Add a 2nd Layer of Protection this Football Season with 2nd Skull

29th August 2015

FullSizeRender

Next to the holidays, it’s the second craziest time of year: back-to-school and fall. That means football is in the air – on television, in tailgating and in our kids sports. If you don’t happen to follow my blog (you’re missing out!), it’s pretty obvious by the title that football plays a huge part in our lives. And having a son, I know it’s only a matter of time before he too will take the field. 

I’ve been doing my research.

I’ve gone to NFL football training camps to see just how safe and dangerous these sports can be. I’ve looked into the stats on concussions and dehydration.

I’ve looked at the way football players can be role models. 

And I’ve come up with the conclusion that yes, my son will still play football (if he wants to). 

So, with that, now I’m looking into the best possible ways to keep him safe. From knowing my coach is USAfootball certified, to checking his helmets and shoulder pads, to adding some extra 2nd Skull protection, I feel pretty confident that my son will be able to enjoy the sport safely. Look I get it, I cannot prevent a concussion, but I can’t prevent a car accident either. That doesn’t mean I don’t drive anywhere – I just make sure the vehicle and car seat are the best possible options. 

2nd Skull Protection

mission_main

No product can prevent a concussion, but 2nd Skull products do add additional impact protection. 2nd Skull helps protect an athlete by providing a thin layer of material designed to absorb repeated, sustained impact at a high strain rate. This additional protection is crucial for defense against traumatic brain injury,* an affliction found to be more and more prevalent among American athletes.

Youth football participation continues to decline. “According to an Associated Press-GfK poll, nearly half of parents said they’re not comfortable letting their child play football,” says Federico Olivares, CEO of 2nd Skull, LLC. “We are transparent about our claims and know that no helmet or headgear can eliminate or reduce head injuries including concussions. Based on research from the Cleveland Clinic, we know that even non-concussive head injuries can also lead to long term health issues. This is where 2ND SKULL® wants to play. We need to do everything that we can as parents and coaches to protect athletes”.

Bottom line: These caps are proven to add up to 35% more impact protection to a standard sports helmet.

Best Sports for use:

FullSizeRender (1)

You can use 2nd Skull with any sport – in fact, Max has been wearing it under his bike and scooter helmet. He also just rocks it during soccer practice, because, they even look cool on a three-year-old on its own without a helmet. 

They also make headbands (even in pink!) that are good for wearing during volleyball, or even snowboarding/skiing like we love to do in the winter. 

Key Features

  • Absorbs more than 90% of energy when impacted at high strain rates
  • Breathable, contouring and lightweight for a comfortable wear
  • Microban® antimicrobial protection to defend against odors and stains – and they’re washable!

Where To Find Them 

You can currently purchase 2nd Skull at select Dicks Sporting Goods stores, Sports Authority and Amazon.com for $49.99.

Try One For Yourself

 See the technology for yourself – enter here to win one skull cap AND one headband to sleep better at night knowing your child (and you!) have a 2nd layer of protection. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This is a sponsored post. Thank you for supporting Football Food and Motherhood.

Back-to-School with 25% off Carter’s

27th August 2015

I 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.

IMG_0327Get this look, here.

Maximo still doesn’t start school for the first time for two more weeks and I’m already over it. No wonder moms start prepping middle of summer because it’s a LOT of work – or is it really? Do we overdo back-to-school just like we do birthday parties? I remember running into Hills department store with my grandma for new dresses, and Anne Frank trapper keeper and popcorn. What happened to the good old days? 

But still, back-to-school shopping can be fun – letting our kids express their individual personalities (or is it still moms?) through fun colors and styles. And of course, who do I always turn to first? Carters.com. This fall season we’re loving their button-down collection mixed with vintage tees and colored jeans for boys. Favorites? Mustard yellow and buckskin tan, and gray with dark reds and blues. 

Save 25% off with Carters until September 7

IMG_0342Get this look, here.

We have always been big fans of the Carter’s boys line season through season, and once again, they’ve provided a cute, modern look for an affordable price. These tees and pants are great for looking New York chic and yet, I won’t get upset if he ruins a tee for $6 in art class.

