Hiku Prize Pack Giveaway (with $50 Visa GIft Card!)

hiku Giveaway

I’ve teamed up with Thrifty Nifty Mommy and Viva Veltoro for another awesome giveaway – this time for a hiku prize pack giveaway, sponsored by hiku.

The hiku is a new scanning device that makes creating a shopping list a breeze. It’s magnetic and attaches right to your fridge so it’s always handy and ready when you are. Simply scan an item or speak the name of a product that you need into the hiku and it’s automatically added to the hiku app shopping list. Each item is separated by the product type so you don’t have to deal with the frustration of returning to a previous aisle because you forgot an item.

Scan it. Or say it.

hiku recognizes both barcodes and voice, instantly adding items to your shopping list. No scribbling. No typing. No forgetting.

It’s simple and it’s fun.

hiku is designed to be so easy a five-year-old can use it. Press one simple button and hiku takes care of the rest.

Your list is always with you.

hiku creates a shopping list that appears on your smart phone or tablet. You can share your list with family or anyone else. When you add an item or cross one off, your list is updated everywhere.

It even shops for you.

Coming soon, hiku will find items available for purchase online, show you the price (including whether it’s eligible for free shipping), and let you buy right from your phone.

hiku remembers, so you don’t have to.

We’ve all been there. You get home from the store and realize you left something important off your list. (Hey, you’re human.) Hiku was created to make shopping simple, fast, and fun. So you never forget a thing.

To find out more, read Thrifty Nifty Mommy’s review of the hiku.

hiku wants to give one lucky reader a hiku scanner prize package that contains:
1 hiku scanner and a $50 Visa gift card!

Open to the US only, ages 18 and up. Ends 12/08/14 at 11:59 PM EST.
Enter using the Giveaway Tools form below. Good luck!

Entry Form

Disclosure: This giveaway is hosted by Viva Veltoro and Thrifty Nifty Mommy, and generously sponsored by hiku. The participating bloggers are not responsible for prize fulfillment. Please contact thriftyniftymommy{at}yahoo.com with questions about this giveaway. One winner will be randomly selected using the Giveaway Tools random selector and notified via email. Once notified, winner will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or Google. Void where prohibited.

Tips for Black Friday Shopping

Black Friday shopping has long been a tradition in my family. My dad and I used to wake up at 5am the Friday after Thanksgiving and head to the outlet mall about 45 minutes away to stand in a line wrapped around the entire Tommy Hilfiger store. Did we do it for the sales? Kind of. But mostly, we did it because it was fun and it was something special for a girl and her dad.

My dad has since passed, but I continue the Black Friday shopping in his memory. Black Friday has changed tremendously over the past decade. Stores began opening earlier and earlier on Friday until they tipped into Thanksgiving night. Now, some stores are even open all day on Thanksgiving. What ever happened to the good American holiday known for giving thanks and sharing a family meal? Now it’s about throwing ‘bows just to get the $1 DVDs at Walmart.

I love a great deal, but I don’t shop on BF for the deals. I shop for the fun. It’s the only day of the year where you can shop [in stores] at 3AM with your best friend (and sleep in the parking lot). So if you’re looking to get the best deal of the century on Black Friday, you probably won’t get much from this post (rather, sleep in and check out these tips). If you’re looking to get a good deal and have fun while doing it, read on.

Tips-for-black-friday-shopping

Browse the ads now. Most of the Black Friday ads for next week have already leaked online. Check out where you want to go and make a list. If you’re not willing to leave the dinner table early (I’m not), don’t bank on snagging a doorbuster. Those are usually scooped up well before the doors even open (many stores hand out “claim” cards to the people in line outside).

The doorbusters usually aren’t worth it. Many companies create exclusive versions that are lower in quality for the “biggest shopping day of the year.” They make limited quantities and spend a ton of money so that you buy into all the hoopla. If you’re looking for a TV or computer, you can usually find a similar model (or better one) for around the same price or a little more online the week of Thanksgiving and the weeks thereafter.

What’s your time worth? How much are you really saving? These are the million dollar questions. If you don’t find shopping fun (I personally love the thrill of the hunt), then is saving $4 on that hooded kid’s towel really worth your time? There are people that have been standing outside in line at Best Buy for two weeks now. If you calculate the amount of hours they spend waiting in line by the money they’re saving, they are valuing their time at less than $1/hour. I wouldn’t work for that; would you?

There’s a lull. There’s always a lull. And it’s actually not as bad now that the stores are opening earlier. When they opened at midnight, the lull wouldn’t hit until around 3am. Now, since stores are opening at 5 and 6pm, the lull begins are 11pm and lasts for a few hours. If you want to avoid the crowds, shop then.

Shop online. Some sales start online when the clock strikes midnight Thanksgiving day. Kohl’s is [typically] one of them. Stay warm, sleep in, save money and shop online.

Check your email for preview offers. Companies are all about making money. So why wait until Thursday to start slashing prices? They want to seize every opportunity to get a customer, so many are starting “Black Friday” early. H&M just sent me an email about their sale, going on now, and Toys“R”Us is releasing select Black Friday deals exclusively to Rewards“R”Us members starting tomorrow, both in-store and online.

