A Reverse Tech Christmas

This year, I’d like you to take part in spreading Christmas Cheer by tweaking your gift list. Can you play your own version of the White Elephant gift exchange to make sure that everyone gets the perfect gift? Let’s all make a commitment to our youth by giving them gifts that inspire. At the same time, we can pay tribute to the Baby Boomers by welcoming them into the tech sphere with spectacular gadgets. Imagine how much more delightful the internet would be with the watchful eyes and guidance of our Grandparents. Technology is becoming more accessible for this generation every day, and it is our responsibility to guide and welcome them into the community!

Hands down, the best part of blogging for me is sharing with my Aunts, Uncles, Grandparents, and distant relatives. They motivate me to be a better parent while offering support and encouragement along the way. Having a wholesome, family-centric social media presence is a terrific legacy to leave for the next generation. I’m fortunate to have a wonderful family that inspires this, and I don’t take that for granted. Because I’ve had such a great experience with my Facebooking family, I am happy to pass along any of my social media know-how to those that are interested. Will you do the same this season?

The important thing to consider is that I’m not suggesting that we give the Baby Boomers extravagant gifts like iPads or smartphones. Have you heard about their purchasing power? They can afford these! What I want you to do, is install the Facebook app on their new phone, send them a link to your favorite blog, or set up Skype for a chat with your kids. However, if you would like to give your folks the iPad that was intended for your child, I will not stop you! The best toys for children are the ones that don’t “do” anything. When we let our kids explore on their own, they have the freedom to become inventors.

My favorite inspirational toy shop is Mama May I. Not only do the toys easily capture Hannah’s attention, but the descriptions explain how we can play. By demonstrating the uses and then offering my focused attention for just a few minutes, Hannah quickly picks up the process and delights in repeating it on her own. To learn more about this style of learning, research Waldorf or Montessori and be prepared to be enlightened at the amazing capabilities of children. Screen time is screen time, whether it is delivered via a phone, computer, or television and the AAP warns against any screen time for children under 2.

Consider this toy suggestion from Green Child Magazine instead:

This year, we can truly contribute to making the Holidays a time for togetherness by connecting with our elders and sharing more quality moments with our children.

A comment on the Musing’s of a Housewife Grandparent Gift Guide inspired this post and served as a gentle reminder that my techy family rocks.

Disclosure: The laptop image is an affiliate link.

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The Unspoken Rule of Babywearing

When you wear a sleeping baby, onlookers marvel at your mothering skills and comment at how cozy your baby looks. A smiling baby creates a contagious smile for everyone who passes by. Wear a crying baby, however, and all of a sudden that snuggly sack begins to look like a medieval torture device. It’s likely to elicit the questioning stare of, “why doesn’t that baby have a pacifier” or “is she pinching the baby, poor thing.” As a new Mother, it is not easy to weather those comments, so I would like to reassure everyone that those crying babies are just fine in their Mother’s arms.

Simply put, a baby belongs in her mother’s arms above all else. Realistically, that’s not always possible, but babywearing makes it a much more feasible task. The other truth about babies is that they cry. Even though you can minimize crying by keeping babies on a routine and in familiar surroundings, these little people have to peep to get their point across! The best part about babywearing is also the worst part. You are in a front row seat for the tears and yelps. During certain developmental weeks babies will cry even more as part of an adjustment to their new awareness. Similar to wearing a horcrux, it is a necessary challenge to wear your baby through these leaps.

I can’t guarantee that wearing a baby will always be the happiest part of your day, but I can guarantee that on days that you wear a baby you will be happier in general! Parents, remember this, keep your baby close by through the hard parts. That is when she needs you the most!

Babywearing Family

The Trash Man

mr eco logo

A Message from Mr. Eco Incognito…

For some reason, my bone-headed wife thinks that because she told me several years ago how much she hates the trash that she is exempt from this chore for life. I think that’s total horse sh*t, but luckily her green nonsense has backfired and bit her in the ass. Recycling, reusing, and rewashing are keeping me from rewalking to the trash can and I’m all for that.