IMG_0317

IMG_0338

We love Carter’s for quality and value, so get set for fall and visit carters.com for great fall fashion and even greater deals! Now through September 7, you can use this coupon to save 25% off your $40 order or more!

carters_coupon_blogger_081215

If you shop now: Count Me In Preschool Sale (Up to 50% Off): 8/5 – 8/31:

  • Doorbuster 2 or more: $6 leggings, long sleeve tees, boys terry pants & slogans (Entire Event)
  • Single Doorbuster: $8 fleece pants, $10 moto jegging, $12 boys hoodies (Ends 8/17)

Labor Day Weekend 50% off Entire Store or More: 9/1 – 9/7:

  • Doorbuster $12 5-pack bodysuit, $9 2 pack pants, $10 turn me around sets (9/3 -9/7 only)

Learning to SwimToday with Asphalt Green

21st August 2015

IMG_8853

Swimming. Is it something we take for granted? We consider lake and beach trips vacations, love to spend time and money on luxury items like boating, fishing and even our own backyard pools. Being surrounded by water is something we just play into our daily lives (I mean, we DO live on an island!). 

But the trends are speaking. Did you know that currently, almost 10 people drown every day in the United States (non-boating related)? And with the rise of more and more accessible backyard pools, parents are starting their children younger and younger in the water

Don’t Be Scared: SwimToday

We had the rare opportunity this summer to participate in the highly esteemed water sprites class at Asphalt Green through SwimToday. We also had the pleasure of working with one of the best teachers on staff, Christian. Seriously, my son still asks for him everyday (unfortunately Christian is also a NYC school teacher come fall). I have to admit, after watching my son participate in this class week after week, I agree that swimming just might be the #funnestsport. Here’s why:

Learning to love the water in a non-confrontational, safe way was something I didn’t learn as a child. I was lied to and told to jump in and wasn’t caught, plummeting underwater. I might still remember and still be a little pissed off, but at least it worked, right? Well, I might be a tough parent, but I still don’t want to just “throw” my toddler into the deep end. Luckily, Christian had a better approach in their 30-minute class. 

Week One – Meet the water

IMG_8847

Learning the water. The first few classes parents are asked to come dressed in full swim gear and get in to coax their little ones in and to take on the shallow pool themselves. (This modern pool actually moves up and down in-depth, while you’re in it – it also comes up to a flat surface when you finish so no one accidentally falls in, and also to clean/drain the pool). One of the first things toddlers learn is safety – how to roll onto their bellies to get into the pool, and to sit “criss-cross applesauce” so they are safely seated at the pools edge.

Week Two – Kicking

IMG_9128 (1)

 It may seem minuscule, but kicking is a huge component of swimming – and toddlers love to make a big splash. From holding on to the pools edge to floating around on giant pastel animal cutouts, Maximo happily kicked himself in a solid nap after each class. 

Week Three – Separation

IMG_0205

One of the main goals of water sprites is to teach children to swim alone. They need to learn to separate from their parents, and to be independent swimmers. As the classes progressed, us parents moved father and farther away – from inside the pool, to the edge of the pool to sitting on benches away from the pool. Next time? We don’t even go inside the facilities! 

Week Four – Bubbles

IMG_9621

My son is still blowing bubbles. In his hand in the air, in the bathtub, on the beach, in the pool….you name it. One of his favorite things to do is still put his face in the water and blow. I love that he’s been so easily open to loving water and not being afraid.

Week Five – Windmills

IMG_9641

After legs comes arms.  The cutest, I know. But you have to remember that all these components are leading to building strong, lifetime swimmers. Asphalt Green’s approach is noninvasive, un-forceful and exciting – making the tots want to come back for more each week. 

Takeaways

– As a parent, I realized how important swimming is for kids. It teaches life saving lessons, structure, independence, exercise and self-esteem when the learn they can do it on their own!

– Asphalt Green is probably one of the best non-profit institutions I’ve encountered in NYC. Their facilities are clean, safe, and modernized. Their staff is friendly and helpful. Our swimming teacher, Christian, honestly loved working with the kids and what he was doing – it wasn’t just a pay check. That commitment as a parent is rare and highly regarded. 

