Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Kid Friendly New Years and Balloon Drop

I hope you have all had a wonderful holiday season. We have been very busy enjoying all that the holiday season has to offer. Having a three year old and being pregnant with our second definitely made for a very fun and eventful Christmas. There is nothing quite as magical as watching the eyes of your three year old light up with every new Christmas tradition he discovers. There is also nothing quite as annoying as your complete aversion to your normal love of chocolate and cheese during the holiday season. I pretty much had to tell people to please keep chocolate or cheese away from me or I may be sick. There was only one dinner I was invited to where both were flowing and I managed to keep myself together.

We are now safely into my second trimester of pregnancy and things are calming down. I am not sick as much and my appetite is returning. Since it now is about to be New Year's it is the time that we always reflect on the past year and dream about all the wonderful things we get to look forward to in the upcoming year. For the most part, due to the impending arrival we are looking forward to a quiet year until July at least. The last couple of years I have found spending New Year's Eve with the children in our life much more fun than trying to find a good bar and parking spot. If you are considering having a party, check out last year's post on our Kid Friendly New Year's Eve party that was a big success. It was the first year we did the 9pm balloon drop. It was not perfected for the New Year's Eve party but due to how popular it was we repeated the balloon drop for Xavier's Old Fashioned 3rd Birthday Party. If you want to see how we made the ceiling fan balloon drop check out the birthday party page for pictures!

I hope you all have a safe and fun new years and an even better New Year full of fun, love and laughter. I hope you will continue to join us on our journey this year as we introduce you to many new sponsors, products, places and a new member of our family. Happy 2016!

#NextGenerationSAHMBlog, #kidfriendlynewyearseve, #balloondrop, #ceilingfanballoondrop

Monday, December 7, 2015

Sponsored: Studio Fun ASPCA Rescue Readers Books

Sponsored: Studio Fun ASPCA Rescue Readers Books
 Written By Renee Arbia

Disclaimer: I received this product for free from the sponsor of the Moms Meet program, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meet blogger, I agree to use this product and post my opinion on my blog. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of May Media Group LLC or the manufacturer of this product.

It is no secret that we love reading in our family. Even though Xavier is only three years old we read books at least twice a day, once before naptime and once before bedtime. It is also fun to read throughout the day as well.

Our family is very big on helping animals. All three of our pets (one dog and two cats) are rescues. We frequently help out our local Humane Society and animal groups. I was thrilled when we were selected to try out the new line of Studio Fun’s ASPCA Rescue Readers Books. Studio Fun International is a Reader’s Digest Company and for the first time they have partnered with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) on a Children’s Book Series called the ASPCA Kids: Rescue Readers. The books are individual stories about pets being adopted. They are each inspired by real-life animal rescue stories and are written from the pet’s point of view. At the end of each book are some educational facts and photographs of the real-life pet that inspired the story. My son really loved seeing the real pictures of the pets as well as the fun stories that went along with them. For every book purchased 4-5% of the book’s purchase price goes directly to the ASPCA to continue their mission in helping pets find homes. The books even come in different reading levels from board books for babies to chapter books for your tween. I loved how well the books are written and how colorful the illustrations are. Also, they have a lot of different choices on stories so you are sure to find something for everyone!

Studio Fun not only provides the ASPCA brand of books but so many other fun and educational titles as well! You can buy your own Studio Fun’s books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million and IndieBound. Check out their entire line of books at www.studiofun.com! And be sure to check out Studio Fun International’s Facebook page too!

#NextGenerationSAHMBlog, #sponsored, #Greenmomsmeet, #Studiofun

Our Growing Little Family

Our Growing Little Family
Written By Renee Arbia

If you have not heard yet, I am expecting. We are very excited to be having another little one added to our family. In our one day of announcing I have been bombarded with questions. Most I do not mind answering the rest you will have to wait and see.

Most of you who have been following my blog since the beginning (thank you so much by the way) know we have never mentioned having other children. We do not mention our future simply because we always choose to live in the present. We go with our hearts when we decide to make decisions. We have talked about adding another child, but when my son was a toddler having a toddler, both of us owning our own businesses and a baby did not seem to fit our lives. I have tremendous respect for moms who have to patience to handle a toddler and a baby, and I know I am not one of them. We needed a little more space between my son and the next baby.

