Getting Through the 'Danger Zone' This Fall with the Help of #AveenoEczemaTherapy! #MC

October is National Eczema Awareness Month #AveenoEczemaTherapy #MC  |
I participated in an Influencer Activation Program on behalf of Influence-Central for #AveenoEczemaTherapy. I received a sample to facilitate my review and a thank you item for participating.

Everyone has something they are insecure or self-conscious about.  For me, it's my eczema.  I've had eczema since I was a child. In fact, I can't remember a time when I didn't have it on some part of my body.  I remember that it wasn't until I was 9 or 10 years old that I started to feel embarrassed about having patches of eczema on my arms, legs, neck, hands, or feet.  As an adult, thanks to an increased level of self-control, I mostly only have eczema on my left hand.  As an adult, I feel self-conscious about having unsightly eczema on a part of me that I can't cover up easily.  After all these years, I'm 95% certain that my husband doesn't think about pulling away when I touch him with that hand, but I often wonder about what other people are thinking when they see my oddly textured and discolored skin.

Did you know that October is National Eczema Awareness Month?  How fitting, considering I believe October to be the beginning of the danger zone when it comes to my eczema.  Everyone's eczema is different.  For me, if I do not get a handle on mine during the fall, I am in for a winter full of painful cracks and splits on my hand's eczema patches.  It may sound pessimistic, but I have lost all hopes that my eczema will ever completely disappear.  When October rolls around, my hope is for my eczema to remain minimal and not get worse, so that I can survive the cold, dry winter air without too much discomfort.

In addition to the dry and frigid New England winters, two other things contribute to my eczema flare ups . . . stress and puppies!  Part of my feeling itchy on my eczema patches is psychological.  It has been clear since I was a child that when I seriously get stressed out, I start to itch and scratch.  The puppies don't actually cause my eczema to get worse, but cleaning up after them and washing my hands more times than I can count everyday definitely causes the eczema on my hands to grow dry and irritated.

Adorable rescue Jack Chi puppies #AveenoEczemaTherapy #MC  |

Since the beginning of October, I have been using Aveeno Active Naturals Eczema Therapy products to keep my eczema under control.  I have to say that I have been using my over-the-counter treatment for so long that I think I might have grown immune to it.  That's why I was open to trying new Aveeno Eczema Therapy products. All the products contain ACTIVE NATURALS® Colloidal Oatmeal and are steroid-free.
Aveeno Eczema Therapy Moisturizing Cream and Bath Treatment #AveenoEczemaTherapy #MC  |

Since my affected areas are only on my left hand, I soaked my hand in the Aveeno Eczema Therapy Bath Treatment in the bathroom sink for about 10 minutes at a time.  I was truly shocked at how 'normal' my hand felt after soaking in this milky bath.  I am usually at least mildly aware of the tightness and roughness on certain parts of my hand, but after a soak I did not feel any tightness at all.  If I was not looking at or touching the surface of my hand, it actually felt like a normal hand.  I wish I had time to soak my hand everyday.

The Aveeno Eczema Therapy Moisturizing Cream was something I would use on both my hands when they were feeling dry in general.  The Aveeno Eczema Therapy Hand Cream, however, was perfect for only applying to the affected areas.  The tip of the tube is narrow and dispenses just the right amount of cream to apply on my eczema patches for instant relief when they are feeling irritated.
Aveeno Eczema Treatment Hand Cream #AveenoEczemaTherapy #MC  |

After 3 weeks of using Aveeno Eczema Therapy products, my eczema has not worsened despite the dryer weather, the repeated hand washing, and daily stress.  That is a huge win to me!  I'm definitely going to stick with these Aveeno products throughout the fall and winter.  Maybe it is possible to get through the winter without developing dry, cracked, bleeding skin on my hand!

If you haven't tried Aveeno Eczema Therapy products yet, you can find them nationwide at your local grocery, drug, and mass merchandise stores, as well as on

5 Tips for Keeping Your Children on Schedule Throughout the Week! #GetGoing #MC

Flying sidekick by 10 year old taekwondo student #GetGoing
I participated in an Influencer Activation Program on behalf of Influence-Central for Jif To Go Dippers. I received a sample to facilitate my review and a thank you item for participating.  All opinions expressed are my own.

One of the things that has become obvious to me over the past year or so is that our family of five is only going to get busier and busier as our children grow older.  Every grade they advance means more homework.  Every year they mature means they want to be more social and may want to try new extracurricular activities.

At the moment, all three of our children study Taekwondo.  If you can somehow manage to have all your children take part in the same activity, I highly recommend it.  I do not miss the days of dragging all three children to soccer practice and dance class when only one of them was participating.  Still, life is hectic because there's 3 of them and only 2 of us.  They outnumber us!  Let me share a few tips I've come to find very useful over the past few years . . .

