Friday, July 1, 2016

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday and Happy July!

I am so excited about the long holiday weekend ahead of us! We have 2 picnics, a birthday party, a parade and fireworks on our agenda. It's going to be a fun, busy weekend!

I just wanted to take a quick moment to apologize for all the sponsored posts this week. My preference is to only write one per week, but it was one of those incredibly rare weeks where I had 4 posts due within the same week.  It was a bit overwhelming!

Anyway, here are a few of my favorite things this week!

{ONE}

The beautiful Newlie Louise Backpack Diaper Bag!  I mentioned that I won it in a giveaway last week. After 2 weeks of using it, I'm in love!  It's a backpack, but can easily convert into a handbag or a cross-body bag. It's roomy and stylish, and I love the fact that my hands are free to hold my adorable Toddler Tornado!

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{TWO}

I do NOT have a green thumb at all! So I'm really impressed by how good my little tabletop herb garden looks!  I have basil, chives, parsley and chocolate mint, and it's growing beautifully. I credit good luck because it wasn't anything that I did!

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{THREE}

I love our weekly visits with my horse!  Liam, however, is not a fan. He just calls him "NO" and "BAD" but I'll keep trying!

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 {FOUR}

I need this shirt. Because everybody but me is sleeping these days!

I'm So Tired (Adult) T-Shirt - Hello Apparel - Hello Merch 

 {FIVE} 

Dylan and Lexie are loving their slap watches from Watchitude!

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Watchitude offered to send each of them a watch and they were so excited! There were so many patterns to choose from, so the choice was difficult. Dylan ended up choosing Liquify and Lexie chose Woof. They wear them 24/7!  (We did laugh over the fact that Dylan's time was off on his watch when I snapped pictures. His friend was trying it on earlier and he must have changed the time!)

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As a mom, I'm a big fan of Watchitude! The watches are very kid-friendly. Unlike other watches, my kids can put these ones on all by themselves. It works just like a slap bracelet from the eighties! They WANT to wear these watches because they look cool and they go on quickly! An added bonus is the fact that they are splash-proof (not swim-proof). 

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If you're looking for a quality, durable watch for your little one, I highly recommend Watchitude!  Lily keeps trying to steal Dylan's watch, so I'm going to have to get her one for her birthday next month!
  
{SIX} 

Bunch O Balloons. Enough said. If you have kids, you need this. 

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My best friend sent it over yesterday, so we jumped on the trampoline with water balloons! I'm sold!

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{SEVEN} 

If you have a water table for your child and you're looking for some water table add-ins or play ideas, check out my Water Table Play Activities post on Pittsburgh Mom's Blog!  You can read it HERE!

 

{EIGHT}

 I LOVE the fact that Liam is happy 99% of the time. (Obviously when he's away from our horse!) Living with this ray of sunshine is awesome!

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I hope you all have a happy and safe holiday weekend! What are your plans?

LET'S CONNECT!





Thursday, June 30, 2016

Motherhood Confessions

Motherhood. It's chaotic, messy, rewarding, frustrating and incredible all at once. There's nothing quite like it!

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I wouldn't trade this life for anything, but I'm not afraid to keep it real! Sometimes you just need to confess all those mom life secrets. (Husband, hit that red x now!) So here goes...

On the rare instance when I'm out alone, I drive home veeeerrrrry slowly.

I often turn the music up really loud in the SUV because it drowns out voices. It's like a brief mental escape from the insanity.

Every time I feel nauseous, I immediately think I'm pregnant. After a grand total of 3 years worth of horrible morning sickness, I can't help but panic. And in that moment of panic, I have two thoughts that run through my head: "OMG, FIVE kids!!!" and "Awwww! A baby!"

I'm one of those naturally happy people. I don't drink, I don't smoke and I don't take any medications.

Speaking of alcohol, I had my first drink in over 2 years a few weeks ago, at the Pittsburgh Moms Blog outing. I drank about 3 oz of a margarita and felt like I was going to fall off my chair. I immediately stopped because I hate the feeling of not being in complete control of my body. Plus, I just don't like the taste of alcohol, so why bother?

Caffeine on the other hand? It's necessary. I'm a hot tea/iced tea kind of gal. And I have a bit of a mug obsession.

I stay up until 3 or 4 AM. It's the only time of the day that I have to myself and there are no distractions.  During the week, I only sleep 3-5 hours each night, but I make up for it on the weekends. I figure that one day I will have plenty of time to sleep!

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 motherhood confessions

My mind never turns off. I have such a difficult time sitting still while watching TV and I can't take naps. I always come up with a list of things that I should be doing instead!