The first thing on her eco-agenda was cloth diapering, which was totally cool from the start. Easy enough to wash out the diapers and throw them back on the kids. Major plusses include not buying diapers and not having permeating poop fumes from the trashcan. Things got a little dicey when she took away my paper towels. At first, I was not on board, but I gave in to make her happy. We gave it our best shot and did manage to cut back a lot. They are still a necessary evil for bacon grease, though.

Next up came the reusing of every piece of trash imaginable. Am I really supposed to believe that she’s going to make a craft out of an oatmeal container? Come on, Pinterest, give me a break. I have to sneak quite a few things out to the recycling bin behind her back to keep the house from becoming her eco-hoarding haven. Again, I’m still happy I don’t have to haul the overflowing trash out on a daily basis.

Did I mention the craziest part? She finally realized that taking out just a little trash is really not all that bad. Looks like someone may have finally grown into her big girl panties. Our friends suggested the next step on the eco-agenda should be experimenting with reusable trash bags and composting. Not sure I’m ready to take the plunge on that one because we have a small yard. Any advice on how to make that work?

First Race in the Books

On Thursday I ran my first race. That’s right folks, I ran the whole way! The Chester County Turkey Trot started at my Alma Mater, Downingtown High School, and looped the flat streets of our small suburban town. Surprisingly, even though nearly 1700 people participated in the race, it didn’t seem that crowded.

Downingtown Stadium

I showed up e.a.r.l.y and committed my first snafoo by throwing my race chip into the trash. Luckily I was able to retrieve it without incident so that I could fasten the clip to my shoe for a record of my results. Now, I understand it’s my first time racing, but how many people stop to tie their shoes during those things? I really don’t think I could have kept up the whole way if I had stopped, so I’m thankful that my family showed up to cheer me on. I saw them at the 1 and 2 mile marks, and they gave me the encouragement I needed to keep plugging through. After all that, I came in 1205th place! Who even knew they timed us that far out? At just under an 11 minute mile, I’m not fast, but now I’ve got a time to beat for next year. Plus, the winners in the age 1-8 category were close to that time so I have 8 years to speed up if I want to hold hands with my girls at the finish line.

Turkey trot results

Click here for official race results

Completing this race truly meant a lot to my family and me. I’ve been eager to work on this challenge because I don’t want to be left in the dust while my husband has all the fun with the girls. It is very important to me to be a role model for my girls and to be active with them. I also wanted to run a race because I have been inspired by all the people that are blogging, tweeting, and facebooking about their races. A few months ago, I started networking with a group of women bloggers that frequently posted pictures and stats from their races. Imagine how excited I was to get to start out my first race with Whitney and Jo-Lynne!

Chester County Turkey Trot Racers

Whitney, Jeannette, and Jo-Lynne of Philly Social Media Moms

As I crossed the finish line and walked across the endzone, I felt the same rush and excitement as I did standing there 10 years ago prior to the kickoff of my first football game as a cheerleader. I can’t wait to see what the next 10 years will bring. If I keep setting goals and pursing them with a fervor, the way I always have, then I know it will be something to celebrate!

DDog and Fan

Couldn’t miss a photo-op with D-Dog!

Turn Black Friday Red, White, & Blue with USA LoveList

I’m partnering with USA Lovelist to bring you their awesome Black Friday Giveaway details. Simply hop over to their blog to win any of the great prizes detailed below. Good luck!!