– As I mentioned, my son still loves to blow bubbles everywhere, and climbs into the pool by rolling over onto his belly first. The lessons he learned were fun, ingrained and we both can’t wait to continue into another class.

About SwimToday

SwimToday is a first-of-its-kind marketing collaboration within the swimming industry. It is a joint, industry effort created to promote and grow participation in the sport of swimming. The campaign is led by USA Swimming, Arena USA, Speedo USA and TYR Sport, with additional support from the following aquatic organizations: American Swimming Coaches Association, National Swimming Pool Foundation, U.S. Masters Swimming, Colorado Time Systems, Swimming World magazine, TeamUnify, Counsilman-Hunsaker and USA Swimming Foundation. 

To join the fun online, visit the SwimToday Facebook and Twitter pages and view original content including videos, blog posts and celebrity Q&A’s on www.usaswimming.org/swimtoday

About Asphalt Green

Asphalt Green has two locations in NYC – Yorkville and Battery Park City. Families from all over the city travel there, including us, for their highly rated youth sports and after school programs. From swimming (more than 30,000 kids have learned how to swim here!) to summer day camps and mommy and me fitness classes, this massive venue offers something for every age. (They also have on-site babysitting—a huge plus!) Since Asphalt Green is a nonprofit, many of their community programs are either free or low-cost. 

We were provided complimentary swimming classes at Asphalt Green by MomTrends and SwimToday. Thank you for supporting FFM.

Getting Slim with Fiji + Giveaway

13th August 2015

Fiji_Water_Exercise_2124

The trick to enjoying working out is finding the one thing that you love to do. I know – you probably just rolled your eyes at me – but it’s true. If you force yourself to go running when you absolutely hate running, you aren’t going to get anywhere but frustrated and full of resentment. Luckily here in NYC, there is every type of workout/exercise imaginable. I’ve even hung upside down for aerial yoga. 

FullSizeRender

I finally found my niche when I was introduced to spinning. I thought it sounded like something rich house wives with too much money and too much time do to complete with being skinny with each other – but it’s actually pretty effin badass. And the best part? Last week Fiji showed us that their water bottles now actually FIT in the spinning bike! When Nicole and Sherri from Momtrends asked me to join them for a new spin class at Peloton with Fiji, I couldn’t say no. 

This is pretty much a game changer – how many times have you tried and tried to make that square Fiji water bottle fit in your stroller drink holder, or car? *Raises both hands*

So I am happy to say Fiji now fits everywhere you want it to. So now that pretty hibiscus flower water bottle can follow you to spin class, road trips, and even your next walk to mommy and me yoga in the stroller. 

Little TidBits About the New Slim Fiji Bottle

19749546883_b147a46f73_k

– Yes it’s now available nationwide (I just saw them in LaGuardia Airport)! ($2.29)

– For the environmentally-aware: these bottles use the same amount of plastic as the square size.

– These 700mL bottles full of hydration are guaranteed to fit in all water holders – from strollers to cars and yes, spinning bikes! 

Try Fiji Water Delivered To Your Door

Want to hold the bottle and feel the slimness for yourself? Fiji now offers home delivery service – and they want to ship you two months worth of these pretty new slim bottles right to your home. Enter below!

 

 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 This post is sponsored by Fiji and Momtrends. Thanks for keeping us hydrated and slim!

Prepping for Back-to-School {Giveaway}

11th August 2015

Summer is quickly coming to an end which means students, parents and teachers are getting ready to head back to school. A group of us thought we might help celebrate this wonderful time of year by offering a giveaway!

 

The hosting bloggers Suburban Wife, City Life, Six Dollar Family, Raising Three Savvy Ladies, The Chirping Moms, Football, Food and Motherhood and The Frugal Navy Wife, wanted to pull together a giveaway that thinks about more than just the student, but also the teachers, and parents!
Here’s a break down of what the one lucky winner will receive! 