I have a candy jar stashed in my dresser. I have to hide it or else the vultures my kids will eat it all. No shame!

I have a ridiculous sweet tooth. I've contemplated a sugar detox, but nah. Life is too short to stop enjoying the little things in life!

Parenting a tween is HARD. This is definitely the hardest stage in my parenting journey. Give me 20 newborns instead. I'm not even kidding!

I get road rage in the form of swearing loudly. I'm typically such a calm and sweet person, but I can't handle incompetent drivers on the road!

If Lily and Liam fall asleep in the car, I will happily sit in the car with a cup of hot tea and indulge myself with a little Netflix-watching on the iPad until they wake up!

Remember that tween? He likes to sneak up on us and take pictures for blackmail. He thinks he's stealthy, but forgets that I review his iPod each night. I like to remove the proof of my Secret Mom Life or Grant nodding off during Family Movie Night. It is kind of funny!

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Why, yes, I DO have a pink choo-choo train iPad case. Mainly because I'm too lazy to remove it before I use it, but also because I would probably break the iPad if I took it off.

I usually have 1-3 extra kids in my home each day. People like to tell me that I'm clearly insane, but I secretly enjoy it.  It really does make my job easier. Friends are a great distraction and the sibling bickering decreases!

I hate having the TV on all day. The continuous background noise drives me crazy!

You know what else drives me crazy? A messy house. I should get used to it while living with 4 kids, but I just can't stop cleaning!

I have, on occasion, put the iPad into a Ziploc bag and watched Netflix while taking a bath. I claim I have a bad headache and ask my husband to keep an eye on the kids, but really, it's just a way for me to escape life for a bit. I like to turn to Gilmore Girls or Buffy the Vampire Slayer in my time of need.

I like to chase my kids through the house and pop out of doorways to scare them. I need to get a little thrill out of my day! Really, though, I believe it's important to have fun with my kids!

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I hate driving in the city. Or in the snow. It's the only two things that give me anxiety.

My favorite shows are the ones I can't watch with kids around. Orange is the New Black (OMG, season 4!!!), The Walking Dead, House of Cards, Criminal Minds... During the school year, my husband and I can have our Netflix date nights at 9:00, when all the kids are in bed. Summer, however, is a problem with kids staying up later. SO. We put Liam into his crib at 9, let Lily have her iPad time for an hour and we escape into our bedroom to watch our not-so-kid-friendly favorites! Lexie has the important role of keeping an eye on the house for an hour. We get very little time away from our kids, so Grant and I need to get inventive if we want to spend any time together!

I hate asking for favors. This includes asking people to watch my kids.  I don't want people to feel like it's a burden, so I just try to do it all myself.

Date night hasn't happened since my birthday in April. And I'm only away from my kids once or twice a month.

I have a bit of a shopping addiction. I just might have gone to Target for a few things tonight and returned with 5 extras. Oops.

It's now 3:41 AM and I have to be up at 7.  Even though it feels good to get stuff done, I'm going to seriously regret this when my alarm goes off. But it's all worth it in the end!

This motherhood gig is an awesome one. Time is fleeting, so I aim to live in the moment and enjoy the now! Every single crazy, chaotic, perfectly imperfect moment!

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What are your motherhood confessions?

LET'S CONNECT!


Linking up for Confessional Thursday!

DISCLOSURE: Anytime I mention Netflix, I must disclose that I am a member of the StreamTeam. As a member of the Netflix #StreamTeam I am provided with a subscription to Netflix and I also receive other products and exclusive information. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Realistic Mom's Guide To Potty Training On The Go

Pinterest is full of inspirational posts that claim you can potty train your child in just one day. Those posts depict the experience as being a beautiful thing.

If that was your experience? AWESOME! Seriously. I had a few of those "easy" kids who trained quickly and it was great! I felt like a rockstar when we were done! But potty training was not a beautiful thing. EVER.

Potty training Liam is not going to be easy! Although we started to introduce the concept, the mere thought of tackling potty training full force with Liam makes me want to curl up into the fetal position. I often find myself brainstorming all the ways I can save up money to pay a professional to potty train him for me. One of the common misconceptions about Down syndrome is that people who have Down syndrome can't be potty trained. However, the vast majority of parents will tell you otherwise! It's just going to take a bit more time to achieve this milestone along with a lot of patience on my end!


Cottonelle FreshCare Flushable Cleansing Cloths

I'm currently stocking up on all the essentials to prepare for the journey ahead. Staying home for days on end to potty train is not an option. Our family of 6 has a lot of activities and commitments, so I have to adapt my potty training methods for life on the go!

