Saturday, July 30, 2011

Birthdays are FUN! And so are Melissa and Doug Toys! Review and Giveaway


If there's one things my kids love, it's getting dirty!  Okay, so maybe they don't LOVE getting dirty, but they sure seem to attract the stuff like it's their job!  (It is, though, isn't it?)

When I was busy planning Little Lou's birthday, I got a great email from Melissa & Doug, offering to send me an awesome prize package full of sand toys...the perfect dirt-friendly set!  Of course, I accepted the offer.

The Scoop

 You've probably heard of Melissa & Doug.  It's an amazing toy company, founded over 23 years ago in a garage!  Melissa & Doug toys are great for kids of all ages, durable, and FUN!  We were very blessed to receive four great products for review:

Seaside Sidekicks Sand Cupcake Set

Seaside Sidekicks Sand Baking Set

Clicker Crab Pail and Shovel

Seaside Sidekicks Sand Molding Set

Now, I have to admit that these were all sent for reviewing along with Little Lou's 6th birthday.  That is a LOT of sand toys for one birthday, though!  It's especially a lot when you have just one small sand table.  Instead of opening them all right away, the kids received two sets on Little Lou's birthday and a third set on Bugsy's birthday.  The last set?  Well, I've held that back for one of you!

The Good

Durability.  These toys are made of very sturdy plastic.  They're not going to fall apart any time soon!  There aren't tons of "pieces."  In fact almost all of the Melissa & Doug sand toys are made of one single piece!

The colors.  These are bright.  The colors are so fun and bold!  I adore them.

The fun.  The Melissa & Doug sand toys form a perfect union of two of my kids' favorite things: sand and cooking.  They love "baking" cupcakes to share, "measuring" ingredients, and of course, "tasting" the sandy deliciousness!

The prices.  Melissa & Doug toys are reasonably priced, especially when you consider the quality and durability!

The Bad

The fit.  My biggest complaint about the toys we reviewed is that it's difficult to fit all of the baking toys back into the bucket of the Seadside Sidekicks Sand Baking Set for storage.  As I mentioned, we just have a sand table, so there's not a ton of storage space.  It would be great if the bucket were just a tad bigger or the handles of the utensils were just a tad shorter so that they'd fit more easily.

Compatibility.  I wish that it were just a little easier to play with the WHOLE set of toys as a set.  Each pack of Seaside Sidekicks toys is really fun, but it's a little hard to use them together.  Maybe that's just because we don't have a lot of room.

The Outcome

Little Lou and Bugsy LOVE the Melissa & Doug sand toys!  I asked what their favorite thing about the sand toys is, and Bugsy quickly responded, "We have them!"  Little Lou's response was a little more specific: "They're awesome!"

From mom's perspective, the Melissa & Doug Seaside Sidekicks sand toys stand up to the Melissa & Doug standard.  They're very durable, fun, and colorful, and I know they'll last us a long time!

The Giveaway

Remember I said I'd saved one set back for one of you?  I did!  I am giving away the Melissa & Doug Seaside Sidekicks Sand Molding Set I received!

One of my very lucky US readers is going to have some VERY happy kids soon!

AND Melissa & Doug is working on building their facebook fan base!  For every 1000 fans they gain on their journey to 100,000, they're giving away a free Trunki!  All you have to do to be entered is like Melissa & Doug on facebook and enter via the sweepstakes tab on the left of their page!

(Blog contest open to US readers only.  Contest will end and a winner will be drawn Aug 10, 2011 at 11:59 am EST.)

How to Enter:

*Leave a separate comment for each entry*
*Leave your email address with each entry*

(Mandatory)  Follow My This N That Life with GFC.

Like Melissa & Doug on Facebook.  Tell them I sent you.

Like My This N That Life on Facebook.

Subscribe to My This N That Life via email.

Follow My This N That Life on twitter.

Comment on any ONE non-giveaway post and tell me where you commented!  (Must be a new comment.)

I received these products at no cost to me in order to facilitate a review.  I was not compensated in any other way.  All opinions are my own.

MegaRoos Birthday Dress: Review and Giveaway!


At our house, we celebrate two birthdays and an anniversary all within three weeks in July.  It's a busy busy month, but it's always worth it!

This year, Little Lou's sixth birthday fell just 8 days after Bugsy's surgery which, as you know, was a major deal with a gigantic recovery.  As you can imagine, we didn't really have the time, energy, or money to provide the party or attention we really felt like she deserved this year.  In fact, she's been kind of pushed aside a lot over the past 4 years since the Bug was born.  After searching high and low for some perfect birthday outfit for Little Lou, I came across MegaRoos!

The Scoop

MegaRoos is a small company run by a sweet WAHM named Megan.  Megan makes the most adorable little pillowcase dresses, headbands, and hair bows!  Megan graciously agreed to make this beautiful dress for Little Lou for her birthday:

AND Megan threw a couple of surprises into the package as well!

