How To Stop Sibling Bickering: Pocket Referee


**Update from when we started using it! ** I have a 6 year old and a 3 year old and the “mom I want that toy…..he has it…he won’t give it to me” battles were getting SUPER annoying. I thought I’d give this a shot as it was given to us years ago. I am amazed at HOW well the kids have responded to it–the fights disappear when I ask, “Who has the coin?” And yes, you could use this concept with any item–but the kids are in awe of “the golden coin” so I do think it is worth every penny of the $10!!!
Right now my kids are at the age where they absolutely love each other and it’s just so sweet!!! (or rather, Amber adores Tyler–he allows her to smother him with affection because he doesn’t have much choice–haha!) From having a brother who was 2 years younger than me, though, I know that it’s only a matter of time till the hugs and kisses turn into tattling and fights–not so much looking forward to that day!!!
Luckily for me I found out about an amazing product that will hopefully stop most conflicts before they even start. I think it’s one of the most *brilliant* ideas I’ve ever heard of–kind of a DUH why didn’t I think of that??? one. 🙂 Behold– The Pocket Referee! Here’s how it works and a little information behind it that was sent to me:
“My dad invented a version of it 30 years ago to use with my sister and me and it worked wonders. We are two years apart and if one of us wanted something (like pushing the elevator button or sitting in the front seat of the car) inevitably the other wanted the same thing. Clearly only one of us could have our way and my dad was fed up with having to mediate all these “important” issues and remember who got what the last time to be as fair as possible.
With the Pocket Referee, the parent can choose how much or little interaction they’d like to have in the process and can also choose to have no part of it all. It offers kids a win-win situation and helps to give them perspective on the importance of what they’re asking for.”
Completely brilliant concept right?! To find out more about it and how it works be sure to check out their website. We were sent regular and special edition to review. Both are super cute, great quality, and come with super cute designs on them and a special little pouch to carry it around in. I can definitely see kids getting excited about them! And I’m excited about the headaches it’s going to save me from having to deal with!


Healthy & Bright Smiles

Five simple things you can do for your child that I do for Amber to help keep their smile healthy and bright.

Funny Faces  ~ I have her make exaggerated open mouth faces and noises while I brush her teeth–she thinks it’s hilarious

Clean up ~ Amber loves to brush her teeth by herself so after I brush I let her scrub them herself–they get extra clean and everyone is happy

Yummy (Healthy) Drinks ~ Amber drinks only water & milk–good for her teeth & body!

H2O Sippy ~ Like most kiddos Amber likes to have a sippy cup with her when she goes to bed, I just make sure I only give her water so it won’t be nasty on her teeth all night!

Yummy (Healthy) Food ~ Amber also only eats pretty healthy food, again–good for her teeth & body! When she does have a sugary treat we make sure to brush extra good afterwords!


Back to School Sunscreen Tips *Guest Blog*

Summer vacation may be over, but that doesn’t mean kids will be out of the sun. Data suggests that the majority of sun exposure in a person’s like occurs before the age of 18. So… how can you be sure to protect your children when they are back at school and out of your sight? Kavita Mariwalla, MD, Director of Mohs and Dermatologic Surgery at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt and Beth Israel Medical Centers, suggests following these simple rules:

– If your children play sports, pack water-proof spray-on sunscreen in their backpack. Make sure you tell them to spray it on while getting ready for practice or the big game (30 minutes before sun exposure). The spray version is easy to apply and they don’t have to feel shy about asking a team mate to help them out.

– Consider washing your child’s practice clothes and uniforms with Rit Sunguard. Available on-line and in most grocery stores, the easy to use powder can be washed in with clothes in the laundry and confers added SPF to t-shirts, shorts and socks – good for multiple washes.

Buy empty lotion bottles (travel size) and fill them with sunscreen to pack in your child’s backpack. That way it is easy to transport and easy for you to monitor their use.

Don’t forget sunglasses. Beyond a fashion accessory, sunglasses protect your child’s eyes from harmful UV rays

Encourage wearing a hat. Though most children are resistant to wearing a broad-brimmed hat, baseball caps are better than nothing. Just remind your child to put sunscreen on their ears and the back of their neck!