The reality is this: Potty training at home is a LOT different than potty training on the go.  Potty training on the go is a whole new ball game!

Here are my favorite tips and tricks to survive this incredibly beautiful dreadful experience:

The Realistic Mom's Guide To Potty Training On The Go

1. Find out where the bathrooms are in all the locations you frequent. This is vital information! Camp out next to the entrance if possible. Is camping out IN the bathroom an option?

2. Encourage your child to go to the bathroom before you leave. Just for good measure, take them again when you arrive at your location. Heck, just prepare to visit the bathroom every 5 minutes.

3. Even if they DO go before you leave the house, prepare to hear the words, "I have to go potty" immediately after you strap them into their car seat or pull out of the driveway. It never fails!

4. Buy Flushable Cleansing Cloths in bulk. Those awesome baby wipes can't be flushed! Our favorites are Cottonelle FreshCare Flushable Cleansing Cloths. We use them at home and we use them on the go. When I say bulk, I mean buy every box on the shelf because you're going to need them.

5. Pack an extra set of clothes for your child.  And an extra set for you. While you're at it, toss in a rain slicker, a towel and a few garbage bags.

6. Mentally prepare yourself before you leave the house. Your child WILL tell you that they have to go to the bathroom, then proceed to stare up at you while they sit on the toilet and sheepishly announce, "I can't go."  You will leave the bathroom only to return 5 minutes later and go through the same thing. 

7. Cheer loudly when your child actually does go to the bathroom. The crazier your reaction the better! You will become a pro at ignoring the stares of all the people who think you're a weirdo. 

8. No bathroom? No problem. Keep a potty chair in the back of your car.  Trust me. It's going to come in handy! Like the time when you have to zoom into a crowded parking lot, rip your child out of their car seat and toss them onto the potty. The one that's sitting in the back of your SUV. Ignore the stares. Potty training is serious business!

9. Repetition, repetition, repetition. Accidents happen and most likely, they will happen often. Just be prepared for a mess. But they will get it. It WILL eventually click. May I recommend a good book or social media for entertainment while you log in countless hours of standing around in the bathroom with your child while everybody else is having fun? And lots of garbage bags, wipes and hand sanitizer!

10. By the time you return from your outing, you will feel completely drained and never want to set foot in a bathroom ever again.  If collapsing on the floor from exhaustion is an option, I highly recommend it. Reward YOURSELF with chocolate. Or a nap. Or both.

Potty training can be so stressful and frustrating, but it is an incredible feeling when your child finally gets it!

Here are the items I put in my diaper bag to make potty training on the go just a bit easier when the time comes:
Cottonelle FreshCare Flushable Cleansing Cloths

And here are the items I put in the back of my car:
  • Towel (I wasn't kidding with that one!)
  • Larger garbage bags for messy clothing AND to line the potty chair with-no cleaning necessary! 
  • Potty Chair
  • Antibacterial Wipes
We're officially stocked up and ready to tackle the dreaded task of potty training full force!  What are YOUR favorite tips and tricks for potty training on the go?

Cottonelle FreshCare Flushable Cleansing Cloths

We are a "potty wipes" family. All of my kids used them during the potty training process and they quickly became a bathroom necessity! Cottonelle FreshCare Flushable Cleansing Cloths makes the potty training experience so much easier!

Cottonelle is the only brand that has CleanRipple® texture. It's designed to clean better and with kids, that's so important. I believe in introducing the wiping concept from the very start and Flushable Cleansing Cloths are a great tool that gives them a #ConfidentClean!

Other benefits of Cottonelle FreshCare Flushable Cleansing Cloths include:
  • SafeFlush Technology- Flushable & they break down immediately after flushing
  • Safe for sewers and septic systems
  • Alcohol Free
  • Resealable packs in stylish patterns
  • Clean, fresh scent
  • Great for the entire family
Cottonelle FreshCare Flushable Cleansing Cloths

You can purchase Cottonelle FreshCare Flushable Cleansing Cloths in bulk at Sam's Club. The box includes 11 packs which is a grand total of 462 wipes. From now until July 17th, you can save $3 on these wipes with Sam's Club Instant Savings at checkout both in store and online. That makes them less than $12 for the entire box!

Cottonelle FreshCare Flushable Cleansing Cloths

A Sam's Club membership is inexpensive and they offer so many great deals throughout the year. My family saves so much money just by shopping at Sam's Club for the products we love! They always have everything we need! Plus, the Club Pickup option for busy families is wonderful. Submit your order online for pickup, check in at your local Sam's Club and they will bring your entire order to you. It is such a time saver!

