New Year, New You….New Car?

DisclosureThis post was made possible by iConnect and Kelley Blue Book. I was provided compensation to facilitate this post, but all opinions are 100% mine.

There is no doubt that as the calendar year came to a close, you started to think about what was in store for you and your family in 2016. As for me, I made a few new year resolutions including finding more time to just do me. As a business owner, scientist, Mom, and wife, time is certainly of the essence so in order to achieve my new year resolution, streamlining daily tasks is paramount.

Buying a new car can definitely be a time drain. Between researching, test driving, deliberating and financing, you can be caught in a never-ending loop for weeks. Fortunately, Kelley Blue Book can help! Not only is the book itself an invaluable resource for determining the best value for your trade in, but the “Best Buy Awards” can help you find the perfect car for your budget and needs as vehicles are given awards in 12 major categories.

Screen Shot 2016-01-15 at 11.27.15 AM Designed as a service to the American new-car buyer, the Best Buy Awards recognize the best of all available 2016 model-year vehicles completely eliminating hours of footwork for you, the consumer. The awards are the culmination of a year-long regimen of expert vehicle evaluation and testing of nearly every new vehicle available in America (over 300 tested each year!), along with analysis of a broad swath of vehicle-related data, including pricing/transaction prices, 5-Year Cost-to-Own information (which includes depreciation, insurance, maintenance, financing, fuel, fees and taxes for new cars), consumer reviews and ratings, and vehicle sales information.

Knowing that the winners were thoroughly tested by experts definitely helps to narrow down the list of potential purchases significantly cutting the time I will need to spend in local showrooms. If you are looking for a new car in 2016, make sure you check out the Kelley Blue Book Best Buy Award winners included in the infographic below. Happy shopping!

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Be Merry with Wyndham Extra Holidays

This is a sponsored post with Wyndham Resorts. However, all opinions are my own.

Shopping, baking, wrapping, cooking, decorating, cleaning, traveling, caroling and re-connecting with old friends. I love the holidays but they are anything but restful and relaxing. Once the holiday has passed and the gifts have been opened and put away, it would be nice to escape for a long weekend with my husband ring in the new year.

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Given that the budget has already been stretched thin due to a little too much shopping, justifying a getaway will take some work. Fortunately, Wyndham resorts is offering up to 35% off during their Extra Holidays promotion (you can stay for as low as $84/night).  Simply book no later than 1/4/16 using code HOL2015 for at least two nights and travel by 4/30/16 to take advantage of this special deal.

Still looking for the perfect gift for a spouse or loved one? Put a little magic in their stocking and treat them to a holiday getaway with Wyndham!

The fine print: Valid for new reservations only. Reservations subject to availability. Reservations not valid over holidays and special events. Cannot be combined with any other offer. All monetary amounts are noted in U.S. Dollars unless otherwise noted.

 

Tween Gift Idea: Acer Chromebook

My tween daughter’s Christmas wish list has taken a dramatic turn this year. Gone are the dolls, stuffed animals and dress up clothes which have quite suddenly been replaced with hair dryer, shoes, gift cards and of course, electronics. I have to admit that I was a bit sad but each new stage with my daughter brings some excitement, too.

As I sorted through the list trying to reconcile her wishes with my pocketbook, I kept going back to #1 on her list….a computer. I am unsure if she is responsible enough for such a big ticket item but now that she is in middle school, she has been assigned many projects and research papers where a computer would surely make life easier. Decisions, decisions.

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After doing some research of my own, I learned that Acer Chromebooks have been growing in popularity and have been increasingly rolled out in many K-12 schools. The affordability, popularity of Google apps for education, fast boot times, cloud-based storage, and built-in virus protection certainly makes the Chromebook R11 an interesting option so I was thrilled to be able to test it out.

Upon opening the box, I instantly knew my daughter would love it. The compact and light design (2.76 pounds) makes it perfect for her small desk space. Despite the size, the monitor features an 11.6-inch 360-degree display, so it can be used in 4 different modes including laptop, pad, display or tent. The versatility makes it perfect for homework but also for gaming and entertainment, too.

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After powering on, I was pleased to see how fast the Acer Chromebook booted up. The Intel Celeron quad-core processor provided for quite the snappy performance.  And the best part? The Chromebook R11 is available on Amazon for just $269 and you can have it before Christmas!

If you are still struggling for a practical and affordable gift with a serious WOW factor for your tween, definitely give the Acer Chromebook some serious consideration!

This post was written by the Experimental Mommy. While a sample was received to facilitate this review all opinions remain 100% mine.