Read store maps. Yes, there are maps. Big retailers like Target and Walmart put their Black Friday doorbusters in random places throughout the store (like TVs in the women’s department).

Print coupons. If you’re shopping for 8 hours straight, you’ll (1.) probably be a zombie and forget about any store coupons you have and (2.) probably run out of charge for your iPhone (don’t you always?). Some retailers, like Kohl’s, offer EXTRA discounts for Black Friday sales, which are sent via email a few days in advance.

Pay attention to start times/store hours. Walmart started the tier system last year (or the the year before that) offering deals beginning at certain times during the night. You won’t want to show up at the store hoping for a certain price when that one won’t go into effect until a few hours later (although some automated registers will scan the 10pm price at 6pm).

Leave the kids at home with dad. First, it’s WAY easier to shop without them. Second, Black Friday is no place for children. It can be complete chaos and is not an environment conducive for kiddos.

Have fun! It’s not worth your time if you don’t enjoy it. And treat yourself you a latte. You’ll need it.

Diono Radian RXT Giveaway 12/5

Radian-GiveawayWith the holidays coming, it’s the perfect time to think about those moms-to-be and new babies on your holiday list. What better gift can you give than one of the safest car seats on the market, that just so happens to be the only seat they’ll ever need?! That’s why we’re so excited to offer a Diono Radian RXT giveaway – just in time for the holidays!

Here’s some information about the  from the Diono website:

The Radian®RXT Car Seats are designed with your child’s security and safety as top priorities. Premium materials and thoughtful safety features like a steel alloy frame, aluminum reinforced side walls, energy absorbing EPS foam, and a five-point harness put your mind at ease as your little one stays safe and sound. The reinforced adjustable head support provides additional side impact protection.

Features:

  • Full steel frame and aluminum reinforced sides for unmatched safety
  • Comfortably seats rear-facing children from 5-45 lbs, forward-facing children from 20 – 80 lbs in a 5-point harness, then converts to a booster for children up to 120 lbs
  • Unique SuperLATCH system that makes installation easy
  • It also fits 3 across in most mid-size vehicles, folds flat for travel and is FAA certified
  • Booster mode from 50 – 120 lbs (40 to 57 inches)
  • NCAP crash tested, the industry benchmark for verifying child seat performance in severe accident condition
  • Infant body support cushions and memory foam for added comfort
  • Energy absorbing EPS foam and side impact protection provides added safety
  • Safestop® energy-absorbing harness
  • Additional forward-facing recline position to accommodate different types of contoured vehicle seats, 12-position adjustable headrest, 5 shoulder and 3 buckle positions deliver a comfortable ride
  • Rear-facing tether capability
  • Additional set of harness pads included to use only when the child is over 65 lbs in the 5-point harness
  • Expandable sides and long seat bottom allow proper leg support
  • Low-sitting profile makes it easy for your child to board
  • Angled cup holder keeps a variety of drinks upright and within easy reach
  • Cover is machine washable (we do not recommend one with an agitator) and dryable
  • Rubber bottom grips for no-slip installation
  • 10 year life

Ruth from Viva Veltoro recently had the opportunity to review the Diono Radian RXT and she is really pleased with this fabulous car seat. Make sure to check out her full review to see all the of features of this seat up close and personal!

To enter to win a Diono Radian RXT, just use the Giveaway Tools form below.
Open to the US, ages 18 and up. Ends 12/5/14 at 11:59 PM EST.

Disclosure: This giveaway is hosted by Viva Veltoro and generously sponsored by Diono. Viva Veltoro, Thrifty Nifty Mommy, and the participating blogs are not responsible for prize fulfillment. Please contact vivaveltoro(at)gmail.com with questions about this giveaway. One winner will be randomly selected using the Giveaway Tools random selector and notified via email. Once notified, the winner will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or Google. Void where prohibited.

What I Learned on Maternity Leave, the Second Time

Twelve weeks sounds like such a long time, yet it flew by.

Tomorrow I head back to the office. As I pack up my pump, transfer everything from my diaper bag to an actual purse, and dig out some real shoes from the back of my closet, I can’t help but look back at the past 12 weeks.

Twelve weeks ago tonight, I went to bed expecting to wake up early the next morning for my routine OB appointment and then head into the office. To my surprise, I woke up at 5am with a sudden gush, jumped out of bed and screamed, “Dennnnn. My water broke!”

Just hours later, our little man entered the world.

New-Rocker

Two years ago, we made the decision as a family that my husband would quit his job and stay at home with our newborn daughter while I worked full-time outside of the house. It was the best decision we could have made and I don’t know what I would do without him. A few months later, I started this blog as my hobby/night job as my outlet for all the things I’ve experienced as a working mom and a new parent.

But for the past 12 weeks, I was a real mom – by real I mean the mom that I want to be. The mom who is there when they fall asleep AND wake up. The mom who gets to see when her daughter first successfully uses the potty. The mom who is there to breastfeed on demand. The mom who can balance both kids in her arms while pushing a grocery cart. Not the mom who chats with her kids via FaceTime over lunch.

