Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Motherhood ~ World's Toughest Job

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Cardstore.

If you read, watch, or listen to anything, I am sure you are often reminded that Mother's Day is coming up. While the reminders may seem a bit redundant and unnecessary, I think many people often forget just how special Mother's Day really is.

I am not judging at all, in fact, just the opposite. I am all to guilty of forgetting how much my mother did for me and how hard the job really is. I definitely don't show all the gratitude she deserves or tell her I love her nearly often enough.

As adults, we are usually busy worrying about our own lives and what we need to do, so it is easy to forget all that was done for you as a child (and to this day) by your mother. As a mother myself I often think of all that I do, and sometimes I still neglect to think how hard it was for my mom, who for a great deal of our lives, raised us on her own.

This video does a great job at reminding us exactly what being a mother entails. It really is the World's Toughest(and  most under-appreciated) Job.
It is really refreshing to see something like this from CardStore. It really helps remind people just how significant Mother's Day really is. It also serves to show that showing appreciation for moms should be something that we do every day, and not just one day a year.


Still there is a day dedicated to honoring mothers, and I intend to make the very most of it. I just made my mom a card at Cardstore.com. There are so many options and they offer personalization. Not just in colors, fonts, and photos, but custom wording too. You can basically create your own card from top to bottom, but the awesome templates really make it easy.


I love that the card I made is completely unique to her. No other mom in history will have this card, just like no one( except my siblings) will have a mother like mine. Best of all, Cardstore will create, print, stamp and send the card directly to her and ensure it arrives on time.

With Cardstore I can create the perfect card efficiently rather than search through a whole isle only to find one that is "good enough". With everything my mom has done for me, I feel that is the very least I could do to show her how much I care.

Until I became a mother, I thought I knew how tough it was. now that I have kids of my own, I realize I wasn't even close. I have a 6 1/2 year old son who has autism. I had no idea what to expect and did not even realize until he was nearly 3 that he was different than most children.

Since his diagnosis, I have found so many ways to help teach him and work on his behavior and social skills. It is a daily struggle above and beyond just parenting, but to see him make such incredible progress is so inspiring and fills me with more pride than I could ever express.

Since then I've also been blessed with a 2 1/2 year old girl. She is so strong-willed and independent, but she wants to be just like her big brother. As much as I need to watch her every second, she is convinced she never needs help and that she is in charge. I am sure that will lead her to greatness later in life, and watching her gain confidence with every passing day is a joy.

And to think, all the struggles I've faced as a mother to this point are only the tip of the iceberg. My mother had 4 children, and she had to raise them through late child years(around 10), tween, teen and even adulthood. You never outgrow your mother's guidance, and if anything need it more as you age and face bigger struggles.

I am so thankful to my mom for raising us the way she did, and I only hope that my kids are looking back thinking the same thing when they are my age. Because while motherhood is the World's Toughest Job it is also, truly, the most rewarding job as well.

If you think American Greetings missed something in the World’s Toughest Job description list,  then head over to http://po.st/jZxAGd, and discuss what you think they left out.

If you have a Super Mom, please be sure to show her how much you appreciate her this Mother's Day. Whether it is with heartfelt gift, a kind word, a fancy dinner, a bouquet of flowers or(and) a beautiful custom card from Cardstore.com.

If you do choose the latter, you can use coupon code CCF4449 to get your card for $2.49. The code is valid Apr 24 - May 5. 

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Cardstore.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Let's Play School Review

Just as most little girls, my daughter loves dolls. She has so many, and every time she gets a new one, her face still lights up. Even though she likes all dolls, with her having so many, I only want to get her another if it is special in some way.


It's not every day that I fall in love with a doll, so when I saw the Let's Play School set from Nenuco, and fell in love with it, it was a really special occurrence. I knew I had to get it for her.
She was even more excited than I expected her to be. I couldn't even get a picture without her touching it.

