Monday, November 28, 2016

#givingTuesday Hits Home TSGA

#givingTuesday Hits Home TSGA
Written By Renee Arbia
 Next Generation Stay At Home Mom Blog

We are not big black Friday shoppers, nor Cyber Monday people. However, we always participate in Giving Tuesday. It is one of my favorite days. We always save at least $10 or more to give to a charity of our choice that day. It may not be much, but every little bit counts, and we try to spread it around for #givingTuesday. It is a great day to remind people to give back. Many charities are in need of extra resources during the cold holiday months.

We rotate every year who we give to, places like local charities, environmental charities and children charities we have given to in the past. This year when thinking about which charity to give to we did not have to look far. We simply had to look in our home. In my home, sleeping like an angel, in her swing, is our sweet miracle girl, Imogen.  This holiday season remember that this sweet miracle girl has touched your heart and life. If you are reading this post then you somehow know me, or have read my works, or are familiar with our situation. If you are reading this for the first time, perhaps you read it for a reason. Imogen has touched your life; Turner Syndrome touches your life.

Read Imogen's Birth Story
Turner Syndrome is a rare chromosomal condition that happens naturally and has no cure. It is the lacking of an x chromosome resulting in a host of different medical symptoms for girls with this condition. (Only females get Turner Syndrome) Many girls with Turner Syndrome suffer from heart conditions, kidney conditions, small stature, infertility, digestive issues and learning and social disabilities. Only 80,000 girls in the United States of America have Turner Syndrome. One of them has now touched your life. These girls are all strong and amazing. They endure multiple surgeries and medical procedures. They receive extra tutors and guidance, and excel at everything they put their minds to. Almost all girls with Turner Syndrome get a shot at least once a day and some more than others. That alone deserves a donation for the strength these girls have.

 There are many worthy charities to give to this holiday season, yet I ask you to please consider donating to the Turner Syndrome Global Alliance for our Imogen. She has a long life a head of her and so do many other girls with Turner Syndrome. Please help us advance the treatments for them. Imogen has touched your life in some way please help us to not only help her, but other girls like her.

“By making a #GivingTuesday donation to TSGA, you support our efforts to have a direct impact on the lives of girls, women, and families living with Turner Syndrome by working to include Turner Syndrome in the national conversation on genetic research. We are the voice for a patient and parent perspective as we seek collaboration with scientists, researchers, and doctors to ensure that Turner Syndrome research and resources have meaningful outcomes. On #GivingTuesday, millions of individuals across the United States will choose to support the causes that are important to them.  When you choose to support TSGA your donation will have an impact on the thousands of families who struggle daily to support the medical and social needs of their loved one with Turner Syndrome.  With more information and better interventions, girls and women with Turner Syndrome can live healthier, more successful lives.” – Turner Syndrome Global Alliance

You can donate by following the link here

Please share this on your social media platforms to encourage others to donate and share! Happy #givingTuesday!

#givingTuesday, #NextGenerationSAHMBlog

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

A Room for Imogen

A Room for Imogen
Written By Renee Arbia

Story Book Ad Campaign Sponsors:
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.

Our sweet girl is now four months old. She is growing up so fast already. She rolls from side to side and can even scoot herself on her back. She loves being around her family and she adores her big brother. At four months Imogen still sleeps in a number of different places and positions. We decided it was time to get her room finished so that we can start to get her to nap in her crib during the day.

We only cleaned out her room when I was pregnant with her. We were too afraid to get her room ready for her when her arrival was so unclear. (Read Imogen’s Birth Story) Now that she is here and very strong and healthy we decided it was time to give Imogen a place of her own. Rather than doing a set theme with matching curtains, crib and d├ęcor I instead decided to just have an overall idea and make her room more of a vintage nursery. I had a lot of items from when I was little, like pictures and blankets so it made it very personal and much more unique.

We ended up with a sort of vintage butterfly garden theme. I pretty much tried to keep a color palette for everything as well as anything you would see in a garden. (Ok maybe not the ballet slipper painting, but that is a special picture that used to be mine so it was more sentimental).

