3/30/17

10 Facts To Help You Prepare For Summer's Sunniest Days



I know what you’re thinking: “it’s not even summer, yet!” This is true, but, as long as the sun is out, you need to protect your little's sensitive skin! Plus, before you know it, the Easter holidays will be here, after which the beautiful Spring and summer months will be at your door, with blazing rays of Sun.

Now is as good a time as any to make sure you and your child are well prepared for the sun. Whether you’re hopping on a plane to distant shores for spring break or staying closer to home for a family-style staycation, sun safety is equally important.

Here are few pointers on how to protect your child from the sun.

To help you better understand what all that crazy info on a sunscreen/sunblock bottle is, here are 10 Must Know Facts To Prepare For Summer's Sunniest Days. 





1. Did you know, Sunblock and Sunscreen are two entirely different things?
  • Sunblock- Completely BLOCKS the suns rays. Sunblocks utilize titanium oxide or zinc oxide as the active ingredient, which results in a thicker, opaque consistency.
  • Sunscreen- Filters or screens the sun's UV rays -- keeping most rays out, but letting some in. (FYI: Sunscreens use a variety of chemicals that work to absorb harmful UV rays before they penetrate your skin. Sensitive skin people beware: Think, PABA. Brands now blend the two, so make sure you read the bottle.)




3. Dermatologists recommend using a sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 30, which blocks 97% of the sun’s rays. Higher number SPFs block slightly more of the sun’s rays, but no sunscreen can block 100% of the sun’s rays.

4. Broad-spectrum means the product protects against UVB and UVA radiation.
  • UVA rays can prematurely age your skin, causing wrinkles and age spots, and can pass through window glass. 
  • UVB rays are the primary cause of sunburn and are blocked by window glass.

5 Water proof vs. water resistant How well the sunscreen stays on the skin after swimming, bathing or perspiring is just as important as the SPF level.
  • Water-resistant: The FDA considers a product "water-resistant" if it maintains its SPF level after 40 minutes of water exposure.
  • Waterproof: A product is considered "waterproof" if it maintains its SPF level following 80 minutes of exposure to water. If you participate in outdoor recreational activities including swimming, you may want to choose a waterproof sunscreen.
6. Sunscreens should be used daily if you are spending more than 20 minutes outdoors. Even on cloudy days, up to 80% of the sun’s harmful UV rays can penetrate your skin.


7. The Sun’s rays are strongest between 10pm and 2 pm. Water Sand and Snow magnify the sun's rays by up to 80%! Skiers beware, ultraviolet radiation increases 4 percent for every 1,000-foot increase in altitude. I used an umbrella on my son's stroller for years! 



8. Most people can fulfill their vitamin D requirements of 600 IU or 15mcg per day with normal daily outdoor activities amounting to five to 30 minutes twice per week.  Don't bother doubling up either, prolonged exposure exposes your skin to harmful rays.


9. Apply sunscreen/sunblock 30 minutes before sun exposure to give your skin ample time to soak up the sunscreen.  

10. People of all skin colors get skin cancer. More than 3.5 million skin cancers in more than 2 million people have diagnosed annually.   Many of these skin cancers could have been prevented with protection from the sun’s rays.




My last, and best tip, to always stay prepared for summer's sunniest days, stock up on a supply of sunscreens in all different shapes and sizes. Travel sizes and samples are great for stashing in your handbag or diaper bag!



                                                         

3/28/17

12 iPhone Hacks Every Parent Should Know


According to 2014 Statistical estimates of approximately 164 million smartphone users, more than 63.2 million users were projected to own an iPhone. I'm one of those owners. I'm also addicted to finding new iPhine hacks to make my life easier. Below are a few of my favorite hacks for parents.

1. FAMILY SHARING IS KEY!


You know how your family has 14 devices total, and between them, multiple downloads and purchases? Get this... You can access all of your purchases with all of your devices by setting up Family Sharing! Up to six family members share each other’s content, best of all, without sharing accounts.