Jif To Go Dippers portable snack #GetGoing #MC

5 Tips for Keeping Your Children on Schedule:

1.  Try to always be at least 15 minutes early. If you always try to be early, that means you might only be late about 50% of the time despite having children who try to leave the house without remembering to put on their shoes or need to use the bathroom as you're pulling out of the driveway even though they swore they didn't need to just 10 minutes before.

2.  Take homework with you.  I know it can be a little stressful to help multiple children with homework while you're out of the house, but it really is a smart way to use your time.  While our twins are in Taekwondo class, their big brother does his homework.  Then while he is taking his class, the twins do their homework.  It works out very well and it may free up an extra half an hour for down time later on, something my children hardly get any of on most weeknights.

3.  Complete homework in advance.  It may not always be feasible, but if your child gets a week's worth of assignments at once, then it could help if he or she completed an extra assignment or two on a night when there are no activities outside of the house.  This makes it much less stressful on the school nights when you do have to leave the house.

4.  Keep any gear you need by the door or in the car.  No, you probably won't see a big duffel bag full of gear by the front door at Martha Stewart's house, but . . . I'm not Martha Stewart.  We keep a rolling duffel full of sparring gear for Taekwondo either inside the back door of our house or in the trunk of our car.  By doing this, it's very rare that we show up for class unprepared.  My sanity is more important that someone thinking less of me because my house looks lived in.

5.  Keep portable snacks on-hand.  Something we always kept on-hand were little single serve pouches of fruit snacks.   This is something that we could just grab on our way out the door when we're running late for Taekwondo class.  However, since our children had voiced how tired they were of having the same snack all the time, I started to look for other options for portable snacks.  We recently tried Jif To Go® Dippers and will be adding them to our very short list of on-the-go snacks.
Jif To Go Dippers creamy peanut butter and pretzels #GetGoing #MC

As a parent, I found both the contents and the packaging of Jif To Go Dippers to be very well-thought out.  This product was made with children in mind.  Sometimes we just have enough time to get the children off the school bus, have them change into their Taekwondo uniforms, get their backpacks, grab water bottles and a to-go snack, and head out the door.  When unwrapped, you get a container of 10 to 12 pretzels with a separate container of dip.  The container of pretzels is perfect for putting in one of the cup holders in the car, which works out great because our children usually finish their Jif To Go Dippers in the car before we go into class.  That way, we don't need to worry about being rude by eating in front of others when we don't have enough for everyone and we don't have to worry about other students having peanut allergies. Did I also mention that my children can eat Jif To Go Dippers without making a mess on their white uniforms?
Jif To Go Dippers Chocolate Silk dip and pretzels #GetGoing #MC

Now, what did our children think?  Not only were they thrilled about having something different to eat for snack, they made sure we put Jif To Go Dippers on the list for our next trip to the grocery store.  Although they enjoyed both the Creamy Peanut Butter and the Chocolate Silk Peanut Butter, they all seemed to liked the Chocolate Silk the best.
7 year old taekwondo student breaking boards with speed break #GetGoing

Do your children need something new for a to-go snack?  Look for Jif To Go Dippers in grocery stores nationwide.

'Brilliance Award' Winners are Top Choices for Creative Gift Ideas for Children This Holiday {plus a Giveaway!}

Brilliance Award Winning Toy  |  Paint Your Own Porcelain Bowls  |
Thank you to Brilliant Sky Toys & Books for providing two award-winning toys and a book for us to base this review upon and for providing an additional product for our giveaway prize.  All opinions expressed are my own.

In my experience as a parent to three children (and having once been a child myself), toys that encourage creativity and flex the imagination often make the best gifts for children.  Brilliant Sky Toys & Books, a specialty retailer that caters to children and their imaginations, has recently announced which toys would be honored with the 2014 Brilliance Award.  The list includes toys for toddlers, preschoolers, and elementary-age children and range in price from just $9.99 to $39.99.

Why do I trust Brilliant Sky Toys & Books when it comes to gift recommendations?  Although there is not a store location in my area, I've heard ravings about this toy store from friends and I love the content on Brilliant Sky TV and on the Brilliant Sky Toys & Books Blog, where you can read more about this year's 10 Brilliance Award winners.

Brilliance Award Winning Toys  |

And the 2014 Brilliance Award winners are . . .
  • Squigz Starter Set (24 pieces)
  • Plus-Plus Mini-Basic (480 pieces)
  • Lottie Dolls
  • Doodle Quest
  • Create Your Own Storybook
  • Super Stadium Baseball Game
  • LoopDeLoom
  • Sew Cute Sets
  • Illustrated Adventure Stories and Illustrated Fairy Tales
  • Paint Your Own Porcelain Bowls
I was thrilled to give my children a chance to experience three of these award-winning toys and books.  Although it was difficult to choose, I felt like the LoopDeLoom would be a well-loved creative toy for my daughter and I was right!  I also correctly predicted that all three of my children would very much enjoy the Paint Your Own Porcelain Bowls craft kit and the Usborne book of Illustrated Fairy Tales.  I knew these products would be a big hit because both the LoopDeLoom and the Paint Your Own Porcelain Bowls kit produce a final product our children could keep and enjoy forever if they wished.  And, fairy tales are magical stories meant to be enjoyed again and again.
Brilliance Award Winning Toy  |  Paint Your Own Porcelain Bowls  |

Giving our children a creative outlet is such an important thing.  Even our 7 year old son, who does not usually show much interest in art, enjoyed painting his ceramic bowl.  He did not show the lack of patience he normally would.  Instead, he painted very deliberately and carefully.

