Archives For family

Polly Pockets Fun

Heather —  July 5, 2013
Emma setting up Wall Party Polly Pocket playset

Emma setting up Wall Party Polly Pocket playset

“I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Polly Pocket. I received product samples to facilitate my review and a promotional item as a thank you for participating.”* #Sponsored #MC

Looking for a treat for a little girl this Summer? Look below for a great sale price on Polly Pocket Dolls and Sets!

These are always imaginative and fun for my kids. The little portable ones make it easy to bring dolls along on errands and the bigger sets seem to keep them entertained for hours.

The latest playsets can be used for play and décor! Just apply to a playroom or bedroom wall and the kids can play right there, which is adorable looking and also they get to leave their toys out!

I encourage you to check out the newest Polly Pocket Sets. If you want to buy one from my Amazon Social Store on this review, Just click below:

Through Sunday, July 7th, the Polly Pocket items promoted on my store have been discounted at LEAST to the following:

  • Polly Pocket Zip ‘N Splash Playset: Previously: $17.99 Now: $15.95
  • Polly Pocket Wall Party Tree House Playset: Previously: $19.99 Now: $11.99
  • Polly Pocket Wall Party Ultimate All-in-One Playset: Previously $74.99 Now: $47.99

This discount is only available for a limited time and is a great sale!

Family time fun at Busch Gardens

We had so much fun that day at Busch Gardens being outside and playing, from my 8 year old to my 18 year old.

How is your Summer going? Ours has been a mix of great fun and some quiet indoor days. I am not a super outdoorsy person and I definitely feel guilty when I am not out and about with the kids, doing outdoor activities.

Yet, most of my kids are pretty content to watch movies and play online, so while that mitigates my guilt, I still feel it IS better for kids to be outside, being kids, whether that is just going to the pool or running around the neighborhood.

Just recently, we all got off our electronics though! I had a “Mommy and Me Meetup” at Williamsburg, Busch Gardens. This ended up being a fantastic opportunity to get outdoors and enjoy time with my children.

Note: “I attended an event on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Busch Gardens. I received free admission to the park as a thank you for participating.”*

Once we got there, we had an awesome breakfast buffet and meeting. I loved how the Busch Gardens team prepared for our kids. They know little kids need to have stuff to do, and the tables even had paper and chalk for drawing and little buckets with toys.

Busch Gardens Breakfast

Busch Gardens Breakfast

While the kids were eating and playing, Stacy from Mom Central Consulting and the Busch Gardens Team gave a fascinating presentation about how our children are described as the generation of digital natives. We heard about a study of 900 Moms, which showed that most mothers struggle to find a healthy balance of indoor and outdoor play.

I totally agree. I know I ran around outside crossing our little creek and climbing around in the woods as a kid. I wish my kids had more natural outdoor fun, but where we live now it just is not as easy. I have to worry about safety and neighbors, and the kids want to play video games.

 “According to a just-released survey of nearly 900 moms conducted by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Busch Gardens®, kids spend only two hours during the week participating in natural, unstructured activities such as playing tag, riding bikes, and exploring nature, and these activity levels increase only slightly on the weekends to a little more than two hours.”

It is almost as though, as parents, we really need to work to help our kids play outside and have that old fashioned fun. And some days I do try hard to set up more outdoor play. But, it really is work for me though I know it is worth the time to get.

With the meetup focus, we heard about how Busch Gardens is trying to help fill that need for outdoor natural fun for whole families. It makes sense. They have over 100 acres of lush land at this location. They have been voted the world’s most beautiful theme park for the past 23 years! I took a few photos from the The  Aeronaut Skyride because the trees and foliage are just gorgeous.

The Aeronaut Skyride

Anyway, Busch Gardens wants to share that “Fun Grows Here”

outdoor fun clip

they have a kind of triple play of gorgeous nature, animals and rides. So, any family can find their niche while enjoying being outdoors together.

The Aeronaut Skyride

I think that is fabulous and I love that Moms and Dads can have the fun also. My kids love it when we play with them and this trip made it so easy to just go play outdoors!

