TIC Holiday 101: The Babysitter Checklist

IMG_7969

 

Holiday season is officially in full swing (we even have some cooler temperatures out here in SoCal to show for it), and today I have some important tips when it comes to leaving your kids with babysitters or other caregivers during holiday time.  This Target Inner Circle Holiday 101 post is written in support of Target’s My Kind of Holiday campaign, but the information is written specifically for all of you.

The holiday season brings endless to-do lists, multiple parties, and presents to purchase, wrap, and hide.  Chances are the you will need a babysitter a few times to give you some much-needed space to do all of that purchasing, wrapping, and hiding…and maybe even to attend a party or two without bringing the whole crew along.

Whether you rely on family, use a trusted babysitter who knows the kids well, or bring someone new into the mix (holiday time can make it difficult to book your favorites), it’s important to have a very specific plan and list of numbers at the ready.  Holiday season is also flu season, sleep deprivation season, and overstimulation season.  The more you prepare your caregivers, the better off your kids will be.  And it will also give you peace of mind.

Enter the babysitter checklist. A specific list of phone numbers, schedules, mealtimes, and other activities can truly east the transition and help keep your home happy and healthy.

The Babysitter Checklist 

  • Your mobile phone # (don’t assume it’s stored and/or easy to locate).
  • Your plan (where you’re headed, even if it includes multiple stops)
  • Pediatrician’s phone number including an after-hours line or procedure for paging
  • Your nearest PREFERRED urgent care center (include the phone number and directions)
  • Phone # for the nearest friend or relative who can be there in ten minutes or less.  Let them know they’re on call.
  • Phone numbers for poison control, local police department, and local fire department.  (Did you know that calling 911 from your mobile phone means the call bounces off the nearest tower and might not get to the nearest police station or fire department?  Program local #’s into your phone for faster response time.)
  • Medications your child needs (or might need) with SPECIFIC instructions
  • Location of medical items:  Thermometer, fever reducers, nebulizers, inhalers, etc.  Make it easy on them!
  • FOOD ALLERGIES!!!!!  List ALL food allergies, even if you think that your babysitter already knows them.
  • Approved snack list. This is particularly important for parents of children with food allergies.  Take the guesswork out of snack time by preparing the snacks ahead of time or posting an approved list on the fridge.
  • Bedtime routine:  Be specific here.  If your child likes three renditions of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star before bed, say that.  Exhaustion and overstimulation can trigger separation anxiety.
  • Favorite hiding places.  Some kids hide when they’re sad or worried.
  • Meal schedules.  Help reduce hunger-related meltdowns by sticking to a schedule.  Plan meals ahead and the time that your kids normally eat.
  • Downtime activities.  Babysitters and caregivers can be fun.  But when the fun never ends it can result in overstimulation and exhaustion.  Provide a list of quiet time activities and transitional activities to help the kids decompress.
  • Screen time rules:  Leave a list of approved TV shows and length of TV time allowed.

When it comes to downtime activities for the kids, Target has you covered with crafting kits and other art supplies.  Everything from gingerbread house kits to foam Santa’s Workshop kits will keep your kids crafting and calm while mom and dad are away!

IMG_7985

Time spent crafting and creating and having fun at home?  Now that’s #mykindofholiday!

IMG_7967

Little hands having fun always make a holiday merry and bright…

IMG_7962

What did I miss?  What’s on your babysitter checklist?

Disclosure:  As a member of the Target Inner Circle (TIC), I am given exclusive access to the brand and promotions so that I can get the information to you.  I was given crafting materials to get my kids in the holiday crafting spirit.  As always, all opinions in this post are my own.  



Pin It

My Kind of Holiday: The Kid Detective (Giveaway!)

photo-275

Many kids write a holiday list sometime around the beginning of December.  They tend to have certain “must have” items in mind.  But you might find that those must have items change as the holiday approaches.  It can be hard to figure out what they really want versus what they want because someone else has it right now.  And once you do figure out a specific list…then you have to figure out where to hide everything.  What’s a mom to do?

That’s where Target comes in.  The first thing you want to do is look through Target’s Kids’ Gift List to find the perfect gifts for your little (and not so little) ones.  Then you need to think about storing the gifts in sneaky spots and creative presentation.

This year Target teamed up with retired CIA intelligence officer Jonna Mendez to help moms determine what gifts their kids want the most this holiday season – and how to possibly store those gifts when the kids seem to be just about everywhere…

Jonna is both a mother and a grandmother, too, so she knows a thing or two about preparing for the holidays!

I followed a few of Jonna’s tips on hiding gifts around the house, and I was pleasantly surprised by the wonderful hiding places that I never even considered prior to this little exercise.