Xavier is now three. He is potty trained and talks perfectly (a little too much perhaps). He is extremely excited to be a big brother. We planned this new baby. Albeit was not the best planning as the first trimester during the holidays was not our best thinking, but a baby born in the summer works best as that is our slow time for our work. So hopefully things will work out the way they always do.

We told Xavier very early. We talk a lot in our family and it was not something we would be able to keep a secret from him. Xavier loves monkeys. He has three monkeys that he sleeps and plays with. They are Mr. Monkey (you have seen him on our popular, Cleaning a Nonwashable Stuffed Animal), Monkey Monk, and baby George (it is from the Curious George books also a favorite in our house). Xavier says they are the daddy, mommy and baby monkey. To inform Xavier of our impending arrival I bought him another monkey. I gave it to him and said it is the Big Brother monkey. He of course was very excited. We then read, The Birds, The Bees and The Berenstain Bears by Stan and Jan Berenstain. I highly recommend this book if you are introducing a baby into your family it informs just enough so that you do not have many questions left to answer.
In the book, Mama Bear goes to the doctor and gets an ultrasound. When we went to get the first ultrasound we brought Xavier with us.

It is such a wonderful experience bringing your first born to see your potential newborn. My doctor’s appointment was very run-of-the-mill pregnancy appointment, not much exciting until we saw Xavier’s excitement at seeing the baby on the monitor. Then, him holding the pictures in his hands saying “this is my baby brother or sister”, it melts my heart to think of the lifetime they will get to share together.

We are very excited of all the new fun times we will all get to experience together. I hope you will continue to follow us along on our journey.

My new book, #2 On the Way Written by Renee Arbia is the humorous side of being pregnant with your second child. I am in the process of chronicling this pregnancy for the book. Here is an excerpt from the area where I first tell my husband that we are expecting. As with most second pregnancies it did not have a lot of fanfare, but the sentiment was sweet and a moment we will always treasure.

Excerpt from #2 on the Way Written by Renee Arbia

I have not been feeling very well lately. I noticed I am very nauseated and tired. Then, yesterday, Nick had to work all day and it was just Xavier and I. I was so tired, nauseous and sick. I was only two days late, but had a feeling that I have felt this way before. I cheated and took a test at night after putting Xavier to bed. I didn’t really think it would be positive. Plus, we bought dollar store tests so I wasn’t even sure how well they would work. I took two tests, and two faint lines showed up on both. When my husband came home late that night, I tried to hold it in as long as I could, but I was bursting with excitement. As he was taking off his work clothes and putting them in the hamper he was talking about work and all I could think was “when should I tell him, when should I tell him” so I blurted it out “I’m pregnant”. Nick turned around with a HUGE smile on his face that made me smile too. “Are you really?” he asked. “Yes, due in July according to the internet calculator”. We basked in the excitement.

Copyright Renee Arbia 2015

#NextGenerationSAHMBlog, #2OnTheWay

Friday, December 4, 2015

Tis The Season Friday Faves

I do apologize for being so quiet this year. We have been very busy and well, not so busy just enjoying the holidays. As much as I love to do holiday things and festivities I also know that a big part of the holidays is spending time together as a family. We love to visit family and friends and help others as much as we can. If you are having a hard time getting started in the season this week's Friday Faves are for you. Some of my fun and inspirational posts from throughout the year always help to start getting me into the festive mood. I hope you enjoy them and have a wonderful weekend full of love and laughter.

Tis The Season Friday Faves

Even the smallest of a child can appreciate The Christmas Tree.

Don't worry about getting the perfect photo for your Christmas card try out some Christmas Photo Mess Ups.

If you are sucked in by too much shopping and commercialism remember to donate a toy to Toys For Tots. 

Need an inexpensive and easy Christmas craft to try out? Try making these Recycled Airline Blanket Christmas Stockings. 

If you are still not inspired and not in the spirit, read my favorite true life Christmas story of The Christmas Hat, it is still worn constantly every year. 


