Thursday, July 30, 2015

Fab Discount on the Quinny Zapp Xtra!

Disclosure: I received a sample to facilitate this post; all opinions expressed are my own.

Do you remember when I trekked over to giggle in Soho from Jersey City on a rainy weekend morning to stand in line for a few hours for a Quinny Yezz? Well, it was totally worth it! Two years later our Yezz is still going strong especially thanks to the awesome customer service of Quinny who quickly replaced it for us just a few months in after an airline ruined it. 


Just this month Quinny announced that their super stylish Quinny Zapp Xtra is newly discounted at select retailers for $299 instead of the regular $349.99. Quinny is known for their functional style and the Zapp Xtra definitely lives up to that! Here's why it's such an amazing stroller:
  • Lightweight: At only 18 pounds and with its signature swivel wheels, the Zapp Xtra is easy to maneuver
  • So compact: It can fold down even with the seat attached
  • Multiple positions: Allows your little one to be placed in 3 forward or 2 backward positions including the ability to recline
  • Grows with your child: The Zapp Xtra is compatible with a Maxi-Cosi car seat making it a complete travel system! 
The retailers for this sale include Albee Baby, PishPosh Baby, BuyBuy Baby and more and you can visit the Quinny website to find the retailer closer to you. 

Be sure to follow Quinny on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for the latest product news! 
 
 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

It's a Week and a Half Past BlogHer (and Time for a MAJOR Brain Dump!)

We are hurtling towards Kindergarten over here, and if you follow me around social media especially on Instagram you'll see that yes, we now have a walker (and yes, I have video and Grayson's 1 year and 13 months update need to still happen - I have the pics just not the time!).

Things aren't slowing down around these parts,  and once I take a moment to sit down and craft a blog post, like this one in the wee hours, there are 12 new developments! Anyway, pictures are fun and bullet points are easy to digest right?

Here we go . . .
  • Next, BlogHer was FANTASTIC! My chill approach worked, and I'm still in awe of the awesomeness including this Wellesley shout out from BlogHer co-founder Lisa (I was also mentioned in Boyz II Men's RT!):

  • And about Wellesley: within 7 days I've been able to visit with 4 alums (and sometimes their children too); it's been awesome! Community is what you make it for sure
With one of my New England Wellesley sisters and our children (remember their first play date here?)
  • This video I quickly shot during our after-dinner walk capture what life is like in NH for us right now
  • Considering the above video, I stand in awe at the absolute beauty up here; it completely overtakes me at times and the way it's transformed my life outlook and mindset since leaving NYC metro is so therapeutic including this view at my church's women's fellowship this past Friday; God even blessed us with a rainbow!


  • Nia's birthday party just might be epic; she somehow thinks it's at Water Country and goes around telling EVERYONE they're invited including the children who are there with her when I drop her off at our Y's daycare while I workout
  • Speaking of Y, I'm trying to get back on track with working out but our travel schedule has made it difficult; shout out to Courtney who's helping me stay motivated to stick with PiYo. We're also swapping mom-biz services: I took photos for her over the weekend and she's giving me a much needed closet/wardrobe overhaul 

  • We leave for Ohio next Thursday (I'm traveling alone with the kids, but I'm a pro at it), and I'm excited to partake in such State Fair delicacies as roast corn, ice cream, corn dogs and a whole host of other foods that will require me to wear stretchy pants during my entire visit! We'll be having a mini-birthday celebration for Nia; she selected this cake from my favorite childhood bakery (we added Tiana, and no they didn't have Anna and Elsa) 
  • I'm in the middle of updating my office with the items below; it's coming together nicely (teasers here and here), and so far it really makes a difference having a fantastic set-up to work from (plus it's all paid for from blog income - reinvestment is so important!)

