June 29, 2012

Friday Favorites (And a special treat!)

We have some winners! Jodi, Kat & Happiness is.... Please email thechirpingmoms@gmail.com with your address so I can mail some adorable headbands!


A new favorite in our house is Kenzie's Creations. The shop owner, Sam, is a friend of a friend. Sam has a daughter the same age as Alex. Having a little girl inspired her to start making headbands & from there her shop took off. She has an amazing variety of colors & styles. There are headbands, hats & more! She always has fantastic sales, so keep an eye out.

As a special Friday treat, 3 lucky winners will get one of this week's Friday Favorite: A Kenzie's Creations headband! All you have to do to enter is comment on this post or on facebook. Comment with something you would like to see on the blog - anything at all! We will chose 3 winners & announce them tonight. Then, I will mail a surprise headband out to each winner Saturday morning. Happy Friday and thank you Kenzie's Creations for a special Friday surprise giveaway!







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And the winner is.....

This week's winner is Allie Darr
Please email thechirpingmoms@gmail.com so we can send your info to Molly at Whale of a Sign.

Thank you everyone for participating. You came up with some great ideas for custom signs! You can order them from Whale of a Sign.  Molly has offered all of our readers 15% off through July 31st. Enter he code CHIRP at checkout.

Another wonderful thing about Molly & her shop: 5% of all of sales go to Kisses From Katie, a non-profit organization dedicated to honoring the life of Katie Manning by providing resources to critically ill children, their families, and the people who are dedicated to caring for them. Katie was Molly's friend's 5 month old daughter who passed away of complications from Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrom. This is an organization that Molly holds very dear to her heart.

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June 28, 2012

For the Kids Thursday: Toddler Tunes



I don't know how I didn't hear about this until last week, but have you heard about Spotify?  It's amazing, really?!  You can download it for free and search a HUGE list of songs and play them.  No more spending money at iTunes...here comes Spotify:)
  • You can search and hear any song that you want.  It's like searching a massive iTunes library---without having to buy the music:)
  • You can make and share playlists.  I've got my running mix all ready to go!
  • You set up one account--but can listen on multiple devices (iPhone, Macbook, etc.)
  • You can see your friend's playlists to see what tunes they recommend.
  • There is a radio feature, similar to Pandora, if you feel like mixing it up during the day.

Now since it is For the Kids Thursday, I wanted to share some of our favorite children records.  We really do listen to a lot of music around here, may it be in the playroom, in the car, or while we are eating breakfast.

Some of our favorites are...
1.  They Might Be Giants, Here Come the ABC's:  Songs all about the alphabet, bot not overly obnoxious. 
2.  Veggie-Tales Sing Along:  I have listened to this so many time that my three year old can recite the whole cd by memory-it's his FAVORITE!
3.  Baby Einstein, Playtime Music Box:  This reminds my son, Aiden, of the show Little Einsteins so he loves to hear all the classical music played here.
4.  Putamayo World Playground:  This is one of many Putamayo cd's and I really recommend them for something different to listen to.
5.  Laurie Berkner Band-how can you not listen to Laurie Berkner?!?!
 


Now here is some children's music that I am going to be searching for on Spotify.  These are children records that I think we would LOVE in our house...
1.  Jewel, The Merry Goes Round:  I loved Jewel back in the 90's and I'm pretty sure I will still like her voice now!
2.  Sesame Street Platinum All Time Favorites:  I think my 18 month old would love this.  He loves the Sesame Street books so maybe a little music will put him over the edge?!
3.  Dan Zanes, Family Dance:  I saw this recommended on another mom blog that I love, so why not?
4.  Renee and Jeremy:  Found this while searching for some new music, I think I could listen to this and not go crazy insane:)
4.  Rockabye Baby, Lullaby Reniditions of No Doubt:  What??? There is a No Doubt version--must see what it may sound like.  When I searched through these lullaby renditions there are SO many now--Taylor Swift, Foo Fighters, Green Day, and soon to be Red Hot Chili Peppers!






Any other ones that you recommend now that I have Spotify?  

And just so you know, we don't only listen to kid music around here.  We LOVE all type of music.  Do you really want to know Aiden's favorite song right now---check this video out from spending time with family at the beach.  I don't know why he loves this song, but he does?!:


video



There are different tiers of Spotify.  We are trying out the Premium version in our house since it has the full mobile experience (which will hopefully help my husband survive his train commute a little more joyfully and keep us going through our jogging stroller runs) just to see how much we use it.  But there is also an amazing Free version as well as an Unlimited version.  Head over here and get yourself some Spotify today.