Family Sharing also gives parents a host of parental control options and device tracking. Imagine, if a device is lost or stolen, you can find it, immediately. You can set up age and purchase restrictions and so much more! But first, set up family sharing.

       How to set up, Family Sharing

  1. Go to Settings > iCloud > Set Up Family Sharing
  2. Invite other family members to join, and create Apple IDs (usernames) for younger kids
  3. Set up a shared payment method

2. Give everyone a username


Assigning a username to family members allows you to set separate controls for what they can use, without impacting your own access. With Family Sharing, you can create Apple IDs for children under 13, then monitor and manage what your kids download.

      How to create an Apple ID for your child:

  1. Go to Settings > iCloud > Family > Create an Apple ID for a child
  2. Enter the child’s birthday and tap Next
  3. Review the Parent Privacy Disclosure and tap Agree
  4. Confirm a payment method and tap Next
  5. Enter your child’s name, tap Next, then create their Apple ID (username@icloud.com) and tap Next
  6. Follow the instructions to set a password, choose security questions, and set up your child’s account


3. Speed charge your phone in Airplane mode!





Is your child literally sucking the life out of your iPhone? Mine too. Thankfully, there are two ways to reduce charge time:

Airplane mode-Putting your phone in airplane mode while charging essentially puts your phone's life sucking operations to sleep, while still giving you access to apps.

Turn off the phone- By far, the fastest way to charge an iPhone is by turning it off until fully charged. It takes a fraction of the time compared to just plugging in your phone fully operational.


4. Make the most of your battery life.

Only have 10% left, and miles from home or the nearest charger? Don't fret! You can extend the life of the battery in 3-steps: Go to Settings-->battery---> Low-power mode. iPhone's low-power mode, you can disable non-essential tasks to give your battery up to four more hours of life.









5. iPhone's 'HEALTH' Medical ID App is a real lifesaver. Literally. (It comes with your phone. No Download Necessary!)

Did you know, your iPhone came with an app that could save your life or a family member's? The 'Health' app that comes preloaded on your iPhone allows emergency responders to access vital information about you or a family member: full name, date of birth, medical conditions, allergies, blood type, and emergency contacts. 






The best part is that emergency responders are trained to look for it, and no worries if your phone is constantly on lockdown, the app is accessible even when the phone is locked! The app also has super cool features to help you get your health in check and has an Apple watch and multiple app crossover features that sync everything. Below is a viral post an ER nurse posted about the 'Health' app and how important it is to use it.











6. Make Do Without a Selfie Stick 


Taking a selfie is difficult with your iPhone if you don't have a selfie stick. However, all you need are headphones. When you connect your headphones to your phone, the volume control function duplicates the same selfie-stick function when in camera mode. Simply plug your headphones into your iPhone and use the volume button on your headphones to take your selfies. Your reach just extended by at least a foot!


7. Need to take control of your child's device? Done. 

  1. Go to Settings > General > Restrictions
  2. Enable Restrictions and create a passcode
  3. Choose the apps and features that you wish to restrict



8. Frequent Locations. It's watching you... Or your kids.

Can't remember what you did yesterday or where you went? What about your kids? Your iPhone does. Your iPhone has a record of frequent locations visited by the phone's owner, including the dates and times at those places.



Don't want to be tracked? Go to settings-->privacy--> location services-->system services and way at the bottom, find the 'frequent locations' menu. You will see your home address and other addresses you have visited. Once viewed, you can clear the history, then turn off the frequent locations option. 



9. Guided Access 

Want your child to play one app, and one app only on your phone? Or block YouTube access? With Guided Access, you can temporarily limit your device to a single app, as well as letting you control which app features are available to your child. Once turned on with a triple-click of the Home button, your kids won’t be able to open other apps or content.

