VertiPlay™ Wall Toys from Oribel {Toy Review}

It’s been over a month since Christmas and I don’t know about you, but I’m still feeling the overwhelming wrath of my kids’ new toys. Each year, I clean out and donate toys that they no longer play with to make room for the new stuff, but it’s still not enough. Their play room in the basement is littered with toys. I’ve stepped on so many little fullsizerendertoys, at times I was positive I broke my foot. So when I was asked to review toy from Oribel, I was obviously hesitant. But but VertiPlay™ is unlike any game or toy children own, and the best part? They don’t add extra clutter on the floor and won’t be stepping on little pieces!

VertiPlay™ Wall Toys from Oribel are fun, whimsical toys that hang on the wall or door, allowing for free space on the floor but offering tons of fun! It’s a win-win for both mom and children! No more asking over and over for your kids to pick up their toys! Another plus? You won’t mind them on your wall! They’re visually appealing and simply add to your child’s bedroom or playroom decor. VertiPlay™ also gets your little ones up and gets their blood flowing as they stand at the wall to play and run around.

The designs are simple, engaging, and fun my little one loves her Busy Woodpecker ($19.90)! It was really easy to attach to the wall, I just wiped the spot clean, removed the back of the sticker, and attached it to the wall. Easy peasy. My little one loves tapping the the woodpecker’s tail (sometimes a little too much) to light up the the little bird’s house in the tree. The wooden windmills help with dexterity through fun play! There are many different designs and styles for a range of ages, from 9+ months to 3+ years, verti1you can see them all here! The quality is superb, I would expect nothing less from Oribel! I adore their products. And while I haven’t removed our wall toy, it leaves no damage to the wall and is easy to peal off.

VertiPlay™ gets a 5 out of 5 stars from me. The price point of each set is just right and my daughter really loves playing with her woodpecker toy. If you’re ready to shop for your own VertiPlay™ Wall Toy, you can head to your local Babies R Us or shop online at Amazon and diapers.com. I will definitely be adding a few more wall toys to our playroom, as my oldest is a little jealous she didn’t get one! If you have an older child, I think the Goofy Moose is perfect for them! Be sure to follow Oribel on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram for new products and more, you won’t be disappointed with this fabulous company!

– Casey

**Burrito Buzz received this product at low or no cost for the purpose of review or testing. No compensation for a positive review was provided. All product reviews are based 100% off of our personal experiences with a product and we never guarantee a positive review.**

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Flying Squirrel. A New Kind Of Sleep Sack by Sleeping Baby. *GIVEAWAY!*

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…notice blanket all the way at the end of his bed!

Every night I sneak into our baby’s room to re-tuck him back in and ensure his room is warm enough. Some nights I used to even turn the heat up in the house just to make sure he was warm. The winter months are brutal here in Ohio and our little one makes it worse by NEVER staying covered up. I always thought sleep sacks, and ‘toddler sleeping bags’ were unnecessary and ridiculous looking. A cozy fuzzy blanket is MUCH cuter. We are well past the stage of not being allowed to have extra bedding in his bed, so swaddles and sacks shouldn’t be needed, right? WRONG. BK#2 HATES being covered. He appeases us, snuggles up with his lovey, lets us cover him with an adorable Aden & Anias dream blanket, and then the second that we walk out of his room he pushes it to the opposite end of his crib. Really kid?!?!

Thus, began the search for the perfect toddler sleeping solution. I really wanted a way to help my baby sleep without waking, because he was cold, but he is much too old for traditional swaddles. I found some awesome sleep sacks, but the fact that they are a sack makes him pretty mad. He was getting used to it, but I kept on searching to find something to keep him warm AND happy.

I FOUND THE BEST SOLUTION FOR ALL AGES!our-brands-zipadeezip.jpg

Sleeping Baby has the perfect products for infants transitioning out of swaddles, for toddlers like mine refusing to stay covered and warm at night, for preschoolers needing a sleep solution for nap time at school, even teethers,  and necklaces for mom!

Sleeping Baby is AMAZING COMPANY with an even better story. They truly have a heart for their customers and LOVE what they do! They started their company making something to transition their daughter out of the traditional swaddle and created the revolutionary Zipadee-Zip, that was discovered and aired on Shark Tank! I could go on and on about this couple, because they are truly an inspiration to all parents to follow your dreams and to do what is best for you and your family, but I really want to talk about the FLYING SQUIRREL so I encourage you to read all about it here!Sleeping-Baby-522x348.jpg

WHAT IS A FLYING SQUIRREL?FS_Woodlands_Blue_Front_large.png

  • They are an extension of the Zippy because they’re the same basic shape, but have option openings/covers for the hands and feet.
  • The convertible hand and foot covers (like a new born onsie’s optional mitten flip overs )are to  to keep your little one extra cozy and warm without the need for socks. Seriously, ADORABLE! BK#2 hated the mitten option on his hands, but it gave me all the feels remembering  the itty bitty baby onsies. I am going to keep trying and maybe he will indulge me and let me cover his hands!
  • It comes in sizes 2T-5T.
  • Fleece or SUPER soft cotton option. We received the cotton material. – I suggest the cotton for spring and the fleece for winter months. (I put a set of PJ’s under the cotton material, because it wasn’t as heavy for winter as I normally would use.)
  • At LEAST a dozen prints for each gender, and many are gender neutral!sleepingbabyburritobuzzzippersleepingbabyburritobuzzzipper2
  • Zipper coverings! The top of the zipper is always enclosed and there is a layer of fabric covering the zipper on the inside to ensure you don’t snag your baby or their clothes.
  • They run big and look at little baggy on your child. That is how they are supposed to be! Don’t worry! You want your baby to be able to move around freely in their bed AND if gives the product more longevity! All parents know that baby gear lasts for no time at all.
  • They wash up wonderfully! They stay super soft and buttery, and the print doesn’t fade one bit!
  • Fairly priced at $36.95 . This might sound a little high for “pj’s”, but for sleepers and sleep sacks its just right and around the same price as SIMILAR products on the market. THERE IS NOTHING ELSE LIKE THIS DESIGN AVAILABLE!

WE LOVE THE FLYING SQUIRREL SO MUCH WE ARE GIVING ONE AWAY!!


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How to enter:

  1. Follow @burritobuzz on Instagram
  2. Follow @zipadeezip
  3. Like ORIGINAL POST
  4. Comment on ORIGINAL POST with your child’s gender and size you want to win!
  5. Extra entries: Tag a friend! (One tag per comment please!)
  6. Giveaway will start January 30,2017 at 8:00am EST and will end at 8:00pm EST on February 1, 2017. We will announce winner February 2nd!

GOOD LUCK!

To stay up to date on all their new products be sure to follow Sleeping Baby on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Youtube! They have giveaways every week and are always sharing useful information!

