1/28/16

5 Game Day Prep Tips You'll Want To Know #GameDayTraditions

**I've partnered with SheSpeaks and Proctor & Gamble to share my Game Day Traditions. All Opinions and traditions are all mine!
Are you ready for some football? Are you ready for some awesome commercials? Are you ready for awesome food and drinks? Below are five things to help you show up to the big game 

Me too. I absolutely love Football tailgating and parties. Everybody shows up in a good mood, excited to eat and drink and be merry. The kids are run around wild, footballs are being thrown in every direction. The women congregate in the kitchen... It's like this organized chaos that has the best energy and food ever.

In anticipation of there Big Game, I prep, and early! Below are five ways you can show up to the big game like a rockstar! Seriously, people will cheer if you follow these five prep tips.

1. Find the greatest appetizer. I'm a firm believer in never showing up to a party empty-handed. In preparation for the big game, I scour the Internet for the latest and greatest football themed appetizer. Thankfully, there are many out there, so this is not so hard!



2. Color coordinate-Once I know what teams are playing, I pick one and stick with it! I use the team colors of my pick to choose my Big Game outfit. I also get colored hair spray to spray a few strands of my hair, and the kid. What fun is it, if you don't go all out?

3. Find fun facts for the Big Game and both teams. Love Trivia? Have a Big Game Trivia contest! Make a list of 10-20 trivia questions and hold a drive contest. Winners get to pick their seat in front of the game! Or, just stuff your head full of Big Game Fun Fact to wow the party goers with.  (To see my list of last year's Big Game Trivia questions, click here.)

Did you know: A 30: second ad during last year's game (2015)  cost $4.5 million, the most expensive ad in history, so far! That's $150,000 per second!!!! (Kantar Media) #Insane

4. Eat a big lunch! As much as I love nachos and hot wings, I also love my skinny jeans! I prepare a big, healthy, 'clean' lunch for my family before the Big Game. I try to get as many health things into our bodies before we stuff ourselves with not-so-great snacks. It also cuts way back on calorie consumption at the party! #DoThis

Did You Know: FYI: Big Game Sunday is the second-largest day for consumption of food and drink for Americans, behind Thanksgiving Day! (Reuters)

5. Bring a well groomed family, and an extra shirt for each member! Being that there are copious amounts of photos, selfies and messy foods served at these parties, prepare your family ahead of time, and then bring a back up plan! Before we leave to for the party, I make sure everyone is dressed, hair combed and teeth brushed. I'm still hoping for that one great family photo! And just so that photo doesn't happen with food and spilled juice all over our shirts, I bring back up shirts, just in case.


Grab all of your Big Game Snacks and grooming needs at Walmart!


What are your game day traditions?

You Want Me To Stick That Where?

There are seven words all parents say, usually within the first few weeks of their child's life:
You want me. To stick that. Where? 
If you're a parent, you know exactly what I'm talking about. That cold scary probe the nurse insist must be stuck where the sun doesn't shine, to check your newborn's temperature. That's right, a thermometer.

Well, good news, parents! Family 1st™ has answered our parent prayers. It is my absolute pleasure to introduce you to the first, NO CONTACT, temperature projecting, Pediatrician recommended thermometer, VisioFocus®. 


This is my new favorite parenting tool. Favorite. Just you wait... this thing is a magic wand of epic-ness.



**I've partnered with Family 1st Products, to share the AMAZING VisioFocus®,
 the first no contact projection thermometer. 
All options are my own. 
Which, here's the first one. I freaking love it!!!!!!

So. The VisioFocus®, is amazing. 

Ah. May. ZING! 

I'm sorry, I just want to gush all over it. The VisioFocus® is SO MUCH MORE than a themometer! I have been so obnoxious with this thing. I've taken the temperature of every single thing in my house. Including, but not limited to, the plants, the wall, my foot, my hand, every forehead that passes me, Professor the cat, the freezer and everything inside of it, water, ice water, the window, snow, my kid running away from me... the fun just never stops!  

Seriously, I have not set it down since I opened it a few days ago. Sometimes, I take the kid's temperature just for fun.  



