Friday, April 24, 2015

Moon Valley Organics Peppermint Foot Rub Review

Final review of the week!  I've had so much fun sharing some amazing products with you and I hope you all discovered a few new items to add to your shopping cart or your Mother's Day wish list. The final item in my Savvy Sassy Moms Scout Box was this tube of Moon Valley Organics Peppermint Foot Rub.
I'm going to spare you the agony of looking at photos of my feet (my husband tells me that my toes look like Snausages...the dog treats.  So, yeah.) and just post some pretty pictures of the adorable packaging and tell you all about this stuff.  It's amazing!  According to the box, it blends the natural pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory powers of arnica (sunflower...I had to Google it) and lavender with mint, which is known to cool and energize, as well as boost absorption of other medicinal herbs.  Moon Valley products come from their certified organic, biodynamic farm and embrace traditional knowledge from artisan farmers, herbalists and beekeepers.  Their products are developed with the intention to nourish and heal your body, mind, and spirit, as well as to care for the Earth.  Seriously, pair this along with me diffusing essential oils in my house and I think I'm officially a hippie now (I mean that in a good way).      
It's made with all natural ingredients in Washington state and feels absolutely amazing on your feet.  It's thick and smooth and coats your skin easily, with no abrasive scrubs or beads.  It's made with all kinds of natural oils, so obviously it leaves your feet feeling very hydrated and moisturized.  I recommend using this right before bed and not right before putting sandals on or else you'll be slip-sliding around in them for a while. The peppermint makes the rub feel cool and refreshing and combined with the mint, it smells amazing.  I so wish I would have had this product while I was pregnant and my feet were swollen and achy (although I'm not sure if I could have reached my feet at that point).  I might appreciate it even more now that I'm running around chasing after two crazy kids and on my feet more than ever these days.  My only complaint is that it doesn't come with a personal foot masseuse to apply and massage.  Now that would be perfection.
I hope you enjoyed Review Week!  
I'll be bringing you more reviews periodically and a chance to win some awesome products for yourself (and your kiddos).  
Have a lovely weekend! 

*I received these products for review as part of the Savvy Sassy Moms Product Scouts program. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Six Ways to Encourage Toothbrushing in Toddlers and Preschoolers

