Category: Recommendations

How To Get Sand Off Of You At The Beach (and other things that made me enjoy the beach again)

I live in Huntington Beach. I hate the beach. But my kids and husband love the beach! Because of that I have had to tolerate many trips to the beach. Over the years, I’ve acquired quite the arsenal to make these outings as enjoyable to me as possible. I thought I would share it with other parents who hate going to the beach as well.

The #1 most annoying thing to me about the beach is the sand. It’s EVERYWHERE. And it sticks to everything, including your kiddos bodies. And then they track it into your house. UGH. Just thinking about it annoys me! I recently discovered an amazing product to help with this and I have to share it!

It’s called Sand-Off! Sand Cleaner Wipe Off Mitt

It combines a mitt with baby powder and it is pretty much the most amazing invention ever. I have tried the baby powder trick and it was just not a pretty sight. Baby powder everywhere and still some sand sticking on my kids! This mitt emits just enough baby powder to allow you to wipe the sand away with the mitt. I tried it this past weekend and it totally worked!! I was one happy mama!

The #2 annoying thing about the beach is the sun. I like the sun but I don’t like skin cancer or looking 10 years older than I really am (the sun will do that to you ladies!!). I hate lathering on sun screen and actually try to avoid it unless I’m really sitting out there for a long time (Hey! Vitamin D is good for you!). A good beach umbrella is a must! I used to have this really crappy one that was basically like one of those old school tents. It had the sticks that you had to connect and then string them through the loops. OMG I used it once and never again! I invested instead in this popup shade that I love!!!! It literally sets up in like 5 seconds, has a nice carrying bag, and has all of these zippers/vents to provide a breeze. I also like that there is no flooring because my kids like to play in the sand at the beach and this way they can still be covered!

Shade Shack Instant Pop Up Family Beach Tent and Sun Shelter

I have heard great things about this beach umbrella as well!

Speaking of protecting yourself from the sun…the following are my favorite sunscreens. Sunscreen is super annoying to me, especially the consistency of the “all natural” ones. These are the ones I have found that worked best!

For face, I like to use these:

Biore Sarasara Aqua Rich Watery Essence – This is the one all of the beauty bloggers swear by. It really has an amazing consistency and is not sticky at all!

or
CeraVe Moisturizing Facial Lotion AM, SPF 30 – The popular dermatologist recommended Cerave!. Doubles as a facial moisturizer!

For body coverage I use ThinkBaby

These all rub in nicely without making you look like a ghost after! Win win!

Next, I need a good beach chair. The one I have has straps so I can wear it on my back because I’m usually carrying 10 million sand toys, snacks, drinks, and/or the kids. Anything that helps me be hands free is a must. I can’t find mine online but this one is similar BUT HAS A CUP HOLDER! Maybe I should upgrade?!

Lace Up Aluminum Backpack Chair

Lastly, I used to carry all of the kids sand toys in a billion different bags and buckets. Now I put them all in a mesh bag and just carry that.

Beach Mesh Tote Bag

I’m also kind of lusting after this mesh bag with built in cooler!!

Aruba Mesh Beach Tote Bag with Zipper Top and Insulated Picnic Cooler

Those are my must haves. Let me know if you know of anything else I can try to make the beach more enjoyable! 🙂

PS. I’m also an expert on sand toys. Separate post on that coming soon!!!

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Mommy’s Corner #2

Phew…finally starting to get the hang of these 2 kids! Sorry it’s been quiet around here. And I thought I had no free time before? It’s a whole other type of busy with 2 kids!!! Not to mention I have a new schedule at work where I come in super early so that means no more late nights for me.

Anyways, I thought I would drop in with a few things I am enjoying right now and maybe you will too!