It was, overall, such a relaxing, enjoyable experience. At the beginning of the day (and at the very end) we had some rain showers. I freaked out and figured we’d have to go home, but there was no lightening and the kids could have cared less.

girl at Busch Gardens with Umbrella

A teeny bit after I calmed down, the sun popped out and the weather was fantastic most of the day…and no one got sunburned.

We got our maps and those of us with smart phones had the Busch Gardens App, which is great because it shows where you are, directions to rides and such and even updates the showtimes around the park. It proved to be a useful App.

The older kids got to run around on the roller coasters and thrill rides, while we did some of the younger kids things, marked as KIDsiderate with our youngest:

Kids roller coaster at Busch Gardens

and then we all met up, throughout the day, to do some rides together, watch some shows, have some treats and check out the animals.

The pompei ride at Busch Gardens

The kids on the Pompeii ride

Dad even found a new ride he liked:

Europe in the air ride


As we walked through the park I did test some of the employees {grin} I knew I would be writing a review and I wanted to be able to share the truth of our experience. I had been told that the Park employees with animals were friendly and if I asked, would tell us all about the animal. So, we talked to several park employees who were with animals. We first hung out with the sheep in Scotland and learned tons about the baby sheep and border collies and Clydesdales. My daughter was so into that!

girl and Clydesdales at Busch Gardens

I was impressed with the employees knowledge and willingness to chat with us. We also went to the pet shenanigans show, and I liked how after the show, people were encouraged to come up and talk to the people and visit with the animals.

Pet Shenanigans show at Busch Gardens

Again, my eight year old enjoyed that very much. We also spoke with a woman with the most adorable little owl and she gave us so many facts, Emma could write a report.

Busch Gardens Owl

The roller coasters were my teenagers favorites and they rode those over and over, as the wait times were not bad at all. My children declared Griffon® the “best ride ever”.

Griffon Roller Coaster at Busch Gardens

One thing they noticed was that many of the coasters and thrill rides like the Battering Ram and Da Vinci’s Cradle had accelerometers on the rides, and they were curious to do some of the educational activities when they came back again.

I loved it that I did not push them to do the educational stuff, yet they became curious and want to follow up for themselves. Now, THAT’S natural learning.

I hear that Busch Gardens is homeschool friendly, with many new homeschool opportunities coming up.

For example, they have a Launch Into Physics: The Mars Mission program where kids can learn about momentum, acceleration and g-forces.

I see that this Summer there will be NASA Exploration Days (Aug. 2 – 3) and they have ongoing Conservation programs. You can check out their website to read about how to do Behind the Scenes Tours with groups of 15 or more. As a homeschool Mom, I will be keeping a watch for these things!

Anyway, we meandered through the park and ate crazy good ice cream cone sundaes in France and fat pretzels in Germany (the pretzels in Germany are the best get yours there). I felt like a kid myself.

ice cream at Busch Gardens

As a parent, it is so much fun to watch your kids enjoy themselves! I got a kick out of doing some old school rides like the bumper cars…


and the carousel…

Busch Gardens carousel

Haha! We made Big brother go with us

and we planned our day to culminate at the Celtic Fyre® a show with singers, musicians and Irish dancers, which was so enjoyable and a great end to the day.

I didn’t have time to do everything. I missed taking the Rhine River Cruise, which sounds beautiful. Next time around, I want to try the Escape from Pompeii® and Roman Rapids®. There is so much to do!!

I know that this trip is something all of my kids that went with us will remember forever. It was just that fun and doing it all together made for a great memory.

You can find more information on the Park on the Busch Gardens website. You can also follow Busch Gardens Facebook. An upcoming event that looks great is the return of IllumiNights: A Busch Gardens® Encore.

So, that was our experience. Here’s to enjoying outdoor fun as a family! #NaturalFun and #MC.

Finding Joy In Depression

Heather —  March 16, 2012

What are your thoughts about depression?

