5 Reasons to try Hello Fresh

This week I decided to give Hello Fresh a shot! One of my coworkers has been using the meal service for several weeks now and highly recommended it. For those that don’t know Hello Fresh is a meal subscription service. Each week a box of fresh ingredients and recipe cards show up on your door step. All you need to do is follow the super simple instructions and in usually 30 minutes or less you have a very tasty meal. I can’t tell you how nice it was not going to the grocery store this week!!!

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Here are my top 5 reasons why you need to give Hello Fresh a try right now!

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All the ingredients are pre measured. I always hate when I’m trying new recipes and I need a teaspoon for like 5 different things. I end up spending so much money on all the ingredients that I only need a small pinch of and then leaving them go to waste. The nutrition info is also spelled out completely! For those that are counting calories it is super easy to track!

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The recipe cards are SO simple to follow. There are pictures and detailed instructions for every single step! I also loved that there is a handy ruler on the side of each card. So when a recipe says to cut 1/4 inch rounds, you can easily cut 1/4 inch rounds.

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Who wants to go to the grocery store? Not me. I loved taking the week off from a big grocery store trip.

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The Hello Fresh meals may be simple to make, but they will definitely help you step up your creativity game. I’m guilty of making the same thing over and over…. Not with Hello Fresh!  The meals that were sent to us were all things I had never made before.

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Penne Arrabbiate with Pancetta? Something I would never think to make — especially on a weeknight!

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{ Crispy Chicken Milanese }

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You can save $40! Use my promo code and your first box is $40 off. If you choose the classic box with 3 meals for 2 people it will be $29 out the door. That is a STEAL for fresh ingredients for 3 meals sent right to your doorstep! You can’t even buy Big Mac meals for 2 for that price!

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Give it a try and let me know what you think!!

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Not to toot my own horn, but how awesome do these look?

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Just Between Friends Shopping Take 2

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In the Fall I had the pleasure of shopping at the Just Between Friends Detroit/Madison Heights sale and had such a great time! You can read all about my trip here. When they contacted me to shop again at their Spring sale I jumped at the chance!

** I was provided compensation to shop and share my experiences. All opinions are my own!

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For those that don’t know Just Between Friends is a consignment style mom to mom sale. Items are organized by size and priced 50-90% below retail. I love that there are no crazy lines and no sorting to find the size you are looking for. Best part? I was able to be in and out in just about 30 minutes! I can’t say that for a normal mom to mom sale! Usually I spend so much time hunting for the tables that have my size I really waste a lot of time!

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Not only are there racks of name brand clothes, but there are also toys, gently used books, strollers, maternity clothes, and other baby items!

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The rock & play sleeper was a must have when the babes were small and there were 3 there tonight at a STEAL of a price!

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I also found some great deals on strollers!

 

Oh, and there was a HUGE selection of shoes! I couldn’t believe how great of shape they were all in!

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I mean how cute are these flannel Toms?!

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The sale starts tomorrow 4/7/16 and here are the details:

Thursday, April 7th

9:00am-7:00pm $3.00 Admission benefits HAVEN in Oakland County

Friday,April 8th

9:00am-3:00pm FREE ADMISSION

Saturday,April 9th

830am-1pm Volunteer Pre-sale on 50% off sale, please have volunteer pass to enter, must have worked a 4 hour shift to receive this pass.

9:00am to 1:00pm – 50% OFF SALE on items without a star.(Some items left at full price at the request of the consignor) Consignors choice to discount their items
FREE admission

**They accept Ca$h,Amx,Discover,MC,Visa

Now, onto my FINDS! I tried to get stuff for both the babes and ended up with a pretty even split! I spent a grand total of $53!
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First let me start by saying that as the babes get older I find it harder and harder to buy second hand clothes. Bigger kids are harder on their clothes and they just aren’t as nice as the little sizes. Tonight I found some LIKE NEW stuff!
For Ari:
{Tucker & Tate plaid shirt, Carters Camo shirt, Cherokee lightweight hoodie, 2 pairs of Carters pants in amazing condition, a Gap Star Wars tee, and Keen sandals}

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For Giada:

{4 Cherokee brand dresses, a Gymboree dress, a pair of Keen sandals, an Old Navy denim flutter top, and two pairs of fun summer shorts}

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I think this one is my favorite with the tulle peeking out the bottom. It’s going to look adorable on her in the summer!