I’ve been on the hunt for an effective exfoliator that didn’t have any “bad” ingredients ever since my friend told me the reason my face is always dry/peeling despite how much moisturizer I put on it is because I need to exfoliate! I started researching what the best exfoliator was for dry skin and I started reading about the oh so popular clarisonic brushes. Unfortunately, those things are expensive and knowing me I will get too lazy to religiously use it. Enter the Olay Pro-X Advanced Cleansing System. Supposedly it’s the same for a fraction of the price! $21 to be exact. At that price, I thought I would give it a try. I love how it’s waterproof and you can use it in the shower. So far I love it and it’s really been working well for me. No more peeling skin!

My commute to work is C R A Z Y. I’m talking about 1.5 hours of crazy. I’ve been religiously using Waze (love it!) and I can pretty much guarantee my commute will be 1 to 1.25 hours a day. My brother-in-law asked me how long it took me to get to work the other day and he said it took him 2 hours and we left at the same time! He said there was a terrible accident which I didn’t even know about because Waze completely steered me clear of it. LOVE. I’ve also been listening to Pandora a lot during my commute. Can I recommend the Anthem Lights station? If you’re like me you’re addicted to youtube covers. This station is like all of my favorite artists covering all of my favorite songs! Speaking of music, a nod to my college emo days, the new Jack’s Mannequin album is really good. I may actually have to break out the CC and purchase it!

I’ve been bringing my lunch every day since I got back to work and these recipes have been awesome and great time savers because I make a big batch and eat them the whole week or stick them in the freezer for later. They are all good and easy to make for all of you moms that are super moms cooking for your families!

smoked pumpkin chili – I used all black beans and added ground turkey

The best roasted vegetables ever – bold claim but they really are. I make a big batch and eat it with rice, pasta, tortillas you name it. I also mix up what vegetables I use but the key are the tomatoes.

I’ve also been looking up paleo/whole 30 recipes (I’m too scared to actually commit to the diet so I just sneak in a paleo meal every once in awhile :P) and have been making egg muffins and sticking them in the freezer for a quick breakfast. Mix cooked, crumbled sausage with eggs. The original recipe added chopped bell peppers but I used the frozen kale from Trader Joe’s (defrosted first). Just cook it all up in a muffin tin and stick them in the freezer after they cool down.

Lastly, a book recommendation. Still Alice SO GOOD. If you know anyone with Alzheimer’s this is a must read.

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Emma’s Faves: 2 years 3 months

The Complete Adventures of Curious George: 70th Anniversary Edition – Even though there are several stories in this book, Emma makes me read the same 2 stories over and over again!

Popcorn with Coconut Oil – I have to admit we are both addicted to this! Emma just loves eating popcorn in general. But I really like the taste that coconut oil add to it. Plus it’s so much healthier than using butter! I use this recipe.

Finally got around to making coconut oil popcorn. It is easy and tasty! Now what toppings should I add?

Lil Critters Fruit and Veggie Vitamins – I’m on the fence about vitamins for kids so I see these more as a treat for Emma and another way to sneak in some veggies? She LOVES these and I usually tell her she can have one after she brushes her teeth which makes her a little more willing to brush than normal. Even though they recommend giving 2, I give her just 1 a day.

Bubbles – like every 2 year old…Emma is obsessed with bubbles. She is loving them right now and it has been a fun outdoor activity this summer

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Mommy & Baby Fave: Jojoba Oil

I have a new favorite product: Jojoba Oil ($7.99 on Amazon)!

For Mommy: I have horribly dry skin, especially on my face! I’ve tried all different types of moisturizers but as soon as I put on any type of foundation…it starts flaking! So annoying. I even use tinted moisturizer and it still makes my face flake (even after using a completely different moisturizer beforehand). And recently while I was pregnant, I was pretty limited in what products I was willing to use since I try to use more “natural” products since I’m paranoid. So I was super excited when I tried Jojoba Oil for the first time and it worked for my dry skin while also being pretty safe (as far as I can tell). It keeps my face moisturized and does not clog my pores. Miracle! I’ve been reading you can also add some to your conditioner to soften your hair as well but I haven’t tried that yet. So to moisturize my face, I just put a few drops on my fingers and rub it into my face. Easy peasy!