Honestly, I feel very uncomfortable talking about depression. Over the years, I have had many health issues and one doctor did attribute them to depression. I found that frustrating, because deep down, I suppose I see depression as a weakness, something I could fix if I “just tried harder.”

At the time, I went ahead and was treated for depression using medication. I disliked that very much and did gain some weight. To make a long story short…well, I am not sure that I ever really was depressed. I still have some health issues. My current doctor is very helpful and has helped find some other solutions for my health issues, such as figuring out my gluten intolerance and a couple other things—this has improved my quality of life.

And, yes, I feel happier. I wonder about all this sometimes. Am I really depressed and it manifests as immune issues? Or do my immune issues cause me to feel bad and so I seem depressed? I mean really…which came first, the chicken or the egg? You know?

And, I am not a doctor. I know there are some types of depression that can be clearly diagnosed and treated. I certainly do not think depression should be some sort of white elephant in the room.

The reason I am talking about this today is because I was able to get a copy of Amanda Pelsers new ebook, Finding Joy in Depression. I enjoy Amanda’s blog and her wonderful book clubs, and when I saw she had a book coming out about depression, I was super curious to see what she would say…because I also know that she has a BA in Bible from Anderson University and a MA in Old Testament Studies from Talbot School of Theology.  (She is a former church communications director turned stay-at-home-mom.)

So, I thought, what would she say? I mean, the fact that she is in ministry adds a whole other layer to this discussion. Because some people feel that depression is a heart issue, and that if you are depressed maybe you need to go to God to resolve something. Personally, I do not agree with this take on depression. I know that Jesus is our healer and nothing is impossible with him. But I also believe that depression can be a medical issue that God can use doctors and medications to heal.

So…anyway, all this led me to read Finding Joy in Depression.

I found Amanda’s take on this subject refreshing. Just the title clues you in that she is searching to honor God through hardship, finding the joy in the midst of trouble.

Overall, I feel that Amanda really wants to throw open some windows on the topic of depression. Especially for Christians. For people who have been through a traumatic event. For the young, stressed moms who wonder if they are depressed or just a bit overwhelmed.

Often, when I read a book like this, I look hard for solid solutions to issues. I like how clearly Amanda described her journey and tries to give answers that can really help others.

In a down to earth fashion, she talks about the options of medication, the importance of a caring spouse, natural remedies, knowing triggers and dealing with bad days.

It is fascinating to think about the connections between our bodies, minds and spirits. I really encourage you to read this book.

Click here to view more details

Finding Joy in Depression, by Amanda Pelser, ebook/kindle/nook format, $4.99

Finding Joy in Depression.

Have a story to share to encourage others? Visit

Follow @apelser on Twitter and Like The Pelsers on Facebook.

I received a copy of this ebook to facilitate my review. I am also an affiliate, now, because I like the book:) Buy it from my link…or hers…whatever:) But if you know someone struggling with depression, do check it out.

tangled cake

This Spring, all my daughter talked about was Tangled! So, as her birthday approached, we knew it would have a Tangled theme.

As I am not a genius in the kitchen, I was a bit worried, but then I decided,

“How hard can it be to make a Rapunzel’s Tower Cake?”

Yeah, go ahead and laugh!

Luckily for the birthday girl and her mother, one of my children loves to cook and another is a gifted artist. They both came in handy crafting this cake.

Now, if you follow my blog, you’ll know that we eat organic. I have been very strict about this with myself–and frankly it is easy to stick with eating organic if you do much research. Just watching Food Inc on Netflix changed my mind forever about what I am willing to eat!

But I digress. I just wanted to point out that our cake needed to be, from start to finish, organic. So for a non-super skilled baker (me) that also meant no fondant, etc. Because I didn’t know how to make that organically–so I just wanted colorful icing that actually tasted delicious.

First, Nick and I brainstormed how to make the cake. I found several ideas online, but nothing fit exactly what we wanted. Nick had the idea to create the tower out of cake rounds stacked on a skewer or skewers. We used an organic recipe that turns out well for a dense cake with a simple recipe.