Cottonelle FreshCare Flushable Cleansing Cloths

If you're currently in the throes of potty training, stop by Sam's Club and pick up some Cottonelle FreshCare Flushable Cleansing Cloths for $3 off before July 17th. Stock up now and save money!

Cottonelle FreshCare Flushable Cleansing Cloths

Thank you to Cottonelle for sponsoring today's post, helping to make the potty training process just a bit easier and giving us a #ConfidentClean!  


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Camp Mom: Summer Activities for Kids {Week 3}

Summer is flying by!  It's hard to believe that it will be JULY when I post my Camp Mom recap next week!!!

It was a busy (and hot) week, but we still managed to squeeze in all of our scheduled Summer Activities! Here's what we did for Camp Mom Week Three:

CAMP MOM - Summer Activities for Kids

Camp Mom Day 11: Soap Clouds Experiment & Play

My kids LOVE this fun science experiment! No matter how many times we do it, they are still amazed. It's a really easy project-all you need is a bar of Ivory soap and a microwave!

  1. Unwrap bar of soap and place on a microwave-safe plate.  
  2. Microwave for 1-1 1/2 minutes. Stand by and watch as the bar of soap expands into a cloud.  You will know when to stop the microwave! 
  3. Remove plate carefully!  The plate and the clump of soap left in the middle can get really hot.
  4. The cloud will quickly deflate a bit, but make sure the kids get the chance to touch it. It has a very neat texture!
Ivory Soap Cloud Experiment
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*Note: If your child is going to play with the "cloud" remove it from the piece of soap that remains first. That remaining piece is very hot. You can continue to microwave the piece of soap that remains until it completely disappears. It will do the same thing each time!

We microwaved 4 bars of soap and transferred the "clouds" to our water table for some sensory play! As the kids played, the soap cloud gradually turned into a fine powder.  My kids played for over an hour. They molded and scooped, and after it turned into a powder, they made it "snow" and brought out a few Frozen figures!

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Ivory Soap Cloud Sensory Play
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Camp Mom Day 12: Squirt Gun Painting

I first saw a version of this on Pinterest, but the idea of giving my kids squirt guns filled with paint did not sit well with me! Haha! Call me a REALIST.

I came up with a fun alternative! I strung a clothesline between 2 trees and clipped watercolor paper to the line using clothespins. I had the kids slap a few globs of paint onto their paper, then handed them squirt guns filled with water.

Squirt Gun Painting
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Ready. Set. FIRE!

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The result was watercolor paintings that took a million hours to dry, but they had a blast!

Camp Mom Day 13: Ocean Water Drinks

Sometimes the simplest things make kids happy!

Just a few simple ingredients...

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...made a fun drink for kids!

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  1. Pour the juice into a clear cup.
  2. Add ice.
  3. Skewer the swedish fish on clear plastic straws.
  4. Add the straws to the drink and enjoy!
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Cheers!

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Camp Mom Day 14: Water Balloon Pinatas

We saved this activity for a really hot day! It was a great way to cool down!

Items Needed:
  • 5 water balloons/child (Enough for 5 rounds)
  • Blindfold
  • Plastic Bat
  • String
Water Balloon Pinata

Find an open spot to hang a long string. Tie the end around a water balloon. Go in rounds from youngest to oldest. Let the child swing until they break their balloon! Repeat until all balloons are gone!

Water Balloon Pinata Activities for Kids
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Camp Mom Day 15: Picnic at the Park

Sometimes you just need to go on a "field trip" and escape the house! I had each kid (except for Liam) pack an entire lunch, then we loaded everything into the SUV and headed to the nearest park for a picnic.

{Mom Tip: Purchase an inexpensive reusable tablecloth and keep it in your car. It makes picnics so much more enjoyable!}

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Everyone returned home tired. SUCCESS!

Coming up this week:
  • Salt Fireworks Craft
  • 4th of July Slime
  • 4th of July Pretzel Bites
  • 4th of July Fireworks Sensory Bubble Play
  • A "Field Trip" AKA get out of the house
You might also like:

Camp Mom Week One

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Camp Mom Week Two 

CAMP MOM copy

What is your favorite thing to do in the Summer?

LET'S CONNECT!


Linking up for Tuesday Talk.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

How To Encourage Your Children To Be Little Movers

Liam is one of those toddlers who starts moving the moment he wakes up and doesn't stop until it's time to sleep!

When Liam was born with a suspected Down syndrome birth diagnosis, so much information was thrown at us. We were told to expect significant physical delays, but Liam was on a mission to prove everybody wrong.  It all began when he started rolling over at 2 weeks old! My Little Mover ended up achieving all of his milestones within a "typical" range. Although walking full time came a bit later than the norm, he did begin to cruise at 10 months and take steps without support at 17 months. By 22 months, he was a pro, and he hasn't slowed down since!