For Baby: So just like Emma, Max is developing horrible baby acne and cradle cap (or cradle crap as we like to call it har har). Last time we didn’t do much for Emma since I read it wasn’t harmful, just annoying for the parents because their babies do not look very cute when they are going through this stage! This time, since I happened to have jojoba oil on hand and since I read it works wonders for cradle cap I decided to give it a try on Max! I’ve only applied it once so far but most of the yellow gunk came right off after a few minutes! We’ll see how it goes in the next few weeks. So to apply to baby, just place a drop on your finger and rub into affected area. You can leave it on for up to 2 hours to really get absorbed. If it’s on the scalp, run a soft comb through the hair to brush out the flakes. If on the face or other body parts, you can just use a small towel to wipe off.

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Emma’s Faves (2 Years, 2 Months)

Sorry this is a little late! Here’s what Emma was loving this past month:

Ravensburger My First Puzzle (Adorable Animals) – I’m really trying to get Emma into puzzles as a I heard it’s good for brain development. She seems to struggle with jigsaw puzzles though so I thought this beginner set would be good practice. Luckily she instantly loved this and is able to do it pretty easily!! She still sometimes struggles with fitting the pieces together but it’s great practice for her fine motor skills. I highly recommend this if you are looking to introduce jigsaw puzzles to your little ones!

H&M Strawberry Jersey Dress – Can you believe these dresses are only $5? Emma loves the strawberry one so much that we bought her 2 more in different prints. These are so comfortable and easy to wear…wish they had them in my size!

Elmo Goodnight Stories Musical Lullaby – this book was a hand me down from my sister’s kids but Emma loves it! She makes me read it to her every night. Its comprised of a bunch of short stories that each include a lullaby. It also has a button you can press that plays Brahms Lullaby song that Emma loves to press while I sing.

Green Toys Tea Set – We got this set from a friend and both Emma and I love it because you can use real drinks and food with it! It also lets Emma practice pouring. So fun!

Tea party!

Little Bunny Series Seek and Finds – These seek and find coloring sheets are a big hit with Emma. She loves finding the objects and gets so excited when she finds them. The best part? It’s free!

clean-up-seek-and-find

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood – We’ve been trying to keep Emma from watching too much Caillou and this has quickly become her new favorite. I also love this show and the lessons Emma learns from it…ranging anywhere from trying new foods, going to the DR, and having a babysitter. The songs always get stuck in my head though!

Watermelon – summer means tasty and fresh watermelon! One of Emma’s favorite fruits. We also love drinking watermelon juice

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Camping With Kids

I have been daydreaming about the day that I can take the kiddos camping. The funny thing is I am not even that big of a camper or a roughin’ it type girl…but for some reason I just can’t wait to introduce the kids to the outdoors, sleeping in tents, hiking, and eating campfire food. The husband and I used to go on an annual camping trip with our friends…but we stopped after everybody started having kids…but I know once the kids are a little older we are going to start them back up again but this time with kids! I love that our kids have all of these other kids to play with and create special camping memories with too!

Anyways, I thought I would share some of the useful things I have bookmarked about camping with kids which I am sure is a whole other ballgame and probably more work than I am imagining. 😛

First off the tent. I just recently found out you can buy tents with dividers! This is great if you have more than 1 kid and they need privacy for naps or at bedtime. I was scouring Amazon and found this one that seems decently priced and highly rated:

I will also probably invest in an air mattress or some type of padding to sleep on for the kids. People also recommend sleeping in the tent in your backyard first to get your kids familiar with sleeping somewhere than their own bed.

Places to camp:
I’ve been hearing a lot about KOA campsites. They are catered towards families and are located all around the US. They have campsites but also cabins and space for RVs. They usually have a playground, laundry and bathroom facilities, a little store, and even wifi! It might be a good way to ease your kids into camping. Also, check out these unique camping options that some of the KOA sites offer…like yurts, teepees, airstreams, and treehouses!