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Sponsored: Bloom Baby Drying Rack

I wrote this post while participating in a campaign and received a gift to thank me for my time. All views and opinions with regard to the products or company itself are my own and were not influenced or reviewed by the company prior to posting. I am disclosing this according to the FTC guidelines.

Sponsored: Bloom Baby Drying Rack
Written By Renee Arbia

I am always keeping my eyes peeled for the latest new and improved baby gadget. Why? As a busy parent I know it takes a lot of time to find the right things for your child. Plus, for new parents the lists can be overwhelming. Having great products for your family can really help you to spend less time cleaning and more time with your new little ones.

At three and a half years old. My son still has his own drying rack. It started as the very beautiful spinning dryer rack. It held a lot of bottles and my breast pump parts. However, the spinning dryer rack would get dirty very quickly and became hard to clean. Not to mention it took up a lot of space on our already limited kitchen counter.

When my son switched to sippy cups we switched to the old fashioned square bottle drying rack. This took up less space on the counter, but with a closed bottom always held water which made it gross and in need of cleaning daily.

I was contacted by the great people at Stuff4Tots to try out their new Bloom Baby Drying Rack. Although we do not use many bottles or sippy cups anymore, a drying rack was still needed for my son’s plastic cups, straws and some utensils.

I loved the Bloom Baby Drying Rack the moment I laid eyes on it. Finally, someone was thinking when they made this bottle drying rack. It is very lightweight and compact. No assembly is required. I just took it right out of the box and it blooms easily. I love that there is no water catcher and no little crevices you have to clean. The Bloom Baby Drying Rack is stylish, fun and has a very versatile design that blooms open. It is much more practical than any other drying rack on the market. It holds several types and styles of bottles, sippy cups, and plastic cups. I was impressed it even has specific slots for forks, spoons and straws. There are no sharp edges on the drying rack that you have to be careful of and you can wash it in the top shelf of your dishwasher. Though I found it did not need as much washing as the typical dryer racks. It is also very easy to store or travel with, which was a great bonus.

Stuff4Tots make great products for families. All of their products are safe and simple, BPA, Phthalate, lead and latex free. For every product you purchase from them they each come with a 100% Worry Free Satisfaction Guarantee.

I also decided to test out their new Crib Mattress Pad. The Stuff4Tots Crib Mattress Pad is 200 thread count 100% cotton with no BPA, Phthalates or other unnatural materials. It is made of soft and quilted white cotton that has a breathable inner layer. It keeps your baby’s mattress free of dust mites and allergens as well as protects your mattress through diaper or bottle accidents so your crib mattress can last much longer. The Stuff4Tots Crib Mattress Pad secures easily to your baby’s mattress, yet still comes off without hassle. It is safe to machine wash and dry the crib mattress pad as long as you do so with low temperatures since it is made with natural fibers. The crib mattress pad fits all standard crib mattresses and measures 28” wide by 52” long with a 6” skirt.

I was very impressed with everything that Stuff4Tots offers. If you would like to purchase the Bloom Baby Drying Rack or Crib Mattress Pad you can find them on Amazon.

#Stuff4Tots, #Sponsored, #NextGenerationSAHMBlog

Monday, November 30, 2015

Sponsored: Green Your Hair with Shielo

I wrote this post while participating in a campaign and received a gift to thank me for my time. All views and opinions with regard to the products or company itself are my own and were not influenced or reviewed by the company prior to posting. I am disclosing this according to the FTC guidelines.

Green Your Hair with Shielo
Written By Renee Arbia

We have been trying to slowly incorporate more green products into our lives. With the holiday season quickly approaching, it is important to look our best and give gifts that make an impact. You not just want the receiver to love and appreciate the gift, but it is important to buy from your country and from small family friendly businesses that want to make the world a better place for us all.

I have been growing out my hair to be very long. I have been having a hard time finding hair products that happen to be green and eco-friendly. Then, I was introduced to Shielo.

