Tuesday, August 30, 2016

All You Need Is Love with the Beat Bugs + Netflix Subscription Giveaway

My family loves music! That shouldn't be much of a surprise considering my husband and I met when we were cast as Adam and Eve (the leads) in a musical.  Our kids were destined to inherit our love of music!

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Dylan was in band and chorus for the past two years. I'm so proud of him for learning how to play the trumpet but it wasn't for him. He's giving up band this year for sports and playing guitar on his own time. Chorus, however, is still mandatory! Lexie loves to sing. She plans to join choir this year and play the flute that once belonged to me in band next year but her real love is being a backup singer for her dad! Lily...well, Lily is destined to be a female rapper. Perhaps I will share that video later this week! And Liam LOVES music. As soon as he hears a beat his hips start moving!

As for the super cool parental unit things have changed. Grant and I aren't able to perform in musicals anymore. We tried to get back into musical theater when Dylan was a toddler but the rehearsal schedule was just too much with work and a young child. I'm not going to lie: I miss the stage terribly. These days my performances are limited to belting out show tunes in my mom taxi!

A few months ago Grant picked up his old guitar just to let off steam after returning home from a stressful office job. It renewed his passion for music and he started to do cover songs. He was so into his rediscovered hobby that we bought him a new guitar for his birthday. He currently has a YouTube gig going on with a friend and Lexie loves to do backup vocals for them!

Needless to say my younger kids love shows with lots of music! We mostly stream Netflix in our home because I'm a big fan of the wide variety of choices for my kids. There truly is something for every person in our family. And just when I think Netflix couldn't possibly come up with a show better than the last one we loved they work their magic again!

My Beatles-loving daughter, Lexie, was thrilled when I told her that Netflix was releasing a show inspired by Beatles music called Beat Bugs! It was made for the younger crowd but she couldn't wait to hear the music.

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Beat Bugs did not disappoint!  It is such a fun show featuring the adorable characters Kumi, Walter, Jay, Crick and Buzz. No matter how you feel about the Beatles there is no doubt that their music is very recognizable and VERY catchy! If you watch (and you totally should) you just might recognize the voices of a few famous singers, including Pink, Eddie Vedder and Sia!

My younger kids loved watching Beat Bugs! Liam only pays attention to the TV if there is music so this show is perfect for him. He actually stopped playing to stand up and dance while we were watching. Lexie sang along to all the songs and I found myself singing along with her! This show is entertaining for kids AND their parents!

When our #BeatBugs package arrived from Netflix we immediately knew we were going to have a good time!

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Netflix asked us to share our best cover of the Beat Bugs theme song "All You Need Is Love!" My husband already knew how to play the song on his guitar so we decided we were going to record our rendition while we were at the beach last week. Of course I had to get sick with a nasty cold just before we left so we decided to wait until I got better. Unfortunately that never happened so this hoarse, congested, coughing mama sat this performance out! They didn't need me anyway.

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When it came time to choose which video I was going to share I was torn! Should I go with the perfect version with good lighting or the practice run which was more real? In the end I decided that the practice version was the winner. A performance with a backup dancer is clearly the best! It isn't the perfect version but I laugh every time I watch it!


We LOVE Beat Bugs!

Netflix 6 Month Subscription GIVEAWAY!!!

It's no secret that Netflix is the bomb! Netflix has graciously offered ONE 6 month subscription card to give away to one lucky reader who shares their family's "All You Need Is Love" cover on the social media platform of their choice using #BeatBugs.

Don't be intimidated by this! Even a quick video taken on your phone of your kids singing along to the theme song would work. That 6 month subscription is worth it!

This is a quick giveaway that ends on August 31st. Submit your share link on the rafflecopter widget below and it will open up more entries to better your chance of winning!


Here are a few more fun things to watch on Netflix!


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New on Netflix for Kids, Tweens, Teens and Families

AskTheStoryBots 2
Ask the Storybots (8/12)
Dawn of the Croods TV SDP
Dawn of the Croods: Season 2 (8/26)
Masha the Bear S2 TV SDP
Masha and the Bear: Season 2 - Now on Netflix
Ever After High TV SDP
Ever After High: Epic Winter (8/5)
We don't only watch shows for kids around here! Our kids DO share the TV and allow their super awesome parents to watch Netflix sometimes.

