Archives for June 2013

Popsicle Inspired Summer Crafts for Kids {Giveaway}

This post was created in connection with my appointment as an Ambassador in the Popsicle® Blogger Program. Visit to join the conversation.

With June almost over, my kids have been out of school for an entire month….that’s 30 days filled with swimming, dancing, playdates and…..boredom.  As excited as the kids were to get out of school, I think I heard the phrase, “Mommy, I’m boooooored!” within the first week.

Because the New Orleans heat is in full effect, we have gone through several boxes of Popsicles in an attempt to cool off (no complaining from the kids, of course).  With Popsicle sticks piling up on our deck and two bored kids on my hands, I took to Pinterest to round up a few Summer craft ideas.


1.  With July 4th just around the corner, why not get the kids into the spirit of the holiday with Popsicle Stick Flags?  Try eating a few Popsicle Firecracker Jr. treats first!

2.  My girls LOVE to make jewelry.  We are definitely going to try these Popsicle stick bracelets soon!

3. YUM! That is all.

4. What a great way to encourage summer learning with Popsicle stick math games!

If you are going to make these crafts, you will need to get started by eating some Popsicles!  Fortunately, one of my readers will win a $25 Target gift card AND three Popsicle free product coupons to help out!  Looking for more fun ideas?  Make sure you “like” the Popsicle Facebook page so you’re not left out in the cold! Enter below:
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Taking a Look Behind the Scenes at Hot Pockets #Ambassador

I am excited to announce that I am a Hot Pockets Ambassador.  While I was unable to attend the brand event, Linzy from Crawfish Tales represented Experimental Mommy.  In this post, she shares her experiences and thoughts on the trip.  Travel was provided but all opinions remain 100% honest.

I am a mom, so that means one of many things. It means that from the day I became a mom I put myself even lower on the totem pole of my priorities. This results in my appearance, which I spend less than two minutes on in the morning, disheveled while my daughter is perfectly coordinated and her hair perfectly placed.

This is also means that I most likely forgot to eat breakfast or pack lunch for the day, but of course she is well taken care of. It is like the unspoken mom code. We all do it and we all forgive each other, especially in the mornings.

While I am still human, I need to eat. This sounds simple but there are a couple of issues with this. First, is that our family does not eat fast food. It is just not a part of our regular diet and is something reserved for specific situations like road trips. Second, is that eating out is expensive!  I can’t remember to pack a well-balanced lunch for myself but to purchasing lunch every day is just not in the budget. I can think of a million other ways that I would rather spend that money. Finally, I need to eat smart. I am not a supermodel nor do I have the metabolism that I did in high school.

So that is quite a list of criteria to put in to one meal on the go that has to be quick and easy.

Recently I was invited to go to the Nestle facility in Ohio to get a behind the scenes look at their Hot Pocket and Lean Pocket Brands. I was able to touch and taste the quality ingredients put into the sandwiches, meet with their lead nutritionist to learn about the great efforts they put into the nutritional value of the sandwiches and hear from the CEO himself about the company’s mission on producing healthy family friendly foods.

I really enjoyed hearing from the nutritionist. She talked about her personal goals of why she works for Nestle and how the company supports her requirement of producing quality products. She has put a lot of time and effort and her stamp of approval on the products.

One of the things that she mentioned is that portion sizes are quite out of control at many restaurants and even in the meals we make at home. Because a Hot Pocket comes prepared, the portion size is controlled. Partnering a Lean Pocket, with a fresh fruit or vegetable serving offers minimal additional calories and adds even more nutrition completing the meal.

I learned first-hand about the premium quality meats and real cheese in every bite as good sources for protein and calcium. While I know I was looking for a solution for my on the go breakfast and lunch needs, I was very excited to know that many of the Nestle products, including Hot Pockets and Lean Pockets, fit into the Balance Your Plate initiative.

If you are not familiar with the Balance Your Plate initiative, it is a tool kit designed by health and nutrition professionals to show consumers how to create a deliciously balanced, perfectly portioned meals that include the foods they love while meeting the current dietary guidelines.

This is perfect for moms on the go but as well as families on the go. It is hard to get a home cooked meal on the table each night and this is a great resource for mom as a go to meal planner to help insure that your family is getting the nutrients they need.

Be on the lookout in the coming months for exciting news, products and initiatives from Hot Pockets right here on Experimental Mommy!

Talking to Kids About Hunger #HungerFreeSummer

This post was written by the Experimental Mommy.  While I was compensated for my time and effort through ConAgra Food and The Motherhood, all opinions remain 100% mine.

Living in New Orleans has lots of advantages:  the food, the music, the culture and the friendly people to name a few.  While not traditionally thought of as a family-friendly venue, there are so many activities in the City for my girls.  We often play tourist in our City and head downtown for a day of fun at the French Market, Cafe du Monde or the Audubon Aquarium.

