Friday Faves: Melissa and Doug

Have you ever found a company that just can do no wrong? You love everything they make? That’s how we feel about Melissa and Doug! If you don’t know  about this company and the amazing products they make, you need to!

Melissa and Doug are actually a married couple, they’ve been married over 30 years! And together they have six children.  They founded the toy company with one mission:
To provide a launch pad to ignite imagination and a sense of wonder in all children so they can discover themselves, their passions, and their purpose.

This is exactly what our kiddos need! We are all about learning and letting them discover and grown on their own.  We love these toys so much because not only do they allow that, but they are made with an amazingly high quality.  We’ve found that our kiddos spend the most time with these toys just because they love them so much! Here are some of our favorites!

Puzzles:

Melissa and Doug make so many kinds of puzzles!! We love them all, they grow with our kids.  From wooden puzzles with knobs, to just big pieces, to smaller grips that make noise, to mix and match there are so many stages of development that these puzzles span!

Pretend Play:

Melissa and Doug have AMAZING wooden play food!  They come in themed sets like this cupcake set that Logan has, and there are so many different ways to play with them.  They’re not only adorable,  they’re perfect for learning.

Games:
Madeline hasn’t started playing with them yet, but we have mix and match wooden animals as well as a fishing game by Melissa and Doug! These are great ways to learn while again having fun! We can’t wait to show her and see her develop new skills.

Learning:
One of the things we included in our Easter Egg Hunt this year were letter magnets by Melissa and Doug.  We wanted to be able to have the kids learn letters in a variety of different ways, and magnets are a great one.  They will grow with our children for a while, after recognition they will grow to reading and spelling and sight words! We love that we know they will last for a long time!

Dress Up:
Something our kids love is playing dress up. Who says costumes are just for Halloween?! Melissa & Doug offer a variety of dress up costumes such doctor, firefighter, police officer, chef, the list goes on! Each costume features jackets and tools to match the occupation – so much fun!

Our kids have and use so many of their toys that we had a tough time narrowing it down! Are you as big a fan of Melissa and Doug as we are? We want to know your and your kiddos favorites!

 

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Family Photoshoots: Why They’re Important and How to Ensure Success

If there’s one area that we absolutely think you should be spending money on (and don’t forget, we are money saving mamas), it’s professional family photoshoots.  We aim to try to get them done every six months, sometimes it’s more, sometimes it’s less, but we really try.   How many times a day even do you say “the kids grow up so fast” (I mean FYM Sherrie said it hours after Logan was born!). It’s so important to capture them at each stage! They’re also the gift that keeps on giving,  Whenever we get photos taken, we love to get prints made and make DIY gifts for aunts, uncles, grandparents and great grandparents, and of course our family yearbooks!

We recently realized that since we all got married in 2014, we don’t have any professional photos of the four of us together, let alone our kids! To be honest, I don’t even think we have a selfie! So, we knew we had to change that.   We started looking for a photographer that does mini sessions, they are typically shorter photoshoots and much cheaper than paying for a full session. They are perfect for kids, because as you know they tend to have short attention spans. We came across Samantha Martens Photography. She was affordable, provides you with all the digital images (trust us, that’s pretty unheard of) but on top of that she was on point! She was extremely accommodating, able to work with our crazies (the twin husbands and all the children!) and gave us pointers like fix your necklace, lift your chin, move your hair- the things you really need! We’re pretty biased, but we think they turned out amazing! We are already booking our next family photoshoots together for the Fall!

Family Photoshoots Matt and Sherrie

Photo Credit: Samantha Martens Photography

Photo Credit: Samantha Martens Photography

Photo Credit: Samantha Martens Photography

Photo Credit: Samantha Martens Photography

  Want to ensure your family photoshoots go off without a hitch? Follow this 5 steps.

Day and Time: Pick a day and time you know you can make.  We chose a Monday at 6pm, not too late so that the kids wouldn’t be too tired, but not too early that they would be all wound up with energy. We chose a park with plenty of open space for the kids to be kids.  And, not too crowded of a location.

Outfits: If you’re not into matchy matchy, try to coordinate.  We had chatted before and knew we were both thinking blue, a little extra check to make sure we were thinking the same family of shades, and without even seeing what each other was wearing, we all coordinated perfectly.  Not too matchy, but just right.