Rapunzels hair

Second, we took the batter and made one large cake round instead of splitting into two cake pans. So, I had a pretty dense, high base for the tower.

Third, we also made one 9×11 cake–we planned to get the smaller rounds for the tower pieces from this cake. Nick actually cut out several circular rounds from this rectangle.

We planned to use a waffle cone for the top of the tower. I ended up using a regular size cone, which was all I could get at the store (In the future, I’d go to a shop and try to buy a large waffle cone as the small cone kind of messed up our proportions.)

  • So, we had the 8×11 round on the bottom.
  • To assemble the cake, we stacked several small cake rounds on a skewer stuck into the middle of the main cake.
  • We stuck the cone on top of the circles with frosting.

As we messed with it we saw that because the cone top was little we needed the tower to be smaller than our circles. At this point, A, our resident artist and engineer, told us to move and he’d

“fix that cake” Haha!

frosting the cake

Sure enough, A then cut into some of our circles to make the cake more proportional with the top cone.

base of the cake

Then, the artist in A took over and the two guys took our simple frosting (butter, vanilla and powdered sugar, a bit of milk). They split the large batch of frosting into several small containers and then added some food coloring, giving them a bunch of icing colors to work with!

happy birthday girl

In the end, A looked at a photo of the actual Tower in Tangled and gave the tower a realistic look, with browns, greens and a bit of purple for his sister!

I especially love how A made the vines with green icing and Rapunzel’s hair drapes across the cake. The end result was definitely a work of love and pleased Em tremendously!

If you have a little princess looking to have a Tangled birthday Party, good luck making yours!

Watch for new packaging

Watch for new packaging

As a Mom, I try to keep updated about things that may affect my children. I recently heard that Tylenol is making some changes in Infants and Children’s Tylenol. I want to forward this information to my readers as I know it is important. As early as this next cold and flu season, changes will be being made. These changes affect:

Concentration – Infants’ TYLENOL® will now have the same concentration of the active ingredient, acetaminophen, as Children’s TYLENOL®, which will standardize dosing across the products and age groups.

Dosage Methods and Packaging – When Infants’ TYLENOL® returns to store shelves as early as this upcoming cold and flu season, the products will continue to include specially designed dosing devices appropriate to the age of the child.

Infants’ TYLENOL® will include SIMPLEMEASURE®, a new, enhanced bottle with a protective opening and push-in syringe designed to:

  • Provide even more accurate dosing and easier administration to infants
  • Allow for better control when dispensing with fewer spills
  • Further reduce the risk of children getting to the medicine in the bottle

Children’s TYLENOL® bottles will also have a protective opening that will make it more difficult for children to get into the bottles.

There may be a time period when more than one concentration of infants’ acetaminophen products will be available in stores, and parents and caregivers might have both in their medicine cabinets. Caregivers should always read and follow the dosing directions on the package they are using.

Parents and caregivers should contact their child’s healthcare provider if they have questions about dosing instructions.

You can find more information on the TYLENOL Products Update Page.

Helpful Tips for Giving Medicines to Infants and Children:

Simply remember to NURSE

Never give adult medicines to children.

Use the measuring device (syringe, dropper, dosage cup) that comes with the medicine every time you use it. Don’t use kitchen spoons (teaspoons or tablespoons).

Read and follow instructions on the label. Never give more than the recommended dose and do not give the medication more frequently than recommended.

Store all medicines out of the reach of children. Immediately following use, always restore the child resistant cap and put the medicine back into a high and out of sight location.

Every child grows. Know the infant’s or child’s weight and/or age to help determine the appropriate dosage.

“I wrote this post as part of a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Tylenol. I received information and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.”

5-7-2010 7;24;23 PM

Happy Mother’s Day! My youngest baby is five years old now, and while I seem to forget many things, I know I will never forget the excitement of my pregnancies and the delights of holding my warm, snuggly little babies.

While I miss having teeny ones, I do not miss morning sickness, sore nipples…stuff like that. Recently, I was talking to some blog friends and heard that many of them are having a difficult time with morning sickness. And, I also know a woman who is grieving a miscarriage, so I wanted to find some helpful information.

