Celebrating Summer Success with Scholastic #SummerReading

This post is written by the Experimental Mommy in partnership with Scholastic and Energizer. All opinions remain 100% mine.

I can hardly believe we have been out of school for one whole month now.  In the last thirty days, we have allowed the girls to have very little structure and enjoy the lazy days of Summer but to my surprise they have both continued their silent reading time before bed without any prompting from my husband and I.

Eventually, I will have to start them practicing Math skills but I love the fact that we are avoiding the summer slide with the help of the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge.  Now in it’s 9th year, this free online program in partnership with ENERGIZER® is challenging kids to “Power Up & Read.”

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Since signing up for the program 30 days ago, my daughters have read 3 chapter books each and request to return to the library on a weekly basis. I think one of the reasons I have seen an increased enthusiasm for reading is because they are allowed to choose books that match their own interests rather than an assigned book for school. According to the Kids & Family Reading Report, 5th edition, 91% of kids (ages 6-17) say that their favorite books are the ones they pick out themselves. Of course, the fact that they can log their own minutes (online or via mobile) into the Scholastic website in order to help break last year’s world record of 304,749,861 minutes certainly helps, too! So far, kids around the country have logged 120,209,618 minutes of reading since the program begin on May 4th.

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Are you looking to avoid the summer slide, too? It’s not too late to sign up for the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge (did I mention it’s free?)! Not sure where to start? Parents can download free resources, including printables and book lists for kids of all ages. And the fun is not only for kids! Parents can enter weekly sweepstakes to win a “Power Up & Read Kit” and watch videos about summer reading activities to keep you “innovative” all summer long. The prize pack includes: Scholastic tote bag, water bottle, a copy of Reading Unbound by Jeffrey Wilhelm and Michael Smith, $10 gift certificate to Scholastic Store Online, Energizer® brand batteries, Scholastic books, and more. Learn more at the Energizer Instant Win website.

In addition to helping to break the record, kids can also enter monthly sweepstakes to win fabulous prizes, and earn digital rewards when they complete weekly reading challenges. A new feature this year is that kids can unlock 12 original short stories (exclusively for this year’s challenge) from favorite children’s authors and access never-before-seen videos from the authors!

So many reasons to join the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge but the best one is that my kids ASKED to join again this year. Now that is a Summer Success!

Dance Into Plenti Rewards #PlentiTogether

I’m participating as a blogger ambassador for the Plenti program, operated by American Express.

It’s June! And if you are a dance Mom, you know what that means….it’s recital season! With two dancing Divas in my home, the upcoming days are sure to be filled with extra rehearsals, costume alterations, and last minute shopping trips.  As a former dance teacher, I absolutely love spending this time with my daughters, but I do not love how expensive it can get.

Fortunately there is a Rite Aid nearby that stocks just about everything I need to make an emergency dance recital kit!  Bobby pins, hair nets, gel, hair spray, ponytail holders, mascara, eyeliner, lip gloss, deodorant, scissors, clear nail polish (for stocking runs), and snacks filled with protein are absolute essentials. While each of these items is not expensive on their own, they can certainly add up, especially when you have two dancers.

The fact that Rite Aid is close to my home is only one of the reasons I head straight there for dance recital must haves.  I know I can always find great prices and I can use my Plenti rewards card and rack up points for future purchases. Have you heard about Plenti?

Plenti is free to join and is a new loyalty program that allows shoppers to earn and redeem rewards points across some of their favorite brands. The loyalty coalition program — the first of its’ kind in the U.S. – boasts a roster that includes AT&T, ExxonMobil, Macy’s, Nationwide Insurance, Rite Aid, Direct Energy, Enterprise Rent-a-Car and Hulu.

Did you know that nearly 72 percent of Americans say they would prefer a rewards program that allows them to shop at many stores versus a single brand according to a recent research study?