How to set up Guided Access



  1. Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Guided Access
  2. Turn Guided Access on
  3. Enter a passcode and re-confirm it


10. Set Purchase requests. Even for the free stuff.

How to turn on Ask to Buy:

  1. You’ll be asked to enable Ask To Buy for any under 18’s when you first set up your Family Sharing group
  2. Go to Settings > iCloud > Family
  3. Tap your family member’s name
  4. Tap Ask to Buy

How to review a request:

  1. Open the notification on your iPhone or iPad to see what your child wants to download
  2. Approve or decline the purchase
  3. If you approve, you need to sign in with your Apple ID and password to make the purchase


11. Block in-App Advertisements in Games


Disable pop-ups on your iPhone by switching to airplane mode. It's that easy!

12. Set a Timer, So You Don't Have To Be The A$$hole.


Guided Access also lets you set a time limit on how much longer your child can use an app.  Which, is fantastic since I LOATHE the "Time's Up" battle. What's more, the iPhone gives a 30-second warning, signaling it's sleepytime, then will  "go to sleep" when time is up. <Insert Evil Mom Laugh)
  1. Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Guided Access
  2. Tap Time Limits
  3. Choose a Sound to be played when their time is up
  4. Open the app you want to use
  5. Triple-click the Home button to turn on Guided Access
  6. Tap Time Limit Options to set a time limit
  7. Tap Start



Need a new smartphone? Check out the powerful iPhone such as the Apple iPhone SE from a reliable provider, especially when you use your smartphone on a 4G LTE network such as T-Mobile. T-Mobile's ability to quickly deliver data and communications coast to coast through one of the nation's fastest networks enables moms and dads like you to stay in touch and share your own tested life hacks with one another.

3/23/17

6 Ways To Get The Most Bang For Your Spring Beauty Buck

With Spring on the horizon, I thought I would share a few of my top tips for buying champagne style beauty products on a beer budget. (Aveda, Trish McEvoy, Lancome, Clinique, Bobbi Brown, Sephora, OPI...) Or, how I rarely buy high-end beauty products at full price and get a lot of awesome free stuff in the process, and not because I'm a blogger. Let's just say, I'm a product whore with a laughable budget. 

It takes a lot of great stuff to keep me from looking like a dehydrated sun-baked raisin. I'm also fairly brand-loyal. I have very sensitive skin, so I stick with what works. That being said, I still, on occasion, try the next best beauty thing. Below I have broken down the different ways to save big on your beauty needs, brand loyal or not!



1. First and foremost, sign up for email alerts from your favorite brands. This alone makes it easy to get the most bang for your buck from your go-to brands. FACT: Department/Beauty store brands (Clinique, Bobbi Brown, Trish, Laura...) promote 'gift with purchase' specials twice a year, however, the brand's website has a weekly gift with purchase specials and free shipping, add a coupon code and you SCORE BIG!! 

2. NEVER Buy anything without getting something free! I'm not kidding. I have yet to buy any products without getting free samples. If the brand is not offering 'gift with purchase' specials, stores like Sephora, Ulta, and Macy's may offer in-store/on-line promotions for the brand's products. Do you see where I am going with this? Research your brand-loyal beauty products online before heading to the store. Always.





3. Print Monthly Coupons. Love your Cover Girl Mascara or Almay Tinted moisturizer? Desperate to try evolution of smooth? Before you shop for shadow and gloss, spend some time downloading coupons. At the beginning for your favorite products and a few new ones, you may want to try. If you play your coupons right, you might score big combining with an in-store promotion. 


4. Reap the Rewards, Reviews + RatingsThanks to stores like Sephora, Ulta, and Amazon, getting the 411 on products is easier than ever. Amazon is a gold mine for finding reviews, photos, and deals on beauty products. Sephora is the spot for finding new products and scoring a loot bag of sample size products. Ulta sends coupons for discounts on a single item or entire purchase via snail mail and email, so signing up for the email list is worth it for that alone. I use this for self-tanner and nail polish purchases!