Check this out:

 

Target Kids’ Detective Tips: Clever Storage Phase

Shopping and finding the perfect gifts are only half the battle, now you need to find clever ways to hide the gifts without the kids finding them!  Since Santa visits my house, looking for hidden gifts isn’t really an issue…but still, you have to find the best spots (birthdays require gift storage, too).

  • Kids’ Gift Detective Tip #1:  Hide the gifts in plain sight.  Parents often go to great lengths to hide gifts in what tend to be the most obvious places for kids to look (or they lose them – I wouldn’t know anything about that, though).  Try hiding gifts in boxes that are always stored in the garage or laundry room, under the sink behind the “do not touch” cleaning products, or in the linen closet behind the guest towels.  Kids expect gifts to be completely hidden and not easily accessible.
  • Kids’ Gift Detective Tip #2:  Disguise the gifts as everyday items.  For smaller gifts, try hiding them in your sock drawer…inside the socks.  Or consider hiding them in a healthy box of “mom and dad” cereal that the kids won’t touch.  For larger gifts, hide them in suitcases that are rarely used.
  • Kids’ Detective Tip #3:  Hide the gifts at someone else’s house.  If you have older kids or kids that are sneaky, ask a relative or friend to store your top gifts.  Or how about at the office?

Be sure to visit ABullseyeView for more great Kid’s Detective tips! (Seriously, though, that post is super cute and includes great ideas – like invisible ink, just saying.)

I had a great time finding sneaky hiding spots around my house (even if I almost dropped a really expensive bass on the hardwood floor…oops!).  The holiday season can be a bit overwhelming and stressful – playing Kid Detective will snap you right out of it and bring back the holiday magic!

I hope you’ll track me down on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook and play along using the hashtag #mykindofholiday.  The nice people at Target are having a great time with this and truly enjoy seeing your pictures.

And now for a little extra holiday magic courtesy of my friends at Target…

One lucky U.S. reader will win a $25 Target gift card!!!!!

How do you enter?  Easy.

Leave me a comment below telling me your BEST Kid Detective tip.  You have to leave a tip to be entered to win, so get crafty and share your ideas!

Contest closes on December 6, 2013 at 8pm PST.  Get your entry in now!

Disclosure:  I am a member of the Target Inner Circle.  As such, I am given exclusive access to the brand and upcoming promotions.  As always, the opinions contained within this post are my own.  Play along!  It’s fun!

 

Pin It

My Kind of Holiday: Baking with Kids!

IMG_8008

What’s my kind of holiday? (You know you have those catchy ads stuck in your head, too.)  One spent baking with my kids, of course!

All of my favorite holiday memories from my childhood involve time spent around our kitchen table cutting, baking, sprinkling, and frosting Christmas cookies.  Gingerbread cookies were carefully decorated with raisins and those little silver balls that didn’t seem edible but somehow were.  The smell of cinnamon and nutmeg wafted through the air as we waited for them to cool so that we could begin phase two of decorating:  Frosting them until the actual gingerbread was no longer visible.

The sugar cookie dough was dyed red and green for extra holiday cheer, and the sprinkles added just the right amount of sparkle.  We laughed, chatted, attempted to create new and different designs (my brother was always the master of the hand-rolled candy cane cookie), and spent time together. After months of school and time spent with friends, holiday time always brought us back together again.

It’s a tradition that I just can’t live without.  In my house, the holiday season doesn’t really begin until the very first batch of cookies goes into the oven.

My kids have been baking and cooking with me since they were old enough to stand upright in the “kitchen helper”.  Time spent in the kitchen means bonding, laughing, telling stories, and creating something from nothing.  It’s a time to stand side-by-side and simply be together.  We love every minute of it.

IMG_7998

And the holiday cookies?  Well…it’s always nice to end up with a delicious treat.

When Target asked me to share my favorite holiday tradition, I didn’t think twice.  Every time I bake holiday cookies with my kids I experience both happy memories from my past and beautiful new memories forming in my present.  I love to watch my kids create.  I love to listen in on their little conversations and answer their questions about my holidays as a child.  I love to share my stories and listen to theirs.  Sitting around the table making Christmas cookies with my kids leaves me feeling overwhelmed with gratitude for this amazing life and family that Sean and I have created.  Small moments like these always bring me back to simplicity.  It doesn’t get any better than this.

IMG_8001

 

Due to a very long list of food allergies and my own preference, we bake everything from scratch around here.  But you don’t need to be a baker to make your own holiday memories that involve tasty treats.  In fact, Target made it easy for you this year.  With an entire aisle dedicated to holiday baking (how cute are these “Ninjabread Men“?), you can pick up baking kits and all of the baking essentials in one quick trip.

