Friday, October 31, 2014

Our most epic family Halloween costumes

We used to live in a neighborhood that was all about Halloween. Adults dressed up with the kids, we all met in a huge group in the end cul-de-sac, and we had a walking, talking, laughing party as we went door to door. Most doors just had candy bowls on the porch, because we were all out together having fun.

Some of my favorite family costumes from Halloween's past:




Happy Halloween! And TGIF!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

DIY coffee body scrub from @BeachesResorts Red Lane Spa #BeachesMoms

It has been almost two weeks since we departed ATL for the BeachesMoms Social Media on the Sand conference at Beaches Turks and Caicos. I am desperately trying to cling to the "no problem" attitude and relaxation from being completely pampered by fantastic service.

An aromatic body scrub in a warm bath may help... and it's a good thing that Beaches Resorts invited us to special DIY experiences over the conference weekend. I attended a DIY at the Beaches Red Lane Spa.

Not only did they spoil us with a goody bag of luxurious spa products, they also taught us how to make our own body scrub at home with items from our pantry!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

#BeachesMoms via Instagram

I am dreaming of ocean breezes and luxury today, but when I glance out the window, the rain is drizzling and skies are gray.

So, I think this Wordless Wednesday calls for another look at #BeachesMoms!  Some of my adventures via BalancingMama on Instagram:


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Children are our best investment @SaveTheChildren

My husband grew up understanding the power of a hurricane. I have been landlocked for all of my life, so I don't fully comprehend that power. However, I understand how much devastation can come from significant weather events; I've seen the aftermath on the news. The stories of children are the hardest to watch.
 
 
Wednesday, Oct. 29 is the 2-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy’s U.S. landfall.  Sandy affected 24 states, killed 162 people, caused more than $50 million in damage and damaged or destroyed 650,000 homes and hundreds of child care centers and schools.  It was the day that life turned upside down for thousands of children who suddenly lost everything – including their very sense of stability. 
 
Save the Children is still working with many of these children to help them rebound. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Creative pumpkin designs for Halloween

Let me introduce you to our jack-o-lantern family!

 
 
The ACCIDENT-PRONE pumpkin
This guy has had several run-ins with sharp objects. Carve a pumpkin face with a wiggly mouth. Using a permanent marker, draw on stitches around his face. Hammer in thick screws or nails, and use a red permanent marker to draw blood. Ouch.
 
The ZOMBIE GIRL
Amelia got her idea from an iPad app with monster girls. She painted her pumpkin turquoise, glued on gooly eyes (hot glue gun works best), and drew scars and an angry mouth with pointy teeth. The gooly eyes are too cute on their own, so we colored in slanted eyelids on the eyes. Also scraggly eyelashes. Finally, she glued on hot pink ribbon for hair. In the back, she has a bald spot with no hair and a big scar - this zombie had brain surgery!

The POLKA-DOT CUTIE
I saw some polka-dot glow pumpkins on Pinterest and decided to give it a try. First, you hammer thick screws into the pumpkin:

Space out the holes the way you like them, and be sure to clean the stringy pumpkin goo from the holes so the light will shine through fully. Once I was finished, I thought the plain polka-dots were a bit boring. My pumpkin needed personality... so big googly eyes to the rescue! Now he's a cute polka-dot glow guy.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Teen driving tips from Ford #NationalTeenDriverSafetyWeek



Top Safety Tips for Teen Drivers
Teen Driver Safety Week
October 19-25, 2014


Experts from Ford’s ‘Driving Skills for Life’ offer these tips on how teens (and their parents) can be safer drivers:

1.    Engage in the driving process – As teens get closer to earning/acquiring their learner’s permit, parents should actively engage with them about driving. Talk about safe driving behaviors, practice with them, seek educational opportunities, and be clear that unsafe actions won’t be tolerated.

2.    Buckle up – It’s the law. In a crash, a person not buckled up is much more likely to be injured or killed than someone wearing a safety belt. Always buckle up and require all passengers to buckle up for everyone’s safety.

3.    Never speed – Research done for Ford’s ‘Driving Skills for Life’ shows that if parents speed, their teens are more likely to do the same. Speed-related factors continue to be reported in about one-third of all traffic deaths nationally.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Parenting: it's different these days

I was born at the tail end of the 1970s, so I grew up throughout the 1980s, in all their neon, side-ponytailed glory. While a lot of the toys and fashions are coming back (in a ploy to get the 80s-raised moms to buy for their kids), parenting seems awfully different these days.

