Wednesday, November 27, 2013

My Holiday Helper :: Hooray For Less Dog Hair!

 Lately, it seems as though I can almost never keep my floors clean. Although having hardwood floors throughout 75% of your house is nice, it can sometimes be a pain when you dog's black hair can be found in every corner of every room, just blowing around as you walk by. And don't even get me started on the post-pregnancy shedding. It is insane. With a new baby that is spending more and more time on the floor learning to roll and play, I have made every effort to keep my floors vacuumed and swept as often as possible. But, with the holiday season in full swing, I have found less time to keep up with some of my daily household chores, and believe me when I say, the hair is everywhere after just one day!

I have tried basically everything. From steam mops to Swiffers and then some. But, my questions was always 'isn't there an easier way to keep up with all of this?' And now, my friends, there sure is! 

Allow me to introduce you to my new best friend ......

When the iRobot Braava 380t arrived on my doorstep, I jumped for joy! This powerful and smart little gadget is small enough to weave around through the rooms in my house, around rugs and under furniture, and powerful enough to sweep away all of my dog hair woes! iRobot Braava 380t Floor Mopping Robot dry or damp mops virtually any hard floor surface with disposable or reusable microfiber cleaning cloths. Designed for quick cleaning, Braava systematically covers your entire floor in a single pass. With both mop and sweep functions, the Braava really is perfect for any home.

Now I can get down on the floor and play with Gavin while the Braava sweeps away the dust and hair in the next room. By far my favorite feature is the NorthStar Navigation System, which functions like an indoor GPS and helps your Braava keep track of where it's already been and still needs to go. It can clean a large area in a single cleaning session, so it will work in large and small homes, and uses Wall-Following Technology allowing the Braava to clean right along walls, baseboards and in corners. The Braava will also clean under any piece of furniture it can fit underneath, and the super quiet motor will not even wake your napping baby in the same room! Trust me, I've tried it many times. Plus, it even contains cliff-detecting sensors to help it avoid stairs, area rugs and carpet transition. The Braava can dry mop up to 1,000 square feet with one GPS cube (double with an additional cube) and up to 300 square feet of wet mopping in one job. It comes with a reusable microfiber cleaning cloth, but can also be used with the disposable Swiffer pads that you probably already have lying around!

If you have a dog like mine, who's afraid of vacuums, you can set the Braava to sweep and then watch your dog play a little game with it for the next 15 minutes!

The Braava could not have arrived at our home at a more perfect time. Now, I can worry less about cleaning my floors, and focus on decorating our Christmas tree, playing with Gavin and wrapping presents! The holiday season is so jam packed, and can be stressful when trying to cram everything single thing into short time period, so make it easier on yourself, Mommy's! The iRobot Braava would be the perfect gift to find tucked underneath your tree this year!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Meeting Santa. I Am So THAT MOM.

Last week, I took Gavin with me to the mall to make a return at the Gap. Errands have become a pretty regular occurrence for us, and I have gotten pretty awesome at feeding G on the go, AKA in my car or the women's lounge at Nordstrom.

It was an unusually slow day, so of course we walked around and perused the racks at Baby Gap before finally making our return and buying three new items. As we walked back into the corridor, I noticed that the Santa Station was practically empty. The wheels in my head began turning immediately, and I quickly bolted back into Baby Gap and straight to the clearance section.

Ten minutes, and another $20 later, we were headed straight for the Nordstrom lounge for a quick feeding session and a wardrobe change. 

About a half an hour later, we were headed back towards Santa. There was still no line so we were greeted by Santa and both of his little elf helpers with a warm welcome. I chose the cheapest photo package they offered, and scooped Gavin up to get him ready for his first professional photo shoot. 

Suddenly, a quick thought ran through my head, 'Pam, are you really going to be THAT Mom that takes your son to meet Santa two weeks before Thanksgiving at the MALL?!' Thankfully, I decided to let that thought slip right by and continued on my merry way. 

Of course, at not even four months old, the Santa costume didn't phase Gavin at all, but he sure seemed a bit confused about his overall whereabouts at the moment that I plopped him into Santa's soft lap. 

My precious little boy met Santa for the first time at just 3 1/2 months old! I didn't have much time to prepare mentally for this memory making experience because it was such a spur of the moment decision, but I think that was part of what made it so special. Dressing him up in the Nordstrom lounge and then making a fool out of myself trying to coax a smile while he sat mesmerized on Santa's lap made me feel so happy and whole. 