What makes this set so special though, is that it's so much more than a beautiful doll.
It is about school and my daughter gets to be the teacher.
Anything that gets her excited about learning is a huge asset, but this set is even more than that.

My son goes to school and he is his sister's hero. She goes with me to take him to the bus stop, and she always wants to go with him. She doesn't understand why he has to go and why she can't go along. I've tried to explain that he needs to go do work and learn, but it's hard to make her understand.

I think this set is perfect for her to start learning about what school is and what goes on there. She'll be going soon enough, and this is a great way to prep her early. Not to mention the fact that there is real learning involved, which is even more awesome.

There are so many fabulous accessories to make real lessons that my daughter can both learn from and eventually "teach" to her very own student.
Everything is stored right in the convenient door and pouch on the reverse side of the school, so nothing gets lost and is always on hand for easy storage, travel and play.
This is just such a fun set. I think I like playing with it as much as my little girl does. It is so precious how excited she gets when it's "time for school", and I cannot wait to see the progress she is sure to make because of this.

I think it's going to be hard for any future dolls to top this one. If you are looking for a unique, entertaining, educational toy I can't think of anything more fitting than the Let's Play School set from Nenuco.

And be sure to follow Nenuco on Facebook to be in the loop of all the great products and even giveaways(hint hint).

*Although I received this at no cost to facilitate a review, all opinions are 100% my own.*

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Clawz Review

Now that warm weather has arrived, it is all about the outdoors. From the backyard to the park to the beach to the pool and everything in between.

That means a lot of running, jumping, climbing, and of course, walking. All of which depends on having proper footwear. You can expect to start of on the right foot in the wrong pair of shoes, especially not when you're only 2 1/2 years old.

Such is the case with my daughter. She is beyond active, and I worry about every thing that could possibly happen to hurt from tripping to slipping to getting a blister. I never want my daughter to feel pain, especially not if there is any way to avoid it.

So I was on the hunt to find her the perfect pair of shoes. That may seem like a simple task, but there are so many factors to consider. I obviously want them to be comfortable on her. they need to fit well and not rub or cause blisters, they need to stay on securely though, and have good traction so she does not slip in them or slide out of them.

It is important that the shoes be able to be played in obviously. I want to make sure they can handle all the activity she will put them through, shoes that get ruined by dirt or water are not going to work. And although it is less important than the function aspects, there is the point of style to consider. My daughter may be young, but she knows what she likes, and if she is not happy, good luck getting her to wear them.

Sounds like I'm wishing for something too good to be true, but guess what, I found all of those qualities in one incredible shoe, Clawz.

Not only are these shoes fun and unique, they are made from durable, comfortable, odor-resistant material, so they can take a beating and never miss a step(pun intended). Not only that but they have grips on the inside, so no slipping out and great tread on the bottom to keep her feet firmly on the ground, even when her head is in the clouds.

Best of all, she LOVES them. I could barely take the picture before she snatched them from me, and it seems like she has not taken them off since, although she actually has, but only briefly. She wears them everywhere, even in the house.

They are so perfect for outside play. We have used them in the back yard, climbing on our swingset, playing tag, and such. She wears them when we go on walks, and they are great on concrete and asphalt. They are great in soft sand and can easily be rinsed no matter what gets on them.

We are taking a mini getaway this weekend where we will be at the pool and the beach, and I cannot wait to have these along. Last time was a footwear nightmare trying flip flops. She got blisters and her feet slipped out several times. It was not good.

Now I just need to get a pair for my son. I wish I had done it in time for this trip as well, because I am going to regret not having them for him. I am still going to get him one right away though, because he loves hers and has tried to put them on multiple times. he doesn't care that they're pink and if they would fit him I know he'd never give them back. Good thing Clawz come in so many awesome colors.

Clawz are totally worth every cent, but it's always nice to save money, that's why I am so excited to share an exclusive coupon code with you all. Use Code andrea30 at checkout to receive 30% off your Claws. You also get free shipping on orders over $45. The coupon is good through May 20th. Happy shopping. I know you will love your new Clawz.

