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Mommy Essentials

Beach Day Essentials For Moms

The calendar still says May, but we’ve had some beautiful, beach-worthy days here in Southern California. It’s got me thinking of restocking my beach day essentials and heading to the ocean with my kids. So, today I’m highlighting just a few of my favorite things to pack for a (stress free!) beach day with kids.

Beach Day Essentials for Moms

Brush on Block
I love this sunscreen for both my kids and myself. It’s easy to apply and not greasy and doesn’t get in anyone’s eyes. I usually do apply SPF before we leave the house and then take the brush on sunscreen for an easy, no hassle reapply when we’re out.

Melissa and Doug Sand Toys
We received this cupcake sand toy set a few years ago and it is such a hit with kids of all ages. The hardest thing is remembering to pick up all the pieces when I leave.

Are you guys familiar with this great line of bags? They’re perfect to have in the car for running errands, and I always take some to the beach to wrap up our wet, sandy items. The bags are machine washable too so they’re easy to clean!

Turkish Towels
My dear friend was born and raised in Turkey and introduced me to these amazing, lightweight Turkish towels. They absorb water surprising fast and dry quickly, while taking up MUCH less space than traditional beach towels. I found these on Etsy, but Bed Bath and Beyond carry a similar style.

Cozy Kids’ Cover-up
J.Crew carries great beach cover-ups for kids and this one happens to be on sale right now. No matter how hot it seems when we leave the house I’m always disappointed if I forget to bring something cozy to wrap around my kids at the end of the day.

Folding Utility Wagon
My husband purchased this wagon two summers ago and we always get asked where we got it when we’re out on the beach. It’s very sturdy and we can put both kids and supplies in it for easy transportation on and off the beach. PS. Pulling it with two kids and supplies is also a great workout!

What are your favorite items for a day at the beach with your kids? Do you have any tips on how to make a beach outing stress free? I’d also love to hear your favorite local beach for kids, I’m always on the hunt for new places.


5 Must Have Baby Items (from a second-time mom!)

[Photo credit: Sandy Heit Photography]

This is a guest post written by my sister, Suzanne, a new second-time mom of my three-month-old nephew Gavin. Since I have been out of the newborn world for awhile, I asked her to write about her favorite and most used baby items from a real mom currently in the trenches. Even if you aren’t having another baby soon, I always love useful gift ideas for new moms!  Here is what she wrote…

“I’m sure there must be hundreds of blog posts and magazine articles with this title.

BUT…after making some unnecessary purchasing mistakes the first time around, I couldn’t help wanting to share my (not so!) humble opinions on a few of my favorite baby items.

It’s only been 3 years since I had my first son, and already some great new products have been introduced!

1. Aden+Anais Burpy Bibs

These have been a “must” from day one!  They are made of thick, absorbent cotton and are contoured to actually stay on your shoulder! A bit of a higher price-point for a burp cloth, but the snaps on it mean it can eventually snap around baby’s neck and grow with your baby as a bib. It will be perfect for all those sweet potato and pea purees in our future!  This is a great shower gift for a new mom.

2. Boon Grass Countertop Drying Mat 

Having just remodeled our kitchen, the thought of having a bulky, plastic drying rack be an (almost!) permanent fixture on our countertop was not ideal.

This inexpensive “grass” mat is visually appealing and functional too. You can buy the “trees” separate and they work great for nipples, valves and pacifiers to hang dry from the branches.

It also works great to dry sippy cups and all the plastic items that never seem to dry in the dishwasher.

3. Ergobaby Baby Carrier

Baby-wearing has become quite a movement and I’m seeing the importance of it more with my second child. I’ve been known to put the baby in the Ergo while playing “pirates” with my son in our backyard!

The Ergo is great because it actually distributes the weight of your baby evenly with the additional belt around your waist. There is also an infant insert you can use for smaller babies without good neck control. It’s a great product to invest in as it goes up to 40 pounds!

It’s actually not that bad to put the child on your back when they are that heavy and would be a piece of cake for a strong daddy!

This is the perfect solution for traveling in the airport, as you can wear your child through security and keep your hands free. It was the ideal way to wrangle my crazy 15 month old in the hectic airport. It’s worth every penny!

4. Boppy Newborn Lounger

This was actually handed down to me from a friend after her baby outgrew it (it goes up to 16 pounds), and it has become our favorite “baby placing” item! I

t’s just the right shape and size to put him in after feeding to keep him elevated slightly and allows his legs to kick. I’m also learning with baby # 2 the importance of keeping him “safe” and off the floor or sofa in order to dodge a crazy toddler.

It’s even machine washable, which we all know is a MUST for any baby item!

5. WiFi Baby monitor

OK, this one is a bit of a splurge, but it has been my absolute favorite.

We have used our Summer Infant Slim and Secure monitor for over 3 years now and found that to be a great monitor. However, to buy an extra camera and handset (ours is not going to last us another 3 years) would run us about $200. I found the WiFi Baby on a Zulily special for $200 and figured we might as well try it out for baby #2.

