8 Winners! Win a Personalized Penwizard Book 11/25-12/9

Sponsor: Penwizard
Are books on your Holiday shopping list? They're certainly on ours! Which is one of the many reasons this is a fantastic giveaway with not one...but 8 winners!
     Personalised books are great for getting kids involved in reading. You Can choose from our range of personalised childrens books and see your child in the pictures and story of their own personalised book!


Penwizard is an amazing company. They offer a wide variety of books for both little boys and girls. The nice thing about their books is that you can literally customize the books to fit whatever your child looks like AND put in their name! These books are so easy to create and order. They are also pretty reasonably priced. They range in the 14.99 to 19.99 UK (so about 30-40$ Canadian). Considering your child is going to be able to have that book for the rest of their lives thats a pretty good deal! Check Penwizard out HERE Penwizard has offered 8 fans a chance to win a personalized Peppa book for themselves (a 30.00 Canadian Value each!) Rules:
    • Open to USA/CAN
    • 18+
    • ends Dec 3/14
    • one person per household can enter
    • Facebook, pinterest, twitter etc are NOT responsible or liable in anyway for this giveaway
Disclaimer: Participating Blogs were not compensated for this post. No purchase is necessary to enter. One entrant per household, per address. Void where prohibited by law. Winner(s) will be contacted by email and have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen. Penwizard will be responsible for product shipment to winners of this sweepstakes. This event is in no way administered, sponsored, or endorsed by, or associated with, Facebook and/or Twitter, Google, Pinterest. Contactnatasha@mompoweredmedia.com if you have any additional questions or comments.

Top 10 Holiday Gifts for Boys

     Okay okay, I know what you're thinking. It's wrong to differentiate toys as "boys" and "girls" toys...and that either gender can prefer or play with any toys. My boys certainly have some toys that would be considered /girls' toys, and I know some young ladies who prefer 'boy' toys.
      I did want to however comprise a list of toys that MY 3 boys absolutely love! These items have endured heavy play, continue to be favorites even as other toys enter the house, and I would recommend to anyone's Holiday list!! These photos are from my Amazon affiliate account (meaning I would get a very small percentage if you used them) and link directly to the page on Amazon!

1. Bruder Trucks

   Our gateway truck was this fantastic recycler that has endured heavy play for over a year! We have continued to add to our collection, and each truck continues to amaze us. I was familiar with Tonka and knew nothing about this brand, now I can't say enough!

2.  Transformers

     We have recently become a 'transformer' household. Finding transformers that are appropriate for my 3 year old has been really challenging! These small Rescue Bots are easily transformed, even my 2 year old can do them, and very reasonably priced!

3. Step 2 Folding Slide

   This slide has been a fantastic investment for our family. We keep it indoors in the winter and our kids have lots of fun being active indoors when it's just too cold to venture outside!
 4. Mega Blocks

     All 3 of my boys are crazy about Mega Blocks! They're everywhere. From building towers, to more complex structures, these inspire imagination...and for the price, they make an awesome gift!


5. Bounce House

     On cold days in the North East, when it's wayyyy to cold to go  outside, but my little ones have lots of energy...we have an 8 x 8 bounce house that they use indoors! Make sure to measure floor to ceiling and room size to ensure a good fit and safe installation, turn on some music and have a bounce party....indoors!
6. Tablet

     Tablets can be invaluable learning tools! From learning to read to problem solving and social skills....there's an app for everything! Make sure to get enough memory for all those apps and tablets like the kindle (black tablet) come ready for Amazon prime services and over 100,000 free apps!

7. CAT Trucks

     This truck is a huge hit with my boys. The baby plays with it, my toddlers play with it, and it's held up really well! The back opens and the top floor lifts up for great imaginative play! We loooooove trucks in our house!

8. Musical Instruments

     Music is a really fun activity for my kids! Weather we're having official music time together, playing along to music, or they're playing with these independently...these two items are huge hits in our house and have held up well!


9. Art Supplies

     These Crayola items are something I purchase again and again. The colors are beautiful, my kids love using them, and we have an entire wall covered in their artwork. Few things inspire like paper, paint and imagination!


10. Play House

     We got an amazing deal on this Neat and Tidy Cottage last year and actually assembled it inside! It inspires imagination. It has a doorbell, phone, door and shutters that open and close and a sink. It's also large enough that all 3 of my boys can play with at once, and it has held up really well. Assemble it the night before and put a big red bow on top! 