Sources (clockwise from top left): Amazon, Holstee, Wayfair, Amazon, West Elm, Amazon, Ballad Designs

  • We're finishing up our summer focusing on swimming lessons (the kids go to free lessons our city provides 2x weekly throughout the summer) as well as our summer reading program; I have my own books I'm trying to get through including these

  • Going back to Kindergarten, Nia has two little playdates which her school is hosting including one tomorrow; I think that is so thoughtful and she's very excited!
  • Speaking of Nia, her observations have been so hilarious lately, but she's pretty serious when she share them with me and if I laugh she gets mad. Here's a gem: "At the end of praying over dinner tonight Nia asked why we say "amen" and I explained it's like saying, "The end." She replied, "Oh like 'happily ever after.'" Love how a child's mind works!"
  • Grayson is officially a train boy (check this out)! We went to Day Out with Thomas in North Conway (an hour and a half away). They asked that you come an hour before and with a 9a.m. train ride scheduled (dern 10 a.m. was full and 11a.m. was too late for us) and a 1 1/2 hour distance this meant we were up and out by 6:45a.m. (we arrived 15 minutes shy of departure) 
  • In addition to meeting Thomas before Mr. Lovebird left for a week on business this week, we also took some time to visit the tall ship El Galeon. We were rained out when the tall ships parade brought it in but were thankful to have mild weather when we visited.
  • Lastly, if you have children in your life this article is a MUST READ! 
How is the end of your summer shaping up? Are you needing a caffeine IV drip at this point like I am???

 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Help Your Favorite Teacher Win Big with ThredUp

Disclosure: I received a promotional item to facilitate this post; all opinions expressed are my own. 



With all the excitement surrounding BlogHer this week another exciting announcement was just made by ThredUp, the online, consignment-like, eco-friendly clothing store: now through August 23 they've partnered with AdoptaClassroom.org to give you the chance to nominate a teacher to win one of three $2,500 + $500 thredUP credits for their classroom (and 50 runner-ups will receive $50!).

How does this fit into ThredUp's mission? It turns out that 1 in 3 teachers are actually buying clothes for students (along with school supplies) with money from their own pockets. I was very surprised to find this out and appreciate that ThredUp is bringing awareness to this just in time for back-to-school. 


Lil 2 year old Lovebird in Myani's classroom
For my nomination, I submitted Myani Lawson, lifetime educator and founder of Bergen-Lafayette Montessori School. Three years ago Nia started school at Myani's preschool prep program where she thrived. 


Myani Lawson, head of BLMS
Since then Myani has worked tirelessly to raise awareness of the importance of Montessori education and bring an affordable option to her community. BLMS just started last year and definitely needs a lot of support - she's even part of an amazing start-up competition which you can also vote for here.

To learn more about ThredUp's effort and nominate your own teacher please visit their website. The winner will be announced September 8!


 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Why I'm So Chill About #BlogHer15

My mind is constantly streaming content for the blog, but the pace of life now... WHOA! I was hit hard this a.m. when my sitter could no longer come last minute and this was my one day to get EVERYTHING done before we pack tomorrow and hit the road early a.m. Wednesday. I'm making do (I got alllll the laundry done!), and am thankful for some quick childcare responses so I can get back on track when I return next week. 
This is just the tip of the iceberg of BlogHer 2015 speaker awesomeness! {Image credit, clockwise: Ava, Soledad, Christy, Luvvie, Gwyneth and Melinda)
Here's what's on my mind as I head to BlogHer:
  • I'm prepared! I'm SO not stressing like I have done for conferences in years' past. Why?:
    • My sister in NYC confirmed my Moo business cards arrived today (2 full days ahead of schedule!) - oh and about biz cards: they NEED to have a writeable surface. I keep cards for years with notes on them and am such a connector that I frequently go back to them. If I can't write on your card, I don't want it. Yes, I'm a biz card snob
1//2//4//6 are coming with me! (sources in this post)

    • My gadgets are "on fleek" (I think this is the first time I've used this phrase on my blog, and I'm officially old I'm not sure if it's appropriate!) - I was on the struggle bus, gadget-wise last time around, but now with my MBA, Galaxy S6 Edge, Seagate external HD, and my trusty Jackery ALL. THINGS. ARE. POSSIBLE. I'll be slipping away to see clients while at the conference so I'm going gadget heavy. I'll also have my ancient T2i with me, but my Galaxy S6 Edge is literally "edging" it out (more on that at another time...); to top it off I'm carrying everything in my Kelly Moore bag which is still going strong, and I'm bringing along my Day Designer (a modified version just launched at Target BTW and is also at Blue Sky), but since it's massive, it will mostly likely stay back at my sister's apartment so I can debrief in the evenings