*Although I received these at no cost to facilitate a review, all opinions are 100% my own.*

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Get In The Swing Of Baseball Season With Baby Fanatic

It's that time again. Baseball season is upon us, which means victories and losses, friendly (and not so friendly) team rivalries, pageantry, excitement an a whole lot of team spirit. If you are a fanatic like I am and my husband is, then you take team spirit to a whole new level. You wear it on your sleeve, literally, and anywhere else you can.

We are definitely proud fans, and having our clothes or accessories reflect that is important. Any chance we have to show our team loyalty, we take it. So when I saw that I could get MLB, NFL and other sports fan gear from Baby Fanatic I was super excited.

I wish I would have discovered this when my children were younger and still used bottle, pacifiers, bibs and all of the other cool items that Baby Fanatic offers. My little girl does use sippy cups though which just happens to be one of the great items available.

My daughter may not even know it yet, but she is a huge sports fan. Just being in this family makes her an inherent sports fan, and what better way for her to let that shine than with awesome fan gear sippy cups?

Since it is currently baseball season, of course, I went with hubby's and my team, the NY Yankees.
 
Now she can let her pinstripes show all season long. Of course I love the design, but I also love that they are BPA free and spill-proof. She spills enough already, so that helps me out a lot.

And although it's not football season yet, it always in in spirit in this house, so we had to get her NY Giants ones too.
She loves all of her new cups so much. Not only are they cute and new, but she feels special having something that no one else has. I told her they were her big girl cups, and she really likes that.
She's so proud of her cups. The fact that daddy loved them so much is what really makes her like them. He shows her his "matching" sports gear and she "watches" the games with us sometimes. It;s so fun sharing our passion with her and creating traditions. It's funny how something as simple as a plastic cup can be part of something so meaningful.

If you have a little sports fan in training, I highly recommend starting them off with Baby Fanatic. I am so impressed with their products and I know you will be to.

Be sure to check them out on Facebook too, so you never miss any of the action.

I'd love to know what team you support. Comment to show your team pride.

*Although I received these at no cost to facilitate a review, all opinions are 100% my own.*

Saturday, April 12, 2014

SPRING FLING! Zipz Customs for Autism Awareness! Plus Enter to Win a Custom Pair!

Though the Spring Fling Blog Pop event is coming to a close, spring is only beginning. With the cold weather in the rear-view mirror, it's time to shove the boots back in the closet and break out the warm weather shoes.

I know that many people think of sandals for this. As much as I love sandals, I don't agree. To me, spring is all about enjoying the outdoors and being active. Sandals are just not practical for athletic activity(or chasing kids for that matter).

So in the spring I always rock my sneakers. Another great thing about spring is leaving all the drab and dreary tones behind and stepping into bright colors and fun, bold patterns. What better way to stand out then with a one of a kind pair of shoes?

Shoes are a girl's best friend after all. But if you have the right kind of shoe - over-the-top, nothing else like them, edgy, fun, rock star of a shoe - they can be a guys best friend too. It's rare when one style is applicable to both men and women, but Zipz is anything buy ordinary, and that is what makes them so awesome.

If you have never heard of Zipz shoes, you have already been missing out. Zipz are unisex sneakers that allow you to change up one pair into almost endless design choices by simply unzipping the covers and replacing them with new ones.

Not only does this save space, but it saves money. Now you don't have to buy a whole pair every time you want a new style. Better still, since the soles are the same no matter which covers you choose, you once you get a pair, you already know exactly how they fit, and you won't have to worry about sizing or breaking in a new pair each time.

Also, since they are the same exact height and such if you wanted to wear two different style shoes, you could do so in perfect comfort since structurally, the shoes would be exactly the same. What better way to really stand out. I know a lot of people who love to be more bold with their styles, and they love that aspect of Zipz.