It saddens me to leave them tomorrow, but it makes me happy knowing that their dad will be there to kiss their boo-boos, rock them to sleep, feed them their nummies, and rub their sweet little backs. It’s still difficult to relinquish those responsibilities as a mother to my husband. I know this is the decision I’ve made, but that doesn’t mean that it’s easy.

Over the past 12 weeks, I’ve learned more about being a mom then I have in the past two years. I learned that my daughter sings twinkle, twinkle to herself when she wakes up from her naps; that she’s an independent, driven little girl, who was capable of potty training herself.

I learned that my body is more than just a shell covered with stretch marks from two beautiful children. It’s strong enough to make milk to feed both my children; strong enough hold each of them in my arms, even at the same time, and gentle enough to rock them to sleep and keep them asleep.

I learned that the dishes can wait. My children will only be this little for a short period of time.

I learned that no matter how much you prepare for two children, going from one to two will rock your world (in an amazing way).

Siblings

I learned that every kid is different. My daughter woke up every two hours on the dot for the first 7 months. My son slept through the night at 4 weeks.

I learned that even when I thought there was no possible way I could love another child as much as I love my daughter, I can. My heart opened and made room.

I learned that working from home meant working while nursing, playing house, and fetching pacis that fell beneath the couch (and even sometimes with an infant in your lap). I also learned that I can type one-handed better than I thought.

I learned that I do have the capability to take care of two sick children and one sick husband, at the same time.

I learned that Trader Joe’s is the least crowded on Tuesday mornings.

I learned that I CAN survive without ice cream and will do anything for my children, even give up dairy after learning my son has an allergy.

I learned that both of my kids hate being swaddled.

I learned that having a newborn is a piece of cake compared to having a newborn AND a toddler. Why did I think this was so hard with just one?

Family-BW

I learned that there will be times I’ll have to say, “Don’t put that plane on your brother’s head!”

I learned that it takes me twice as long to write a blog post now than it did with just my daughter. You should see the amount of “drafts” I started and probably will never finish.

I learned that Shark Tank actually has new episodes and I don’t have to keep watching the reruns on CNBC.

I learned that it’s okay to be excited for bedtime, both mine and theirs.

I learned that no matter how hard my son cries, he will always stop when mommy holds him in her arms.

I learned that skin-to-skin is the best medicine.

I learned that it is damn near impossible to get out of Target with a toddler in tow without a meltdown.

I learned that being a stay-at-home parent is the toughest job in the world and I have a new found respect and appreciation for my husband.

Total-family

I learned that my husband has made our daughter an avid sports fan who is able to identify the difference between basketball, football, and baseball games and knows our team’s colors.

I learned that you can effectively discipline a 2-year-old, and teach her how to count to 10 while in time out (now it’s time to learn 11-20).

I learned that I take a lot of things in life for granted.

I learned that there aren’t enough hours in a day.

I learned that they grow too fast.

And I remembered that there is no better sound in the world than a baby’s giggle and no better feeling than holding your newborn in your arms.

23 Tips For Scoring REAL Deals and Saving Money this Holiday

I may only be in my late 20s, but ever since I discovered the mall at age 11, I’ve been clipping coupons and taking names. My obsession with bargain hunting has saved me thousands over the past decade. Ask any of my friends, and they would tell you that they aren’t surprised that my holiday shopping is already 90% complete. I start early to stay on budget. But I also have many other money saving tricks and tips to keep that mullah in your wallet rather than under the tree.

23 Tips For Scoring REAL Deals and Saving Money this Holiday

23 Tips for scoring REAL deals and saving money this holiday

1. Coupon overage. I’ve never been ashamed of clipping coupons. Most retailers that accept coupons don’t give money back for coupon overage, but some let you to use it towards another item in your transaction (Walmart is one of them). If you score a moneymaker deal with coupons, add an item or two on your holiday shopping list to knock the price down.

2. Cash in your rewards. Any time a store asks me to sign up for their rewards program, I always jump on it. Now is the time to use those rewards! Cash in your Pampers Gifts to Grow points, Rewards”R”Us, Kohl’s Yes2You Rewards, and DSW Rewards. And don’t forget your airline miles. Many airlines have a rewards catalog where you can use your miles towards items.

3. Enter giveaways. Believe or not, people do win these! Many bloggers, myself included, host giveaways throughout the year, ramping up the number of giveaways during the holidays. There are even lists of low-entry giveaways (found here, here and here). Someone has to win; why can’t it be you?

4. Free gift cards with purchase. CVS offers Extra Care Bucks with certain purchases each week, Kohl’s runs Kohl’s Cash several times a year for $10 with every $50 spent (I think it goes up to $15 during their Black Friday sale), Target has special gift card incentives in their health and beauty departments throughout the year, and Oshkosh and Carter’s offer a $10 reward for every $50 spent. Use the gift cards or store credits/rewards towards your holiday shopping.

5. Stalk the deal sites. There are three deal sites that I visit religiously – Brad’s Deals, Slickdeals, and The Krazy Coupon Lady. I’ve saved hundreds checking these sites before making a purchase.