12 Reasons that Netflix Makes a Great Gift this Holiday Season

This post was written by the Experimental Mommy. As a member of the #StreamTeam, a subscription is provided to facilitate this review however all opinions remain 100% honest.

With Christmas just a few days away, hopefully you have made a list, checked it twice and decided who has been naughty or nice! Their is no doubt that there is at least one person on your list that stumps you. What do you give the person who has everything, right? How about months of entertainment at their fingertips with Netflix?

A Netflix subscription starts at just $7.99 a month and you don’t even have to stand in long holiday lines to get it! Not convinced? Here are 12 more reasons that Netflix is THE gift this season:

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12. You can watch anywhere — by the fire on the big screen or at the breakfast nook on a tablet.
11. With a wide variety of shows, Netflix provides entertainment for any age and any interest!
10. The kids can meet up with old friends in new ways, like racing to the edge with Hiccup and Toothless.
9. Mom can play White Christmas over and over again and encourage her daughters to reenact “Sisters” like Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen.
8. It’s so easy to set up, your five year old can help you do it.
7. Watching tiny dancers marvel at the classic holiday extravaganza with the Radio City Christmas Spectacular with the Rockettes is what memories are made of.
6. Legos, Legos and more Legos.
5. Family movie time can happen any day of the week.
4. Learn all you need to know from the first family, aka The Croods.
3. Saturday morning cartoons, solved. (Especially if Inspector Gadget has anything to say about it.)
2. Date night with Frank and Claire.
1. With Netflix, the whole family wins: Mom gets Jessica Jones, Dad gets Narcos and the kids get Care Bears, Project Mc2, Fuller House and five more minutes before bedtime.

To get you started, I am doing a Flash Giveaway of a SIX MONTH Netflix subscription!  Simply comment on this post before 11:59pmCST tonight (12/17/15) to be eligible to win!

Bedtime Negotiations Foiled with Netflix #5MoreMinutes

This post was written by the Experimental Mommy. While I am a member of the Netflix Stream Team, all opinions remain 100% honest.

My kids can be perfectly healthy all day long. Running, jumping, playing, and laughing every minute of the daylight hours. But when the sun goes down and bedtime looms, I have two suddenly very ill children.

  • I can’t go to sleep now because my head hurts!
  • Before I go to bed, I need cold water because my throat is killing me!
  • All of a sudden, I have massive stomach pains!
  • I can’t close my eyes because my eyelids hurt! (my personal favorite)

And there solution to these mysterious bedtime aches and pains? Staying up past bedtime. Apparently, watching just one more episode of their favorite TV program cures a multitude of ailments. Who knew? Thankfully, Netflix knows the struggle is real and invented what may be the most genius trick of the parental tool bag: Five Minute Favorites.

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Netflix and DreamWorks Animation launched Dinotrux 5 Minute Favorites, new episodes of the latest hit, all in a nice little 5-minute package — letting your little negotiator think they’re getting away with the age-old ‘just five more minutes’ ploy. In a mere 300-seconds, your kids will be speechless as they march themselves up to bed knowing they got exactly what they wanted….just 5 more minutes.

Do you have a bedtime negotiator on your hands? What tricks of the trade can you share?

Pampers Swaddlers Thank You Nurses

This review was made possible by iConnect and Pampers. I was provided compensation to facilitate this post, but all opinions are 100% mine.

You’ve cared for your growing baby for around 40 weeks trying to enjoy the journey while worrying about every movement, heartbeat and ultrasound. But the excitement of seeing your baby’s face, holding baby’s hand, and kissing baby’s forehead all for the first time is almost overwhelming. Heading to the hospital to have my first baby, my excitement remained but my fears quickly took over.

I don’t know how to care for a baby! How do I change a diaper? Will breastfeeding be successful? How do I give baby a bath? What if baby gets sick? What if I don’t have any motherly instincts?

Fortunately, from the moment I arrived at the hospital, I was greeted with a team of nurses that could not have been more amazing. From getting me through a NINETEEN hour labor to teaching me to breastfeed my newborn, I learned so much in my first few hours of Motherhood from the nurses assigned to me.

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Soon after birth, my daughter unfortunately had to be taken to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. As a new Mom, I was a mess but the nurses who tended to my daughter made sure I was informed of any and all changes, answered a multitude of questions and transported me from my recovery room to the NICU anytime I asked. And they did it all with love, compassion and a smile.

I cannot thank those nurses enough for everything they did to make Lily’s first few days on Earth beautiful and my days as a Mom more than special. Pampers Swaddlers recognizing all that these amazing nurses do to make life #BetterforBaby and has created a way for you to nominate that special nurse for a Thank You Nurses Award!