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I bought this one in a size 4 and I think it will be perfect for Fall. It has little foxes on it!

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There you have it. 15 pieces of clothing + 2 pairs of shoes for $53. …. and it only took my 30 minutes to find it all! I call that a mom win!

If you are in the area you should go check it out!

4 Must Have iPhone Photo Apps

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I’m about to share a pretty big secret that I’m a little embarrassed to admit. I’ve been blogging for just over 2 years now and have absolutely no clue how to use photoshop, or lightroom, or any other photo editing software on my computer. I’ve gotten by on using my trusty old iPhone to create any image I use. In this day in age I find myself using my iPhone for everything so why not utilize it to create images for my blog too? I’d love to share my go to apps with all of you. No need to download a million photo apps (because yes there a quite a few out there)… here are my top 4 Must Have iPhone photo apps.  Everything I need to get done happens on these 4 apps.

1. PhotoGrid

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This app is a simple app to add up to 15 photos and make them into a grid. There is also an option to make them into a collage of sorts with various background choices. I use this app a ton!

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2. A Beautiful Mess

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This app has tons of borders, fun doodles to add, and cute phrases! Here are some pics that I made with this one.

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3. Rhonna Designs

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Can we say gold foil font? I love Rhonna because there is an option to use gold foil for the font. I also love the different font options that look hand drawn.

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4. Word Swag

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 This is my newest obsession! Its so simple to use. Basically you type in the words you want to use and there are a MILLION different fonts/layouts to use. It’s so simple yet makes some great graphics.

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There you have it. The 4 must have iPhone photo apps. Anything else that I am missing out on? Let me know!

21 Day Fix Costco Staples

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I recently finished my second round of the 21 day fix and could not be more impressed with my results!!! You can read about my first round here. I’m losing weight, inches, but the best part is that I’m not feeling like I’m depriving myself. The meal plan has been simple to follow and I love preparing my meals on Sunday for the whole week.

Whenever someone switches to a healthier, cleaner meal plan I know money is always a concern. It’s true, eating fresh produce, organic products, and lean meats can be pricey, but if you are smart about it, it actually doesn’t cost that much money. One of my favorite ways to save money is by shopping at Costco! Prices are lower because you are shopping in bulk, but that just means you can shop less!

I go to Costco probably every week or every other and here is what I get:

Produce

I love their broccoli because it is already cut up and ready to go! Nothing makes more of a mess than cutting your own broccoli. Sorry, I don’t have time for that! Their deep green blends are perfect for salads, smoothies, and even a great addition to eggs. I also grab their tomato bites, English cucumbers, Brussel sprouts, and sweet potatoes.

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Meat

This is probably where the bulk of your grocery bill goes to. I love getting the 4 pack of ground turkey because we use it every single day. I use it for greek meat balls, taco bowls, and mini meatloaves. I also get their chicken that comes packaged with 6 sets of 2 chicken breasts. I don’t know about you, but I HATE cleaning chicken. I feel like having to clean 2 or 4 breasts at a time is so much easier than some of the other “bulk” packs of chicken. I use chicken to make buffalo chicken bowls, chicken fajitas, and taco chicken salads!

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Almond Butter

This jar of heaven has one ingredient in it; almonds. I use a teaspoon (or 2) with an apple as a 21 day fix snack. This jar is HUGE too and lasts a long time!

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Tzatziki Yogurt Dip

I’m not a 21 day nutrition expert but I could this greek yogurt dip as a red container when I am measuring my food. Since a serving of red is 3/4 of a cup I allow myself 1/2 a cup of meat and then 1/4 cup of this “dip”. Cutting back on dips was hard for me so this was a great solution!

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Quinoa Tabouli

Are you noticing a Greek theme? This past week I’ve been really into Greek flavors so I grabbed this up and used it as a yellow!