As completely fantastic as the concept of Zipz Shoes is, it gets even better when you factor in the ability to create a completely custom pair thanks to Delta Custom. Not only can you swap covers as you see fit, but you can custom design your covers to be anything that you want. Want a purple penguin atop a rainbow? No problem. Want your kids' names and/or even photos of them? Sure thing. The possibilities are ENDLESS!

I had the incredible pleasure last year to create a pair of custom Zipz for my son, my husband and myself, in honor of Autism Awareness Month(since our son has autism). They are the most amazing shoes I have ever owned(or even seen).
I wrote a review on them, so if you want to see more pictures of these, you can do so here.

Since it is once again Autism Awareness Month, I could think of no better way to raise awareness,  celebrate spring, and take the Spring Fling Event to a new level of awesomeness than designing another pair of custom Zipz.

I was so full of ideas that is was both easy and very difficult to know what I wanted. I could think of so many things that would have looked amazing, but had a hard time narrowing it down to one final design. Such a hard time in fact, that I ended up with 2 designs unable to decide, so in addition to the review, I purchased another design I had come up with.

The ones I finally decided on to get myself and my husband(matching), are really awesome.
They will be the boldest shoes I've ever worn and I love that they will attract a ton of attention which will really help with raising awareness. I still get comments on my other pair all the time, and everyone who asks learns about autism, even if it is just the slightest bit in passing.

I cannot wait to get these so I can wear them everywhere and show off my design. The pic above was taken by Zipz before they shipped out, and I am even more anxious seeing how awesome they look as a finished product, because during the design process, you only see a proof.

These are much brighter than my husband is used to wearing, but I can't wait to see him fall in love with these as the cause is so near and dear to both of our hearts. For those that do not know about autism, the puzzle design is one of the signature symbols for autism. For some it represents the mystery and complexity of the disorder, for others it represents the mechanical nature of an autistic persons thought process. The bright colors are said to represent hope.

To me, it symbolizes that all people are part of the human puzzle. Without even one piece, the puzzle would be incomplete, and if all the pieces were the same, they would not fit together and would not be able to create any kind of picture. It also symbolizes that if we all work together, were can complete the puzzle(which is the mystery of autism's cause and treatments).

I chose the phrasing of "My son puts the AWE in autism" because in my mind it is completely true. While autism is nothing anyone would wish for, many see it is a crippling disorder and views individuals who have it as damaged in some way.

I hate that sort of thinking and I know that my son is still an incredible boy. He is (exceptionally)smart and funny. he is loving and kind, and he continues to amaze me with his progress and positive outlook on life. I think many "normal" people could learn a few lessons from those who struggle with autism(or any other disorder). Not only about seeing all people as equal(which my son does), but about pushing yourself and overcoming the limits that society sets for you.

The "Born to stand out" pretty much speaks for itself. My son is one of a kind. All people are, but in life people tend to get lumped together by stereotypes. there are the "normal" people, the "superior" people(celebrities, wealthy, etc), and their are those seen as outcasts, which by societies standards, my son would likely be. I couldn't possibly be any happier about that. I don't want him to be like everyone else, or even want to be. I want him to always be proud of who he is and be glad he stands out.

Here is the other design I was torn on.
I love these because they still stand out, but with the cleaner background, the message is easier to read. I also love the light bulb with autism puzzle piece. To me it is a reminder to always let your light shine on the world, whether you have autism or not.

I also like say it should serve as a reminder to enlighten yourself. If you don't know something about a disorder or any subject, you should never pass judgement about it. Blue is also the color of Autism Speaks which is one of the largest autism awareness organizations in the world.

Of course any design can be interpreted in any number of ways, and that is what I love about it. My design could possibly inspire someone in a way I never even intended. Keep your eyes out too, because you know I have to show these off when they arrive. I'd love to hear what you think about them.