 

Mabel’s Labels –  Combo Pack
If you want to ensure your kids come home with the right stuff make sure you label it. Mabel’s Labels are the best. They don’t bleed, are microwave and dishwasher safe and help give the security of knowing you’ll be able to know.

 

I See Me -personalized Lunchbox and Stickers
Packing lunch can be special for both parents and kids. We love these personalized lunch boxes and that you can even leave them a little note. Plus who doesn’t love stickers with their name on them? Winner gets to pick their pattern of choice. Check out The Chirping Moms thoughts here.

 

Spbang- Back to School Bag in Poppy & Sky
These bags are the best. They work for everything. It doesn’t matter if you’re packing carrots, crayons or a special treat they are great. They have fun colors and even the option to leave a note or reminder. Check out Suburban Wife, City Life’s thoughts here!

 

GoGo Squeez – 1 month supply
Keep the lunch box full with these delicious applesauce packets. No spoon is needed and since it’s all natural and 100% fruit you’ll feel good sending it in. It’s a great snack for all ages, and with tons of different flavors they’ll feel like their getting something different everyday!
Lysol – $25 Prize Pack of Wipes
Parents and teachers will be happy and germ free with thissupplyofLysol disinfecting wipes. It’s so important to have healthy habits and make sure your keeping the germs at bay. These wipes are great at home and at school so make sure you share a pack with your teacher, they’ll appreciate it more than you know.

State BackPack partnered with SoCozy

Every kid should go to school with a new backpack and State is all about helping kids go to school prepared and fashionable. For every bag purchased they donate one to a child in need and they’ve partnered with SoCozy on this bag! Want more info? Check out Raising Three Savvy Ladies

 

Getting ready for school is just as important as making sure you have all your supplies. Make the morning and the kids hair a little smoother with So Cozy hair products. They smell amazing and work magic. Check out Raising Three Savvy Ladies thoughts and a hairstyle here.

 

$25 Amazon Gift Card
Amazon has everything you need to shopping back to school. Use this to fill out that backpack or pick up a few special treats for the teacher!

 

Usborne Books – $50 in books

Just because kids are in school doesn’t mean recreational reading should stop. In fact it’s even more important to read to your little ones or let the bigger ones get lost in a book. From activity books, to neat fiction series, to internet-linked science and history encyclopedias, Usborne does books better.

Crayola- Various Markers

There’s something so special about a new pack of Crayola Markers. It doesn’t matter what age or grade anything from Crayola makes the school year better and you know it’s the teachers choice!

 

What better way to spend the 1st day of school than by having a little you time. After you drop the kids off take a moment and reflect on the the new school year by enjoying this Spa Gift Basket of All-Natural, Handmade Bath and Body Products. What’s even better is the winner gets to pick the scents!

So there you have it almost $400 in prizes for one lucky winner. Make sure you enter today! Valid for US entries only. Will not ship to P.O. Boxes. Must be 18 or older to win. 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Please note all giveaway items will be arriving from different brands. The blogs participating are not responsible for lost or damaged items.

Date Night Now

9th August 2015

sitter cityThere are lots of reasons we don’t get any more date nights. Frankly, spending a night alone on my couch sounds way better most days than actually getting ready and heading out. It’s like getting to the gym for me – I know I really want to go, once I’m there I’ll love it, it’s just the fact of getting out the door. And one of the biggest deterrents? Finding a quality babysitter. Not only can it be work to try and even find one, it’s even harder to trust your most precious possession in the hands of a stranger. 

So, I’ve done the work for you. I’ve tried different services, had people NOT show up, had people show up so late it didn’t even make sense not to go out, cancel on me five minutes before they’re supposed to be walking in my door, AND I have even come home to find blue crayon all over my wall and the babysitter left without even acknowledging it. Um… WTF?

So after all the less than positive experiences, I’ve found one service that I honestly, truly love. 