Most likely we will probably try our first camping experience someplace nearby, but ideally I would love to visit some of the national parks in the future!

Camp food:
This is probably the part I am most nervous about since kids can be picky eaters and I just know it will be hard to get the kids to eat a balanced meal while camping. But then again, camping is probably going to be just a 1-2 night adventure so it’s ok to have a pass on eating healthy for a few days right? 😛 Anyways, here are some campfire recipes I have bookmarked that I can’t wait to try!

Breakfast:
Canned biscuit campfire donuts
Homemade instant oatmeal packets – if you use instant rolled oats, you can just add boiling water and you have oatmeal ready!
campurritos – breakfast burritos!
sweet potato apple hash – this also has other recipes and meal ideas for eating paleo while you camp!

Lunch/Dinner:
Grilled pasta packets – love this!
9 delicious and easy foil packet dinners
Pig in a blanket
chicks on sticks (chicken kebabs)
potato boat dinner
perfect picnic sandwich

Sides/snacks:
Campfire spinach dip
Good salad suggestions for camping
bocce pasta salad
Campfire popcorn

Desserts:
5 around the campfire desserts
Strawberry smores

Activities:
Aside from hiking, some other fun games or things you can do with the kids
Camping charades
Camping activity bags
best camping activities for kids

Tips for camping with young kids:
Hellobee’s tips
8 tips for camping with kids
25 camping hacks for kids

So did I get you excited about camping with kids yet??? 🙂

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Toys That Promote Imaginary Play

Here are two toys that I bought from Amazon because I heard a lot of good things about and they were very highly rated. I remember when I first got them I was like why in world do these have such good reviews? They seem SO BORING! Boy was I wrong. These toys are some of Emma’s favorites and I’m always amazed to see what new ways she comes up with for playing with these.

50 Counting Bears With 5 Cups – I first got these because we were trying to teach Emma how to count and also her colors. I really believe these helped with both her numbers and colors. The bears make a satisfying *plunk* sound when you drop them into the cup. Emma loves sorting and these are great for that. She also uses these as pretend food and “serves” us different colored foods in cups and plates. It’s so cute! She is almost always playing with these bears in some way every day.

Skip Hop Dunks Stacking Bath Toy – I remember when I bought these they were the highest rated bath toy. These are so versatile because you can use them as a rinse cup for bath time but they also make great bath toys. It’s great that the set comes with more than 1 so I can use one and Emma can play with the other ones. She loves to scoop the water and pour it into the other cup. She loves to stack. She also loves to tell me what color each bird is and which color she wants and which one I should use. I also love to take these when we travel because I need a water scooper for bath time and it’s also the only bath toy we take when we travel and is able to keep her satisfied.

So those are two toys that I didn’t really “get” but turns out Emma loves them!

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Emma’s Faves (2 Years, 1 Month)

Here’s what Emma was loving this past month

Radio Flyer The Ultimate Comfort Wagon – We got this recently and Emma loves it! I love that it is covered and has some really great features like being able to fold the seats down as a table, etc.

Caillou – Like every kid we know, Emma is obsessed with the PBS Kids app and she recently has started only watching one show…Caillou! She loves this show and I am kind of noticing that she copies him a lot which is a bad thing because he is kind of a bratty kid. Ugh…we are going to have to figure out a way to cut back on her watching this show.

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Hape Alphabet Puzzle – We just got this alphabet puzzle as one of her bday presents and we love the quality of it. Emma loves doing this puzzle and is able to name all of the letters. Highly recommend if you are looking for an alphabet puzzle!

Trader Joe’s Scallion Pancakes – I get so happy when I find something Emma likes to eat that is quick and easy to make. She seems to enjoy these that are Trader Joe’s version of korean pancakes.