5. Google What Gets You. The next time you want to splurge on a new miracle cream, Google it before buying it. But try googling the specific need,"dark circles," "deep wrinkles", then look for best sellers, then read the reviews. There is no reason to spend a month's salary on an eye serum with so many great options available for a fraction of the cost. Did you know, Amazon's best selling serum cost $15? It does. It also as 4300 reviews and 4.5 stars. 



                                                                      


6. GET CASH BACK! Last, and my biggest and best shopping tip of 2017, EBATES. I promise I am not getting paid to say that. Over the last seven months, I've received $150 in actual CASH back from shopping online.  I cannot recommend enough signing up for Ebates, then downloading the Ebates browser plug-in. (SUPER EASY) Then, every time you shop online, Ebates notifies you automatically of the percentage of cash back you get for purchases and then at checkout, Ebates will auto load available coupon codes. IT'S AWESOME! Download and get cash back on nearly every online purchase, here.



Can you add to this list? Please leave your best tip in the comments below. 

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3/22/17

Do You Need A Genetic Counselor?





Some would say your genetics are everything. Genetics can tell a tall of your past heritage and possible future health challenges. According to the National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC), Genetic counselors are professionals who have specialized education in genetics and counseling to provide personalized help patients may need as they make decisions about their genetic health. Today, there are more than 4,000 certified genetic counselors.


For couples trying to conceive, a genetics counselor can be integral to a healthy pregnancy. Consider visiting a genetic counselor if you:

●  Are pregnant and have an abnormal ultrasound
●  Have previously given birth to a baby with a genetic disorder or chromosomal abnormality
●  Have a history of miscarriage
●  Have a family medical history of a certain genetic disorder
●  Are of advanced maternal age of 35 years or older

If you answered yes to any of the points above, then a prenatal screening by an obstetrician may be an option. Noninvasive prenatal testing analyzes a blood sample from the pregnant mother in order to analyze DNA from the fetus without the risks associated with procedures that may disturb the fetus. The information from this test can tell your healthcare provider if your baby is at a high risk of having a condition that may affect his or her health, for example, Down syndrome.



How Can a Genetic Counselor Help You?




Genetic counselors thoroughly explain prenatal screening and prenatal diagnostic options, in addition to giving you information about the genetic disorder in question and how it may affect your child. They also help you understand what the results of prenatal tests mean for you and your baby.

It is important to understand the options that are available for prenatal testing in order to make an informed decision about whether you would like to have a test done. Additionally, your genetic counselor will help you cope with the psychological and emotional aspects of going through the prenatal testing process. While waiting on the results of your test, you may feel anxious. Your genetic counselor will talk to you and listen to your concerns as well as answer your questions regarding the testing process.

If you learn that you and your partner have a high risk of having a baby with a genetic condition, you can also discuss conception options with your genetic counselor. Some options may include:

●  Continuing with a natural pregnancy and opting for prenatal diagnostic testing
●  In vitro fertilization with donor egg or sperm
●  Adoption
●  Pre-implantation diagnosis


What Kind of Information Will I Need to Give a Genetic Counselor?


Before meeting with a genetic counselor, you may be asked to gather information about your family medical history in addition to that of your partner. You may also be asked to provide information regarding your:

●  Ethnic background
●  Previous pregnancies
●  Ultrasounds and prenatal blood tests

With this information, your genetic counselor will analyze the risk that your baby may have a genetic condition, in addition to explaining how a possible genetic condition may be inherited.



How Do I Find a Genetic Counselor?


If you’re interested in working with a genetic counselor, talk to your doctor. Your obstetrician can give you information for recommended genetic counselors. You can also search for a genetic counselor in your area online through the National Society of Genetic Counselors website. Working with a genetic counselor will help you fully understand and prepare for a healthy pregnancy.

More info:

6 Things ALL Parents Have In Common

I love being a mother. It's the greatest blessing of my life. My son teaches me about life, love and forgiveness, daily.

HOWEVER!


There are certainly some parenting moments that suck. I always talk about how the parenting books leave out so much of the ugly side of parenting. After four years of being a month, I've decided the parenting books leave out the ugly because then the book goes from tips for parents to tips for birth 

control.