I really like the decorative wall hooks we got for her. They come in blue, yellow and pink and are screws. You stick them to the wall and screw them in. It was so easy Xavier was able to screw them in and they are super strong hooks that do not damage the wall.

I also had to have blackout curtains for Imogen’s room. I love the soft, silky texture of these Luxury Home Blackout Curtains.

All the baby toys were easy to store in the adorable and durable Jute Storage Bins by Ziggy Baby. I like these bins because they look like burlap, but are not, and are easier to clean. They also say “Toys” on one side and “Storage” on the other. We used them for Imogen’s toys. They are really big and hold a lot of toys. 

Imogen is extremely sensitive to smells and for a while we were debating about painting her room. We decided against it as it is winter time and it would be too hard to air the room out. Instead we decided to get flower and butterfly decals to spread around the walls of her room. We used 3D decals of butterflies and flat decals. Of course, this was Xavier’s favorite part of decorating Imogen’s room.

We think it turned out beautiful and Imogen loves it. It is nice for her to have her own space and we enjoy showing her all the love we put into her room. We hope she enjoys it for years to come!

#Storybookadcampaign, #sponsored, #NextGenerationSAHMBlog, #Imogen, #butterflygardennursery, #vintagenursery, #vintagebutterflygardennursery, #turnersyndrome, #specialneeds, #review, #adcampaign, #decorativewallhooks, #ziggybaby, #jutestoragebins, #LuxuryHomesBlackout, #blackoutcurtains

Monday, November 21, 2016

How to Become a Lunch-Making Master

Right about this time of year every year many parents start running low on ideas for making lunches. We are in need of some serious inspiration of what to put in the  lunch box every day. My friend and fellow writer Christine has written a great post today about mastering the lunch box! Enjoy!

How to Become a Lunch-Making Master
By Christine Hill

How often do you have a mad scramble in the morning, while you and the kids haphazardly piece together a lunch to take to school? I can promise you… you’re not the only one dealing with the stress of last-minute lunches.

You always have the option of sending your child to school with lunch money instead of a paper-bag lunch, but if you’re living on a budget, all you have to do is track your spending for a week or two to learn that buying a school lunch isn’t near as cost-efficient as bringing one.

Furthermore, school-provided lunches usually just aren’t as nutritious as a homemade meal. Preparing a proper school lunch is one of the biggest things that you can do to keep your child alert and focused at school, and to keep them healthy in the long-term. So, here are some tips that can help you send your child off to school each day with a lunch that will fuel healthy grades and positive energy.

Plan in Bulk

Buying things a little bit at a time adds up. Stores will almost always help you save when you buy in bulk. This might mean making room in your freezer and pantry for backup staples, but it will be worth it in savings.

Buying in bulk is an obvious solution, but many people forget the next step: preparing in bulk! Most successful lunch packers prepare on Sunday so that the rest of the week will go smoothly. Sometimes, that’s simply a matter of cutting up a bunch of vegetables, cooking some meat, and preparing a large salad that your family can eat in pieces throughout the week. Freeze extra perishable items so that you can use them later.

Salads are a Lunch Box’s Best Friend

Salads aren’t usually a child’s go-to lunch preference. But that’s often because we tend to take a narrow view of salad. There are a lot of ways to make fun and exciting salads for your child, and it’s a lunch form that keeps well throughout the day, and even for several days at a time. Here are some tips:

  • Capitalize on ingredients that have punchy flavor, like feta cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, eggs, and berries.
  • Make a huge salad ahead of time and store it in a bag in your fridge. Chopping and mixing takes the most time when you’re preparing salad, and it’s much faster if you do it all at once.
  • Think about alternate salads that your kids will enjoy: egg salad, potato salad, and fruit salad are some of the basics. Then there’s pasta salad, tabbouleh, quinoa salad… the possibilities are endless!

Think Beyond the Sandwich

Sandwiches are a lunchtime classic for a reason. They’re delicious cold, and it’s easy to have cold cuts and veggies on hand. However, you don’t have to be limited to the classic format. Consider fun shish-kebabs, pita sandwiches, wraps, and crackers with a hearty dip.