Check out these fun holiday baking kits and tools:

IMG_7993

 

I picked up the Nordic Ware Petite Holiday Cookie Cutters just for fun (I have an alarming amount of holiday cookie cutters in my home and truly didn’t need more), and I have to tell you – they are by far my favorite holiday cookie cutters (seriously, I’m known to buy expensive cookie cutters from high end cooking stores).  The shapes are great and the cookies are the perfect size.  At $9.99 for a pack of fifteen, you really can’t go wrong.

IMG_7996

 

From recipe books to baking kits to baking tools and more, Target has everything you need to create amazing memories with your little ones this holiday season.

In case you do want to bake from scratch this year, I’m sharing my super amazing sugar cookie and cookie frosting recipes below.  Happy baking!

Practical Katie’s Super Yummy Sugar Cookies

Make ahead tip:  This dough needs to chill for at least two hours, but you can also make it the night before.  Plan ahead!

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 Cups of butter, softened
  • 3 Cups of granulated sugar (Baker’s Sugar is kind of awesome, by the way)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 5 Cups of all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon (completely optional, but adds a nice touch – especially around the holidays.  So does a touch of nutmeg.  Your call.)

Directions:

  1. Cream butter and sugar.
  2. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
  3. Stir (not beat) in flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.
  4. Form into a large ball, cover, and chill in the fridge for at least two hours.
  5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  6. Roll out dough on parchment paper (cover with flour, granulated sugar, or powdered sugar to avoid sticking) to 1/4 – 1/2 inch thick.  ***Bonus tip:  Only use the amount of dough that you need at any given time and let the rest continue to chill.
  7. Cut shapes.
  8. Bake on parchment paper for 6-8 minutes.
  9. Allow to cool and decorate using cookie frosting (below) and approximately 10,000 sprinkles!

Vanilla Sugar Cookie Frosting

Ingredients:

  • 4 Cups of powdered sugar
  • 1/2 Cup butter, softened
  • 5 Tablespoons of milk
  • 1 Teaspoon vanilla
  • Food coloring – optional (I use all natural food dyes)

Directions:

  1. Cream together the sugar and butter until smooth.
  2. Gradually mix in milk and vanilla with a hand mixer.
  3. Add food coloring, if desired.

*Note:  Apparently many people prefer to use shortening instead of butter in cookie frosting.  That’s not really my thing and I love the way this frosting sets, but don’t let me stop you if you’re a believer in shortening!  

Please share your holiday baking fun on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter using the hashtag #mykindofholiday…we’ll be watching!

Target_InnerCircle

 

Disclosure:  Target sent me a box of baking goodies to get us in the holiday baking spirit.  As part of the Target Inner Circle, I have exclusive access to the Target brand and some promotions.  As always, the opinions contained within this post are my own.  I really did buy those Nordic Ware cookie cutters…and I just had an extra set shipped to Connecticut, where we will be spending the holidays!  Love them!

Pin It

Shopping Black Friday with Target…Online!

Target_InnerCircle

 

 

Target is opening stores at 8pm on Thanksgiving, giving shoppers earlier access to Black Friday doorbuster deals.  I know what you’re thinking, that’s so unfair to the people who work for Target.  Before you hit “share” on that Facebook graphic making the rounds…consider this:  Some people actually prefer to work these extended holiday hours.

Target had this to say about holiday scheduling: “In advance of the holidays, Target works closely with its team members to understand scheduling preferences. Target compensates all hourly team members who work on a national holiday, including Thanksgiving, with pay equal to time and a half their hourly rate. Team members who work shifts from store open on Thanksgiving to 8 a.m. on Black Friday will receive additional compensation on top of holiday premium pay.”  Read the press release for more information.

People have bills to pay and mouths to feed.  That extra compensation might be very helpful to someone out there.  And while Black Friday shopping was never a thing for my family when I was young, plenty of families have made it a part of their holiday tradition.  The stores will open.  Many of you will shop online on Black Friday.  Target has been planning for this since last Black Friday!  Isn’t it nice to know that employees are compensated well and given a preference?

With that out of the way, let’s move on to the fun stuff…amazing holiday sales!

In addition to the Black Friday doorbuster deals, Target.com will also host a “Cyber Week” sale.  During Cyber Week, shoppers will find new deals every day, with more than 100,000 items on sale throughout the week – across several different categories.

There will also be exclusive deals for Cartwheel and Target REDcard users.

Due to a traveling husband and two young children and given the fact that we are traveling for the holidays this year, I will be looking for my deals online with my REDcard this year.  Here’s what I have my eye on:

  • Element 50” 1080p LED TV, $229.00
  • Kitchen items on sale during Cyber Week
  • Select sleepwear for men, women and kids, $5.00
  • Buy one, Get one 50 percent off select toys* including Lalaloopsy, Our Generation, and more (what can I say?  The girl loves her Lalaloopsy dolls!)