I love to binge watch NCIS while I do chores. It makes all that laundry folding so much more tolerable!  Grant and I watch The West Wing and Gilmore Girls on our weekly Netflix dates. We must re-watch the entire series of Gilmore Girls for an eighth time before the HUGE return in November. (I'm totally not counting down the days and planning a Gilmore Girls release party!)

What are YOU currently watching on Netflix?

Let's Be Friends!



DISCLOSURE:  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, special opportunities and exclusive information. All opinions are my own.
 

Monday, August 29, 2016

The Post-Vacation Blues

The grand finale of our Summer Break was spending a week at Virginia Beach! It was so nice to escape reality for a bit and enjoy a more relaxed schedule. We got home over the weekend and it was definitely a harsh reality check. Take me back!!!


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Why is it ALWAYS so hard to return home after vacation? The return to reality can be so depressing at first!
 
The past few weeks were a whirlwind. I felt like I barely had time to breathe and I sacrificed sleep repeatedly to get everything done. I had big plans to fill my blog with posts before I left and spend a few relaxing hours on vacation reading my favorite blogs but life got way too busy. I apologize for my absence but I was so overworked that I just needed to take a break from everything, including blogging. I have a date with my computer to schedule posts and catch up with my favorite blogs later this afternoon!

I literally worked from late July until my husband woke up at 4 AM last Friday morning for our trip. There was no downtime at any point. I was packing until the last minute and stayed up all night just to get things done. Our schedule was so chaotic in August that there was simply no other time left to prepare. Miraculously we managed to get on the road by 5 AM that day! Our SUV was bursting with luggage (literally) and overflowing with excitement!

Did I mention that nothing ever works out as planned? It's true! The morning before we left I woke up with a killer sore throat and a stuffy nose. By the time we left for vacation I had a fever as well. I absolutely love spending a week at the beach and I savor every moment but I ended up sick the entire time we were there. Talk about poor timing. I hardly ever get sick and it hits me during the one week each year that we go on vacation. The ocean air did help a bit and my fever broke on day three but I did spend the week congested and coughing. That was definitely a bummer but being sick at the beach is far better than being sick at home!

It's going to take me about a week to sort through my 2000+ pictures and put together a REAL vacation blog post. Despite being sick and despite the bickering by day 5 we had a great time and made some awesome memories! The beach is my favorite place and it was so hard to leave!

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Unfortunately we had to return to reality. After a VERY long drive home (Washington DC rush hour traffic is ridiculous) I spent my entire weekend unpacking, running errands to prepare for the upcoming school year and working my way through 15 loads of laundry.  A week's worth of beach laundry for a family of six is NO joke!

I'm usually so positive but I'm in a post-vacation slump right now. We have some significant changes ahead of us this week and I'm not quite ready for most of them! My husband is returning to work today, my three older kids are starting school on Wednesday and I have to take Liam to a preschool orientation on Thursday. Our new schedule is so overwhelming that I keep shutting my planner every time I sit down to schedule out next month!

Next Tuesday I will have 4 kids in school and I don't really want to face that new reality. There are a lot of drastic changes coming our way. Some changes are very good and some will just require us to adjust to a new normal. I'll be sharing many of those changes over the next two weeks along with our vacation recap. Stay tuned!


As for now I just want to return to the beach. Life is so much better there!


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Let's Be Friends!


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Potty Training: The Often Overlooked Messy Milestone

Potty Training

 

From the moment our children are born, we eagerly anticipate all those milestones. From the first smile to the first steps, we're there to cheer them on every step of the way! Those are the most anticipated milestones, but there's one that's often overlooked: potty training!

Pull-Ups

With the first child, we can't WAIT for them to achieve their milestones. But by the time another child is born, we realize just how quickly time goes by. The truth is milestones will be achieved and they will be achieved much faster than we could ever imagine.  There's no need to rush anything or compare your child to others! Kids will get there when they are ready.