My little man and I were building memories together on a random Tuesday afternoon. Sometimes, the spontaneous adventures turn out the be the most fun, and that was definitely the case last week. 

After we met Santa and received our very first 'token' of Gavin's First Christmas, we headed off to the Nordstrom Cafe for a light lunch to round out our day. 

Gavin will never remember the first time he met Santa, or any of his first Christmas experiences, but I certainly will, and that little Tuesday afternoon is one of the sweetest memories that we've made to date.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Getting 'Holiday Ready' Around the House

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group™ and Cottonelle, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #CottonelleHoliday

This is our first holiday season with a little guy in tow, and it is bound to be our busiest one yet. Between Thanksgiving dinners, baby showers, Christmas parties, Black Friday shopping, football games and traveling to see family, our calendar is pretty much full and December hasn't even begun! 

Every year around this time, the housework just seems to get away from me. The weekends are non-stop and I am practically falling into bed by 9PM most nights during the week. Chalk it up to being a 'newbie' in the Mom department, but the first things to get looked over are often the simple chores that I normally take care of. But, the lack of of tidiness catches up with me quickly and I end up doing it all anyway. The only difference is there is more mess to take care of a few days later. 

During the holiday season, we often have family and friends visiting or stopping over. Just yesterday we had another couple over to watch the Jets vs. Ravens game, so I did my best to scramble Saturday evening to straighten up. Because, the honest truth is that my house hasn't been clean enough for real guests since Gavin was born. 

The last thing anyone wants to worry about when entertaining is keeping your paper goods and bathrooms stocked. I hate for my guests to run out of toilet paper or towels, so I make sure to stock up to avoid any mishaps or emergencies. And, since I am the only one in the house that seems to understand that toilet paper rolls need to be changed (roll facing down, please!), the job always seems to fall in my lap. And if it's my job, I'm going to do it the way I want to!

So, on one of my recent trips to my favorite place ever, Target, I scooped up a 12 pack of Cottonelle Triple Roll, confident that it would last us through the holidays and beyond. 

I am already thrilled with the quality and quantity of each roll! The material is soft, thick and quilted, and the rolls really do last longer! I am already spending less time refilling our bathrooms and am able to enjoy our guests, worry free!

Thanksgiving week is upon us, and Cottonelle (and Target!) has already become a must-have brand in our home for the season. And, right now when you buy a Cottonelle Triple Roll 12 pack or larger, you get a FREE box of Kleenex! Totally stocked bathrooms all at once! Print the coupon here, and head off to Target ASAP, because it is only while supplies last!

Next time you're at Target, which for me is about twice a week, pick up a 12 pack of Cottonelle and save yourself the frustration of worrying about your bathrooms this season. After all, we all have tons of shopping, wrapping, socializing and snuggling to do over the next month, and I am happy to check off as many monotonous tasks as I can.

And, get excited ... Christmas is ONE MONTH from today!! 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Motherhood Has Already Taught Me A Few Lessons. Mostly About Myself.

When I was pregnant with Gavin, I thought surely I was well prepared for this whole 'motherhood' thing. After all, I had a solid history of babysitting, had read lots of books and blogs, and had picked my Mommy friends' brains until they were tired of hearing from me. All I could think about during the last few weeks of my pregnancy was delivery this baby and how much our world would change once we met Gavin. 

What I didn't know was how hard the transition would be. Motherhood is hard, and I am not ashamed to admit it.

Somewhere in all of the craziness and excitement of getting ready to welcome your first child, you get swept up, and you forget that motherhood is a full time job that no amount of reading, practice with other people's children, or observation can really, truly prepare you for. It is exhausting, it is humbling, and it tests you in ways you never even knew possible.

During the first few weeks of Gavin's life, I was adjusting to the lack of sleep, breastfeeding, a constant revolving door of visitors, and surviving alone at home while keeping myself, the baby and the dog alive. My personal adjustment period was a bit rocky. I was on a roller coaster of emotions, and I felt like all I did was feed Gavin Call it a dose of 'baby blues' or just call it a new Mom who was mourning the loss of a good night's sleep. 