The Good

The customization.  Little Lou LOVES purple, and her mama loves the purple and lime combo.  When I saw this particular dress (in miniature) on the MegaRoos facebook page, I knew it would be perfect!  As I said, though, it was teeny tiny.  The picture on the page was of an 18 month dress, but Little Lou wears a size 7!  Megan asked me if there were any certain colors Little Lou loves, and I told her that she loves purple and I love that tiny dress.  She went right out and got the fabric to make one in Little Lou's size!  It's absolutely perfect.

The craftsmanship.  The dress, headband, and bow are all beautifully made!  They're obviously not assembly line, mass-produced products, which I love.  If you look at the seams, you can tell they're "homemade" but they're amazing quality!

The coordination.  The ribbon straps of the dress match the bottom trim of the dress perfectly!  Not only that, but the headband and hair bow are made of the same materials as the dress, so they're perfect matches as well.  The whole outfit is just adorable and coordinates so well.  I couldn't have asked for a better set!  Little Lou prefers to attach the MegaRoos hair bow onto the headband and wear them as one unit, which I think is cute as well.

The Bad

The straps.  It's minor.  Really minor.  In fact, I'm not sure there's much that could be done about it.  The straps sometimes fold in the wash.  I know that they're made of ribbon, and I imagine that with any similar dress this would be an issue.  I just unfold them and flatten them out the best I can.  It typically works.  I was afraid the ribbon would come out in the washer, but so far it has stayed put very nicely.  I just tie it into a bow before I throw it in.

The Outcome

The dress, headband, and hair bow we received from MegaRoos are all beautifully made and exactly what I wanted for Little Lou for her birthday!  The prices are very reasonable.  The workmanship is amazing and so is the extremely friendly customer service.  I would definitely buy from MegaRoos!

If you have a little girl, or know a little girl, who could use a new dress (what little girl couldn't?) for everyday or a special occasion, a sweet pillowcase dress from MegaRoos would be a perfect wardrobe addition!

The Giveaway

Megan from MegaRoos has very generously agreed to reward TWO of my readers!  

Prize 1:
Your choice of a headband OR hair bow!

Prize 2:

20% off one item of your choice!

Contest will end and a winner will be drawn August 10, 2011 at 11:59 am EST.  Open to US and Canada only.

How to Enter:

*Leave a separate comment for each entry*
*Leave your email address with each entry*

(Mandatory)  Follow My This N That Life with GFC.

Like MegaRoos on Facebook.  Tell Megan I sent you.

Visit the MegaRoos on Etsy and tell me your favorite product!
Like My This N That Life on Facebook.

Subscribe to My This N That Life via email.

Follow My This N That Life on twitter.

Comment on any ONE non-giveaway post and tell me where you commented!  (Must be a new comment.)

I received these products at no cost to me in order to facilitate a review.  I was not compensated in any other way.  All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Life never goes as planned.

Sometimes, it's better (even when we don't realize it at the time).

I insisted I wouldn't be induced.  I was with Little Lou and hated it.  My doctor finally agreed to "let nature take its course."  Three weeks before Bugsy was due, he measured 7 pounds, 14 ounces, and the doctor once again tried to convince me to be induced.  I refused. But God had other plans.  Four days later, pre-eclampsia reared its ugly head, and induction was scheduled.  I went into the hospital Thursday evening, and slept all night.  Promptly at 10:30 Friday morning, induction medication started.

My first real contraction came at 12:30, and my doctor went to get her hair done. I was still just 2 cm dilated.  Little Lou's labor had been 12ish hours.  We had plenty of time.  I insisted I didn't want an epidural.  I had one with Little Lou and I hated it.  I still felt every contraction.  I still knew exactly what was going on.  It was hard to push, though, and I felt groggy afterwards.  I didn't want that again.  Until 1:30.  I NEEDED that epidural.  But God had other plans.  I called the nurse who checked me and said I was 7 cm dilated and she'd call for the epidural team.  It took them a LOOONG time (5 minutes) to get there.  As was customary, the nurse checked me again when the team arrived.  Then she sent them away.  I was 9 cm and it was too late!

Another million hours (5 minutes) passed, and I felt like I needed to push.  The nurse didn't believe me, but when she checked she said I was ready.  My doctor wasn't back yet, so another doctor would stand in.  They'd call my doctor and she'd hurry over, but this other doctor would be there just in case.  I should "try not to push" until my doctor arrived.  But God had other plans.  The Bug was ready.  NOW.  If you're a woman who has given birth, you may understand the impossibility.  I did not push.  It took every ounce of energy I had, but I did not.  Finally, after an eternity of not pushing, my doctor walked into the room.  In street clothes.  With her hair half done.  It was 1:45.  A nurse put a glove on her left hand.  She caught his bottom.  The nurse put a glove on her right hand.  She caught his head.  And I did not push.  And, believe me or not, it did not hurt.