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Kalamata Olives

Can’t forget your 10 olives you can have a day!  This jar is HUGE. I mean it. I couldn’t believe it was only $7.99. The small jar I bought at Kroger the week before was probably less than a quarter of this and cost me $5.79! This will last us forever!

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Eggs

Hubs and I each eat at least 2 eggs a day on the meal plan so you can imagine how much we go through! Plus the babes love eggs too! These are $3.79 a dozen and I just love their packaging!

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There you have it! My 21 Day Fix Costco staples. What else am I missing?

Sprouting Threads

Disclosure: This complimentary box was received for review purposes. All opinions are my own and no compensation was received.

Raise your hand if you are a busy mama?! I’m pretty sure that the word busy is synonymous with the word mom. In fact I don’t know a single mom that claims to have “spare” time. Being busy just goes with the territory I guess!

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That’s why I was so excited to learn about Sprouting Threads, a new solution to buying kid’s clothing. Sure it’s easy buying clothes when babes are young, but once they get older (and have an opinion of their own!) it gets much harder!

Ari is at an awkward size lately. He’s in between a 4 and a 5 and certainly has an opinion on the clothes he wears. Wrangling him into a fitting room to try on clothing while his sister runs amok isn’t exactly at the top of my todo list.

Sprouting Threads is the perfect solution to this! Similar to Stitch Fix for adults Sprouting Threadsis for kids ages 2-8 and allows you to try on hand selected clothing in the comfort of your own home. Keep what you like and send back what you don’t! Members are also given the option to “rethread” (or send pieces back after their child outgrows them) for store credit.  A $20 styling fee is refunded when keeping 2 or more new pieces. Prices vary depending on what is kept. Free shipping both ways.

The process was so simple. I filled out a style profile for Ari, added his stats, and then gave a little description of his clothing interests. You can select how often you want the clothes to arrive and how many outfits you want. They have 4 main style profiles; sporty, vintage, classic, and funky. We got an outfit from each category!

The box arrived super fast and everything was packaged so nice!

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Based on your needs you can receive clothing from 4 different categories; Sporty, Vintage, Classic, & Funky. We received an outfit from each category.

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Ari immediately wanted to try on his “Sporty” outfit because little man is all about being cozy. We got Go Gently pencil pants ($38) and a Wes & Willy Moose pullover hoodie ($38). This outfit was the perfect comfy outfit while still looking cool! Ari loved it!

The next outfit he tried on was his “Vintage” look. The shirt was a Wheat Is button down ($52) and Viera Rose suspender jeans ($56). I can’t tell you how much I adore these skinny jeans. They are just what I have been looking for for quite some time! They fit him perfect and I am SO glad these were picked out for him! I think these jeans were MY personal favorite item of the whole box!

Next he tried on his “Funky” outfit and I think he enjoyed this one the most!! The sweater/shirt from Mini Shatsu ($42) was made to look like a cardigan with a bow tie and the red Tooby skinny jeans ($42) were the perfect fit for him. He immediately told me he could wear these to preschool! Ari normally doesn’t like jeans if they fit too tight so I put that on his style profile. I also put that he was in between sizes and Sprouting Threads knew which pants to send in a 4 and which to send in a 5!

Last up he tried his “Classic” outfit. The Andy & Evan open check shirt ($39.90) was meant to be worn under the Andy & Evan bicycle sweater ($46) with the dark elastic waist Kitestrings jeans ($44). I didn’t think I would care much for the classic outfit but I was incredibly impressed with the fit! Ari LOVED the elastic waist jeans and kept them on the rest of the day! The leather elbow patches were just adorable too!

 The whole experience was very smooth and I really enjoyed seeing what someone else would pick for my son! With the holidays coming I thought how great this subscription would be as a gift!

You can opt for monthly or seasonal deliveries and can get between 2 and 5 outfits per delivery (your choice). Read more about the company here. If you want to give it a try go ahead and sign up here for your risk free box! The $20 styling fee will go towards any items you keep and now through December 15 you can save an additional 25% with the code BESTDRESSED25!

 

 

Just Between Friends Shopping!

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Tonight was SO much fun and unlike any other mom 2 mom shopping I have done in the past!