Along with the fun comes a dose of reality.  Like any major urban area, New Orleans is not without it’s problems.  As we stroll through the City, you are faced with the issues of the homeless and hungry.  Explaining why these people are sleeping on the streets and begging for money to my children is heartbreaking.

Until now, my girls have seen the World through rose colored glasses.  The realization that not everyone gets three meals a day and rests their heads on a comfy pillow at night was a lot to handle for them.  My husband and I took the opportunity to talk to the girls about those less fortunate that us and what we can do to help.

I am proud to say that I have raised two very compassionate girls.  When they learned that even children can be effected by hunger, they wanted to know more.  I explained that 21.5 million kids rely on free or reduced-price meals during the school year but when school is out for Summer, only 2.3 million children participate in the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP).  That leaves many kids not sure when or where their next meal will come from.

Fortunately, there are many kind-hearted people in the World that want to help, too.  For example, ConAgra Foods developed “Hunger-Free Summer” grants to support food banks around the Country.  The program – now in its fourth year – has supported the delivery of more than 2.5 million meals and snacks to children struggling with hunger over the summer.

My girls both attend a Catholic elementary school who often organizes a canned good drive to support our local food bank, Second Harvest of Greater New Orleans and Acadiana.  Because the girls witnessed first hand what the face of hunger looks like during our trip to the City, they finally understood why we bring the canned goods to school.

How else can you help?  Actor (and father of five) Chris O’Donnell has joined forces with ConAgra Foods to help bring awareness to the issue by creating a simple way for everyone to get involved.  Simply watch this short video to join the fight against hunger!  For every view, a meal is donated.

Talking to the kids about hunger was not an easy task.  But watching them work together to help be a part of the solution made me realize that talking about hunger with your kids is a positive thing!  Be a part of the solution, too, and share the Chris O’ Donnell video with your friends and family.

What to do with Kids in Greece

This post is brought to you by guest author, Alejandro Amores.

The high temperatures, the beaches and the lively nightlife – these are all plus points for adults on vacation to Greece. Kids however, are slightly more demanding when it comes to filling their leisure time and when their low boredom threshold is reached it’s up to the adults to keep them amused. Luckily, if you choose the right Greek destination you can find a wealth of attractions that easily beat building sandcastles on the beach.

Image by heatheronhertravels used under creative commons licence

The largest aqua park in Europe
Corfu is a stunning Greek island but in the past has been more famous for its nightlife than its family-friendly attractions. This has changed in recent years and the immense waterpark known as Aqualand in Agios Ioannis will provide as much fun as the kids, and adults, can handle. The waterpark is home to 15 adventure pools, 36 water slides and offers a children’s area (ages four to eight) and a family area that includes family rafting and a Caribbean adventure pool. Older kids of 12 years and upwards can enjoy extreme water games such as the Hurricane Twist and the Kamikaze rides. The Greeks do waterparks very well and there are also waterparks on Rhodes, Crete and Kos.

Watersports for beginners
The Greek islands are the perfect place for children to lose their fear of the water and learn some lifelong watersports skills. The sunny climate in Greece and the warm Aegean Sea provide the perfect conditions for watersports such as diving, surfing, sailing, snorkelling and kayaking. Alonnisos, which is part of the Sporades Islands, is incredibly beautiful and one of the best places to learn to dive with qualified instructors. However, it really doesn’t matter which of the Greek islands use choose to visit – if you are near the beach there will be watersports available.

Stepping back in time
Greece is famous for its archaeological ruins and if your children want to discover their Indiana Jones spirit then that’s an easy task on a Greek holiday. Athens is of course the number one tourist spot when it comes to historical sites and this historic capital city contains the famous Acropolis and the Parthenon Temple to name just a few. The island of Rhodes boasts its own Acropolis dating back to the 2nd century BC, the Grand Master’s Palace and the ancient ruined city of Kamiros.

Island hopping
Kids love seeing new sights and will particularly welcome the fun that comes with travelling by boat to new beaches on little Greek islands. The Cyclades contains around 56 islands including Syros, Tinos and the famous Santorini. Many of the islands are uninhabited and boat tours of the islands can include picnics on beautiful deserted beaches. Don’t miss the chance to visit the magnificent monastery on Amorgos and the historic ruins on Delos.

Helping Children Get the Medical Care They Need With a UHCCF Grant

This post is written by the Experimental Mommy and brought to you by the UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation.

When I was pregnant, I prayed routinely for healthy babies.  In both 2005 and 2008, my prayers were answered when I gave birth to two perfect little girls.  Unfortunately, not every child has an easy start in life.  No Mother or Father wants to see their child suffer and will do just about anything to help their little miracles.  But treatments, surgeries, doctor appointments, therapies and technology cost money…a lot of money.

