Saturday, October 25, 2014

My First Biggest Baby Shower Ever Boston Recap

Disclosure: I received complimentary admission to the Biggest Baby Shower Ever; all opinions expressed are my own.


We're closing in on a month of living in Portsmouth (it flew by!) and now that I look back on it I'm amazed I was able to squeeze in a couple events in the first few days of living here. Thankfully they were on the same night and one of those was the Biggest Baby Shower Ever. 

Gray was a great date and having attended a few baby expos before helped me pinpoint a few new-to-me brands and products I wanted to experience. Here's what caught my eye:

Motorola


I know most people think back to the old school Motorola phones when they hear "Motorola," but did you know they make baby monitors too? We have Nia's old baby monitor that's sound-only, but I was impressed to learn all the latest developments including dual mode viewing via hubble which allows remove viewing to your smart phone. This will launch the beginning of 2015 and in the interim look for my review of the MPBP27T, a digital video monitor with an integrated touchless thermometer that works on both baby and liquids. Amazing!

Halo

 
I've been seeing the Halo Bassinet Swivel Sleeper for some time now in my timeline, and it was cool to experience at last in person! Pardon my super-cropped image as I was trying to keep the rep out my shot, but if you take a look at the control panel that's what's awesome about it: it not only has built-in white noise (we swear by white noise in our household), but it also has a timer for nursing to help keep track of sessions. I kept track of Grayson's feeding sessions for his first month until I learned his patterns but this really would've been handy. The icing on the cake? The fact that the entire bassinet swivels out of the way so you don't have to do the awkward booty scoot to the end of the bed to exit. You can see the full video here.

Pediped


Pediped wasn't on my radar when I had Nia, but I've since seen them around on other babies and was interested in seeing their offerings for boys. Gray has a few Pediped hand-me-downs that I'm looking forward to him wearing and while they do have some cute offerings for boys, I think the girls' shoes are way cuter! What's so great about Pediped are their super soft bottoms are the closest babies can get to barefeet, which actually helps them learn to walk (and they're officially recommended by the American Podiatric Association). At 10 months Nia was an early walker so I'm curious to see what might happen with Gray especially if he starts rocking Pediped!
 
Stouffer's


I was surprised to see Stouffer's present but I soon realized it completely made sense! Growing up loving their mac & cheese, I was happy to see they had plenty of samples and as I hadn't eaten dinner it was a welcome snack. This is exactly how Stouffer's helps busy parents: offering them delicious, easy meals especially when time is of the essence. Their vegetable lasagna is another staple I love! 

NuRoo

Created by two moms (who have 8 kids between them!), I was intrigued by NuRoo, a company that promotes skin-to-skin contact. Offering the NuRoo Pocket, Nursing Scarf and Swaddler, their are multiple ways their products can be worn allow for versatility and the ability to wear them beyond baby. The demos were fascinating and you can see them here on their website.

Orbit Baby


I've seen Orbit Baby before, but hadn't yet experienced the G3 which keeps popping up in my social media timeliness so I was thrilled to get a full demo. While we're up to our limit on strollers, if I had to get another stroller this might be it! The reason why? The fact that it can rotate a full 360 degrees. It's such a pain to get Gray in and out of the car twisting at times but if I could just swivel the car seat like Orbit Baby's allows it'd be so much easier. You can see it in action in this video. Cool, right? 


I didn't snap a pic as I as heading out the door and my hands were full, but I was thrilled to see Belkin Family Look Out Farm handing out bags of apples as guests exited. They were the perfect snack on the drive back to Portsmouth!  


Whether you're a new mom or beyond the Biggest Baby Shower is a wonderful opportunity to catch up on the latest baby gear and a fun night out (there are tons of giveaways too!).

**For my NYC friends: there's still time to get in on the upcoming Biggest Baby Shower Ever New York happening November 12 at the Metropolitan Pavilion. You can get all the details and your ticket here.**

Have you ever attended a baby expo before? What types of baby products are on your radar? That Halo Bassinet Swivel Sleeper is pretty awesome IMO!


Thursday, October 23, 2014

NYC-Area Readers: Circle Line's Kids Costume Cruise This Saturday, October 25!

Disclosure: My family received complimentary passes for a Circle Line cruise; all opinions expressed are my own.


