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The little book with BIG resources!

Summer Of Giveaways: A Visit From The Tooth Fairy

Good Evening, Kansas City!

Summer is (unofficially) upon us and we all know what that means: iFamilyKC has a lot of AWESOME GIVEAWAYS in store for you! Here on the blog, we’ll be focusing (and giving away) on unique products for your children in conjunction with our blog series: Fresh Ideas In Parenting. Tonight, we wanted to kick off our blog giveaways with a few fun items from Baby Tooth Album, Inc.

A friend of mine, Jenny, has a daughter who is right around the same age as my little girl (4 years old) so you can imagine how surprised I was when Jenny shared that her daughter had lost her first tooth a few months ago. “Stop the train,” I thought, “I’m not ready for this!” I decided to do a little research and, apparently, some children start losing their teeth around 4 years old (or earlier if they play sports – kidding!). Although that’s pretty early (the average age for a first lost tooth is 6 according to the internet), it made me think about my child’s impending tooth loss and what we’re supposed to do with the teeth once they fall out.

That’s when I came across a company who offers a solution: Baby Tooth Album, Inc. Created by two parents who had a desire to “cherish every passing moment and take little for granted…”, the company offers a variety of products aimed at helping you preserve your child’s “childhood souvenirs”.

DoorHanger-Pink

Baby Tooth Album, Inc offers products for parents and children alike. Their door hangers (pictured above) are the ideal way to alert (or remind the forgetful) tooth fairy that there’s a special package waiting to be picked up. They’ve also got small satin pouches (not pictured) available for purchase that your child can place his or her tooth in and tuck it lovingly underneath the pillow before bedtime. I imagine that these two items would work well in establishing a fun family tooth fairy tradition.

MyBabyTooth

The company also has great storage options for parents. Pictured above is their “My Baby Tooth Book” which safely stores all of the baby teeth in a fold-able book and provides insightful information about when to expect each tooth to erupt and fall out (in addition to a helpful location guide inside).

MyBabyToothGiftSet

If you’re looking to gift a product from Baby Tooth Album to a friend or family member (or looking for yourself), you can order a complete set online including the book, door hanger, a letter scroll, and book in the “Complete Tooth Fairy Kit”.

Whatever your need or budget is, Baby Tooth Album has you covered but, perhaps, the thing I enjoy most about the company is their support of “Smile Train”, a non-profit organizations that deploy doctors all across the globe to help treat children with cleft palates at no charge. Here at iFamilyKC, we just love companies that have heart and we’re excited to share some Baby Tooth Album products with you!

Want to snag a door hanger or book of your very own?! From NOW until Saturday May 30th, you can ENTER TO WIN a special treat from Baby Tooth Album courtesy of iFamilyKC.

Follow the Rafflecopter instructions for your chance to WIN! 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Tips & Resources: Let’s Talk Babywearing

As a new parents, one of the biggest hurdles with which I initially struggled was logistics.  Simple, daily, routine tasks became much more difficult.  How was I supposed to take care of this teeny and adorable but very needy baby – while still doing dishes, running errands, and cleaning the house?

Babywearing, y’all.  It’s amazing.
 
I first stumbled into the art of carrying my baby on my body in a wrap or carrier while randomly walking the aisles of Target.  I think I was still pregnant at that point, and I purchased a Moby wrap.  It looked sort of confusing, but the hands free aspect of it looked amazing!
After my son was born, I used and learned many baby carriers: the Moby wrap, a baby Bjorn, an Ergo, a Linen ring sling, a Didymos woven wrap, a Boba 3G, and the list goes on and on.
(Babywearing is sort of a gateway thing.  Most people don’t just stop at one carrier – you’re forewarned! 🙂 )
 
By safely wearing my child in a carrier, I was now able to do all the things I couldn’t previously while still comforting my baby – clean, shop, take walks, and eat real meals with two hands.
If you’re a new babywearer in Kansas City, here are my top resources on how to learn more and find some new carriers!
 
