Monday, March 25, 2013

Talk To Your Baby And Build Their Language And Literacy Competency

As crazy as it may sound, developing children's literacy skills actually begins during pregnancy. Yes, I'm serious. Many researchers believe that the first step in language development begins when mothers talk to their babies while they're still in their bellies. Most also believe that babies get used to the sound of their mother's voice and that when a baby is born, that familiarity lends itself to quicker recognition and a fast bond after birth. 

Naturally, after a baby is born it is very helpful to them for their parents to continue speaking, not only around them, but TO them as well. Babies will start to recognize sounds and get to know gestures and facial expressions. Babies learn so much from the sights and sounds around them and will in time begin to try to imitate the sounds their parents make. This is all part of the process of babies figuring out how we, as humans, communicate with each other.  They will start to recognize how we relay information to each other in narrative form and begin to learn how to do that themselves.

You'll start to see a child's story-telling skills emerge in their early speech/toddler days when they launch into those long, animated baby monologues. You can't help but listen intently to these stories they tell and do your best to follow along because the child is so excited in relaying the details to us. It is very much like watching a soap opera on the Spanish channel. If you watch it long enough, you begin to follow the story, even if you don't understand a word of it. That is the power of the narrative and the baby has learned that skill from watching us and listening to us. 

Parents should use every opportunity throughout the day to talk to their baby about anything and everything. It's a great way to build up the babies' early literacy foundation. When washing the dishes or making dinner or cleaning up, parents can explain the tasks they are doing to their baby. Babies will begin to hear familiar words if the parents are in the habit of doing this frequently. And I'm not talking about "goo-goo-gah-gah" here. Actually speak real words to your you would to any other person. "Baby talk" like that drives me crazy. 

Experts suggest that parents speak properly to their children so that the child can have the most possible exposure to the correct sound of words. For example, if a child has their own "baby word" for banana, and the parent constantly uses that "baby word" back to the child, they are only reinforcing the incorrect pronunciation.

Even if a parent sometimes uses their babies' pronunciations of words (and seriously sometimes it's so darn cute, you can't help yourself!), the important point is that the child is being talked to frequently throughout their day. It is an essential building block of language, and therefore literacy, development.


Usborne Books and More (of which I am newly and Independent Consultant) has so many wonderful books for babies!  

Please take some time to check out my site and also LIKE my Usborne page on Facebook - I'll be sharing literacy tips, book recommendations, sales, specials and giveaways!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

MYO: Orange Vinegar Cleaner

A couple weeks ago, a friend on Facebook (I don't remember who) posted a picture of a mason jar full of orange peels (I don't remember from where) with instructions on how to make Homemade Orange Vinegar Cleaner. 

Just the day before a friend (I actually remember who) had given me a gigantic mason jar that I had high hopes of doing something cool with. We also had a huge bag of oranges in the refrigerator, so I knew that Homemade Orange Vinegar Cleaner and I were meant to be. 

The instructions were simple: 1) Place orange peels in a jar. 2) Fill jar with white vinegar. 3) Put lid on jar. 4) Let jar sit for 20 days. 5) Pour liquid into bottle. 6) Clean with it. 

So...that's just what I did. 

 I'm no stranger to cleaning with vinegar. I've been using it for years for a variety of things (Mental Note: Write post about the many uses of vinegar.). But this, adding orange peels to vinegar, was completely new to me.

20 days later I am pleased to report that my Homemade Orange Vinegar Cleaner is marvelous. It smells fantastic and works really, really well. I'm loving it!

We had a bunch of grapefruits that had been hanging out in the fridge for longer than I care to admit, so after I bottled my cleaner, I cleaned out my giant mason jar, filled it with grapefruit peels and vinegar and it's sitting on top of my kitchen cabinets waiting for it's day to come (which is April 11th, in case I forget).

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Honey Bunches of Oats Tropical Blends Review + Giveaway

My family is comprised of a bunch of cereal killers. As quickly as cereal comes in to this house, it is gone. Once a new box of cereal is opened, it doesn't stand a chance for more than 48 hours. 

Who can blame us? Cereal is the mother of all quick and easy hunger solutions, be it 7 o'clock in the morning or 7 o'clock at night...or any time before, between or after. 

Seriously? Who doesn't love cereal?