If there's one thing that never gets old it's seeing the NYC skyline in all its glory. I've had the opportunity to take a few harbor cruises and in August we made a family event out of surprising Nia on Circle Line's Pirate and Princess Party the Saturday before her birthday. I was also doing double duty sampling for GoGo squeeZ that day, and as we pulled up to the dock Nia slowly realized what was about to happen and started exclaiming, "Mama! We're going on the boat?!" She smiled so big and I knew it'd be a hit. 

It was!









I'm thrilled to share that there's still time to get on board this weekend's Halloween Costume Cruise. Featuring Baze and His Silly Friends, this special kids cruise will offer a family friendly 75 minute sail to the Statue of Liberty with an interactive LIVE tour guide and special Halloween entertainment. The kids are in for a spooky fun time with a strolling magician and face painter onboard.  

The Pirate and Princess Party was my 2nd time being on a Circle Line Cruise, and I have to say the staff is excellent. They run the kids cruises very efficiently and they're a lot of fun - I especially like seeing how excited the cuties get for the interactive games and music! I really wish I had thought to put Nia in her princess costume for the Pirate and Princess cruise (I was still in a bit of mind-fog post Grayson - at least she was donning pirate stripes!), but please know that kids get allllll decked out for the cruises so make sure your little one is on point! Nia had fun going around to all the stations (especially face painting), and the 75 minutes really does fly by!

The cruise boards Saturday, October 25 at 9:30a.m. and sets sail at 10a.m. returning promptly at 11:15a.m. Tickets are $29 for adults and $20 for children. Cruises depart at Pier 83, located at West 42nd Street and 12th Ave. To purchase your tickets click here.

Do you think your kids would enjoy a harbor cruise? Have you ever been on one?


2 Weeks From Today: Come With Me to Blogalicious (Promo Code!)

With adjusting to life with 2 kids and the whirlwind of our recent move it just hit me that in 2 weeks I'll be in San Antonio for my third year at Blogalicious! I'm super excited to be there with my family in tow. My first year there Mr. Lovebird joined me and last year I went alone (well, sorta since Baby Grayson was in utero!). As temperatures are dipping here I know the warmer weather will be welcome and while I'll be speaking, it will also be a mini-vacation for us. 

If you're still on the fence about attending I have a special promo code especially for Harlem Lovebirds' readers: use code b6spkrfriend to save 30% off your ticket! To purchase click here (there are one-day passes available too).

Still not convinced? Here are a few of my favorite moments from Blogalicious' past (here are full recaps for 2013 and 2012):







Will I see you there? 

 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Revisiting Pins & Needles (and a Quick 3-Step Placemat Tutorial!)

 
Before our recent move I went on a whirlwind tour saying goodbye to a few of my favorite small businesses. One of those is the UES shop Pins & Needles (you can read my original posts here and here). I was excited to see mention of their expansion in their newsletter and wanted to check it out for myself. The owner Rachel started off with one side of the floor that her shop occupies and now has doubled the space.

The original space
The addition; I love the inspirational words on the wall!
Rachel always has such fun prints in her shop and helped me pick out a couple for a placemat project for the kids and "kickee" pants for Grayson. While my mom was here she helped me with the placemat which was super easy, and I'm sharing the tutorial with you today:

Materials:
  • Favorite fabric (sized to pre-cut felt backing)
  • Felt backing (the piece was pre-cut in a placemat friendly size)
  • Double binding in a complimentary color
  • Fusing tape

Directions:

Step 1: Iron fabric and felt, match up and trim if needed


Step 2: Measure and cut binding for all 4 sides, pressing to make tight edges


Step 3: Measure fusing tape to match binding, laying in each piece and ironing all the way around, tucking in edges and pressing with more pieces of fusing web as needed all the way around

That's it!

Especially with the holidays approaching you can make these more formal depending on the fabric and trim you choose plus they'd make a great favor for your guests to take-home!

Which holiday projects have you started? Be sure to follow Pins & Needles on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest for project  inspiration!
 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Fall Recipe: My Easy Johnsonville Oktoberfest-Inspired Dinner

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


Growing up in Ohio I have fond memories of my dad grilling Johnsonville brats in the summer. Now as an adult when I attend a BBQ and there are "brats" I can always tell an imposter. Mr. Lovebird never quite understood my obsession until he came back to Ohio with me when we were dating and was able to experience them in all their glory. When Johnsonville reached out to me to create a recipe I was thrilled to be able to share their yummy goodness with my readers!