For more real-time deals and news on holiday shopping at Target, follow @ABullsEyeView on Twitter.

Be sure to use #mykindofholiday on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to let us know what deals you find along the way!

Disclosure:  As a member of the Target Inner Circle I am given exclusive access to the brand and information about upcoming sales.  All opinions contained within this post are my own.  I am looking forward to finding a deal on a TV and all other items mentioned in this post!  

***Stay tuned for more great information about making this holiday season special with Target!***

 

Get Ready for Halloween with Target!

Super cute haunted house and pumpkin (cookie) decorating kits!

Super cute haunted house and pumpkin (cookie) decorating kits!

 

If you know me at all…you know that I love love love holidays.  Every last one of them.  It’s really not so much about the treats or gifts.  It’s the happiness that comes with decorating every square inch of the house.  It’s the time spent as a family anticipating the fun and making our home look cozy and bright.  It’s getting swept up in the moment – and enjoying each and every moment that each holiday has to offer.

And while my kids are certainly known for creating something out of nothing and pretty much making their own decorations non-stop (all year long)…I do love to buy a few decorations for each holiday that we celebrate.  I can’t help it.  I blame my DNA.  My mother still loves to decorate.  It genuinely breaks her heart that she now lives in an area that doesn’t see a lot or trick-or-treaters…because, like me, she loves to ooh and ahhh over the costumes.  She loves the smiling faces staring back at her.  And she loves to enjoy these small moments of great happiness along the way.

She might not hand out much candy these days, but the decorating?  That always gets done!

So there.  My obsessive need to decorate for every single holiday can be traced directly back to my mom.  And you know what?  I wouldn’t have it any other way.

And that’s where Target comes in.  I don’t know if you’ve visited your friendly neighborhood Target store lately, but oh my goodness they’ve outdone themselves with Halloween this year!  I can’t get enough!  Note:  While I love Halloween, I am completely opposed to the creepy zombie/RIP/dead body stuff, and I’m happy to report that there isn’t a ton of that going on at Target this year.  

If you’re planning a party, or even if you’re not, Target has some great options for Halloween decor this year.  I have to say, I really love the bird feet salad tongs and the cute candy bowls.  And my rock star husband looked pretty cute in the skeleton apron…although I’m not posting a picture of that one in action (pictures while making pancakes at 7am are just unfair).

photo 3

I absolutely love decorative pumpkins…although the kids each took one to their rooms because, you know, they come from me – so obviously they need to decorate their bedrooms!  And the serving trays are super cute in a not-so-RIP kind of way.  Great for serving up some cute pumpkins cookies or apple cider cupcakes (remind me to tell you about those – yum!).

photo 5

If you love decorating gingerbread houses during the winter holidays, you will love these super cute haunted house and pumpkin decorating kits!  They come with everything you need and are a great family project.  Note:  Not appropriate for kids with tree nut, peanut, or soy allergies.

Super cute haunted house and pumpkin (cookie) decorating kits!

Super cute haunted house and pumpkin (cookie) decorating kits!

And if you are planning a party…Target has you covered with some great party supplies this year.  Are these straws the cutest?

Perfect Halloween party supplies!

Perfect Halloween party supplies!

 

Target has everything from cute Halloween candy to party supplies to decorations to brings tons of Halloween fun into your home this year.  And I saved the best part for last…

I have an amazing Halloween party pack to give to one U.S. reader!  The skull salt & pepper shakers are so cute that I’m heading out to buy another set for my house!  Also included are some party supplies and candy (who doesn’t love gummy snakes?).  That should get you in the spirit!

photo 1

To enter to win the Halloween party pack courtesy of Target:

1.  You must be a U.S. resident.

2.  Leave me a comment below sharing your favorite Halloween memory.

3.  Contest closes at 6pm PST on October 14th.

Disclosure:  Target sent me a box of Halloween treats to check out and asked me to share my opinion.  We are loving our Halloween decorations and other treats!  All opinions contained within this post are my own.  What are you waiting for?  Get to Target and get in the Halloween spirit!

 

 

Go Back to School with Target! (Giveaway)

IMG_7566 Love with your whole heart. Girls can change the world.

If I’m being completely honest, I’ve really been avoiding the whole back-to-school thing this year.  After an amazing summer spent running, swimming, and playing with my kids, I’m just not ready.  The tides are changing in our little family of four.  In six days, my daughter begins first grade.  It seems big, important, and a little bit overwhelming.  And in a couple of weeks, my baby begins his final year of preschool.  I’m not ready to say goodbye to the preschool years.  I love longs walks to the fire station and days spent scouring the library for a new and exciting book about trucks.