Those other milestones are surrounded by so much excitement, but seasoned parents know the real deal: The most exciting milestone is having a fully potty trained child! That is the ultimate reward after that often incredibly frustrating journey. And for a parent of a child who has special needs, it's easily the most exciting and most rewarding milestone of them all!


Potty Training


Right now, Liam is working on two major milestones. Not only is he potty training, but he will also be starting his first day of preschool next month. There are some huge changes ahead for my sweet boy. Some changes I'm ready for (having a fully potty trained child) while others are a bit tough on mommy.

Most of my readers know that Liam has Down syndrome. Although he's defying all those misconceptions and showing the world that he is fully capable, there is some uncertainty about when he will be fully potty trained. One of his main goals is to have him ready for FULL inclusion within a year. I was expecting at least two to three years in a developmental preschool before reaching our goal of full inclusion in Kindergarten, but Liam is doing so well that it got pushed up. That means that he has to be day trained by next Fall. I'm so proud of him but it also makes me really nervous!

Potty Training a child with Down syndrome

We have a lot of work ahead of us, but I'm armed with the experience of potty training his three older siblings and I have an arsenal of dependable products by my side. A positive attitude and believing that he can and will conquer this milestone also helps!

Right now we're on vacation at the beach. And although we're taking a break from reality, there is no break in potty training! Liam has to keep working on that milestone in order to avoid a regression.  We officially made the switch to only using Pull-Ups during the day so he feels like a big boy and we visit the potty often. VERY often.

Pull-Ups

Let me just say that going to the beach with 4 kids is no joke. I'm going to need another vacation (ALONE) by the time we get home. Our SUV was packed to the point of overflowing and that was even with a luggage rack on top. There was no way Liam's Pull-Ups, nighttime diapers and wipes were going to fit in the car. Thankfully, I found a Walmart Neighborhood Market near our hotel and made plans to stop by to stock up after we arrived!

Potty Training

Of course, as most parents know, always expect the unexpected. Leave it to me to get sick-REALLY sick-on our road trip to the beach. NOT FAIR. I waited all year for this vacation only to experience incredibly bad luck. A stuffy nose, sore throat, fever and literally no sleep in over 24 hours left me so weak that my husband actually offered to do the shopping for me.

I sent him to the Walmart Neighborhood Market with a detailed list, screenshots of what he needed to buy and an assistant. Let's be honest here: it wasn't overkill. My husband is skilled in many areas but shopping is not one of them. Luckily, the Walmart Neighborhood Market in Virginia Beach made it easy for him!

Walmart Neighborhood Market

After only 3 picture texts and one phone call, he was confident he had everything Liam needed. He did so well that I decided to forgive him for forgetting the Tylenol to take my fever away! The fact that he bought me chocolate definitely helped. (That's totally a potty training reward for me. When you log in all those hours in the bathroom watching your child sit on a toilet, a reward is necessary. Give me chocolate. ALL the chocolate.)

So here we are at the beach and potty training is still in full swing! Liam's tiny booty is encased in the soft comfort of Pull-Ups Training Pants. (And by tiny, I really do mean tiny. He weighed in at 25 lbs just before his third birthday, so I'm very grateful for the adjustable sides on the Pull-Ups which give him a snug, secure fit.) We've gotten to know every single detail about the hotel bathroom.

We're not quite ready to make the switch to underwear yet, so Pull-Ups are a great alternative! Liam can easily pull them on and off all by himself which builds his confidence. They look and work more like underwear than diapers, which helps him feel like a big kid. They still offer leak protection, so I don't have to worry so much about all those messes that happen!

Pull-Ups

Plus, the Disney Cars patterns are a hit! They are perfect for a little boy. Liam keeps pointing at his training pants and buildeveryone "Beep Beep!"  Hopefully he will continue to remain this enthusiastic about the potty training process!

When Liam is wearing Pull-Ups, I feel confident that I can keep all those #MishapMoments under control! And when those inevitable messes do happen, I have a trusty stockpile of Huggies wipes at my fingertips at all times.