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I got to shop the pre-sale for the Just Between Friends sale in Madison Heights and I can’t believe the DEALS I got! Let me start by saying that everything was in AMAZING condition and the sale was very organized. I loved that I could just skip to my babes’ sizes and choose from name brand clothes that were all hanging nicely. I came from work tonight and was able to do all my shopping (with the babes in tow!) in under 30 minutes! It’s safe to say I have NEVER shopped a mom2mom that fast!

Here are the details of the sale:

876 Horace Brown Dr
Madison Heights, Michigan

Thursday Sept 17 9-7pm($3.00 admission fee that benefits HAVEN in Oakland county.)

Friday Sept 18 10-6pm (FREE Admission)

Saturday Sept 19 9-1pm (Free Admission) most items without stars are 1/2 off

Strollers are welcome anytime! They accept Cash, Visa, MC, Amex, sorry no checks.

Just Between Friends just celebrated 150 locations in the USA and Canada. They have been featured on the Today show & Good Morning America to name a few media spots.

Can’t make this sale? Head over to their facebook page to see additional sales!

OK… On to the good stuff. What did I buy!?!?

I spent $50 on the dot and I got the babes some pretty awesome Fall clothing! I wanted stuff that would work for layering and I was so excited to find all this!

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This denim shirt for Giada was $2 and the possibilities for it are endless! I envision her wearing some cute boots and a big headband, of course!

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This chambray shirt and maroon H&M corduroy skirt will look awesome with some mustard tights she already has!

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This was my most expensive combo but all the pieces can be used separately or all together! The coral jean jacket was from Crew Cuts!!

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Last outfit is that denim shirt again with a bubble skirt/legging combo. G just loves skirts and I know she will want to add a fun necklace with this outfit!

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I got Ari some pretty awesome Fall stuff too!

Clockwise from top left: (Zara sweater, True Religion button down, Gap button down, lightweight Northface, and Zara pants).

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While I was there I was immediately drawn to the HUGE selection of shoes….unfortunately they weren’t the right sizes for my babes, but take a look at how awesome these are (and all were marked $5 and under)!

I also found a TON of Under Armor for bigger boys!

… an amazing deal on a Britax B-Agile!

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And tons of Halloween costumes!

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If you are in the area you really should go check it out!

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Road Tripping 101…with Kids!

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Hubs and I just returned from a week long road trip with the babes! We went from Michigan to Virginia (and back) with a couple of stops along the way! This was our first adventure like this and I do have to say it went pretty smoothly! The babes LOVED staying in a hotel and the car rides were pretty painless. Here are some of the things that helped us remain stress free!

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-Split the trip up!! Our entire trip was about 8 and a half hours one way without stopping and we decided that we shouldn’t try and make it in one day. Both ways we stopped at the halfway mark and stayed over night.

-Try to drive during a normal “rest time”. The very first day we got on the road it was 4pm and the babes were no where near tired. This was probably the most restless part of the journey.  The days that we left right before naptime (noon) the babes were naturally ready to rest and it made for a pretty quiet ride.

-Portable DVD player is a MUST! We borrowed one from a friend that had dual screens. It was nice to start each leg of our trip with a movie. I also borrowed movies that the babes hadn’t seen before. It kept their attention!

-Make up little travel bags with coloring books, crayons, and stickers. I got all these items at the dollar tree and didn’t show them to the kids until we got to the hotel! They loved it!

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  -Utilize the hotel cribs! Giada still sleeps in a crib and it was super hard to contain her to a bed at night. The second day of our trip I called down and we got a rolling crib! It was the perfect solution to keep her contained!

-Pack easy to travel/eat in the car snacks. I brought applesauce pouches, mini cups of pringles, apples, and other individual snacks they didn’t need to be refrigerated. I also brought a loaf of bread along with peanut butter & jelly for easy lunchtime sandwiches!

-ALWAYS get a room with a mini fridge! Each hotel we stayed in offered free breakfast. Every morning we would take an extra milk from breakfast to have for later in the day!

-Use fast food drink holders as individual plates for the car! This was an easy way to portion meals on the go for them..and allow them to still have their dips!