In my last post, I showed you how incredibly easy Plenti is to use. Have you joined yet?  Are you earning rewards on things you were already shopping for every day? Don’t forget that you can earn points regardless of payment method (credit, cash or debit, etc.). Just show your Plenti Card at check out!

Summer Family Road Trip Streaming with Netflix #StreamTeam

This post is written by the Experimental Mommy in partnership with Netflix as a member of the #StreamTeam.

School is officially out for Summer and I couldn’t have three happier kids. Ok, so I only have two kids but my hubby is a teacher and he is thrilled about vacation, too.  Because the school year is so hectic, we can often lose sight of the importance of connecting as a family so summer is perfect to make up for lost time.

My husband and I try to give my kids educational and worthwhile experiences over the summer that will bring us together as a family. Fortunately, we live in New Orleans which is full of culture and easy to find. Staycations are a family favorite but sometimes we hit the road for long weekend getaways.

While we plan lots of quality time together during our vacation, the road trip can sometimes be long and cumbersome but Netflix can help fill the hours till we arrive at our destination. Here are a few of our Road Trip favorites:

1. Liv and Maddie: My girls are so excited that Liv and Maddie Season 1 has finally made it’s way to Netflix. The enjoy watching the comedy surrounding this TV family with twin girls!

2. H20 Mermaid Adventures: My youngest daughter is ALL about mermaids this Summer so naturally this show has caught (and kept) her attention.

3. Crash and Bernstein: Who doesn’t love puppets, right?

4. Life With Boys: My tween adores this show and is thrilled that Season 2 has made it’s way to Netflix.

What are you streaming on your summer road trips?

Let Dove Help You #LoveYourCurls

This post is written by the Experimental Mommy in partnership with Dove and The Motherhood. All opinions remain 100% mine.

I was born with a massive amount of hair. The nurses actually put bows in my hair before bringing me to my Mom from the hospital nursery.  Even though I had lots of hair, it was stick straight. On the other hand, my husband was born with ringlets that were the envy of every girl.  Naturally, my youngest daughter got qualities from both of us and was born was LOTS of CURLY hair.

Y’all, I could not get enough of her hair. I loved every last curly strand of it. Often, people at her daycare would ask if I put her hair in hot rollers before coming to school everyday (yeah, curling irons and toddlers would not be a good idea). The only problem? She hated it.

Both her older sister and her Mom have straight hair and she was not going to be the odd girl out. She tried to make her hair as straight as possible by brushing out the curls to no avail.  But as time has gone on, she is embracing her curls and realizes they make her special and unique.

Did you know that only 4 in 10 little girls with curly hair think their hair is beautiful?

Dove Hair wants all women and girls to love their curls and started the “Love Your Curls” campaign! In partnership with best-selling author Taiye Selasi and illustrated by Annick Poirier, Dove launched a poetic tribute to curly hair, “Love Your Curls.” You can download the free e-book and even personalize it for your favorite curly haired girl!

I think part of Aubrie’s transition to embracing her curls has been to learn how to manage them. As a straight haired Mom, I knew very little about how to care for her locks which ended up a frizzy mess.  Fortunately, we had the opportunity to try the Dove Quench Absolute system which nourishes hair and provides 4X more defined, natural curls. The four products that are part of the system are infused with protein, nutrients and Buriti Oil.

Our favorite product has been the Dove Quench Absolute Supreme Crème Serum. It is Dove’s first curl leave-in nourishing treatment which contains high levels of glycerine and can be used on wet or dry hair. After Aubrie’s bath, I towel dry her hair and apply the serum. It is lightweight and does not leave the hair feeling greasy or heavy…plus, it smells fantastic! Finally, we blow dry with a diffuser and her hair is princess ready!

Do you love your curls?

Reward Yourself with Plenti

I am participating as a blogger ambassador for the Plenti program, operated by American Express.