    • The conference app is fantastic and will make it so easy to navigate  - it is very comprehensive and easy to use; I'm pretty much following this small online business track  
The private Hasbro party from 2012

  • Private events - BlogHer has an official stance on "outboarding" and last time it was such a frenzy of people split between official and unofficial events that this time around I've felt an underlying animosity towards the conference as in "why go when it's all about the private parties anyway?" It was such a whirlwind for me my first time at BlogHer, but this time around, while I am going to some private parties I'm not butt-hurt (awful word, I know) if I'm not invited to others. As I've advised before, one of the best policies is not to even ask, "Are you going to such-and such?" cause then it can get awkward. Really fast. Just show up and if you see people you know, great. If not, make new friends (BlogHer can get clique-ish quickly)
  • It's not just about blogging - last time I attended I had only been blogging for 3 years, now I have 6 years under my belt, and I've grown exponentially; I've also learned it can't just be about my blog. As I've stressed before multiple profit centers are crucial and while I won't be 40 years old and blogging about diapers and breastfeeding (unless God has other plans) it's important that I focus on diversifying my brand. Working as a brand ambassador since my last BlogHer attendance, and now starting a business with my sisters is putting me on track for the long term success! 
  • The partee(ez) - with Boyz II Men and Nick Canon closing down BlogHer on Saturday night I'm super excited after some of the hecticness of the past week and a half to unwind and enjoy. There are parties each night but with my family in town this is the one must-attend party I'll be at
  • FAMILY - It's been a minute since my kids have seen my parents, and I'm so thankful it worked out for them to fly up from Texas so we can all see each other. It's going to be a packed house for a couple nights at my sister's in Harlem when my parents join from their hotel, but the more the merrier
  • Lastly, I can't help but be Wellesley-proud; I smiled widely when I opened my alumnae magazine earlier this spring and saw this: 

If you're attending BlogHer what are you most looking forward to? 

 

P.S. You can check out my first BlogHer reap here as well as my epic "How to do BlogHer/Blogalicious" post here

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Lovebirds 6th Wedding Anniversary (Family Style!)

Sharing an anniversary kiss at Acadia National Park (a group of bikers saw us smooching and demanded we capture the moment on camera!)
One of my favorite bloggers Carol, of Girl Gone Travel, recently wrote this line as part of a post earlier this summer: 

"...my silence, here on the blog, is due to my doing exactly what I always encourage others to do which is to get out there and live. Live life to the fullest. Be in the moment, taking nothing for granted."

My heart flip flopped, and I nearly screamed YESSSSSS in agreement when I read this line! This is *so* spot on and encapsulates so much of how I'm feeling lately. It brings to mind a frequent reminder announcement on the cruise I was on with my mom which told people to put their phones away during performances and to take it in with their own eyes because that's the best view - not the one behind a screen.

At our first Portsmouth fireworks last Friday
While I'm very thankful for all the wonderful moments my family and I have been experiencing up here in New England (including celebrating our 6th wedding anniversary which I'll get to in a minute!) and the ability to capture special moments here on the blog, albeit delayed, there's nothing like stepping away from the screen.

Now on to the 6th anniversary recap!

We were greeted with this view
When Mr. Lovebird asked that we all join him for a family work trip up to Bar Harbor the same weekend as our wedding anniversary and Grayson's 1st birthday I was a bit skeptical. I had heard of Bar Harbor but never really had a specific desire to go, however when he shared the itinerary with me, being the Type A woman that I am, I recognized fellow Type A-ness in the creators of the event, and I knew we'd have a great time. 

I was right!

The air was brisk during our stay,  but the pool was heated!
Bar Harbor is 3 1/2 hours north of us here in Portsmouth, and I checked the weather in advance, saw it was going to be pretty much perfect and packed accordingly including swimsuits. We stayed at the Bar Harbor Regency Resort which is also a partial Holiday Inn property and while I was nervous about the Trip Advisor reviews, we had a good stay. The event organizers had a few planned excursions, but with a kids' camp scheduled each day with activities for them I knew I'd probably just want to take it easy during the time we'd be together especially because Uka would be in meetings most of the time. It also gave me a chance to meet other New England families who are in the same industry as Uka and we got a chance to plan our own little family field trip to Acadia National Park, which another local mommy friend provided several helpful tips.