It should have been impossible.  I shouldn't have been able to deliver Bugs.  I should have needed an emergency c-section.  It should have been the most painful of all my deliveries.  It was not.  It didn't hurt.  Among a myriad of other evidences, these were just further proof that God's hand was already on our Little Man even before he was born!

Little Lou meeting Bugsy (the glow worm) for the first time.

Bugsy's head wasn't the right shape.  I didn't way a word because I was sure it would be passed off as "molding" from birth.  He was jaundiced.  YELLOW.  He wasn't perfect.  I was disappointed.  I'll admit it now.  I wasn't prepared for MY baby to be "that" baby.  We'd always talked about adopting special needs babies.  We weren't expecting to give birth to one.

We spent our first 9 months as parents of 2 with little (or more often no) sleep.  The Bug spent his first 9 months crying. I spent his first 9 months angry with God for making MY baby that way.  It wasn't supposed to be mine.  WHY did He let MY baby be the one with problems?  I wasn't expecting MY baby to have 2 12-hour surgeries before he was a year old.  I wasn't expecting MY baby to start early intervention at 10 weeks and have therapy 3 times a week for 3 years.  It wasn't supposed to be MY baby.  I was expecting to be that mommy to someone else's baby.  But God had other plans.

She adored her little brother.  Even when he was crying.  She's always been his "protector."
When Bugsy was 9 months old, he had his second surgery.  He spent 12 hours away from us.  When we saw him in the recovery room, he was swollen.  He was angry.  He was not my baby.  We'd anticipated a 5 day stay in the hospital, as with the first surgery.  But God had other plans.  For the first time ever, Bugsy rolled over in the hospital!  His eyes never swelled shut, and less than 48 hours post-op we headed home.  We didn't take the same baby home with us that we'd taken to the hospital.  This one didn't cry all the time!  This one slept.  This one smiled easily and laughed a lot!  THIS was the baby I'd expected!

Maybe two weeks post op, surgery 2.

When we finally got to "meet" our sweet Bug, we fell head-over-heels in love with him.  That's right.  I don't know about anyone else, but it took my that full 9 (1/2) months to really fall in love with him.  I will always feel guilty about "missing" the first 9 months because I couldn't get past my own frustrations.  It took 2 surgeries.  It took divine and earthly intervention.  Before, I'd loved him out of obligation.  Now I loved him completely! 

The road has been long.  We're hundreds of doctor appointments, even more therapy sessions, 8 doctors, 6 surgeries, a million smiles, and 4 years into this thing called life.  It's not what we'd planned for.  It's not what we'd expected.  But it's SO much more!

The happy baby we brought home

Happy first birthday, Bugs!

We've met a lot of neat people along this journey.  This is Melissa.  Her son and Bugsy are "cyber-twins"...born on the same day, both with craniosynostosis.  We met Melissa while she was on a business trip near our home.  She's such a sweetie!

Another little friend we met through our journey.  This little guy had craniosynostosis, too.  His parents have become some of our close friends!  In fact, they kept Little Lou and Stinky when Bugsy had surgery last month!
Bugsy, I love you!  I love you completely.  Unconditionally.  Selfishly, probably.  You came crashing into this world on storm clouds, but there's a rainbow after the rain.  You've proven to be the ray of sunshine we weren't sure we'd ever get with you.  You're an amazing, smart, talented, goofy, sweet little boy.  You love dinosaurs and bugs and cars and LIFE.  You've taught me so much more than I would have ever expected.  You've taught me more about myself than I could have imagined.  You've been a miracle from day one, even when I couldn't see it.  You are wonderful.  You are LOVED!

 Just for fun

Happy happy happy 4th birthday, Little Man!  May your life continue to be filled with blessings and may you accomplish all your dreams! 

Bugsy, this morning.  He's wearing the shirt Melissa sent him (see the picture above from when we met her!)  and listening to Aunt Jennifer and cousin Monkey sing happy birthday.  Happy birthday, sweet boy!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

AppleCheeks Reusable Diapers WINNER

Wow, friends!  You all must REALLY love AppleCheeks!  Out of 815 page views and 454 comments (I know, not a lot to many of you, but TONS to me), the winner is....

#47 - JennKnee! 

Congratulations!  I've already emailed JennKnee (clever name, by the way!) with the great news!  Thanks to all who played!  Please be sure to check back often!  There are tons more reviews and giveaways going up on the blog in the very near future!

Climbing Laundry Mountain: Bellwethers Review

I don't know how three tiny little people can create more laundry than two large ones.  I don't know why Bugsy is ALWAYS missing random socks or Little Lou goes some weeks with no undies in the wash and the next week has 37 pair.  I don't know why laundry is so annoying to put away!  What I do know, though, is that I'm always looking for ways to streamline certain jobs, and laundry tops that list for sure.  You can see the evidence of this if you look into my laundry closet (please don't).  There are about 18 different detergents.  There's bleach.  (I know, I know...)  There's stain remover.  There are dryer sheets.  There's...  You get the picture.  Or maybe you don't.  Here, I'll show you:

 Just a tiny bit of the chaos!