So…armed with my newfound knowledge on organics (thanks to Alexandra Zissu) I went looking for some healthy ideas to help my friends. Little did I know, but I was about to get a treat for myself! (Isn’t that always how it goes? When I am not thinking about me, good things come to me)

I soon found the Earth Mama Angel Baby website. They have been featured in many media articles, including Fit Pregnancy, Mothering, Vogue, and Mindful Mama…Here is a bit from their site:

“Earth Mama Angel Baby is the only complete line of safe, zero toxin, hospital recommended, honestly organic and natural herbal products, and USDA Certified 100% Organic teas, specifically formulated to support women throughout the common discomforts of childbirth, from pregnancy through labor, postpartum recovery, breastfeeding, baby care and even the loss of a baby.

“All of Earth Mama Angel Baby® products are made with only pure, plant based, natural, worry-free ingredients. And of course all Earth Mama Angel Baby products are rated 0 for toxins on the respected Skin Deep database. Safe for Pregnancy, Ideal for the Whole Family.”

I loved the website! The site had such wonderful artwork and photography, that I figured their actual products must be fantastic. And, I was right.  When I received my Happy Mama Body Wash and Happy Mama Spray, I was in heaven.

I personally am the person who cannot even walk by a Bath and Body Works without developing a headache. When I got the Happy Mama Spray, I was actually in bed, sick, and my kids brought in the package. When I saw the spray, I was tentative to use it, because I know how sensitive I am and I was worried I’d get a headache—but the bottle was so pretty and the ingredient list was wonderful…organic lime, tangerine, sweet orange…Mmmmmm.

So I sprayed. And I kept spraying:) The spray is supposed to be for “Morning Sickness and Baby Blues,” and I’m pretty sure I have neither, but the scent was so light and refreshing, I felt better. I can see how this could be great for a pregnant mommy! Now, with the spray, it goes on lightly and the scent diminishes. My Happy Mama Baby Wash was also such a treat, with a ginger grapefruit scent.

Earth Mama Angel Baby definitely understands mamas and babies. From gift boxes for the Mama To-Be, to post-partum recovery kits, to nipple butters and baby washes…they have so many really useful products. From now on I’ll be bringing EMAB to any baby showers I go to…and even my big babies will be using some of these washes and lotions! And guess what?

Earth Mama Angel Baby is Giving away a $25 E-Gift Certificate to one of my readers!

For the Mandatory Entry:

Like Earth Mama Angel Baby on Facebook

OR, for those who do not do FB, you can complete the  “What’s Your Score Challenge.”

Additional Entries: (please leave a separate comment entry for each thing you do)

I will chose a random winner on May 22th. The winner will be notified by email. (So please leave me a way to contact you in your entries!)

*Also, the site does include links to their site I found their page on What Do I Say? very helpful.

Thank you to Earth Mama Angel Baby for this giveaway and providing me with the Happy Mama Spray and Wash. I have given my unbiased opinion on this product–I adore it.

The End of an Era

Heather —  April 22, 2010

Birthday Morning:)

This morning I am sitting in the middle of the remnants of Birthday fun…messes of paper and plastic, photos to be uploaded and posted, cake left out under a big bowl by tired mom last night…you probably get the picture:)

Dad having fun at Toy's R'Us. Because she had a gift card:) Took all the pressure off. And yes, he made me scream with a giant spider. Only two manager types came running. Boys.

Dad having fun at Toy's R'Us. Because she had a gift card:) Took all the pressure off. And yes, he made me scream with a giant spider. Only two manager types came running. Boys.

It is a weird time–because our baby is now five. Five years that went by so fast. I miss being the mom of babies. Now I am the mom of a 22 year-old, two 15 year-olds, a fourteen year-old…and a five year old. Our household looks and sounds a lot different than when I had babies.

Horses and ballet...can you make it any more girly?

Horses and ballet...can you make it any more girly?

Why yes, you can make it more girly. Just put your Ballerina doll on your horse while you wear your Ballerina outfit...