– If your child is in tournaments lasting the whole day in the fall, designate a “sunscreen parent.” Just like the “snack parent” who provides nourishment to keep the kids on the field, the “sunscreen parent” can keep them safe and free from sunburns. Making this part of the sport environment creates healthy habits early on.

What is the data to support the importance of sunscreen use?

Data shows that basal cell skin cancer is rising in people under the age of 40. In addition, a study done in 2000 and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that children who wore sunscreen consistently developed fewer moles than those who did not. The same study showed that sunscreen use is even more important for children with freckles because it decreased the number of nevi or moles they acquired by up to 40%. An epidemiologic study completed in 2009 showed that male children are at higher risk than female and additional risk factors for developing moles include spending 5 – 6 hours /weekly/ between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm outdoors. That’s not a lot of time considering most sports practrice at least 1 – 2 hours a day. And don’t forget those soccer tournaments!

So, if your child is playing sports when school gets back in session, remember these tips and keep them protected even when they are not under your watch.

Brugo Mug Review & Giveaway

**This Giveaway is now CLOSED Congrats to itsme who won***Update on review–Unfortunately just a few weeks after I wrote this review my Brugo began to leak coffee badly every time I tried to use it–I hadn’t washed it in the dishwasher or done anything that I wasn’t supposed to (other than admittedly flinging it around a time or two!) So I end up being disappointed and wouldn’t recommend this for anyone as the higher price tag wasn’t worth the product in the end. I’m sad to have to report my ultimate findings, but know you always want me to bring you the whole truth about all of the products I feature on my site!


I have always loved coffee!!! I remember being a little girl and going to my great-grandma’s house. She would give us some of her coffee in the teeny tiny doll cups we played with there. When I was a little older and I went hunting with my Dad he’d share his coffee with me…usually to discover I’d drank the entire mug. Haha! Once I got old enough to drink it on a regular basis I’ve pretty much drank it every morning since. Now that I have a newborn I need it more than ever!!!

The Brugo Mug is unlike any coffee mug I’ve ever had, and I’ve gone through a few! I never thought I’d own a coffee mug that came with an owners manual, or that I would actually need to use the owners manual if it did (lol!!) The Brugo Mug is so advanced I actually did need to go back and read the manual to figure out how to use the Tip & Sip feature which is supposed to help cool your coffee so you can drink it right away. Although a cool option I’ve only used it a few times because honestly it seems like every time I pour my coffee one of my kiddos needs me and I have to leave it sitting for awhile. I will say that the mug does a great job of keeping it the “just right” hot for a long amount of time! The lock feature works great if you do as suggested and drink/pour out the remaining liquid that’s in the top chamber when you use it. The mug went flying in the car when it was still pretty full but didn’t spill because I’d (for once) remembered to use the lock feature 🙂
I’ve really enjoyed having this mug and have used it every single day since I received it several weeks ago. I would highly recommend it to anyone who love hot beverages (especially coffee!!) like me 🙂
They’re running a couple of great specials right now like 25% off when you buy 2 or more and free shipping on orders over 50.00. You can visit their website for details.

One Lucky Reader will win their very own Brugo Mug!
This giveaway is open to US residents 18 years and older only

Catching up and a winner

Playing catch up…
I know that I haven’t been posting much lately *hides face in shame* but I’m sure you all understand that with my 2 sweet love bugs and my job that has now blossomed into a part time one where I need to put in several hours a week, I quickly run out of hours in the day!!! So I hope you’ll bear with me and enjoy my guest posts in random snippets in the mean time until I can (hopefully) get back to some sort of routine on here 🙂
And here’s our lucky Hugs Included winner! Hoping to get several great giveaways up within the next few days so be on the lookout!!
A Big Congrats to AStarrA 29 who won the Snuggly Blanket!

Elle’s Law

As many of you know school is starting up again in many places this week. As children are headed back to school it’s important to keep their safety in mind! I’m sharing a press release I was sent from one of my sponsors to help raise awareness of the importance of back to school safety especially concerning traffic! Although this law is only for NY it should help raise awareness everywhere! Be sure to check out the Facebook Page for Elle’s Law as well!