Liam's energy level exhausts me! I can usually be found running behind him or grabbing him off of something he decided to climb. My child is a daredevil! My "low energy/physically delayed child" is WAY more active than his typical siblings ever were and I can barely keep up with him!

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One of my goals on this parenting journey is to encourage ALL of my children to be active. I believe it's important to teach them while they are young so staying healthy and active becomes a priority!

How To Encourage Your Child To Be A Little Mover
  1. Lead by example. Stay active and include your children. If you take them along with you on walks/runs throughout the week, it will become a regular activity for them!
  2. Encourage your children to go outside every day! We have a rule that our children must play outside for at least an hour each day (weather-permitting). If they don't, they aren't allowed any electronics.
  3. Go outside, even if it's raining!  Put on raincoats and rainboots and splash in those puddles!
  4. Visit a park once or twice a week. 
  5. Provide a wide variety of riding toys-tricycles, bicycles, scooters, toy cars and ride on toys!
  6. Invest in a fun video game that gets them moving. This is a great option for days when the weather is too bad to go outside.
  7. Plan playdates with their peers. Having a friend around always gets them moving.
  8. Take breaks from what you are doing to chase your kids through the house! This is one of our favorite games!
  9. Encourage them to play a sport or participate in a physical activity that they enjoy.
  10. Fill your backyard with outdoor toys that encourage movement and make time each day to play in your yard.
Huggies Little Movers

Although I can barely keep up with my whirlwind of a toddler, his diaper sure does! It took months of trial and error before we found a diaper that fit him perfectly and withstood hours of physical activity. Enter Huggies® Little Movers!

Huggies Little Movers

 Huggies® Little Movers diapers truly stay in place thanks to the SnugFit waistband and Double Grip Strips! There is no sagging or bunched up sides, and thanks to the contoured shape and flexibility, Liam stays comfortable as he plays. These diapers fit him like no other!

Huggies Little Movers
Huggies Little Movers $3 off at Sam's Club
Huggies Little Movers

As part of the new Huggies® Moving Baby System, Huggies® Little Movers are more absorbent due to the Leak Lock Protection, which provides up to 12 hours of protection. The DryTouch® liner absorbs on contact. Liam is able to play for hours before he has to stop for a diaper change, which is something that I, as a mom, appreciate!

Huggies Little Movers

I am so proud of My Little Mover! He worked tirelessly to achieve all of his milestones without complaint and I am just amazed by how much he accomplished in so little time. He doesn't let anything slow him down!

Huggies Little Movers 
Huggies Little Movers
Huggies Little Movers
Huggies Little Movers
Huggies Little Movers
Huggies Little Movers
Huggies Little Movers

Huggies was there every step along the way!

From now until July 17th, Huggies Little Movers can be purchased for an additional $3 off with Instant Savings at Sam's Club! Diapers can be so expensive, so I love being able to save money any way I possibly can!

Huggies Little Movers

Huggies Little Movers, with BONUS DIAPERS, are currently available in these sizes at Sam's Club:
  • Size 3 - 180 count 12 BONUS DIAPERS
  • Size 4 - 168 count 20 BONUS DIAPERS
  • Size 5 - 140 count 16 BONUS DIAPERS
  • Size 6 - 112 count 12 BONUS DIAPERS
    Shopping for my family of 6 costs a lot of money. I joined Sam's Club last year to save money on my shopping trips and the only thing I regret is not joining sooner! I find amazing deals on products I love and we usually end up leaving the store with a few extras.  You know, like a water table I was looking for that was $50 less than anywhere else! SOLD!

    Huggies Little Movers

    One of my favorite features is Club Pickup. I submit my order online, select my Sam's Club and when I arrive at the store, my order is ready to go and brought to me. As a busy mom, this saves me SO much time! There's also free shipping on Huggies Little Movers diapers if you order online! If you're not convinced yet, just check out all the other benefits to being a Sam's Club Member!

    Want to win a $500 Sam's Club gift card? 

    Upload a photo of your Little Mover HERE for a chance to win!

    My sweet Liam is a Little Mover thanks to our continuous encouragement AND he stays comfortable along the way thanks to the comfort and security of Huggies Little Movers!

    Visit Sam's Club to save $3 on your pack of Huggies Little Movers and don't forget to enter the sweepstakes!!!

    Thank you to Huggies for sponsoring today's post and for making a reliable diaper that keeps up with #MyLittleMover! I'm going to encourage him to reach for the stars!

    Huggies Little Movers