 Why I Love Date Night Now: Sitter City

Because it’s just like all the other convenient apps we New Yorker’s have grown to love. Just like you order dinner on Seamless when you’re too tired to cook, or an Uber when you’re ready to leave and it’s raining – now you can say, “OMG! Quest Love and the Roots are performing at the Beacon tonight?!” and book a babysitter – that you can rely on. And you can actually go out and have that one-on-one time with your favorite person in the world.

sitter city

Honest Babysitters

IMG_3755

We’ve all seen and read about the horror stories behind babysitting. We know nannies and sitters are more demanding these days – they want access to Seamless accounts, Uber rides home, a share in your summer house in the Hamptons and even a piece of your 401K. Ok – maybe I’m taking it a little far, but one thing people need to understand is that we are moms, too. Just because New Yorker’s have this glamours rich stereotype doesn’t mean we all are. We are normal moms trying to get by just like anyone else – only with $3,000 a month rents and even higher preschool rates. So my point? Sitter City babysitters are genuine. They don’t show up and ask for the wifi password before they even say hi – they actually have fun playdates with your children so you can have a guilt-free night out. They will order a few slices of pizza for movie night and not $100 worth of sushi your child won’t even eat. And, they even send you really super cute photos of them and your child having fun – without being prompted. That’s peace of mind any mom can admit. 

One Set Rate

If there’s one thing New Yorker’s love and respect – it’s brevity. We don’t have time to listen to sales pitches and beat around the bush – we just want to know exactly what we will get upfront, so we can make a decision. The fact that Sitter City has one flat rate  ($17/hour in NYC) and posts it right on their website let’s me know that there’s no BS here. 

Try it and love it – For Free!

I love and stand behind Sitter City so much, that I want you to try and and love it, too. You can enter below to enjoy your own four, blissful hours of time off to do whatever it is you want to do – and you’ll know your child is actually having a good time as well.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Only applies to first time who currently live in Manhattan. 

I’m the Second Favorite Parent – and That’s Okay

8th August 2015

maxandi

My parents separated when I was very young. To be honest, I don’t even remember them ever being together. This was a blessing and a curse—there was no catastrophic moment where our family was ripped apart, yet I never experienced what it was like to have that all-American family life. Because of this, I put off having a family of my own until I knew I would be able to offer that for my own children.

But life doesn’t always work the way you want.

My son turned three this month, and I’ve been home with him ever since he was born. For about six months I barely left his side. He was so portable that I brought him with me to see clients and attend meetings. He would sleep while I would talk business. As he got older, he didn’t grow attached to me, he became strong and independent. I attributed this to the fact that even though he was little, he understood that even though mom might leave, she would always come back. He never cried when I left the house, and he was also never overwhelmed to see me walk back in—it was as if he just knew. It was different with his father who left for work everyday. Max didn’t really understand why he couldn’t stay home with us and watch Thomas on the couch or take a walk to the park.

Once his father and I separated, I noticed that he’d get more upset when his father would leave. When his dad would show up, he would light up with joy and run to him. And then when he would be dropped off, he would cry and scream and not want to leave his dad. For a long time this really pained me. To watch your own son not come running to you—like he does with his other parent—can be a very bitter pill to swallow.

It took some convincing on my part, but as I’ve witnessed it more and more, I’ve come to some realizations that I want to pass on. It’s not easy to be the second favorite parent, but you should take it as a compliment and here’s why:


1. Realize it’s not you

At first I took it really hard and really personal. I would actually cry in private after watching him run to see his dad when he would pick him up, and then not even want to come to my arms when he would return. Then I remembered how he used to also cry when his dad left for work. This is because dad leaves, and he knows that mom doesn’t—mom is always there and because of that, he’s never afraid to leave me. It was hard to accept, but I realized that it was actually a compliment that he could leave me so freely. He wasn’t worried or scared…he knew mom would always be there when he came back. 


2.  Kids are going to favor one parent over the other

It’s inevitable that one parent will be more fun and one will be more disciplinary. Unfortunately, I am also the “less fun” parent. Look, someone has to lay down the rules, and I have accepted that’s me. Since Max spends all day with me, I have to teach him things like how to share his toys, why he can’t eat a box of cookies for breakfast, and how adults make the rules not him. I am the one who has to take him to get shots at the doctors, and I am the one who makes him sit still to get his hair cut. This doesn’t always make me the fun parent. But I’ve accepted it. You have to remember that as a parent, you won’t be able to always make them happy—because happy to them might be to run out in the middle of the streets of New York City. Trust yourself that your decisions are made with their best interest in mind. You’re the parent, not their BFF. The earlier you accept that there will be a few “I hate you” comments and slammed doors along the way, the easier.


