the peanuts gang

Say Sorry

Oftentimes, I spend my days juggling the challenges of working, raising boys and finding time to keep my house together. One of the larger challenges is breaking up fights between these little misters, both physical and verbal, and sometimes, that challenge exhausts me. So often I find myself saying, “Say you’re sorry!” or “Apologize to your brother” or “Be nice, give hugs, give love!” and send them along their merry way.

If there’s another thing I’ve learned about parenting, it’s that they are little sponges. They pick up everything around them. Most importantly, they learn by example. The example everyone sets up around them. But most importantly, from their mommy and daddy who they see every day. How we compose ourselves, how we act, how we project our feelings and this is sometimes a very real lesson – one I learn every single day in more ways than one.

The pressures of life mean I don’t always get it right. I yell so that we can get out of the house on time. That’s a thing, right? I speak more harshly than I sometimes intend because I’m frustrated that the boys have continued to needle each other despite my repeated requests to leave one another be. But each day, I get a new opportunity to teach my boys about the right way to act. I get a second chance to be a mom and try again and say the right thing. And there’s a lesson for them (and for me) there. It’s one of grace and second chances and in those moments of supreme frustration, I need to learn to extend that same grace to them. Because when I do, they realize that nothing they do is beyond my love for them. They realize that sometimes we screw it up, but luckily, we get another chance to make it right.

But the bigger lesson here is one from the very beginning. When I am short with them and speak quickly, harshly and out of stress. I am learning to say I’m sorry. When the pace of the day quiets down and in the still of our car before I blast the music, I let them know I am sorry and what for. “I’m sorry for yelling, boys. It’s a busy morning and we had to get out of the house, so I’m sorry if I sounded frustrated with you.” And then I follow it up with some variation of how much I love them – those sweet blessings that have been gifted to me for such a time as this. And in a response so sweet, I am reminded of that same grace, “I love you too, mommy.” And I’m suddenly thankful for a lesson in apologies. And I’m thankful they are still so willing to extend me grace as I’m learning the same valuable lesson.

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Samantha

Aquatic Experience – Chicago {Giveaway}

World Pet Association is bringing back “everything aquatic under one roof” with its second annual Aquatic Experience – Chicago November 7-9, 2014.


Aquatic Experience – Chicago includes family-friendly activities such as the only travelling shark show in the country, a Kid’s Aquarium Contest, Fish from Around the World displays, and over 130 aquariums stocked with a wide variety of tropical fresh and salt water fish.

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The Experience is held at the Schaumburg Convention Center and offers a wide range of activities for family members of all ages! From the strange to weird to downright fascinating life of sea life, the Aquatic Experience is an amazing event for your family to enjoy the day exploring!

We’d love to provide one of you with a Daily Family Pass Giveaway (2 adults and up to four children!). Simply comment below with your FAVORITE underwater creature and we’ll choose a winner tomorrow (November 1st, 2014 at noon CST). Best of luck!

Find them on the Social Media

Twitter || Facebook

Samantha

Hey, Bae {and Why This Word’s the Worst}

So if you’ve been around the block a time or two or have found yourself perusing the interwebs, you’ll stumble often across this word, “Bae.” I first was introduced to this word by teenagers and when I asked them what it meant, about half had no idea and simply said it was their word for “my boo” (which is another whole blog post itself). The sound of bae is screeching to my ears. Like nails on a chalkboard. What does it mean? It sounds like a lazy way to say Babe. Like, we forgot the B or couldn’t be bothered to write it in a text message or on Instagram, so let’s quickly shorten it to Bae because we save so much time writing it that way…oh wait…

In a quest to get to the bottom of this Bae business, I scoured Google and came up with a few different things.

First, Time magazine and Pharrell seem to know what it’s all about. 

Time even concludes: “A good rule of thumb for now at least: if you would use the words boo or babe in some circumstance, you can probably use bae.” False. That’s not a good rule of anything. If you’re using the word boo, you’ve already failed. Don’t replace it with bae otherwise that’s a double fail. Stop it. Maybe say babe, but even then, be sure about who you’re talking about. 

Up next? Your “bae” is excrement. Is that what you mean? Because somehow I don’t think it is…

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“Bae” Watch and Other Ways It’s Infecting Culture

Apart from the meanings above, it supposedly means “before anyone else.” Translated: I love you so much, I just don’t think you’re worth actually speaking three words into existence, so I’d rather just say, “Hey Bae!” and call it a day. Note: You’re not only limited to 140 characters when you speak just so you know. You can actually express how you feel about someone without resorting to something resembling “U R A QT Pie.”