Another Brilliance Award winner that helps children develop patience, as well as further develops fine motor skills, is the LoopDeLoom weaving kit.  Although this toy is recommended for children 8 years and older, our 7 year old daughter was quite adept at it.  At first, it seemed like it would take forever to finish, but after a little while, she could see her progress.  The best thing about this craft kit is that it takes concentration and is an enjoyable, yet quiet, sit-down activity.
Brilliance Award Winning Toy  |  LoopDeLoom  |

The Usborne Illustrated Fairy Tales is a wonderful book with beautiful illustrations.  Our daughter will sit and read one fairy tale after another.  She also loves to reread them out loud to her twin brother at bedtime.  I have such fond memories of reading fairy tales and having them read to me as a child.  I'm happy to see my children experience the same magic.  I am definitely going to look into buying this book's counterpart Usborne Illustrated Adventure Stories for Christmas this year.
Brilliance Award Winning Toy  |  Usborne Book of Illustrated Fairy Tales  |

You can find all these award-winning children's gifts and many more quality children's items at Brilliant Sky Toys & Books.  If you have not yet visited your local store, be sure to bring your children soon to enjoy the hands-on experience, child-height shelves and displays, and the superior personalized customer service.  You can check for the closest store location here.

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This giveaway is open to U.S. entries only. You do not need to be a blogger to enter, but you must have a valid email address and be age 18 years or older. A random drawing will be held shortly after the contest closing. The winner will be announced here and will be contacted via email. If the winner does not respond within 48 hours, a new winner will be drawn.

Hand Out Smiles This Halloween, While Supporting the Dave Thomas Foundation For Adoption #Frosty4Adoption

Hand out Jr. Frosty™ Halloween Coupons from Wendy's for Halloween in support of adoption #Frosty4Adoption  |
About three months ago, we met an amazing little boy.  We had the pleasure of meeting this boy because he was to become our new nephew and a new cousin to our children.  You see, my sister and brother-in-law are currently in the process of adopting.  It is a long and difficult process, but I know they feel it is worth it.  This little boy has already stolen their hearts.  Thinking about what this little boy has been through over the past year or so is quite saddening.  However, thinking about how he is so close to not only having a home with loving parents, but also aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and great-grandparents who all love him too, is extremely heartwarming.

Did you know that there are more than 100,000 children in foster care awaiting adoption? I find that statistic to be astounding and can't help but think about how many children will never be placed in loving homes.  This is why it's so important to support foster care adoption and why Wendy's makes it easy for you to take action. All you have to do is Purchase a Wendy’s® Halloween Coupon Book for $1 at participating Wendy’s restuarants!
Wendy's BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich with Fries #Frosty4Adoption  |

The next time you stop into Wendy's or go through their drive-thru, perhaps to try one of their new Pulled Pork Sandwiches, remember to pick up one (or more) Halloween coupon books.  They're only $1 each and contain 10 coupons for a free Jr. Frosty™. Ninety cents of every $1 Halloween Coupon Book sold between September 13 – October 31, 2014 will benefit the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption®.
Buy Jr. Frosty™ Halloween Coupon Books from Wendy's in support of adoption #Frosty4Adoption  |

Do you love gifts that give like I do? Last year, one of our children's teachers gave each of her students a  Jr. Frosty™ Halloween coupon for Halloween.  They'd be perfect to hand out to trick-or-treaters in place of or tied to a lollipop or other type of candy.  You could even buy one coupon book for each stocking you have to stuff this Holiday.  If you like any of these ideas or have some ideas of your own, don't wait to pick up your coupon books.  They're only available until the end of October, but can be redeemed from November 1st, 2014 through February 1st, 2015.  Thanks to Wendy’s® consumers and the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption®, 4,000+ children have found adoptive families.  Let's all do our part in helping to make that number grow!

Visit your local Wendy’s® to purchase a Jr. Frosty™ Halloween Coupon Book* for $1, which benefits the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption®! 
Buy Jr. Frosty™ Halloween Coupon Books from Wendy's in support of adoption #Frosty4Adoption  |

*Coupon book may contain coupons for 5 or 10 free Jr. Frosty™ treats. Prices and participation may vary. Ninety cents to every $1 coupon booklet sold between 9/15/14 and 10/31/14 will benefit the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption®. Coupons valid from 11/1/14 through 2/1/15. ©2014 Oldemark LLC

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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