Bottom line: It works. INSANELY well. In less than 20 seconds, the temperature is projected on my son's head, perfectly. I was blown away. I pointed at my head in the mirror, and sure enough, 98.6. Same thing happened with FTD. The thermometer never touched one of us, yet read our temperature perfectly. 

I think back to all the nights Ollie was a sick baby.  I must have felt his head and disturbed his sleep 50 times a night. If I had the VisioFocus®, life with a sick baby would have been much less stressful. 

Now, on to why I can't put the thing down! The VisioFocus® is not only for foreheads! It's for taking the temperature of anything and everything! It's a Six-in-One Thermometer! It's made to take the temperature of just about anything. There is a button to take the temperature of faces, and a button for everything else inside your house. 



With only three buttons, the VisioFocus® is foolproof.  To take a human temperature, push the button with the 'face' icon. To take the temperature of everything else in your home, press the button with the house icon. 

I can honestly say, I have put the VisioFocus® through the ringer! I have tested everything in my house, and in every case, VisioFocus® has given me an accurate reading. I TOTALLY get why doctors and pediatricians are recommending it. It's so easy to use, doesn't disrupt the child, sleeping or awake, and can be used for multiple things in the home. Being able to check the nursery temperature, the bottle and bath temperature and baby's temperature in a matter of minutes, with the same thing is Epic. Love it.  

At a retial price of $55, it's worth every penny. Thankfully, as an exclusive FTMAD reader, for a limited time, Family 1st™is extending a $15 off coupon! At checkout enter promo code:15OFF2016MB Get a VisioFocus®, here.

Something else Family 1st™is extending is an awesome giveaway! One lucky reader will win a VisioFocus® mini ($45). Sign up below!





1/26/16

The No-Chemical Head Lice Game Changer EVERY Parent + Teacher Needs!





**I've partnered with V-COMB to talk about all-natural, safe and effective ways to prevent and treat head lice. All opinions are my own.


As you may already know, I have been on a serious lice fighting rampage. When a little girl in my son's pre-k class had lice, that ended up spreading to a few other children, I lost the plot! Lice? People fleas? Wait. No. 


I was officially on a mission to find a way to prevent lice, or at least catch the little blood suckers before they took over my house. I went right to the pharmacy, and was pointed in the direction of things with "pesticides" in them! No way am I putting pesticides and chemicals I can't pronounce on my child's head. How can there not be a safer way? 

I went home and started researching all-natural chemical-free treatments to prevent and kill nits and lice.  

I found that using Essential Oils daily to pre-treat your child's head can work as a barrier to lice. Essential Oils like Tea Tree, Lavender and Rosemary are fantastic. Mix with detangler or just massage right into your child's scalp. PRO TIP: Mix a few drops of Tea Tree, Lavender and Rosemary oils with water in a spray bottle. Hose your child's coat, backpack and anything else lice like to jump on.

Since the essential oils are not 100% effective at preventing lice, it's crucial to regularly spot check your child's head. The good news is that lice start as nits, or eggs. Meaning, you have seven days before the nit becomes a louse, and a few more after that before the louse is is mature enough to lay eggs. By regularly spot checking weekly or even bi-weekly, you can prevent a full on head lice war.




Since the nits essentially super glue themselves to the hair shaft at the base of the scalp, picking them off is not so easy, and that's if you even see the teeny-tiny thing! 


ENTER: The V-COMB: A chemical-free, painless supercharged Nit and Lice comb. <Insert rays of light and singing angels>





You have to watch this video so you can see the V-COMB in action. So so so so so cool!


               



The Aussies have struck Gold again with the V-Comb. It sucks away nits and lice from a child's head safely and effectively. ZERO Chemicals needed. Zero. With Ollie's short hair, it takes less than a minute to check his head. It's easy, effective and gentle on my little guys scalp. I want to give one to every single school and parent! #Epic





If I could, I would donate one to every single school in the world! It's that great. Luckily, I was able to talk the makers of V-COMB into giving one lucky winner and their child's school a V-COMB!  That's right, One for you and one for the school!  Enter below!

Can't wait for the giveaway to end, get it in two days on Amazon!  Grab the V-Comb on Amazon.