But time marches on.  And parents need to embrace change and enjoy each small moment that each stage brings.  That’s what I tell myself, anyway.

It’s been hard to pump up the excitement factor on this whole back-to-school thing when, quite frankly, I’m dreading it.  With one small exception.  Target.

When my friends at Target asked me to bring the kids to New York City for a night in August and attend a back-to-school event, I simply couldn’t resist.  We rode the train together for the first time.  We wandered the city in search of a park, and even managed to find one!  We enjoyed a beautiful hotel and a fun night in the big city on the other side.  And then we went to the Target studio for a morning of crafting and checking out the new styles and school supplies.

IMG_7558

Wow.  I mean, wow.

The inner nerd in me has always loved school supplies.  I remember carefully selecting notebooks as a kid, and then holding them close and breathing in their fresh, unwritten scent.  As a secret writer, I loved the feel of the blank pages and couldn’t wait to fill them with thoughts and stories.  And I was always in search of the perfect pencil case, the perfect binder, and the perfect notebook.

Target got it right this year, that’s for sure.  Check out these gorgeous (and sturdy and inexpensive) binders…

IMG_7563

And these pencil cases?  My fancy girl was in heaven! (And, ok…maybe I was, too.)

IMG_7571

We all know back-to-school isn’t just about school supplies, though.  For some reason, kids insist on growing in leaps and bounds over the summer.  Sigh.  Not to worry, your little fashionista will love the back-to-school clothes at Target this year.  Color is the name of the game and patterns and sparkles are everywhere!  I practically had to drag Riley out of there… Note:  You all know how I feel about clothing that is just a little too mature for little girls.  I love that Target chose cute and fashionable patterns and styles that keep little girls looking little…

IMG_7562

Seriously…I had to pry this headband off of her head.  And don’t get me started on the super cute accessories…

IMG_7567

And for the little boy in your life who maybe doesn’t need so many sparkles…these soft and cozy hoodies and shirts in muted colors are a great option.  (Note to Target:  Please put a construction truck on each one so that my boy will wear them.)

IMG_7573

Finally…due to the insane allergies in this household, my poor kiddos are generally stuck with unscented soaps and shampoos.  Not much fun when you’re little.  Check out these Galvin & Galvin London Kids products that are both organic and hypoallergenic and made just for Target!  Let’s hear it for fruity soaps for allergy kids!

IMG_7568

As if all of this isn’t enough to send you running to your Target store of choice…I have a little gift for you.  One lucky U.S. reader will win a $50 gift card to Target to help offset the cost of back-to-school shopping.  Who doesn’t want that??

To enter:

Leave me a comment here telling me what back-to-school products from Target you are most looking forward to trying.  That’s it.  Super easy.

You have until August 26, 2013 at 8pm PST to enter this giveaway.  ***Please make sure that I have your email address.  You can’t win if I can’t find you!

Disclosure:  As part of my affiliation with Target Inner Circle, Target sent me (and the kids) on an all-expensed paid trip to New York City to preview their Fall collection.  We had a great time crafting with other kids and checking out the new styles.  I truly loved the new styles, particularly the school supplies and girls clothing (and the soaps!).  All opinions contained within this post are my own.

FEED the World with Target

IMG_7405

By now you know that my love of Target is far greater than my weekly trips to stock up on things that I do and don’t need on any given Monday.  I love that Target has simplified the shopping experience for busy families.  I love that Target brings affordable fashion to people everywhere.  I love that they have excellent options when it comes to organic snacks and natural products for the home.

But most of all, I love the philanthropic nature of the company.  From literacy to food banks to partnerships carefully selected in the name of giving back, Target is committed to helping families thrive.  Target understands the importance of helping others.

When I heard that Target launched a partnership with FEED, I couldn’t wait to get involved.  FEED was launched in 2007 when model and activist Lauren Bush Lauren designed a bag to benefit the United Nation’s World Food Programme’s (WFP) School Feeding Program, which feeds and educates hungry children.  She took a special interest in that particular program, and FEED has expanded since then.

The mission of FEED is simple:  To create good products that help feed the world. They accomplish this mission through the sale of bags, bears, t-shirts and other accessories.  To date, FEED has donated over $6 Million and 60 million meals.

Fashion that feeds the world?  It’s a win/win, if you ask me.

Target’s current partnership with FEED runs through 7/31, and they have some great products for you.