~Amanda


**Burrito Buzz received this product at low or no cost for the purpose of review or testing. No compensation for a positive review was provided. All product reviews are based 100% off of our personal experiences with a product and we never guarantee a positive review.**

 

 

Bookroo Monthly Children’s Books

burritobuzzbookrooOn a cold rainy day full of child activities and errands pulling into my drive and seeing this adorable little box propped up against my door was so exciting. I knew even though I was exhausted and wanted to crash coming home wouldn’t be stressful, and we would have a blast opening up our package!

BK#1 absolutely LOVED opening up her package. She got even more excited when she saw that it was wrapped up like presents. Christmas made our little threenager a PRO at opening gifts and very much aware of “presents” and meaningful gift giving! After we opened the box she exclaimed “Oh mommy, you got me a gift!  I love it”, and she didn’t even know what was inside! BurritoBuzzBookRoogift.jpg

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Bookroo is a monthly subscription box for you children. It is unlike any other subscripton box on the market right now. Not only is it a fabulous deal, but it is a company with a purpose. Bookroo helps the world at with their recycled (and recyclable!) packaging and their commitment to giving back through donating children’s books to children in need through Reach Out And Read!

The moms and owners at Bookroo’s mission is to enable and empower parents to build their children’s book collections in an affordable and exciting way through curated monthly book deliveries. They believe in the power and impact of the written word in the life of a child, and believe it’s never too early to start reading to children!30-minutes

According to the US department of Education reading to/with your child 30 minutes a day improves their intelligence greatly. Reading improves (future) academic performance. One of my new year resolutions was to read to my children more, and Bookroo is just another way to make sure that happens in a new and exciting way once a month!

Reading is an investment in your child’s future. Reading makes for smart, emotionally healthy, and confident kids. Bookroo makes reading easy.

There two types of boxes: Picture book boxes and Board book boxes. And there are 4 different packages and pricing rates. If you have children in two age groups you can simple tell Bookroo and they will alternate your boxes so you get something for each child every other month. screenshot-4

YOU CAN’T BUY BOOKS AT THE STORE THIS CHEAP! Even if you only do it one month at a time you are getting at least two hardback picture books for $8.95 a piece. I am seriously thinking about doing the year long subscription getting 24 book for $7.99 a piece. Not only are you getting books delivered to your door, but you are giving your child a reason to be excited about books and reading! I am 26 and I know I love getting packages, my toddlers love it 100 x’s more!

Each box contains either 3 board books or 2 picture books and the combined retail value of the books always exceeds the subscription price!

The books are always a surprise and hidden gems. The books they send out are extensively reviewed by a panel of 12 families attending Stanford University and their combined 22 kids. They rate each book on a 7 point scale and on its re-readability. Books that emerge as clear winners are sent out in the Bookroo boxes.

We received Sleepytime Me by Edith Hope Fine and Penguin Cha-Cha by Kristi Valiant.

Sleepytime MeA sweet little nighttime book with easy- to- learn phrases and gorgeous pictures to relax and get ready for bed!

Penguin Cha-ChaADORABLE and entertaining book for all ages. You follow a little girl around the zoo who is trying to understand the dancing penguins. Beautifully written and illustrated! his 

If I had to rate Bookroo on a scale of 1-5 stars they would 100% receive 5 stars! This subscription and company is amazing!  I cant wait till February’s box!


IF YOU WANT A DEAL USE THE CODE : AMANVELA  to get $10 OFF! 


Be sure to follow Bookroo on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest to stay up to date on everything they are up to.

~Amanda

**Burrito Buzz received this product at low or no cost for the purpose of review or testing. No compensation for a positive review was provided. All product reviews are based 100% off of our personal experiences with a product and we never guarantee a positive review.**

Minivan Mama

I officially gained my “soccer mom” status this summer when we traded in my little blue SUV for a MINIVAN. And let me tell you, it was one of the best decisions I have ever made!! It’s true love. I knew I 17194_600always wanted a minivan someday, because I grew up with my parents always having one, and it always just seemed like the most practical with kiddos. What I didn’t know is how much I would not miss my old car and absolutely love this van!

My husband I had been talking about them for a while and finally buckled down and started researching them after we had our second child. We were tired of not having a lot of room in the car especially if we needed to take any extra people anywhere. Two car seats take up a lot of space. We looked at several minivans on the market, but narrowed it down to the Toyota and Honda. We did have a rental Chrysler that we were happy with as well. After test driving, we were actually surprised at how easy the decision was with the Honda Odyssey. The vans were priced roughly the same, but the Honda just felt like it was made better. We didn’t dislike the Toyota (my hubby drives a Toyota Tundra), but the Honda was just better.

 

 

We waited several weeks for the specific model and color to come in that we wanted, but once it arrived, it was love at first sight. I was so anxious and excited that Saturday morning we were able to go and pick it up with the kids. Our 3 year old was excited for the “new van!” too. It was bittersweet leaving our old SUV, but there are new reasons every day why I am so thankful to be a minivan mama now . . .

Here’s a few of them . . .

1.       The automatic sliding side doors… need I say more?! I don’t have to worry about my kids or I banging any cars parked next to us with our doors. You know how loading and unloading our kiddos goes, these door make it a dream come true!! Because of the sliding doors, the opening is so much bigger than an average car door – WONDERFUL! The doors also open and close by the simple push of a button from either the key fob, by the driver’s seat, or on the inside of the sliding doors themselves.

 

2.       Not only is there more room in the doorways, there’s more room EVERYWHERE in this car. I can honestly say I’ve been a passenger in every seat and never once did I feel like I had no space to move. And if you need more room . . . You can MAKE more room . . .

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3.       . . . You can make that extra space because of the movable seats. I know this is typical with most minivans and vehicles with a third row of seats, but the way the Honda was set up was another big selling point for me. Our Odyssey has the option to have an eighth seat. All of the seats are removable (except the front), but with the Odyssey you can have an eighth seat in the middle of the second row. You can easily remove that middle seat of the second row to have 2 captains chairs and an aisle way to the back row, or you can leave it in place to complete the row and have an extra seat. The seat also folds down as an arm rest if it’s left in place. The third row of seats EASILY folds down into the trunk of the van. When we drove to the beach this summer, we opted to fold the third row down so we had TONS of room for luggage and could still see out the back window.

 

4.       Handles on the high way – We drove the minivan on the West Virginia turnpike on our way to Myrtle Beach this past summer, and it handled so much better than my husband’s truck the year before. We could set the cruise control and not have to waver and hit the brake on those winding highway turns.

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5.       Good on gas – I know the gas tank in the minivan is bigger than my tank was in my SUV, but I swear still that the van gets better gas mileage. According to Honda, the Odyssey gets 19 mpg on city streets and 27 mpg highway. Either way, its way better on gas than a huge SUV would be!

 

6.        Does NOT ride like a bus – I traded in a small SUV for my minivan. I had driven it for 5 years. I will say that I was the most anxious that the minivan was going to feel like I was driving a bus after driving my little SUV. I was so wrong. The van does not feel any bigger to me. I would say it sits up off the road the same height as my old car. Even though the van is significantly longer, I really haven’t noticed other than making sure I pull in the garage far enough. The back-up camera has made this easier as well!