If you’re looking for the best local resource on babywearing, look no further than BWI of KC.  The group is volunteer run with accredited babywearing educators staffing each meeting.  By attending a meeting, you’ll have a chance to watch carrier demos, learn safety techniques, and try on carriers (prior to baby being born with a weighted doll or with your child themselves) under the helpful hands of the educators.  BWI of KC has bags and bags full of all kinds of baby carriers – and will help you find the best carrier for your needs, price point, and baby’s age for free.  Paying chapter members can also borrow one carrier per month to try it before deciding if they want to go out and purchase one.  (Carriers are not available for purchase through BWI of KC, so opinions are not leaning toward any specific brand.)
Itsy Bitsy Bums is a KC local cloth diapering and parenting store – offering cloth diapers, baby carriers, pregnancy/breastfeeding products, and more.  IBB offers babywearing brands such as Boba, Sakura Bloom, Ergo, Tula, Lillebaby, and more. IBB will demonstrate use of any carrier on their employees for you, but does also offer several other levels of babywearing learning as well.  For a cost, you can choose to either try on one carrier at IBB or select the option of a one on one consultation to try on multiple carriers.
Target
If you’re looking to just grab a baby carrier and learn on your own from a big box store, Target has fantastic babywearing options as well.  A few of my favorite ergonomic carriers from Target are as follows: Moby wrap, Infantino Sash, Boba wrap, Ergo original, Ergo performance, and Ergo 360.
Babywearing has changed my life for the better and easier with young children – have you ever worn your children in a carrier?
Written by iFamilyKC Mom Ambassador and Online Contributor Jayne

 


Thoughts On Moving From Mom Ambassador Jayne

Over the past few months, our family has gone through quite a few changes.  While our third pregnancy is going to cause some huge changes in our family, I’m not talking about that beautiful bundle of joy to come.

I’m more talking about our living situation.
As iFamilyKC has previously mentioned, we moved to Kansas City from Indiana a few months ago.  Prior to that, our children had lived in one home since they were born, and were very accustomed to their routines.
But, we didn’t just move.
When we moved here, we couldn’t find a home that fit our needs in the area where we were searching.  So, we ended up deciding to build a home.  Building a home, however, comes with a much longer time period than the process of buying.  What ended up happening is that we moved some of our things with us to a small rental apartment for the time until our home is finished – and then we will move again in a few months when our new home is ready, with all of our items in storage.
It has definitely been a learning experience for our entire family, but from that comes experience that will help us better navigate any similar situations in the future.  When it comes to moving with children, here are some of the main things we’ve learned:
1.  It’s all about togetherness, but loveys don’t hurt either!
 
During the initial stages of moving (both the looking for a new home out of state and the first week or so in the rental unit), our kids craved togetherness.  As we were entering an unknown territory for our three and one year old, they both felt the most comfortable when being close to either my husband or I.  This meant lots of cuddling, snuggling, and slumber parties.
One other tip I’d recommend is very closely replicating their home sleep environment in your new living situation.  We made sure that even if it was in a pack-n-play, our daughter had her exact sheet/pillow/blanket/lovey combination that she’d had at home.  We did the same for my son.  I also had taken an extra blanket and slept with it for each child to have when we arrived at the rental just in case they wanted to sleep on their own.  In the first few weeks, it was ALL about their comfort in the transition.
2.  Realize they’ll NEED what you don’t have, but distract and redirect.
 
On all ends of the process, moving is crazy.  Knowing my kids were going to immediately want toys we’d just packed away for 6-8 months, I planned ahead with distraction toys/games that really keep their attention.  Whenever anyone asked for something we didn’t have, I would acknowledge their need, but then say, “But we do have play-doh/duplo’s/blocks/crayons/magnatiles/paint!”  By having several more open-ended toys available, we were able to get everyone back to happy fairly quickly.  And – really – when your whole house is in boxes everywhere, a few duplo’s on the floor aren’t a big deal at all.
3.  Choose your battles
 
After dealing with the stresses of moving, unpacking, not having most of the things we need out of storage, and just parenting in general – we very clearly knew where to pick our battles and where to raise the white flag.  Young children tend to be very picky about eating, but I also didn’t want ours to eat chicken nuggets every night.  Instead of eating fast food at every meal (because YES, it really does make you feel sick after about a day or so), we splurged on premade lunch meals (my favorites are Half Time from Applegate and Go Picnic meals, but my husband still loves a Lunchable from our era), fruit and fancy (read chocolate chip) muffins for breakfast, and microwave meals for dinner.  It may not be the healthiest choices in the world (yes, that pun was intended), but when there are 1,000 other things you’re doing/worried about, having quick and easy meals are imperative during a move.
Side note: make sure you put aside/leave space for a cooler in your car!  Especially if you’re not moving far enough that requires a flight,  you’ll need it!
4.  When in doubt, just breathe.
 