I’m the kind of mom who is always downsizing.  I love my Coach handbags…what can I say?  But when I’m on the go with two kids (and sometimes a husband who also needs snacks and water), space is a good thing.  I love this orange FEED cotton tote.  It’s durable, roomy, and so super cute.  And?  The purchase of this $35 tote will provide approximately 28 meals for children and families across America.  Look good and do good – that’s the best combination.

IMG_7411

My little environmentalist is over the moon about these reusable snack packs from FEED for Target.  According to my daughter they are both, “fancy and good for the Earth”.  Is there a better review than that?  I would add that they are BPA free, super durable, and will provide six meals for children and families across America.

IMG_7414

And if you happen to catch my husband, Sean, on the Born and Raised tour with John Mayer this summer, you’re likely to see him rocking his bass in this lightweight denim utility shirt by FEED for Target.  Sean is always on a quest for the perfect denim shirt, and this one seems to fit his needs.  Not too heavy and the perfect shade of blue for my blue eyed boy, this one is a keeper! The purchase of this shirt provides approximately 20 meals for children families in need across America.

IMG_7420

From clothing, to totes, to kitchen and lifestyle accessories, there are endless choices for you to help FEED families in need.  And all you have to do is take a little trip to your local Target or click a button or two.

Want to learn more about FEED?  Check out the video below:

 

What are you waiting for?  Start shopping to help end hunger!

As part of the the mission to help FEED those in need, Target challenged me to give back in my own neighborhood.  My little family of four looks forward to collecting food to donate to the local food pantry, because no child should ever go hungry.

How will you give back to those in need?

Disclosure:  Target sent me the above mentioned FEED products to try as part of my affiliation with the Target Inner Circle, but I will be heading to my local Target to stock up on more great FEED products!  The opinions contained within this post are my own.  I love these products.  I love the mission of FEED.  And I look forward to collecting food for our local food pantry to help my children help other children right here in our own neighborhood.

Get Fit with C9 for Target! (Giveaway)

photo-196

It’s no big secret that busy moms sometimes struggle to take care of themselves.  With kids and jobs and meals and laundry and some version of cleaning and never ending viruses…who has the time?

The two “me” things I’ve always taken seriously since my daughter first arrived over 6 years ago (wow, it almost pains me to write that number) are showering and exercise.  I’ve never once been the “I don’t have time for a shower” mom over the years and I’ve always managed to stay active.  When the kids were tiny…I walked.  A lot.  Like three really long walks per day, minimum.  I even bought those Reebok shape-up shoes and combined running and walking around town.

What else do you do with little ones when your husband is on tour?  You run walk until your legs practically fall off.

But then the kids tired of the stroller routine, and I had to change it up.  So I did.

I got back to my good friend, the elliptical, and ran while they drank milk.  To this day, I still run during milk and Mighty Machines.  Incidentally, if you have any questions about construction trucks at all…I’m you’re girl.

So yes, I take care of me.  I get my exercise (because, honestly?  I won’t sleep if I don’t) and I have mastered the art of the super fast shower with an audience.  I’m good.

Here’s where I fall short:  I don’t ever buy the proper exercise clothes for me.  My kids always have supportive sneakers and comfy clothes to play, climb, or dance in.  My husband has new sneakers for his daily run and some updated shorts, running pants, and sweatshirts that aren’t worn and tattered.  But me?  Embarrassing.  While it might seem like updated workout clothes while working out at home aren’t really essential, they kind of are…

I don’t know about you, but the right gear motivates.  When I have workout clothes that fit and feel right, I’m more likely to push a little harder.  When I have sneakers that aren’t, say, 8 years old…my knees don’t hurt.  And when I can sneak in some yoga, because yoga makes my world a better place, I feel a little better with yoga pants that aren’t practically in shreds.

So when my friends at Target sent me a box of amazing C9 gear for me and the kids?  I couldn’t have been more excited.  Added bonus – I got to spend the day playing and chatting all things family and exercise with two of my favorite girls, Jenny Feldon and Soleil Moon Frye.  The kids and I put on our new cute C9 by Champion gear and headed down to one of our favorite play spaces, AdventurePlex in Manhattan Beach, for a morning of fun!

photo-197

You see what I’m saying about the sporty, fitted workout gear?  So much better than what my poor husband usually sees…

Target_C9-1-of-1-12

photo-199

 

Pardon the fuzzy picture…they did NOT stop moving all day!

There were some great people at the event and the kids had a blast playing in the gym and climbing the enormous, slightly anxiety-producing (for the moms, that is) climbing structure.

And, of course, we compared C9 gear and talked about how great it felt and looked.

photo-198

All in all, it was a great day of family fitness.

We love family fitness on the weekends.  Park time, bike rides, long walks, swimming…we are an active family and we love to be active together.  And the right gear makes those active adventures that much better.