 

7.       Bang for the Buck – I’m telling you, you cannot beat a minivan. Even if you have a small family like we do, it is worth considering. For some reason, they get a bad rap, but I can’t think of one negative thing to say about mine. Maybe I don’t look the “coolest” driving the minivan around, but that is the last thing I’m worried about. Most companies offer all the bells and whistles you can find in luxury cars and SUVs, so don’t think those options aren’t available in a van. It’s convenient, affordable, and I know my kids are safe – that’s what matters to me.

If you’re thinking about getting a new vehicle for your new family, growing family, or just want more seats/space, take a look at a minivan. Check out all the options. Take them for a test drive. I think you’ll love it! And if you take the plunge like we did and buy one, you won’t regret it!

-Megan

 

Finn + Emma {Review}

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Pajamas are a huge deal in our house. My girls love their pajamas. It’s not easy to get them changed into regular clothes in the morning to start their day. They’d live in them if they could, but honestly, who wouldn’t? I know I would if I could. Jammies are so warm, cozy, and comfortable, pretty much everything I look for in everyday clothes! I recently had the opportunity to review an amazing modern organic children’s clothing brand, Finn + Emma. These are some of the coziest jams ever and they just keep getting softer with every wash!

While Finn + Emma offers a lot more than just pajamas, I had to try them first! All of their products are made of the finest organic cotton, with eco friendly dyes, and natural wood. As if Finn + Emma isn’t awesome enough, already, all of their garments and accessories are produced in fair trade settings that focus on social and economic pajamas-fairytale_grandeindependence for local people. I love companies that offer people fair wages and helps them provide a life for themselves and their families. Finn + Emma is a balance of stylish and sustainability and I love it!

The jams I picked out for my girls not only matched, but the print and colors went together perfectly! I’m not usually one for matching my 9 month old and my 4 year old, but when the clothes are this cute, I couldn’t deny my twin-mom fantasy any longer and had to get them to match! The Fairytale print is adorable and not only available in footies for littles and 2 piece sets for older kids, but a ton of matching clothing pieces, accessories, play gyms, and toys are available to complete this beautiful collection! See the Fairytale collection in action here:

I have to give Finn + Emma jams 5 out of 5 stars! They’re so incredibly soft and luxurious, I’m kind of jealous! I really hope adult jammies will be available in the future, I will definitely buy a few pairs for myself! Check out all of the awesome products, like fairytale-coverall-closeup-495x495clothing and toys, Finn + Emma have to offer here. There’s something for everyone, on any budget. I can’t wait to buy more of their adorable clothes for my girls and gift some of their wooden toys to my expecting friends!

Be sure to follow Finn + Emma on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest for new releases, sales, and more!

– Casey

**Burrito Buzz received this product at low or no cost for the purpose of review or testing. No compensation for a positive review was provided. All product reviews are based 100% off of our personal experiences with a product and we never guarantee a positive review.**

Book Review: Dreaming in Color {The Adventures of Oliver Poons}

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Author, Lauryn Alyssa Wendus, is at it again with a new children’s book featuring her star character, Oliver Poons! You might remember my previous review about Lauryn’s first book, Oliver Poons and the Bright Yellow Hat. If not, you can read it here! My daughter was nearly 3 at the time, but she really enjoyed the first book, so I was not surprised that she was excited to read another Oliver Poons book. Not only that, my younger son (16 months) was excited about the new “kitty book” too!

Lauryn does a fabulous job telling a simple, rhyming bedtime story about Oliver Poons and his pals working together to bring colors back into Oliver’s dreams. It’s a perfect story for little ones, because the rhyming keeps them interested. Kids are introduced to new animals and colors throughout the story, which is great, too. The same characters are brought back from the firsoliver-poons-dreaming-in-color-cover-600px-510x510t book of the series, so in our house, we often can’t read one book without the other. My oldest is into longer stories “with lots of pages, Mom!” nowadays, but she still remained interested in this book and I love that now my youngest can read along with us.

Lauryn’s mother, Lois Wendus, is the book’s illustrator and she does a beautiful job again in this second book. I just love the mother-daughter duo behind this series and their mission, “our products are designed to inspire a happy day and happy dreams for your child.” And it’s not only about their products bringing joy and smiles, but the Oliver Poons Children’s Company also supports children and animal rescue by donating a portion of their proceeds to organizations like Mission for Orphans, Inc. and No Kitten Left Behind. They also have a campaign right now (#YellowHatsforCats) where they donate a portion of their sales to various animal shelteroliver-poons-childrens-co-logos to raise awareness about animal rescue.

You can find both books of the series online in hardcover, paperback, or an ebook version. You can purchase the hardcover book for $19.95 on the books’ site or here on Amazon. There are other items available on the Oliver Poons website, too. Workbook learning activities, an interactive floor game, Oliver Poons artwork, and even the floppy yellow hat itself are available for purchase on the website.

These books would make a wonderful Christmas gift for any little one, especially those who adore cats like mine! You can feel good about giving these books to a loved one because not only are they receiving a fun loving, adorable read, but somewhere else another little kiddo or kitty will also be a little happier too!

Follow Lauryn and learn more about the adventures of Oliver Poons on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

– Megan

**Burrito Buzz received this product at low or no cost for the purpose of review or testing. No compensation for a positive review was provided. All product reviews are based 100% off of our personal experiences with a product and we never guarantee a positive review.**

Malia’s House from Build & Imagine {Review}

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Being the mom of a 4 year old and a new baby, my oldest spends way too much time on the iPad or in front of the TV. I know, I know. It’s not good and you’re supposed to limit screen time, but when I’m busy with the baby (it was much worse when she was first born), you have to do what you can to survive. I know she’s not the only one that’s constantly staring at a screen (TVs, tablets, smartphones, and computers are everywhere) and I know it’s hard to pull them away. But when you find a toy that does just that, gets them off of the tablet, away from the TV, and actually using their little brains to learn and play, you have to share it. I was recently given the opportunity to review an an absolutely amazing toy from Build & Imagine called Malia’s House and I can’t stress enough how awesome this product is. My daughter is obsessed and has been for about a week and a half now.

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Build & Imagine StoryWalls are like building blocks meets dollhouse meets dress-up meets dolls for kids 4-8 years old. StoryWalls are magnetic playsets that contain colorfully illustrated scenes that can kids can build and decorate with magnetic accessories (like paperdolls) over and over again. They’re called StoryWalls because it’s like building a 3-D storybook setting, then jumping right into play! Each set include dolls to dress up, illustrated building panels that attach magnetically that create endless play! Dozens of magnetic accessories are also included to make your scene uniquely yours. With everything being magnetic, changing things up to create a new story is quick and easy! See Build & Imagine’s products in action below:

When we received Malia’s House, I honestly thought my daughter would play around with it for half an hour tops, as she seems to move on from activity to activity rather quickly (she takes after her father and can’t sit still for too long). So when I tell you she played at the kitchen table from 11AM until bathtime at 7PM (and did not watch the iPad once the entire time), I was completely and happily surprised. She absolutely loves Maila’s House! She loves building Malia  and her friend Skylar a new house and creating different storylines for them based on the magnetic walls and adding decor. They’ll go to the beach together and forget the sunscreen, or they’ll plant fruits and veggies in the garden while drinking lemonade or put out the fire the cat started in the kitchen (these are actual beach_house_2_web_largestorylines she has come up with). Her imagination literally runs wild and I love it! A four year old that wants to sit and play for hours on end and not want to look at a screen is priceless to me.

