Thursday, August 21, 2014

I'm Kissing Kitchen Clutter Goodbye - For Good!

Disclosure: Thanks to Viva® Vantage and Walmart for sponsoring today's discussion. All opinions expressed are my own.

Today, I want to talk about something that affects all of us as moms.

At least, I hope it does. If I'm the only one...then heaven help us all.

What, you ask, is this irritating topic?


Piles of dishes. Piles of towels. Scant pickings of produce that got buried under the piles of dishes and towels and may have gone slightly rotten. Oh, that's just me? Awesome.

I'm what a lot of people would consider a granola or "crunchy" mom. I cloth diaper. I try to reuse as much as possible. I haven't been purchasing paper towels lately because I figure...I have all of these perfectly good washcloths. Why can't I just be responsible and use those and wash them daily and never have a smelly pile of towels fermenting on my counter?

Hello! I'm the mom of a toddler and a preschooler. That's just not going to happen. So when I was given the chance to try out Viva® Vantage Paper Towels and thought...okay. We'll give it a shot and see if some time can be saved.

Sometimes, it's okay to just admit that as a mom, I cannot do it all. I can't keep up with a house, a blog, a couple of side businesses, the needs of my family, and do excessive laundry because I won't ever get to sleep. And sleep, my friends, is quite important.

Cleaning messes with Viva® Vantage has become my new normal. Do you know how much easier it is to wipe up a disgusting mess and then just throw it away? Yes, please. I'll take that as my new normal.

Viva® Vantage Towels are not your average paper towel. They are stretchy and allow for maximum cleaning in all the little crevices where grimy things like to hide. They are designed uniquely with V-Flex Weave - which is what gives them that extra stretchy scrubbing power.

I am sold on Viva® Vantage and have on desire to encounter a pile of smelly washcloths on my counter ever again! Have you tried these paper towels? What messes would you clean with them?

Thanks to Viva® Vantage and Walmart for sponsoring today's discussion. All opinions expressed are my own. For more information, you can read my Disclosure Policy.

Baby Jogger Summit X3 2014 Stroller Giveaway

I didn't have a "fancy" stroller until I had two kids and my baby was over a year old. It wasn't in our budget to buy an expensive model and it seemed unnecessary. However - once I took my City Mini Double for a spin around the block, I was hooked. I highly recommend the entire Baby Jogger brand, and if I ever actually went running, I'd be saving up my pennies for one of these pretty models!

Welcome to the Baby Jogger Summit X3 Giveaway!
hosted by Viva Veltoro & Thrifty Nifty Mommy, and generously sponsored by PishPoshBaby!
If you're a parent or caregiver, then PishPoshBaby is the online baby shop for you. The brands they offer are some of the best, and you'll find their customer service top notch! PishPoshBaby's goal is to make your important, significant purchases for your new one clear and comfortable. One of those important purchases is bound to be a stroller, and it's a big investment. To help guide you through the many options, PishPoshBaby has a team of "Mom Reps" ready to offer help and give you feedback about the strollers you're interested in to help you find the best one to match your needs.

Ruth from Viva Veltoro recently had the opportunity to review the Baby Jogger Summit X3 2014 from PishPoshBaby and she couldn't be more pleased with this fabulous jogging stroller. Make sure you check out the full review to see all of the great features of this high-quality stroller!

Here is a little bit of info about the Baby Jogger Summit X3 2014 from the PishPoshBaby website:

Go anywhere with this highly maneuverable hybrid jogger/stroller. With its all-wheel suspension, the Summit X3 provides exceptional performance on any terrain. A remote wheel lock on the handlebar allows you to easily shift between jogging and strolling.

  • Patented Quick-Fold Technology--allows you to fold your stroller in one step
  • Universal Accessory Mounting Bracket: accessorize your stroller with ease
  • Remote action swivel lock to lock the front wheel for jogging exercise
  • All-wheel independent suspension
  • Hand-operated rear drum brakes for increased control on hilly terrain
  • 16" rear and 12" front quick-release pneumatic wheels with sealed ball bearings
  • Padded seat with additional support reclines to a near flat position
  • Vented seat recline with retractable weather cover
  • Ergonomic handlebar with wipe-clean grip
  • Multi-position sun canopy with peek-a-boo windows and side ventilation panels
  • Seat back storage compartment and large under seat storage basket
  • Adjustable 5-point safety harness with shoulder pads
  • Rear parking brake
  • Removable auto-lock to keep stroller folded for transportation or storage
PishPoshbaby is going to give one lucky reader a
Baby Jogger Summit X3 2014 in their choice of color (valued at $429)!
Open to residents of the United States, ages 18 and up. Ends on 9/7/14 at 11:59 PM EDT.
Enter using the Giveaway Tools entry form below. Good luck!