Shielo is a small company based in New York City. Their philosophy is to create products with integrity and to ensure that they preserve the future well-being of our environment. Shielo has been around since 2001 and all of their products are made from plant botanicals. They use local farms and ingredients. All of their plants are grown without the use of synthetic pesticides or chemicals. There are no parabens, formaldehyde or preservatives. Their ingredients are certified organic by Organic Certifiers in Ventura California. They are against animal cruelty and testing. In fact, all of their products are vegan friendly. Even their packaging is made of HDPE #2 plastics which are recycled and BPA free. Sure to please even the most eco-conscious consumer.

Shielo makes great hair care products for every type of hair. From smoothing, hydration, volume, color protection to leave in conditioners there is something for every hair type. Products are in large bottles and a little product goes a long way. No more squeezing half a bottle of conditioner for your long hair, with Shielo you can get a small nickel size and you are on your way. They also offer skincare for your complexion that is extremely gentle and all natural.

I am a big fan of the Shielo Shine Restoration Oil. I barely need a dime size amount to smooth on my hair and make it shine like never before. It also makes a great Christmas stocking stuffer.

Be sure to treat the one you love this year with a hair care product that reflects her values as a person and makes her hair sparkle like her personality. You can purchase Shielo products from their website Shielo.com

#sponsored, #haircare, #Shielo, #NextGenerationSAHM, #HolidayGiftGuide2015

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Sponsored: Baby Go-Green Silicone Bibs

I wrote this post while participating in a campaign and received a gift to thank me for my time. All views and opinions with regard to the products or company itself are my own and were not influenced or reviewed by the company prior to posting. I am disclosing this according to the FTC guidelines.

Sponsored: Baby Go-Green Silicone Bibs
Written By Renee Arbia

This is by far one of my favorite products that we have tested in the last year. I am so excited to tell you about this. I cannot believe no one has invented this sooner.

The great people at Baby Go-Green have come out with a line of silicone bibs. Sold in a two pack, these bibs are made of food grade soft silicone that are perfect for your little ones comfort. They are BPA free, made of non-toxic plastic, with no Bisphenol A and no Phthalates.

These silicone bibs are awesome. Even though Xavier is three he is a very messy eater. To save on laundry he still wears a bib when he eats. For a while this did not always help us save on laundry as eventually I would have to wash the bibs. The bibs end up ragged and moldy over time. None of the bibs we used when Xavier was a baby are useful now. I only wish we had been introduced to these Go-Green Silicone Bibs earlier. 

The Baby Go-Green Silicone Bibs not only save you money, but time and water as well. They are extremely durable and long lasting bibs. You can clean them easily by just rinsing. They air dry fast and are ready to be reused. Unlike most silicone products these are also stain resistant. So go ahead and pour that glass of grape juice or have that spaghetti dinner. A simple rinse will wash it all away with no traces left at all. It has a great easy to adjust clasp as well as a food catcher pocket that does not get stuck on the high chair or table. Water proof and stain resistant the Baby Go-Green Silicone Bibs work for babies aged three months to children around six years of age.

Never worry about multiple bibs again. Buy your Baby Go-Green Silicone Bibs in a package of two for the entire life of your child. You can pick up your Baby Go-Green Silicone Bibs from Amazon.

#Sponsored, #babygogreenbib, #NextGenerationSAHMBlog

Friday, November 20, 2015

Guest Post: 5 Ways to Make This Year's Thanksgiving Dinner Stand Out

Today's guest post is from the very talented Maurine Anderson who runs the blog MaurineDashney.com Check out her great tips to make your Thanksgiving dinner stand out this year!

5 Ways to Make This Year’s Thanksgiving Dinner Stand Out
By: Maurine Anderson

If you’re looking to make your Thanksgiving dinner this year especially memorable, you’ve come to the right place. Here are five great ways to make this year’s Thanksgiving dinner stand out from the rest—and start a few Thanksgiving traditions while you’re at it.

Make gratitude a fun tradition.