6. Price match. Target does it. Walmart does it. Toys”R”Us does it. Save gas and time by doing a one-stop shop at one of these stores. Just be sure to read all the fine print before price matching (some only match in-store pricing and most will price match OR accept a store coupon).

7. Use the free money. A handful of retailers send out coupons around this time of year for $10 off a $10 purchase (DSW and JCP are two of them) in an effort to get people in stores. Don’t feel guilty for spending the minimum and cashing in! Citrus Lane does “mystery offers” for their members (even those who haven’t signed up for a subscription, just an account) worth $5, $10, or $15 (no minimum) via email a few times a year and Sears ShopYourWay reward members get limited time “bonus” cash in their accounts sporadically throughout the year (chose “ship to store” for free shipping). USE THE FREE MONEY! By doing so this holiday season, I’ve already crossed two people off my list and spent $3 out of pocket.

8. Craft/DIY. Nothing is more meaningful than handmade gifts, especially from little ones. Grab some craft paper, crayons and a frame from the dollar store for a personalized gift on the cheap.

9. Free shipping. I rarely, I mean rarely, buy anything online that requires an extra fee for shipping. If a website requires a minimum purchase to score free shipping AND accepts returns in store, I always buy the minimum and then return what I don’t need to my local store to save on shipping. You can also search RetailMeNot for free shipping coupon codes. Amazon also offers free Prime trials for free two day shipping (just be sure to cancel before the trail is over and make sure you haven’t done a free trial in the past 12 months or you will automatically get charged). There is also a day in December, the 18th this year, called Free Shipping Day when over 500 online retailers offer free shipping.

10. After-Halloween clearance. Have a little one who loves dress up? Skip the expensive “dress up” items in the toy section and capitalize on Halloween clearance. Last year, I snagged legit Cinderella and Ariel “costumes” for about $8 a pop. Right now, Target has Halloween clearance marked down 90% in stores!

11. Closeout stores. Five Below is my favorite for stocking stuffers, Marc’s (a Northeast Ohio local chain) is great for toy closeouts, as is Ollie’s and Gabe’s (formerly known as Gabriel Brothers).

12. Clearance (in stores). Walmart has a $1 bin in their closeout aisle (look on the bottom shelves) as well as shopping carts filled with clearance items throughout the store (sporadically throughout the year). But my FAVORITE clearance is found at Marshall’s and TJ Maxx. Look for the yellow clearance stickers (this is the lowest price an item will be marked). Using this method, I’ve scored wall art for $0.30 and an authentic Fendi scarf for $3.00!

13. Fuel perks. In my area, we have what is called Giant Eagle fuelperks. For every $50 in gift cards you buy, you get $0.10 or $0.20 fuel perks (up to 30 gallons). That’s and extra $3 – $6 in your pocket. I buy gift cards to the places I plan on doing my Christmas shopping and then use them like cash.

14. Credit card bonuses. Many credit cards (already in your wallet) offer extra cash back during the holidays. Log into your credit card account online to opt-in to these promotions.

15. Buy second-hand. I just bought my daughter’s BIG Christmas gift on Craigslist – a train table with tracks and trains for $40 (would have been upwards of $150 new in stores). A little bit of sanitizer and it’s good as new. Kids have such a short window for toys anyway, so buying gently used or second-hand isn’t a bad way to go (they won’t know the difference). I also shop on Facebook groups for new or gently used toys.

16. Camelcamelcamel. This is one of the coolest inventions EVER! Locate the item you want to purchase on Amazon, enter it on camelcamelcamel along with your desired price and email address and you’ll get an email when Amazon drops the price to your desired amount. You can also look at the history of the item’s price to see when the price normally drops.

17. Store coupon apps. Just for walking into Target (with the Shopkick open), you’ll get kicks. As you earn more kicks, you can turn them into gift cards for stores like Target, Starbucks and Old Navy. SnipSnap is fabulous for mobile store coupons and let’s you leave your stack of Bed Bath and Beyond coupons at home. Cartwheel knocks prices down further in store at Target (plus you can stack mobile coupons, manufacturer coupons, AND still take advantage of the free gift card promotions).

18. Ebates. You get cash back just for shopping online through Ebates. Anytime I shop Nordstrom.com, Kohls.com, Sears.com, even Amazon, I ALWAYS visit Ebates first, search the store and then click through my Ebates account. Plus, this time of year, Ebates offers double cash back promotions. This year, by using Ebates, I’ve earned over $100 in cash back (it comes in the mail via check).

19. Cash in the freebies you forgot about. A year ago or so, I had a less than pleasant experience with treat, so they added 3 free cards to my account. This is the perfect time for me to cash in on those cards. This is also a great time to use the gift cards in your wallet with small balances to free up some space and save some dough. Don’t have any freebies? Shutterfly frequently offers free items (just pay shipping), which are usually announced via email. Snag 50 free 4×6 prints just for signing up.

20. Take the surveys. Shop at Stride Rite? Every time I make a purchase there, a survey prints at the bottom of the receipt for $5 off my next purchase in store (no minimum and can be stacked with other coupons). I always take the survey for this coupon. It’s a pair of socks or hair bows, or knocks my clearance purchase from the Stride Rite outlet store down even further. Like I always say, take the free money!