It’s official! School is out for summer and the kids (plus my hubby who is a teacher) are in full celebration mode. My husband spent last week getting our new pool set up and ready for this past Memorial Day weekend. My job? It’s always about getting the family ready for a fun and relaxing weekend together.

Like every weekend, before we can get to the fun and relaxing part, I have to get through the organizing and expensive part.  Swimsuits, sunscreen, pool toys, goggles, BBQ tools, food and drinks made up only part of my Memorial Day holiday shopping list this year so finding the best deal is a high priority. One of my favorite ways to save (as you can tell by looking at my key ring) is to take part in loyalty programs that reward you for shopping, but keeping up with different programs can get confusing.

 

Fortunately, some of my favorite shopping haunts have become part of one consolidated rewards program called Plenti. While operated by American Express, Plenti is a coalition loyalty program that accepts any form of payment, and that just like most regular retailer loyalty programs, you will receive a physical card after enrollment that you can swipe at purchase to earn points.

Of course, you are going to want to start earning points as soon as possible so let me tell you how to get started.

  • Sign up for your free account at http://www.plenti.com
  • Shop at Plenti partners which include AT&T, ExxonMobil, Macy’s, Nationwide Insurance, Rite Aid, Direct Energy, Enterprise Rent-a-Car and Hulu plus an array of online retailers as well
  • Earn points on purchases you are making to use towards savings on future shopping trips. For example, if you are going on a weekend trip, rent a car with Enterprise and earn points to use towards purchasing a fun new swimsuit at Macy’s!

I decided to start racking up points while crossing off items on my weekend shopping list. To make sure I found the best deals, I downloaded the Plenti app onto my iPhone before heading out the door. My first stop was Rite Aid for some backyard essentials so I checked the app for special deals at Rite Aid and noticed that purchasing my favorite sunscreen would earn me 100 Plenti points!

Pulling up at Rite Aid, the Plenti loyalty program was advertised in many places making it hard to miss! I found the advertised sunscreen, bug repellant, allergy medicine and some nail polish (you have to have cute pool ready toes, right?) and headed for the register. Pulling up the Plenti app, I handed my phone to the Rite Aid employee who scanned my card to be sure I received the rewards points for my purchase. Sure enough, I did indeed save money on my purchase AND earned 100 Plenti Points. Super easy!

Next stop? Macy’s! As much as I hate shopping for swimsuits, it must be done. And if it must be done, I might as well earn a reward for trying on swimsuits and looking at myself in a room full of mirrors under florescent lighting. Wish me luck!

Get Your FREE Wendy’s Frosty in NOLA this Memorial Day

It’s hot in New Orleans but Wendy’s is cooling down it’s loyal customers this Memorial Day with a FREE Small Frosty Treat at participating locations. Wendy’s is hosting a “Customer Appreciation” Day on Memorial Day, May 25th and will kick off the warm summer in the coolest way possible. See below for the list of participating locations in the New Orleans Metro Area.

 