Disclosure: I did not receive any compensation for hosting this giveaway. Viva Veltoro, Thrifty Nifty Mommy, and the participating bloggers are not responsible for prize fulfillment. Please contact vivaveltoro(at) with questions about this giveaway.

Sofia the First: The Enchanted Feast DVD Review + Giveaway

Disclosure: I received a sample DVD to facilitate my review. All opinions expressed are my own.

 We are fans of just about every Disney Junior show - and we don't even have cable! We recently took a (very long) road trip to Texas to visit my brother and his family, and we stayed in a hotel along the way. The kids were thrilled to watch episodes of Sofia the First, Doc McStuffins, and more on the Disney Channel before we headed on our way! Since we don't subscribe to a TV service at home, we make do with DVDs - and really, that's nicer, I think! No commercials interrupting the show, and I can limit screen time to "just one DVD."

One of the new favorites in our house is Sofia the First: The Enchanted Feast. Addie is especially concerned about anything that involves princesses, and she can identify most Disney princesses by name. She was quite excited to find "White" (Snow White) featured in the first story, The Enchanted Feast, on this DVD!

Here's the official synopsis of this story:

The wicked fairy, Miss Nettle, disguises herself as a powerful sorceress and attempts to steal Sofia’s magical amulet. With the help of Snow White—Sofia must learn to trust her instincts and speak up when she suspects someone is not who or what they say they are.

Lincoln and Addie have both enjoyed watching the antics of Sofia and her friends and family. The evil Miss Nettle returns to the castle disguised as Sascha the Sorceress, bent on stealing Sofia's amulet. Sofia is suspicious of her from the moment she arrives, but everyone else falls for her ploy hook, line, and sinker. Sofia learns a lot about working together (even with someone unlikely, like the castle sorcerer, Cedric) and ultimately manages to save the day! It's definitely a conversation starter for talking to kids about who to trust.

The additional episodes included in this release are:

-The Buttercups
-Tea for Too Many
-Great Aunt-Venture
-Two Princesses and a Baby

I think Two Princesses and a Baby is a crazy cute episode. Prince James gets accidentally turned into a baby on the day of his and Princess Amber's big birthday celebration. Maybe it's just because I'm surrounded by baby and toddler antics constantly, but this one makes me smile.

Do your kids like Sofia as much as mine do? Who is their favorite character?


One Director Jewels reader will win Sofia the First: The Enchanted Feast on DVD! This giveaway will end on September 5 at 11:59pm CST. This giveaway is open to US readers only. Winner will be emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or prize will be forfeited.

To enter the giveaway, follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter form below (you may need Javascript enabled to see the form and it may take a moment to load)! Once you complete the first entry, the other options will open up so that you can complete them as well. All of the "extra entries" are optional - you can do just one, or as many as you want! Winners will be contacted by email. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received a sample DVD for the purpose of this review and I am not responsible for fulfillment of the giveaway prize! I received no other compensation and all views expressed are my own. For more information, you can read my Giveaway Policy and my Disclosure Policy.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

5 Things I Love About Breastfeeding

I had great intentions of posting a breastfeeding related article every day of World Breastfeeding Week 2014. If you don't know - that was August 1-7. That week was really crazy for me between two big performances with my drama students and a trip to Texas to visit my brother.

Maybe next year I'll post on time, right?

Happily for me, August is also Breastfeeding Awareness Month - so I decided to go ahead and share a few of my breastfeeding-related stories before the month is up. You can hop over to Mama Pure to read my Tips for Tandem Nursing, too!

Today, I thought it would be fun to tell you some of my favorite things about breastfeeding! Here they are - in no particular order. 

5 Things I Love About Breastfeeding!

1. It's pure magic when it comes to getting babies to sleep. Sure, I was advised many times to not let my baby fall asleep at the breast because she'll become dependent on it. Well, speaking now as a mom whose kid is dependent on nursing to's not such a bad thing. Trying to get her down for a nap or nighttime without nursing means hours of screaming and hysteria. Pop her on to nurse and she's calm in two minutes. I'll take the latter option, thanks.

2. It's so much easier than any other method of feeding baby. When I was pumping for Lincoln (I worked part time when he was a baby), I hated dealing with the zillion pieces of my pump and the bottles. I can barely keep track of what day it is. Making sure enough milk was readily available was sometimes a nightmare. I've never used formula, but I am certain I would have left my house more than once without all the necessary tools to feed baby. This week, I've forgotten to put shoes on my kids three times when we've left the house. Mom brain is serious.

3. It gives me time to cuddle with my very busy toddlers. Tiny little babies are usually pretty snuggly. Toddlers usually are not. At least, they're not in my case. Addie enjoys a good snuggle more than Lincoln, but a nursing break guarantees a few minutes of close contact where we can regroup and just be with each other during a busy day.