Lastly, I turned to Pinterest to really get to the bottom of this because as everyone knows, Pinterest is the visual Google. When I plugged in just the word “bae,” these were the results I received. And suddenly, everything made sense. Pinterest gets me. They speak my language.

Zefron - My BAE

And Zac Efron is my bae.

Samantha

Wifi by the Beach

We received a complimentary session at Goldfish Swim School in Burr Ridge. All opinions expressed are our own.

We had our second lesson at Goldfish Swim School this week and the boys were so excited to get into the water! Now that the boys know who their teachers were and felt semi-acquainted, I felt comfortable sitting outside of the pool area and observing from the chairs in the foyer. The boys started out looking out under the cabana as they anxiously awaited their time to be called!

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If I close my eyes, it almost feels like a beach. The warmth and waves of the water. The beach-like setting with lounge chairs and relaxing feel. Not to mention free guest wifi which means I can either work or have fun perusing the interwebs while the boys are getting their swim lesson. A win-win for all of us!

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The boys had a blast as usual and worked on some fun techniques like floating, the Superman pose and testing out putting their faces and heads underwater. They both received ribbons this week for their accomplishments and those little rewards help to motivate them to try their best AND try new things. One of the best parts of the morning was when Jack put his face underwater and cried, but they both worked together to make sure he felt safe, comfortable and made sure that he knew they were proud of his efforts. I was thoroughly impressed that they were able to avoid a meltdown with him simply by talking it out and using positive language.

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What would YOU love to see in a swimming lesson for your kids?

Goldfish Swim School on the Interwebs:

Website || Facebook

Samantha

Main Event in Warrenville – a One-Stop Family Fun Destination {Review}

We received complimentary passes to visit Main Event in Warrenville. We had a blast and all opinions (and silly faces!) are our own.

This past weekend, we celebrated my birthday and had an opportunity to head out to the new Main Event in WarrenvilleMain Event is an all-in-one family entertainment center with bowling, laser tag, arcade games, casual dining and much more. With everything you need to have a blast under one roof, Main Event is the perfect place for fun, food and more! With five boys in tow, we hoped it would be a place to expend energy, have fun and keep everyone happy. It far exceeded our expectations!

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The bigger boys tried laser tag with Jim and loved interacting with other people and this was one of their favorite activities. My highlight was definitely bowling. With options for a variety of screens, including our personal favorite YouToons, we spent so much time just enjoying the funny videos created and personalized with our faces and expressions. A glow-in-the-dark feel and bumpers available per bowler, I was extremely impressed with the layout and visual. The large oversized booths made family viewing during bowling made it comfy and cozy. Not to mention the food! We tried two appetizers and they were devoured within minutes!

The littles and I then headed to the arcade and we could easily have spent days there. Bright lights, big screens and tons of chances to win prizes, we had a blast bouncing around from the common ones (think Skee Ball) to more advanced options like Batman where you could “drive” any number of Batmobiles. The boys and I easily spent 45 minutes defeating pirates and ghosts in a sit-down ship game. It was thoroughly enjoyable! While we were there, my nephews spent some time up top on the ropes defying gravity. I loved the fact that I could see both them and the boys while they were playing in the arcade.

One of my last favorite moments of the night was when the staff and guests got together to dance to a song in the main hall. It was the perfect end to a lovely night! One of my favorite parts of Main Event was DEFINITELY the staff. They were friendly, helpful and ready to assist at a moment’s notice. They interacted with all of us wonderfully and even egged me on a bit when I was losing to my nephew in bowling (and I was using the bumpers!) All in all, it was a wonderful day and definitely something we would go back to experience!

Check out this special they have going on until November 21st:

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Twitter || Facebook

Samantha

Birthday Reflections

Good morning, self! It’s a great day to celebrate a birthday.

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Family pictures at Pilcher Park? Check.

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Special Birthday Snapchats from Work Friends

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Birthday Selfie

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Cherished gifts

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This past year has felt different to me. Lots of changes (mostly good) and learning more about myself along the way. I’m learning that sometimes the most difficult things lead to the  most beautiful outcomes. That sometimes that which is intensely painful can ultimately be for your best.

I’ve learned to follow my heart and surround myself with people who truly want the best for me. By people who see the best in me.

I’ve learned that sometimes the biggest leaps taken lead to the greatest rewards.

That following your dreams are the best thing you can do – no matter what your age.

That true friends are a treasure – worth more than you could imagine.

It’s been a great year, but I’m confident that the best is yet to come.

Samantha

Heroic Habits with Listerine {Take 2 & Why We Love Healthy Teeth!}

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for LISTERINE. I received samples for this review and a promotional item to thank me for participating.