Welcome to our “Turn Black Friday Red, White, & Blue” GIVEAWAY!  This is THE YEAR to support our American businesses, show our USA Love, and keep our jobs at home by seeking out gifts made in the USA.  We’ve heard from parents that American made products and gifts for kids are among the most challenging to find so we have pulled together some of our favorite brands and sources for a massive holiday giveaway event.
This giveaway will launch on Black Friday and will run through December 7, with winners selected each day during the first week of December.  Like the fun gift exchanges we all enjoy with friends, the first winner will have their first choice of prize, and so on, continuing until this huge pile of American-made treasures is in the hands of our readers, just in time for Christmas giving.
Our Prize Sponsors:
Many thanks to these fabulous sponsors who offered their American-made products to our readers.  This list alone is a fantastic source for finding made in USA gifts. Before or after you enter, take a moment to click around and get to know our favorite resources for kids’ stuff made in the USA.  Be sure to follow them on social media to show your support and to hear about new products and promotions.
K’Nex are the world’s most creative construction and building toys.
Prize: K’Nex Classics 50 Model Building Set with over 700 pieces
Natural, Non-toxic Nail Polish, “Natural As Mud”
Prize: MistleToes Gift Set
Made in USA Store for one-stop All-American-made shopping online.
Prize: All American Toy Collection in a handmade stocking
Battery-free, Creative Toys with a Focus on Toys Made in USA.
Prize: Wooden Fire Truck Toy
An Online Source for Things Made in the USA, including toys.
Prize: A $100 gift certificate 
Gifts & teddy bears stuffed with love in Vermont.
Prize: 15″ Hoodie Footie Bear
Smart Textiles for Smart Parents! Antimicrobial Baby Products.
Prize: Fold & Go Antimicrobial Changing Pad
Plush toys, handmade just for you!
Prize: Medium Plush Toy of your choice
Authentic American Toys, Games, & Puzzles
Prize: $10 toy, game, or puzzle of your choice
An addicting car racing table game for parties or family game night.
Prize: A Tailgate 500 Game Set
Play with your Thinking Putty at home, school, work, the car, anywhere! 
Prize: A Trio of Tins of Thinking Putty

Hank Player USA | On Facebook | On Twitter | On Pinterest
Cool graphic tees for infants, toddlers and boys and girls of all ages.

Two Prizes: 2 long sleeved t-shirts, winners choose
Fun, safe, and environmentally friendly all natural wooden toys.
Prize: Maple & Walnut Start Stacker Toy

Butterscotch Blankees | On Facebook | On Twitter | On Pinterest
Personalized gifts with love. Blankets, pillows, accessories & dresses.
Prize: A full-sized, personalized acrylic blanket
Our Promotional Sponsors:
The following sites are showing their USA Love by co-hosting this event on their blogs.  Take a moment to get to know these fabulous bloggers who write about a wide range of topics. This season, they are helping to turn Black Friday Red, White, & Blue!
EVENT HOST: 

How to Enter: 

We like to keep our giveaways flexible and allow our readers to enter in whatever ways they are most comfortable. There are a LOT of entry options below, but don’t be overwhelmed. They are not required… however, the more entry options you complete, the more chances you’ll have to win. The more entries the better because you could even win more than one prize! Some entry options are available for daily entry so bookmark us and come back!

Just click the Do It! button for further instructions on each entry.  Prizes will begin to be distributed on 12/1 and this giveaway will close at midnight on 12/6. The winners will be randomly selected, verified for correct entry participation, and notified by email.
If you’ve already entered one contest on USA Love List, entering another will be even easier. Visit USA Love List’s Giveaways Page to find out about other active offers to join.

Green is the new Black Friday

There are lots of eco-friendly deals available at the kickoff to Holiday shopping. Whether you plan to shop online with coupon codes or in stores, now is a great time to save some green! Here is a roundup of the best local (Chester County) and online deals I have found. If you know of others, feel free to share them in the comments! I’ll continue updating this post as more deals arrive.

Green is the new Black Friday

Lip Balm from Tulip Grease

Buy two, get one free on everything in the shop + Free Shipping over $50.

Tulip Grease Lip Balm

Toys from Bull Market Toys

Melissa and Doug Toys will be 40% off in store! This may just be the most generous deal in Chester County. They are located in the Wellington Square Shopping Center.

Bull Market Toys Black Friday Special

Bull Market Toys Black Friday Special

Clothes Mentor Consignment Shop

Buy One, Get One 1/2 off specials throughout the day in store. Find the shop just South of West Chester on Route 202.