I selected Bedder with Cheddar Smoked Sausage Links as the base of my recipe and knew I wanted to go the Oktoberfest route especially being in the midst of apple picking season here in New Hampshire. Next, I decided to add sauerkraut and red onion for sweetness and because of my new obsession with pretzel buns when I saw them at my local grocery store bakery I picked those up too.  

The result was delicious:



Johnsonville Better with Cheddar Oktoberfest Skillet on a Pretzel Bun

Ingredients:
  • 1 package Johnsonville Bedder with Cheddar Smoked Sausage Links
  • 1 diced red onion  
  • 2-3 apples sliced (depending on size and variety of your choice - I used Gala!)
  • 1-2 cups of sauerkraut (depending on your taste)
  • Pretzel buns
  • Salt and pepper 
Directions:

Prepare sausage according to package - I put them in a skillet with a bit of water. While cooking, in another large skillet swirl a bit of olive oil on medium-low and add apples until softened to desired texture. Put apples in bowl covered with foil to keep warm. Swirl a bit more oil to the pan and add red onion and sauerkraut until onions are translucent and sauerkraut is heated through. Mix back together with apples, salt and pepper to taste and remove from heat. 

While sausage is finishing broil pretzel buns on low until they're toasted a bit brown on top. When sausage if finished place in sliced pretzel bun and top sausage with apple/sauerkraut/onion mixture. 


This recipe was so quick and easy taking less than 30 minutes and Mr. Lovebird enjoyed it so much we ended up having it again a couple nights later! What I love about this meal is the perfect mix of sweet and sour as well as the fact that it fulfills my addiction to cheese, plus the leftovers heat up nicely.

Be sure to visit Johnsonville's website and follow on Facebook and Twitter for the latest recipes!


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Huggies Can Handle My Gray! #MC #sponsored

Disclosure: I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Mom Central for Huggies and Target. I received product samples to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

With our recent move we're still a bit out of sorts especially when it comes to finding where the movers packed everything - I recently shared on Instagram how dinner was delayed for 2 hours due to the Dutch oven being in a box labeled "cookie tin!" Because of this we've had to find double duty uses for certain products and one of those is wipes. When I recently had the chance to pick up Huggies Natural Care Wipes and Snug & Dry diapers from Target, I knew using the wipes just for Gray wasn't going to be the case.

I couldn't find my deodorant and kept forgetting simply to just pick up more vs. do without and let's just say your body chemistry changes after pregnancy! I needed a quick alternative so I grabbed a few wipes to freshen up. What's great about the Natural Care wipes is that they are super thick and don't have a baby smell to them. Since wipes go on sensitive areas it's one item I don't want to smell strongly, but to give this mama in a pinch a quick wipe down? They're perfect!


While I feel very confident in my mom skills the second time around, I have to admit I'm a bit intimidated by Gray's diapering situation. We still plan to cloth diaper Gray but in the midst of still adjusting to our move we've been using disposables. Although Gray is breastfed just how Nia was there's a big difference in the outcome, if you know what I mean! Our little Gray is super cute AND super stinky. 

I think he could smell it too!
Gray has very sensitive skin and has broken out in a myriad of rashes so I'm always cautious about trying new products on his skin. Shopping at Target was super easy to pick up our Huggies diapers and wipes and it was the first time we went up a size - at 14 lbs, Gray's now a 2.

The biggest test was Gray's weekly poo. You've never seen someone so nervous in your life! Leading up to it he's super gassy and squirmy (if only I could find the gripe water in one of these boxes!), but I know what's coming. Secure in his Snug & Dry diaper (it has up to 12 hours of leakage protection), he woke up and laid very still after squirming through his afternoon nap. I knew what was up!

Checking for leaks I only saw a little bit around his crotch, but nothing up his back or front - the Snug & Dry kept everything in! Compared to other diapers we've used it's a more squishy diaper that seems pliable to his movements. Sometimes he squishes it very thin, but thankfully it holds everything in! The thick Natural Care wipes stood up to the daunting task and the patterned images weaved in helped pick up extra poo. 