-Let the kids run off some steam at rest stops!! Or better yet, find a waterpark! We stayed at one on our last night and it was so refreshing to have a place to go play instead of camping out in our hotel room!

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-If you can’t find a waterpark at least find a hotel with an indoor pool!

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-Bring an ipad or tablet that can connect to the hotel’s wifi. Hotel TV’s are always hit or miss as far as catching a cartoon. This way the adults can watch the TV and the babes can relax with their favorite shows at night!

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-Have a diaper bag close to the front of the car with all incidentals you might need along the way. Our bag included band aids, ibuprofen, Tylenol, wipes, a change of clothes for each kid, sun block, bug spray, hand sanitizer, toothbrushes, and toothpaste. I wanted something easy to grab without having to sift through luggage.

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-Make a schedule, but allow for some flexibility. Sitting in a car for a long period of time isn’t easy on anyone! Sometimes you just need to go with the flow on vacation!

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Blue Cheese Chicken Wrap

 IMG_7884   It’s { almost } time for back to school!! Summer is coming to a screeching halt and it’s time for the babes to head back to school! For me that means the return of packing lunches. Womp Womp. During the school year things are very hectic in the morning and I leave the house super early. There is NO time to be playing around with lunches in the morning so I make everything the night before.

This wrap is perfect for mom & dad anddddd your babes! I can’t say enough good things about it! The flavors combine so well and it is a great make-the-night-before lunch! I would have never thought to throw an apple in a wrap, but it adds the perfect sweetness & crisp.

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Ingredients:

Diced Chicken, 1 Tablespoon of Cream Cheese, 1 Tablespoon of Blue Cheese, Whole wheat tortilla, Half of a Granny Smith Apple chopped

In a microwavable bowl combine the blue cheese and the cream cheese. Microwave for 20 seconds until the sauce has a creamy texture. Spread this on your tortilla and then add the rest of the ingredients.

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Roll it up and wrap in plastic wrap!!!

A few { time saving } tips!!

Pre portion chicken in small bags from Target (this is a great job for little hands)! I use this chicken for salads, wraps, nachos, etc. I always check the nutrition and figure out exactly how many 100 calorie servings I have and then divide accordingly. It’s a great portion control!

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Toss a little lemon juice on your diced apple to prevent it from browning!

There you have it! I hope you { and your babes } love it!

 

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Say What?! 5 Ways to promote language development.

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I’m certainly no speech expert, but I’d like to think I am an expert when it comes to my babes. While I can recognize that every child develops differently, I knew that Giada was behind when it came to speech. She has some words and can get her point across, but I could tell she was getting frustrated. I expressed my concerns with my ped and she told me that typically there isn’t a worry until age 2. Since Giada’s birthday fell at the end of the school year, though, she said it wouldn’t hurt to take her in to be evaluated early since services aren’t offered during the summer..

We met with our local school district and the women there were beyond friendly, helpful, and extremely patient with Giada. They tested Giada’s hearing, her comprehension, and then her ability to communicate. Giada fell in the 24 month range for her understanding but only 15 months for her speech. Because of the discrepancy between her understanding and her ability they recommended speech therapy for her! I was SO happy I listened to my “mom-intuition” and didn’t go any longer leaving her frustrated. Sometimes… what works for one child doesn’t work for the next and us parents need to make some modifications to what we are doing. Language seemed to come very easy to Ari, but Giada needs some changes to her environment.

The entire evaluation experience was so educational for me. I was an early elementary teacher and knew so many of these strategies, but when you get caught up in the day to day you sometimes forget. Before we left the evaluation they gave me some super easy strategies to implement immediately. Honesty I can’t believe the difference it has made in only a couple short weeks.

If you have a toddler on the verge of talking or one that is struggling to talk I highly suggest using some of these strategies!

Ditch the Sippy Cups/Pacifiers – They couldn’t stress enough the negative impact these two items had on language acquisition. I read this post before and “knew” they weren’t the best thing, but I never really cared that much until I was sitting in a speech evaluation and being told my daughter needed ME to toss them.  I was nervous about giving her an open cup at meals, but overall the transition hasn’t been terrible! I got cups with handles from Target for $.79!