Thanksgiving is a holiday for expressing gratitude, so why not help family members participate by making expressing gratitude a fun tradition? Here are a few ideas for fun ways to express gratitude together:

  • Have family members write what they’re grateful for on small pieces of paper and add them to a gratitude bowl or jar. Then, later in the evening, read out these small pieces of gratitude together and toss them into a warm fireplace or outdoor fire pit as you go.
  • Start a gratitude tablecloth. All you need is a simple tablecloth and permanent markers. Have family members write three or more things they are grateful for this Thanksgiving, and then reuse the tablecloth every year and continue the tradition.
  • Create a thankful tree. You can decorate one corner of your home with a bare tree, and then have family members write what they are thankful for on paper “leaves” and attach them to the tree.
  • Create a Thanksgiving garland. Alternatively, you and your family can create a Thanksgiving garland together, writing things that you are thankful for on paper leaves of Thanksgiving shapes, and then stringing them together to make a garland for hanging over the fireplace or on a banister.
  • Create a Thanksgiving wreath. SImilarly, you can use your decorative pieces of paper to decorate a wreath for hanging on your front door or in your home.

Go gourmet.

No, you don’t have to overexert yourself in your Thanksgiving dinner preparations this year, but you can spice up some traditional Thanksgiving dishes for a dinner that manages to be both traditional and unique. Instead of classic sweet potatoes, for example, you might opt for a sweet potato gratin or for sweet potatoes stuffed with cranberries, pears, and pecans. Instead of pumpkin pie, meanwhile, you might instead create a pumpkin pecan cheesecake or some pumpkin custard. And instead of a full-on turkey, you might instead create turkey roulade or skillet turkey with roasted vegetables. Think of your favorite Thanksgiving foods and look for similar, alternative recipes online to mix things up.

Decorate with detail.

You’re likely already making things festive in your home for the big Thanksgiving dinner, but there are a lot of fun decorative details that you likely haven’t thought of, all of which will work together to make your Thanksgiving that much more special. You might create place cards for placement on a well-set table, for example, fashioning them with colorful leaves, miniature pumpkins, or burlap and paper. For the middle of the table, you might put together a long centerpiece that runs the length of the table, featuring candles, colorful leaves, florals, and more. For the silverware, you might choose to wrap it in decorative fabric napkins and tie them off with jute and cinnamon sticks. Use your imagination, scour the web, and come up with something that gives your Thanksgiving dinner table that extra touch of “festive.”

Play Thanksgiving games.

To add to the fun and keep your family entertained during dinner preparations on Thanksgiving, you might try organizing a fun Thanksgiving game or two. Here are some examples:

  • Thanksgiving bingo, featuring different things that might happen at the dinner table—a pet stealing food, someone saying “turkey,” or someone dropping their eating utensil, for example
  • Candy guessing jar, where guests write down their guessing for how many of a Thanksgiving themed candy there are in a jar—the closest guess wins the jar of candy
  • Thanksgiving photo booth, where family members can take fun photos together against a festive backdrop holding Thanksgiving-themed props
  • Thanksgiving word building, where dinner guests compete to see how many words they can create from the word “Thanksgiving,” such as “tank,” “sit,” and “sting”

Take it outdoors.

I know what you’re thinking: “Won’t it be freezing?” But if you have a deck or patio, there are ways to warm it up for late fall outdoor enjoyment. You can install an outdoor fireplace or firepit, space heaters, or specialized deck heaters to keep you and your family warm. And with the deck materials available today (seen on this site, for example) an outdoor deck can resemble a true extension of your home’s interior, making it a warm and inviting space for guests. And you don’t necessarily have to do dinner outdoors; you can bring just part of Thanksgiving outdoors with warm drinks, desserts, or expressions of gratitude around a fire. Bringing a part of Thanksgiving outdoors will help family members remember their gratitude for the outdoors and for the wonderful fall season.

Maurine Anderson originally hails from Washington, DC, but is now enjoying life out west in Salt Lake City. She is a professional writer and blogger who in her free time loves to create new cake recipes, travel, and practice her hand at photography. She tends to geek out over linguistics, cats, and all things Scandinavia.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Sponsored: Simplicity Kids & Adult Winter Wear

 I wrote this post while participating in a campaign and received a gift to thank me for my time. All views and opinions with regard to the products or company itself are my own and were not influenced or reviewed by the company prior to posting. I am disclosing this according to the FTC guideline

Sponsored: Simplicity Kids & Adult Winter Wear
Written By Renee Arbia

The holidays are among us and most of us have already started thinking about our shopping lists. Some of us have already started checking them twice and checking them off. Every year inevitably people decide to end up giving away some sort of winter apparel. The winter hat, scarf and gloves combination is an ever popular choice. So is the very stylish winter scarf for the fashion diva of your family. 