21. Discount designer goods. I have four go-to websites for designer deals (the designers and offers change daily) – HauteLook, Gilt, MyHabit, and Rue La La. Rebecca Minkoff at upwards of 50% off? Yes, please.

22. Let others do the crafting. Who doesn’t love Etsy? I always find great items at decent prices on Etsy (saves me the time trying to DIY). Jane is also wonderful – you can save up to 80% off handmade items. It’s like Groupon for Etsy.

23.STACK, STACK, STACK. After finding a deal on Brad’s Deals, shop through ebates with the gift card you purchased for fuelperks (or credit card with extra cash back) using a rewards certificate and free shipping coupon code.

This post contains affiliate links, which means if you sign up/make a purchase after clicking on select links above, I will get a small commission. This post has not been sponsored by any of the companies mentioned in this post.

Have a tip to add? Please share in the comments below!

Must-Haves from Scoop NYC

The following post is sponsored by Scoop NYC.

Scoop NYC LogoLooong before my career in journalism, marketing, and social media, I wanted to be a fashion designer. Way back in 2003, at just 17, I spent the summer in New York City attending Parsons School of Design. My dream was to become the next Donna Karen (obviously some things changed since then). That summer was a turning point; a time of learning, growth, and discovery.

I met some incredibly talented people during that summer; one of which introduced me to a new world of shopping. It was the first time I ever ventured to SoHo and my first trip to Scoop NYC. This was before online shopping really kicked into high gear, and having limited shopping resources in Ohio, Scoop NYC helped pioneer my love for certain designer labels, including Alice + Olivia, Citizens of Humanity, and Marc Jacobs.

Scoop NYC is an iconic fashion boutique that offers a highly edited selection of the season’s best styles for women and men. Know to industry insiders as “The Ultimate Closet,” Scoop NYC offers a one-stop shopping experience of expertly curated styles where items are merchandised together in a sleek shopping environment alongside the season’s most coveted shoes and accessories.

In store, Scoop NYC’s styling associates offer personal customer service and serve as personal stylists while shopping. Scoop NYC has grown to 17 boutiques nationwide, including a location in South Beach inside the Shore Club Hotel. I remember making a special request when we visited Miami back in 2005 to stop there to pick up some new premium denim. It was SO worth it.

So what would I stop by the boutique to pick up these days? Here are my must-haves.

Scoop-NYC-Must-Haves

Alice + Olivia Sleeveless Zebra Print Everleigh Dress
SCOOP Rolled Strip Leather Jacket
SCOOP Wool Cape
Miansai Naomi Bracelet
Nightcap Victorian Lace Pencil Skirt
Zac Zac Posen Leather Split Patent Clutch
Rag & Bone Leopard Print Open Toe Wyatt Sandals
Suzanna Dai Kherpi Stone Necklace

All these beautiful designer pieces make me want to go out and treat myself right now. Good thing Scoop NYC is also online, making it MUCH easier to shop for myself with a toddler and baby in tow.

Shop at www.scoopnyc.com and enjoy free shipping on your online order of $150 or more. Plus, discover new  styles and designers on the Scoop NYC Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest pages.

Thankful for My Followers SurPRIZE Giveaway 11/17 *Closed*

Congratulations to the winner – Jessica Ayers!

Welcome to the [2nd Annual] Thankful for our Followers Giveaway Hop
hosted by the Blogging Mamas Network!

Thankful2

YOU are the reason that bloggers like us host giveaways, so we’ve decided it’s time for all of us bloggers to show even more of our appreciation to you, our readers and followers. Normally we offer giveaways with entries to help boost our blog and following numbers, but this hop is all about making it easier on YOU.

Each blogger in this hop is offering a wonderful prize, worth at least $25 and ALL giveaways have only ONE way to enter. Hop around to them all as we show you how we’re thankful for YOU!

SurPRIZE Giveaway

This giveaway is all about the thrill of surPRIZE! I’ve gathered a handful of items with a total value of $62 to give away to one lucky winner. Open to residents of the US, ages 18+. Giveaway closes 11/17 at 11:59PM ET.

To enter to win, please leave a comment below letting me know what you want to see more of/read more about here on Spit Up is the New Black.


Spit Up is the New Black, So Easy Being Green, Viva Veltoro, the Blogging Mamas Network, and the Thankful for Our Followers participating bloggers are not responsible for sponsors who do not fulfill prize obligations.

Staying Warm at the [Backyard] Park with JJ Cole

I was sent a sample from JJ Cole to facilitate this post.

Sometimes you just can’t get out of the house. Maybe it’s conflicting nap schedule, you’re in thick of potty training, or you just don’t feel like going out in dreary fall weather.

For us, it was all of the above.

The weather in Ohio has been hit or miss this fall (as usual). One day it’s 70 and sunny; the next it’s 40 with a chance of snow. With such unpredictable weather, it’s been challenging to get to the park lately. Going to the park to ride the “gee” (otherwise known as a swing to all of us that don’t speak toddler) is one of my daughter’s favorite pastimes, and with a new baby in the house, it’s more important that ever to focus our attention on her and make sure that she knows she is just as important to us as her brother.