During a move, everyone is off, stressed, and adjusting.  This isn’t the time to make any big behavioral modifications/remediations with your children.  Nor is it time to expect anything other than the unexpected.  Moods may vary widely with your children (and your spouse/self!) and the best thing you can do is stop, breathe, and take a moment to remember what you’re all going through before you respond.
For anyone considering a move in the future, I feel for you.  It can be – at the same time – a wonderful and horrible thing when you have young children.  But if you hang in there and keep an open mind, it can be a fantastic change for your family.
Have you moved with children?  What were your experiences?
Written by iFamilyKC Mom Ambassador and Online Contributor Jayne

“Pitch Perfect 2”: A Movie Review

Pitch Perfect 2

Release Date: Friday May 15, 2015

Starring: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow

Running Time: 115 Minutes

MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for innuendo and language

Hey ya hey ya hey ya hey ya” Fans who liked the way they worked it in 2012 will no doubt be flocking to the theaters to catch the release of “Pitch Perfect 2”, which hit theaters nationwide on Friday. But do the Bellas rise to the occasion in this sequel or is the tone a little flat?!

o-PITCH-PERFECT-2-facebook

After an embarrassing performance that gets national attention, the Barton Bellas are put on probation leaving them unable to perform their duties as national champions or host auditions to replace the graduating seniors. With the future of their sisterhood at risk, the Barton Bellas set out to regain their position in the world of Acapella and clear their name for good. The seemingly impossible task is made more difficult by their leading competitors, a German acapella group that’s a fan favorite. The girls, led by Becca (Anna Kendrick) and Chloe (Brittany Snow) have to dig deep to find their roots, strengthen their bond, and overcome the monumental task of winning the world championship.

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One of the things that I always worry about with any sequel is whether or not the writers and director will be able to re-create the same things that made the original so enjoyable in the first place. The first “Pitch Perfect” was such a flawless adventure, I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect with the second. Between the comedic timing of Rebel Wilson’s character, “Fat Amy” to the enjoyable performances, I was far from disappointed with this sequel. There were a few aspects of the story that I felt the film could have survived without but, overall, this movie was a winner. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry (possibly), and you’ll definitely want to sing along the whole way through.

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Affording Disney: Summer Travel On A Budget

Happy Mother’s Day, Kansas City!

With summertime rapidly approaching (I’m still not sure how that happened), many families will be looking to book family travel for the upcoming months. Most of us fall into one of two travel categories: Package Deal Travelers or DIY Budget Planners. This post should give you a pretty clear indication of which category I fall into. Package Deal travelers tend to gravitate towards the all inclusive packages that many resorts and top locations and, while these deals can be great (Walt Disney World frequently offers up to 30% off when you book a package deal), you can save big dollars when you take the time to map out vacation travel in advance making that Disney trip affordable on your budget. I’ve compiled a list of ways that we saved BIG on our last trip to Disney World in Orlando.

How To Afford Disney World In 5 Easy Steps

#1 – Keep Your Eyes On The Skies 

I used to be the kind of traveler who was content paying whatever price happened to pop up when I went to book a flight but then I realized that those rates tend to fluctuate…a lot. Before you start planning for your next vacation, I suggest signing up as a rewards or preferred member with your favorite airlines (which shouldn’t cost you anything at all). Many of them will add you to their email distribution list where you’ll get updates on sales for top destinations such as Orlando.

I was able to snag direct flights with Southwest Airlines from Kansas City to Orlando for just over $110 a piece giving us plenty of extra room left over in the budget for other parts of our adventure. My family signed up for their Rapid Rewards Visa Card which gave us extra points on our travel that we plan to apply for future vacations.