The Scoop

Several months ago I stumbled across the Bellwethers facebook page.

I'm not sure how I got there, but I'm pretty sure I was one of the first ones there.  Shortly after joining the page, I won a free dryer ball in a random drawing!  I was so excited, but not sure what to do with ONE dryer ball!  Diana from Bellwethers assured me that even one dryer ball would make a difference, so I might as well toss it into the dryer.  She and I began communicating, and Diana agreed to send me 5 more dryer balls for review!  Since she's new to the stuff-selling world, she was excited to get a bit of publicity!

I've never used dryer balls before, so I wasn't sure exactly what to expect.  My assumptions were that my dry time would be significantly shorter and the static would be gone, eliminating the need for softener sheets.  I didn't know a ton about dryer balls, other than that other cloth diapering moms said I NEEDED them.

 The Good

Dry time.  My dry time for cloth diaper is significantly shorter with Bellwethers wool dryer balls!  Before, if I dried them in the dryer (I'm about 50/50 with the dryer or clothesline), it took at least two full dry cycles each time.  Some of my inserts were still damp, at times, after two complete cycles!  Now, I can dry for one cycle and most everything is dry.  If I leave everything in the dryer, it's about another 20 minutes until everything is dry, but if I take out the things that are already dry, it's only about another 10 minutes!

The static.  I don't like static.  At. All.  I have always been an avid softener user.  In fact, if I run out, I don't wash laundry until I get more.  Since I started using the dryer balls, I have not reverted back to softener.  MOST of my clothes are static free!  The only problems I have are with fleece clothes.  There's just something about those super soft fleece jammy pants that attracts static like nothing else!

The cost.  I know there's a pretty good initial cost to dryer balls.  This is just as true for Bellwethers dryer balls as it is for any other brand.  The balls are comparable in cost to any other brand I've seen.  They currently run $6 for 1 (unbleached) ball and $30 for 6.  While that may seem like a lot, think of the overall savings: not just the cost of the dryer sheets themselves ($3-4 for a month's worth) but the electricity (or gas) to run the dryer a second full cycle!  Even if you just think of the cost of the dryer sheets, these will pay for themselves in less than a year.

The size.  I haven't seen other wool dryer balls.  I don't know how big they usually are.  The Bellwethers dryer balls are roughly the size of a baseball.

They don't take up too much room in your dryer, even with 6 and a full load of laundry, but they're not teeny tiny either.  They're also the perfect size for entertaining your 1 year old during diaper changes, unless yours (like mine) is a thrower.  In that case, I don't recommend changing diapers on the dryer and giving said 1 year old a dryer ball.  If you do, the dryer ball may end up in "the abyss."

Eww, yuck!  Looks like it's time to pull the washer out for some cleaning!

The Bad

The noise!  I'm going to guess this isn't specific to Bellwethers dryer balls, but they're loud!  Be prepared for that.  I wasn't.  I like to run my last load of laundry for the day overnight so that I can pull the clothes out and fold them first thing in the morning.  We have a small house, and the dryer is in the bathroom right across from the boys' room and next to my room.  I have to close the laundry closet and the bathroom door, and I can still hear the balls thumping around!

Dry Time.  Unfortunately, despite the obvious decreased dry time of diapers, some loads seem to take longer
to dry than without the balls.  This has only been true of blue jeans and towels, but it's still worth mentioning.  Our dryer is slow anyway, and sometimes takes two full cycles, so it's a little hard to tell if it's really because of the balls or not. As I said, though, the dry time overall seems the same or shorter, diapers are definitely shorter, and those "heavy" things like towels and jeans take longer.
The Outcome

I have really enjoyed using Bellwethers dryer balls!  As I mentioned before, I haven't looked back to dryer sheets.  In fact, there's about half a box of dryer sheets in my closet right now!  I've gone to putting a dryer sheet in each clothes drawer to keep clothes smelling fresh since I don't need them in the dryer anymore!  

Diana from Bellwethers warned me in advance that there would be pilling on the balls.  This does not effect the function of the balls.  She mentioned that some people choose to shave the pilling off the balls with a razor.  I have not noticed a single bit of pilling on my dryer balls!  In fact, the more I've used them, the tighter the felting has become.

I really like the dryer balls!  I love that I don't have the waste, either in my trash can or my bank account, from dryer sheets anymore!  Overall, I'd say dryer balls work just as well as dryer sheets.

Let me mention just a little more about Bellwethers.  Diana has been working overtime to make some really great products!  She's not limited to dryer balls.  She's been making all sorts of projects out of old t-shirts,


and buttons!  

I really love some of them, and I know you will too.  The prices are very reasonable, and for a unique handmade gift (for yourself, if you choose!) it just doesn't get any better!  You can see more of the Bellwethers products here!

Thank you, Bellwethers, for your amazing introduction to dryer balls!  I'm very impressed!