Restaurant Address

City

State

Zip Code

1810 S.W. Railroad Hammond

LA

70403

2201 W. Thomas St. Hammond

LA

70401

129 Cumberland St. Bogalusa

LA

70427

1201 W. Oak St. Amite

LA

70422

14123 University Avenue Hammond

LA

70401

69340 Hwy. 21 Covington

LA

70433

1034 Hwy. 51 N. Ponchatoula

LA

70454

3325 N. Causeway Blvd. Metairie

LA

70002

7009 Veterans Memorial Blvd. Metairie

LA

70003

3855 Veterans Memorial Blvd. Metairie

LA

70002

3636 Williams Blvd. Kenner

LA

70065

4226 W. Esplanade Metairie

LA

70006

300 Veterans Memorial Blvd. Metairie

LA

70005

1190 Terry Pkwy. Gretna

LA

70053

4959 Lapalco Blvd. Marrero

LA

70072

3601 Gen. DeGaulle New Orleans

LA

70114

7021 Westbank Exp. Marrero

LA

70072

2500 Manhattan Blvd. Harvey

LA

70058

1115 Stumpf Blvd. Gretna

LA

70053

4005 Behrman Hwy. New Orleans

LA

70114

2700 Highway 190 @ 3rd St. Covington

LA

70433

3803 Hwy. 22 Mandeville

LA

70471

71 Park Place Dr. Covington

LA

70433

177 Northshore Blvd. Slidell

LA

70460

73632  Hwy. 25 Covington

LA

70435

2200 Florida St. Mandeville

LA

70448

709 Washington St. Franklinton

LA

70438

1129 S. Clearview Pkwy. Jefferson

LA

70121

3138 S. Carrollton Ave. New Orleans

LA

70118

2100 Williams Blvd. Kenner

LA

70062

100 James Park West St. Rose

LA

70087

3705 Jefferson Hwy. Jefferson

LA

70121

4801 Airline Dr. Metairie

LA

70003

5701 Read Rd. New Orleans

LA

70127

1301 St. Charles Ave. New Orleans

LA

70130

4200 S. Claiborne Ave. New Orleans

LA

70125

4605 Chef Menteur Hwy. New Orleans

LA

70126

5600 Tchoupitoulas St. New Orleans

LA

70115

6166 Elysian Fields Ave. New Orleans

LA

70122

3000 U.S. Hwy. 90 Avondale

LA

70094

1440 W. Airline Hwy. LaPlace

LA

70068

4296 Main St. LaPlace

LA

70068

13211 Hwy. 90 Boutte

LA

70039

1018 Grand Caillou Houma

LA

70363

5946 W. Main St. Houma

LA

70360

1510 Martin Luther King Blvd. Houma

LA

70360

1536 Gause Road Slidell

LA

70458

2501 Old Spanish Trail Slidell

LA

70461

3204 Paris Road Chalmette

LA

70043

3915 Pontchartrain Slidell

LA

70458

2405 Gause Blvd. Slidell

LA

70461

1135 Audubon Drive Thibodaux

LA

70301

810 N. Canal Blvd. Thibodaux

LA

70301

199 Memorial Blvd.

Picayune

MS

39466

1001 Hwy.90 Bay St. Louis

MS

39520

 

 

Enjoy!

#ImBornTo Support the March of Dimes

This post was written by the Experimental Mommy in partnership with The Motherhood and March of Dimes. All opinions are 100% my own.

As one of 39 Moms (one for each week of a full-term pregnancy), I have loved being part of a team of bloggers to help raise awareness for the incredible things March of Dimes has (and continues to) accomplish with your donations. The #ImBornTo campaign has helped shine a spotlight on the fact that in the United States, one baby is born prematurely every minute and approximately 72 children die each day before reaching their first birthday. This fight to save babies and help all moms have healthy, full-­‐term pregnancies has been the focus of the March of Dimes’ mission for the last several decades.

Recently, I hosted a few friends at my home to let them know about the amazing work done by March of Dimes and how exactly  they could help fulfill their mission. Over some sweet Southern tea and dessert, I shared with them a few ways they could be a part of the solution.

From Mother’s Day to Father’s Day, the March of Dimes encourages consumers to shop, donate or take part in partner promotions to support the cause. Each partner including Martha Stewart, Bon Ton, Mud Pie, KMart, Alex and Ani, eBay, AE Jewelers, and Blue Rhino have different promotions to support the cause and you can help by simply shopping the deals!

Need more reasons to shop? Support of the March of Dimes last year alone provided 15,700 babies lifesaving surfactant therapy, developed by March of Dimes researchers, and gave 90,000 families with a newborn in intensive care comfort and information through NICU Family Support®.

What will you do to help babies reach their full potential?

 

Beech-Nut Goes Organic

This post was written by Linzy of Crawfish Tales. While a sample was received to facilitate this review, all opinions remain 100% honest.