Enlist Your Child’s Help

This is hands-down the best way to ensure that all of the healthy elements in your child’s lunch aren’t just dumped in the trash at the end of the lunch break. Kids are always more excited about something that they helped create themselves. Get your child involved and excited in making their school lunches and turn it into a fun activity that you can do together. This starts at the grocery store. Set a limit, but allow your child to pick out a treat that will be in their lunch that week. Then, teach your child to make a few basic things, like tuna salad, or their own PB & J sandwich. As your child grows up, the concoctions that you make together can get more and more exciting.

Use Your Leftovers

I’ve learned that the key to maximizing leftovers is all about effective tupperware. In Japan, they have it down with bento boxes, cleverly compartmentalized in order to segregate your food. Treat your child to a quality lunchbox of their choice that will also be functional for leftovers.

If your child is unable to heat a brown-bag lunch, your choices for leftovers will be more limited, but there are still lots of dinners that make great cold leftovers. Turn pasta into a pasta salad instead, put leftover meat into a hearty sandwich, and consider lunch leftovers when you cook the day before. Here are more tips to get the most out of leftovers:

  • Add a side. Leftover eggplant parmigiana simply won’t be as exciting as a main dish, along with a roll and some carrot sticks and almond butter.
  • Cook extra for dinner so that you have enough to set aside for lunch.
  • Main dishes that can’t fit into a sandwich might fit better in a wrap or a pita. You can shred meat, crumble meatloaf, and toss stir-fry in to easily transition dinner to lunch.

Christine is a professional writer and an avid reader who’s passionate about storytelling in all its forms. At any given moment, she’s in the middle of at least three books on anything from human psychology to ninjas. Although she’s a marathon swimmer and enjoys camping in the mountains, she believes there’s nothing better than a carton of ice cream and a Dawson’s Creek marathon.

#NextGenerationSAHMBlog, #recipes, #schoollunches, #lunchideas, #schoollunchideas, #eatinghealthy, #greenliving, #guestpost

Friday, November 18, 2016

Try A Different Recipe for Thanksgiving

Last Minute Thanksgiving Recipes

   If you are still unsure on what you are going to cook for Thanksgiving. Here are a few of my favorite recipes and many of them are quick and easy to make. Feel free to check them out or pin them to your Pinterest boards. Also, always check out the Recipe Tab as I log all my recipes on here on that tab. You are sure to find something that will please the relatives!

Italian Stuffed Mushrooms

Apple-Sweet Potato Bake

Crockpot Pumpkin Mac and Cheese

Cranberry Apple Pork Tenderloin

Cheesy Squash Bake

Easy Lemon Bars

Dutch Apple Cake

Pumpkin Spice Bread

Chocolate Date Bites

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Last Bed

The Last Bed
Written By Renee Arbia

 Story Book Ad Campaign Sponsors

eveshine wall decals
Kejee Wood Portable Bluetooth Speaker
Glowers 2.0
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.

Bye bye toddler bed

Last month we finally gave Xavier his big boy bed, it is the last bed size he will ever need. He started in a cradle in our room, then a crib, then a toddler bed, and now a full size bed. He is growing up so fast, and he is so excited with each step that he takes, if only he would slow down just a little. We tried to prolong the big bed as long as possible. We find it best not to rush milestones in our children’s lives. For the most part either Xavier changes or our life changes to make the transition. We were slow to move Xavier to any different sleep arrangements. I did not want to move him out of his toddler bed when we had a newborn baby. I thought it would be too many changes for him all at once and I wanted to wait until Imogen was a couple months old. Imogen sleeps in our room right now and we plan to have her for a while. Although she has a room she does not use it. Due to the nature of my pregnancy with her (Read Imogen’s Birth Story) we did not even start decorating her room until recently. It was a guest room, so we planned on moving the full size bed out of Imogen’s room, and into Xavier’s room. Getting the time to start the renovation is a lot harder than we thought with both of the kids, but we are slowly making progress.