Governor Paterson Signs “Elle’s Law”

Signing comes less than two months after bill, sponsored by State Senator Dilan and Assemblyman Kellner, was unanimously passed by the NYS Legislature;

“Elle’s Law” will strengthen penalties for injuring pedestrians while driving recklessly; law named for three-year-old Elle, who was struck by car driving wrong way on Manhattan street to get a parking spot

ALBANY, NEW YORK (AUGUST 16) – Governor David Paterson has signed “Elle’s Law,” which will strengthen state motor vehicle laws by hiking penalties for similar driving violations, helping to ensure pedestrian safety – and acting as a deterrent for reckless drivers. The signing came less than two months after the New York State Legislature unanimously passed bills sponsored by Assembly Member Micah Z. Kellner (D-Manhattan) and State Senator Martin Malavé Dilan (D-Brooklyn).

“Elle’s Law” is named after young Elle, who was struck down by a motorist driving backwards down a Manhattan street – just to get a parking spot. Elle continues to recover from massive head trauma and significant brain damage; meanwhile, the driver was given a traffic summons, and nothing more. “Elle’s Law” will result in any driver injuring a pedestrian while driving recklessly having his or her license suspended for up to a year. (Current laws are already very strict for reckless driving either under the influence or impaired by alcohol.)

“I want to thank Governor Paterson for signing this important piece of legislation into law, and extend our gratitude to Speaker Sheldon Silver, Senator Dilan, Assembly Member Kellner and the members of the State Legislature for shepherding ‘Elle’s Law’ through the process,” said Heather Vandenberghe, the mother of Elle. “The main goal of ‘Elle’s Law’ has always been to protect pedestrians of all ages across New York State from suffering the same fate as my daughter. Elle’s Law will serve as a strong deterrent to motorists who might consider breaking traffic laws, and as a result will make our streets safer.”

“I’m proud to have co-sponsored this piece of legislation, which will protect pedestrians and drivers alike,” said State Senator Dilan, who also serves as Chair of the Senate Transportation Committee. “Elle’s Law sends a clear message that blatant disregard for traffic regulations can have devastating consequences.”

“Driving is a privilege, not a right,” said Assembly Member Micah Z. Kellner. “Elle’s tragedy exposed a huge loophole in the law — since there is no criminal penalty for reckless drivers who injure pedestrians unless they are intoxicated, we needed to ensure that there was some way to get dangerous drivers off the road. That’s why I introduced Elle’s Law. By signing Elle’s Law the Governor turned this little girl’s tragedy into a legacy: making it safer for every New Yorker to cross the street.”

On September 23, 2009, 3-year old Elle Vandenberghe was struck by a motorist while she was on her way to school. The driver was in his SUV going south on York Avenue in Manhattan when, according to witnesses, he threw his car in reverse to get to a parking spot on East 82nd Street . The driver backed through a crosswalk – against a red light – and struck Elle, causing major head trauma. While Elle lay in a coma for two weeks – she suffered a stroke and lost 2/3rds of the left side of her brain – the driver got off with a traffic infraction, paying a small fine and facing no jail time. Elle remains in physical therapy to this day.

According to 2008 data from the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, there were more than 15,000 pedestrian accidents statewide, with more than 97% resulting in physical injuries.

Love2Read Book Review

With his new job Bob has to be gone a lot. I knew it would have to come at some point, he is in the military after all, but playing “single mom” with a toddler and a newborn is proving to be a little tricky! I also knew it would be hard on Amber to have Daddy gone working all the time when she’s so used to having him at home. When I got the chance to pick a love2read book out to create and review I knew the My daddy… one would be just perfect for us!!!! Each page begins with My daddy… but I was able to completely personalize it with my own pictures and the rest of the sentence. I love how it turned out and Amber does too. Plus I think it made my husband feel really special when I showed him the book we made where he’s the star! The quality is great and the pages are made of thick glossy card stock so they’re easy for Amber to turn and won’t wrinkle easily. These books are super affordable too! I’ve already recommended them to several friends after getting mine in and definitely plan on purchasing more in the future! With tons of different themes there are so many different books you can create!

To show you how amazing this little book is here is a video of Amber “reading” it with me!