Check out this great video with Soleil highlighting the event and the C9 collection.

And now…a little something for one of you!

I have a $100 gift card for one U.S. Practical Parenting reader so that you can get some amazing C9 gear and get fit!

To enter the giveaway:

Leave me a comment here and tell me what your family does to stay active.  How do you get out and moving as a family?

A winner will be chosen on Friday, May 24th at 8pm PST.  Get those comments in!

 

Disclosure:  Target sent C9 by Champion clothes and shoes to me and the kids as part of my affiliation with the Target Inner Circle.  The C9 event was sponsored by Target.  However…all opinions in this post are my own.  I do love my new C9 gear and feel great wearing it!

Go Green with Target!

When you have a child with allergies and asthma, you rethink everything.  When you spend night after night sleeping on the floor just willing that child to breathe normally, you question every choice you’ve ever made.

Should we put hardwood floors in the bedrooms?

Did I read that label 87 times to make sure there wasn’t even a hint of rice in that bread?

Are the insanely expensive mattress and pillow guards enough?  

Did I buy the right air purifier?  Is the HEPA filter really working?

Should we move somewhere else?  Is the Los Angeles smog ruining her childhood?

Once you start questioning, it’s nearly impossible to stop.  You walk through your house, room by room, assessing for possible culprits.  What needs to change?  What can I do today to help my daughter feel just a little bit better?

One day, as I scrubbed a bathroom top to bottom with the hope of eradicating any and all germs still lurking from the cold that swept through the family, I found myself staring at the bottle in my hand.  A bleach-based bathroom cleaning product with approximately seven thousand ingredients.  It smelled sterile – as you would expect.  It smelled like a germ-free zone.  But it caused my eyes to sting and water.  When I stopped to catch my breath, I realized that I had actually been holding my breath.

Oh. My. God.

How could I possibly have such harsh chemicals in my home?  If my eyes were stinging, my daughter’s lungs were probably screaming for help.  Right then and there, I made a choice:  Natural cleaning products from that moment on.

When my friends at Target reached out to me and asked me to try out some of their new naturally based cleaning and beauty products, I jumped at the chance.  A natural product shopping spree at my favorite place to shop?  Yes, please.

It started with a brand new reusable shopping tote.  I have to tell you, I probably have close to thirty reusable bags in my pantry – but I never have them with me.  Why?  They’re bulky.  They don’t fold up properly and they take up room in the car.  And while I try to remember to grab them, I often forget and end up buying more.

Until this came along…

photo-163

This little piece of reusable perfection fits right into my favorite Coach purse – ready at all times.

And then I shopped….

When I started my purge of harsh chemicals six months ago, I went to straight to Method Home.  They have a cleaning product to tackle just about any job in your home, and Target carries a wide variety of their products.

photo-168

I love the kitchen products.  All purpose spray with a light, airy grapefruit scent?  I’ll take two.  And dish soap that feels soft on your hands but gets the job done?  No argument here.  But their bathroom cleaning products?  Those have saved me.  Bathroom cleaning products tend to be particularly harsh.  But Method has amazing products made from naturally derived sources that get the job done. Love it.

And the hand soaps are gentle on little hands with big eczema…which makes hand-washing oh so much easier in this house.

photo-164

But then…Target sent me over to the beauty products department to try out some of their incredible products by Burt’s Bees and Yes to Carrots.  I have loved Burt’s Bees for quite some time now.  The lotions and hand creams?  Amazing.  Not to mention the tinted lip balm in Red Dahlia.  If you don’t have it in your purse, you need it.  Now.  Seriously.

photo-165

 

And this line from the makers of Burt’s Bees is positively lovely.  Who doesn’t want to smell like pears or vanilla or something else subtle but fresh each morning?

photo-166

 

 

Yes to Carrots was new to me.  And you know what?  I’m hooked!  I love love love the hydrating shower gel.  Seriously, I can’t get enough.  And Sean loves it too, which means I need to restock ASAP.

photo-167

But the Yes to Blueberry Brightening Facial Towelettes are my new absolute favorite find.  I use them for a quick make-up removal/cleansing at night and wow, my sensitive skin is in blueberry heaven.

photo-170

And the best part of all of this is that you can get everything you need at Target.  Super cute reusable totes that fit in your purse.  Method cleaning products to keep your home sparkly without all of the gross chemicals that make you cringe.  And skin and beauty products just for you – because, let’s face it, tired mommies need a little pampering from time to time.

So now that you know a little bit about my green shopping experience with Target…I have a little something for you.

That’s right.  One lucky reader will win one those cute little totes filled with some amazing products from Method, Burt’s Bees, and Yes to Carrots!

photo-169

All you have to do is this:

Leave me a comment here (NOT on Facebook – that’s a big no-no and it won’t count) telling me which product would really love to try and why.

