#ShopSmall With FREE Money from American Express {$30 in Credit!}

#ShopSmall

I don’t know about you all, but I LOVE the Small Business Saturday movement, which is coming to a local street near you this Saturday, Nov. 29.

American Express cardholders can register their cards TODAY for a FREE $10 credit, which can be used a total of three times {at different spots} for $30 in savings, at participating #ShopSmall retailers.

There are LOTS of local spots that participate in this around Michigan :) Check out the MAP here. {For me here in Howell, it is nearly all of our downtown businesses.} I can’t wait to spend this at the stores around me. Bonus since my husband has a card too!

A little snippet of the fine print:

Get ready to Shop Small® on Nov 29. Spend $10 or more in a single, in-store transaction at a qualifying small business appearing on the Shop Small Map. If your transaction qualifies, you will receive a $10 statement credit within 90 days. You can take advantage of this offer up to three times, for a total of up to $30 in statement credits. Online transactions do not qualify.

YOU GUYS. This is FREE money! Plus, it’s just the perfect excuse to spend a day in your hometown checking out amazing small businesses. What’s also cool is that many restaurants participate as well. Holla for $10 off a meal after you shop!

My husband and I are both Amex cardholders {thanks to Costco}, so we have the credit on both of our cards. We did this last year and saw the credit show up on our next month’s statement. Easy peasy! I was super happy to have knocked out a few really cool gifts this way, too.

Even if you are not an American Express card holder, I urge you to shop local this holiday season. You all know I love saving money, but sometimes the feeling you get shopping small far outweighs the financial benefits.

Grab the credit while it’s available, have fun, and be sure to tweet with #ShopSmall!

VISIT HERE TO ENROLL YOUR CARD!

This isn’t sponsored, I just love this promotion and wanted to be sure you all knew about it. 

Where are your favorite Michigan cities to #ShopSmall?

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30 Gift Ideas for Toddlers and Preschoolers {That Moms Will Love Too!}

Gift Ideas for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Post contains affiliate links. When you click on these links and purchase items, you help support this blog.

With three little ones, I often am asked for gift recommendations. Since my oldest is 4, my expertise pretty much ends at the preschool set. But I think I finally have it down as far as which toys get the most love and will be played with for many years.

I’m personally all about experiences over gifts, but sometimes that is just not something grandma wants to hear! She wants to see the look on her grand babies’ faces as they tear open the paper unveiling a new fun item. Understandable, I suppose.

So with that taken into consideration, I decided to put together a fun list of suggestions. These toys are low-tech and offer hours of fun, all the while developing skills or burning energy! Additionally, many of these are easy to find for great prices on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. Be on the lookout!

30 GIFT IDEAS FOR TODDLERS AND PRESCHOOLERS

Inexpensive {$15 and under}:

  • Puzzles
  • Craft Kits from the dollar store {My kids love coloring those black fuzzy pictures}
  • ALEX Toys Early Learning Sets – These are great for helping children to learn how to cut, paste, and craft. They have a great variety of kits available for under $10. Alex Toys
  • Stickers! I especially love these big reusable sticker pads from Melissa & Doug
  • Books – You can never have too many ;)
  • Play-Doh and coordinating accessories
  • Animal action figures – I haven’t met a little kid yet who doesn’t enjoy playing with these. Bonus points if you get a great variety and provide a fun container for them to all go into! {This bucket set is super cute!}
  • Dot Markers – These are amazing for the mom who doesn’t have time to clean-up the mess paint creates. Great for helping little hands to practice ‘squeezing’ skills.
  • Bath Toys – Look for water scoopers and animals that can easily be cleaned!
  • Games – Favorites for this age range include Hi-Ho Cherry-O, Candyland, Chutes and Ladders and Cootie {These often can be found for $5 on Black Friday}
  • Mr. Potato Head – This toy never goes out of style. Many skills can be learned playing with it, too.
  • Fisher-Price Doodler Pro – This is an excellent toy for learning to draw, and it’s great in the car.
  • Sleds, or any winter fun items.

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Pour It Forward and Help Hungry Michigan Families This Season #PourItForward

Pour It Forward

The post below is sponsored by The United Dairy Industry of Michigan {Milk Means More}. The opinions expressed are my own.

A recent conversation I had with my 4-year-old {pictured above}:

Me: “Did you know some children don’t have enough food to eat?”

Kinley: “You mean they don’t have cheese roll-ups and chocolate milk?”

Me: “No, they definitely do not have those things.”