I give Malia’s House 5 out of 5 stars and I would recommend any one of the engaging playsets from Build & Imagine to anyone looking for a toy that’s different from the norm for their daughter or son. The panels are durable, even for the roughest of child, and easy for little hands to build with. And there are so many sets to choose from, check them all out here! With sets starting at $24.99 and an expansion packs starting at $8.99, there’s something for everyone’s budget!1-2

Be sure to follow Build & Imagine on Facebook and Twitter!

– Casey

**Burrito Buzz received this product at low or no cost for the purpose of review or testing. No compensation for a positive review was provided. All product reviews are based 100% off of our personal experiences and we never guarantee a positive review.**

Ivory Clasp {Review + Unboxing}

If you know me, then you know I love saving money and subscription boxes. Being a stay at home mom, and on a very tight budget because of having only one income, it’s not often that I am able to splurge on something for myself. Not only that, I generally have a hard time forking over money to buy something for myself when I could use that money to buy something for the yfix_fxtkids, my husband, or something we need at home. I’m certain I’m not alone in this, so I reached out to an amazing subscription box company called Ivory Clasp to review their service and products. I am so excited to share them with our readers!

Ivory Clasp is a monthly or bi-monthly subscription service, where for just $45 a month, you get a beautiful handbag valued at $100 or more, which is hand picked by their stylists based on an in depth style quiz you take when signing up. A $100+ handbag for only $45? Sign me up! The style quiz asks a lot of questions, such as favorite colors and your style preferences, but it’s super quick and easy. There is even a comment section to tell the stylists what they need to stay away from. For me, it was light colors because my children are little animals. The stylists were pretty spot on with the bag they chose for me, too. They picked a beautiful red leather Deux Lux boho bag with rose gold accents that can be a crossbody or shoulder bag, it is gorgeous! If you have someone that is hard to buy for this holiday season, an Ivory Clasp subscription would be a great gift! Like I always say, who doesn’t love the surprise of a subscription box? See the video of me unboxing my first Ivory Clasp box here:

Start your subscription by taking your style quiz here!

Be su1ee2c7bf1b524e828af29416489ee061re to follow Ivory Clasp on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, too!

– Casey

**Burrito Buzz received this product at low or no cost for the purpose of review or testing. No compensation for a positive review was provided. All product reviews are based 100% off of our personal experiences and we never guarantee a positive review.**

Playful Dino from Manhattan Toy Co. {Review + Giveaway}

I’m going to be honest. I loathe baby toys. They’re way too loud for my liking and the songs are enough to make any parent go mad. Toys that require a million batteries over their lifetime or they need to be plugged in are the worst. Of course my youngest has a ton of these annoying toys, but I’ve been trying to build her “makes mommy happy” toy collection. So when I got the opportunity to review Manhattan Toy Co.’s Playful Dino, I couldn’t have been happier to add this awesome activity toy to our never-ending stash.

As you can probably tell, we love Manhattan Toy Co. We’ve reviewed a few of their products recently and we’ve been impressed by each and every one of them. You can check those reviews out here and here. The company itself is awesome, they strive to use wood from sustainable forests for all of their wooden toys. The design and quality of their toys are top notch and unlike anything I’ve eg1kw5btruarbdm6k3zs_grandeseen on the market for children. Manhattan Toy Co.’s toys are all so fun, colorful, and engaging. The Playful Dino did not disappoint!

Both my 8 month old and 4 year old love their dino! The suggested age for the dino is 12+ months but my littlest one’s motor skills are advanced so she’s really loving all the activities it has to offer. Her eye-hand coordination is impressive as well, and this toy really helps foster that. There so many eye catching aspects to the dino; there are bead runs, peg mazes, gears, multiple play surfaces, and it’s beautifully painted. It’s sturdy enough to hold my 40 pounder who I caught standing on it, so it can withstand a great deal! It’s been great for both my busy bodies and I love watching my oldest show her little sister how it all works. It was super easy to assemble, too, just attach the tail and let your little ones go to town! See the Playful Dino in action below:

Manhattan Toy Co’s toys will definitely be on my shopping list this holiday season, not just for my girls, but the little ones in my family as well. There are so many awesome toys to choose from, you can check them out here and add them to your shopping list, too! The Playful Dino is a multiple award-winning toy, awards include an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Award, Today’s Parent Top Toy Winner, Creative Child Preferred Choice Award – Motor Skills Development category, Parents’ Choice Award Recommended and recognized as San Diego Family Magazine’s Hottest 50 toys! I have to agree, Playful Dino gets a 5 out of 5 stars from me. At $68, it’s money well spent knowing this is a toy that is going to last (and not drive you insane). Purchase your own here!ipbzftl66ouy7xja7k8z_grande

We’ve teamed up with Manhattan Toy Co. again for a giveaway! One lucky winner will receive a $25 e-gift card, good toward anything (even a Playful Dino!) at ManhattanToy.com! Shipping is free, so you don’t have to worry about it coming out of the gift card! It’s easy to enter, just follow these steps:

  1. Follow both @burritobuzz and @manhattantoy on Instagram.
  2. Like the giveaway post.
  3. Tag friends you think would like to win, too!
  4. That’s it

This giveaway ends Saturday, November 19, 2016 at 12pm EST. The winner will be chosen randomly and will be announced on the original giveaway post within 24 hours. Winner will have 24 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen. Goodluck! **This giveaway is in no way sponsored or endorsed by Instagram.**

Don’t forget to follow Manhattan Toy Co. on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter to stay up to date on sales and new products!

– Casey

**Burrito Buzz received this product at low or no cost for the purpose of review or testing. No compensation for a positive review was provided. All product reviews are based 100% off of our personal experiences and we never guarantee a positive review.**

MiO from Manhattan Toy Co. {Review + Giveaway}

logo-6When I was a little girl, I was always playing with my dollhouse. If you were a kid in the early 90’s, you probably know which one I’m talking about. It was big and bulky and made of plastic with a blue roof. It came with a mom, dad, brother, sister, and of course a baby. It had a swing for the baby that hung from the “dining room” ceiling and a closet under the stairs for who knows what. I loved playing “house” and my daughter is now at the age where her imagination is booming and she’s giving toys silly voices and acts them out and she loves when mommy or daddy joins in. I’ve been wanting to get her a dollhouse so she could have the sweet memories that I have when I loyjx0pumkx4crmw7zfw_f7893450-d09d-4935-8401-a6ca6e84fa86_grandewas little and I was thrilled when we teamed up with Manhattan Toy Co. to review their amazing MiO dollhouse collection.