Grayson enjoyed watching each night's post-dinner entertainment under the big tent
Lobster cobb salad made it easy to eat the rainbow!
Ahhhh Maine, I don't think filters are ever needed for you
A blurry hug - he loves doing this lately!



This pre-dinner popcorn bar had me questioning all the choices I made at my wedding - why didn't I think of this???
Cadillac Mountain

I was bummed the kids fell asleep when we went to Acadia National Park, but I shot this little video of the view at Cadillac Mountain:





One of my favorite parts of our trip to Bar Harbor was getting dressed up. I used Rent the Runway for the first time a few months ago, when I was still feeling very postpartum, and I have to say they didn't disappoint. Both times have been outstanding and I highly recommend RTR! I received so many compliments and it was fun to feel fancy on the night of our anniversary. The theme was "starry night" so when I saw this dress I snapped it up but then had hesitations that I wouldn't be the only one wearing it (I was wrong!). The conference also gave us a bottle of champagne too (and as I'm writing this I remembered that we left it in the hotel fridge - oops!) and to celebrate Grayson's 1st birthday a beach bucket with a bubble blower. So thoughtful!


I look forward to making it back up to Bar Harbor perhaps next summer. The kids did surprisingly well on the trip - it was so rainy on the way back and they pretty much slept the whole time! 

Celebrating our anniversary and Grayson's 1st birthday in the photo booth
Over the weekend we had a belated 6th anniversary date night and saw Jurassic World - I liked it!! I think alternate title should've been GMO vs. Organic agreed? 

Here's to another exciting year with my homeylovefriend (who's currently on his much deserved guycation in the Caribbean), and I'm excited for what's in store for our little family! Oh and a funny story courtesy of Nia: lately she's been obsessed with asking about what I was doing at specific ages and recently asked, "Mama, when were you a teenager?" I explained that when I was 13, 14, 15 etc. I was a teenager than informed her that at age 18 I met her daddy. Her eyes got big and she asked, "You were a teenager when you met Daddy?!" I replied, "Yes, and I thought he was cute and gave him a kiss!" She turned her nose up in disgust and loudly proclaimed, "EWWWWWWW!" 



*Speaking of IRL, I'll be back in NYC with my kids next week for BlogHer (and to see my parents who are also flying up from Texas to meet us!), and while in years past I've been super strategic about my plan of attack for conferences, this year I'm just happy to make personal connections and catch up with old blogger friends. Will I see you there?

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Keeping My Family Sun-Safe with Neutrogena

Disclosure: I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Neutrogena. I received samples to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for my participation.



It's so hard to believe it's July and while we had a crazy winter here in New England, lately the sun has been bearing down on us! While I'm not complaining what I am doing is making sure me and my family continue to practice sun-safety. It's a topic that I write about quite a bit especially due to my diagnosis of discoid lupus several years ago. While I haven't had a flare up in a long time, it's still important to make sure my family is protected and while I didn't start becoming an avid sunscreen user until almost adulthood, there is one brand I use most consistently: Neutrogena. 

As a brown-skinned family, while it's easy to think sunscreen isn't needed, it really is! The challenge for me has always been finding a sunscreen that doesn't show up so chalky and white on my skin. When Neutrogena's Ultra Sheer line was introduced I was thrilled because it goes on so smooth without the residue. Now with children, I've since moved on from sprays given recent news and make sure to slather on the liquid sunscreen and just tried the Pure and Free Baby stick sunscreen Neutrogena sent over along with an assortment of other Sun Care products. While it was quite chalky on my children's skin, because we've suffered from eczema in my family, especially Grayson, knowing the The National Eczema Association has awarded five Neutrogena Sun products their Seal of Acceptance gives me confidence in using it on our skin:
  • NEUTROGENA® Pure & Free® Baby Faces Ultra Gentle Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 45+
  • NEUTROGENA® Pure & Free® Baby Sunscreen Stick Broad Spectrum SPF 60
  • NEUTROGENA® Pure & Free® Baby Sunscreen Lotion Broad Spectrum SPF 60+
  • NEUTORGENA® Sensitive Skin Sunscreen Lotion Broad Spectrum SPF 60+ 
  • NEUTROGENA® Pure & Free™ Liquid Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50

At Grayson's first birthday party a couple weeks ago, I was able to provide a sunscreen-buffet of sorts for my guests to use as were exposed to strong, direct sun with no tree-cover. It's crazy to think that only 20% of Americans use sunscreen daily when 1 in 5 will develop skin cancer. Sunburns in children are especially dangerous as they can develop into cancer later in life. The Pure & Free® Baby Sunscreen Stick Broad Spectrum SPF 60 is fragrance free, PABA free and has broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection, something that's a must when selecting sunscreen. 