When I had my first child I was working part time and basking in the new mommy glow. I did everything I thought I was supposed to do including making baby food. However with baby number two, second child syndrome is real. I am back to work, which I love, but that leaves very little time for making baby food. But as my little one is starting on baby food this month, I really didn’t want to compromise on the health benefits and freshness of the home cooked foods.

Just as I was researching baby foods to see what path we would take into the prepared baby food lines, I was offered the opportunity to test out Beech-Nut’s new line of baby food, 100% natural and organic. This is the combination I was looking for! We are going to be starting out on stage 1 foods, which are available in this line. When you read the ingredients on the back of the jar it says…organic carrots.

And that’s it! I am in love!

It is like I made it at home but I didn’t have to find the time to do it. When we get to stage 2 foods there are some new and interesting combinations for her to try such as apple, raspberry & avocado and butternut squash & sweet corn. I have such amazing memories of the baby food process with my first child. It is fun to watch them taste and enjoy new foods. You get to see their little faces light up with excitement when the bib goes on.  I am looking forward to that same experience with my second child but this time I know that I can provide her the same nutrition in a product that works for my family today.

The new line only has high quality ingredients and follows the same gentle cooking method inspired by how mom would cook it at home. They focus on refraining from adding excess water and not cooking the nutrients away. The result is food with textures, colors and flavors that are as close to homemade as you can get. In fact, this new line won Product of the Year in the baby category for its 100% naturals and organic lines by Taylor Nelson Sofres, a global leader in consumer research surveyed nationwide.

Sidenote: The little honeypot glass jars are adorable and I am sure I can find plenty of arts and crafts to do with them once I have empty ones.

Since we are just starting out on solids, we are going to check out the oatmeal and rice cereal stage 1 in the Naturals line to get started. But the new 100% organic line is offered in stages 1-3. The products can be purchased at Babies R Us, Walmart.com, and Diapers.com among other places.

My favorite part of the entire line is that there are adult recipes available using this baby food line. For real. So if you need to run to a dinner party and bring something you can grab a jar of this baby food and whip something up. Here is one of the recipes they offer:

Pear & Black Cherry Vinaigrette with Mixed Green Salad

What you Need:

  • 1 cup, extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • Beech-But just pear & black cherry, ½ jar.
  • Mixed greens about 10 cups.
  • Small pear, diced
  • Blue cheese, crumbled
  • Candied nuts

How to Make It:

Add Beech-Nut just bartlett pears and balsamic vinegar in a bowl and combine. Add olive oil in a slow stream into the balsamic vinegar and Bartlett pear mixture while rapidly stirring with a wisk. Toss salad dressing with greens, pear, nuts, and cheese until lightly coated. Done!

CellScope: Oto Remote Care for Ear Infections

This post was written by Linzy of Crawfish Tales in partnership with CellScope. All opinions remain 100% honest.

First, I will say that I was so excited for the chance to try out this product! My first child had tubes placed in her ears at 9 months of age because of multiple ear infections. So with my second child starting daycare,  I am sure that runny noses, ear infections and gunk are not far behind. Build those immune systems young and they will be healthier later, right? So far that has proven true with my first child.

Since my oldest had chronic ear infections with no obvious symptoms like fever, it was hard to know when to take her to the doctor. Do I take her just in case? Do I take her today but the infection shows up three days from now? It is such a hard balance and you can’t keep running to the pediatrician. Not only will the insurance co-pays add up but so will the vacation time that I would take each and every time. I always wished there were something that could give me an indication of when to go to the pediatrician.

Fortunately, CellScope is going to help parents by filling that void.

I got to test out the product and I will say that I LOVE it and it is totally going to change how we cope with sickness in our house. It is very easy to use. Open the box. Simple enough so far, right? Then download that app. Easy! The CellScope comes with an iPhone case (models 5, 5s and 6) and you attach the provided camera to the case with a simple snap. Simply log in to the app and create a profile of your child. You can create difference profiles for each of your kids which is fantastic! This is great because their information is saved in the phone so you don’t have to reenter it each time you use the program.