Manhattan Toy Co.  is an innovative and award-winning toy company started in 1978 and is now located in Minneapolis, MN. They strive to use wood from sustainable forests for all of their (amazing) wood toys. All of their toys are thoroughly tested to the most exacting international standards for safety so you can feel comfortable with your children playing mio3with Manhattan Toys. These toys are unlike any other toys on the market. They’re unique, fun, engaging, and kid and parent approved!

My daughter received several pieces from the MiO collection to test out; MiO Sleeping + 2 People ($30), MiO Eating + 2 People ($30) and MiO School Bus + 2 People ($24). The very first thing that I noticed when opening the boxes was the smell of the wood. I love the smell and I hope that it brings back happy childhood memories for my daughters. The construction is top of the line and very sturdy. I love the brightly colored interior walls of the houses. Included in the sets are little people (or animals) with bean bag bodies and hand painted wooden heads.They’re perfect for little hands, my daughter handles them with ease and the wide bottom allows for them to stand up on their own without help from mom or dad Sleeping and Eating sets include a square base and a triangle second floor that are detached to allow for open ended play. Each set included colorful cubes that can be used as seats, the hold up the kitchen table, end tables, whatever your little one wants to use mio4them for. These sets are absolutely adorable and range in price from $10 for 2 sets of people or animals to $100 for the MiO Playing Eating Sleeping Working + 2 People with many sets in between so there’s something for everyone’s budget.

My daughter loves her MiO play sets. She loves driving the school bus and parking it in the house (it’s the perfect size to be a garage) and she even stacks the base of the houses on top of each other to make a bigger house. I love that she’s using her imagination and thinking outside the box and that she named her little people after her family and friends! MiO has even been awarded the  Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award 2016, the Creative Child Magazine Award – Toy of The Year Award in the Open Ended Playmio Category 2016, and is a National Parenting Product Award Winner 2016. MiO more than deserves those awards, as it’s a toy that allows little ones’ minds to run wild with it’s simple, yet eye catching appeal. I know I will be purchasing more MiO sets for my daughter this holiday season and you can do the same and start shopping MiO hereBurritoBuzz gives MiO 5 out of 5 stars! We adore Manhattan Toy Co., you can check out all of their fantastic products here, you’ll find something for every little one on your list!

As if Manhattan Toy Co. isn’t awesome enough, we’ve teamed up to give not one, but TWO winners a MiO set of their choosing (excluding the $100 set)! Head over to Instagram and follow these simple steps for a chance to win:

  1. Follow both @burritobuzz and @manhattantoy on Instagram – we’ll be checking!
  2. Like the original giveaway post.
  3. In separate comments, tag friends who you think would also like to win!
  4. That’s it!

lvjgkptyhv1uxkyxbikw_ecbd8002-35da-4290-a941-f9bfa7b29175_grandeGiveaway begins Tuesday November 8, 2016 at 12pm EST and ends Friday November 11, 2016 at 12 EST. Winners will be announced shortly after on the original giveaway post. Goodluck! **This giveaway is in no way endorsed or sponsored by Instagram.**

Don’t forget to follow Manhattan Toy Co. on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram to stay up to date on the newest products and sales!

– Casey

**Burrito Buzz received this product at low or no cost for the purpose of review or testing. No compensation for a positive review was provided. All product reviews are based 100% off of our personal experiences and we never guarantee a positive review.**

Lime and Lotus Organics: Daily Face Cream {REVIEW}

I’ve never been one to use a lot of products on my skin, let alone my face, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t  think it’s important to take care of it (especially when you’re young) so it looks good when you age! With that said, I was intrigued when I read about Lime and Lotus Organics and their signature Daily Face Cream. So many products nowadays are filled with harmful chemicals and added junk, it’s a wonder they are even allowed to be sold. It’s scary to think about some of the things we put in our bodies, and even though it’s “just our skin,” it is equally as important what we are putting on it because our bodies absorb it!

 

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Lime and Lotus Organics prize themselves on their high standards and pure products using only natural ingredients. A holistic doctor created Lime and Lotus. Her hope was to design products for both her patients and family that were not filled with harmful chemicals. She did it. The products made are free from synthetic chemicals, paraben preservatives, petrochemicals, phthalates, and artificial colors and fragrances of any kind.

 

I was able to sample the Daily Face Cream from Lime and Lotus Organics which uses “Shea Butter, Evening Primrose Oil, and Virgin Coconut Oil to hydrate and soothe your skin while ingredients like Organic Jojoba Oil, Vitamin E Oil, and 3444Bulgarian Damask Rose Wax help to reduce wrinkles, age spots, and lines.”  I have not used the product long enough to note any real improvements in my complexion, but I have been mostly happy with the product so far! The scent is light and refreshing with the primrose coming through which I enjoyed. Only a very small amount was needed with each use, and it was very hydrating. I’m talking hydrating to the point where my skin remained looking and feeling oily even with the small amount and rubbing it in thoroughly. I only ended up applying the cream once a day (instead of the recommended two times a day) due to the oily/over-hydrating aspect. I will say though that when I applied the cream after showering at night before bed, I noted my skin feeling silky smooth and looking fresh when I woke up the next morning. The oily glow and texture were gone.

 

Application of the product is super simple – Warm up a small amount of cream between your fingertips and then gently apply

 

 

 

 Lime and Lotus Organics packages their Daily Face Cream in small glass jars, which means they are BPA free! They also offer and 60-day money back guarantee if you are not satisfied with their product. Please visit their website to read more about their products, mission, and to purchase your very own Daily Face Cream. It is also available on Amazon – Daily Face Cream.

 

You can also follow Lime and Lotus Organics on Facebook, Instagram, YouTubePinterest, and Twitter!

 

-Megan

 

**Burrito Buzz received this product at low or no cost for the purpose of review or testing. No compensation for a positive review was provided. All product reviews are based 100% off of our personal experiences and we never guarantee a positive review.**

 

BurritoBuzz Mom Approved: Ella’s Kitchen

We want the best for our babies. When it comes to food, I try to make sure my 6 month old is getting the best possible nutrition. Some say the best way to know what your baby is eating, is to makek_logo_good_bluestrap_rgb_painte their baby food yourself. Well, I don’t have the time or patience to make her food. I know it’s not that hard, I just don’t want to. So how do I know that my little one is being fed the best possible food for her little sensitive belly? Ella’s Kitchen!

Ella’s Kitchen is 100% USDA certified organic baby and toddler food and drinks that is handy for mom and dad. Ella’s Kitchen makes food that appeals to all of the senses of little ones, from the texture, colors, taste, the packaging, and even their names. Made with natural ingredients, Ella’s Kitchen shows that food can be both healthy and yummy, even for the pickiest of eaters! You can even do a product search on their website for special diets; gluten free, lactose free, and vegetarian products can be searched for here. Ella’s Kitchen also takes care of our planet. You can send back your used pouches and capsella, and they’re then made into unique products and of course the cardboard boxes can be recycled. 