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From now through December 14th, you can nominate a nurse in one of three categories: Labor & Delivery, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and Postpartum. Three finalists will be announced in March 2016 who will each be honored with a short documentary showcasing their unique  and inspirational nursing stories, a one year membership to the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN), attendance at the 2016 AWHONN Convention and an array of Procter & Gamble products. In addition, three Pampers Swaddlers scholarships will be made available to help nurses from underrepresented groups complete their studies toward a Master of Science in Nursing degree.

Do you know a deserving nurse? Want to honor all that they did to give your baby the very best start? Nominate them for a Pampers Swaddlers Thank You Nurses Award here before December 14th!

Even better? Enter below to win a $100 AMEX card to honor a nurse in your own neighborhood plus a pack of Pampers Swaddlers!

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Top 6 Tips for Hosting a Fabulous but Inexpensive Thanksgiving

As Seen on Fox 8 New Orleans, November 23, 2015

For me, the Thanksgiving holiday is about three things: family, food and fun. While I love the holiday season, it is no secret that they can be rough on your pocketbook. To help you avoid “empty wallet syndrome”, I have compiled a list of my Top 5 ways to host a fabulous Thanksgiving without breaking the bank.

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1. Family

  • Make it Personal: Invite guests to the table by name with personalized place mats! I found burlap place mats at a local dollar store for just $1 and used fabric paint and stencils to make each guest feel welcome at the table.
  • Make it Interactive: A Gratitude Tree is a great way to get the conversation started during the Thanksgiving meal. Start with an empty vase and place twigs inside the vase to create a “tree” effect. Make leaves from construction paper and have each family member write something they are thankful for on the leaf before hanging it on the tree. This is a great way to make the kids feel involved!

2. Food

  • Don’t be afraid to go potluck! Use websites such as perfectpotluck.com to coordinate menu items to ensure nothing will be forgotten.
  • Ready to shop? Use the Flipp app to help you find the best deals! This circular shopping app makes hundreds of newspaper circulars mobile and at your fingertips to help you find a bargain on the supplies you need. Did I mention it’s free?
  • Consider making a dessert that goes a long way like a pumpkin spice trifle. For very few ingredients, you can make a dessert with a WOW factor that is not only tasty but will feed in excess of 24 people!

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3. Fun

  • After the food, head outside for a traditional game of football or try a competitive game of “turkey tag.” Color clothespins, add googly eyes and a construction paper beak and you are ready to go! Simply pin a turkey on the back of each player’s shirt. When someone yells “Gobble!” the players race to capture as many turkeys as possible. At the end of a preset time limit, the person with the most turkeys wins!

Infant Car Seat Safety with the Chicco KeyFit 30 Zip

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

How many times have you seen pictures of friends’ kids on Facebook in the car with their car seats strapped incorrectly? I know it makes me want to pick up the phone and call but sometimes we worry about stepping on feelings. But September is Baby Safety Month and now is the perfect time to share information on the correct ways to install and fasten a car seat.

In the United States during 2013, 638 children ages 12 years and younger died as occupants in motor vehicle crashes and more than 127,250 were injured says the CDC.

Did you know that 84% of rear-facing only infant car seats are misused or installed incorrectly? Whether you’re driving with children for five miles or five hundred, it’s important to make sure that your child is safely secured in the appropriate seat, and that it is installed correctly.

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In honor of Childhood Safety Month, I had the opportunity to check out the #1-rated infant car seat, the Chicco KeyFit 30 Zip Infant Car Seat. From the initial opening of the box I learned:

  • It is already seemed and attached to the base, ready to go.
  • I LOVE the zip boot. Perfect for keeping baby warm in the cooler weather or when it rains.
  • I love that the canopy is zip on and off. Great for when you need it and when you don’t

The Chicco base is what the fuss is all about with this car seat. It is easy to install and there is no guessing if the seat is installed correctly. Here’s how it’s achieved:

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  • ReclineSure®Spring-Loaded Leveling Foot to help achieve proper base angle in vehicle seat
  • RideRight®Bubble Level-Indicators on each side of the base to indicate accurate angle in vehicle seat
  • SuperCinch®One-Pull LATCH Tightener with force-multiplying technology to help achieve a tight and secure fit with a fraction of the effort!

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The base also features easy vehicle belt routing and a built-in lock-off system for vehicles without LATCH. An enclosed underside helps protect vehicle seats from damage and it also conforms to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213.

My husband and I love that it has the easy to remove LATCH system. To take the car seat out of the car it is as simple as undoing a seat belt…just press the button. So now that we have safety covered let’s talk more about the bells and whistles. Now on my second child, I have learned the cardinal rule of style is one thing, but being functional and easy to clean is way more important.