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Strengthen the entire body – The body works together in complex ways. They suggested doing wheelbarrows with her and getting her to try to balance on one foot!

Stimulate the Mouth – Some children need extra stimulation in their mouths. It was suggested we get her an electric toothbrush instead of a regular one. Giada loves it!

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Give her the words – This one made perfect sense now looking back. Instead of asking her a yes or no question you offer a choice, use adjectives, and give her the word you want her to say. The last word out of your mouth should be what you want them to say.

Example: instead of saying “Giada do you want this hairbow?” All she can respond with is yes and it’s not expanding her vocabulary. You say “Giada, do you want this clip or this PINK HAIRBOW?”. It allows her to repeat the last thing you just said because you are giving her the word. I’ve been using this technique a TON and I am so surprised at how many new words she is trying to say just by me changing my behavior!

Use songs/body movements – Using a song or a beat allows children to easily chime in at words they know. Now we’ve been singing songs every night that involve hand movements like “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and “Baby Bumblebee”. Giada has been so engaged and tries to sing along with us!

I’m sure there’s going to come a day when I wish Giada wasn’t talking SO much. But, for now, I’m determined to do everything in my power to help her get where she needs to be! In just a few weeks of doing these things I have seen such an incredible difference in her communication. I can’t wait until our actual first lesson! I will be learning as much as Giada.

First Birthday: Giada in Onderland

   I just LOVE entertaining.  Before my hubs and I were even married we were the first of our friends to own a home. Every weekend you could find a group of us partying in our kitchen until the sun came up. I just love seeing people come together and live for the little details of the parties I throw. I love making each event I host special.  Currently I’m in MAJOR party planning mode for a joint birthday bash I am throwing in June and realized I never blogged about the babes’ previous parties!

Wait no further! Giada’s first birthday party…Giada in One-Derland!

I wanted to make her party as girly as possible! Since my babes both have summer birthdays I knew down the road I would be combining their parties. This was my one shot for a girly party and making it through the first year of having 2 under 2 was something to celebrate! So we did it up big!

Let’s start with the most important part…WHAT SHE WORE! I got Giada’s dress from Lovers Dovers and it couldn’t have been more perfect.  It fit her perfectly and the tutu was so adorable! Her headband was custom made to match by the fabulous Darling Delilah!

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Photo credit: Adriane Baden Photography

Next party detail: INVITES!

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Katie Doodle did an amazing job making invitations, a chalk board sign, and lots of other signs for me to use at the party.
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DECORATIONS!

For months I shopped our local thrift stores to find all white tea-pots to use as centerpieces! I bought a couple of mixed bouquets and arranged them myself! The giant cards were from Oriental Trading.

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I made full use of my Cricut and made some signs as guests were coming down my stairs.

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I also made a super easy banner with all of Giada’s monthly pictures!

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About a week before the party I found a local mom that had recently had the same theme.  Her mother in law made these giant lawn decorations and lent them to me for the party. How lucky was that!? They really set the scene as all my guests arrived.

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The dessert table was by far one of my favorite parts! I tried to combine vintage tea items with fun girly colors! I already had candy dishes for Ari’s previous parties so I only needed to buy a G, D, and another A!10374029_10105085143777924_8040055114269293520_n

I made Cheshire Cat Tails out of marshmallows, colored chocolate, and sprinkles!

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Of course no party is complete without Best Cookies by Farr.  They taste incredible and look cute too!

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Giada loved her cake! Babes just make a mess out of their cake so this mama made it herself!

Headband, Bandana Bib, DIY Fabric Garland

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The Monday before the party I decided my son & hubs needed these shirts. NO ONE on etsy was making this combo in child/adult. You had to either purchase two child tees or two adult tees. Awesome Custom made them for me and they were just what these two needed! I couldn’t believe they were able to turn them around and ship them to me so quickly!

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…and there you have it! LOTS and LOTS of planning for a perfect afternoon! I’m sure Giada won’t remember this day at all, but I can’t wait to show her pictures when she is older!

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