Ella’s Kitchen offers foods for babies from 4 months (Ella’s 1) and from 6 months (Ella’s 2) to toddlers 1+ year and Big Kids. There are no baby food jars, just easy and convenient pouches. Baby foods are made with all kinds of savory fruits and vegetables. There are so many combinations available for baby food, toddler snacks, and drinks, there are too many to list! Check out what Ella’s Kitchen has to offer here!

My almost 7 month old loves everything she has tried from Ella’s Kitchen and my toddler loves their delicious nutritious drinks and shakes and dev41f41c19c7dbee85307d6fcf40f8d043ours their toddlers snacks. I love knowing that both my girls are eating healthy and that they love what they’re eating.

I am so glad I found Ella’s Kitchen and that my family loves it. And while it costs more than Gerber or Beechnut baby food, you know that your little one is getting certified organic food and getting the best for his/her little belly. Check out your local grocery store or find out where to buy here. Your little one will love Ella’s Kitchen, and so will you!

Don’t forget to follow Ella’s Kitchen on Facebook and Twitter!

– Casey

**BurritoBuzz received these products at low or no cost for the purpose of review or testing. No compensation for a positive review was provided. All product reviews are based 100% off of our personal experiences and we never guarantee a positive review.**

The Original Squeeze Company {Review + Giveaway}

As parents, we all love the convenience of squeeze pouches. Whoever thought to put food in pouches for kids is a genius in my book and deserves an award of some sort. Whether they’re pureed baby food pouches for babies, or applesauce pouches for toddlers and big kids, being able to take the cap off and hand it to your child with no spoons involved is awesome. My big problem is they’re not cheap (as you all know I’m a cheapskate). Puree pouches cost more than a jar of baby food and you can often get a big jar of applesauce for the same price you’d pay for 4 pack of pouches. And if you want organic pouches, you’ll be paying a lot more. So why not make your own puree baby food or buy a big container of recipe151yogurt or applesauce and put it in a reusable pouch? I recently discovered a company that has allowed me to do just that! The Original Squeeze Company created the original reusable pouch and they were sweet enough to send me several of their products to review!

The Original Squeeze Company is a family owned company located in Idaho, started by mom Kristin Ahmer. Kristin created The Original Squeeze (for babies 6+ months), the original spill-proof reusable squeeze pouch that is made of durable silicone and is 100% toxin-free. They will last for years growing with your child, while also saving you money instead of purchasing one-use pouches! They make pouches for everyone, Original Squeeze with Eeeze for kids 2+ and the Sport Squeeze for all ages!

All Squeezes are:

  • Dishwasher safe (top rack only)
  • BPA, PVC, and Phthalate freepouch5
  • Easy-to-assemble components
  • Naturally non-stick for easy cleaning
  • Freezer safe
  • Come in several sizes and colors
  • Not for liquids

I received all three squeezes for my family to try. The Original Squeeze was perfect for my almost 7 month old. It’s available in 2 ($13.99) or 4 ($14.99) ounce pouch and several colors. The spill-proof nipple-like spout makes eating a lot less messy. My little one loves yogurt but is quite messy, as she likes to grab the spoon and try to feed herself, but with the Original Squeeze, it’s a lot easier and more convenient to have her suck out the yogurt. I’ve also made my own purees and spooning them in the pouch is super easy because the neck is pretty wide. My four year old loves her Original Squeeze with Eeeze. The spout is free-flowing, making it easy for her to get her yogurt, smoothie, or applesauce out. It’s available in 2 ($13.99), 4 ($14.99), and 6 ($15.99) ounce pouches and is perfect for school lunches! Its lid (that is attached to the pouch so you won’t lose it) allows it to be closed and not have to worry about it spilling out. I was sent the Sport Squeeze ($18.99) which is so awesome! It an 8 ounce pouch and is great for smoothies. If you work out, this pouch is a must for protein shakes! It’s flip-top lid is interchangeable with any Original Squeeze, too. The included carabiner attaches to anything, so you can just clip and go.

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If you have little ones who use pouches a lot or you just like the convenience of them without the high price, Original Squeeze products are for you! The quality is phenomefullnal and they will hold up through wash after wash. Since we received our pouches, all three of us have used them at least once a day. I love that you can also build your own Squeeze by choosing between 3 spouts (spill-proof, free-low, or flip spout) and ten trending colors. Little ones will love to pick their favorite colors! They’re super easy to wash and store, asor empty. The prices are a little high, but if you buy store-bought pouches often, it will soon pay for itself. Not to mention all the waste you’ll be saving our precious Mother Earth!

We love The Original Squeeze Company pouches so much, we’re giving away one of each to a lucky BurritoBuzz reader! One winner will receive: (1) The Original Squeeze, (1) The Original Squeeze with Eeeze, and (1) Sport Squeeze! It’s super easy to enter:

  1. Follow both @BurritoBuzz and @TheOriginalSqueezeCompany on Instagram
  2. Like the giveaway post
  3. Tag a friend (one per comment)
  4. That’s it!

The giveaway will start at 12pm on October 9th, 2016 and will end at 12pm on October 11th, 2016. The winner will be announced shortly after on the original giveaway post. Best of luck! **This giveaway is in no way sponsored by Instagram.**

Best sure to follow The Original Squeeze Company on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest, too, for sales and new products! Check out their recipes for applesauce ble4pack300nds, yogurt blends, purees, and more here!

– Casey

**Burrito Buzz received this product at low or no cost for the purpose of review or testing. No compensation for a positive review was provided. All product reviews are based 100% off of our personal experiences and we never guarantee a positive review.**

Essential Oils for Allergies {Lavender, Peppermint & Lemon by Young Living}

younglivingallergiesburritobuzzIf you follow my posts, then you know that I am a pretty crunchy mom. When it comes to my life, and my children’s especially, I try to use the best products available. There are so many chemicals surrounding us on a daily basis, so I try to limit chemicals and artificial ingredients that we put into our bodies specifically.

I found essential oils when BK#1 was little. You can read about Tummy Gize and how I use it here. I also use oils for teething, you can read about that here. Last year, I found a blend that works wonders for our family’s allergies. I have some pretty rough seasonal allergies, my husband has seasonal allergies and some specific allergies, and our littles definitely inherited them unfortunately. Thankfully, right now,  it just seems like the babies have seasonal allergies. Their pediatrician prescribed some over the counter allergy medication. They didn’t really help, so she then prescribed prescription strength medicine. After  some time, I didn’t see much of a change in symptoms even though my one year old was taking medication every single day. I consulted with our pediatrician and we decided to start exploring some natural remedies for their allergies before extensive allergy testing and medications.lrj2b.jpg

I started diffusing a blend of peppermint, lavender, and lemon and saw immediate results. Not only were the results immediate, but they were continuous. They are still working. Any time the kids are having any allergy symptoms, I diffuse the blend and their sniffles subside within minutes. As an adult, I not only notice my runny nose and sniffles disappear, but my sinuses are clear! If you have allergies, you know how amazing this feels.