The Giveaway

There isn't one...YET!  That's where you come in.  Diana from Bellwethers would LOVE to give away a set of dryer balls.  The trouble is, she's new to the selling "scene" and has to work up a customer base first.  The more of you that check her out and make purchases, the sooner we will get to see a dryer ball giveaway here on the blog!  Check out the Bellwethers store on Art Fire.  There are SO many eco friendly, up-cycled items for sale along with the dryer balls!  This is my favorite:

What's yours?

I was given these products at no cost in order to facilitate a review.  All opinions are strictly my own.  I was not compensated in any other way.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

TruKid Review and Giveaway


Somehow, over the course of the last year, I have become much more aware of not only what goes INto my kids' bodies, but what's going ON them as well.  I can't say for sure what has caused the changes in my attitude, but I've found myself being much more concerned about chemicals and additives not only in their foods, but in their skin care products as well.  As summer rolled in this year, I was looking for a great SAFE sunscreen for kids.  What I found was TruKid!

The Scoop

 As I began searching for a natural sunscreen for my kids, I stumbled across TruKid.  TruKid is a great company with an amazing selection of natural, organic bath and body products created just for kids! TruKid "strives to impact the world one healthy habit at a time," and they're doing this by selling only the best quality ingredients they can find for kids!  

Jennifer, founder of TruKid, is the busy mother of six adorable kids herself, but she still found the time to personally correspond with me.  Jennifer gladly sent three TruKid products for review:  Bubbly Body Wash, Sunny Days SPF 30+ Face Stick, and Happy Face and Body Lotion!

The Good

The SMELL!  I know it's probably not the most important thing about skincare products, but it's absolutely the first thing I noticed about TruKid, and one of my very favorite things still!  I don't know about anyone else, but I always smell things like this.  The TruKid products have a distinct fruity smell that I love!  Even the sunscreen smells tropical, but not like sunscreen.

All Natural.  I love knowing that only natural, organic ingredients go into TruKid products!  There's never going to be anything in the lotions, washes, etc. that I can't pronounce.  The only thing "produced" is the actual products, not their ingredients!

They're "user friendly."  These products are made for kids, right?  Kids aren't notorious for their reading skills, particularly little kids!  We reviewed the Bubbly Body was, as I mentioned, but what if we'd reviewed the Helping Hand Wash as well?  Bugsy can't read.  They both come in blue bottles.  How would he know which to use to wash his hands and which to use to wash his body?  TruKid has an innovative labeling system that actually SHOWS kids where to use the products!

They're GENTLE!  Little Lou uses the Body Wash for her body and hair.  She loves the smell, and I figure she's still getting pretty clean!  She's never once complained that the soap hurt her eyes.  My kids have sensitive skin, and none of these products have broken them out a single bit!  I'll be honest, I've commandeered the Happy Face and Body Lotion.  I have eczema, particularly during certain time of the year.  (Right now, for instance.)  Most lotions burn when I use them, and my skin gets more and more scaly.  That's not true with TruKid, though!  Not only can I use it even on my eczema, but it makes my skin feel soft, AND I only have to use one small squirt for my hands!  It's great!

The sunscreen stick.  Little Lou is 6.  Six year olds are, by definition, independent.  She thinks she can do everything herself, but her mommy is pretty protective and still prefers to do a lot of things for her.  With regular sunscreen sticks, I don't feel comfortable just handing them over.  With TruKid, though, I am totally comfortable handing her the reigns and letting her sunscreen her own face!  She loves being independent, and I love that the sunscreen WORKS!

(See how shiny her hair is?  That's from TruKid Body Wash!)

The Bad

I have to be picky here, or else I wouldn't be able to say anything bad at all.  The only issue I have with TruKid is cost.  Now, I've checked out some other natural, organic products that are similar, and the prices overall are very comparable.  Since I'm used to department store prices for "regular" brand products, though, the prices seem a little high to me.  For what the products are, though, they're probably perfect prices and they're totally worth it!

The Outcome

I LOVE TruKid.  I love every one of the products I was sent.  I really want to try the Sunny Days Sport Sunscreen...oooh, or the detangler...or ANY of the new adult products!  Yep, you read that right...there are now adult products in a new line called, "TruVillage!"  I highly recommend giving TruKid a try if you're looking for natural skincare products for your kids or yourself!  You'll be glad you did!
The Giveaway

Jennifer from TruKid LOVES sharing her products, and has graciously agreed to send one of my super lucky readers a prize pack containing a 3.5 oz tube of Sport Sunscreen, a Silly Shampoo and a Cool Conditioner!  What a great prize!  (I'd like to win right along with you!)
Contest will end and a winner will be drawn Monday, August 1 at 11:59am EST.

How to Enter:

*Leave a separate comment for each entry*
*Leave your email address with each entry*

(Mandatory)  Follow My This N That Life with GFC

Like My This N That Life on Facebook

Subscribe to My This N That Life via email

Like TruKid on Facebook

Visit the TruKid and tell me something you've learned or which product you'd like to try!