Family Photoshoots

Photo Credit: Samantha Martens Photography

Have Help: Sherrie asked Grandma Cathy (her mom) to come a long and it was the best idea ever! Not only do we just love spending time with Grandma Cathy, but she was so helpful.  Just having an extra set of hands to hand off a baby too, or to keep kids who aren’t in a photo entertained was a god send.  If you can, bring an extra person to help! If nothing else, you’ll be less stressed, stress shows in photos!

Distract the Kiddos: You may never know it, but the only way we got this good picture of all three of the kiddos was to shake a mickey mouse rattle, call Madeline’s name, and shake the car keys for Logan.  Distractions help.  Kids are like the dog in Up, one thing has them saying “Squirrel” and running in the other direction.  If you can control those distractions, a great photographer can grab the shot.

Photo Credit: Samantha Martens Photography

Photo Credit: Samantha Martens Photography

Have Fun: Yes, getting these photos is important, but you want to capture real life, so don’t forget to be silly and have fun with it! Matt and Mike are always goofy together, and sure enough we got  the typical “prom pose” photos of the two of them.  When it seemed like we were a little too stuffy, Sam told us to “grab each others butts” and so we were like “wait what?” but then we did, and this photo is just pure joy and silliness all in one.  Above all, be present in the moment and enjoy it!

Photo Credit: Samantha Martens Photography

Photo Credit: Samantha Martens Photography

Photo Credit: Samantha Martens Photography

Photo Credit: Samantha Martens Photography

Having family photos taken soon? We would love to see them! Share them below or on our Facebook page!

 

 

5 Tips to Ensure Your Family Photoshoots are Successful!”</div>
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ChooMee Sipn

Friday Faves: ChooMee

Right around Madeline’s first birthday we started looking for a solution for her to feed herself.  We have followed a modified baby led weaning approach to introducing her to table food, but she’s at a point where she needs to learn to use utensils.  Why? Because she is little miss independent, and spoon feeding her is no longer an option! That being said, yogurt is one of her favorite foods, and the only way she will eat veggies is in a pouch.  So, without a solution, we’re left with a really messy kid!

That’s when I discovered the company ChooMee, and I have fallen in love!!! They make two different products, and we love them both for different reasons.

The first are these silicone spoons.  They’re small, easy to hold, and malleable, so they’re perfect for little hands who don’t understand why spoons are curved with a top and bottom.  They have a cutout on the spoon part,  so when dipped, they pick up the food you’re trying to eat.  This makes it easy for toddlers to learn, we found it works best with a thicker liquid, so yogurt was perfect! It absolutely helped Madeline learn how to use utensils and she loved that she was doing it herself.

ChooMee Spoon ChooMee Spoon with ToddlerChooMee Spoon 

Then I discovered these pouch tops! They are a life changing invention!

ChooMee Sipn

Essentially what you do is put this on top of the existing pouch spout.  What it does is make it so that you have to suck on it for the food to come out! This helps avoid spills and not squeezing the pouch onto the floor (Madeline’s favorite activity) and helps your child learn to use a straw (same sucking motion).  They have made giving Madeline a pouch wonderful and worry free, and she loves the independence of eating by herself!

ChooMee Pouch Top ChooMee Sipn Pouch Top

We got our Choomee products on Amazon and in true prime fashion, they were here in two days! We love them, and while we no longer use the spoons, we don’t go anywhere without the pouch top!

We love ChooMee’s Sip ‘n Spouts!”</div>
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mabels labels home

Products We Love: Mabel’s Labels + Giveaway!

**The product we received for this blog post was in exchange for our honest review. All of the opinions stated here are entirely our own.**

If you’ve been following along for a while, you will know that we love Mabel’s Labels!  We have loved using their clothing labels for our little ones for years and we were so excited to be able to try out some of their other products from their Safety Products & Home Organization Labels line! The kids’ safety products help ensure your child’s allergies, special needs and important information is always close at hand and their custom household labels are ideal for helping families stay organized and can be used for everything including jars, cans, bins and more!