Since designs can be so powerful, I want to give one of you the chance to design a pair of your own custom Zipz. This is an incredible prize that can end up being anything you want it to be. For your chance to win, enter below.

And be sure to check out all the other Spring Fling Giveaways from myself and my partner blogs HERE. Good luck!


*Although I received these at no cost to facilitate a review, all opinions are 100% my own.*
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, April 11, 2014

SPRING FLING! Blast Zone Review and GIVEAWAY!! Win a Spray N Splash 2 inflatable WATER PARK!!

If you've followed my site for awhile, I am sure you have seen my past reviews for Blast Zone, like the Commercial Moonwalk I review around Christmas.. If that is the case, I must assume you've been dying to own a Blast Zone inflatable for yourself. The Blast Zone giveaways are always THE hottest giveaways I host, and for very good reason.

With spring upon us, the weather is starting to warm up. In our case here in Florida, it is already getting incredible hot much of the time. Naturally, finding ways to enjoy time outdoors while still staying cool is challenging but quite important, especially when yo have kids.

My kids love to be outside, but I need to keep them from overheating, keep them from wandering and keep them happy and active. As challenging as it may sound, actually doing it is even more difficult. With a 2 1/2 diva who tries to be the boss of everything(and always wants to be independent). and a nearly 7 year old with autism, I need to have two eyes on both kids at all times, not to mention be within arms reach.

It's rare that I find things that they both can do together happily, without fighting and without getting hurt. Out of the very few activities I have been able to do with them both, Blast Zone is responsible for 90% of them. Their products are just so much fun. They are incredibly high quality and they are safe.

I've never had more confidence in any brand I don't think, at least not for my children. I've never had a bad experience with Blast Zone. Not only are their Bounce Houses, Inflatable Water Parks and Commercial Inflatables second to none, but so is their service.

With the hot weather coming, I knew just where to go to get my kids something to make their spring and summer magical. Since my kids are very rough on things, I wanted to get them one of the Commercial Inflatable Slides this time, so I went with the Mystic Mountain 18, and let me tell you, it is IMPRESSIVE.

I was blown away by the quality of this slide, and I was really shocked by how thick and durable(and HEAVY) it is. In fact, it was actually heavier than I was bargaining for making it a little more of a workout to set up and take down than I was prepared for, but it is so worth it.

Blast Zone is so amazing that they even sent along a dolly to help me move it, which is a lifesaver. As much as I LOVE this slide, I would recommend that if you are just looking for something for everyday home use, to go with a residential unit, as this is a lot of work. I've owned a residential water slide too, and the kids loved it just as much, and it was amazing quality too.

But back to the Mystic Mountain 18. It is out of this world awesome. As soon as the kids saw it their eyes almost bugged out of their heads and my son said(with a voice of astonishment), "It's the biggest slide in the world!" He pretty close with that claim, it's taller than our house(by like 6 feet).

The slide can be used both wet and dry, which is great because even in cooler weather you can get a lot of use from it. I made the "mistake" of having them use it with water first, and now that is their favorite way. When I let them try it dry, they still liked it, but not as much. I don't think they understand it's meant for both and thought I was trying to gyp them or something.

Check out how much fun they had on it with the water. I had to literally make them come inside when it started getting dark, lol. It had already been like 4 hours at that point. They wanted to play on it all night.

Little Diva wanted to slide, and I took her several times, but she is not able to climb up on her own, and I was worried she'd get hurt if she tried, but she still had a blast going with me and hanging out in the landing area below. It was like her own mini pool.

Jr. loved the "pool" area too, she was sitting, laying, jumping and splashing up a storm.


Of course, Jr. could slide on his own, so he was having a blast doing that too. He was a little apprehensive at first using his arms and legs to regulate his speed, but he loosened up and had fun every time.
Every time he "landed" he was so excited about making "a really BIG splash!" It was so precious to watch him, and little sis was entertained just by seeing him have fun. She adores her big brother.