It wasn't until I received these tubes of toothpaste in fun colors and flavors from Hello Products and started asking my friends about their kids' brushing habits that I realized kids are pretty hit or miss when it comes to brushing their teeth.  Some kids (like Mac) LOVE it and would brush 10 times a day if we'd let him.  Others HATE it and have to be chased around and held down to get them to brush.  But it sounds like the majority of kids are rather indifferent to brushing.  
Luckily for us, Mac is one of those kids that loves to brush his teeth.  I'm not exactly how or why this happened - I'm not taking any personal credit for it.  I think maybe we just lucked out with the way we implementing his brushing or maybe he just loves the taste of toothpaste.  Either way, I'm pretty happy about his good brushing habits (Lord knows makes up for it with noncompliance in many other areas of life) and would like to encourage them, so I've been looking for ways to make brushing more fun for him to keep it up.  Here are a few of my favorite ideas:
1. Let your kid pick their own toothbrush.  
This sounds simple enough, but you'd be surprised how much more they'll want to use a toothbrush that they picked out themselves.  There are hundreds of choices, colors and characters.  Some that light up, some that vibrate, some that play music.  Let them pick!  Mac has a toothbrush "just like daddy's" and loves it.    
2. Get a stepstool so they can reach the sink.
This one was huge for Mac because, like most toddlers/preschoolers, he wants to do everything BY HIMSELF.  Putting a stepstool in the bathroom allows him to lean over the sink, turn the faucets on, and reach the toothpaste/toothbrush himself.  Yes, it's messy...that's life with a toddler.  He spits and gets toothpaste everywhere, but it's a small price to pay for not having to fight him on this.  
3. Try fun toothpaste flavors
Some kids hate brushing because they hate the flavor of toothpaste.  I love the taste of mint, but my step-brother was one of those kids that absolutely could not stand mint and would refuse to brush his teeth unless he had another flavor option.  I've heard kids call toothpaste hot or spicy and I can understand why they might not like the taste of it because it's really strong.  Luckily for kids these days, there are lots of options for fun toothpaste flavors.  We just got the opportunity to try some new flavors from Hello Products - bubble gum, green apple and blue raspberry.  Mac tried all three right away, back-to-back and declared pink (bubble gum) to be his favorite.
4. Let him DO IT HIMSELF
From putting the toothpaste on the toothbrush, to brushing, spitting and rinsing, it's best if I just let him do it all by himself...first.  No, he's not great and he doesn't do the best job, but giving him the chance to do it himself first lets him feel like he's in control and then he won't fight me so much when it's my turn to "help" him get the back teeth.   I gently encourage him to make sure he gets the back ones and the top teeth...and he gently ignores me and does whatever he wants.  So, yeah.
5. Sing a brushing song or set a timer
If your kid won't brush for more than a second or two, try singing a brushing song and making them brush until you're finished singing.  You can pick any song you want, but make sure it's long enough to give them adequate time to brush all their teeth (or repeat a shorter one a few times).  I've heard two minutes is ideal.  Your singing might also provide a nice distraction for them, making it go by a little quicker.  If you really want to jazz it up, add some funny facial expressions and a couple dance moves (I'm totally kidding).  And if that doesn't help, try setting a timer - whether it's on your phone, watch or a kitchen timer.  Kids love timers.  Never underestimate the power of a good timer. 
6. Lead by example
Make sure your kids see you brushing your teeth, especially when they're little.  Kids love emulating adults and acting "big," so take advantage of it and make sure they see you brushing too.  I feel like we can convince Mac to do 90% of any of the things he doesn't want to do if we do them first.  And if seeing me brush my teeth isn't enough, I call in the big guns...daddy.  Anything daddy does it alright by Mac.  It must be nice to be that loved.  Anywhoo.  :)  Hello Products also makes toothpaste for grown-ups, so daddy and I can join in on the fun.  We got a chance to try Peach Mango Mint and Supermint.  Both have a strong fresh (cold) mint flavor and reminded me of Altoids.  So fresh and so clean...clean!  They're not as sweet as a lot of other toothpastes, which I also appreciated, and left my teeth feeling really refreshed.  
Do your kids love to brush or is it a struggle?
What are your brushing tips/secrets?

Click to Tweet: 6 ways to encourage your toddler/preschooler to brush their teeth! http://bit.ly/1GpT6J2

*I received these products for review as part of the Savvy Sassy Moms Product Scouts program. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Minted Custom Photo Art Review

Hey friends, if you are looking for the perfect Mother's Day gift, I have found it for you!  Minted's customized photo art gifts are absolutely gorgeous and sure to please anyone that loves beautiful photos and thick luxurious paper products.  

You've probably seen this article floating around the internet about a possible future "digital dark age" and the importance of printing your photos for posterity.  But there are so many other reasons to print your photos too!  Did you know that displaying family portraits in your home can actually raise your child's self-esteem by making them feel like an important part of the family?  Printed photos can also make us happy by reminding us of special moments and they help create a dialogue of shared memories and experiences with kids. There are so many reasons to get your photos off your computer and onto your walls!

I have tons of photos on the walls in our house, but I haven't updated them since Mim was born.  Mac's smiling face can be seen throughout our whole house, so I figured it was finally time to get the little lady some wall space of her own.  I've been hearing great things about Minted's new art line on blogs for months now, but have been too lazy indecisive to actually order anything...until now!  I was thrilled to have the opportunity to customize my own prints as part of my awesome Product Scout box from Savvy Sassy Moms, so I could see what all the hype was about.  The only thing was...I couldn't make a decision about what to order - there were so many amazing choices!  Here are a few of my favorites that would make amazing gifts for that special mom in your life (or for yourself):


After spending a ridiculous amount of time pouring over my choices, I finally decided on two designs: the Deckled and the Watercolor Hearts.  I love the classic simplicity of the Deckled and decided to use the family photos we had taken last fall for this print.  And then I got a little crazy and chose the Watercolor Hearts print, which is cute/colorful/fun and totally different than my usual boring choices.  I just loved the way this print worked with Mim's newborn photos and thought this would be such a fun way to display all my favorites from that session.  (All photos taken by the amazing Kristie Cromie of L Photographie.)

