 8-8:30pm regardless of the time we start bedtime, and wakes up between 6-7am.  

Even though the times have varied a little as he's gotten older, DST still screws us all up because the toddler wakes up, when he wakes up. He has a regular hour window, with 6:30am being the norm that he wakes up. The only time he will wake up ridiculously early, is when he goes to sleep ridiculously late. That's right, my kid follows the early to bed, late to rise & late to bed early to rise philosophy. Knowing this, I make sure his but is in bed by 8pm! 

My plan for helping him adjust to DST is to start the bedtime routine--bath, books, bed-- at 7pm as usual this coming Saturday, and hope he is down by 8pm. I will also go to bed at my normal time 11pm-12am, so I can be ready to get up with him at 6am... if I am lucky. He could very well wake up at 5am. Who the hell knows, he's a toddler. I have to set realistic expectations so I'm not in tears when he is pouncing on me with the clock flashing 5am. 

On Sunday night, I will start the bedtime routine at 6:30 which will technically be a half hour late, but hopefully he will fall for it and be out by 7:30, because again, if he is going to wake up at the ass crack anyway, I need to get him down to get enough sleep. 

That's the only real change is the earlier bedtime. Of course, a little glimmer of hope inside of me will pray he sleeps well past 6am, but the realist part of me knows that I have a better chance of winning the lottery... everyday for the rest of my life. 

Historically, it takes about a week to have his new routine down. I do work hard to get him to stick to the early bedtime of 7:30 through the winter months, but it still seems all goes right back to the same 8-8:30pm bedtime and 6-7am waking. It all really just depends on your family's routine.  FTD loves to play with Ollie for an hour after getting home from work, while I make dinner, so it never fails dinner is at 6:30. Sure, I'll try to make dinner earlier now, but I'm not killing myself to get it done. 

As for nap time, I will stick to the normal daily routine. I will still put him down after lunch at 12:30-1.  It will possibly cause issues at first, but an early nap is not necessary, since the bedtime and waking are the most important to me.

My only suggestions to those who asked is follow your child's cues at first and make small adjustments that best fit YOUR family's schedule. Also, if you go to daycare, see what their plan for naps are, and if they have any additional suggestions.

FYI: Rarely have I heard keeping your child up late to sleep-in works.  But you know your child, if you think it will work, have at it! Above all, keep your expectations realistic. Don't be surprised if your little one wakes up at the ass crack of dawn for the first few days. Don't get discouraged, all will level back out according to your family's routine within a week or so... 

Most likely DST will suck, but just know you will not be the only parent cussing over the coffee maker at 5am. 

If you have any tips or stories, please share them!
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AppTastic Thursday: Daily Kiddo Makes Sharing Safe And Relevant

"Share every precious moment of your kid's life with their biggest fans."
-Daily Kiddo Creators
With all of the security breaches, updates and dodgy activity on social media, more and more parents are looking for alternative ways to share family photos in a secure and safe environment. I know I sure am.  Yes, I share photos of my son on my blog and social media, but there is a lot I don't share. In fact, 95% I share via text and email to close friends and family, because even my personal Facebook page doesn't feel so safe. Plus, people can be nasty about over sharing.  So, when the creators of the App, Daily Kiddo, reached out for a review, after a little research, I was really impressed and agreed!

The purpose of Daily kiddo is to allow you to upload photos and create organized scrapbooks that group photos or events for easy sharing. Then easily share the photos or complete scrapbook with only the people you want to share with.  Intrigued, I took the Daily Kiddo App for a spin...

I have to say, it was really easy to get started thanks to the tutorial.  What I really liked was that I don't have to provide my phone number, Facebook info, or address.  Some apps these days ask for too many personal details. Daily Kiddo only asks you to create a personal secure login name and password, no email necessary! Once in, the app walked me through uploading photos then sharing them to a "scrapbook" that I named, 2014 Fall Fun. Once all of the photos were uploaded, I chose the people I wanted to share the scrapbook with using contacts from my phone, email addresses and phone numbers. Then, I hit send and off the notification went to the people I chose!

I immediately made a second scrapbook, and sent that to two girlfriends.  The nice part is that each scrapbook is limited to only the people I choose.

Another cool feature is that the people chosen for specific photo or scrapbook are able to post comments. This allows for fast sharing and fast feedback. As a busy parent, I appreciate that.

I definitely give Daily Kiddo my seal of parenting approval! It's easy private secure sharing of personal moments made simple. If you are looking for something like this, click the image below to download Daily Kiddo for your device for free!

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Oct 28, 2014

10 Fun Facts About Daylight Savings, All Parents Should Know...

 “This review was made possible by Double Duty Divas and Pampers. I was provided the featured product free of charge to facilitate my review, but all opinions are 100% mine." 

That's right, Daylight Saving Time (DST) ENDS this Sunday, November 2, 2014 at 2am, whether you like it or not! In honor of the future parental sleep depravation event, I thought I would share a few fun facts and tips to help parents deal...

Without further ado, 10 Fun Facts About Daylight Saving Time...

1.  Daylight Saving Time (DST) actually ENDS this Sunday, November 2nd at 2:00am. Most say it  Daylight Savings Time begins both in spring and fall, but really, it begins in spring to and ends in fall.  Still, for parents, both cause the same confusion for our children.