The fact remains, there are solid things all parents go through, that are constantly left out of parenting books. Below I outline a few of the big ones. Things that all parents have in common, regardless of how "perfect" your child may be. 


1. Sleeplessness- By far the worst part about being a parent is the constant lack of sleep.  Once you become a parent, eight solid hours of uninterrupted sleep carries the same odds as winning the Lottery.   Newborns need round the clock care. Toddlers think they are roosters that need to wake up at the ass-crack of dawn. Or worse, sleep in bed with you, kicking and punching all night long. Kids five and older think early bedtime is for losers, then still wake up at 7am ready to rock. Teenagers are sure bedtime is for losers and stay up all night banging and clanging and then try to sleep all day. Then once your kid gets their driver's license, forget ever sleeping again! Sucks. Bottom line, if it' not your child keeping you up, it's your parent-anxiety.

2. The mess. Kids are tiny tornadoes that rip through the house on a daily basis throwing everything out of order. All while dropping a trail of crumbs and juice along the way. Each night, I go around picking up and replacing the things that traveled to strange destinations around the house. I once gathered an entire load of laundry walking around the house picking up stray garments. Then, there's the car. More crumbs, stickers on the windows, sticky fingerprints on everything. The mess is a constant battle. you eventually learn to live with the mess. Even the type-A OCD crazies like me! 

One day I will learn...
3. Constant fear- I live in a constant state of Mom-anxiety. Every time my child coughs, gets a fever, tries something new, climbs on something, leaves for school, breathes... I'm terrified. It's total stupidity to worry so much, but such is the life of a parent. According to my mom, this anxiety never subsides. Sucks.

4. Having to be the bigger Asshole- Sometimes, when my kid is a super A-hole, I have to out Asshole him to get his attention and make him stop. Some days I feel like all I do is say, No!, make threats then follow through with the threats. I once spent an hour trying to keep my son in timeout. Once the situation diffuses, it's only a matter of time until the cycle repeats, and I'm back to being the bigger asshole.  



5. Buying All the crap they want/need! Kids need a lot of crap! It seems like the older they get the more they need! Between my son's constantly growing body and short attention span, if I am not buying new clothes and shoes, I am buying new toys or education development tools. Then the outgrown or unwanted stuff piles up because I cannot bring myself to give it away--I spent a ridiculous amount of money acquiring the stuff. I want to somehow figure out how to get my money's worth. If only I could send my kid to college on his 10k in hot wheels, Thomas The Tank crap or all the assorted electronic devices that promised to make him a genius.  

6. Sugar is the enemy. I love giving my son candy, it makes him so happy. Cakes, cupcakes, cookies, brownies, he loves those too. Unfortunately, I had to learn the hard way that even though I love to see him happy and he loves to barrel through sugar, in the end, we both end up crazed lunatics that need a nap. Some kids eat too much sugar and throw up, but not my kid. Oh, No. He goes ape-shit crazy. It took me a while, but I finally realized that when my son eats chocolate, he's near unmanageable. When he eats refined sugar, he's wild and can't sit still. Natural occurring sugars can even cause trouble. After eating a bowl of grapes he runs wild, then, like with all other sugars, he crashes. Hard. Then either gets miserable or really miserable. 

Sugar causes havoc like nothing else. I know my son is not the only one. I wager to say every kid is a Gremlin after sugar, but I really don't want to field the comments from the self-righteous parent who's perfect kid could eat a bag of sugar and sit through church. 

Bottom line, if your kid sounds familiar, back off the ho-hos and see if that helps. 


Parents, above all, the one thing we have in common is how hard and scary parenting can be. We have good days, bad days, miserable days and absolutely mind-blowing heart pounding proud-parent days. Meltdowns happen on both sides. Don't be hard on yourself, or listen to the nasty judgmental people. I can guarantee you, even the most seemingly perfect parents with well-behaved children are still stressed, exhausted, and quite possibly, their child is being so perfect because she just got out of a four-hour stint in Time Out! 