I love how much fun they have on this fabulous slide. I had a great time too. I have yet to go down solo since little diva always wants to come along, and I can't get wild with her for fear of hurting her, but I plan to go to town on my own one day soon and see how much fun I can really have. Even with a tag along it is a blast.

As I mentioned, the kids, especially Jr. were not as excited for the dry run, but they still did have fun.

I know they will love the dry slide just as much as the water slide as soon as they get over the trauma they suffered by me trying to let them try something different, lol. They may even grow to love it more since there is less chance of slipping and then can jump around more without me doing so nervous(and telling them to stop).

In fact, little diva was using the center leading up to the steps like it was a Bounce House. The whole time saying "boing, boing". It was too darn cute.

As I mentioned before, the only thing that is even somewhat of a flaw is the huge size and weight for me and hubby to handle. But that only comes from the superior quality, and durability of the design and the materials. I would be more upset if it was light and thin. This thing is made to last.

I wish everyone could have the pleasure of enjoying this Mystic Mountain Slide(party at my house anyone?) or any of Blast Zone's Inflatable Bouncers. Although I can't do that, I can do the next best thing and give one of you lucky readers the chance to win a Spray N Splash 2 Water Park of your very own.
http://www.blastzone.com/shop/pc/Spray-N-Splash-2-Inflatable-Water-Park-3p71.htm#.U0h4HFe3U_Y

Enter below for your chance to win this incredible prize. And be sure to check out all the other Spring Fling Giveaways from myself and my partner blogs HERE. Good luck!

Also, I suggest you like Blast Zone on Facebook subscribe to the Blast Zone Chanel on Youtube to ensure you always stay informed.

*Although I received this item at no cost to facilitate a review, all opinions are 100% my own.*
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, April 10, 2014

SPRING FLING! California Delicious Review & GIVEAWAY!

The excitement of the Spring Fling Event continues. When I think of spring, a huge part of that to me is Easter. And an Easter celebration means a fabulous Easter basket. Whether you celebrate Easter or not though, everyone can appreciate a beautiful and delicious basket of treats.

California delicious is all about delicious gift baskets and Easter is just one facet of their incredible selection. I am a food lover, and if I have a basket of delicious gourmet foods, there is no stopping me, which is a serious risk to my waistline.

Thankfully, California Delicious has a great selection of baskets that are beautiful, delicious AND healthy. I chose the California Farmer's Market Gift Basket, and it was fantastic!
This basket is brimming with fresh, delicious, organic California fruit like Granny Smith and Red Delicious apples, Bartlet pears and Navel oranges.
In addition to the fabulous fruit, this basket also contains two organig gourmet cheeses and some stone ground wheat crackers.

I was so excited to did into this basket. Almost as excited as my daughter, so was swiping things at every opportunity.
Everything was so delicious. I loved being able to indulge in these tasty snacks without feeling guilty. All the fruit was ripe and sweet, and the cheeses were so creamy and flavorful. The crackers were fantastic. I enjoyed them with the cheeses and with some hummus, and I have been craving more of them ever since. I need to find somewhere to buy them.

I am so impressed with the quality and affordability of this basket. I am just looking for excuses now to buy more. Easter, flag day, talk like a pirate day, I don't care, every day is better with a little gourmet treat.

Whether you are looking for a fantastic Easter Basket, something to celebrate spring, an unforgettable gift or "just because" treat for yourself, I highly recommend California Delicious. And while I am partial to the fruit and healthier baskets, they have plenty with chocolates and other indulgent treats as well. There is something for everyone and then some.

One of my lucky readers will get to find out first hand how great their stuff is since we are giving away a $50 Gift Card good for anything from California Delicious. Enter below for your chance. Good luck.

Don't forget to check out all the other Spring Fling Giveaways from myself and my partner blogs HERE.

*Although I received this at no cost to facilitate a review, all opinions are 100% my own.*

a Rafflecopter giveaway