Minted gives you the option of choosing between a few different color schemes for each print.  But even better, they let you choose a frame to go with your print and will ship it to you already framed and ready to hang.  They have a wide variety of frame choices - from classic white or black to various shades of distressed woods.  
And there are TONS of sizes to choose from.  You're not limited to just a boring 8 x 10 - their prints go all the way to poster sizes!  They even give you a handy guide to show you just how big/small each size print is, making it so much easier to visually judge print size.  I think this is genius.
I chose two prints (without frames), which took only a few days to come in.  I ordered the Deckled in a 11x14 and the Watercolor Hearts in an 11x11 and framed them myself with frames I already had at home.  
Both prints are GORGEOUS.  The paper is really thick and sturdy.  The photos are printed with rich, vibrant colors.  I'm very impressed with the quality of the paper and how professional they feel.
I immediately stuck this one in a giant 16 x 20 frame with a white mat and hung it by the front door. I'm so happy with how well it turned out and the size is perfect for the space.  
But my favorite part is the custom signature and date on the bottom.  I just love that extra personalization.  
The watercolor hearts print is also amazing.  This print is just so fun and pretty.  I'm planning on hanging it on the gallery wall on our staircase to add a fun pop of color and brightness to it.  You know...as soon as I have time. 
This one went into a 12 x 12 frame that I had at home and I just stuck it on a sheet of white cardstock.  Nothing fancy or formal, but I think it looks great. 
Do you print out your photos?

*I received these products for review as part of the Savvy Sassy Moms Product Scouts program. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

BarkThins Review

Some days blogging is hard work.  And some days you get to eat free chocolate and then brag blog about it on the internet.  Today is one of those days, my friends - it's like winning the blogging lottery. 

I had never heard of BarkThins until they showed up on my doorstep in my Scout Box for Savvy Sassy Moms.  I immediately had to hide them from my husband and toddler for fear that they would get eaten before I even had a chance to "review" them.  Anything with chocolate seems to be fair game around our house and I was not taking any chances. 

BarkThins sent us one bag of their dark chocolate and almond bark and one bag of dark chocolate and pretzel.  Both with sea salt.  Be still my beating heart.  I noticed on their website that they also have seasonal flavors like pumpkin seed and peppermint bark and healthy flavors like blueberry quinoa and toasted coconut.  I mean, quinoa has never sounded better. 
According to their website, BarkThins are made from the finest fair-trade dark chocolate and packed with non-GMO ingredients like pretzels, almonds and peppermint.  They're thin and crispy and have just the right balance of sweet and salty.   
I gave Mac one piece of each flavor to try, as dessert after dinner and he was thrilled to get to try some of "mommy's special chocolate."  Mac loved them both, but I preferred the pretzel flavor, which I was not expecting.  The almond ones were good, but the pretzels made them super crispy and had a bit more salt, which I love.  I may have already ordered another bag (or three).
This kid inherited my sweet tooth, as well as my inability to keep my face clean while eating.  He's a mess and I love it.  I should note that the chocolate is thin and melts in your hand easily, so be prepared for a little bit of a mess.  And make sure to store them in a cool dry place so they stay crispy and crunchy.
Unfortunately for Mac, he only got one piece of each and then I hid the bags for myself and finished them both off over the next few nights as I edited photos.  No judging!  Dark chocolate is a great source of antioxidants and nuts are heart healthy, so it's basically like working out.  Right?  He was slightly disappointed when he asked for another piece and I had to lie and tell him the cat ate it all.  That darn cat. 

So, needless to say, we're both big fans of the BarkThins.  What's not to love?  
(Seriously, this was the easiest review ever because they were so good.  Sometimes I can't believe I get to do things like eat chocolate and blog about it.  I love blogging.)  
Have you ever tried BarkThins? 
What's your favorite flavor?

*I received these products for review as part of the Savvy Sassy Moms Product Scouts program. All opinions are my own.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Baby Bjorn Feeding Set

As I mentioned last week, I received an awesome box filled with goodies to review as part of my Product Scout duties for Savvy Sassy Moms.  Half of the products were kid/baby related (which are fun to test out on the littles) and the other half were treats for mommy (which were GREATLY appreciated).  I love trying out new products and discovering fun brands and items that make life easier/better for moms.  And of course, as a blogger, I love sharing these finds and reviews with you, in the hopes that you'll love them as much as I do.  I am so excited and honored to be a part of the SSM family and I've had the best time getting to know the other mamas in the group and sharing ideas. 