It comes with a WiFi camera that you can use to view your baby through an App on iPhone, iPad or Android. I love that I can check on the baby at any point on these devices without searching for an additional handset!

It also has a “noise meter” so I can see how long the baby has been crying (or hopefully quiet!). I only have it set up now on our home WiFi (which means I can only see the camera when connected to our home WiFi), but I understand you can also set it up to view over 3G outside the home. This will be a nice feature when I go back to work after maternity leave is over (*sniff*). You can also connect up to 4 cameras, which would be ideal for families with multiple children to spy on!

I hope that was helpful to some first-time (or seasoned!) moms out there trying to navigate the world of baby gear.  Feel free to leave comments below and tell me what is YOUR must-have baby item???


Gal Pal Deodorant Remover Pads

After buying and using the Gal Pal Deodorant Remover Pads, I almost feel cheated I have gone for years fighting the white deodorant streaks on my dark tops without this product.  These are a MUST buy! Like today.  So here is my review of this fabulous invention!

You know the deodorant streaks I am talking about, right? So annoying.

It always seems to happen when I am rushing to get out the door when I notice I have white marks down the sides of my dark shirts. I will try to get it out by wetting a towel and trying to rub it off, but what I usually end up with is a wet shirt and the deodorant still visible.

I have seen the product at The Container Store lots of times.  It always catches my eye with the cute logo and font. Then last spring when I went to the Bosch blogger event and heard a presentation from The Container Store, the woman brought in the product as well and raved about how well it works.

I don’t know what on earth took me so long to buy it, but I finally got around to buying a pack of Gal Pals at The Container Store last week,  and then it happened to me last Sunday morning before church. I put on a black tank and looked under my arm and there were a bunch of yucky white stripes.   Then I remembered my Gal Pals and I was excited to have a real life deodorant streak situation to test them out on!

The pads are like a loofah pad sort of thing and all I did was rub it on the streaks, and the deodorant came RIGHT off!

It worked so well I thought this is a miracle product! It was Sunday morning, after all, so I felt like yelling “hallelujah!”

Seriously amazing product. You won’t believe you lived without it before either!

My Favorite Everything

One of my fellow OC mommy bloggers, Shanna Coady, creator of the ultra-fabulous, My Favorite Everything was kind enough to invite me to guest blog when she was on her maternity “leave” last month.  Shanna’s family recently welcomed her beautiful daughter, Piper, to the family and that makes Shanna a mommy of 3 little girls under age 2!

Her blog is one of my FAVORITE blogs!  I look forward to receiving her daily email with the update each morning.   Her site is  full of fun finds, simple tips, great recipes and lots of ideas for making a mom’s busy life just a little bit easier.  So, click on over, bookmark it, and subscribe!

Here are the links to the 3 guest blogs I did for her…one on my all time favorite panties, the SUPERSOFT HIPHUGGER, feminine and comfy!

One on my favorite BEAUTY FINDS post-baby.  The best cosmetic discovery of my adult life, seriously!

And, another on my MOST USED BABY TOY in the 3 years and 10 months so far that we have been parents!

I guarantee you will love Shanna’s blog & it will for sure become one of YOUR favorite everythings!

Erin Condren Giveaway!

Giveaways Graphic


Being a personalized stationery and paper product fanatic, I have been a HUGE Erin Condren fan for years. It all started with a thank you note.  It was there on my parent’s kitchen island and caught my eye.  It was SO CUTE and bright and colorful and happy.   It was a thank you for a baby gift my mom had given a neighbor and had both of the woman’s girls names personalized on the card in a darling pink and green combo. I immediately turned it over to see which company created such a cute card, which lead me to the website, and the rest is history.

If you are struggling with what to buy anyone this year, I guarantee any woman on your gift list will go crazy over her stuff!   A personalized gift in my opinion is one of the best gifts to give (and receive!) as it shows you went that extra step to make it personal. And, something like a personalized note card or calendar is something everyone can use!

One of my all time favorites are her gift labels.  Little colorful, personalized stickers that dress up a gift and serve the purpose in lieu of a card.  Practical and yet sometimes they get more attention than the actual gift!  They are THAT cute!  I just noticed they now have photo gift labels – can you imagine how the relatives would flip over those this holiday?!

Erin is doing my Christmas cards this year.  I am so excited to get them next week, I feel like Christmas is coming early!

** Use Erin Condren coupon code TINYORANGES and receive $20 off an order of $100 or more!   Perfect time to stock up on gifts and save!**

Hooray!  It’s a Tiny Giveaway!

Erin’s motto is “Make Every Day a Happy Day!” and she is about to give two LUCKY readers a VERY happy day with a $50 gift certificate to shop!    To enter, simply leave a comment below.  You can enter as many times as you like, just have your entries in by 5pm PST next Wednesday, 12/9/09.  I will post the winners on Thursday AM!  For fun, click HERE and browse around her products.  Tell me, which item/design do you love??