***Before I go into how it works, I need to preface with the fact that I am not a Young Living rep, nor am I being paid to endorse Young Living*** 

I have done the research and tested multiple other brands. Young Living is the best quality and works the best. You can find many different brands at many different price points for your budget. But like most things, you get what you pay for. It is just that simple.

HOW TO USE

Apply:

  • Always dilute with a carrier oil (like coconut) for little ones.
  • Apply to base of neck.
  • Apply to bottom of feet and put on socks.
  • I apply Lavender alone on my cheekbones and bridge of my nose for sinus pressure relief.
  • You can also make a roller ball using equal parts of each oil for travel and to have the oil already mixed on hand.

YOUNGLIVINGBURRITOBUZZALLERGYSEASONDIFFUSER.jpgDiffuse:

  •  I diffuse for the kids 95% of the time.
  • I use this diffuser instead of an expensive one from Young Living and it works great and has never broken. (I have a Young Living diffuser that has died)
  • Fill diffuser to fill line with water then add 5 drops Lavender, 4 drops Lemon, and 3 drops Peppermint. I put the diffuser in whatever room we are in and it runs for around 6 hours before I need to refill.
  • Depending on the severity of their symptoms, I diffuse 24/7 or just in the morning when they wake with sniffles.

Ingest:

  • Add 1 drop of each oil to 1 teaspoon of local honey for children. For adults, use 2-3 drops of each oil.
  • It is an oil, so it will be a little rough on the pallet. Just use a chaser like a glass of water.

Peppermint and Children

Always be safe with your oils. Especially with peppermint. Peppermint is one of the most effective essential oils for respiratory infections and congestion, but it can be dangerous for young children. It can slow breathing, so be sure to always use a safe diluted amount. There are many different opinions and ages that are suggested. Some say don’t use under age 3, some say it’s safe as long as it’s diluted. Our pediatrician said that she felt it was safe if heavily diluted or diffused. I don’t apply blends with peppermint to my little ones, but there is plenty of research saying that if applied safely, it is okay to use. I just worry so much as it is, so I completely avoid applying it since diffusing the blend works so perfectly already. Please read more about oil safety here.

Fall is my favorite season, but our bodies don’t like the weather changes as much as I do. I am so glad to have found a natural solution! I hope this blend helps you as much as it helps my family.

– Amanda

 

 

Pro Santa or No Santa? {A New Mom’s Thoughts on Ol’ St. Nick}

A few weeks ago as the holiday season loomed ahead, I decided I wanted to do a cute little post on Santa. Just for kicks, I asked a couple of people their opinions on doing Santa for their children. Yeah, to say their stances conflicted is an understatement.

This intrigued me. I decided to post an anonymous survey to get even more parents’ opinions on Santa. I was completely blown away by the response I received. People have very strong opinions on the jolly ol’ man! Over 100 responses later, here are some of the results:

Will you tell your children that there is a Santa?

84% Yes

16% No

Will you give your children gifts that are exclusively from Santa?

78% Yes

22% No

What is your biggest fear regarding Santa?

45% My children will be devastated when they discover he isn’t real

42% It will distract from the true meaning of Christmas

13% It will cause my children to become selfish or greedy

Will you encourage your children to write letters to Santa?

61% Yes

39% No

Did you believe in Santa?

90% Yes

10% No

I added a section for people to comment with their personal thoughts. Many people made points that I had never even considered before. Here are some of the most intriguing comments for both the pros and the cons of promoting Santa in their households:

PROS:

Santa represents the spirit of giving- 

“Each year we go to Walmart and spend $100 on toys to donate…We want our children to realize that there is a little Santa in all of us and that his spirit is what we celebrate….We think the spirit of giving is what Santa is all about.”

“The boys understood that the reason gifts were shared at Christmas is in celebration of Jesus’ birth and a way of honoring our own love of family and friends by giving gifts like the Magi did for the Christ child. As they aged, they would ask if we were Santa, we said yes and they would delight in helping keep the magic of the season alive for their siblings”image

Santa brings magic to the season

“I personally love the spirit and magic of Santa and want my daughter to experience the wonder & excitement…I won’t use Santa as a disciplinary tool (i.e. if you are bad, Santa won’t bring you presents).”

Santa is a story character like Mickey Mouse

“We explain to our children the origin of St. Nick…focusing primarily on the purpose of gift giving and not receiving because the tradition stems from God giving us the greatest gift of all, Jesus. We talk about ideas of what to get for each other and spend time picking out the perfect gift…that way they can feel the joy of giving a gift that they’ve thought long and hard about..We aren’t anti-Santa, but they understand it is a story like Mickey Mouse”

CONS:

Telling my children about Santa would be lying to them

“As a Christian, I can’t in good conscience tell my child to believe in Santa Claus and then try to tell them about Jesus and how He is real even though you can’t see or feel Him. Whenever they find out Santa isn’t real, why would they want to believe Jesus is real?”

“We just have a 100% honesty policy- we can’t justify making exceptions. My husband grew up in a very manipulative home and trust is of utmost importance to us.”

Santa takes away from the true meaning of Christmas-

image“Santa is a mock up of God, sharing many of the same attributes. It devalues the power and majesty of God”

“I want my children to know the true meaning of Christmas, to value the act of giving gifts and the hard work we do for them leading up to Christmas. Some big guy in a suit isn’t taking care of and providing for them, we are. They may be missing out on some fun, but I think they will be better off in the end.”


 

So, after reviewing all of the survey entries and doing a little reflecting and research on my own, here is my stance:

Our faith will always be the center of the season

In our home, we believe that Christmas is a time to celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus. Giving gifts is a representation of the gifts that the wisemen brought to Jesus as a child, as well as a reflection of our love and appreciation for family and friends.

Everything we do during the holiday season will revolve around our faith. From gift giving, volunteering for charity, baking cookies with grandma, seeing lights, and decorating the tree. I hope to center these fun events around enjoying time with family and being grateful for the opportunity to do so.

Saint Nicholas was, more likely than not, an actual person

Many people stated they felt that telling their children about Santa would be an outright lie. After reading several articles on the history of Santa Claus (clearly I have no life and was dedicated to the legitmacy of this blog), history.com summed it up the best:

“The legend of Santa Claus can be traced back hundreds of years. It is believed that a monk named St. Nicholas was born sometime around 280 A.D. Much admired for his piety and kindness, St. Nicholas became the subject of many legends. It is said that he gave away all of his inherited wealth and traveled the countryside helping the poor and sick, as well as children. Over the course of many years, Nicholas’s popularity spread and he became known as the protector of children and sailors. His feast day is celebrated on the anniversary of his death, December 6. This was traditionally considered a lucky day to make large purchases or to get married.”