Now, you’re ready to roll! The app directs you on what to do and really makes the process foolproof.  Install the disposable ear probe with a click, insert the probe in the eardrum, click record and the Oto HOME takes a video of your child’s ear drum. Don’t worry if you are not sure what you are looking for, the app is super smart and guides you. It has arrows that appear on the screen that indicate which way you need to turn the phone for the recording to get a good view of the eardrum.

I had no problem getting the recording on my four year old. She thought it was VERY cool to be able to see inside her ear when I let her watch the video. Now, send the video through Oto CONNECT to a remote physician on their team. Or, if you want to send it to your personal pediatrician there is a function in the app that lets you email the recording.

The CellScope doctors are board certified, trusted physicians who have gone through a robust screening process and have been chosen based on their medical expertise and commitment to helping make healthcare more convenient for patients. The doctors are based in California currently and provide remote consultations via the Oto CONNECT service.

Payment is easy (there is a $10 fee to have your video reviewed by a physician on the CellScope team). Program your credit card into the app so it remembers each time you use it and don’t have to enter it every use. The best part? You are guaranteed results in two hours.

When I sent the video to the physician you can add comments to send directly to the doctor and you have options to include other symptoms. It is everything that you would share with your pediatrician if you were in the office. When I got my results back, my daughter’s eardrum was clear. But if she would have add an inner ear infection then then the physician could have sent a prescription directly to our local pharmacy. How cool is that?!

Try CellScope for Yourself: COUPON CODE!

The product is $79 and is available online at http://store.cellscope.com. If you want one for your home, for the next 30 days you can get 30% off with the code: CRAWFISH30

I love the idea that the company is working to provide quick and convenient diagnosis for routine health issues. I can’t wait to see what they come out with next.

Scholastic Summer Reading: Challenge Accepted!

This post is written by the Experimental Mommy in partnership with Scholastic. All opinions remain 100% my own.

Three and a half. That’s the number of school days left until Summer begins.  On one hand, I am looking forward to a more relaxed routine and hours of family fun.  On the other, I want my girls to keep up the skills they learned and provide more educational opportunities throughout the Summer. Thankfully, Scholastic has a great way to help!

From May 4th-September 4th, Scholastic has challenged kids everywhere to beat the summer reading record of 304,749,681 minutes. This year’s theme, “Power Up & Read” , powered by Energizer®, encourages kids to read all summer long and unlock 12 original short stories by bestselling children’s authors as kids reach reading milestones.

To make things even more fun, Energizer® and Scholastic are partnering to create the “Power the Possibilities” campaign which gives moms the tools they need to unlock their child’s talents, fuel their ambitions and set them up for future success. Right now, parents can buy any specially marked pack of Energizer® brand batteries to scratch for a chance to win the Energizer® Instant Win Game and one of thousands of prizes that will power discovery and learning including a family trip to New York City, a Scholastic Study Corner Makeover, a tablet with Scholastic apps, a library of Scholastic books and more! Plus, everyone who plays can also download free digital stories for their family.

Not sure where to begin? Parenting expert, Maggie McGuire provides tips and book choices for all ages this summer in support of the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge in a series of online videos.  Maggie offers parents unique tips to get kids to “power up & read” such as:

  • Find books that makes kids laugh
  • Introduce kids to STEM and science through reading
  • Ways to get crafty with your kid’s favorite summer reads
  • Tips for reading-on-the-go during summer vacation
  • Rainy day reading activities

As a Scientist myself, I found these resources from Scholastic Parents very helpful:

After talking to my girls about the challenge, they couldn’t wait to begin.  We signed up for the Summer Reading Challenge and each pledged to read 800 minutes during Summer to help break the record.

What are your kids’ Summer Reading goals? Join the Scholastic Challenge and get them motivated!