Five ways my parenting differs from my childhood:

(1) Stranger Danger
Sure, there were bad guys in the 1980s. But it seemed so much safer back then. My sister and I would play outside alone without my mom having to hover over our heads. I could jump on my bike, kick up the kickstand, and fly down the road bouncing on the big banana seat, as much as three streets over to my friend's house. Today, even in my small cul-de-sac neighborhood of only a few homes, I will not let Amelia play without an adult at least outdoors, listening and making sure no strange cars pass through. It is a different world - and I live in big city suburbs now too, not the quiet of a small city in Tennessee.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

How does all-inclusive compare to a cruise? We investigated from @BeachesResorts

If you took a glance at BalancingMama on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook this weekend, you probably already know how I spent the weekend with my husband and daughter: meandering along wooden plank boardwalks nestled within tropical foliage, sinking my toes in the softness of white sand while admiring a water color that, surpisingly, can actually be found in nature. Part of my weekend was spent with energetic people who all have a passion for family experiences and writing all about it. And also with some of the most accommodating, friendly resort employees I have ever had the pleasure to meet.

Yes, our weekend was truly grand. Our weekend was... #BeachesMoms! We attended the Social Media on the Sand conference hosted by Beaches Resorts Turks and Caicos.


Beaches Resorts are family-friendly and all-inclusive. As any employee will tell you, the only 'no' you will hear is 'nooo problem' (insert Caribbean accent). As a fan of cruising, I found myself continually comparing a cruise vacation with the experiences we were having at Beaches. Repeatedly, I said to my husband "this is like a cruise" or "wow, this is better than a cruise!".


So, how does an all-inclusive resort compare to a cruise?
My response: You definitely need to put it in your list of options when planning family travel. It may be very well worth it.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Using the #LeapPad3 on vacation

We just returned home from #BeachesMoms, the Social Media on the Sand conference hosted by Beaches Resorts, Turks and Caicos. The event was sponsored by brand leaders including LeapFrog, Playskool, Party City, HP, Land's End, Certain Dri, and many more.

The kind folks at LeapFrog were generous enough to gift a LeapPad3 and one Explorer game to the social media moms who brought children along on the Beaches adventure. They said it would be handy to have on a long flight... they were right.

Normally, my daughter begs for my phone or the tablet, but I am often catching up on work, writing, or trying to conserve the battery. Thanks to a LeapPad3 of her very own, she was entertained and barely made a peep.


Amelia is 6 1/2 years old and a super smart kid. She enjoys learning games and puzzles, as well as reading anything she can get her eyeballs on. I was not sure if the LeapPad3 games would be too "young" for her, but they do a great job of categorizing all of the apps by age and skill. I was able to choose from math games, puzzle games, creativity projects, and more.


Here, Amelia tells us a bit about her LeapPad3 (she was nervous but proud to do a video review of her own!)


So, kids think it is fun and they enjoy videos and games - not surprising! My daughter also likes the attached stylus so she won't lose it, and she loves that the LeapPad3 fits easily in a backpack.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Mommy and Me: Girl Time!

Okay, so Daddy was with us too, but I was able to have some special vacation time with Amelia this weekend on our trip to Beaches Resorts Turks and Caicos.

We brought Amelia and left the baby at home with grandparents so she could get a few special moments of "only child" again. She lived 5 1/2 years as an only child, after all. With fewer responsibilities, I was able to capture a bit of the old me again as well.




Friday, October 17, 2014

I miss him, but #BeachesMoms is amazing!

I soooooooo miss this gorgeous little guy.



We only just arrived, but so far the #BeachesMoms event (Social Media on the Sand 2014) has been amazing. Beaches Turks & Caicos is gorgeous beyond words. Lots of photos to come on Mommy and Me Monday and Wordless Wednesday! (Although that probably won't be wordless - too much to tell you about!)

We had an energetic and friendly meet and greet and the pirate pool party last night. Amelia is happy to be able to stay up late and soak up all of the attention. We all miss our sweet baby boy, but this experience is one in a million.

See you soon, sweet Andrew! Sending smooches and squeezes. XOXOXOXO

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Flying through the blue sky to paradise #BeachesMoms

Social Media on the Sand begins tomorrow afternoon!
 
Beaches Social Media on the Sand
 
I think I know how the morning will go; the hectic rush to get up, get the kids ready, double-check the luggage. Did we forget anything? Honey, did you remember the...? Is Amelia dressed - did she brush her teeth?
 
I will make time to snuggle and kiss on my sweet baby boy who will be staying home with Grandma and Granddad. I have never been away from him overnight - that will tear me up inside. I will be going through the motions of a mom on the verge of vacation while shoving aside thoughts of the goodbye I have to say to that sweet little guy.
 