Need To Buy A New HVAC? #Infographic

When we bought our home two years ago, we were told by our Home Inspector to "budget for a new HVAC and Water Heater." In case you have never had to budget for one, just know it's the same as budgeting for a new car! The cost for one is insane, so to replace both the HVAC and Water Heater freaks me out, so I bought the home warranty, and have renewed it every year. I just know the day I let the policy drop, EVERYTHING will break!
The home warranty also protects me against my husband trying to save money and do it himself. Did you know that an improperly installed HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air conditioning) system can increase your energy consumption by up to 30 percent??? It's true!
FYI: Hiring a professional HVAC contractor ensures that your air conditioner, furnace, heat pump, or other heating and cooling unit runs as efficiently as possible. It's also a safety concern because the installation process often involves working with your home's electrical wiring. Which, makes this a definitely DO NOT try this at home!
Here are a few tips:
  • Air conditioners come in both single-stage and multi-stage configurations. A multi-stage unit comes with a higher price tag, but it offers increased energy efficiency thanks to its ability to run at both low power and high power. 
  • For heating, you can choose a heat pump or furnace. You can also equip your home with a ductless mini-split system, which offers zoned cooling and heating. To control humidity, consider a whole-home dehumidifier, which ensures that you don't have to live with excess moisture in the air. 
  • When you're ready to upgrade your home's HVAC system, hire an experienced contractor. Professional HVAC technicians know how to install systems properly. 
  • Check potential contractors' references and discuss with them your HVAC preferences. If you get a price quote up front, you'll know exactly what to expect.

If you are in the market for a new HVAC, here is a super infographic was originally published by Davis Air Conditioning & Heating, it illustrates the most important aspects of shopping for a new HVAC system.

1/24/16

The Perfect Valentines Day Gift For The Person Who Has Everything #Shuttertoons #ValentinesDay

*Today, I've partnered with Shuttertoons to talk about one of my favorite gifts to give and get, something personalized. All opinions are my own.

The older I get, and the older my friends and family get, the more I realize we pretty much have everything we want. Well, that's affordable and within reason. Which, makes it increasingly hard to find great gifts. In fact, I've completely abandoned the old idea of going to Macy's or any big box store looking for a gift for someone.

Now, when I want to give a thoughtful gift, I try to find something that is either a personal inside-joke-ish gift or something I can personalize. Even if it's just a cute family photo in a frame. It just means so much more than a silly gift card.

I know I LOVE to get personalized or hand/homemade gifts.  One of the greatest gifts we have been given since moving into our new home, is a  personalized Louisville Stoneware Nameplate for our house. I LOVE it. Every day, I come home I look at it and smile.

Recently, when Shuttertoons reached out to give my family a personalized Valentines day gift, I was more than open to the opportunity. I went through the entire inventory, and just laughed and laughed at the crazy ways I could personalize some of the offered products. After all, no way was I going to personalize something with a simple, I Love You. OH, NO, NO FREAKING WAY!

In the end, I chose to personalize a 29"x 39" blanket with a few of my favorite photos. Using the Shuttertoons editing suite, I was able to create an awesome collage, crop the photos and more.

It turned out AMAZING!

Everyone who has seen the blanket has laughed hysterically, and then asked how they can get one. Since the blanket is not very large, 29" by 39" it's best suited as a baby blanket, or a conversation piece. I'm framing ours and hanging it in the hallway.  It's that cute.

The detail is certainly worth mentioning. You can see the faces on the people in the background and even the reflection of the road and trees in my sunglasses!

Truth be told, I was torn between the blanket and a Swarovski Crystal Birthstone Charm Necklace.


I would get the first letter of our surname with my son's birthstone. SO CUTE! However, the blanket is ADORABLE! I'm glad I went with something my whole family will enjoy. For many years to come.

I love love love personalized gifts! I can't recommend them enough. Especially, for the person who has everything. If you're looking for the perfect Valentine's Day gift for someone who has everything or just a fun gift for a friend, definitely think about personalizing something. Shuttertoons has a bunch of great gift and super cute Valentines Day ideas worth checking out. Oh, and did I mention you can Cartoonize yourself, too?