#2 – Flexibility Is Key 

One of the best ways to stretch your travel budget is to be flexible in your schedule. Airlines, hotels, and even some attractions offer discounted rates when you book during certain times. When I started planning our travel to Florida, I really tried to avoid feeling like we had to travel on specific days. Rather, I looked at what dates would give us the most bang for our buck and planned our trip accordingly. Smart planning can save you hundreds on your flights and hotels.

DisneyParks

#3 – Be Loyal To Your Park 

There are certain costs (like park tickets, for example) that are absolutely unavoidable and the first few times I planned travel to Disney World, I had convinced myself that I really needed the Park Hopper tickets. While that flexibility can be nice to have (I’ll touch on this in a future post), it comes at a cost that adds up quickly. During our last trip, I opted to purchase single park tickets to one park each day and saved a lot of money overall. What I discovered was that there is often more to do at one location than there are hours in the day so it pays to be loyal to your park. To enjoy all of the wonderful attractions at Magic Kingdom, for example, you would likely need to visit over the course of two days to get it all in.

# 4 – Let Your Accommodations Accommodate You

There are hundreds (that might be an exaggeration, I haven’t counted them all) of hotels to select from when visiting Orlando and the task of selecting the right one can be overwhelming. I think that’s why a lot of families tend to just opt for staying at an official Walt Disney World resort (I’ve stayed at several of them throughout the years myself). It’s a common misunderstanding that you can’t get the same benefits of staying on Disney when you’re not at one of their hotels and I was happy to learn that during my last visit. After careful research, I booked a room for my family at the B Resort Orlando right next to Downtown Disney.

Since the hotel is on Disney Property, we were able to take advantage of some of the same great services (such as free shuttle service to and from the parks and help with purchasing tickets and planning our time at the parks) that we would have gotten had we stayed at one of Disney’s Resorts. The B Resort also has an on-site spa, a zero entry pool, great size family rooms, a place for kids to relax and play, and restaurants so that there was always something enjoyable to do while we were at the hotel. All of this came at a fraction of what we’ve paid during previous trips to Orlando staying at a Disney themed hotel.

#5 – Make Your Meals Count

Planning your meals, snacks, and drinks ahead of time can save your family tons of money on your Disney vacation. We planned to spend money on one character meal per day at the park and eat smart the remainder of our time. Even though some of those meals came at a pretty steep cost (the Disney Junior Character lunch at Hollywood & Vine in Hollywood Studios was $30/person), the memories we created was well worth planning our other meals differently.

One of the great things about going to the Disney parks it that they allow you to bring food on site. We ate a big breakfast at the hotel daily (their buffet was, hands down, one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had) and packed healthy snacks in our backpack to munch on before having a late lunch at the park. Afterwards, we had a light dinner and then came back to the hotel to put our toddler to bed before watching the Epcot fireworks from the balcony in our room.

If there’s one take away I hope you get from today’s post it’s this: With smart planning, planning a Disney trip to Orlando can be affordable. It’s been said that if you watch the pennies the dollars will take care of themselves and that is definitely true when it comes to traveling on a budget. Coming up SOON on the blog, I’ll share more on the Disney parks we visited and the ones that we thought were best for our family.

Until then,

Happy Mother’s Day!


“Hot Pursuit” Movie In Review

Happy Weekend, KC!

With all of this rainy weather we’ve been having lately – we figured it was probably time to clue you in on what’s new at the box office. Earlier this week, our team had the opportunity (with several of our lucky winners!) to catch an early screening of the new film “Hot Pursuit”, which hit theaters nationwide on Friday. I’m sharing my thoughts on the film in this but but would LOVE to hear what you thought of the movie in the comments.

“Hot Pursuit”

Starring: Reese Witherspoon & Sofia Vergara

Run-time: 87 Minutes

Rated: Rated PG-13 for sexual content, violence, language and some drug material

“Hot Pursuit”, the new comedy starring Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara attempts to capitalize on the success of movies like “The Heat” by pairing two talented people together and hoping they carry each other to new comedic heights. Despite the best efforts of the two stars, the predictable plot, poorly developed character and repetitive jokes prevent the movie from being anything other than a mildly entertaining diversion.