And last, but certainly not least, don't forget to enter our giveaway as it ends tonight at midnight.  Head on over here for an awesome 8" x 10" sign created by Whale of A Sign.  You can either pick something from the shop or design your own sign!!!  Awesome--you must enter!





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June 27, 2012

Where To Wednesday: Emerald Isle, NC

We traveled to my MOST favorite place on Earth last week, Emerald Isle, North Carolina!  I don't know if it's the gorgeous weather, beautiful ocean, or amazing company but I just love returning here year after year after year.  I actually started coming here when I was a baby to my grandparent's cottage and have been here every year since!

Chris, my husband, and I decided to do the straight 12 hour drive from New Jersey to the beach in one day.  Crazy, right???  You do what you have to do to see family, especially when you live FAR from everyone.  We loaded the car with snacks, small toys, lots of books, and of course movies for our DVD player.  And can you believe that neither child slept the entire 12 hours----WHAT????????  But thankfully, they were troopers because who makes a 3 year old and an 18 month old stay in their car seats all day long.  A huge shout-out to Quaker popcorn cakes, the Madagascar movie, and our handy-dandy iPad to keep us going!

Before my kids were born, the beach meant LOTS of napping in the sun, listening to music with my headphones in, and many novels being read.  Ha---in my dreams.  We headed down on Saturday morning with the two boys and lo and behold, Andrew cried the ENTIRE first trip down while Aiden could barely get within thirty feet of the water.  Oh boy, this is going to be a LONG week with one child crazy fearful while the other one could hardly move if the water got too close!  

I have to admit that neither kid became a beach LOVER this year, but their tolerance of the sand, surf, and sun grew and we did have some fun moments down at the beach (in small doses)!  Andrew loved to drive his trucks all over the sand and we finally got Aiden to sit where the waves were lapping.   I am eagerly awaiting for the years where the boys will be jumping in the waves, building sandcastles, and hunting for shells---hopefully only a couple years away:)  

A huge shout-out to my parents for helping take care of the boys at different times throughout the week and Chris who often headed back to the house early with the boys to prepare lunch and put them down for naps while I could hop into the ocean for some swimming---I just LOVE the ocean!!!

Since we only last so long at the beach, we found some other great things to fill our time there (and crossed off a few things on our Super Summer List!).  Around the house, we loved to fill our pool up and splash around.  We also played a lot of Zingo, watched a few extra cartoons, and got out on a couple family runs.  One of our favorite evening family activities is to head out for some putt-putt golf.  With these two boys, it was quite a workout---I think I spent more time chasing these two around the golf course than actually concentrating on my awesomely horrible golf skills.  It really was quite comical watching these two explore, if you weren't the one chasing them.  And these two weren't the most amazing players, but you do have to check out this awesome clip of Aiden (scroll to bottom), where he got a hole in one at 17 months!


Another afternoon, we headed over to the NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores.  The boys loved seeing penguins, fish, otters, and even the snakes:)  Aiden LOVES penguins and was very thankful for the new stuffed penguin that his uncle bought him and his brother;)  I highly recommend visiting the aquarium if you are around this area, especially with young children.

This picture was just too adorable not too share----my dad does some amazing photography and happened to catch this picture the night before we returned home:)




Despite the fact that bringing along two little ones add more laundry, LESS sleep (especially when we all shared one room!), and lots of craziness...I love creating memories as our own little family.  Where is your summer vacation taking you to?  Hope all of you enjoy your summer vacations as much as we did---now off to catch up on some MUCH-needed sleep!



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June 26, 2012

Tuscan Italian Pasta Salad

I love when mistakes turn out to be a fantastic surprise!  The other weekend, we invited some friends over for a late afternoon BBQ.  Of course, in my last minute style, I raced to Trader Joe's that morning after church to grab the necessary ingredients for an Italian pasta salad.  I have never tried the Tuscan Italian salad dressing, but thought that it couldn't be much different than the usual Italian dressing (Kraft, Wishbone, or something similar) that I pick up at our local grocery store.  Well, I was wrong, it definitely didn't taste the same but boy was it delicious!!!!  

INGREDIENTS:
1 package of farfalle pasta
1 chunk of Havarti cheese (could substitute with another type of cheese)
1 can of black olives
1 Trader Joes red wine salami
3 peppers:  1 red, 1 orange, and 1 yellow
1 bottle of Trader Joe's Tuscan Italian dressing



So here's what I did, and I will tell you why this is the best pasta salad I have made ever!
1.  Cook pasta according to directions.  Drain and rinse with cold water.
2.  Chop all three peppers into small pieces.  (I only used about half of each pepper-saved the rest for vegetables and dip!)
3.  Slice the havarti cheese into bite-sized cubes.
4.  Drain and chop the olives into small pieces.
5.  Cut the salami into cubes.
6.  Put everything into a big bowl and add the Tuscan Italian Dressing.  You don't need much Italian dressing---I think I used about 1/3 to 1/2 of the bottle, but add to taste.