About a month ago, we started practicing even healthier hygiene habits and even offered our favorite tips when it came to brushing teeth! Since then, we have worked hard to keep up with our Heroic Habits with Listerine, including thrice daily brushing, mouth rinses and washes and my personal favorite, LISTERINE PocketPaks strips (which are perfect to freshen breath on the go while killing 99.9% of bad-breath causing bacteria and are sold in a 3 pack, 24 count.) 

Prep those toothbrushes

Our boys LOVE brushing their teeth, but sometimes, they need a reminder. Making brushing a family affair and they are more likely to learn by example. As I said before, they LOVE picking out their own toothbrushes and that makes the whole process even easier!

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Say Cheese!

Charlie is a huge fan of teeth-brushing and even does it sometimes without us looking (keep an eye on that!), but he loves mimicking us and smiling along the way. The more they enjoy it, the more likely they will be to keep up on those healthy habits!

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Our Heroic Habits with Listerine prepped us for family picture day. It was a goal to work towards and one that had our mouths spring-time fresh just in time for the big day.

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LISTERINE even makes it simple for silly mouths to shine! It’s the perfect asset to a range of emotions when it comes to dealing with three-year-olds.

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As the boys get older, I’m learning more and more that the best way to show them how to do something or to pursue healthy habits is when we lead by example. Even moreso, I’m sharing with them the importance of sharing smiles in hopes that someone might have their day brightened because you decided to share more of yourself through your pearly whites. It’s easy to get caught up in our own day to day, but the more confident we are to share that part of ourselves with someone, the more likely a bright smile will turn things around! Heroic Habits with Listerine help to make that even simpler! Since the beginning of the month, my mouth feels cleaner, my teeth a bit whiter and my overall oral health in better shape.

What’s your favorite can’t-live-without LISTERINE product? What are your best tips for putting your best smile forward? Do you find yourself sharing smiles wherever you go?

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Samantha

The Bits And Pieces You May Forget When Preparing For A Newborn

The moment you find out you’re going to be a mom, chances are you start thinking of names for your baby if it’s going to be a boy or a girl. For some moms-to-be, the prospect of giving birth is so overwhelming that they become tempted to put it out of their minds until the last minute. While it’s easy to buy diapers and other baby essentials, there are just some things you have to prepare for ahead of time so that you’ll have everything ready when your little one comes. Here are some of the bits and pieces you may overlook while you’re preparing for your baby.

Learn about what happens during birth

Obstetrician Glade Curtis shares that in his experience, women who learn about the birth process ahead of time become active participants in their own birth process. This makes giving birth more meaningful and lets you know about what to expect when the labor pains start. Prepare yourself and take a birth class so that you can learn about the different stages of labor, breathing techniques, and options for managing pain. You can also do some research about the various methods of delivery, such as c-section, water birth, natural birth, and more. By knowing what goes into the birth process, you will be able to decide how you want yours to go.

You can also sign up for a newborn care class, especially if this is your first time giving birth. A breastfeeding class is also helpful if you decide to nurse your baby.

Assign a place in your home for your baby’s needs.

You may be bent on designing your nursery, but what about the things that go in it? There are thousands of baby clothes, supplies, and equipment available in the market, but which ones are really necessary? Here are some items that your baby must absolutely have:

  • Crib or cradle and beddings
  • Feeding bottles and nipples
  • Federally-approved car seat
  • Diapers
  • Washcloths or baby wipes
  • Blanket
  • Basic clothes
  • Plastic-lined bin for disposable diapers
  • Brush for cleaning bottles

Make sure that the clothes, beddings, and washcloths are washed in hypoallergenic or baby detergent before using them. For your nursery, you can also get a soft nightlight that won’t hurt your baby’s sensitive eyes. For yourself, invest in at least two pairs of comfortable nursing bras.

Arrange for household help

You need to focus on your baby, not the household chores or cooking dinner, during the first few months after giving birth. Arranging for outside help such as a cleaning or laundry service lets you have more time with your child. You can prepare meals the week before you give birth. Put these in microwavable or oven-friendly containers, label the contents, and write directions for heating. You can also make a list of restaurants that offer delivery services. Put the restaurant flyers or brochures with their menu in a folder near the kitchen. A night or day nanny can also help you take care of your baby, and a babysitter can be a godsend if you have older children. It’s important for new moms to have plenty of rest, so prepare and arrange for help beforehand.

Samantha

Do You Have The Right Insurance For Your Family?