Huggies Natural Care Wipes

Wipes are simply the most versatile baby product that can be used long after those potty training days are over! My husband actually asked if we really needed 3 packs of Huggies Natural Care wipes this week. My answer was yes. Most definitely yes! There a few good reasons I keep a pack in my purse, a pack in the diaper bag, a pack in our car, a pack attached to the stroller and a pack in each room of our home!

Although the initial use is for diaper changes, wipes aren't just for wiping tiny bums. They're also great for wiping messy hands and faces, wiping messes off of tables, wiping off public toilets before using them, wiping off strollers and other baby gear and wiping up any potty training mishaps. (There are also many other uses around the home, such as dusting off furniture and cleaning cell phone screens!)

That multi-pack of Huggies Natural Care wipes already came in handy this week. From wiping up puddles of pee to cleaning ice cream off of the stroller handle to scrubbing off spaghetti covered cheeks, those wipes were a mom's best friend! My advice to new moms is to stock up on wipes and NEVER run out!

With the help of Pull-Ups and Huggies wipes, Liam's potty training journey is going as smoothly as possible! And thanks to Walmart Neighborhood Market, they had us covered with everything we needed for Liam, even when we were 350+ miles away from home!

Potty Training Essentials


Visit your local Walmart Neighborhood Market for great prices on Pull-Ups or your favorite Huggies products! Find a location HERE.

Everybody loves to save money! From August 28th through September 10th use THIS COUPON on Huggies wipes at your local Walmart Neighborhood Market OR save on Pull-Ups or GoodNites by using THIS COUPON.

Thank you to Pull-Ups for sponsoring today's post and for being a great potty training tool during this significant milestone!

Potty Training Tips

Tell me about your potty training experience with your child! Was it easy? Was it frustrating? Do you have any great tips to share? What are your favorite potty training tools?

Mom Style with XO Kerry {Guest Post}

I may be a mom but I still care about the way I look. I do make an effort to get dressed and look put together each day. But it's so easy to feel less than when you log onto Instagram and see all those amazingly fashionable moms!


That being said, their style isn't often real. How could one possibly chase after four kids while wearing 6 inch stilettos and micro dress? That's why I love XO Kerry!  If you want REAL life mom fashion inspiration, look no further!!!

This post contains affiliate links.
  
Graphic tees. One trend all moms can pull off! I tend to shy away from trends and look for classic pieces but I love incorporating a good graphic tee into my wardrobe. They can be styled so many ways - dressed down with jeans, dressed up with a pencil skirt or super casual with yoga pants. Today I'm going to show you how I like to wear my Mommin' Ain't Easy tee!





I paired my tee with my favorite skinny jeans and flats for a laid back look. I like to wear this to play dates, grocery shopping or just hanging around the house. Graphic tees make enough statement on their own but it's also fun to accessorize! Below I'm wearing my Madre Beads necklace. It's the perfect accessory for busy/teething babies.




   
On Me: Thread Tank Tee | Liverpool Jeans | Madre Beads Necklace c/o | Francesca's Shoes | Timi & Leslie Diaper Bag c/o | Similar Sunglasses

On Parker: Old Navy Tee | Similar Skirt | Shoes | Little Poppy Co Headband

Photography by Photos by SW

What's your favorite way to wear a graphic tee?

Thanks for letting me take over your space today, Stefanie! If you're looking for more Mommy & Me styles, be sure to check out my blog XO Kerry. I'd also love to connect on social media. You can find me on Facebook, Pinterest, Bloglovin', Instagram, and Twitter!

Monday, August 22, 2016

How I Get My Kids To Do Chores Without Complaining {GUEST POST}

Happy Monday, my friends!  I'm currently enjoying a family vacation at the beach so some fellow bloggers are covering my blog posts this week!


The first guest post is from Loving Little Dixie. Sarah is sharing how she gets her kids to do chores without complaining. I'm sure most parents would gladly accept some help in this department!


MEET SARAH:



I'm a Bible reading, coffee drinking mom of three learning to love life in a small town. I'm married to a general contractor and, together, we love turning houses into homes. We lived in seven houses in four metropolitan areas before moving to a small town to start our own construction business. I blog at Loving Little Dixie, where I hope to inspire others to step into the role for which they were created, live life with purpose and focus on what matters most - wherever they are planted. I am learning to do the same.