 
As usual on crazy out-the-door mornings, I will probably skip breakfast. I will plan to grab food at the airport, but might manage to snag a bottled Starbucks Iced Coffee from the fridge before the husband whisks us away down the interstate. We will have Atlanta rush hour traffic to contend with; I will be stressed and worried that we will be late.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Amaluna = Astounding! GIVEAWAY: 4 tickets #Atlanta #Amaluna #CirqueDuSoleil

I do not want to spoil any surprises if you have not seen Amaluna from Cirque du Soleil, but I will say that this show was one of my favorite Cirque shows yet! The all-female band was rocking it with some strong girl power. The costumes were, as always, beautiful, fun, and unique. All of the acts had the audience's eyes glued to the stage at all times.


Amaluna is a love story set on an isolated island with a shipwreck, a young woman, and a man. Also a jealous pet lizard, a cautious mother, a hilarious nanny, and a whole cast of wonderful characters with amazing talents.


The Balance Goddess was an act I had never before seen in Cirque du Soleil shows. She was mesmerizing! She balanced huge sticks, lifting with her feet, bending, and even spinning the final huge structure with perfect poise. I don't think the audience took a breath until she was finished!


I highly recommend this show! If you are in or near Atlanta from now through November 30th, buy your tickets and make plans for an enjoyable afternoon or evening out. Amaluna plays every day except Mondays. And here's a special offer for you:

Experience Amaluna from Cirque du Soleil, now playing under the iconic blue and yellow big top at Atlantic Station. Save 20% on a Family 4 Pack and take an adventure to an island governed by goddesses.  CLICK HERE and buy your tickets today.  

Feeling lucky? I also have a 4-ticket giveaway! These tickets are for the 7:30 PM show on Wednesday, November 5th. Enter via the form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Amaluna on Facebook
Cirque on Twitter
Cirque on Instagram

I received complimentary media passes to see the show and share my opinions. All opinions are 100% mine.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Snug & Dry for the speedy baby on the go! @Huggies #MC #sponsored

Note: I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Mom Central for Huggies and Target. I received product samples to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.
 
 
The baby boy in this house is now over eight months old and a total speed demon. He kind of reminds me of Turbo, that racing snail from the animated children's movie. He's a little guy on all fours, scooting around the room, but scooting really FAST. It seems no obstacle can contain him; he is a baby on the move with lots of things to see (and taste).
 
With all of that zippy crawling, I have recently noticed red marks around his legs from diaper chafing. Not all diapers fit the same way. Some are more of a rectangle shape and fit more loosely around his little squishy thighs. Looser = more chafing, it seems.

Enter Huggies Snug and Dry diapers with the Sure Fit design. This diaper has more curve to its shape and a thinner feel. It hugs baby's soft and sensitive skin and stays with him as he moves and races throughout his busy baby day. We have been testing Huggies Snug and Dry for a few days now, and no chafing! Before, I was using baby lotion or petroleum jelly to soothe the red marks. Not needed anymore! So far so good, and he seems as happy as can be on his daily quests for adventure.
 

When you are diaper shopping, don't forget the wipes! All wipes are not created equal.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Amaluna from Cirque du Soleil - celebrating women and femininity

Date night tonight!

My husband and I are off to see this evening's performance of Amaluna from Cirque du Soleil. It is playing at Atlantic Station in Atlanta from now through November 30th.



Really awesome fact, mamas: For the first time at Cirque du Soleil, the cast of a show is 70% female and the band, 100%.

“Amaluna is a tribute to the work and voice of women,” explains Director of Creation Fernand Rainville. “The show is a reflection on balance from a woman’s perspective,“ he adds. Show Director Diane Paulus says: “Amaluna is less about feminism and more about reconnecting to our world in a different way.”

Acts tonight will include the Peacock dance, juggling, aerial straps, Chinese pole, and balance goddess, among others. Shows in Atlanta are performed every day except Mondays for the next two months. There is no excuse to miss it!

For more on Amaluna, including gorgeous photography and tickets for Atlanta and upcoming venues, visit the Cirque du Soleil website.

(image above, Cirque du Soleil)

I received complimentary tickets to Amaluna in exchange for sharing information about the show. All opinions are 100% mine.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Texting my husband (not a love note)

Before I was a mother, I did not understand why people needed to text. Why not call? Or email? But once I had a child in one arm, or a kid napping, or my hands tied up in a diaper change attempt with a squirmy uncooperative little thing? I got it.

I text because it is fast and easy. I rarely have the opportunity to sit and focus on a phone conversation. And I have a short memory (Mom Brain is real!). Life is busy and I easily forget whatever it is I wanted to tell someone. So I zip off a quick text before it slips my mind completely.