Kinley: {Thinks for awhile.} “Mom, we should help those kids.”

I agree, kiddo. I agree.

In my pre-kids life, I didn’t have much money, but I had time and could often be found volunteering at local organizations in need. These days, I don’t always have the time to volunteer, but I am happy to give monetary donations when I can. My favorite organizations to give to are local ones helping my neighbors in need.

That’s why I love programs like Pour It Forward. It is an easy way for a busy mom like me to give back to my community, and have a wonderful lesson to teach my children.

The Pour It Forward Campaign is brought to you by Michigan’s dairy farm families, Milk Means More and all of the Kroger stores throughout Michigan. Through December 16, Kroger shoppers can purchase a paper milk gallon for an additional $3 at check-out. In turn, that money will help provide a minimum of one gallon of Pure Michigan® Kroger milk to a local food bank. Last year, the campaign raised more than 32,900 gallons of milk. This is a huge number because milk is something ALL of the food banks always need. 

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Earn Miranda Lambert Swag With CRYSTAL LIGHT Platinum Points #MC #Sponsored

Banner NineI participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Mom Central for CRYSTAL LIGHT. I received a gift card to purchase CRYSTAL LIGHT products to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation. #MC

I don’t know about ya’ll, but I absolutely love the ladies of country music. One of my favorites is Miranda Lambert. I’ve seen her in concert and her voice is just as beautiful live as it is on TV. My favorite song of hers is “The House That Built Me.” I just love the raw emotion it evokes when she sings it.

Miranda Lambert recently paired up with CRYSTAL LIGHT for their Platinum Points program. This program helps to reward CRYSTAL LIGHT purchasers with Miranda Lambert swag. As a country music fan and CRYSTAL LIGHT fan, this sounds awesome! This program coincides with Miranda’s Platinum tour that she is currently on. Using the program is easy — just purchase CRYSTAL LIGHT from Walmart, take a picture of your receipt with your smartphone, and choose your Miranda-themed reward. To sign up for the CRYSTAL LIGHT and Miranda Lambert Platinum Points program, just click this link. I promise it’s simple!

To give you a head start, use the code mirandaic for 30 free points. You can also earn 10 points for each friend that signs up with your referral link.
Crystal Light and Miranda Lambert at Walmart

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Fall Lawn Care Tips With Lush Lawn

Lush LawnThe post below is sponsored by Lush Lawn. Opinions expressed are my own.

There’s one thing these cooler temps mean: Time to wind down for the winter by pulling out the dead stuff and raking leaves off the lawn! Since taking care of the health of our lawn is not my favorite task, I am happy to have Lush Lawn help us out by prepping our lawn for cooler temps and nicer grass heading into 2015.

And let’s not even talk about the creepy crawly things starting to find their way indoors…ICK. Definitely not my favorite part of fall either. Thankfully, Lush Lawn can spray for those, too!

I received these tips from Lush Lawn to serve as a great reminder of what we all should be proactively be doing in the fall:

Fall Lawn Care Tips

1. FERTILIZE. Fertilizing in fall is great for the grass because the lower temperatures and increased rain cause the grass to thrive, and with that, the grass uses up a lot of nutrients, so replenishing those nutrients through fertilization is very important.

2. SEEDINGS. Doing seedings this time of year are great because of the weather conditions, too. Sometimes young grass is killed by intense summer heat when planted in the spring because it hasn’t had enough time to develop. If you seed in fall, you have fall and spring for the grass to grow and develop before summertime, so it tends to be stronger and more resilient.

3. SPRAY FOR BUGS. Right now is one of the most important times to spray for insects around your home and for bug proofing your home. As the temperatures dip, a lot of bugs will seek refuge in your home because it is much warmer than outside. This time of year in Michigan brings spiders indoors. Getting a good perimeter pest spray around the home will stop this problem.

4. CUT GRASS APPROPRIATELY. The last time you cut your grass in preparation for winter, it should be cut at 2 inches and not higher. Most the year, 3 to 4 inches length is great, but going into the dormant season, you want the grass to be cut shorter in order to reduce winter snow mold and other diseases that develop easier in long matted down grasses over the winter.

Lush Lawn is a family owned company based in Michigan that specializes in lawn care, pest control and tree services. They have offices in Brighton, Grand Blanc and Rochester Hills and offer services in those surrounding areas. Visit this link for a FREE quote and tell them I sent you!

How are your prepping your lawn for fall?