I am the kind of person who has to do it all and do it perfectly.

My husband graciously reminded me one morning after I had a complete meltdown that I do not have to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders, and I have two sets of extra hands that need to be utilized.

When you have three kids living in your house, the amount laundry and trash and dishes {to name a few} multiplies exponentially.

My kids typically start helping around the house at age 4, doing things like making their beds, picking up toys, putting away laundry and brushing their teeth. At this age, they are eager to help.

As they get older, they become more difficult to motivate, which leads to me trying to do everything myself.

Enter REWARDS EXPRESS.



This app changed my life. We’ve been using it for several months now, and the system still works. My kids, who are ages 7 and 9, now do multiple chores a day without complaining. They even ask to do extra chores on occasion.

You can assign points to specific tasks and assign those tasks to the child of your choice. Once they earn a certain number of points, they can redeem their points for rewards.


 Everything is completely customizable. You choose the tasks, the rewards and the point values for both. The app takes care of the rest.

Anything that simplifies life at home is a win in my book. How do you motivate your kids to help out around the house?

Disclosure: There are no affiliate links in this post. This is not a free app, but I will not make a commission if you choose to purchase.

Connect with Loving Little Dixie:

BLOG
FACEBOOK
INSTAGRAM
PINTEREST 
TWITTER

Thank you so much for sharing this awesome app, Sarah. I can't wait to try it for my older kids!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Downright Blessed - Meagan and Asher

How a Down syndrome diagnosis is received varies from person to person. Some people find out prenatally, some people find out at birth and some people don't find out until their baby is much older. The feeling upon hearing the news, however, is often very much the same.


I met Meagan through the Down Syndrome Diagnosis Network. Most of you know that we didn't officially find out that Liam had Down syndrome until he was almost 3 weeks old. It was suspected at birth, but the doctors were divided. It was a LONG wait for the results. Meagan's diagnosis story is a bit different. Meagan found out that her beautiful son, Asher, had Down syndrome prenatally. Read on to hear Meagan's diagnosis story!




I will never forget the day I got the news that our son Asher would be born with Down Syndrome. My OBGYN called and told me my test results came back abnormal for Down Syndrome and that we would need to meet with a genetic counselor as soon as possible. I remember feeling every emotion possible in the weeks leading up to the meeting. One minute I was heartbroken and depressed and the next I was angered and frustrated. I never really knew what to feel, because I had no idea what it all meant.


At the meeting, the genetic counselor asked questions about our family history and gave us information about my results. She told us about the risk Asher and I could face while I was pregnant. She told us about the health issues he could be born with or have to deal with as he grows up. She even asked if I still wanted to proceed with the pregnancy?! What she didn’t tell us was how much joy and happiness Asher would bring us. Or how much closer our family would be because of him.

Down Syndrome, also known as Trisomy 21, is an extra copy of the 21st chromosome. This extra genetic material manifests itself in a number of ways, most notably intellectual and developmental delays, and recognizable physical characteristics. What does that mean for our Asher? It means he has Down Syndrome, but he doesn’t have every single characteristic of Down Syndrome. He has his own physical features, likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, and traits that make him unique. It also means he might need a little extra time and attention to hit his milestones as he grows, but nothing will stop him!

Asher is an individual, just like everyone else. Down Syndrome is only a piece of who he is. We will not write his future for him and neither will society. Although Down Syndrome is apart of Asher, it does not define him. He is so much more and we want to share his journey with the world!

I wanted to share some pictures for those of you who haven’t met my son from birth up until recently. I cannot believe he is almost the big O-N-E! Everyone, please meet Asher!





This post originally appeared on My Atlanta Moms Club, where Meagan is a contributor. You can find Meagan posting about life with Asher on his Facebook fan page, on Twitter and on Instagram.

Thank you so much for sharing your story, Meagan! If you would like to contribute to the Downright Blessed: Life with Down Syndrome series, please send an email to lexieloolilyboodylantoo@yahoo.com.