My husband and I text during the work day often. I dump whatever to-dos are in my brain at any given moment, not expecting him to jump on it right away, but so I know I sent the thought out there and he can get it when he gets it.

Most of our text exchanges are about everyday life. Quick and easy communication to get stuff done.

  Is pizza OK for dinner? Had a crazy day.   --> Yep.
  Got a media invite for a show, you free on Friday night?  --> Sure, find a sitter.
  Soccer practice tonight, will you make it?  --> Meet you there. Traffic is bad.

I often pass along airport news for my husband, who is an engineer on various projects at ATL (among others). This one the other day made for a good giggle:

 
 
 
Oh, texting. Thanks for letting me send random thoughts and sometimes pointless news to my friends and family during work hours.
 
 
- - -
Linked up to Mama Kat's Writers' Workshop. Thursdays. Prompt: "A recent text exchange that made you laugh."
 
 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Sandals Foundation: Making a difference in our Caribbean #BeachesMoms

Beaches Social Media on the Sand
Social Media on the Sand starts in less than two weeks! The conference attendees have been busy meeting and greeting on various social media and the what to pack talk has begun.
It is a three-night excursion for me, and I already know that I am checking a bag. Why, you ask? Why would I pay an airline fee to check a bag for three nights? I will tell you: I am packing for a purpose! Not only do the Sandals (and Beaches) brands equal fun and relaxation and pampering in the sun, they also support the Sandals Foundation. They have asked us to pack for a purpose.
The Sandals Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Sandals Resorts International and it plays a meaningful role in the lives of communities across the Caribbean - in so many ways.
Adopting schools.
Awarding scholarships.
Training teachers.
Building computer labs.
Supporting infirmaries and children's homes.
Donating books and computers.
Creating marine sanctuaries.
Planting trees. 
Providing access to dental and eye care.

All of these things (and more) are done through the funds, supplies, and manpower donated via the Sandals Foundation.


I am stuffing an extra backpack full of school supplies to take on the trip. Beaches even sent the attendees a backpack to help us in our donation efforts. I will check a small suitcase and use the backpack as carry-on with a simple tote for my other personal belongings. I can even donate the backpack back to the Sandals Foundation once I arrive - I plan to do so!


I love that the BeachesMoms experience allows us to give back on top of all the fun and learning we will do in the gorgeous Turks and Caicos islands.


For more information on the Sandals Foundation, visit SandalsFoundation.org

Monday, October 6, 2014

October is awesome at LEGOLAND Discovery Center (@LDCAtlanta)

When you pay your own hard-earned money for child Halloween costumes, it is nice to find extra opportunities for them to wear that costume outside of Halloween night. Yesterday, we went to LEGOLAND Discovery Center at Phipps Mall in Atlanta for Super Hero Sunday and Brick-Or-Treat.

 
On Superhero Sundays, children who visit wearing a super hero costume receive a Kids Go Free voucher to use on a return visit! Superhero Sundays also provide a great way for LEGOLAND to open its doors to local children's charities and nonprofit organizations. Beginning October 5th and running through the end of the year, the attraction will treat a local nonprofit to a fun-filled outing every Sunday. The free tickets are made possible by Merlin’s Magic Wand.


For Brick-Or-Treat, families can enjoy spooky LEGO fun every weekend in October.  See if you can guess how many pumpkins there are in MINILAND. If you're the closest, you'll win an Annual Pass! Also test your building skills and see if you can build the spookiest and coolest pumpkin to add to the LEGO pumpkin patch (and... if the kids are nice to the exit host, they may be able to snag some treats on the way out!).

 
For more information on the fun you can have at LEGOLAND Discovery Center Atlanta, visit their website. Or LEGOLAND Atlanta on Facebook and LEGOLAND Atlanta on Twitter.
 



Thursday, October 2, 2014

Dear Daddy, Mom's not in a good mood.

There was a super-secret note passed to Daddy upon his return home from work this evening. It seems our daughter is quite smart; she insisted on giving him a heads-up.

The note pretty much sums up how Thursday went.

(Edited for spelling and punctuation. And FYI, Andrew got hurt because he fell; I didn't injure him!) 

Dear Daddy,

Mom's not in a good mood. 

First, she thought it was her fault she hurt Andrew.

Second, she put Andrew to bed, and as she was working the pizza guy came.
 
He rang the doorbell.

Third, she got a tummy ache by eating the pizza.

As you can see, she is very stressed.

Fourth of all, she had to drive to the city.

Sorry to Mommy!

From, Amelia



TGIF - thank goodness it is Friday for sure!


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