Motherhood has forced me to look in the mirror and see some of the things that I don't love about myself. I am definitely lacking in the patience department, a good night's sleep is the best medicine, and I can actually go almost a full 'work week' with one shower, my hair in a bun, and sporting the same two pairs of leggings. It's embarrassing, but true. A lot of days, I actually feel bad for my husband when he walks through the door and I still look as tired and ratty as I did when he left for work that morning.

But, I think the toughest part of being a mother is accepting the fact that the life you knew before is no longer. This blog has struggled, and I have made work deadlines by the skin of my teeth. Some days, I just barely survive until B walks through the door. I am behind on housework, TV shows, and basically everything that qualifies as 'productive.' And, for someone like me, that is a very tough realization to come to. I can't do it all. Lots of days, I am lucky if I set and attain ONE goal. And I will admit that sometimes that goal is just to take a shower, or to remember to pull chicken out of the freezer so we don't have to eat pasta for dinner again.

I read this article recently about how 'new Mom's get nothing done,' and finally, I felt better. You mean I am not the only one who can't keep it all together anymore? I'm not the only one who struggles, who gets frustrated, who cries and even feels like I have nothing left at the end of some days? 

Gavin is by far my best work. He is growing changing, thriving, and I don't give myself enough credit for that. I am so grateful that I am able to stay home with him every day, and although I don't often get a break from this new full time job, the rewards are so much greater than I have ever experienced before. 

I am fervently praying for more patience, more time in the day, and most importantly, the ability to accept that I can no longer live and die by my to-do lists. Perhaps this is the lesson that I was meant to learn all along.

Monday, November 18, 2013

It's the Most Wonderful Time ... For Some Shopping!

Has anyone else already started their Christmas shopping, or is that just me? As soon as Halloween is over each year, I get the itch to start making my lists and shopping for the perfect items for my family and friends. Since I have a few names on my list that require a bit more time, creativity and planning, I am always looking for new ways to surprise them. 

Today, I am excited to share this shopping event with you. One of my college girlfriends just started selling Stella & Dot, and as soon as she told me about it, I hurried over to their website and started browsing for some fun and stylish holiday pieces. Stella & Dot is a great way for ladies to style themselves with fantastic jewelry. The line features jewelry of all kinds and all prices from fabulous statement necklaces to dainty rings and earrings. Best of all, half of the line is under $50!

 How awesome is this Rebel Pendant necklace? Perfect for dressing up any outfit, and festive enough for the holiday season!

Why wait until the busyness of the holidays shows up... start shopping now! The 2013 Holiday Line was just released with some beautiful pieces to jazz up any outfit for a holiday party. During the months of November and December, there is a special trunk show event going on. The Trunk Show Exclusive Deal for those shopping a November/December trunk show is: Spend $50, get 50% off of the featured pieces! Perfect deals for the holidays!

During the busy holiday season, there are always cookie bakes, cocktail parties, and even spur of the moment dinner parties to attend. I always love to show up with a little hostess gift, if possible, but most of the time, I don't have anything unique and fun on hand to wrap up and bring with me! When I saw this 'ready, set, gift!' deal, I was excited that I had the opportunity to stock up on some adorable and fun gifts that would make the perfect stocking stuffers or hostess presents this season!

Are you excited yet? Well, the deals in November and December were so much fun that I asked Steph if I could host my very own online trunk show just for my readers and friends! Starting today, and lasting through December 9th, you can shop my trunk show and take advantage of all of the deals above, and more!

Feel free to share the above invitation with your family & friends as well! The perfect opportunity to shop from home before the craziness of the holiday season is really upon us.

Best of all, if you love the jewelry and want to become a stylist yourself, it's a great time to get started. The company is featuring a great Jumpstart program that rewards stylists with hundreds of dollars in product credit.  Contact Stephanie at svbarringer@gmail{dot}com if you have any questions, or if you're interested in joining a wonderful company that makes working fun!

Once again, you can start shopping my Online Trunk Show TODAY here. Happy Shopping!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Gavin @ 3 Months

On Halloween, Gavin officially turned 3 months old. That old saying 'babies don't keep' just gets truer by the day. He barely resembles the tiny, squishy baby he was just two short months ago. My phone is chock full of pictures of him going through his every days. Even two days makes a difference with this boy.