 

3. Moms and dads often parent different

Dads are often thought of as the more fun parent—they take kids out and overdose on ice cream or pizza and roll around in germ-infested ball pits (all while us moms sit back and sip our coffee and pretend to not have a focused eye on their every move). Moms can literally hear a knee scrape seconds before it happens and see a bike crash in slow motion. That’s what makes us moms. Just embrace it and stop worrying so much. Picture yourself twenty years from now having dinner with your child for their 23rd birthday—they’ve graduated from a great college, they’re starting a career and moving on with their lives. And yet, they’re still sitting here, with you, telling you about all the great things they’ve accomplished and how they’re going to change the world. Did being the second favorite parent really ever matter? 

Being a parent is extraordinary, awful, self-depreciating, full of joy and insufferable horror all at the same time. Just sit back and enjoy the journey. 

Originally published on MommyNearest.com.

 

Back-to-School Begins – 5 Beginner Tips

5th August 2015

momtrends

I never imagined I would be planning for back-to-school for a three-year old, but after a lot of thought, planning and acceptance, I’ve realized that yes – he’s starting preschool next month. The process of preschool in NYC – I am not even going to get into that. If you really want to know what #firstworldproblems are, just email me. And oh, have about $12,000 minimum ready – not for college – for PRESCHOOL.

Moving on.

Back-to-school is no joke. I remember how much I used to love it – it meant shopping, new clothes, a new Anne Frank trapper keeper and pencils. Oh the good ole days. Now, I have no EFFIN idea how to even pack a preschool lunch. From a picky eater to nut-free schools to labels so a three-year-old doesn’t lose anything, I’ve been pretty much in denial about the entire thing. I mean, hey, that’s what I’m paying them for right? 

Thankfully Momtrends puts on an annual back-to-school bash that brings in lots of important brands and services together for moms to get a grasp on this time of year. Oh, and wine. Thanks Nicole and Sherri for the wine. So anyways, as a newbie, here are five takeaways I’ve realized I really (and any new BTS mom) need:

1. Mabels Labels

labelsGood God put your name on EVERYTHING. These customizable stickers, hard labels for backpacks and even split labels to tell your right shoe from your left shoe are a MUST-HAVE. Do you KNOW how many SkipHop bags are going to be in your class? Yeah, claim yours. Cause your toddler won’t. Throw his name on everything – crayons, pencils, heck even his baby wipes. Get creative, and own it. Thank you Mabels Labels for making this so much fun (more so with booze). My recommendation? Their Little Kids School Combo Pack. PS – these will NOT come off in the washer or dishwasher. Yassssss.

2. Sitter City

IMG_3755Listen, I don’t care if you work from home full time like me, don’t work at all or EFFIN live in another state. Everyone needs a backup babysitter on speed dial. Everyone. And I’ve been through a few of them – because believe it or not, they aren’t all five-stars. Seriously – one time I came home to her sitting on the couch and blue crayon all over my walls like it wasn’t there. WTF. So let me just tell you how HAPPY I am to be able to rely on Sitter City. Punctual, reliable and sweet. Here is mine – she even sends me cute pics like this – but I’m not telling you her name so you can steal her. Cause that’s what NYC moms do. But trust me when I say, you want Sitter City on speed dial when you know you just need to go spend an hour in the spa getting a manicure before you lose your sh** or surprise your significant other with a fancy dinner out – that they’re buying. You’re welcome. 

3. Disinfectant

lysol

This is more for your teacher. She’ll gonna love you. Living in NYC we’ve learned a few things about nasty, dirty things that you can touch, lick and sit in. Now add germ-infested little kids snotting on each other all day. Yeah, you get the picture – load up on the bacteria killers. Lysol disinfecting wipes kill up to 99.9% of germs, and your teacher can’t have enough of them. And you’re going to want to spray down your kids clothes and shoes each day they come home. Plus it’s cheaper than installing a fumigation tent in your backyard or balcony.