Simplicity makes winter apparel for adults and children. Their products are made from eco-friendly materials and are very affordable knitted apparel. Everything they offer comes in a wide array of colors, patterns and styles to fit even the discriminatory recipient.

I especially love Simplicity’s Seasonal set. It comes with a beanie hat, scarf and pair of gloves. They are the newer type of gloves that do not have hand holes. It is more like a sleeve that you wear over your knuckles to keep your hands warm and fingers free. I am not sure how well these types of gloves would work in the snowy northern part of the country. However, this type of gloves is perfect for our southern winters. Xavier could barely figure out gloves or mittens for the maybe four days a year he wears them. However, with the sleeve gloves, once I showed him how to wear them, he really loved them. I loved the bright color and snowflake pattern on the set also. It does come in many solid colors and patterns.

The second item we tried out was Simplicity’s InfinityScarf. The Infinity Scarf is one size fits all. I love this type of gift. One size fits all is the best type of gift to buy. That way you know you will not buy the wrong size and you do not have to ask the person what size they are giving them a hint into what they are getting for Christmas. The Infinity Scarf is great for the fashion diva of your house. It comes in a wide array of colors and patterns. I chose the turquoise chevron pattern. It is so incredibly soft and lightweight I love snuggling in it. The Infinity Scarf is so easy to wear. I cannot believe we have ever had regular scarves. It is one big circle of fabric. You can wear it as a long circle or double it up as a scarf. It is easy to use and extremely comfortable. You can even wear it inside or outside.

I love Simplicity’s idea to add something different to the boring set of winter apparel you will inevitably get for Christmas. So if you want to be the one who gives out the cool gloves and scarves this year. Check out Simplicity apparel and order your set or Infinity scarf while you can!

#Sponsored, #winterwear, #NextGenerationSAHMBlog

Monday, November 16, 2015

Sponsored: Zubels 2015 Holiday Collection

I wrote this post while participating in a campaign and received a gift to thank me for my time. All views and opinions with regard to the products or company itself are my own and were not influenced or reviewed by the company prior to posting. I am disclosing this according to the FTC guideline

Sponsored: Zubels 2015 Holiday Collection
Written By Renee Arbia


The holiday season is here. Are you looking for something unique and special to get that adorable baby or child in your life? You should definitely take a look at Zubels. Zubels make everything from 100% cotton (some organic). Their hand knit toys, hats, sweaters, pants and booties will be loved and cherished by children and parents. 

Zubels started with a creative group working together to bring smiles to children. There was a need for an eco-friendly yet purposeful toy whose only requirement was a little love and imagination. Zubels is a family owned company. The company, which has been in business for over 30 years, offers traditional, eco-friendly, hand knit toys, quality gifts, accessories and apparel which are available at various boutiques and online retailers.

This year for the holidays Zubels has come out with a great holiday collection of themed items. You can get great holiday and Christmas themed items such as Santa dolls, snowmen sweaters and hats, and reindeer rattles. They even have entire sets of a hat, sweater and doll or rattle. Their rattles and small dolls make great stocking stuffers. 

Zubels are each hand knit with 100% super soft organic cotton yarns. Zubels uses eco-friendly low-impact dyes and has minimal packaging to reduce environmental waste. Each one is also hand stuffed to make them huggable and loveable. Their subtle textures, vibrant colors and hand embroidered details spark imaginary play. Every doll has a distinct personality just like every child!

To order from Zubels check out their website at Zubels.com
Xavier and I are big fans of Zubels toys. Check out a video of us playing together! Subscribe to our YouTube Channel to see all our latest videos!

#ZUBELS, #MYZubels, #Sponsored, #NextGenerationSAHMBlog, #HolidayGiftGuide2015 


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