We dressed up for Halloween two different times, perfectly appropriate for your first Halloween, right? While Gavin did make the cutest Superman I have ever seen, I just couldn't help but also put him in the monkey 'suit' that we had on hand while we greeted trick-or-treaters on Halloween night.

Gavin's cheeks and thighs are getting chubbier by the day, and his personality is really starting to shine through. Most of the time, he is pretty happy and a joy to be around. But, this month's newest thing is signs of teething on and off a few days per week. The drooling and shoving of fists into his mouth is constant, and we have started giving Baby Orajel and a touch of Tylenol a try, when need be.

Weight/Height: We don't take him back to the doctor until December 10th, when he will be more than four months old, so I'm not sure! If I had to guess, I would say he is somewhere in the neighborhood of 14 pounds or so? He is definitely getting heavier, and I think it may be time for me to invest in a scale because I'm constantly curious!

Hair & Eyes: His hair is coming in more and more and holding steady at a light brown color that sort of resembles his Daddy's. Swoon. His eyes are more like mine and have a sort of greenish/silver/hazel tint to them.
Diapers: We are in size 2s full time now, but we did experience our first blowout since the switch this weekend, so we will see how long we last. I am hesitant to buy another large box of 2s before trying a size 3 to see the difference.

Clothes: Sadly, Gavin has outgrown every piece of 0-3 months clothing in this house. He is in 3-6 month Old Navy, Gap and Mini Boden, and already fitting into some 6 and 9 month things from Carter's and Polo!

Eating: Five times a day, pretty much to a 'T.'  The time he wakes up for his first feeding each morning sort of dictates the day, but his pattern is pretty close to 6:30AM, 9-10AM, 1-2PM, 4-5PM and finally 6:30-7:30PM before bed. We are both comfortable with this routine and I imagine we'll be doing it for a while. 

He also did great taking two bottles (bedtime and morning) from my Mom when we left him overnight for our anniversary recently. Hallelujah! We haven't mastered having him take a bottle from Daddy yet though.

Sleeping: Gavin goes up to bed in his crib shortly after his final feeding of the night. This typically falls between 7-8PM depending on how well he napped that day. Most nights, he is asleep by 8, which gives B and I some time to watch Breaking Bad enjoy each other before bed. 

He is pretty solidly sleeping 'through the night' at this point. He sometimes wakes me a few times with some crying/whimpering, but giving him back his pacifier works and I am usually back to sleep within 5-10 minutes. Once 5-5:30AM rolls around, he starts rumbling, and I am usually feeding him by 6AM. About once a week, he'll throw me a curve ball and sleep later than I expect, but his pattern is pretty regular most of the time.

Milestones: We think G might be working on cutting his first tooth, although I have heard it could take months for it to actually happen. He is showing all of the signs of teething though, so I ordered him an amber teething necklace (we got this one, recommended from a friend!). 

He is also very active and alert, and I think he might be sitting up on his own by Christmas! He loves any opportunity to sit up in our laps or on the sofa, and has started playing in his Summer activity seat more and more. He also loves to lay on the floor and kick his legs like crazy! He has mastered rolling from belly to back, and we can tell he is close to rolling from back to belly, but it hasn't happened yet. Truthfully, I m sort of thankful for that, at least for now!

Gavin's first official holiday season has begun, and I am beyond excited! I have already started his Christmas list, my Christmas shopping, and brainstorming ideas for new traditions that we can start as a little family. 

What are your favorite holiday traditions?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Celebrating Three Years.

Our third wedding anniversary was this past Tuesday. Our first anniversary since we welcomed Gavin into our family, and I wanted to make sure that we did something special to celebrate since we don't get much time together as a couple anymore. I wanted it to be something more than our go-to dinner date outside of the house.

At the last minute, B was able to book us a hotel room at the Hyatt where we had our wedding reception. It is a beautiful venue in Jersey City right on the Hudson River overlooking a breathtaking view of NYC, and neither of us had been back there since the night of our wedding.

But, booking a hotel room comes with a lot more hoops to jump through than it used to. Luckily, we were able to employ my parents as babysitters for Gavin and Riley. So, up to North Jersey we went bright and early Saturday morning, our little family of four in tow.

My Mom also surprised me that day and treated me to a manicure, pedicure and massage so that I would be relaxed and beautified for our celebration that evening!

What a treat it was to go get my nails done by myself! The peace and relaxation did wonders for my busy brain. 