Comment on any non-giveaway post and tell me where you commented!

I received these products at no cost to me in order to facilitate a review.  I was not compensated in any other way.  All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

LeanGreenMama 6 Week Bootcamp Wrap-Up

I've been married for 8 years, as of yesterday.  It's hard to believe!  What's sometimes even harder to believe is how much I've changed in those same 8 years!  When we got married, my drivers license told the truth.  That's right!  I weighed in at right about 150 pounds.  I wore a bikini on my honeymoon.  (I didn't look great in it, but then again I didn't figure there'd be too many people in Cancun that I would ever see again!)

A little over a year later, when I got pregnant with Little Lou, I weight 175 pounds.  I thought I was HUGE!  I couldn't believe I'd let myself gain so much weight, and vowed to get all the weight off and then some.  I didn't.  And then 15 months after she was born, I found myself expecting Bugsy.  I weighed 185 pounds.  Then a little over a year and a half after he was born, voila!  We found out Stinky was on the way.  193 pounds.  Do you see a pattern here?

It seems like the busier life got, the more hectic things were, the bigger I got.  Now, I want to point out that life hasn't been a bowl of cherries these 8 years.  We've dealt with a lot...a LOT a lot...of stressful situations in eight years.  You don't need to know all the details, what you need to know is that I am (was?) a stress eater.  My pacifier when I was feeling low was a cookie (or 5), a bowl of ice cream (a big one!), a handful (or 3) of chips.  I earned that weight.  I didn't wear it proudly, but I deserved it!

The Scoop
A couple months ago I was reading blog review opportunities on a Business2Blogger email.  There were a few opportunities I knew right away I wanted to try.  Then there was the one that said something along the lines of, "I'm looking for 10 bloggers to review and give away my new 6-week weight loss bootcamp."  (I don't remember the exact words, but it was something similar to that.)  I skipped that one because I didn't want to do it.  AT. ALL.  You see, I was "comfortable" doing what I had always done.  I didn't WANT to make big changes.  Now, granted, Stinky had just turned one and I was definitely thinking about weight loss.  What mom isn't?  But I knew I'd have to make some changes if I applied and was accepted. 

When I found myself opening the email for the third time, looking for that one opportunity for the third time, I realized I was ready enough to at least apply.  I knew I wouldn't actually get the campaign, but it was certainly worth the shot!  Something about my application piqued the interest of Jennifer at LeanGreenMama, and I can not TELL you how glad I am that she chose me as one of her "bootcampers!"

 Here I am, friends.  Before.

Not pretty, but it's me.

The Good

I truly can't think of enough good things to say about LeanGreenMama! 

I'll start with Jennifer McCay herself.  Jennifer is a hard working mama of two herself who has been there.  When she first started developing her plan, she was 53 pounds overweight.  She had a lot of ground to cover, but she covered it--in under a year!  She developed a plan for her own life and found that it worked to keep her healthy.  Only after she'd had personal success on this same plan did she decide to roll it out as a way to help other mamas!  Jennifer McCay has been nothing but kind and helpful throughout the last 6 weeks.  She's answered every question I've had.  She's been a real coach!

The tools.  There are SO many videos and tools provided in the 6 week bootcamp!  I created a binder to house all of my information.  A 2-inch binder.  I printed out everything Jennifer provided, most of it 2 pages to a sheet, and still had enough to fill most of a 2-inch binder!  As a part of the program, Jennifer not only coaches you through your weight loss, but she gives you important papers to help.  There's everything from a weekly progress sheet to a cookbook!  There are just so many tools at your disposal.

The FREE videos!  If you're not sure whether LeanGreenMama is for you, check out these videos.  Jennifer has created four totally free videos to get you started on your journey!  Through these videos, you can get a lot of the same information that's included in the bootcamp itself.  The videos are great tools themselves, but sadly don't include all the tools you'll really want to get yourself going.  (She couldn't possibly give ALL of it away, though!  How would LeanGreenMama be profitable??)

The plan itself!  You all are going to think I'm crazy here, but I have already, in just 6 weeks, grown to love the (mostly) vegetarian way of eating.  Not only have I lost weight and inches, but I have seen some changes in other health symptoms as well.  I haven't had nearly as many headaches.  I don't wake up shaky in the mornings.  This month, I didn't have my typical "hormone-induced" acne issues!  I eat until I am full.  I know when I'm full!  I wish I could go into tons of detail about the eating plan, but then why would you need LeanGreenMama?  

There are so many more good things I'd love to say, but I'll leave it there.  For now.

The Bad
Though there are a million things I LOVE about the LeanGreenMama 6 week bootcamp, there are a few things I wish were different.
Exercise.  Jennifer at LeanGreenMama emphasizes that exercise is a vastly important part of living a healthy lifestyle.  She even has great ideas in her plan for how to execute a great workout.  What I wish were different, though, is that I wish there were more.  More information.  Specific exercises listed.  Something.  Anything!  It would be great if LeanGreenMama could partner with a fitness coach or gym and really amp-up the exercise portion of the plan.  I think it'd make it so much easier for moms like me to get into great shape if we had more of a blueprint for our workouts as well!