Check out *Shuttertoons here:

Website
Google Play
Apple Store
(*If you find something you like, get 25% off at checkout by entering promo code, "FMADDRAGON".)


If you're still hurting from your recent holiday spending spree, don't worry, I've got a plan, sign up below for your chance to win YOUR CHOICE of one personalized item from Shuttertoons!


1/21/16

4 Ways To Make Money From Home

Parenting is the most important job you’ll ever do. It’s also the most labor-intensive. Raising a child means dropping whatever you’re doing whenever your baby needs you. It’s an overwhelming task, and you’ll discover it’s that much more difficult if you try to work from home at the same time. Trust me, I know!

Look at that face! 
There was no way I was going back to the Ad Agency.
Zip. Zero. None.  

If staying home with your child and earning a little extra money on the side sounds like a plan to you, keep reading for a few ideas on how to make money as a full-time parent.


Dinner? Again? Didn't I JUST Do That Last Night?


One of the bigger goals for FTD and I in 2016 is to build a strong financial future for our son. We want to invest and plan ahead now, so he's not left working four jobs to get through college. In an effort to get some control, last month I reviewed the family budget to see where we could save money.

Almost immediately, one thing was abundantly clear, we spend WAY WAY WAY too much money on food. Like, a stupid amount. I admit, during the winter months, I'm extra lazy. So when FTD or Ollie want something that requires little work from me, I'm all for it!

You want Jimmy Johns for lunch?  Sure!

You want Pizza tonight? Sure! 

Mmmmm that does sound good, I'll order it now. 

SO BAD!

Being that just getting our food budget under control will make a HUGE difference for us financially, FTD and I have made a pact to cook at least 6 nights a week. (We can't quit eating out cold turkey!)

So, we are three weeks into this money-saving plan, and I'm already like, DINNER? Again? Damn. Didn't I just do that? 

I'm beginning to realize my problem is making big fancy dinners. I slave over the damn stove, only to have the kid turn up his nose at my fabulous green beans with toasted almonds, while FTD stares at a plate of perfectly baked fish with such disdain.

Of course, my reply to them is, WHAT THE HELL? It's good. Eat it!

Still, all those two want is the basics--Burgers, Chicken fingers, Mac-n-cheese, french fries, spaghetti... Which, is cool, but that's only three out of the six days I have to cook!

It's clear, I have to get creative if we are going to come together on healthy meals and the boring basics. There has to be a happy medium!



Since feeding wine to the boys is not an option, what's the plan?

Pinterest.

That's my plan.

On Friday nights, once the kid is safely tucked in bed, and my glass of wine is poured, I sit down and search Pinterest for the week's meals. I use the search feature to find meals focused on the main ingredient or theme; Chicken, Beef, Fish, Shrimp, Sausage, Pasta, Meatless Monday, Mexican, Thai, Chinese, Korean, Indian...




I scan over the search results for something that looks cheesy tasty. I go through the days of the week, to make the menu; Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, Pizza Wednesday, Thai Thursday, Fish Friday... you get the idea. The best part is that trying the new recipes keeps me excited about cooking!

I'm on week two of this method and it's fantastic! If you are having a hard time keeping the meals fresh, fun and healthy, try this. There are a bazillion ideas and recipes to meet the needs of any food allergy or epic picky eater.  I've been pinning awesome easy meals like a wild person. You can check out my Pinterest meal boards, here.

How do you keep meals fresh, fun and healthy?






1/19/16

Nighttime Potty-Training: The War Has Begun



My son has been fully daytime potty trained for a little over a year. As for nighttime potty-trained, not so much.  With the little guy's fourth birthday only a few weeks away, I've decided it's time to try to ditch the nighttime pull-ups, again.

The first try sucked, I found myself washing the sheets and mattress protector every bloody night. The same goes for the second round training a few months later. Desperate to find a way to make bedtime potty training work, I talked with friends, checked in with leading parent resources and flipped through a few of my parenting books, all pretty much agreed on five things:

1. The child HAS TO BE READY- Night time potty training is more a Physiological Developmental Milestone than a learned skill. Wait until at least a week of waking with dry diapers happens before even thinking about beginning night time training.