Why yes, you can make it more girly. Just put your Ballerina doll on your horse while you wear your Ballerina outfit...

You might think, “how delightful…I have babies, and you do not…so you get to sleep”!

Nope. weekends are especially bad when I get to wake up every hour on the hour (isn’t our subconscious weird?) to make sure everyone is home.

My father said it a long time ago. When I was lamenting having a pile of little children who I felt needed more control. He said “well, get that control–and now, because–it does not get any easier.” I thought, what a downer. That’s ridiculous. Of course it will get easier.

And, well… here I am left with the stereotype that my Father is a genius. Yep, Dad, so far, you’re always right. Mom, no laughing.

Waiting for birthday cake...

Waiting for birthday cake...

Anyway, I’m not trying to be morbid with my daughter’s birthday post. But I am thoughtful. We are entering a new time. There will not be anymore babies, and I am not one who envisions adopting–most of own children are still in the throes of feeling neglected and needy. If only I left a pie out on the counter every night…then they would feel loved, right? Or, how about new Nike cross trainer, specially airlifted $300 sneakers…or shorter, tighter new dresses?….

No. Doing all these things would make my life sooooo much easier. But, I know, it won’t really make them feel loved. Telling them no, waking up to make sure they are home, feeding them organic healthy pies once a week–or better yet a piece of fruit…later, that will make them feel loved…or, at least, they’ll realize what a genius I am. But certainly not until they’re 25 or so…

Brother-made Horse Cake!!

Brother-made Horse Cake!!

And really, with my babies…I got that Mom, you’re a genius look for so long. I will miss that until it comes back around.

Using Exergen TemporalScanner Thermometer is so simple!

Exergen TemporalScanner -- simple and quick

I remember what a pain it was to wake up a sleeping baby to check for a fever. Oh, how I hated to do that–and even with an older child or adult–when someone is not feeling well, you just want to be able to be gentle and reassuring–not poking and prodding!

Moms today have so many good products to help them, from sweet snugglies, to co-sleepers, to important health items like the Exergen Temporal Scanner Thermometer.

ExergenpicI used this gentle scanning forehead thermometer myself. Personally, I found that I needed to do a few “trial” runs across my child’s forehead to get the feel of it. But after that, I was amazed by how it worked. I recommend trying it a few times before you need it to make sure you are using it correctly–when I was using it uncertainly, it measured high.

After a few swipes I felt pretty good. It was easy to do and I got a reading in a few seconds–Em and Nick thought it was fun.

I like that you can easily and accurately find out what your child’s temperature is. This is a totally non-invasive thermometer which senses the temporal artery and gives very accurate readings.

I am not alone in thinking this thermometer is fantastic. In fact, Inc. Magazine called the product a breakthrough innovation in medical thermometry, and selected it as one of 24 “Smartest Products of the Decade.” by Inc. magazine.

See below to watch a video of exactly how this thermometer works and the correct ways to use it. In most of the video, they are showing the professional model–however the consumer model is used in the same way. It does have a transparent cover that must be removed prior to scanning. Overall, yes, I am pretty impressed. I definitely recommend this product and wish I had it when my kids were younger!

I like the fact that the thermometer is trusted and used in healthcare settings. In fact,  Exergen markets two models of the Temporal Scanner thermometer: a professional model for doctors’ offices and hospitals, and this consumer model I have.

The  Exergen Temporal Scanner Thermometer is sold in major retailers click here for a list of retailers. This product is also FSA eligible. It runs from $30 to $50.

A $5 rebate coupon is available here.

You can check out their Facebook page here for more information.

WIN! Exergen is generously sponsoring a giveaway. One lucky winner can get a TemporalScanner!

To enter, go to the Exergen TemporalScanner website and then comment on a feature you like about the scanner (or, you can watch the video above:) Giveaway ending 3/25.

For additional entries (please leave a comment for each method of entry):

This is a Mama Buzz review. The product was provided by Exergen for this review. I was not paid for this post and have given my unbiased opinion.