4. Shoes 

I don’t know anything that ruins shoes faster than the NYC sidewalks – that is until I learned about school. Schools will literally eat your children’s shoes. And fast. You need get a pair of durable, affordable kicks that will last on playgrounds, dirt and hot concrete and snow. Stride Rites are great because they have a nice long shelf life. And they’re easy to find – you can almost find them in any store that sells kids clothes/shoes.

5. Organization

october

Congrats! You just landed yourself a full-time social life! Between parent-teacher conferences, parent workshops, fundraising, school nights, field trips and playdates, you’re gonna need to keep it all in line. People always laugh when they see my wall calendar since I work in technology (shouldn’t my schedule be electronic?), but I find it a lot easier to see it right in front of me everyday. That way I don’t go F!!!! I forgot to make cookies or FFFF tomorrow is my day to bring snacks for the class. No one needs that extra stress. Save yourself the first-year schedule pains with one of these super cute Wall Pops reusable and removable calendars. 

Well, let’s see how I do and if these recommendations hold true – hopefully I don’t have full blown mid-life meltdown with BTS – stay tuned!

Why We Should All Start Canning Again + Giveaway

1st August 2015

IMG_9900

Farm life. Man it was good. As I get older, I remember more and more of the things I used to do with my gram: grow our own veggies and flower gardens, bake real cookies and not worry about calories, enjoy fresh, raw milk from the cow and trade up for eggs with our Amish neighbors.

One of the things I forgot was how my gram would can pretty much everything. We had an entire pantry in our basement full of jar after jar of fruits, jams, and veggies. I always remembered a ton of green beans and sitting around a full kitchen table of them snapping the ends all afternoon while sipping on iced tea and watching gram prep all the jars.

So I thought – why am I not canning now? It’s a brilliant and super easy tradition. Basically if you can boil water, you can preserve food for the winter. Since we’re all big about fresh, seasonal foods all summer, why don’t we save them for enjoying during those cold winter months? We didn’t go out and order food or get tomatoes in the winter at the store, we ate what we have saved up from summer. I can’t believe I didn’t get into this sooner! Plus, it’s a super fun activity for the kids – who doesn’t love to smash berries??

How to start canning

IMG_9982

First, you’re going to want to figure out which fruits and veggies you’ll want to save. Then you’re going to want to get the Ball Blue Book: Complete Guide to Preserving- which will tell you EVERYTHING you need to know. (Fruits and tomatoes are easiest because they can preserve in a water bath, while veggies like beans need a pressure cooker – aka higher heat – to preserve). 

This is the water bath canning kit I use.

Favorite Recipes

The easiest way to get started with canning is with fruit. Depending on the season, make a jam with the abundant berry available. 

Blueberry Lemon Jam

I use 4 cups of smashed blueberries to 2 1/2 cup sugar (you can use more!). Then I like to squeeze in the juice of one full lemon, and a little lemon rind zest. Heat on high until a steady boil (be sure to stir constantly so it doesn’t stick). After about 10 minutes the berries will become a syrupy deliciousness. Pour into a hot jar and then boil in a steady boil for about 10 minutes (for a pint jar) or 15 minutes (for a quart jar). 

Homemade Tomato Sauce

IMG_9988

I make this all. the. time. Follow my favorite recipe here, and then add it to a hot jar and a steady boil water bath for 35 minutes. 

Really want to get started? Join a live webinar with Ball

On Sunday August 2nd, Jarden Home Brands will host this year’s fifth annual Can-It-Forward Day, broadcast live online at FreshPreserving.com from 11AM – 4PM EST from the new state-of-the-art Jarden Home Brands headquarters in Fishers, Indiana. An event celebrating the joys of fresh preserving, Can-It-Forward Day encourages gardeners & food enthusiasts across the country to celebrate what “Made From Here” means to them by fresh preserving their favorite local ingredients in peak season. The webcast will have an integrated chat function where viewers can submit their home canning questions to be answered in real time. New this year, there will also be an exciting celebrity mason jar auction unveiled during the webcast.