The other night, after dinner, we bundled up and headed outside to our backyard, or as my daughter’s friend likes to call it, the “park.” The Little Man doesn’t really have a warm snowsuit or full-sized coat, so we placed him in the car seat and just zipped up his JJ Cole urban Bundleme to stay warm.

JJ-TMNT

We had a pink urban Bundleme for my daughter, so I was thrilled when JJ Cole offered to send us one in “ice,” a light gray. It fits great on our Britax B-Safe infant car seat, is easy to install and keeps the Little Man warm while staying snug and safe in his car seat (it doesn’t interfere with the car seat straps). See that sticker? Bear had to get her “baby broder” a sticker from the doctor’s office that day.

JJ-CarSeat

Little Man just watched in awe as his sister swung and swung on the gee. As a kid I loved going up and down the slide, but the only thing that Bear really cares about on our swing set is that gee.

JJ-Cole-Swing-w-Daddy

I love seeing that smile on her face.

JJ-Swing

I’m cherishing this time with both of them. They’ve both already grown so much. Sometimes I just wish I could stop time and just watch that swing over and over, and over.

How are you staying warm this fall?

The JJ Cole urban Bundleme is available at Babies “R” Us and buybuy BABY.

Joovy Too Qool Review [Infant Car Seat + Toddler Seat]

I am a Joovy Mom and partnered with Joovy for the following post. I received a Too Qool at no cost to facilitate this review. All opinions are my own.

I’ve spent the past two years attempting to navigate motherhood of one. Now that I’m a mom of two, it’s a whole new ballgame. And one of the first challenges I faced was transporting the BOTH of them.

I spent countless hours researching double strollers. Side-by-side? Front-and-back? Face-to-face? Face-to-back? Sit-and-stand? I was overwhelmed by all the options for double strollers. It wasn’t until I came across the Joovy Too Qool that I knew I found the perfect fit for our family. When I first laid eyes on it at an event in NY, my mouth dropped open and I drool poured out. This stroller was gorgeous – sleek, slim, and multi-functional. I just had to have it.

So I was over-the-moon excited when Joovy offered to send me the stroller to test out with my toddler and newborn in tow. We waited in anticipation for our new family toy to arrive, and when the time came, we got right to setting it up.

TooQool-Package

The box arrived with a photo of the stroller on the outside. My daughter immediately saw the image and began shouting in sequence, “ower, ower, ower!” She’s OBSESSED with strollers thanks to her baby dolls, but since she started walking, she hasn’t wanted anything to do with sitting in a stroller. That was until she tried to boot her brother out of his car seat carrier at Cedar Point, at which time I knew she’d revert back to being pushed around at some point (I mean, who doesn’t want to be chauffeured in a stroller? I would any day of the week.)

TooQool-Parts

 

This stroller arrives with minimal assembly required. The base and seats come completely assembled. The only real assembly needed is attaching the wheels and the mud guards. Just a few simple clicks do the trick (no tools required!). Note: If you misplace instructions for your Joovy product, they can be found on Joovy.com

TooQool-AssemblyTime

Assembly was so quick that Little Man didn’t even have time to close his eyes for a nap.

Each seat is labeled FRONT or REAR for each positioning reference. Depending on the configuration, both, one, or neither seat can be used with the Too Qool (I say neither for times you use just a car seat adapter – more of that later).

TooQool-FoldedSeats

TooQool-Seats

The FRONT seat can be adjusted to three reclining positions and has a larger canopy, while the REAR seat can be adjusted to two and has a smaller canopy.

TooQool-Large-Canopy

The straps can be easily adjusted to four different shoulder levels by just sliding the buckle end through the plastic seat back and two layers of fabric. I would suggest making any necessary adjustments (they come pre-installed) before going out and about, or you’ll get stuck trying to adjust them in the middle of the GAP like I did.

TooQool-Seat-Adjusting

Once daddy got everything assembled, Bear had no reserves about trying it out. We couldn’t even get it out the door before she tried to jump on in and test it out herself.TooQool-CouldntWait

A walk around the neighborhood immediately followed.

TooQool-Walk

That day, we used the stroller as a double with the REAR seat and infant car seat. That’s what I love the most about the Joovy Too Qool – the fact that it’s a chameleon and has multiple configurations.

Joovy TooQool Review

I can’t stress how convenient it is to have a stroller than can be used as double OR a single. I honestly feel like the $799.99 price tag is warranted and worth it since this stroller can be used the day you bring your first-born home (with a car seat adapter) all the way until your youngest (who may not even be born yet!) hits 55 lbs.

To use this stroller as a single with an infant car seat, an adapter is needed (and can only be used in the FRONT seat position). We have the Britax B-Safe infant car seat and Joovy just came out with an adapter compatible with this car seat. Just like the Too Qool seats, the adapters snap easily into the brackets followed by a snap of the car seat carrier into the second set of brackets.

TooQool-CarSeatAdapters

 

The FRONT Too Qool seat can be used from 3 months through 55 lbs. and the REAR Too Qool seat can be used from 6 months through 55 lbs. Both seats have cushy neoprene seat inserts that are machine washable (a must-have for any mom). To clean it, just use a mild soap and warm water with a sponge or clean cloth and air dry.