51287-scallion-pancakes

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A Mattress For the Ikea Kura Bunk Bed

Update #2: A reader commented that Tuft & Needle are discontinuing this mattress. That really sucks to hear since we loved this mattress and it was perfect for this Ikea bunk bed. I was asked for alternatives and I found another 5 in mattress that is also highly rated. I do not own this personally but the reviews are good. Check it out on Amazon here.
Update #1: We’ve since had the mattress for over 6 months now and LOVE it. I highly recommend this mattress for the Ikea Kura. It’s the perfect size and is super comfy despite it’s low height. It’s a great quality mattress for a great price. You can pick yours up at Amazon.

We recently bought an Ikea Kura Bunk Bed for Emma to transition out of our bed (we have been cosleeping with her pretty much since birth). The reason I like this bunk bed is because it’s low to the ground and appears to be safer for younger kids. The bottom bed is actually a floor bed which I’ve always wanted to try ever since I read about it from Montessori blogs. And it will be great for when our other kid grows up and they can share a room.

This bunk bed is very versatile in that you can either use the top, bottom, or both as a bed. Some people use the bottom as a play area instead. After my husband put together the bed, I was tasked with finding a mattress for it. One of my mommy friends told me about this highly rated mattress from Walmart called Mattress In A Box which you can get for under $200. Luckily I found out right before I bought it that it was a little too tall for the Ikea bunk bed. It is 8 inches and since the Ikea bunk bed is so low they suggested using a mattress that is 5 inches or shorter. Luckily, I had another highly rated mattress bookmarked that I had been looking at as well by Tuft & Needle. If you’re interested, there is a short article here about the mattress industry scam and a little bit about the Tuft & Needle mattress and how they are trying to change how we shop for mattresses. You can buy the mattress on their website or Amazon (same price). They also sell queens and kings and a thicker 10 inch mattress. Their customer service supposedly is amazing and if you don’t like the bed they have a free return policy which involves them just having Salvation Army picking up the mattress so you know it doesn’t just go to waste! I love the idea behind this company. I wasn’t too worried about the quality of the mattress when I bought it though because it is rated 5 stars on Amazon with over 300 reviews!

Anyways, if you are looking into the bunk bed…there are countless “hacks” you can also do to make the bunk bed look nicer. We ended up painting ours white and I am thinking of cutting out some decals for the panels but we’ll see. For some inspiration, check out this post on Hellobee: 35 Ikea Kura Hacks

Oh, one last thing that I discovered during my research is that if you decide to do a floor bed, the mattress is prone to getting moldy on the bottom since there is no room for circulation and bodies sweat a lot. To combat this you should really put some slats underneath the mattress or flip it onto its side once a week to let it air out. I discovered Ikea sells this platform for $20 bucks so I think we will just use that.

***Note: If you are a parent interested in hot deals or saving money. Join my Facebook group where I post amazing deals and freebies!

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The Sticker Chart

Have you heard of using a sticker chart to help improve your child’s behavior? I had read a lot about it but didn’t realize how well it worked until we tried it ourselves! I bought ours from Target in the $1 bin but you can also print out your own and buy separate stickers.

image

We use ours exclusively for brushing Emma’s teeth. We have a really hard time brushing her teeth because she always gags when we put the toothbrush in her mouth! We would all dread when it was time to brush her teeth! Now it’s not so much of a battle. I just tell her “Do you want a sticker today” and ask her “What color sticker are you going to choose today?”. She ALWAYS wants a sticker. And you can just tell how torturous it is for her to brush her teeth but now she will do it just so she can get her sticker! Most of the time she asks for 2 stickers so I make her brush her teeth twice since sometimes I don’t do that great of a job the first time since I try to go as fast as I can for her. That’s how much she loves these stickers though!

As you can see from her chart we aren’t using it as it was intended. Instead of doing it for each day, I allow her to pick whatever color she wants and she has to match it with the same color square. I figure at least this way she can practice her colors and matching skills!

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I also like how small these stickers are and how it’s helping her develop her fine motor skills. I was actually surprised she was able to peel and stick the stickers on their herself!

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So if you are looking for a great behavior modification trick…I highly recommend the sticker chart!

I was inspired to use a sticker chart after reading this post on Hellobee!

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