The time commitment.  I feel silly even mentioning this one.  I'm a busy mom of 3, who sometimes babysits or has other kids in the house for fun.  We have doctor appointments, grocery shopping, cleaning, learning time...all the "regular" mom stuff.  Some weeks the videos are a little long.  I fully understand that Jennifer McCay wants to convey all the information she can to the bootcampers, but sometimes I think the videos could be shorter.  I often have to break a video up into small segments to get it all in!

The price tag.  Again, I hate mentioning this.  I know in my mind that you really can't put a price tag on your health.  I've never priced similar programs, so I can't say how this one compares.  What I can say, though, is that as a paycheck-to-paycheck stay at home mom in a family that is making huge sacrifices so I can be here with my kids, the bootcamp would be impossible for me to afford.  That said, LeanGreenMama HAS done what she can to make sure every mom has a chance!  Don't forget, she's created an AMAZING free four-video program that you can find HERE!

The Outcome

I'm pretty sure this is the only reason some of you have even read this far.  Yep, that's right.  You want to know how well I've done.  I'll get to that in a second.  First, I want to tell you that if you can afford it, I absolutely, 100%, support LeanGreenMama's 6 week bootcamp!  There are some other coaching tools available as well, which I also highly recommend.  If you can't squeeze the cost of the bootcamp out of your budget, I highly recommend those four FREE videos!  They won't give you ALL the tools you'll really want to have, but they'll be a great start to finding your mojo again!  I am a believer.  I have already seen changes in the way I look and feel.  In fact, I emailed Jennifer McCay earlier this week and lamented that I don't live closer to her, because I'd love to work on her LeanGreen Team!  Like I said, I have become a LeanGreenMama cheerleader...and am well on my way to becoming a LeanGreenMama myself!

Alright, so you want to see the results.  Here's the breakdown!

June 1, 2011 (1 week before the official start of the program, but the beginning of my LeanGreen Journey, via those 4 free videos):  

191.8 pounds

July 20 (7 weeks later, at the completion of the LeanGreenMama 6 week bootcamp, but not at the end of the LeanGreen Journey!):

169.0 pounds!

I have lost 22.8 pounds in the last 7 weeks!  YAY!

Not only have I lost almost 23 pounds, but I have lost TEN inches from my body!  (I didn't even measure my arms.  I should have.)  Do you want to see pictures?  Here they are!  I'll post my "before" picture again, and then my "now" picture.  I'm not calling it an "after" picture yet, because my journey isn't over, but I want you to see the progress!

Front view before

Front view now

Side view before

Side view now

As you can see, friends, it's working!  I'm not where I want to be.  I still have about 34 pounds to go before I'll be where I want to be.  But thanks to Jennifer McCay of LeanGreenMama telling me it's okay if I don't do the plan perfectly, I'm getting there!  You can too!  I could go on all day about my experience with LeanGreenMama's 6 week bootcamp, but I won't.  I do, however, encourage you to, at the very least, give the 4 free videos a look!  If you can, though, take part in the next session of Jennifer McCay's LeanGreenMama 6 week bootcamp!  It'll help you make changes in your lifestyle that you won't regret!

I was provided with this service at no cost to me in order to facilitate a review.  I was not compensated in any other way.  All opinions are strictly my own.  Thank you SO much,, for allowing me to participate in your program!

Monday, July 18, 2011

I love picking winners!

I'm almost always late at picking winners, if only by a few minutes.  Today, it was less than an hour, and I felt pretty good about that!  I love picking winners because I love being the one that gets to tell people they've won.  Today I drew for the envibum diaper, and I was so excited to see that the winner only placed ONE comment in the entry area!  ONE!  Thank you, Chris, #181, for showing us that even if you don't want to go through all the "extras" you can still be a winner!  Chris has already chosen and she'll be receiving a Cherry envibum for her baby's bum!  Great choice!

(Maybe I'm wrong and you entered in more than one way, but I only saw the one.  Congrats!)

Saturday, July 16, 2011


I need your help, folks!  I LOVE using cloth diapers on my baby boy's bum.  Love it.  I love not spending a billion dollars on disposables.  I love not throwing away a million disposables every month.  I love putting more natural products on his tender skin.  I love how cute they are!

BUT I have a problem.  Not only are we having some serious stink issues (off and on, not constant), but Stinky keeps getting a horrible rash...a chemical burn-y rash.  He FINALLY got over the infection he had, and was clear for a little over a week...and then yesterday, more rash!  Ugh.  I DON'T want to go back to disposables, but if he's going to be owie all the time, I will.  :(

SO, I need your help.  What do you do to get rid of the funk?  What do you to to take out the stinkies?  What do you do to fight ammonia?  How do I keep his bum clear?  (Please keep in mind that I don't have a ton of money to spend!)