Safety

When it comes to your child’s safety, no mother messes around! That is why we jumped on the opportunity to try the Kids Safety ID Bracelets.  Our kids are crazy toddlers, they have their own ideas of where they should be and why…and my goodness- they are so fast!  These durable, disposable ID bracelets are perfect for trips to museums, theme parks, field trips, the list goes on! You can personalize them with names and numbers. These bracelets contain your contact information to help lessen the panic of being separated in a crowd.  If you want that extra layer of privacy, the bracelets can be attached around belt loops or under socks.

The added bonus of purchasing this product? Mabel’s Labels donates a portion of all sales of this product to Autism Speaks, an organization that promotes research and awareness about autism.

We tested these bracelets out during a family trip to the NYS museum. Logan thought it was so cool and we felt peace of mind knowing if we ever were to get separated because he sprinted off, our information was on him. This is most helpful because Logan is still too young to memorize our phone numbers.

Household

Is your home in need of an organization makeover? Then Mabel’s Labels has the products for you!  FYM Emily loves the Write Away! Labels for Home. Theses labels are self-laminating, writable labels and are the perfect label for everything around your house. Simply use a permanent marker, write, seal, stick and you are good to go! Whether you’re labeling bins,  jars, cans – these durable labels are guaranteed to meet all your needs!

Emily uses them to label her Essential Oil bottles, they’re great because they never peel off or wipe off – they’re just perfect!

Are you like us and store your stuff in totes and bins? Ever find yourself having to open each bin to see what is inside? Well, that is something Sherrie finds herself doing a lot! So she tried out their custom Storage Bin Labels!  These labels are great because you get to customize them with text and different styles! They are durable enough for storage totes and containers  and are guaranteed to last anywhere in the home – from basement to garage to attic.

Sherrie customized them with baby/toddler clothing sizes, as well as all the seasons/holidays for her bins of decor. Finding stuff in her basement is a breeze now, especially the kids clothing.  As Finn moves up in sizes, it is so much easier to stay organized and put his outgrown clothing back in the labeled bin and grab his new size. She also love how organized it makes her basement look!

mabels labels home mabels labels home mabels labels home

Giveaway!

So we love Mabel’s Labels so much and we know you will too! They have generously allowed us to giveaway one of their products to one of our lucky readers! We chose to giveaway the Baby Label Pack! The Baby Label Pack is the perfect bundle of customized waterproof labels and tags designed especially for all of your little one’s needs. From diaper bags to bottles to onesies – this pack is perfect for any type of mom! The Baby Label pack includes:

15 Personalized Name Stickers
16 Mini Custom Name Stickers
2 Custom Shoe Stickers (1 pair)
21 Tag Mates™ Stick On Clothing Labels
2 Personalized Bag Tags
Your choice of text, style and font!

To enter this AMAZING giveaway* all you have to do is comment below with how many kids you have!  For an optional, additional entry subscribe to our blog! In the upper right hand corner you will find the form, simply fill it out and check your email to complete the subscription process! Don’t worry – we won’t spam your emails. You will be signing up for our monthly newsletter with links to all our posts as well as future content and giveaways!

*Official Sweepstakes Rules & Regulations*
No purchase necessary.  Sweepstakes open to legal residents of the United States and must be at least 18 years of age. Contest begins August 7th and the deadline to enter is Thursday, August 10th at 8:00 PM EST.  Winner of the prize will receive a code to order (1) Baby Label Pack (retail value of $26.95) described above and cannot be exchanged for cash value. Winner will be selected at random draw and the number of eligible entries received determine the odds of winning.  Winner will be announced Friday, August, 11th at 12:00 PM EST on our social media pages; Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Good Luck!!!

 

 

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Organizing Essential Oils

Organizing Essential Oils!

You’ve heard us mention before how much we love Essential Oils! Well, we quickly discovered that when you have a lot of the oils and accessories, you need a way to organize and store them or it can get out of hand quickly!  FYM Emily found a convenient, easy, and affordable way to store hers and it utilizes another one of our favorite companies- Thirty One Gifts!

Meet the Glamour Case- this is a cute, compact case that’s lined in plastic. It’s actually made for carrying makeup- but it’s the perfect height for bottles of essential oils!  I liked to organize alphabetically so that it’s easier to find! I have found that one of the things I need at this point is labels for the tops of my bottles!