Clothes Mentor Black Friday

Clothes Mentor Black Friday Specials

Cloth Diapers from Kelly’s Closet and Moms Milk Boutique

Active promotions throughout the weekend. Pay close attention to the coupon codes since you can generally only use one per order. The current promo code for Kelly’s Closet is BUZZFLUFF (Free Diaper with a $49 order.)

Baby supplies from Ash and Aly’s Babes

Friday through Sunday, receive a $10 credit for each $50 spent in the shop. On Monday, receive a free Twosie with $30 purchase or free babylegs with $75 purchase. Plus, free shipping Thursday through Monday!

Organic Twosie from Ash and Aly's Babes

Organic Twosie from Ash and Aly’s Babes

Handmade Ribbon Belts, accessories, and collars from Chesapeake Ribbons

30% off sitewide: Saturday Only! Coupon code: SMALLBIZSAT

Chesapeake Ribbons Discount Code

Adorable Felt Toys from Bubba Pickles Market

15% off at checkout with coupon code JOY2012

Bubba Pickles Market Felt Toys

Everything Eco Friendly from AbesMarket.com

25% off Hundreds of Products + Free Shipping until the end of the year. Wednesday and Thursday, take an extra 10% off with code SNEAKPEEK. Monday and Tuesday, save $15 on a $50 purchase with code CYBERKID.

20% off Abes Market Black Friday

Household Supplies from EcoMom.com

Up to 20% off plus special gifts to the first shoppers each day of the week.

Black Friday at Ecomom.com

Experience Adventure Aquarium

20% off Yearly membership with code FALL12

Natural Soy Candles from Sailfish Scentsations of Chester County

20% off a $30 purchase Friday through Monday with coupon code BLACKFRI12

Elegant Soy Candle

Going out of Business Sale at Babee Crafts

20% off total purchase with code THANKYOU

Organic Baby clothes

Toys from Mama May I

Save 20% on everything in the shop with code BLACKFRIDAY.

Mama May I Shop

Disclosure: These deals are assembled from promotional emails that I receive from the companies and my own savvy shopping. This post is not compensated (although it does contain some affiliate links), but if you’d like to see more posts like this please leave a comment!

Thankful For More

Last year I was Thankful For Less at Thanksgiving, but this year I am definitely Thankful for More. Our little family is growing quickly and we are eagerly anticipating the Holiday season with the girls. This year we bought a home, had a baby (in said home), and raised Hannah from a smily glow worm into a delightfully adorable toddler. It has been a whirlwind of activity and we’ve had our ups and downs, but today I feel very lucky to live in a warm home with the three people I love most.

More than anything else, I’m thankful that my family has a home to call our own. It has truly given us roots and allowed us all to blossom in the community. My husband Zac began to thrive right away by meeting our wonderful neighbors while I waited out bed rest and the post-babymoon. When I finally emerged from the cocoon I was so happy to be welcomed into the community by the friendly group. Our neighborhood itself is beautiful and I’m glad that my husband pushed me to run outside so that I can enjoy it. At first I marveled at the scenery while the leaves changed. Now that I have tackled the intricate challenges of running uphill I have the confidence to run any course. Amidst the beauty of the outdoors, our house is taking shape into a comfortable home as my husband upgrades and updates every detail of the inside. He’s moving from room to room creating his “masterpiece.” With each project, I feel overwhelmed with pride that my daughters will get to grow up in a house that he worked so hard on to make beautiful.

Family Home

Family photo at the new house with Audrey on the way

The year ahead promises a bright future and I’m not one to take that for granted. We’ve all worked hard to get here and we’ll continue to work hard now that we know that results are beginning to pay off. It doesn’t take a lot of money or things to be happy. It simply takes a strong desire to be resourceful and the ability to put other’s needs ahead of your own. Motherhood is an amazing journey and my heart truly swells when I think of all the wonderful mothers I’m meeting along the ride.

I’m wishing you and your family a healthy and happy Thanksgiving!