And this wonderful dressing will make a DELICIOUS twist to your Italian pasta salad!  Please take time and create this recipe---it's AMAZING!

And don't forget to scroll down and enter our awesome giveaway, courtesy of the amazing Etsy shop Whale of a Sign!

June 25, 2012

A Whale of a Giveaway!

We had a giveaway for little girls & one for little guys and their Dads.....now it's time for the ladies! This week's giveaway comes from a wonderful shop: Whale of a Sign!

Hi Peeps, I'm Molly! I'm so excited that Courtney & Julie asked me to sponsor a giveaway!

I got inspired by the subway signs in New York City and after making some for my peeps it finally hit me … I could make dinero!! And so the Etsy shop was born:Whale of a sign bannerNow you can enter for a chance to win your very own 8"x10" subway-style sign! You can pick something that I already have done or design your own sign!


a Rafflecopter giveaway
Molly has also provided a discount code for our readers! Now through July 31st enter CHIRP at checkout & receive 15% off. Thank you Molly!



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June 22, 2012

Friday Favorites

We are starting to think about getting Maggie "big girl" furniture. Our plan is to create a room for both girls & when Alex is ready she will move in. Then, the nursery will be a nursery for another baby (maybe!) or it will become a guest room for a little while. I started to browse & love what I am seeing from The Land of Nod (might be too pricey) & Etsy. These are some of my FAVORITES!








Dressers:













Drawer Knobs: 





















My two problems: what color to paint the room & what sort of "theme" or bedding colors to go with. Oh wait....one other issue: convince my husband these beds are TOO cute to pass up!
                       Comment & help me!



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June 21, 2012

It's Snack Time!


I'm always looking for ideas for feeding my kids. There are weeks when I think if it were not for fruit snacks & goldfish, Maggie would starve. Then there are days when she eats anything I put in front of her & I get super excited. Now that both girls can eat the same thing, I enjoy making meals more because I can make one thing & also feel like I waste less. But when it comes to snacks, I really feel like I am running out of ideas lately. I started asking around, browsing blogs & hit up Pinterest too, of course! Here are a few to highlight:

Frozen Yogurt Snacks: We go through freeze dried yogurt snacks in our house like MAD. The Happy Baby brand is a favorite in our house. I saw this recipe for making a frozen version & gave it a shot. It was fun to make, little change from our usual afternoon snack & great for a hot day!

Fruit Kabobs: I thought these looked really pretty & it's a fun alternative to fruit salad for kids.

Chocolate Covered Marshmellows: Made this with Maggie OUTSIDE. They are not healthy & it makes a disaster but it's fun & delicious. You just dip a marshmellow into chocolate & then into sprinkles.

Snacks on the Go: I found these on the blog Thrive. Great ideas for road trip snacks. I also like these for picnics & days at the pool

As if getting toddlers to eat was not challenge enough, imagine trying to do it for a toddler with multiple allergies. My kids can eat anything and I feel like I am always running out of ideas for snacks. I really can't imagine what it would be like to find out I had to drastically limit what my kids ate based on allergies. A darling little friend of mine just had her first birthday. She also just found out she is allergic to eggs, dairy & peanuts. I set out to find some snacks that are good for kids with allergies. So here are a few (please still look at all ingredients - I am not a pro in this category)!

Trader Joe's Non Dairy Frozen Dessert: It's in the ice cream isle of my FAV grocery store. It comes in strawberry & chocolate. It's basically ice cream made with coconut milk instead!

Fruit Leather: Trader Joe's has my favorite in this category (of course) but there are many brands that make these.

A couple from Plum Organics line for Tots: I love this brand. I love their baby food & their "Tots" line is fantastic. They were a sponsor at the Baby Buggy event I wrote about last week. While we were at the event, we got to try a few of their snacks for the first time: Fiddlesticks (gluten free) and Teensy Fruits (which are a healthy version of fruit snacks).

Yummy Earth Lollipops: These are actually a favorite in my house & Julie's. You can find them in stores but here they are on Mom E Minerals site. On this site you can actually search by ingredient for snacks & other products. Very helpful!

 I found a lot of good recipes on Suburban Utopia's blog!

Also, I was directed to a great blog: Namaste By Day. She does "Food Allergy Fridays" which have great information.


So now it's your turn to help me add to the variety of my kid's snacks. Please comment with some ideas of what your kids chow down on during snack time. Also, if you have any good ideas for snacks for kids with allergies, share those too. Happy snacking!