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12 Tips for Natural Childbirth {One Mom’s Experience}

“Birth sticks with a woman, remaining in her bone and her flesh as an embodied memory long after the baby has left her womb.” – Pamela E. Klassen

When I posted on my Facebook that Miles was born, I contemplated whether or not I should add that it was a drug-free birth. I went back and forth, hoping it wouldn’t come across as bragging, since lord knows us moms need to feel inferior about something else.

I asked the husband, and he said after all I went through during my first two labors, I deserved to brag. So I did it. Because you know what? I am damn proud. Proud my body, heart and head finally aligned for our third and final baby.

After two births that were traumatic to me, I finally have the story I am proud to share.

Before this, when I thought of my births, I had a bit of hostility…Why didn’t my body just allow birth to happen? Why did an epidural not provide me relief? Why did I need the vacuum during my first birth, pitocin during my second, and painful episiotomies both times when I didn’t have many friends who experienced these medical interventions? Of course, I was elated when my girls arrived healthy, but thinking of the entire process, I felt bitter, especially as I grew more educated about birth.

These factors are one of the reasons I chose a midwife for my third baby {in a hospital setting}. After studying what they do different, I knew that would be the route I should go to avoid having a repeat of my first two births where I didn’t feel in control at all.

During my first meeting with my midwife, I spoke nervously to her about my past birth experiences and she suggested I had postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder and should consider talking to a therapist. I am not above seeking help when needed, but I knew I could overcome my birthing fears on my own if I educated myself more.

Having a natural birth was such a healing process for me, so I want to share 12 things I did differently this time around.
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Baby Week + New mPerks Features for Meijer Shoppers

Attention Meijer shoppers! There are some BIG changes happening over in Meijer land today that just may officially make me a forever loyal Meijer shopper.

First, if you don’t use mPerks and shop at Meijer, go get it now. You can register by visiting mperks.meijer.com or by downloading the mPerks app for free in the iTunes App Store and in the Google Play Android app store. I love having it on my phone because I can easily scan through and grab savings while in the car before heading into to store. There’s also the ability to make a list, which makes it easier to shop.

mPerks personalized rewards First, if you log into your account TODAY, you will notice that mPerks is launching a Personalized Rewards update which includes:

  • Rolling start dates which give customers four weeks to earn after they clip their reward {with that said, don’t clip the reward until you are about to go to the store!}
  • Ability to earn towards any or all rewards at the same time — in the categories of your choosing {produce, paper products, health/beauty, etc.}
  • No waiting until the next month—when customers complete a reward, they can start a new one {This is helpful because I always would forget otherwise!}

new rewards 2

Once a reward is earned and clipped, they are located in a new ‘earned rewards’ section of the site, which makes it easy to keep track of all the savings. Updates are available at mPerks.com and on the Meijer mobile app. If you already have the app, be sure to download the update to gain access to mPerks Rewards 2.0.

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Calm Preschool Anxiety With These Books

The post below contains Amazon affiliate links. When you make purchases through my links, it helps my family.

Calm Preschool Anxiety With These 7 Books

Something nobody warned me about when we starting approaching 4 years old…ANXIETY.

My daughter has always been the shy and cautious type. There’s no way around it — if she’s uncomfortable in a situation, she will let us know. Otherwise, she can be very loud, opinionated and sing…a lot. This makes waking up each day interesting because we never know which Kinley we’re going to get!

When we started chatting about what was going to happen at school this fall, she went into worry mode. With her being an October birthday, we already know she won’t attend kindergarten until she’s 6. We did a 2-year-old program last year {despite her being 3 most of the year}, where it was structured like preschool, but I was there to help if she needed me.

This year, she will be going alone. And she is SO worried about it. Even though she did great on her own last year, will have the same teacher and some of the same kids in her class.

There’s only so much I can tell her to calm her fears, so I have turned to books to help explain how much fun school can really be. We have read LOTS and LOTS of books, and these are the ones I felt resonated with her the best. Of course, these can apply to any child heading to school, but since I have a preschooler, I focused on ones that were most suitable for her age group {3-5}.

Help calm preschool anxiety with these books! Here’s my list of 7 great reads perfect for showing your preschool-aged child there’s nothing to fear at school:

I Love You All Day Long

I Love You All Day Long

Owen’s anxious question prompts this heartwarming, comforting tale of how a parent’s love stays with a child whether they are together or apart — all day long.