2. FYI: It's Daylight "Saving" Time, not daylight Savings time. That's right, no 'S' I still think saving is a horrible word, since in the fall no parent is saving anything, since no child cares!  If your child wakes up at 6am on Saturday, chances are, your child will wake up at 5am on Sunday... never fails. 

3. Daylight saving time, in the modern sense, was first proposed by an English entomologist, George Vernon Hudson, in 1895. Clearly, this man did not have children to remind him that the clock means nothing to a child. 

Fun Fact:  Sleep contributes to well-being in many ways, from physical and cognitive development to sociability and day-to-day mood. A sleep deprived child is no different than a gremlin! 

4. Daylight Saving Time was first observed on April 30, 1916, by Germany and Austria-Hungry to conserve coal during wartime. So basically, DST has been making parents cry for nearly 100 years! 

FUN FACT: Researsh shows trying to adjust your child's sleep by 15 minute increments the week leading up to the time change, will help your family adjust to the new time.

5. The entire state of Indiana did not observe Daylight Saving Time until 2006. Arizona and Hawaii still will have nothing to do with DST. I wonder if this is because all of the lobbyist are parents?

FUN FACT: After the fall back, it’s not uncommon to feel out of sorts the first few days of November. Exercise can help to improve mood, energy, and yes, help sleep! Take this opportunity to start family walks before or after dinner!

6. Always wishing for an extra hour in your day? 25 hours are observed on the day when Daylight Saving Time ends. So take advantage of this, and nap when your kids do!

7. Going to sleep at your normal bedtime on Saturday, should help you to get the extra hour of sleep most need.

FUN FACT: A 2013 survey conducted by Pampers found that nearly one-quarter of mothers (24%) felt that a dry diaper was the number one thing that enabled their baby to sleep through the night. So encourage your child to take advantage of that extra hour by putting on Pampers diaper with THREE absorbent layers that provide up to 12 hours of overnight dryness protection!

8. Observing DST year round would annually prevent 195 motor vehicle deaths of occupants, and 171 pedestrian deaths, according to a study reported by USNEWS. It turns out we are much safer drivers during daylight hours.  

9. Children can be the most negatively effected by the time change. What about parents? Experts say to begin the nighttime routine up to an hour early on Sunday to help prepare your child's mind and body for the early bedtime.

10. In 2005, Kazakhstan did away with daylight saving time. The country's government reportedly calculated that 51.6 percent of Kazakhs responded badly to the time change. Really? 51.6 percent of Kazakhstan are toddlers? 

May the force be with you this weekend my fellow parents. May the force be with you...

For more tips for helping your child adjust to the new time, join the Pampers Twitter Party on Wednesday October 29th at 9pm EST.

Twitter Party Prizes Include:

·         Prize 1 - Twinkles Nightlight in Blue, 148 ct of Pampers diapers and a pack of wipes.

·         Prize 2 - Pottery Barn plush security blanket, $50 Barnes & Noble gift card, a pack of Pampers diapers and wipes.

·         Prize 3 - A gift card to The $125 Children's Place for pajamas, a pack of Pampers diapers/wipes

·         Prize 4 - A Kindle Fire so parents can purchase baby bedtime books, an $100 Amazon gift card to purchase the e-books, a pack of Pampers diapers and wipes.

To RSVP for the twitter party, Click Here

To learn more about Pampers, connect with them on Facebook and Twitter

Want more chances to win? Win a free pack of diapers Pamper 12 hour protection diapers ($13.99) and Pampers Wipes ($3.99) sign up below! 

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10 Ridiculous Things I Do At Bedtime To Get My Kid To Sleep

In my house, bedtime is bittersweet. Even though I want my son to go to sleep, the lengths I have to go to make that happen are painfully ridiculousness. For today's installment of Top 10 Tuesday, I thought I would share the, Top 10 Ridiculous Things I Do At Bedtime To Get My Kid To Sleep.

1. Retrieve more things than a dog. It never fails that the minute I get my toddler in bed, he needs water, Mr. Giraffe, Mr Penguin, Brownie the Horse, his red blanket, more water... And like a dog, I fetch every single thing just too keep him in bed.

2. Read 4million books. Even though I say, "Only two books.", my kid must hear, "Bring me as many books as you can carry."  

3. Survive a sleeper hold.  When I get up to leave, my son takes the opportunity to put me in a choke hold hug and beg me to stay.

4. Play twenty (thousand) questions. I'm pretty sure my kid banks his questions throughout the day then pulls them all out at bedtime.

5. Make empty promises.  I will promise the moon and stars to get my son to go to sleep. Yep, I'm THAT mom.

6. Play Dead. After answering every question fathomable about farts, cars, and play doh, I play dead hoping boredom will induce sleep. Nine times out of ten, he pokes me in the eye to see if I'm really asleep, then starts asking more questions.

7. Ohmmmmm gonna lose my mind. While playing dead, waiting for my toddler to loosen his death grip and fall asleep, I try to meditate. Think: Find my happy place.

8. Channel a Navy Seal. After breaking out of Alcatraz sneaking out of bed, out of fear I've stirred the beast toddler, I crawl out of his room like I'm on a covert operation.

9. Fall gracefully. It never fails the second I make it out of my kid's room, in the dark hallway I trip over the cat, kick a fire engine, step on a shoe and slip down the first stair trying to avoid a Hot Wheel.

10. Rinse Repeat. Multiple times. Every night.

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