I started with my blends first because I have less of them! And put them in alphabetical order, but I quickly found I needed dividers! So I cut out the back of the black boxes that Edens Garden oils come in and voila! Instant divider.

Once the blends were in- I put in my single oils, again, alphabetically.  And then of course- another divider.

What I found at this point was I didn’t have enough oils! But it allowed me to have extra space for my glass roller bottles and 2 oz spray bottles. I ordered these from Amazon- they’re great for blending and making the things you need. They came with dividers and fit perfectly in the case.

That filled the case! And it left a little room for me to add my oil journal- this is where I keep track of the blends and diffuser recipes that I love.  On top of that I put on my Mabel’s Labels. If you thought that Mabel’s Labels was just for kids- you need to think again! They sent us these great home labels called Write Away. I am obsessed! They have two layers- the label and a white plastic. You use a sharpie (that I keep in my case) to write on the label. Then peel both and place on your roller. The white plastic smoothed the label so that there are no air bubbles, then peels off and leaves the perfect stick! I love it! I’ve tried labels that are just sharpie on the bottle, cricut vinyls, and nothing stands up like these! They are now my go to!

Mabels Labels Write Off Labels

Anytime I I need a new blend or a refill, it’s easy to make- I just pull out my handy case and I’m good to go!

Organizing Your Essential Oils!”</div>
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Money Saving Mamas: Checkout 51

Ready for more ways to save money?! This is another rebate app that we love, but can be slower to earn money from. It is called Checkout 51. It is an app for your phone that gives you a certain amount of money for purchasing specific things. Similar to the other apps we have shared, you need to upload a photo of your receipt and then select the items you are claiming, however you do not need to scan the bar codes of the specific items like the other apps.

Once the receipt is processed, it deposits that amount into your account, when you hit $20 you can request a payout via check or PayPal! So while this does take a little longer than some of the others,  it is still an easy way to have a forced savings.  Particularly if you’re using the funds you have from couponing for something like a college savings, or a vacation, you can watch this accumulate.

Unlike some of the other apps that only pay you for one of a certain item, Checkout 51 allows you to claim multiples (with a limit that varies per item).  There are also bonuses for purchasing specific items or multiples that let you get more savings!

Important to note about this app is that the offers change on Wednesdays, which is different than most sales cycles.  So if you’re counting on it in your weekly match-ups, just be sure to shop and upload your receipt before the offers change! They are also limited and tend to be claimed fairly quickly, so if it’s a good deal, don’t wait to claim!

We like this as an added bonus for saving money.  So far FYM Emily has earned $83.55 and FYM Sherrie has earned $92.25.  Do you use Checkout 51? How much have you saved?

Money Saving Mamas: SavingStar

Another one of our favorite money saving coupon apps is SavingStar! This is another app that gives you cash back for buying specific items. This app tends to sync up with the Sunday coupons every week, so it’s a good way to get some freebies!

First things first, you need to download the app, we’ve connected our bank accounts to it so we can get paid cash directly.  You also need to connect your store cards to the app as that is how it verifies your purchases.  This is a little different from apps like Ibotta, but it means that you don’t have to take the extra step of uploading receipts! The app is available for a wide variety of stores and will show you what’s available near you using your zip code.

Then, you choose the rebates you want, sometimes it’s cash for a specific item, and sometimes it’s a larger amount of cash for spending a certain threshold.  For those types of rebates, you can also participate in learning more about the product to get a “boost” towards your spending – that’s easy, free money!

When you purchase the items, or reach the threshold of particular items, you are automatically credited with the rebate amount.  Once you reach $5, you can cash out in the form of gift cards, Paypal, or even directly into your bank account! It’s an easy was to earn cash back!

Unlike some of the other apps we’ve shared with you, SavingStar can also work from a desktop, so if you don’t like to download apps to your phone- never fear! You can still use this one!  It all adds up, since she started using it about two years ago FYM Emily has saved $311.45 and FYM Sherrie has saved over $100!

What are you waiting for? Get started here!

 

 

 

Essential Oil Soft Scrub

Essential Oils: DIY Soft Scrub

I have really enjoyed using more essential oils in our cleaning products! One place that I hate using chemicals in particular is in our bathroom.  Every time I clean it, I feel like I’m just inhaling fume after fume.  I specifically do it while Madeline is asleep so I can shut her door!  and even after all that, it never seems to be that much cleaner!