One day into the process of fixing up Imogen’s room. Xavier asked me when he would get a big boy bed. I asked him why it mattered to him to have a big boy bed. After all he still fit in his toddler bed and he had more floor space for toys. “My friends have big boy beds. I would like a big boy bed too”. We had not mentioned to Xavier that we already planned on giving him the full size bed that was in the guest room, so it was fun to be able to say “I think that is a great idea! You have been such a great big brother and you are getting to be such a big boy I think that you should get a big boy bed.” He of course was beyond thrilled and we promptly moved the bed into his room.

We did not do a total redecorate for his room, but we spruced it up. He has a jungle theme room and I added some new wall decals with the world map and animals on them. We also changed out some of his pictures on his walls, and moved around his shelving units. I got him some basic sheets and comforter for his bed. He was really excited to make it with me.

One of the things he liked best was picking out the sheets and comforter. He also wasted no time in prompting putting all of his “buddies” (bunch of stuffed animals) on the bed, along with three different blankets that he says are “snuggly” and therefore must be snuggled at bed time. For the most part we let him choose his bedding. I figure he has to sleep in it so he can figure out what works best for him. He is good at keeping his bed nice and making it. His favorite thing is for all of us to “hang out on his bed and listen to music”. Yes, my four year old wants his family to hang out on his bed and listen to his jams (read music box).

I cannot believe how big my little man is getting. Since having Imogen it seems like Xavier grew up even faster. It is hard to sometimes remember him being as small as she is now. You think as parents that you will always remember every moment. I am a stay at home parent to be here for every moment, but no matter how many photos, videos or mental notes I have of a moment of our child’s life you forget it. Sure you remember the big things, but you really do forget the small everyday things. For now I guess I will soak in more moments lying on his bed, looking at his stars, listening to his music and loving each moment with my son.

#NextGenerationSAHMBlog, #sponsored, #storybookadcampaign, #HolidayGiftGuide2016, #eveshine

Today's sponsors are part of our Holiday Gift Guide for 2016! Add them to your shopping list!
Story Book Ad Campaign Sponsors
eveshine wall decals
Kejee Wood Portable Bluetooth Speaker
Glowers 2.0


Monday, November 14, 2016

Creating your Backyard Meditation Space

Happy November everyone! I apologize for not posting as much as usual this month. I definitely under estimated how much work a four month and a four year old are. We are working on trying to have some sort of schedule. Stick with me and I promise to keep you entertained in the parenting world and write more. Please remember to follow all social channels as sometimes it is easier for me to post on Twitter or Instagram, than Blogger. 

As the holiday season is among us I thought a long with gift guides, recipes and fun things to do I would try to give you ways to make the holidays less stressful. I am a fan of yoga and meditation. Here is a great guest post from my friend and fellow writer Christine Hill on how to create a great backyard meditation space. Check it out and post a picture of your meditation space on our Facebook page we would love to see it!

Creating Your Backyard Meditation Space
By Christine Hill

What do you usually do when you come home from a hard day? If you’re like me, you storm in the back door, shed your shoes and bag as soon as possible, then raid the fridge for the most accessible comfort food, and lug your armful over to the couch to zone out on Netflix.

What if there was a better way? What if instead of numbing with calories and comedies as soon as you got home, you instead found a sanctuary and created half an hour of inner peace that gave you clarity and positivity to deal with the best hours of the day?

What if you had a meditation garden in your backyard?

Meditation has been proven to help people overcome depression, addiction, and anxiety disorders. It improves sleep and creativity. It helps us regulate our body and mind, leading to better health, and more clear and orderly cognition.

You probably have heard a lot about the benefits of meditation. You’ve probably even tried it a few times and liked it. But how can you make it more of your daily routine? A meditation garden might be the key. A beautiful, appealing space in your backyard could help you gain peace and refuge in a hectic life.

Here’s a guide, along with some awesome ideas, to get you started!

1: Pick a View

Although the focus of meditation should be internal, you can help soothe your mind and relax into a meditation mindset with a beautiful view. Japanese zen rock gardens are meant to be observed from a specific meditation location and the whole design is built around that focal point. Now, if you have a garden that’s really not picture-perfect, that’s okay! In fact, a meditation corner could be the perfect start for re-doing your landscaping. Think about how many great ideas you’ll get while you meditate and observe your yard space!