I'm pleased to be able to introduce you to the newest member of the Honey Bunches of Oats Family, Tropical Blends:

Honey Bunches of Oats Tropical Blends Cereal is truly a unique taste bud experience with crispy mango flavored flakes, real coconut shavings and coconut flavored granola clusters. It has 10g of whole grain per serving and 9 essential vitamins and minerals, including 60% daily value of iron. 

Here's the best part about this cereal: Most kids aren't gaga over coconut and mango (my own included) which means.......more for Mom!

I'd love for you to try New Honey Bunches of Oats Tropical Blends too! I'm giving away (2) coupons each for a FREE box of any Honey Bunches of Oats Cereal! Simply leave me a comment and tell me what your all-time favorite cereal is and you'll be entered to win! Be sure to include your email address so that I can contact you if you win.(Ends March 19th at noon)


**I was provided with a free box of Honey Bunches of Oats Tropical Blends Cereal in order to review it. No monetary exchange took place. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.**

Friday, March 8, 2013

Purex Facebook Exclusive

LIKE PUREX ON FACEBOOK and sign up for access to special savings PLUS get entered to win a FREE washer & dryer from Purex & Whirlpool!

Shop special savings on appliances from Whirlpool Corporation. Sign up between
March 4 - March 29, 2013 for access to exclusive promotions and special
appliance deals.

Whirlpool Corporation is the world's leading manufacturer of major household brands including Whirlpool®, KitchenAid®, Maytag®,
Jenn-Air®, Amana® and Gladiator Garageworks®.

PLUS everyone who signs up will be entered for a chance to win a free washer & dryer with pedestals!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Dry Idea Advanced Dry Review + Giveaway

The secret to life? Never let them see you sweat. With New Dry Idea AdvancedDry brand antiperspirant and deodorant, they never will. Dry Idea AdvancedDry offers long-lasting odor protection for up to 72 hours and Pulse Activated Wetness Protection to keep you dry and feeling clean and confident all day long. And it's formulated with Vitamin E for silky smooth application.

Dry Idea provided me with a full size Fresh scented roll-on antiperspirant & deodorant to try and review. I'm always excited to try out a new product (especially when it's free!), but I have to be honest, I wasn't crazy about using a new deodorant. I really liked the deodorant I was already much so that it's the same brand I've been using since high school AND I'd never used a roll-on deodorant before. I guess my antiperspirant attitude was "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Truthfully, it never occurred to me to even try another brand or even another type of antiperspirant & deodorant. 

I figured my Dry Idea would arrive, I'd give it a try and use it for a day or two, write up an honest review of what I thought about it and then go right back to using the deodorant I've been using for years and years. This has not been the case. To my surprise, I really, REALLY like Dry Idea AdvancedDry. I loved how easy it went on, how fast drying it was and I really liked the Fresh scent. I also liked that it didn't leave unwanted gunky residue on me or my clothes. It's amazing how well you think a product works (my old stand-by deodorant) until you try something new. 

I'm so glad I was able to try Dry Idea and I'd love to provide you with an opportunity to try it too! 

I'm giving away (2) coupons for FREE Dry Idea AdvancedDry Antiperspirant & Deodorants...simply leave a comment below to be entered to win! (Ends 3/11.) 


Thursday, February 28, 2013

Premam Prenatal Vitamin Drink Mix Review

Prenatal vitamins, while crucial to a pregnancy, are less than desirable for a number of reasons. The worst of these is that they are twelve times the size of any pill you will ever take in your life, making them difficult, or for some, impossible to swallow. They can cause or contribute to nausea as well as constipation.

Say good-bye to those nasty horse pills and hello to Premama!

Premama Prenatal Vitamin Drink Mix is 100% natural, only 6 calories, easy to mix, easy to digest,  flavorless,contains DHA and all of the vitamins and nutrients essential to a healthy Premama and her unborn child. Premama can be mixed with just about any drink (though it's not recommended for use in plain water, which is a bummer, carbonated drinks or warm beverages) and is virtually undetectable to your taste buds.

I was sent several boxes of Premama to share and review the product. We tried Premama in orange juice, iced tea, Crystal Light and Fruit Punch. We all agreed that we either could not taste or did not mind the taste of these drinks with Premama added to them.

You can learn all about Premama on their website here. Be sure to like Premama on Facebook too!