Of course the entire time Gray was completely happy! That's what's important, right?

Speaking of happy, Target now offers a subscription service so you can get your diapers right to your door. Coming from the city I loved those types of services especially when lugging heavy items via public transit AND with two kids was such a nightmare!  To get started here's a coupon for purchasing Huggies at Target: http://coupons.target.com/huggies-coupons.

To stay on top of the latest Huggies news be sure to follow them on Facebook and Twitter!

Have you ever used wipes for an unconventional use? Share your favorite below!
 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Life With Gray: 3 Months Old


Ahhhh you guys are super patient - thank you! While I took Gray's picture on time last month I'm just now getting around to writing the update. Thankfully this little mini-diary has helped me keep track of his updates!
  • Baby's Weight: 14lbs, 4oz - again, up a couple pounds since last time!
  • Baby's Height: 24 1/4" (gained 1 1/4" since last update)
  • What size of clothing does baby wear?  3-6 months fits perfectly!
  • Any milestones baby reached during the month: This is almost running into his 4 month update I know, but he started smiling then giggling. He can move 360 degrees in scoot. He has more power than Nia had at the same age - she was a bit more graceful when rolling over and he really just uses his booty power to propel himself. It's kinda scary! He's also consistently sleeping through the night. LOVE it!
       Oh and this happened:

#widdleteef
  • Special outings baby had during the month: Ummmm moving to a new state! Gray's adjusted as well as a teething 3 month old can. He attended his first story time with Nana yesterday and acted like an old pro!
  • What are your thoughts about the past month? This has been a huge month for us with the move plus his milestones (two teeth, rolling over and sleeping through the night). He's such a chill baby and I really enjoy seeing his personality start to come through during the rare moments he shouts and screeches at us for attention. He's like a little raptor! 
 
  • What was baby's routine? Gray goes down with his sister between 8-9p.m. and sometimes earlier between 7-8p.m. and gets up usually when she does around 7a.m. but will occasionally get up around 3 or 4 to nurse. Thankfully, I still don't feel much sleep disruption because of it. We drive his big sister Nia to school during the time we previously used to walk to school and he will usually fall asleep in the car. He tends to fuss in the car but Nia's good at consoling him before he conks out. While Nia's in school Tuesday-Thursday so far we've joined up with a few other local moms and have attended story time. I'd like to get more into a settled routine and perhaps hit the gym after Nia's drop-off while he's at the childcare provided there. I'd also like to start him on swimming lessons soon as well. All in due time...
  • Reflect about the highlights of the month: Getting to visit with Nana was great! She's preparing for a big move soon joining my dad in Texas for his job so I'm glad that while she's relatively close in Maryland she gets to see us (we'll see her as well as my dad, in-laws and siblings when we host Thanksgiving!)
  • Did any big changes occur? Besides the big move, Gray goes down in his crib each night since he shares a room with Nia. This happened earlier than I anticipated, and it's been a breeze so we're running with it and so far the entire family is getting good sleep. Woo hoo!

    With his beloved Baby Banana Brush!
    • What are baby's favorites - toy, food, person, etc...  My sister Ariane got on my case cause I don't have many toys for Gray. He has a Baby Banana Brush that he loves (a giveaway is coming!), a rattle and a play mat. A few other things I've tried he really didn't get into, but I want to get him a jungle gym like the one Nia had (I would've kept it but sadly the giraffe's next broke and it was no longer stable). For now he's entertained watching his big sister when she's not in school. He's also shown an interest in books. While we're still getting acclimated before we moved I'd lay on our backs with he and Nia reading before bed and if he couldn't see he'd fuss at us until he could. I'm excited for his enthusiasm!
    • What I'm looking forward to? I'm excited to get into our groove here in New Hampshire. There are so many peers here for Gray and I'm excited for him to meet little buddies! I'm also looking forward to setting up his and Nia's nursery. We have a finished basement so we've relegated all toys there but are keeping books in their room by installing something like this, and I ordered these which I'll display on their wall as well (they seem very New Englandy, and the artist even responded to me!) 
    Curious about the past few updates? Here are months 1 and 2! And Nia's updates through 2 years old are here
     

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