{I already plan to use this concept when dropping her off at school those first nerve-wracking days!}
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Think Walgreens for Back-To-School Immunizations + Tips for Anxiety! #GiveaShot #CollectiveBias

Walgreens Logo

Disclosure:  This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #CollectiveBias

Back-to-School time means back to the doctor in every mom’s world for vaccinations. Not sure about you all, but we spend SO much time at the doctor these days for check-ups between me and my three kiddos. Unfortunately this time of year means I have to fight for good appointment times since the pediatrician is flooded with physicals for school age kids.

Walgreens Give A Shot

Enter Walgreens. I am so thankful places that are a convenient spot for moms to go for immunizations. They make it quick, easy and painless since NO appointment is needed {soooo awesome since only YOU know when your kid is in the best mood for a shot!}. Additionally, most insurances are accepted and I love that they will report back to your primary care physician to let them know your child’s immunization record has been updated.

Walgreens Pharmacy for Immunizations

Working with doctors for my job, I have truly learned the importance of vaccinations and yes, I am one of those moms who shout from the rooftops their importance. I believe everyone should have the right to choose as a parent, but I encourage you to get educated by reading medical journal articles and not just a random blog post or from a “doctor” who isn’t backed up by trusted organizations like the CDC.
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Disney On Ice Princesses & Heroes Presale Code {In Auburn Hills Oct. 16-19}

Disney On Ice is one of our favorite shows to attend each year. I just received the special pre-sale code for the Disney On Ice presents Princesses & Heroes show, coming to The Palace of Auburn Hills October 16-19, 2014. {See image below}

Many of you will be thrilled to know that this show now features the beloved characters from FROZEN!

Get tickets here at Ticketmaster.

Disney On Ice Princesses & Heroes - Palace of Auburn Hills

Enjoy! I hope to share more about the show in the months ahead, so stay tuned :)

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Sibling Preparation: Getting Kids Ready For a New Baby

Getting Kids Ready for A New Baby

Nothing has been consuming my mind more over these past few weeks than how my girls, Karina – age 2 {in 17 days} and Kinley – 3.5, are going to react to their new baby brother, who is due to arrive in 3 weeks+/-.

Kinley has been there, done that, and I know she will be helpful. At the same time, she’s stuck between that age of needing a bit of independence yet also still needy herself at times. Overall, I think it should be OK for her, but I’ve been doing everything I can to help her prepare for the changes ahead.

Karina is another story. She IS needy. She’s at that fun age that will throw a temper tantrum at the first notion of not getting her way. I’d be lying if I wasn’t a bit nervous to see what a baby will do to her temperament. I seem to often mis-judge what my kids can handle, so I am holding out hope it goes smoother than I think it will!

Here’s some tips for getting kids ready for a new baby that have seemed to help me so far:

  • Rent LOTS of kid-friendly books from the library about new babies and pregnancy. Books can be incredibly helpful — especially with older kids. Books have helped teach my kids that babies sleep a lot at first, and will need lots of my attention. One that is well-loved in our house is The New Baby from the Little Critter series.
  • Let them help clean and prepare baby items. With each item I’ve gotten out and put away, I’ve talked to them about how we will use it. For example, the baby will need the swing for short naps, and you can rock him in it gently if you’d like. I will use the Boppy while I nurse, which will be several times a day at first. I want them familiar with all the tools so they can help me when needed and begin to understand that those items are for him and mommy.
  • Make a visual of when baby is coming. I get constant questions from my big girl about when baby is arriving, so we made a paper chain to count down the approximate days until he comes. It has been a GREAT visual for her to see how much longer it will be. She tears off a piece of the chain every day.
  • Allow your children to pick out baby’s coming home outfit. Although our little outfit keeps disappearing from my hospital bag because my girls like to “show” him daily. Baby's Coming Home Outfit
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Shaving Tips to #SummerizeYourLegs #shop

Disclosure: I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper amplification for Collective Bias and its advertiser. The hashtags #SummerizeYourLegs and #CollectiveBias can be followed to view other blog posts included in this campaign.

The best part about summer for me? LAKE TIME! {Which also means summer legs!}

Seriously…Is there a better reason to live in Michigan? I think not! In fact, I just learned a few awesome Michigan lake factoids thanks to a coloring book my daughters received:

  • No point in Michigan is further than 85 miles from any one of the Great Lakes.
  • The Great Lakes supply more than 80% of North America’s and 20% of the world’s surface fresh water supply.
  • There are 11,037 inland lakes which are 10 acres or more in size.

…and unrelated, but kids look SO cute in bathing suits, AmIRight? Couldn’t resist sharing these shots from our vacay earlier this year…

Beach Babies

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