If you want to enter the contest a second time…

Leave me a SECOND comment telling me one thing to do in your home to help teach your kids about the importance of going green.

You have until March 5th at 9:00am PST to get your comments in…what are you waiting for?

 

Disclosure:  Target gave me the reusable shopping tote and a gift card, as part of their Target Inner Circle program, to try out some of their green products.  They did ask me to try the specific brands mentioned in the post.  But, as always, all opinions contained in this post are my own.  I really, really love those facial wipes and everything else I mentioned.  And I love that I can get it all at Target.  

 

 

Win a LeapPad2 Explorer from Target!

 

 

 

photo-138

 

 

***This contest is now CLOSED!  Megan is the winner!***

By now you all know how much I love Target, right?  Not simply because I spend half of my life and a good portion of my money there (although what’s not to love about one-stop shopping that also keeps the kids happy?).  And not just because they sometimes send me amazing products and pitch in when I ask them to help me help hurricane survivors.

What I really love about Target is their commitment to education.  As I’ve shared with you before, Target’s commitment to learning, especially reading, has them on track to give $1 billion to education by 2015.  They are focused on literacy.  They are renovating and restocking inner city school libraries.  They are working with local food banks to provide food to families in need so that students have the energy to learn.  They are making the world a better place one step at a time.

But it doesn’t end there.

Target offers a great selection of educational toys for kids both in stores and online.  We can’t stick our heads in the sand and hope that technology will go away.  It won’t.  But, as parents, we can be proactive by purchasing tech toys that are educational in nature.

Target recently sent us a LeapPad2 Explorer to test drive.  While my kids are no stranger to the iPad and they know their way around a touch screen better than most adults, they honestly LOVED (I mean really loved) the LeapPad2.

Here’s what Riley (age 6) had to say about it:  ”It’s the best size for me to hold and I’m not worried about dropping it.  I really love the game where I make my own pet and practice writing and spelling (Pet Writing App – included) because I love the Stylus Pen!  And it’s purple, which, you know, is my favorite color.”

photo-139

Here’s what Liam (age 4) had to say about it:  ”I like the caterpillar game (Roly Poly Picnic 2 – included with free download) because I can hunt for letters and the art game (Art Studio App – included) for painting trucks and things.”

photo-137

So what do I think?

I love that these tablets are made specifically for small hands.  They are light, durable, and easy to use.  I love that all of the apps are educational in nature.  There are over 325 stories, math games, and literacy games available for download, and you don’t have to worry about skill level and appropriateness for children.  They are ALL designed for children.  Another great feature?  You can program up to five different users and profile them according to age, so Riley gets Kindergarten level content while Liam’s is Pre-K.  It really takes the guess work out of it.

I am married to a musician and we are an Apple family.  These kids can use iPads, iPhones, and MacBook Pros beyond what you would expect for their ages.  And I am an enforcer of everything in moderation.  When they get tech time, which isn’t very often, I set a ten minute timer and they hand it over when the timer beeps.  No arguments.  No tears.  We have it down.

But there’s something very nice about having a safe technology device meant just for them.  I don’t have to worry about an accidental opening of something like Facebook (despite hiding it in a special folder) or Liam rearranging my apps for the 90th time.  And they love having something built just for them.  Although I never thought we need a LeapPad2 around here, I’m really glad that we had the opportunity to try it out.  It’s a keeper.

And…I have one LeapPad2 Explorer, courtesy of my friends at Target, for one of you!  Yes, you read that right.  This is the place to grab a LeapPad2 Explorer before Christmas arrives!

Here’s the deal:  Christmas in basically in five seconds, so this giveaway will go FAST.  You have 24 hours to leave me a comment detailing your favorite family holiday tradition (that does NOT include technology).  Want a second chance to win?  Stop by Target and check out the LeapPad2 stories and games they have.  Then head back here and leave me a 2nd comment telling me which one you think looks interesting for your child and why.

What are you waiting for?  Get your entries in NOW!

By the way…this LeapPad2 Explorer comes loaded with 5 apps, 2 built-in cameras, and video recorders.  It also has a Stylus Pen attached and a USB cable.  Warning:  You do need batteries.  And it’s purple – although, for once, Liam doesn’t seem to mind.  That’s how engaging this thing is!

Disclaimer:  Target sent me a LeapPad2 Explorer to review for you and a second one to give to one of you.  My kids have never used a LeapPad 2 Explorer prior to this.  All opinions contained within the post are my own (and those of my children).  We think this product rocks and we want you to have one too…so get your entries in and MAKE SURE that I have your email address!

Target_InnerCircle