Chicco Infant Car Seat

The KeyFit® 30 Zip features a quick-remove seat pad that is machine-washable for easy cleanup. The shell is lined with energy-absorbing foam, and is super comfy. I actually really love that it is black too. It shows less wear with the darker color and is more gender neutral if you plan to use it for multiple kids.

According to the CDC, buckling children in age- and size-appropriate car seats, booster seats, and seat belts reduces the risk of serious and fatal injuries. Car seat use reduces the risk for death to infants (aged <1 year) by 71%; and to toddlers (aged 1–4 years) by 54% in passenger vehicles. Help spread the word by sharing Chicco’s handy infographics on your social channels!

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Visit the Pampers Cruisers #SagToSwag Tour!

In celebration of the new and improved Pampers Cruisers diapers, Pampers is going on a national tour – with a branded vehicle “Cruiser” – to transform the nation’s babies from “sag to swag” one bottom at a time!

CruiserThe Pampers Cruisers #SagToSwag Tour is coming to San Fransisco on Saturday, September 20 at The San Fransisco Zoo on Sloat Blvd. at the Great Highway from 11AM-3PM PST. At the tour stop, babies and their parents will get free Pampers Cruisers sample diaper packs, enjoy fun and interactive activities and learn about the new Pampers Cruisers. With music, dancing, inflatable slides, a video booth and more at each stop, babies will be showing off their one-of-a-kind swag. Make sure to check it out!

Making the World #BetterforBaby with Drew’s Tunes and Pampers

Like any Mom, there is nothing I would not do for my babies. By just watching the evening news, it is clear that today’s World is far from perfect but it is encouraging that despite the grim stories, there are even more good people in this World who will are willing to make it better.

I learned about two of these special people from a friend and was immediately moved by the story of Drew’s Tunes.  Georgia and Devron Boswell welcomed a beautiful, healthy baby boy in November of 2012. With smitten parents, Drew flourished and grew into a loving, happy, sweet toddler.

“Drew’s passion for music grew and he was constantly “playing” an array of instruments including kazoos, bongos and his favorite little red piano.”

Unfortunately, Drew passed away unexpectedly in his sleep in March of 2014 at just 15 months of age. With no cause of death, Georgia and Devron learned about the Sudden Unexplained Death in Children (SUDC) Program and joined a community of 600 affected families. This program not only is pioneering clinical research but is a centralized resource for information, support and advocacy. But for Georgia and Devron, this was not enough. They needed to do more to honor their son’s legacy and they wanted to do it through music. Drew’s Tunes was born.

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“Drew’s Tunes has made it our mission to honor the blessing we had in our lives for 15 blissful months by striving to bring joyous smiles to other children.”

As early as Drew’s Memorial Service, Georgia and Devron requested that people make donations to a children’s arts program in the impoverished neighborhood of Tremé in New Orleans in lieu of flowers. In just a few weeks, these parents raised $10,000 and saved the summer camp from being cancelled due to local budget cuts. Drew was already making an impact.

Georgia and Devron pressed on and hosted a Bowl-A-Thon just 5 months after Drew’s passing and raised $41,000! More than 200 instruments, $33,000 to summer camps and $12,500 to SUDC research have been donated in Drew’s name. Building on their success, Drew’s Tunes hosted their 2nd Annual Bowl-A-Thon in August of 2015.

As a member of the Pampers Baby Board, I am often given the opportunity to make a difference in our own communities with the support of the brand. Pampers recently released a new video celebrating the fact that there is nothing parents won’t do for their children and how each person can make this World #BetterforBaby. The members of the Pampers Baby Board were challenged to make the World better for baby in our own community and immediately I knew I needed to help Drew’s Tunes.

Teaming up with Renee from What Mommies Need (another local Baby Board blogger), we combined our grant money to make a big impact. Donating money as a sponsor of Drew’s Tunes Bowl-A-Thon 2015 was just the tip of the iceberg. Renee and I were also able to purchase $2,000 in musical instruments (bongos, drums, maracas, xylophones, kazoos and tambourines) which will be donated to New Orleans preschools and daycare centers and $2500 in technology that will help Drew’s Tunes make an even bigger impact for years to come. I am happy to report that Drew’s Tunes raised over $61,000 at this year’s Bowl-A-Thon!

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Now, that is better for baby! Thank you, Pampers for making New Orleans an even better place to live for our children!

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If you feel compelled to make the World better for baby, we would be honored if you would consider donating to Drew’s Tunes.