When you pick a location for your meditation garden, remember to factor in a few elements that will make it more conducive to its purpose: give it a level of separation from the rest of the world and check the comfort level, including the temperature, noise level, and privacy.

2: Pick a Seat

Think about the purpose of your space. Will it be solely for meditation? Do you also want space to entertain and read and eat breakfast? Do you want to do yoga there too? I recommend that you make the space especially for meditation and nothing else. Having it be your own special space will help you get into a meditation mindset each time you go there. (But honestly, it’s your yard. Do what you want!)

The first and most important thing you need for the beginning of your meditation garden is a proper seat. Remember that you’ll want a place with a nice view, comfortable enough to meditate without distraction (but don’t get TOO comfortable!) Consider a special meditation pillow, a platform, or simply a comfortable flat space that will hold your meditation mat well.

3: Enhance with Sounds, Smell, and Touch

Once you have the most essential parts down, it’s time to start in on the fun part! Create a truly atmospheric space using beautiful garden design and meditation aids. This is where you can get really creative. While you’re brainstorming ideas, consider incorporating sounds, smell, and touch that will all focus and aid your meditation. Here are some awesome ideas to get your creative juices flowing!

  • Chimes: In Buddhism, the sound of the bell represents Dharma, or the law that orders and governs the universe. As a general meditation aid, it can be used to focus and organize your mind, to encourage positive attention and vibrations, and of course… to keep you from falling asleep!
  • Fountain: A fountain is one of the handiest things that you can have in a meditation garden. It provides white noise that blocks out environmental distractions. Additionally, the sound of water itself is deeply soothing, and observing the patterns of water can enable constructive meditation.
  • Aromatherapy: Your form of aromatherapy is up to you, but it’s been long known that certain scents can affect our mood and energy. You can get an essential oil diffuser that will work outdoors, burn incense, or simply plant with aromas in mind.
  • Labyrinth: Labyrinths were used in ancient time to let the mind meander into spiritual ponderings. You can create a low-maintenance labyrinth in your garden with a stonework feature. The effect can be achieved simply by tracing the lines with your eyes, or by walking the path physically.
  • Mantra Visualization: Sometimes printing out a mantra that you would like to focus on will remind you of your purpose whenever you sit down to meditation. Think about printing it on a picture that you can hang up, or even on stones that you can hold with each meditation.
  • Symbolic Arrangements: Even without an explicit statement or mantra, you can surround yourself with symbols that will aid meditation. For example, arranging stones to build a representation of your family can give you a fun way to ponder on those things that are most important to you.

#NextGenerationSAHMBlog, #backyardmeditationspace, #inspirational

Friday, November 4, 2016

Board Free Family Game Night

Board Free Family Game Night
Written by Renee Arbia

Sponsored by: Blue Orange Games
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.

I love having a four year old. They are so much fun to converse and play with. Something we have really started doing more with Xavier is playing games. He loves the typical Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders board games, but we have also started playing different types of games. I started with a pack of cards and teaching him to play Go Fish. Then, he got a couple Spot It games from Chick-Fil-A. We really enjoy playing card type games. I cannot stand all the set up and tear down of normal board games so just playing with cards is much easier and faster. They are especially easy to use with our newborn. I can easily play with one hand, and set up and clean up quickly.

We were excited to try out the new Rally Up game from BlueOrange Games. I like that the cards are big and bright and come in a tin. It was a little difficult to follow at first, but we just took things slow. It is fun to sort the cards and put them in different categories. It really helped Xavier to focus and pay attention and I think it helped him to process things at a much faster rate. There are 110 exotically illustrated cards that you shuffle, distribute and turn face up on the table. Then, you race to rally up 2 or more images that belong to the same family. It teaches a lot of visual perception to kids. It is great for 2 to 6 players and is best for ages 6 and up.

Rally Up is a great game to add to family game night. With virtually no set up and easy clean up, there’s no reason not to make a little extra time with your family to let loose and have fun!

Rally Up and many of the Blue Orange Games make great gifts for this Holiday Season! #HolidayGiftGuide2016! 

#rallyup, #sponsored, #NextGenerationSAHMBlog, #HolidayGiftGuide2016, #GameNight


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