2. Get a waterproof mattress pad, and a few disposable puppy pee pads for under the top sheet to make changing the sheets in the middle of the night less painful.

3. Limit liquids before bed.

4. Have child use the potty right before going to bed. 

5. Never shame the child for accidents. Scolding will only cause regression. And no one wants that!  

One "mom tip" I kept seeing was, "Before going to bed, wake your child up and take him/her to the potty.  Do this for 2-weeks straight, and your child will learn to do it on their own."

I'd try it, but I'm afraid I'll never get him back to sleep. The kid is as chatty as me!

The ugly truth is that if physiological barriers are the reason he's going to keep wetting the bed then why not use a diaper? I hate washing the sheets every day! So, I resigned to use diapers, until my son woke up one to two weeks in a row dry.

It's yet to happen. 

Now that he's almost four, and a very bright little guy, I'm starting to wonder if he still wakes up wet because in the middle of the night, he wakes up, realizes he's wearing a diaper, and thinks, screw getting out of this warm bed, here's good.

If that is the case, then I will hate myself for playing into his lazy nighttime routine. 

Just in case that's the case, the nighttime potty-training war has begin. Tonight, is the night.

On his mattress protector, I laid one nighttime pee-pad then put a fitted sheet on top. On top of the fitted sheet, I placed another pee pad with a fitted sheet. This way, if he wets the bed in the night, all I have to do is strip the first layer, or one fitted sheet, off the bed, then change him into dry clothes and plop him back in bed.

I plan to keep this up for a solid week, even if he pisses a pond in his bed every night, I won't stop for 7 days! Then, if necessary, reevaluate at the end. Hopefully, he will be well on his way to dry nights, and me well on my way to NEVER walking down the diaper aisle again. #bliss

Don't worry, I'll let you know how it goes... 




1/14/16

Crazy Kids Vs. Calm Kids: Why Parents Need To Relax

If you've read this blog before, than you know, my kid is batcrap-crazy. Nuts. He always has been.

I should have known when he came into this word via my sunroof ass first, I was going to be in for it. (Ollie was Frank Breech and had to be removed via c-section. Due to his position in the womb, he came out Ass first.)

To this day, the wild-child has never been below 95% percentile in weight or height. He started walking at 8 months, running by 10 months. He climbed out of his crib for the first time right after his first birthday.

Since, he has yet to slow down. Sometimes, I'm not sure if it's his mouth or feet that move faster.


This was taken on his first birthday, running down the hallway. 

The Day I Took My Eyes Off A Toddler

While I get over the latest crapy virus to pass through Pre-K and into my home, I'm reposting an old favorite; A tale of the day I took my eyes off a toddler. 

Last Friday, while Ollie was having lunch in front of Sesame Street, I decided to mop the kitchen floor. After mopping, I ran to the basement to switch the laundry. When I came back upstairs, I found Ollie dragging a mop through the house. A very wet mop...

Ollie: Look, Mommy, I'm Helping!

Me: How did you get that mop so wet?

Ollie: In there!

He runs over to the bathroom door and points. I follow him to where he is standing over the toilet and pointing in the bowl.

Me: You put the mop in the toilet?

Ollie: YES! I'm helping mommy mop the floors.

Even though I wanted to lose my shit, I couldn't. He genuinely thought he was helping.

ME: In the calmest tone possible, I said something to my child no parent ever should... Honey, we don't mop the floors with toilet water. 



I looked behind me at the trail of toilet water leading from the bathroom, through the breakfast room, down the hall and into the living room. I didn't know if I was going to cry or throw up, or both. I may have done both. I'm not sure since I've nearly blacked out the horrifying scene...

I was so thoroughly grossed out, I called FTD and whined into the phone, Ollie just mopped the floors with toilet water. ALL OF THEM! 

He was speechless. The man couldn't even make a joke.

Ollie stole his thunder like never before.

I immediately soaked the mop head in bleach, made Ollie sit in his highchair instead of his big boy chair to finish his lunch, then proceeded to mop every square inch of the floors in my house.

Every. Square. Inch.