There are several more articles explaining the evolution of the story and how it came to be a part of the American Christmas tradition, but bottom line: the concept of Santa Claus is based off of historical evidence of the kindness of a particular monk. 

So will I feel like I am literally lying to my child by telling her a story of a man named St. Nick? No.

Age matters- Santa is what you make him to your children

I am going to tell my child, when she is old enough to understand, a story of a man named Santa who comes on Christmas Eve, plops down the chimney, has 8ish reindeer and a factory filled with elves that make toys. It’s a story. She will love the story just as she loves Curious George. As she grows, if she asks questions, I will tell her that Santa is a story we like to tell at Christmas time to remind us of the importance of giving.

If you promote the idea to your child that a man in a red suit is literally staring down on them day and night, monitoring their behavior and is an endless source of extravigant gifts, I am willing to bet that they will have a hard time coping when they discover Santa is not an actual person.

Santa is what you make of him. If you make him a fun, silly character you read stories and sing songs about during the holidays, I really can’t see the difference between him and any other character they experience on tv.

 

Make the holidays about what is important to your family. For me, I think the world is a hard enough place that if you can’t experience a little fantasy and fun during Christmas time as a child, when will you? Let them dream. Let them get excited and sing silly songs. When they mature, explain to them your beliefs and the deeper meaning of Christmas. It doesn’t have to be traumatic. It can simply be an act of maturity and understanding. I’ve said before, we will always promote our faith and a sense of humility and giving back in our household. As long as that is always at the center of our holiday celebrations, I am going to let my kids fall in love with everything about Christmas. You’re only a kid once.

-Chelsea

 

Raising the Plugged-In Generation

image

How many times have you heard the following phrases:

“Don’t let them watch too much television, it’ll rot their minds”

“Those video games, they’ll make him violent!”

“You never know what they’re looking at on the internet…”

“Why would she need a phone? She’s a child.”

I saw this Dateline 20/20 Nightline whatever episode recently that said “we” (me and you, current parents of small children) are raising the “Plugged-In Generation.” And it’s this horrible, scary thing where our kids are ruled by technology, and their minds really are mush and they’re doomed to be socially inept their entire lives because computers and smart phones will do everything for them. Okkkk….

So then I visited a mom friend the other day that told me that they have their television on for a total of 30 minutes a day. THIRTY. I found this out when naptime was approaching for the kids so I turned on a quiet cartoon, went to the bathroom, came back and the tv was off. Alrighty then.

Is it true? Is all the technology of today still rot-your-brains-out horrible? I’m not so sure.

Call me Mom of the Year, but my tv is rarely off. Sorry Mom Friend, but I think you’re a little nuts. But I also don’t want my kid to only speak in Jake the Pirate lingo and not be able to function outside of a computer screen…image

And when I say my tv is on all day, listen, I’m a stay at home, military mom. My DH is in and out constantly and I just can’t be in a house alone with my LO, sitting in silence all day. But that also doesn’t mean I park her in front of the tube and she sits in zombie mode for hours on end. In the mornings, we snuggle and watch a few episodes of Curious George. And then she’s off. Sometimes its a cute, toddler-appropriate cartoon in the background, sometimes it’s the Disney Pandora station. But my tv is on for the majority of the day for the simple purpose of background noise.

So besides my tv always being on, what other brain-rotting sins do I commit? Well I have a Fisher Price app on my tablet that she loves to play and if she could figure out Facetime on my phone, I’m sure she’d call my sister 37 times a day.

I’m a little conflicted here. I’m not a doctor or a scientist. Just a sahm, shrink in training (read: grad student in Professional Counseling), trying to make the best, most practical choices I can for my kid. So here’s my opinion:

1. Cartoons aren’t what they used to be. When we were little, it was Rugrats, Scooby Doo and Wiley Coyote being blown up by a bird. Now, my child has a ridiculous amount of educational shows to choose from. And they really are educational. Daniel Tiger learns how to share, Curious George does odd jobs to buy a kite, and Sofia the First deals with bullies. These are life lessons, in bold colors, with catchy songs that kids remember.

2. Use technology to your advantage. Sure, as your children get older they’re going to learn that there is a world of opportunity available out there on the internet. So be smart. Use the parental settings on your smart phones, your cable and your internet plans. Block what you don’t want them to have access to, give them kid-safe technology like a Leap Pad. As they get older, regulate who they can and cannot contact on their phones. Technology is expanding every minute but that doesn’t mean you have to be an ignorant parent. Stay up to date and monitor what you child, at any age, has access to.

3. Be safe. Get your middle schooler a phone if you want. Shoot, get your elementary schooler a phone. Give them text and call services and teach them that this is for emergencies only. Sure they may text their friends when you turn your back, but this isn’t a Mayberry,-leave-your-doors-unlocked kind of world anymore. My child having a way to contact me should there be, God forbid, some horrible event happening at their school or just some creeper near the bus stop, gives me peace of mind. It’s a safety measure I think is necessary here in 2015.

 4. Teach them OTHER things. Start young. Have scheduled play time OUTSIDE, every day if possible. Read to them. Read in front of them. Instill in them a joy of reading, crafts, music, couch-fort building and imaginary tea parties as soon as you can. The more you encourage non-technology related activities and make them appealing to your children, the less they’ll even care about watching Frozen for the 94th time this week.

Promoting the fun in other activities will also help avoid that feeling that they are addicted to technology. It can be helpful to reward positive behavior in your children, especially when they are toddlers. But constantly using your own personal phone or tablet as a reward WILL turn around and bite you when you eventually need to take it away, resulting in that dreaded inconsolable tantrum in the middle of Walmart that we all love. Try stickers or a musical toy, something fun they don’t always have access to as an incentive for good behavior.

If you want them to have “app time” during the day, schedule it into your routine. This way, they’ll know when to expect time on the tablet and won’t demand it at random moments throughout the day. Routine works!!!

5. Lead by example. The phone/tablet/laptop/smart watch…whatever…put it away. Don’t text and drive. Don’t check emails at dinner. EAT DINNER AT THE TABLE. Talk to your kids, no matter how young they are. I’m a student and I write for this super awesome blog so I suppose you could say I “work from home.” My child sees me use technology often. But I make technology-free time for her all day long. When you’re interacting with your child, be present. Listen when they have something to say. Set the example that you want them to follow.

I really don’t care how many hours a day my television is on. I’ll give my kid a tablet to play an age-appropriate app every now and then. What’s important is that technology doesn’t rule her life. I’m teaching my child how to speak politely to adults, the importance of fitness and a love of several different hobbies that don’t involve a keyboard or remote.

In the right context, technology can be so beneficial for children of all ages. We need to be forward-thinking parents. We need to not be ignorant to changing technology and current safety precautions. Keep up with your kids, stay current in their lives, and set the example you want them to follow. Technology isn’t the enemy, poor parenting is. We can’t protect them from everything, but we can guide them toward becoming successful, intelligent, social human beings that don’t have carpel tunnel from video games, but instead understand the value of new, evolving sciences that will shape their tomorrow.

-Chelsea