Later that day we went out to lunch with my family, kicked off a little Christmas shopping, and then got Gavin ready for his first night at Gigi's house without his Mommy and Daddy. Thank God for breast pumps! I finally used some of my frozen stash, and left my Mom armed with plenty of the 'goods.' I also left every other thing I could think of. Blankets, toys, pacifiers, plenty of PJs, a bouncy seat, swing, and lots more. I was so wrapped up in getting Gavin situated and going through every scenario that might happen while we were gone that I barely noticed it had already reached 6PM before we left the house.

With a loving nudge, my parents pushed us out the door, and off we went for our first night away without the baby. At first, three months seemed a bit early to leave Gavin overnight, but the timing worked out perfectly, and I knew how much it would do for our relationship to take the time for ourselves. 

When we arrived at the Hyatt, we checked into our room and got ready to head to dinner. We enjoyed a yummy dinner while overlooking the city skyline, and I tried hard to stop checking my phone every three and a half minutes. 

After dinner, we headed to the hotel bar and spent the next few hours talking, laughing, reliving memories from our wedding day, and being thankful for all that life has already blessed us with. We genuinely soaked up each others' company and reconnected in a way that we haven't had time for over the last few months. 

At one point during our conversation, I thanked B for the beautiful life that he has helped me build, and told him how lucky and thankful I am for all we have been able to do together so far. He reminded me that 'this is only the beginning,' and that statement filled my heart with so much love, hope, joy and anticipation for the many years to come. As we celebrate holidays, grow our family, and cheer each other on through the ups and downs of life, there is no one else that I would rather have as my partner, venturing through this crazy life one day at a time. Together.

Gavin did great while we were gone, and I now have a new found appreciation for grandparents! The night away gave us time to reflect, to laugh, and to sleep! We were both so excited to get home and see Gavin the next morning. It really was the perfect weekend. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't happy to be back to business as usual at home this week, but I am so proud of us for making our relationship the priority, at least for one night.

I love him more today than I did on our wedding day, and I can't wait to see what else God has in store for us in the years to come!

Allergy Season Always Get Me Down

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Kleenex but all my opinions are my own. #KleenexAllergy #pmedia

We pretty much adore all things fall in our house. Football season, PSLs, Halloween, crockpot meals, cooler temps and changing leaves, we can't get enough! But, one of the things that I always forget about the fall is the onset of fall allergies. Bummer. I didn't suffer from my first case of fall allergies until I was in college; maybe it was all of that fresh Virginia mountain air, but ever since then, I get hit with a mild case about every other year. My husband on the other hand, well he may as well have allergies all year long. I love that man, but he really knows how to go through a box of tissues.

This year is different than any other year because we have a brand new little guy in our house. The onset of fall allergies struck early, so when Gavin was just four weeks old, the sniffles started in our house. Cue the new Mommy freak outs. I stocked up on every vitamin I could think of, made sure we had all of the necessary baby remedies and filled every corner of our home with a fresh box of tissues. And, since B and I both suffered from a case of fall allergies this year, my preparation paid off for once!

On one of my recent bi-weekly trips to Target, I happened to remember that we were low in the tissue department. In true Target fashion, they were fully stocked with my favorite brands and some awesome holiday themed designs. Double score! 

It is never too early to start preparing and decorating for Christmas in our house, so when I saw this adorable holiday design on the new Kleenex 4packs, I scooped them right up. Just another little touch of holiday flavor to add throughout our home as the holiday season begins. 

And some days, babies need tissues, too! We have become avid users (and advocates) for the NoseFrida in this house, and each time I use it on Gavin, I need to have tissues on hand. The softness of Kleenex is perfect for every nose in this house, big and small!

And, speaking of decorating for Christmas, I already have it on the brain constantly. I even have a small decorated tree that my Mom made me that I leave up all year long. No corner of our home would be complete without a Kleenex stash. 

If you suffer from fall allergies in your home like we do, or even if you just have lots of little noses to wipe every day, Kleenex is definitely the way to go. No red, irritated noses yet this year! 

And, if you frequent Target like I do (do all Mommy's go there every other day?!), you can take advantage of the Kleenex deal going on now while supplies last! Buy any Kleenex 4pack and get a free wallet pack (2-pk) or pocket pack (3-pk) - both are $1 value! Print your coupon here!