The health and happiness of our family is important to us, and this is one of the reasons why we invest in personal insurance at the earliest opportunity. We make sure that the insurance policies we get cover the various aspects of our lives, from health to property. Many of us also consider our pets to be a member of the family, and we want them to also live a long, healthy, and happy life. If you find yourself asking “How do I get pet insurance?” then you’ve come to the right place. Here are the basics to help you make sure you have the right insurance for your beloved four-legged family member.

What exactly is pet insurance?

Pet insurance covers the veterinary treatment of your sick or injured pet. It reimburses you on your veterinary bills so that you won’t have to worry about giving your pet the best care when it gets sick. Keep in mind that you would still have to pay the veterinary clinic up front. After paying the vet, you can file a claim to the pet insurance company and then wait to get reimbursed.

The illnesses covered by pet insurance can range from short-term illnesses such as diarrhea and vomiting, to chronic conditions such as diabetes, allergies, and cancer. When your pet gets into an accident or sustains injury, the pet insurance can cover the treatment for poisoning, foreign body ingestion, lacerations, and broken bones. Some pet insurance plans can help you pay for routine care such as dental cleanings, vaccinations, and regular checkups.

Pet insurance coverage

There are many types of pet insurance plans. There are those that offer targeted coverage and those that provide comprehensive coverage. Here are some of the most common pet insurance plans you can choose from:

  • Lifetime – lifetime policies can cover the veterinary fees up to a certain amount per year, and gives you the peace of mind that you are covered if your pet develops a chronic or long-term condition such as diabetes.
  • Accident and illness plan – this covers the diagnosis and treatment of illnesses and accidents such as allergies, medication, broken bones, diabetes, and foreign object ingestion.
  • Accident only plan – this covers the treatment of injuries and accidents such as breaking a bone, getting hit by a vehicle, eating something toxic, or swallowing foreign objects. This plan covers X-rays, exams, medications, surgeries, and hospitalization.
  • Wellness plan for routine care – this covers vaccination, dental cleaning, and annual checkups.
  • Cancer only plan – the coverage of this plan includes the blood work, exams, chemotherapy, surgery, and medications needed to treat pets with cancer.

Where do I start?

The type of policy to get would depend on where you live and the age of your pet. Many companies offering pet insurance policies provide free quotes, so you can compare and have an idea about the amount you have to pay on a monthly basis. The costs of veterinary services in your area influence the premiums charged; in general, urban areas have a higher premium than rural areas. The premium can also increase as your pet ages because the risk of illness also increases.

Getting a pet insurance policy gives you a peace of mind that you will have financial support for taking care of our pets’ health. Our pets give us unconditional love, and we should strive to give them the best of care in return.

Samantha

Just Keep Swimming!

We received a complimentary session at Goldfish Swim School in Burr Ridge. All opinions expressed are our own.

As the boys grow, each summer we spend more and more time in the swimming pool. Each jump in prepped with their puddle jumpers and they swim about getting more and more comfortable in the water. This year, towards the end of the summer, Charlie even went so far as to slide over and over into an in-ground pool going completely underwater every time. I was so proud that he was willing to try new things! A lover of water myself, I was stoked to hear about the new Goldfish Swim School coming to Burr Ridge!

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be giving you a “fish eye’s” view into the life and times of the Goldfish Swim School. We hope you learn about and love it as much as we do!

The pool space is bright, colorful AND WARM! I love that I didn’t have to include swim shirts for the boys and I knew they wouldn’t freeze going into the water. It’s a comfortable temperature for swimmers and spectators alike. 

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Attention to detail is impeccable. The mural paintings are meticulous and beautiful!

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Meeting their instructors. I love that the classes are small which means more individualized attention and focus. It’s the perfect way to get comfortable in the water and build trust with their instructors!

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Serenity.

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The shower area is just as beautiful and spacious AND conveniently located right next to the pool in the warm space which means you can clean off without the littles freezing!

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We had a great first day and can’t wait to go back in the coming weeks! Stay tuned for even more recaps and coverage. 

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With swimming pools an active part of our life, knowing how to swim is extremely important to me when it comes to our boys.  Children ages 1 to 4 have the highest drowning rates. In 2009, among children 1 to 4 years old who died from an unintentional injury, more than 30% died from drowning.  Among children ages 1 to 4, most drownings occur in home swimming pools. {Information from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention} Making sure that they are prepared is a great step and Goldfish gives you the opportunity to train them at a young age how to be around water. I was so impressed that on the very first day, they were already showing Jack how to find the nearest wall and climb out of the pool safely and quickly. 

Why is swimming important to your family? What steps do you take to ensure that your kids feel safe around the water?

Goldfish Swim School on the Interwebs:

Website || Facebook

Samantha