Love2Read Book Review

6/19/2014 Update — so now many years later this little book is still one of our favorites! Amber (who is now 6) read it to us last night and it makes a perfect “early reader” book. She loved giggling over the old pictures and she found the page where “you and Daddy are in loooooove” to be especially giggle worthy. So happy we have this book and now I’m inspired to go make a few for Tyler!

Thank You Notes & A Winner

I finally got all of my thank you notes for Tyler’s baby presents written and sent out yesterday–yey!!! I had to take a picture because as I was sending them out I realized I’d gotten everything I was using from UPrinting! The labels, thank you notes, and Birth Announcements are all things I’ve received from them, how cool is that? Aren’t they great??!! I just love working with them!
Karlee was the lucky winner of the 100 Postcards so soon she’ll love them too! Congrats to her!
Although I did finish all the thank you notes I still have about 80 birth announcements to send out–phew!!! So I better go get to work! If you would like me to send you one email me your address and I’ll mail one to you! 🙂 Just because I love all my followers that much!

Ten tips for saving money during the back-to-school season

Brown Bag It!
When we were in school we skipped out on cafeteria food and always brought it from home. Not only will it save money (think–leftovers!!) It will be a whole lot more tasty and nutritious for your kids as well!
Shop Online
With sites like Freecycle, Craigslist, Loobalee, Amazon, and Ebay you could do all your supply and school shopping from home and get everything for hugely discounted prices if not free! Plus you don’t have to deal with the crazy back to school crowds or hauling 3 kiddos with you–talk about a win-win-win!!!
Shop Garage Sales
Not only are they great places to find clothes (my mother in law just scored a Gymboree dress shirt that looks as if it’s never been worn for my daughter for $1) you can also keep your eyes out for notebooks, crayons, art supplies and more!
Shop Discount Merchants
Ross, TJ Maxx, Wal*Mart, all the various Dollar Stores and more….think $2 shirts and .50 cent notebooks!
You can score super nice clothes for super nice prices if you shop the sales and be sure to use coupons! Places back West like Herbergers mark clothes down to crazy low prices for their yellow dot sales and many stores also have some great back to school deals. I try to never, ever pay full price for any item!
“Shop” Your Home
If you’re like me you probably have about 200 pencils, crayons, and notebooks lying around…somewhere. Go “shopping” in your own drawers first to see what you already have off of your child’s supply list. You might not end up having to buy anything at all!
Friends & Family
Chances are good you have some relatives or friends who have kiddos a few years older than your own. Ask around and see who has clothes and supplies cluttering up their homes that they’d be willing to part with for cheap (or even FREE!)
Know when to go cheap & when not to
A 25 cent notebook is a great find but you might consider buying a nicer brand of backpack on sale. Although it’ll be more expensive than opting for the cheaper brand it can be used year after year and would be worth it to get one that will actually last!
If you’re homeschooling and can wait be sure to take advantage of the sales on Back To School supplies after school starts! You’ll be able to grab up supplies and clothes for the year and save lots while doing so!
Buy Early
The after 4th of July sale and various other ones throughout the year usually come along with better prices than any back to school sale does. Try to keep your eye out throughout the year and get clothes/supplies when you can for the lowest amount!
I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Staples blogging program, making me eligible to get a $50 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

What’s up with us and what I’ve been writing

So I know I’m kinda MIA from here right now–sorry about that!!! Life continues to be crazy, stressful, busy, but as always very good and very blessed!!! So hard to believe that my sweet little guy is over 2 weeks old now and that my little niece Evie is almost a month old! We’re having lots of fun with our new little guy and Amber just adores her baby brother. She goes up to him when he’s crying and says, “What’s wrong little buddy? Huh?” She would hold him all day long if I’d let her! 
I’m still finding time to write in my other spots (because….well…I get paid for some of them and others I made a commitment to so I kinda have to….lol!!!) I thought I’d share those links so just in case you’re missing my writing you can get your fill 😉

Waiting <--this is the post that I wrote 2 1/2 hours before Tyler was born! How To Make A Military Fabric Wreath ~ my awesome crafty friend gave me the instructions on how she makes her gorgeous wreaths!

God Provides ~ cool story about how God provided for us right when we moved here

Making The Most of Vacation Pictures

Faith & Business: Seeking Wisdom
Hope you enjoy! 🙂