One of the first products we tested out were these bibs and bowls from Baby Bjorn.  I'm a huge fan of our Baby Bjorn carriers, so I was excited about trying some of their other products.  We received a package of 2 plastic bibs and 2 plate/spoon combo sets, both in turquoise and orange.  I immediately loved the color and pulled them out to show the kids.
Mac doesn't wear a bib to eat anymore (his choice, not ours) and he refuses to eat off anything that's not a "grown up" plate (toddlers are SO opinionated), so these fun items are reserved exclusively for  the little lady in the house who is just getting started in solid foods.  Of course that didn't stop him from trying on the bib to show Mim how to wear it ("Like this, Mim") and immediately asked if he could put some worms in it.   Umm...no.  
Unfortunately, Mim can't use a spoon yet and just repeatedly throws/swipes the plate off her high chair tray and onto the floor, so I'm going to wait a few more months before trying these awesome plates and spoons out with her.  Her hand-eye coordination is pretty impressive already though, so it shouldn't be too long before she's feeding herself with utensils.  Anyway, on to the bib. To be honest, I've seen these Baby Bjorn bibs online and purposely didn't buy them because I thought they looked hard and uncomfortable.  To me, they looked rigid and like they'd get in the way of the baby's arms.  However, I'm SO incredibly glad Baby Bjorn sent these to us to try because they are AMAZING and I'm now adding them to my list of all-time favorite baby products...for real, they're that great.
We do Baby Led Weaning with Mim and it's wonderful, but it's also really messy.  We have a dozen of those cheap soft laminated bibs with the pocket that can be thrown in the wash machine.  They've served their purpose relatively well, but they're not ideal.  First of all, you can rinse them off in the sink, but they don't really clean unless you machine wash them. Which means, if you don't have tons of them, all your bibs end up sitting in the dirty laundry basket and you're left using a dish rag tucked into baby's neck as a bib.  No bueno.  And if you just rinse them off, they take forever to dry and they sit around your kitchen wet and taking up space.  Secondly, the velcro tabs don't work very well after being repeatedly washed and they're really easy for babies to pull off.  Third, the pocket on the front is flimsy and rarely catches food - Mim always ends up with tons of food getting squashed into her clothes and the front buckle of the high chair.  Messy.
We have NONE of those issues with this bib.  Yes, it is somewhat rigid, but the plastic is much softer and more flexible/comfortable than I thought it would be.  It has an adjustable neck strap, so you can make it larger as your child grows.  It snaps in place and holds tight, even with pulling (see above, Mac couldn't get it off when he put it on) and doesn't have the issue with the velcro losing it's strength after multiple washings.  
The bib is wide enough to cover the baby's entire chest, but curved to allow for arm movement.  Mim does not seem to be bothered by it at all and it certainly doesn't slow her down while eating. The front catch-all pocket is huge and doesn't fold shut, so it catches everything she drops before it falls down into the seat and gets ground into her clothes and high chair straps.  It's also big enough that she can see what's in there and fetch it back out if she still wants to eat it. 
But the best part about this bib is that you can just rinse it off in the sink and it's good to go.  No machine washing needed, no long drying time required.  Just one of these bibs replaced a dozen of our cheaper laminated ones.  I'm kicking myself for not having tried this sooner.  
My only complaint (and it's very minimal) is that since the bib is made of sturdy plastic, it's not the easiest to fold/roll up and stuff in a diaper bag when we go out to eat.  But really, who am I kidding with that line?  We have a mess baby and the most hyperactive toddler on the planet...we NEVER go out to eat.  I can't even remember the last time I took either kid to a restaurant, so while that point may fly with some folks, it doesn't really affect us.  

Anyway, we love this bib.  I'm really impressed with the quality and the design.  It comes in all kinds of colors and is available just about everywhere.  Two thumbs up.
Have you tried the Baby Bjorn bib?
What do you do to keep the baby feeding mess to a minimum?


*I received these products for review as part of the Savvy Sassy Moms Product Scouts program. All opinions are my own.