Win a set of jars to get started!

If you have a large, covered pot – all you need are pint jars to get started! Enter here to win your own set and become a canner this summer!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Donate your Breast Pump and Love with #MedelaRecycles

31st July 2015

FullSizeRender (1)

Let’s start from the end of the story and work backwards this time. It was a gloomy day in Pittsburgh (as it typically is). Humid, sweaty, and tired (Maximo had missed his nap), we were walking back to our car about to embark on the seven-hour drive back to New York City. I was a little annoyed with his fussiness, and snapped briefly to remind him to stay “on the sidewalk.” As we were walking on the narrow concrete, we encountered another family walking in. Maximo came face-to-face with another little boy about his age, slightly taller, completely hairless (the telltale sign of chemotherapy and cancer), with a blank emotion on his face. This boy was holding a pack of bubbles. They both looked at each other for a few moments before I took M’s hand and guided him on his way with a friendly head nod to his weary looking mother and sibling. In true Maximo fashion, he turned around and waved and yelled, “Buh Bye!” The other boy waved back as they disappeared around the corner.

Now I know nothing about this family, but I welled up with emotion. For all the little idiosyncrasies that can get to us each day, and how we laugh and crack jokes about our happy, healthy, spoiled, entitled children – we need to realize how fortunate we really are. I don’t know what this family is going through, but I know whatever it is, it was a lot more trying and challenging than our seven-hour drive full of music, Chic-fil-A and pee stops. 

So why was I in Pittsburgh and hanging out at the Ronald McDonald House that day? Let me give you a little background:

#MedelaRecycles

13575060 Medela RMH Pittsburgh

Having been a breastfeeding mom myself (we made it six months!), I know how difficult it can be. It’s a full-blown commitment when you don’t have anything else to worry about – like a baby in the NICU. I’ve seen and helped many friends work tirelessly at these efforts, breastfeeding doesn’t always come easily, including a mom having to leave the NICU to come home and pump on zero sleep to try and maintain that milk supply for the little girl waiting back for her in the Children’s Hospital. These pumps at the RMCH will help change that. And if I can make even the slightest change to help make another mom’s life just that much easier, I am happy to help.  

I want to take a moment to really thank Medela for inviting us to be the Pittsburgh ambassador for their #MedelaRecycles program. Thanks to them, we’ve been donating hospital-grade breast pumps all around the country this year, including two here in my hometown at the Ronald McDonald House of Pittsburgh

Supporting RMHC Families 

13520990 Medela RMH Pittsburgh

With nearly 40% of the families served by RMHC caring for babies in the NICU, Medela asked RMHC to support mothers who choose to breastfeed their babies. In an effort to provide greater ease and comfort to RMHC families, while reducing the stress of having a baby in the NICU, Medela will provide moms with the same high-quality equipment they use at the hospital for their stay at a Ronald McDonald House.

13041060 Medela RMH Pittsburgh

13152010 Medela RMH Pittsburgh

As of writing this post – 4,536 pumps have been donated – are you next?

How You Can Donate Your Own Breast Pump

12563100 Medela RMH Pittsburgh

Medela is asking you to recycle your own breast pumps. I know you’re thinking – how does that work and is it sanitary? YES!  You can print a shipping label here, and Medela will pick up the cost to send your Medela electric motor back to them. 

Is it hard to part with your pump?  I’ve taken my portable pump pretty much everywhere – including a Pittsburgh Steelers football game. I don’t need to elaborate on how fun it was to explain to the security guard what I was trying to smuggle into the stadium. But sometimes you just have to let go. Mine was sitting in storage for almost two and a half years. Will I use one again? Maybe. But why should I continue to hold on to something that is a “maybe” when it can immediately be offering help to someone in dire need of it.

Sometimes we go through the motions – we think about our actions and our decisions and how they may affect others, but we never really get to see that action ripple through time. This time I did. I realized that just this one act of kindness and giving would change someone’s life. It would make it easier, if only for a brief moment in time. And that’s what it’s all about right?