TooQool-SeatCover

TooQool-Imprint

TooQool-Harness

Joovy really thought of everything for the Too Qool – all the way down to an adjustable, leatherette handlebar, which can be position at 6 different heights.

TooQool-handle

TooQool-LeatheretteHandle

Not only is the stroller handle made of soft leatherette, so is the bumper bar, or what I refer to as a removable kid handle. This handle is optional in the FRONT or REAR seat, but we usually don’t use it in either.

TooQool-KidHandle

Just below the REAR seat to the right is the wheel locking mechanism. It’s very easy to use, especially when you’re in a parking lot trying to get the kids in and out of the stroller to make sure you don’t have a runaway Too Qool.

TooQool-FootBrake

The front wheels also lock easily to maintain a forward position rather than a swivel. Two buttons sit atop the front wheels. With a simple bend at the waist and index finger push, the swivel turns on or off.

TooQool-LockingFrontWheels

So how does the Joovy Too Qool handle while out and about in the real world? Let’s take a look.

Real Life Test #1: Outlet Mall [Configuration: Infant Car Seat + REAR Too Qool Seat]

One of our favorite places to venture is the local outlet mall; not just for the shopping, but for the duck pond, mini vintage carnival rides (they have the Ghostbusters car!), food trucks, and playground. It makes for a very productive shopping trip when you can take “kid” breaks between stores.

We brought the Too Qool in our SUV. We first tried to fold it up with the FRONT seat attached. That was a bit too bulky, and since we were going to use the car seat adapter anyway, we removed the seat so just the frame remained. We folded the frame and placed the REAR seat alongside it in the trunk (the stroller can’t be folded with the REAR seat attached anyway). We also folded the third row seats down otherwise it wouldn’t have fit.

TooQool-ThirdRow

When we got to the outlets, we placed the REAR seat in first and Bear climbed in. This is the easiest way to get the child in the bottom seat as it gets hard to get her in and out once there’s a seat above her. I was worried that my knees would hit her seat when I walked, but they cleared it just fine.

TooQool-setup-mall

This stroller comes with a cup holder for mom or dad’s juice, which in our house is also known as coffee. It doesn’t include a kid cup holder, but Bear’s sippy cup with handles attaches perfectly to the handlebar.

TooQool-Cups

I thought she might have an abstracted view in the seat down low, but between extending her neck to check on her baby brother, looking left and right at all the activity, and playing peek-a-boo with me through the canopy “window,” entertainment wasn’t an issue.

TooQool-HelloWindow

Of course we had to make a stop to feed the ducks.

TooQool-Ducks

I was worried that with the REAR seat snapped in that I wouldn’t have any room for my purchases, considering that Bear’s feet took up much of the basket, but that was not the case (phew!). We fit three medium sized shopping bags in the storage basket (including a paper one).

As we strolled through the outdoor mall, a lady stopped me and said, “That thing is hot! That is the best thing you could have ever bought.” I felt like one of those celebrities with those fancy strollers.

Real Life Test #2: Indoor Mall [Configuration: Infant Car Seat + REAR Too Qool Seat]

So obviously I like to shop. This time I carted the Too Qool to our local mall. Again, I took the SUV, but this was the first time my husband wasn’t there to help me unfold and fold it. I was impressed by how easy it was to open by just unsnapping the folding latch on the side. To fold it on our return trip, I just slid a button and snapped the folding latch back into place.

TooQool-ParkingLot

Maneuvering through the mall wasn’t an issue at all. We made it in and out of the handicapped bathroom stall and dressing room with ease, through the food court tables without blinking an eye, and around most of the mall stores without knocking anything over (with the exception of GAP Kids – can’t they merchandise their store to accommodate strollers better?!).

TooQool-Mall-Double

One thing I noticed was that the stroller didn’t have a parent organizer on the handlebar, so I ended up picking one up at the mall that day.

TooQool-Mall

Real Life Test #3: Kohl’s [Configuration: Infant Car Seat Only]

Okay, I know; I need to stop shopping. I made it a goal to finish my Christmas shopping before the end of my maternity leave, so don’t judge too harshly.

For this trip, I brought my sedan. It was definitely more of a challenge to get the stroller frame in the trunk. It took some finagling (I scratched the aluminum on the top of my trunk, so I’ll be placing a blanket over it from now on), but I got it in. There just wasn’t much room for my purchases.

TooQool-SedanTrunk

If you’ve ever been to Kohl’s, you may have noticed that the carts they provide in store are not conducive to car seat carriers, so a stroller is a necessity to bring to Kohl’s. For this trip, I just brought the Little Man with me (how did I ever think life was so challenging with just one?).

TooQool-Kohls

By using this stroller as a single, I had my own personal clothes rack (although Joovy doesn’t recommend putting anything over the handle), and SO much storage room under the stroller in the basket.

I was also able to shop without having to offer fruit snacks as bribery for five more minutes of browsing.