3/20/17

10 Tips To Save BIG On Kid's Things For Spring

Happy Tuesday! We are a family that lives by our budget, and when I can squeeze it a little more, I do. Being that I'm a first time parent, I feel like each season we start over with buying new clothes and season appropriate toys and snacks, all can be big budget busters. So, for today's top 10 Tuesday, I'm sharing a few of my favorite ways to save big on Kid's things for spring... and summer too!



1. Make a list: I learned very early that kids do not need half as much stuff as I think they do. Before my baby was born, he had enough clothes to go a month without wearing a new outfit. Most of which, he never wore because he grew too fast! I quickly learned that I need to make a reasonable list of what I actually needed for my son, taking into account mid season growth spurts! I cannot recommend this enough, make a list of the number of shorts, shirts and shoes that you actually need to start the season, also include seasonal toys and future big buys like bicycles, ride on toys or backyard trampoline if your brave enough. Having a list early will allow you to do online shopping for better deals as well as put feelers out with your family to look for things on sale.

2. Shred those winter clothes: When it comes to outside playtime, kids get get dirty, so the last thing you want them to do is get grimy in their nice new clothes. Go through those winter clothes that have holes in the knees or tears in the sleeves, and cut them off  to make shorts and t-shirts. Then, deem those play clothes, so you won't cry when you can't get the grass or ketchup stains out.



3. Borrow Budget Busters: For those one off family portraits or special occasions where you normally end up buying an incredibly expensive outfit, your child will most likely only wear once, check out Etsy, eBay and your friend's closets before paying full price for anything.

4. Secondhand Shops: Places like Once Upon A Child and other children's secondhand shops are full of clothes and everything else you need to cover an entire winter or summer wardrobe, for under $20. (Shoes too! Did you know Crocs are machine washable?)

5. Facebook Finds: Every city has at least one Facebook mommy group that has clothes exchanges and lists where big family sales are taking place. To find them, on your Facebook page ask your friends if they know of any great mommy groups on Facebook. I bet you'll get plenty of replies!

6. Garage Sale Heaven: Garage sales are great place to pick up those big toys that people want to get rid of because they take too much space, but you desperately need because it's time for your toddler to start riding a bike. On Fridays, go to Craigslist, or wherever your city list garage sales, and find ones close by. Look for multi-family sales then grab a friend and some coffee and start shopping!



7. Discount Dealers: I love Groupon, ZuLily, Plum District, Living Social, Overstock, and other sites that can offer great things at a huge discount. All will be fighting for attention this season, so capitalize on it!  Most are even offering free shipping on the smallest orders.

8. Daily Deals: Did you know there are hundreds of websites that crawl the Internet daily for the best online daily deals? They do, and then list them in an easy to search format so you can quickly search for items on your must have list. My favorite is DealNews.com.

9. DIY For Family Health: When it comes to spring time treats and healthy fruit snacks, the budget can bust very quickly. I make our Popsicles, grow our fruit and cut out juice and soda, we are water drinkers during the warm months. If you have a sunny spot in your yard, patio or balcony, you have a place to grow your own fruit! Did you know strawberries grow well in a pot? Go to your local nursery and ask for help finding the right fruits to grow for where you live (Grower's Zone).









For a total of $20 I have strawberry plants, blueberries and grapes thriving in pots and around my yard. The best part is that I can use that fruit to make Popsicles! (For my Posicle DIY post, Click here.)

10. Price Shop From Home.  There are way too many apps and websites available today that make price comparison shopping from home a breeze. Gone are the days of driving from store to store or waiting for the Sunday Paper deals. Pull out the list you made of spring must-haves and start going through each item online and list where the best deal is, for that item. Once you've gone through your list, check the entire list for stores that overlap to save you a bundle on shipping and time. Between the coupon apps and the compare-and-save apps, there is no reason to pay full price anymore.

If you have any great tips, please leave a comment below, or join my Facebook discussion, here. 

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