In 2012, UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation (UHCCF) awarded more than 1,300 grants, worth more than $4.1 million, to families across the United States for treatments associated with medical conditions such as cancer, spina bifida, muscular dystrophy, diabetes, hearing loss, autism, cystic fibrosis, Down syndrome, ADHD and cerebral palsy. As successful fund-raising efforts continue to grow, UHCCF is hoping to help even more children and families in 2013.

The UHCCF is currently seeking grant applications from families in need of financial assistance to help pay for their child’s much needed health care needs.  The grants can be used for services and equipment not covered, or partially covered, by their commercial health insurance plan such as speech therapy, counseling services, wheelchairs, hearing aids, and surgeries.

To be eligible, the child in need must be 16 years of age or younger and the family must meet economic guidelines, live in the United States and have a commercial health insurance plan.  Qualifying families can receive up to $5,000 per grant!  There is no application deadline, so you are encouraged to apply for a UHCCF Grant now.

Get a #WakeUpCall from {Giveaway}

This post is the opinion of the Experimental Mommy.  While a sample was received to facilitate this post, all opinions remain 100% mine.

After spending many years in school and obtaining my Master of Science in Biology, I landed a wonderful job that I adored for seventeen years.  Unfortunately, you never know what life will bring and I was laid off due to Federal budget cuts last year.  To say that I was in a state of shock would be an understatement.

From the very first day, I spent hours online on websites such as searching for a new job.  After eight long months of unemployment, I finally found a new job which I hope will turn out to be even better than the last.  While it took being laid off to provide my Wake Up Call, many Americans are currently sitting in jobs they dislike or will never provide a sense of fulfillment.

On behalf of, Brian Baumgartner from the TV series “The Office” provided a few unsuspecting hard working employees with their own #WakeUpCall. goes inside these offices setting up hidden cameras and horn traps in workstations.  The selected employees show up to work thinking it’s going to be a normal workday, but little do they know, they are in for quite the surprise!

Does your office need a shake up?  Film your own funny wake up call video and post on’s Facebook page using the hashtag, #WakeUpCall.  They will repost the ones they think are the funniest on their Twitter and Facebook!  Then, head over to to “find better” by getting the latest on job search advice, networking and cool jobs, and other tips and advice on managing your career.

To jump start your new career, one lucky reader will win a $50 VISA Gift Card and swag including branded lunch cooler, duffle bag, backpack cinch bag, and snow globe.  Enter below:
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Endless Looks with Infinity Headbands {Giveaway}

This post is the opinion of the Experimental Mommy.  While a sample was received to facilitate this review, all opinions remain 100% mine.

With two girls, ages 5 and 8, each with tons of beautiful hair, it should come as no surprise that our accessory drawer is overflowing.  My little fashionistas love to coordinate outfits and show their own personalities through their wardrobes.  And of course, every outfit must have a matching bow, headband or ribbon!

With their budding sense of styles, the accessories are starting to take over my bathroom.  So, I was thrilled to learn about Infinity Headbands and receive a few items to test out with my girls.

Infinity Headbands are a line of interchangeable fashion hair accessories. With just one headband, the user can create over 400 different looks by changing the ribbons and embellishments in moments, making one band do the work of many.

1.  All you need is a base headband ($7.00), any ribbon you choose ($4) and a coordinating embellishment ($6) and you can create lots of different looks.

2.  Slide the ribbon through the embellishment to the desired location.

3.  Attach the ribbon and embellishment to the headband easily with the installed Velcro.


Both of my girls LOVED their Infinity Headbands and cannot wait to get more ribbons and embellishments.  As a Mom, I love that I can detach the ribbon and wash it if it becomes dirty.  And the ribbons are so much easier to store than several headbands.  I am definitely going to be on the lookout for school colors for the Fall!

Would you like to try Infinity Headbands?  One lucky reader will win one headband, 2 ribbons and 2 embellishments.  Enter below:

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That Moment When You Became a Parent {Pampers Giveaway}

As a Pampers Baby Board Member, a sample was received to facilitate this review.  All opinions remain 100% mine.

After six month of trying to get pregnant with our first child, my husband and I could not have been more thrilled to learn we were expecting a baby in February 2005.  Once the initial excitement began to wear off, anxiety set in.

We were having a baby.  But more importantly, the baby was having us.

Would we know what to do?  What do we feed her?  How do we change a diaper?  What if she gets sick?  Getting answers to one question only brought up more questions.  But when the big day arrived and Lily Catherine entered the world on January 31, 2005, our anxiety disappeared and was replaced with complete unconditional love and a huge sense of protection over our new little miracle.

Lily spent the first two nights in the neonatal ICU and because I was extremely anemic, I had a hard time visiting.  But my husband was a rock.  Not only did he take care of me, but watched over Lily with such compassion, love and concern that there was no doubt in my mind that he had become a Father in every sense of the word.