I was especially intrigued by the Pure & Free™ Liquid Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50 meant to go under make-up. It has a fine tip and is PureScreen technology, made especially for sensitive skin. Also, the kids aren't the only ones who get to use the stick! Neutrogena also sent the Ultra Sheer Face & Body Stick which is a great alternative to my liquid Ultra Sheer I've come to love. It's weightless and non-shiny and I'd actually prefer using this stick on the kids as it wasn't chalky at all on my skin!

When I received notice that I'd get to participate in this review I was so excited and soon after was alarmed to see the news about concern about Neutrogena's products spreading across social media. I always do due diligence when I see issues like this for brands I've partnered with and sought out answers on my own. Here's Neutrogena's official response:

We share EWG’s goal of raising awareness about safe sun habits and sunscreens, but disagree with their conclusions about Neutrogena® sunscreen products. Contrary to EWG’s claims, the global safety profile of the ingredients we use is comprehensive and strong in supporting their safe use, and supported by the U.S Food and Drug Administration and other external safety experts. Our scientists believe that SPF values higher than 50 provide the highest level of sun protection for everyone, as studies show people routinely under apply sunscreens.  We are committed to education about skin cancer and sun safety, but consumers should be aware that EWG test methods lack the rigor of peer-reviewed, scientific evaluation, and they should talk with their health care professionals if they have questions about sunscreen products and protection.

I appreciate Neutrogena's response and appreciate the work that EWG is doing and encourage you to be informed consumers as well.


Neutrogena Sun Care products are available through Walmart both in-store and online. For more information please visit Walmart.com and be sure to follow Neutrogena on Facebook and Twitter for latest product news. 


Monday, June 29, 2015

Video: Keeping My Summer Guests Comfy with Charmin

Disclosure: I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Charmin. I received product samples to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for my participation. All content and thoughts are my own.



This summer is already off to a whirlwind start, and if we're not in town here in Portsmouth, NH then it means we have guests staying with us. Our family calendar literally looks like a bed and breakfast schedule! I love playing tour guide and still being a tourist here in our new town cause there is just so much to see and do, plus we have much more space up here than we did in NYC-metro to host guests.

Whether having houseguests or lots of friends over for play dates, one thing I make sure to have on hand is plenty of toilet paper and Charmin, a brand I've grown up with, was generous enough to supply me with several soft, fluffy yet strong rolls to kick-off the summer. Check out this quick video I made about my new stash:



I've always had a bit of a fear of getting stuck on the toilet without toilet paper and admit it's happened to me before, requiring me to humbly yell for more (c'mon, it's happened to you too!). I definitely don't want that happening to my guests though! I've taught Nia how to refill the toilet paper stand in her bathroom which doubles as the guest bathroom; it's a great little chore for her, but we have to keep an eye out for Grayson who's latest joy is unrolling the toilet paper! What's awesome about Charmin is that a little goes a long way plus it's the only toilet paper to have the Roto-Rooter stamp of approval. We've dealt with clogs in the past due to certain over-zealous toilet paper users, but with Charmin there is a clog-free guarantee and it's septic-safe making it less likely you'll have to call your plumber.

With the July 4th holiday coming up, we'll be taking in the local historic sites here in Portsmouth and will be out and about for other festivities, but we're already looking forward to having more family come up in the next few weeks from NYC.  Of course the Charmin will be stocked and ready for them when they arrive, but I just might have to steal a few rolls for my master bathroom. My guests can't have all the comfort!


To learn more about Charmin be sure to visit their website and follow on Facebook and Twitter for the latest product news!


Are you entertaining house guests this summer? Any tips to share for keeping them comfy?


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