Real Life Test #4: Zoo [Configuration: Infant Car Seat + REAR Too Qool Seat]

Admission to the zoo is free for local residents on Mondays, so we took a family trip to see the giraffes, elephants, and monkeys. My daughter spent much of the time walking from exhibit to exhibit, but I loved having the option for her to sit and be pushed if she got tired. It’s probably a good thing that she didn’t want to sit in the stroller that day considering we accidentally brought the FRONT instead of the REAR seat. Turns out that the FRONT fits in the REAR slots, but isn’t recommended.

TooQool-Zoo

The one thing I noticed while being out in the sun with the Too Qool is that when using a car seat rather than the FRONT seat, there isn’t a canopy extender in the opposite direction for the car seat, so a breathable blanket is needed if it’s sunny out.

Real Life Test #5: Outlet Mall Again… [Configuration: FRONT Too Qool Seat Only]

Having a new baby means my daughter is now competing for my time (I really hate that). I’ve been trying to set aside designated mommy-daughter time so she knows that she’s not being replaced. So back to the outlet mall we went.

TooQool-Single-Mall

Like I said earlier, after she began walking, she loathed the stroller. I don’t know if it was because it was around the same time she grew out of her infant car seat and her stroller was only forward-facing. I’m now thinking that was probably the case, considering she was content and happy in the rear-facing position (facing mommy) in the Too Qool. I loved pushing her and just chatting. I even picked up a matchbox car for her (always have reinforcements handy when shopping with a toddler) and she drove it on her “Joovy highway.”

TooQool-Cars-Outlets

With just one seat, I had a plethora of storage available (one of life’s little wonders). This came in handy for some Christmas purchases.

TooQool-StorageNoBottomSeat

Learn More

The Too Qool really is a luxury stroller. I like to refer to it as the Cadillac of double strollers. I mean, the stroller has a leatherette handle – come on! If you’re looking for a stroller to last you through multiple kids, the Joovy Too Qool is it. Even if you only have one child, but are planning on having more, I would highly recommend opting for the Too Qool over its sister stroller the Qool (you can read my friend Ruth’s review on the Qool here). The Too Qool accommodates two kids up to 55 lbs (see what my friend Janessa thinks of the Too Qool with two toddlers).

Joovy-TooQool-Double-Stroller

I also love that Joovy is a quality brand that stands behind their products with a satisfaction guarantee. They want their customers to be completely satisfied, so they invite anyone who has questions to call their Customer Service Department at 1-877-456-5049. They are there to assist customers between 8:30am and 5pm CT.

The Too Qool is available in 10 stunning colors (I have it in “apple”) and can be purchased at Joovy.com, buybuyBaby, Babies “R” Us, and Amazon.

I’m proud to call myself a #JoovyMom, so show Joovy some social love!

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Transportation in Paris Baby Boy Nursery Theme

I teamed up with Netflix for this post.

We never thought we’d buy a can of pink paint; but there we were, staring at Pepto-Bismol walls. When we found out our daughter was a girl, we went a little pink crazy (even though I SWORE I would never succumb to gender stereotypes).

Two years passed and our little girl grew older. She moved into her big girl room to make way for a new resident in the nursery – her baby brother. The day we painted blue and green over the light pink walls was bittersweet. But now that everyone is settled in their new respective rooms, I’m pleased how everything came together.

I was having trouble finding a bedding set/room theme in the big box stores that appealed to me. So I turned elsewhere and opted for more of a DIY nursery. I found this adorable fabric collection from Michael Miller called Les Monsieurs, or as I like to call it “Transportation in Paris.” Bright colors coupled with airplanes, race cars, and rocket ships amongst the streets of Paris – what a fun and eclectic theme for a baby boy nursery!

planes-decor

I have very crafty friends that pretty much single-handedly created every piece in Little Man’s nursery (with the exception of the folks at IKEA). The focal point of the nursery is the quilt, handmade by my dear friend Jenny over at SweetCakeQuilts. She did an amazing job (I’m still in awe of her work) and even created matching window treatments, a diaper holder and a throw pillow for my rocker.

Rocketship-bookcase

Her father built us a rocket ship bookcase to match the theme (what a crafty family). I filled the shelves with my favorite $0.99 picture frames from IKEA, some stuffed animals, and baby board books.

Mobile

My best friend of 20+ years Jackie, who is also Jenny’s sister (I said they were a crafty family!), took a mobile, disassembled it, and added handmade planes made of colorful construction paper.

Orange-blue-decor

I found a lamp for the nursery at Target during “back to school” time (always a great time to find decor in bright colors), turned spice racks into book shelves with just a little bit of paint, and used extra quilt fabric to make some decor for the nursery walls. Jackie covered three old canvas wall art with additional fabric remnants to create a focal point above the changing table.

When we brought the Little Man home, big sister Bear did her best to give him a tour of his new digs (just like Buzzbee and Rubee did when Babee came home). He gave us his seal of approval with a 6-hour stretch of sleep and a nice full diaper.

I love just lying on the floor in his room and taking in all that has changed since we moved into our house five years ago. What was once a room with a couple of free weights, a dresser, and a giant Fathead on the wall, is now the room that I’ve rocked, nursed, and loved both my babies.