And don't forget this week's giveaway ends tonight at midnight! http://www.thechirpingmoms.com/2012/06/giveaway-for-boys-and-their-dads.html to enter to win some awesome father/son swim trunks!  


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June 20, 2012

Where to Wednesday: Strawberry Picking


First of all, just a reminder to pop over to our giveaway... http://www.thechirpingmoms.com/2012/06/giveaway-for-boys-and-their-dads.html to enter to win some awesome father/son swim trunks!  The giveaway ends on Thursday at midnight and there are several ways to enter the giveaway, check it out!

Now check out what adventure The Chirping Moms headed out on last week...







A few weeks ago, Julie & I packed the kids into the car & took them all strawberry picking. It was a great activity to do with the kids & I was surprised how much fun even the littlest ones had! They all loved picking & eating as many strawberries as they could. I had Alex in the Bjorn & after a while realized she was picking them out of the tray & seating them! She was covered in strawberries. Before & after picking we let the kids enjoy the farm. There were lots of animals to feed & room to run around.


For all of our local readers, the place we went is in Chester: Alstede Farms. This farm has been a favorite of mine since I was a kid. They have great activities for families throughout the year. In addition to seeing & feeding all of the animals, they have extra activities on the weekends. Check out their website for hours & details.














So what did we do with all of the strawberries? Luckily both of our families love them on their own, but we did try some new recipes with them as well. This was my favorite: Fat Free Strawberry Banana Muffins!







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June 19, 2012

Kreativ Blogger Award


KREATIV BLOGGER AWARD


I'm so excited that Cassie from Two in Diapers nominated us for this really fun award!


According to the rules, I'm passing this award on!

THE RULES:
1. Thank and link back to the awarding blog.
2. Answer seven questions.
3. Provide 10 random facts about yourself. 
4. Hand the award on to 7 deserving others.

Q AND A:

1. What is your favorite song? This is a question that the answer changes for me every few months. Right now it is: "You are my Sunshine". Which oddly enough was the same song the lovely lady who nominated me picked. It's my favorite because I love the way my sweet little Alexandra looks at me when I sing it.

2. What is your favorite dessert? Always has been: Ice Cream Cake.

3. What do you do when you are upset?  Cry, get really frustrated & then cry again.

4. Which is your favorite pet? Our adorable, playful Boston Terrier named Jersey. Tom & I got Jersey right before we moved in together. We are both from NJ but met in Chicago. We named the dog for our home state Both of our girls love her. Jersey is great with kids. She really is part of our family. 

5. Which do you prefer, white or whole wheat? White, for sure! I'm sure wheat is healthier but I just love white.

6. What is your biggest fear?  I've always been dangerously fearless (sky diving, cliff jumping maniac) Now, as a mom I always fear something bad happening to one of my little ones. I pray daily for God to keep them healthy & safe.

7. What is your attitude mostly? Cheerful & happy .

For the random facts, I interviewed my fellow Chirping Mom, Julie.



10 RANDOM FACTS ABOUT JULIE:

 1.  I never drank caffeine until six months after having my second baby---now I have at least one cup of coffee a day.

2.  Pre-kids...I was a SUPER runner and even ran twice some days.  Now I'm content to pull off a half hour run with that massive double stroller;)

3.  I grew up and went to college in Iowa,but after college I moved four times in six years thanks to my husband's career.  First, we lived in Washington DC (5 blocks from the White House!), then Jersey City, NJ, then Fairfield, Ct, and now we are back in New Jersey.  That's A LOT of moving and resettling over and over again.  On top of that, my parents now live in North Carolina now and all of my siblings are all over the United States (California, Indiana, and Pennsylvania).  We always have places to vacation and people to see!!!!
4.  I love the ocean, but hate fish!!!!  (Just ask my roommates in college, they only could cook fish if I was away for the weekend)  And on top of that, I LOVE sushi!
5.  I'm a puzzle addict----give me a 1000 piece puzzle and I am in heaven.  Especially the Hometown Collections series---I will do them over and over again:)
6.  One of my favorite things to wear are faded, old t-shirts.  I LOVE really worn out t-shirts...usually at least 10 years old.  
7.  I may be one of the only true blondes living in New Jersey:)  
8.  My favorite food in the entire world is fried okra.  Running close for seconds is my mama's mashed potatoes, beef stroganoff and egg noodles with shaky cheese, and cottage cheese.  
9. I make my husband give me a head rub every night---it's the only way I fall asleep.  I have a REALLY hard time falling asleep when he travels!!
10.  I used to love to iron----I even ironed my jeans when I first went off to college:)  Now, the only time I ever iron is when I sew---if wrinkles can't be fixed by a dryer, then I won't wear it!



The Seven Blogs I'm Nominating:


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