The film is about a cop (Witherspoon) who tries to protect the widow of a drug boss (Vergara) as they race through Texas and are chased by criminals and crooked cops alike. Hijinks ensue. The problem is the hijinks that ensue are only sporadically funny. It’s as though the writers had a quota of how many jokes per minute they needed to fit in, but couldn’t think of enough material so the same things get recycled. There are about 4 jokes about Witherspoon’s height and none of them are terribly funny.

In addition to the thin screenplay, there are some serious issues in how the characters are developed. For a movie directed by and starring woman, you would think women would be portrayed more flatteringly, but certain things came off as strangely sexist.  Witherspoon’s character is the only female cop and she is portrayed as an uptight and overly serious. She is also trying to redeem herself from an incident where she tased the local mayor’s son. Using excessive use of police force as a joke is pretty tone deaf given current events, and using a female officer’s name as a synonym for messing up is more uncomfortable than funny.

The script treats Vergara no better. She is portrayed as a bimbo and her looks and Latin stereotypes are unsuccessfully played for laughs. There are some genuinely funny parts to this movie, and Witherspoon in particular is committed and trying very hard, but it is not enough to make up for the deep and serious flaws.

 


Hey, Yo! Come Celebrate RETRO Night With Us! GIVEAWAY Inside!

Good Afternoon, Kansas City!

I’ve got (no joke) “Eye Of The Tiger” playing in the background as I type up this post and I am PUMPED to announce that we’re giving away passes to B&B Theaters RETRO NIGHT! This THURSDAY, May 7th, you’ll have a chance to catch Rocky on the big screen at the B&B Overland Park 16 theater. Want to get in on the action?! Head on over to the iFamilyKC Facebook page for YOUR chance to win!

See you at the movies!

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Put up your dukes for a chance to win a pair of passes to the B&B Theater’s Retro Night presentation of ROCKY this Thursday, May 7th at either 4:00pm or 7:00pm!  Log on to www.bbtheatres.com to find participating theaters!

Five (5) winners will be selected by random drawing and notified by email.


Let’s Chat About Homeschool

Spring is upon us and that means many families are thinking about school plans for next year. A growing number of those families will choose homeschooling. If you are one of them, here are a few tips to get a jump start on your homeschooling year:

  1. Talk with your kids. Explain to them why you’re choosing homeschooling. Depending on the ages of your kids, this will look different. For a younger child, you may be playing together and say, “I’m so excited that we are going to spend more time playing and learning together at home.” With an older child, explain that you are eager for him to have extra time pursuing a passion of his. This will be an ongoing conversation throughout your child’s school years. Be sure to include your kids in the planning process so they can take ownership too. Our family has made posters with everyone’s reasons and we hang them in our school room.
  2. Develop relationships with another homeschool family or co-op. These people will be your mentors and support system. Take the opportunity to learn from someone else’s experiences, ask lots of questions and develop allies.
  3. Visit Mardel in Independence or Overland Park. They have a huge homeschool section and I’ve been known to spend hours reading through books to find just the right thing for my kids. If there’s something you love, make a note of it (I take a photo with my phone) and come back during their homeschool sale.
  4. Visit a homeschool convention, used book sale, information night or other event. The Midwest Parent Educators convention offers a vendor hall and a variety of speakers. Take time to peruse the vendor hall and, if your kids are old enough, have them look with you. Listen to the speakers and absorb all that you can.  Don’t buy anything the first day. Think it over and come back the next day. Something I learned: it’s worth the cost in shipping if you decide to get something after the conference rather than buying a bunch of stuff that you don’t end up using. If you can’t make it to the convention, several libraries and co-ops will host events throughout the spring and summer to help you get started.
  5. Get a planner and start writing everything you do with your kids. Better yet, get them in on the process and discuss it at the end of each day while you write. If they’re old enough, have them do the writing. We’ll talk about why later, just do it!

The most important tip I would offer is to not to sweat the first year. Your homeschool doesn’t need to replicate the classroom. Spend time teaching academics, but focus on developing character and relationships and set the course that you want to take over the next few years with your family. Homeschooling your kids isn’t a sprint, it’s a long distance run and you will be so glad you chose it.