Coupon for Michigan Science Center! {Expires 8/31/15}

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Planning some summertime adventures to amuse the kids? If so, I’m excited to share a special offer from the Michigan Science Center in Detroit just for my readers – $3 off admission.

If you haven’t been, it’s a MUST!

To print this coupon for Michigan Science Center, simply click on it and send it to the printer, or show this image on your phone upon arrival.

Coupon for Michigan Science Center

Read about my past experience there at this post or see some visuals at this album of photos on my Facebook page.

Follow Michigan Science Center on Facebook and Twitter.

Happy summer planning! Stay tuned for more ideas and discounts for summer coming soon.

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Stamp Out Hunger on May 9, 2015 and Help Families in Need {Nationwide}

Stamp Out Hunger

This Saturday, May 9 brings one of my favorite days of the year: Stamp Out Hunger! I love this program for an easy way to make a difference — without even leaving the house.

All you have to do is collect and bag non-perishables you’d like to donate and place them in a bag in/near your mailbox before your mail time for your letter carrier to pick-up. All of these items will be delivered to your local food bank.

Items to consider donating include canned meats/fish, soup, juice, canned veggies, pasta, cereal, peanut butter and rice. Do not include items that are expired or in glass containers.

From my experience volunteering at food banks, cans of tuna or chicken and peanut butter specifically are great to donate since this often may be the only source of protein someone receives.

Other reasons I love this program:

  • It’s an excuse to clean out my pantry.
  • It’s such an EASY way to help people in need.
  • It helps families in MY neighborhood — literally.
  • It serves as a reminder that I am very blessed to be food secure.
  • It provides me with a great lesson to teach my children about giving back and helping others.

Pantry Organizing

A clean pantry is a happy pantry, right?

Did you know one in four Michigan children live in poverty, with household incomes under $24,000 for a family of four? For these individuals, a simple food donation can make all the difference.

Last year’s drive resulted in nearly 73 million pounds of non-perishable food left by customers’
mailboxes nationwide. Fingers crossed we can beat that number this year. Do your part and put together a bag of items and help a family in need!

Read more about the Stamp Out Hunger initiative here.

Donations

Getting my bag of donations ready!

If you forget to put out items, you can always call one of these Southeast Michigan food banks to see how you can help:

What items will you be donating to help Stamp Out Hunger?

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Ways I Cheat As A Mom to 3 #GerberWinWinMoment

Gerber Graduates Win Win Moment

This is a sponsored post with Gerber and MomSelect. All opinions expressed are my own. 

I hear it daily: “You are a superwoman!”

While the sentiment is obviously flattering and appreciated, believe me ya’ll — I’m just trying to get through the trenches like everyone else. In my eyes, anyone who is raising a human is a super hero.

Super cape aside, can I tell you a secret? Having 3 kids honestly as hard as having one at times.

After all, they all entertain each other, and my girls love taking care of my little guy.

Seriously, they are my biggest helpers! They love pushing him around and helping me with tasks like getting diapers, finding toys for him to chew on, and keep him occupied while I get things done. He just lights up whenever they are around him. Talk about a win-win!

#GerberWinWinMoment

When it comes to meal time, they LOVE making sure he gets fed. They will even fight over who gets to help him. We started with purees at 6 months, but this kid quickly lost interest and wanted what his sisters were eating, so we just let him feed himself with a combo of infant snacks and whatever we’re eating, and his sisters are always near by to feed him more. [Read more…]

Spring Kid Fashion with Carter’s {+ Coupon!} #SpringIntoCarters

#SpringIntoCartersI participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Carter’s. I received a complimentary gift card to facilitate my review and thank me for my participation.

Ah, spring! The birds are singing, the sun is shining, and we are so.stinkin.close. to my favorite reason for the season change: New clothes!

I don’t know about you all, but I have about 10 pairs of my girls’ leggings that just need to go…Holes in the knees, paint in the creases, etc. I just can’t let go until we shake these frigid temps for good.

We recently went over to our local Carter’s store for a little shopping. I usually don’t love taking all 3 kids on adventures like this, but I made the exception because Carter’s has LEGOs, which means my girls actually love visiting. They can sit and play while I shop…and I can let them pick out items they would like, because if you have girls — you know how opinionated they can be, even at 2 and 4.

Thankfully, my 2-year-old does the “This looks good – I’ll take it!” approach, so she is fairly easy to shop with. I loved this outfit she picked out. Cute and comfy — totally her style!

Carter's Spring 2015 Toddler Girls

My 4-year-old is especially picky, so I generally have to work with her a bit. If she doesn’t pick it out or approve of it, she simply won’t wear it. {My mom will tell you it’s all my years of being a picky kid/unique dresser coming back to haunt me!} I was delighted we could meet in the middle and find things we both loved. I mean, how cute is this tunic and jegging set? I want it in my size 😉

Carter's Spring 2015 - Girls

For being a shy kid, she LOVES the camera! Or, she’s just used to her crazy blogger mama 😉

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25 Easter Basket Ideas for Kids

25 Easter Basket Ideas for Kids

The post below is sponsored by Meijer. All opinions expressed belong to me.

We’re days away from Easter, and like you all, I’m scrambling to make sure everything is coming together. I’m hosting my family this year, so 20 people are coming over on Saturday for an Easter feast. I love having people fill my home — it brings me so much joy!

Best of all though, I love surprising my kiddos on Easter morning with treats from the bunny. It’s such a fun excuse to shop and welcome spring!

I went a little overboard on the baskets for my 4 and 2-year olds this year. I couldn’t help myself! Meijer had so many great things on sale, and many of the items we were in need of {we go through crayons, markers and stickers like water here}. I love that the toy department always has buy one get one half off — especially with Melissa & Doug items. Perfect for stocking up for future presents too!