That’s when I discovered a soft scrub recipe using essential oils on Pinterest.  I never have bought soft scrub before, I always used a cleaner like Scrubbing Bubbles.  I was excited to give it a try!  And I was able to make it with ingredients I had in my house!

Here’s what you’ll need: 

3/4 cup baking soda

1/4 cup castille soap (I use Dr. Bronner’s and LOVE it!)

1 Tablespoon Water

8 drops Lemon Essential Oil 

5 drops Lime Essential Oil 

5 drops Cleaning Blend Essential Oil

First you mix the baking soda and castille soap together with a wire whisk or a fork, make sure there are no clumps! Then add in the water and mix.  After that, add your oils (you can change the combination, but don’t lose the citrus!) Mix thoroughly and you’re ready to go! If you don’t use it all in one sitting, you can keep it in an airtight container out of the sunlight.

Essential Oil Soft Scrub

I just added globs to the places I needed to clean; tile, bathtub, toilet boil, bathroom sink.  Using a scrubber sponge and water it took no time to scrub down everything! I even used it with my regular toilet brush in the toilet instead of toilet bowl cleaner!  I was amazed and how stains that I felt like had been there since we moved in came off with ease!  Warning- the state of my bathroom was gross before cleaning, I’m almost embarrassed to post them!

Essential Oil Soft Scrub

This is a staple in our cleaning routine now, I make it weekly, so much faster, more efficient, and safe to use!

 

 

Money Saving Mamas: Ebates

If you’re an online shopper (which if you’re a mom, let’s face it, online shopping is life) and you’re not using Ebates then we’re about to change your life!

We do a lot of online shopping! Being a mom is exhausting and you may not have a lot of free time to be out shopping. So online shopping whether during a late night feeding or waiting for your kid at the bus stop is a life saver. Ebates is a great way to make those online deals just a little bit sweeter by paying you cash back, literally cold hard cash, for shopping through their links!

Here’s how it works:
Log on and create an Ebates account. Once you do that you can can activate cash back two ways. The first option is you can go to directly to the site,  search for the store you’re shopping at and click through from Ebates. The second option is you can install the Ebates cash back button for your internet browser. We both like the second option because what can happen is that you forget to click the links through Ebates first.  So anytime you visit a site eligible for Ebates cash back it will create a pop up that asks if you want to activate your cash back – super easy!

We also recommend checking out their mobile app. They do promos like Mobile Mondays! On Mondays (and other holidays) by shopping through the app instead of the computer links, some stores will offer higher percentages of cash back. This is awesome! Particularly during the holidays when it happens all the time.

You can also earn bonuses for referring friends- they get money and so do you! It’s a win win all around.

This has totally changed the way we online shop. To be honest, we get more than a little sad when we see 0% cash back on a store. 😭! To date, after almost two years Emily has made $426.24 and Sherrie has made $258.55! Are you an Ebates user? If not, you will be now! Ready to get started? Join us here or here!

Get Paid to Shop with Ebates!”</div>
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Mommy Down Time: Book Clubs

One thing both of us here at Forever Young Moms love to do is read! But it’s increasingly hard to find or make the time to read for fun. We love the idea of book clubs for moms because it forces you to make the time and you are exposed to new books you may not have tried before!

FYM Emily introduced Sherrie to a Mommies Only Book Club on Facebook.  This is the best of both worlds, not only are you getting to read a new book, but you can discuss the book over a weekend, on your own time, and you don’t have to clean your house to host others!

While I get frustrated with book clubs because I find myself reading books I didn’t want to read, it’s also good because it’s an eye opener.  I recently discovered the author Jodi Piccolut.  I had heard great things but never really tried her books until I read two of them for a book club.  Turns out, I really like her style of writing and the stories she creates- and now I have so many more choices to read!

Books clubs are a great way to have something for yourself.  As moms, we are always go, go, go, putting everyone’s needs before our own,  but self care is extremely important.  That’s why we love book clubs, it helps to keep some time just for you, where you can relax and escape your reality for a little while.  Even if you don’t love the book, it’s nice to just get away.  🙂

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