4. It's an effective birth control method. Really. Obviously, you can't trust it forever (and don't blame me if you read this and find yourself pregnant because you thought I told you it was okay). But I didn't get my fertility back until Addie was 14 months old. That's over a year of period-free life. If that doesn't convince you to give breastfeeding a try, I don't know what will do the trick.

5. It helps mom lose baby weight (and more). This one is not true for everyone, but for me it's been ahhhh-ma-zing. I currently weigh twenty pounds less than I did when I found out Lincoln was on the way. I halfheartedly attended a weekly workout class for a few weeks when he was a baby. Sometimes we go for family walks in the evening. Aside from that, I have literally not done any structured exercise AT ALL in four years. Part of this may be due to my better eating habits and the fact that I'm constantly chasing toddlers around - but how cool is it to be able to say "oh, I'm burning calories right now" while I'm writing this blog post? Making breast milk=automatic extra calories gone.

I think I could write at least another fifty reasons why I love breastfeeding, but those are some of my favorites! Did you (or do you currently) breastfeed your kids? What's your favorite benefit from your nursing relationship?

Note: Mamas who have chosen or have had the choice made for you to use formula or otherwise feed your child, please know that I love you too. I'm blessed to have been able to breastfeed both kids in spite of a difficult start, and I know that I had it easier than a lot of you! I'm not judging. Honest.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

High-Flying Memories

 When I was a kid, my parents took me to Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri all the time. I may have never gone to Disney World, but I knew this 1880's-mining-town theme park like the back of my hand. It was - and remains to this day - one of my favorite places on earth. We took visited Silver Dollar City at Christmas with our kids last year, and took a family trip there this summer.

I have a lot of memories of "firsts" at Silver Dollar City. My dad coaxed me onto my first roller coaster there (Thunderation - I was terrified). I ate a stir-fry meal with my best friends when I was a teenager (picky eater here - definitely hadn't tried that before). I went on an underground cave tour and was astounded at the hidden secrets below the park.

And I've eaten some of the best cinnamon rolls of my life more than once in that park!

When I heard that Silver Dollar City was planning a big revision in 2015 that involved the removal of the Geyser Gulch children's play area, a chord in my heart felt a little pained. I remember the first year that Geyser Gulch was open and have silly photos playing with my dad and brother there when I was maybe twelve. I was afraid that the memories of this fantastic park area would fall by the wayside, like a few other things from the park's history.

My cute parents riding Skychase Balloons in 1997.

My cute parents riding Skychase Balloons in 1997.
Photography by yours truly...I've learned a bit since then,
like that maybe the balloon tops should be in this photo too!.

When I was very young - maybe the first time we went to the park - my dad asked if I wanted to ride the spinning balloon ride near the center of the park. We asked the ride attendant if it went very high or very fast, and were told that it was a moderate ride and shouldn't be very frightening. I climbed aboard. And was terrified when those high-flying balloons and their passenger baskets lifted off the ground. Over the years, I overcame the fear and enjoyed thoroughly the "balloon ride," as we called it. The last time I rode it was in 2007, when I was at Silver Dollar City for an adventure with my new boyfriend, this guy I met at a community theatre, named Andrew (hint: I married him).

Aw, look at us being all cute on a date. 2007.

After that trip, the little hollow that Skychase Balloons and Hugo & Mary's Carousel rested in was redone and the rides disappeared. The carousel reappeared in Half Dollar Holler and my kids love it now. I lamented over the balloons each time we walked past where they used to be. So when I read this news announcement that Geyser Gulch would be no more...I feared the worst. That it, too, would only live on in my memory.

Andrew and me in the yellow balloon basket, 2007.

But last week, the 5-Alarm Announcement arrived in my inbox, stating that Fireman's Landing would be arriving in the summer of 2015. My son has adoration on his face anytime he sees anything firetruck or fireman themed and we even had a firetruck birthday party this year, so I thought....okay. This might be good. The new family adventure area will feature ten new rides and play zones, including a foam ball area (so Geyser Gulch will live on - yay), a soft play area for toddlers, a low-flying swing ride for young kids, and more. It sounds like they are really planning to envelop the whole family, even very young kids, in this section of the park and that makes me so thrilled!

Image Courtesy of Silver Dollar City.

Then, when I was looking over the concept art, I spotted it. In the right corner, a ride that will be called Fire Spotter that features balloons which will fly up in the air to enable all the junior firefighters to have the best visibility for any looming disasters. My heart skipped a little beat. Because Fire Spotter looks an awful lot like a ride I knew a few years ago.

I contacted Silver Dollar City via twitter on a hunch. They're great at replying on social media and got back to me right away with a confirmation of my question. Fire Spotter is the same balloon ride that holds many, many lovely memories from my childhood and my falling-in-love days.

You'd better believe I will be there next summer to ride this old/new adventure with my kids. And if they're terrified when those balloons take off into the sky...well, we'll just be making some new memories together.
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