Pampers recognizes the very important role that dads play in your little miracles’ lives each and every day and is taking time to celebrate Dad for Father’s Day with a very special giveaway right here on Experimental Mommy.  I would love to hear all about those very special moments when you first realized that your partner (and/or YOU) had become a Father.  Enter to win this prize pack below:

  • Cool diaper bag for Dads
  • Pampers diapers/wipes for baby
  • $100 gift card for Omaha Steaks delivery
  • Special toy for little miracle and dad to have fun with together
  • $100 gift card for

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Travel Made Easy with Microsoft OneNote Travel Template {Giveaway}

This is a sponsored post from One2One Network and Microsoft Office 365. All opinions stated are my own.

School  is out for Summer and that means it is time to start planning some family fun!  This year, we plan to take two vacations both including various parts of our extended family.  As a compulsive list-maker, I generally find myself in charge of travel details, research and planning.  While I typically gravitate to a colorful notebook, pens and highlighters, I was thrilled to check out the new OneNote free travel template.

If you are not familiar with OneNote, it is part of the Office 365 Home Premium subscription along with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Publisher and Access.  One license allows you to use the software on up to five devices in your household including tablets, PCs and Macs along with 20 GB of SkyDrive cloud storage (3 times more than a free account!).   With the automatic save to SkyDrive, your documents and personal settings are always available no matter where you are!

With Office 365 Home Premium and the new features in OneNote, planning your next trip is a breeze.  The new free travel notebook with expert tips from Travel + Leisure allows you to access all of your ideas, notes, reservations, confirmation numbers, directions, website links, and more virtually anywhere by saving on SkyDrive.

I downloaded the free OneNote travel template and started planning my upcoming trip to the blog conference, Reviewer’s Retreat at Callaway Gardens in Georgia.  My first impression was that it was bright, colorful and just plain fun!  I couldn’t wait to get started.

First, I started to input my Itinerary.  I love that I can highlight certain “don’t miss” appointments of change the colors and fonts.  You can also add or delete rows depending on our needs.  Notice the travel tips on the right?  Love!

Next, I decided to start my packing list.  I said I was a compulsive list-maker and I wasn’t kidding!  You can also add webpage snapshots and even handwritten notes (admittedly, I need more practice with handwriting using my mouse).

Now that my packing list is organized, I started getting all of my paperwork in order.  On the screen above, you can directly add flight itinerary, hotel info and confirmation numbers.  Never fumble through your bags for that confirmation number again!

Before, during and after the trip, there is even a spot to journal your thoughts, add pictures and even narrate with audio clips.  Adding audio brings the trip to life and lets you relive the moments even after the trip is over.

The OneNote travel template is great for planning a trip with family, too.  Simply give your friends and family access to your travel notebook on SkyDrive and let them add their own travel tips, ideas or suggestions.  You can even see where others make changes and revisions throughout your notebook with OneNote 2013 identity profiles. Each authors’ initials are marked next to their work for better collaboration!

Are you planning an upcoming family vacation? Ready to try OneNote and the free travel template?  One lucky reader will win a one year subscription of Office 365 Home Premium (US $99.99 value).

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Father’s Day Gift Idea: CHANNELLOCK Pliers {Giveaway}

This post is the opinion of Beth of the Experimental Mommy. While a sample was received to facilitate this review, all opinions remain 100% mine.

Between owning our own home and having children, we are constantly fixing things and putting them together. Pliers are an essential piece of any tool chest and  according to the men in my family, it can’t just be any old pliers.

CHANNELLOCK is a family business with more than 125 years of experience, and they are committed to making the best tools possible. For generations fathers and grandfathers have been teaching their children and grandchildren the importance of a good tool and CHANNELLOCK is on the top of that list.  All CHANNELLOCK pliers use high carbon steel to which they apply an electronic coating for rust protection while the cutting edges are laser heat-treated so your pliers will last a lifetime.

With Father’s Day fast approaching, CHANNELLOCK pliers make the perfect gift! My husband was so excited when we received the package. As soon as he picked up the pliers he could see how sturdy they were and said he understood how these could last him a lifetime. He also noticed the blue comfort grips and the side cutter.

Earlier that day, my son bent the metal part of his glasses so it was time to put the Long Nose E326 XTL Pliers  to the test and they worked perfectly. I think he will be walking around my house looking for things to fix for the next few days.  Also, my husband is rewiring our house for internet connection so he gave the E 336 ELT Diagonal Cutting Pliers a try.  He said the blade was extremely sharp and cut through the wire like butter. I think he liked his early Father’s Day gift!


Do you have some DIY projects lined up in your home?  Win a set of three CHANNELLOCK pliers right here!  Enter below:

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