Get 15% off your purchase at when you use promotion code: Sweepstakes2013

I was sent Premama as part of a promotional partnership between Premama and MomSelect in exchange for reviewing and sharing the products. No monetary exchange took place and any and all opinions are my own.**

Monday, February 25, 2013

**The Original Harlem Globetrotters Ticket Giveaway**

The Original Harlem Globetrotters are coming to the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia for two games, Friday March 8th at 7PM and Saturday, March 9th at 1PM!

We were treated to our first Harlem Globetrotters experience over the summer and our family absolutely loved the show and had an amazing time!

Known as innovators of the game of basketball for decades, the world famous Harlem Globetrotters are once again introducing something unparalleled in the history of sports and family entertainment, when they visit the Wells Fargo Center.

For the first time ever, fans will decide the rules for the game that could affect the final outcome. Possible rule changes could include playing with two basketballs at once or getting double the points for each basket made. 

***Special Discount***

Guess what? Thanks to the good folks at the Wells Fargo Center, I have a 4-pack of ticket vouchers to giveaway! They are for the 1PM game on Saturday, March 9th. You will need to turn the vouchers in at the box office for actual tickets. 

Here's 3 easy ways to win:  (You can do all 3 for 3 chances to win!)

1) Leave a comment on this post telling me about the first time you saw The Original Harlem Globetrotters. If you've never seen them, leave a comment telling me why you want to!

2) Subscribe to my blog! Then leave a comment telling me you've done so.  

3) Share this post on your Facebook page and leave a comment to let me know you did.  

 Contest ends Sunday, March 3rd at noon. Winner will be notified by email and has 24 hours to respond or they forfeit their prize. Please be sure to include your email address in your comment so that I can contact you if you win. Good luck!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

MYO: Playdough

If you've never made homemade playdough with your kids, you're missing out on a good time. You can use your friend Google to find one of a million recipes to do so. The no cook methods are the easiest. We've tried several recipes and this one is my absolute favorite. It's super easy, you can your kids can whip up a batch in a few minutes and it will provide hours of entertainment. It also smells divine and is the perfect dough consistency. 

Here's what you need: 

1 cup of flour
1/2 cup of salt
2 tablespoons cream of tartar
1 or 2 packets of Kool-Aid drink mic
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil 
1 cup boiling water

Here's what you do:

Combine all of your dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.  Next add the oil and boiling water and mix it with a spoon until it gets nice and firm. Once the dough cools down (it only takes a few minutes), you can dig in and mix it with your hands. If it comes out feeling a little too sticky, you can roll it out on wax paper and add a little more flour.

That's it! Super easy and so much fun!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Premama Prenatal Vitamin Giveaway

My health was never so important to me as it was when I was a "pre-Mama". I think that's the case for most expectant mothers. Our first concern is the health of our unborn child and we're willing to do anything we can to ensure our babies get everything they need...including choking down a gigantic prenatal vitamin every day. 

Now there's a better option. Prenatal vitamins that you can drink. Allow me to introduce you to Premama, a prenatal vitamin drink mix:

Premama is a prenatal vitamin powder drink mix with DHA. It is doctor recommended, 100% natural, is gluten-free, lactate-free, BPA free and contains all the nutrients that you and your growing baby need. You can learn more about Premama here

Want to try it? Get 15% off your purchase at when you use promotion code: Sweepstakes2013

Thanks to the Mama's at Premama and MomSelect, I have a 30 day supply to giveaway ($25 value!) Simply leave a comment on this post to be entered to win. Ends 2/27. 

Be sure to LIKE Premama on Facebook!  

How To Make Oreo Cookie Balls

These Oreo Cookie Balls are de.lic.ious. and so easy to make! 

Here's what you need:

(1) package of Oreo Cookies (knock off brand works too)

(1) package of Cream Cheese (8 oz.), softened

(1) Block Melting Chocolate (I use Vanilla or Chocolate Almond Bark) 

Here's what you do:

1) Crush the cookies up. I dump them in a gallon Ziploc bag, seal it and then crush them - cuts down on mess. Then dump the bag of crumbled cookies into a mixing bowl and add a package of softened cream cheese. Mix to combine completely.

2) Roll the mixture into small balls and place them on a cookie sheet covered with wax paper. Pop the cookie sheet in the freezer to firm them up for 10-15 minutes. This will help them to stay together when you plop them in the melted chocolate.

3) Melt chocolate according to directions on package. Dip cookie balls in chocolate and place on cookie sheet covered with wax paper. You can top your balls with additional crushed cookies or jimmies (aka sprinkles). Refrigerate and enjoy!