Easter with Meijer

Can we just talk about the gummy bear Duck Tape? I’m in love! My 4-year-old is obsessed with our regular roll, so I know she is going to love the fun ones! 

They also had these cute bunnies for FREE when buying three cards from American Greetings. Every basket needs at least one token bunny, right?! They are so soft too.

Easter Basket for girls

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5 Easy Steps To Spring Clean Your Bathroom

The post below is sponsored by Meijer Beauty. All opinions expressed are my own.

I admit it: I’m a bit of an organization nut. I mean, I function in chaos 99% of the time corralling three little ones, so when things are actually in my control? I kind of love it. I recently read an article showing how clutter can be linked to depression, especially among women. It went as far as to say:

Women associate a tidy home with a happy and successful family. The more dishes that pile up in the sink, the more anxious women feel.

I can absolutely vouch. My entire life just runs smoother when my house is clean and organized. My house isn’t remotely perfect, but I strive to have a picked up house {after the kids go to bed} – it truly helps me to relax and be able to focus as a work-from-home mom. I always joke that I wish we had visitors between the hours of 8 p.m. and 7 a.m. because that’s the only time our house doesn’t have toys everywhere!

So, I basically love spring cleaning, and having an excuse to purge. To make it manageable, I break it up between each room and do a little each day once a quarter.

5 Easy Steps To Spring Clean Your Bathroom

One area I need to keep up with for my sanity is our bathroom, which always seems to accumulate things. I finally broke down and created a system that has worked very well for us during the past few years. So here’s my quick 5 easy steps to spring clean your bathroom:

1. Sort small items that seem to collect quickly in clear, plastic bins. Sure, wicker looks nice, but being spill proof and clear so items are easy to spot is crucial.

Spring Cleaning Bathroom Tips - Clear Bins
The bins I have: All things dental, surplus lotions/mini shampoos for traveling, adult medicines, kid medicines and first aid. I always make sure to look at expiration dates and toss what has gone bad. And the kid medicine one is crucial when you’re stumbling around in the middle of the night looking for a way to heal a crying baby. [Read more…]

Books and Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers To Make Mealtime FUN

Books and Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers To Make Mealtime FUN

Winter can be dreadful as a parent. My kids love playing outside, and it’s just not always possible with three kiddos, especially when it’s close to mealtime and layers of clothing are needed to go out.

Like most parents, our worst time of day is the hours between 4-6 p.m. when I am preparing dinner and the kids want to “help.” So, this winter I’ve made it my goal to do more meal-time theme nights to keep everyone happy. I have found when I give each of my kids a job, meal time runs MUCH smoother, even if it is messier.

After renting TONS of food-related books from our library, here’s what has been on our menu of books and coordinating meals and activities:

Pancakes, Pancakes by Eric Carle

This book is fabulous for starting the discussion of where food comes from.

Meal: Pancakes, of course. My kids also love when I add a few drops of food coloring to make their ‘cakes blue or green.

Activity: Have your child help you stir in the ingredients, or add special additions such a blueberries {perfect for counting} or they can mush bananas to toss in the batter. My kids love using chocolate chips to make faces, too.

Peanut Butter and Jelly by Nadine Bernard Westcott

This book is based on the play rhyme and has illustrations kids love.

Meal: PB&J of course!

Activity: Spread a blanket out on the floor and have a picnic! My kids absolutely love doing this. We usually just coordinate with easy-to-pick-up foods.

Living room picnic

Enjoying a picnic for dinner a few years ago. Yes, that’s MY beer. Sometimes that is needed after a long day!

Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett

This book is perfect for stirring imagination.

Meal: Spaghetti and meatballs

Activity: Use Play-Doh to make pasta! Kids love rolling out the dough and making snake-like pastas. Make a few balls for meatballs too. For older kids, discuss what foods you would like to see fall from the sky. [Read more…]

Share Why #MichiganIsAuto on Social Media and Earn A Chance To Win $500

I was selected for this sponsored post by HayThereSocialMedia.com.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Michigan Is Auto

Do you have a great reason why #MichiganIsAuto? Time to share it!

Every year, one of my favorite things to do on social media is to watch the buzz surrounding the North American International Auto Show {#NAIAS} in Detroit. When I worked downtown, it was so exciting to see the crowds gather at Cobo to check out the cool cars and have a wintertime reason to visit the D. Personally, I enjoy looking at the concept cars — it’s like a glimpse into the future! Walking through the show is truly like walking through an art display, and you can see the passion for the automotive industry in each area.

Amazingly, last year’s NAIAS drew more than 85,000 people, impacting the SE Michigan region with $365 million. To say NAIAS isn’t important to Michigan is crazy. Michigan is synonymous with the auto industry, just like Idaho is to potatoes or Texas is to oil rigs. All Michiganders know *someone* who works in automotive. {Personally, my husband works for a supplier, so I am thankful for the industry!}

As the global automotive industry heads to Detroit this week, MICHauto {the state’s automotive accelerator} is gearing up to reinforce why Michigan is the epicenter of the auto industry.Print

Today through Jan. 23, MICHauto will award two $500 VISA gift cards to the entry that posts the best, most creative reason why #MichiganIsAuto. To enter, post your submission on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram using the hashtag #MichiganIsAuto. Be sure to tag MICHauto using the social media handles below:

Please note this contest is not just for people who work in the industry or those who attend preview week — this is inclusive of ANY proud Michigander of any age and particularly all the people who will attend the show during public week! [Read more…]

#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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