I wanted to yell and cry, but I couldn't. All those times I got him to, "Help mommy Swiffer the floors", and then praised him for his hard work, backfired. I created this monster. In a VERY small way, it was part my fault he drug the mop covered in toilet hell through the house.

Please, my friends, if you learn nothing else from my stellar parenting, take these three valuable lessons with you...

1. Don't leave the mop out.
2. Helpful toddlers are just as dangerous as Silent toddlers.
3. Be very afraid if your child says anything remotely close to, Look, Mommy, I'm Helping!  



1/11/16

3 Ways To Naturally Treat And Prevent Head Lice

When I hear the word Lice, inevitably, my head begins to itch. Somehow, someway, those nasty people fleas have already gotten to me. 
FACT: All socioeconomic groups are affected, and infestations are seen throughout the world. Head lice infestation is not significantly influenced by hair length or by frequent brushing or shampooing. (Source: AAP)


In an effort to limit the head scratching, I'm going to get right to the point with today's tip. Without further ado, 3 Ways To Naturally Treat And Prevent Head Lice:

1/7/16

Really, Dora And Friends? The "Map App" Will Save You? #MomRant

The other day, when I tuned into Ollie's favorite TV channel, Dora The Explorer was on, mid episode. Being that Ollie doesn't really watch it, I went to change the and to my surprise,  he asked to keep watching it.  I'm all for the bi-lingual format of the show, but other than that, I had never seen the show beginning to end, so I sat down to watch it with him.

Dora, was mid-adventure in the woods  with friends.  We tuned in right before they got lost. What happened next, was shocking.

Once Dora  and friends realized they were lost in the woods,  she whips out a phone and says,

"It's Ok, I'll use my handy Map App to find our way."

A Map App?

WTH?



1/6/16

Seven Tips For Surviving Cold And Flu Season

Being that we are in the throws of cold and flu season, I thought I would share a few of my best tips for caring for a sick sad face. a.k.a your family and yourself when down and out with the flu. Below you will find my best tips for caring for littles, with facts, studies and recommendations for keeping the entire family healthy year round!




1. Resist the urge to reduce a low grade fever.  It's not a coincidence a fever is usually the first sign illness, especially in children. A fever is the body's first line of defense, and should not be treated when below 102 in children. I know it's hard, but when your child has a low grade fever  (anything below 102F), CTFD (Calm the f#ck Down) and let the fever do its job. Below is a recommendation from the Mayo Clinic on how to treat fevers in children:

1/4/16

Is This Mom Guilt Or Fear Of Change?


After agonizing for months, and a fair amount of encouragement from educators, I decided to put my three-year old in Pre-Kindergarten. Being that I work from home, I went back and forth with whether or not it was really necessary to start him in "school" so early. After all, by law, my son can't start school until he is six. Why push him into school so early?

In then end, I decided to send him to school for the structure, social development and discipline, but only three days a week. While I'm fairly certain the first day of school was harder on me, it turned out to be the very best decision. He got everything I hoped for out of school, and then some!

When we met with his teacher for the first conference, she recommended moving to five days a week. Ollie was learning at a great pace, had loads of fun at school and should I decide to move him to Junior Kindergarten next year, he would be ready for the five day weeks.

Again, I agonized over what was best.

I struggle because I want my kid to be a kid for as long as possible. There is absolutely no need to rush him along.

However.

My darling child is bat-shit crazy, always into something, on a constant quest for knowledge and needs to learn how to share and get along with other children. And, well, his school is only 3.5 hours.

That all being said, I still can't help but feel a sort of tightness in my chest when I think about my son starting school 5-days a week! Play school is one thing, but structured learning five days a week at three years old? Am I doing the right thing? Is my fear of change and my baby growing up causing this anxiety?

It's so hard watching my little guy become a big guy. Between starting school five days a week and turning four, i realize that it's time to get some sort of a grip, because I can't have a panic attack every time my kid reaches a milestone! otherwise, at this rate, I'll need a padded room before he makes it to kindergarten.

I swear, parenting is hard enough, the fact that I compound it with my own insecurities and anxiety is just plain dumbassery.


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