When you leave a comment here and help me out, you can give yourself an extra entry into the AppleCheeks giveaway...and as long as the envibum giveaway is open, go ahead and take one there, too!  Let's call them "I HELPED!"

Thanks in advance!  I can't wait to read your advice!

Friday, July 15, 2011

AppleCheeks Reusable Diapers Review AND GIVEAWAY



He's the apple of my eye.  He's the sunshine that warms my cheeks.  What better way to honor the joy he brings than by dressing his super sensitive bum in an AppleCheeks diaper?

The Scoop

You'll remember that at the end of May I participated in the Dirty Diaper Laundry Flats and Handwashing Challenge.  As much as I wanted to showcase five different brands of covers, I dropped the ball and ended up with just two cover sponsors--but because I took so long to send out my inquiries, the covers didn't come until well after the challenge had ended.  AppleCheeks was one of those covers.  Katie from AppleCheeks graciously agreed to send me a Little Bundle in my choice of colors to review!  I chose dark chocolate, since it's summer and I figured he'd be outside a lot.  (My second choice was lemon zest, which I love as well!)

The Good

Customer Service -- I don't typically comment on this because I'm pretty sure that with most companies, blog reviewers get some "special treatment."  With AppleCheeks, though, every correspondence, from the very beginning, has been nothing but upbeat, personal, and helpful.  Even the AppleCheeks facebook page has been nothing but positive!

The BIG pocket -- The AppleCheeks diaper is a great "envelope system."  I LOVE a pocket that unstuffs itself.  Now, I'm not sure whether AppleCheeks is officially considered a pocket or a cover.  It's called both.  It doesn't matter.  I primarily use it as a pocket.  The opening is BIG.  It's at the center of the diaper.  I was a little worried about the placement because I don't love touching poop, but the flat insert has washed out almost every time!

The absorbency -- I haven't had a single leak with AppleCheeks diapers.  Not one!  I've used it with a cotton flat instead of the included rayon from bamboo insert.  I've used the included insert.  I've used fitted underneath.  The included insert works the very best and it hold a LOT!  And, if you use the diaper as a pocket, the micro-fleece liner pulls every bit of moisture away from baby's bottom.  In fact, I actually have to feel the insert itself, on occasion, to be sure that the diaper is even wet!

The fit -- The AppleCheeks size 2 diaper is a GREAT fit for my 25 pound 16 month old boy!  I don't tighten it nearly as snugly as it can get.  There's tons of room for Stinky to grow!  Not only is there plenty of room for him to grow, but the diaper fits perfectly.  Often in a diaper that is roomy, there's lots of bulk.  Not so for the AppleCheeks, though!  It fits very trimly to his little booty.  There's plenty of stretch, too.

The color choices -- This might be a silly thing to be excited about, but I LOVE the colors of AppleCheeks diapers!  They're so vibrant.  I'd love one of every color!  AND there are two new adorable patterns!  I wish I'd been chosen as one of the bloggers to introduce those to you, but since I wasn't, I'll just tell you that they are adorable and you need them.

The Bad

(I hate this part of the review, by the way.  I don't like telling people what I don't like!)

The envelope system -- I mentioned it before as a "good."  I DO love this part of the diaper.  But on a (very) rare occasion, the insert hasn't agitated out of the diaper, and I've had to pull it out and rewash with the next load.  It's really not a huge deal, but since I love the diaper so much, I want to put it on him as soon as diapers are clean!  That's really my only complaint.

The swim diaper -- Because I don't have one.  I don't have a complaint about the AppleCheeks swim diaper, I just don't have one and that makes me sad. 

The Outcome

I refrain, for the most part, for saying words like, "this is my favorite diaper ever," on my blog.  I won't say that here, either, but what I WILL say is that this is by far ONE of my very favorites.  In fact, it's definitely in my top 5, somewhere near the top.  I'd been eying AppleCheeks for quite some time before I received this one for review, because every time I saw a picture of one I couldn't believe how adorable they are.  That's right, I like the look.  

I'm SO glad I was able to review a dark chocolate AppleCheeks Little Bundle!  The absorbency is great, the fit is great, and the price is relatively reasonable (about $20 a diaper).  Thank you, AppleCheeks, for the great product!  I highly, highly recommend AppleCheeks not only for the great products, but for the amazing customer service that comes along with them!

The Giveaway 

Yes, you read that right!  We're adding a giveaway!  Katie from AppleCheeks JUST authorized me to add a $25 AppleCheeks credit giveaway!  Thank you, Katie!
(Contest will end and a winner will be drawn Tuesday, July 26 at 11:59am EST.)

How to Enter:

*Leave a separate comment for each entry*
*Leave your email address with each entry*

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I received this product at no cost to me in order to facilitate a review.  I was not compensated in any other way.  All opinions are my own.