     That concludes our list of favorites! I hope some of these items have inspired you and...As always...thanks for stopping by! I always appreciate a follow on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and love to network on Google and LinkedIn. Have a fantastic Holiday season a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanza, and a Fantastic New Year! 

Getting Duped Into Posting As a Favor to Companies; Why Bloggers Should Avoid It

Disclosure; This is not a sponsored post.

     I often open my blog e-mail and find bogus offers from companies. They usually start out with "We love your blog" "Awesome blog" and follow with a letter stating that they are searching for bloggers to post for their company. Last week I received one from a Law Firm fishing for Mesothelioma clients asking me to do a mesothelioma awareness month post. The most recent one I received was from Man Crates. When I saw the company's name I thought this would be a fantastic product review opportunity...especially with the Holidays approaching. So I responded.
     I e-mailed the spokesperson back, and was sent a follow up e-mail reporting that this would NOT be a product review or giveaway, also would NOT be a sponsored/paid post. In addition....they needed me to post to MY blog 4-5 times...if not more for them. Obviously I declined.
     So why would a company want to dupe bloggers into posting for them? Last year I was tricked into this by DropCam. I was told that posts were being shared on their social media accounts...and to compose a post about My Slice of the World. AFTER I wrote the post and submitted it, the company e-mailed me back requesting that I put several links to their company website in my post (they even gave me specific links to use)....and low and behold....they NEVER shared it. Once I realized I was duped...I took the links out (because I liked my post) and after learning about SEO and speaking on twitter with Type A Mom I finally figured it out.
     SEO, or search engine optimization, is a process in which a search engine selects and lists websites when you type into the search bar on search engines like Google. A company can increase their reliability/stature by having their website linked to by other websites. This is Also the reason your comment moderation should be on if you don't check regularly...because companies like to 'link drop' in your comment section to make it appear as though their website is referenced to on your blog.
     So for this Holiday season, don't be duped! Unless you want to that is. If you're unsure, make sure to ask the company representative about compensation. There are many reputable companies out there who would love for you to host a product review, work together for a sponsored post, or do a review/giveaway. If you're looking to write a post for charity, there are lots of fantastic organizations and find a company like a Humane Society for Animals, Cancer Foundation, Autism Foundation or other charity that would really benefit from a free post with their links included.
     As always...thank you for stopping by!! Has this happened to you? Do you respond or just delete these e-mails?

6 Benefits to Babywearing a Disabled Child; Update on My Son's Progress

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post, these are my opinions based on personal experience, please consult your pediatrician and or occupational therapist for individual babywearing needs and recommendations.

     We are 12+ weeks out from my 2 year old son's bone tumor removal surgery. His final diagnosis is still up in the air, but looking favorable. CHOP's pathologist came back with 4 different diagnoses, one a low grade cancer, so they sent it out to the Mayo clinic. It took weeks for the Mayo clinic to produce a diagnosis. I was calling regularly for updates and shocked when they went off the map stating their belief was Ollier's disease, a disorder with multiple benign cartilaginous bone tumors. CHOP came back and said they don't agree, but also believe the tumor is benign. Soooo, where does that leave us? Waiting for a scan in January and hoping the tumor portion they couldn't remove from his growth plate doesn't further deform his leg.
     He was non-weight bearing for a few weeks, and zipped around in a little wheelchair we found after many many phone calls and searches for pediatric WC options. (Turns out there are few options for a 2 year old, even for an OT to get!). When the surgeon asked if I wanted him in a SPICA cast, which would have gone up his entire leg and onto his torso.... I opted to keep him non-weight bearing myself. He slept in our stroller, and went between the highchair, stroller and wheelchair. He is now allowed to walk on his leg and we've even gone to the playground twice for some limited activity.
     I couldn't wait for his incision to heal enough to wrap him. We tried a few times on my back for short periods, and increased his wear time. The photo above is his first time back in a woven wrap, this woven is from Tekhni and I have a full review HERE. I knew that wearing him would provide input from my movements that he wasn't getting during the weeks he wasn't able to walk, or was limited in the amount of time and distance walking. In addition, his leg presents with deformity that gives him a limp, and he experiences a more normal gait pattern and participation in activities of daily living when I wear him.
     There are many benefits from babywearing that are available to children with disability (please consult your Occupational Therapist ). In addition to benefits like skin to skin contact, increased breast milk production, regulation of body temperature and all the wonderfulness that comes along with being held close; Those highlighted here follow the doctrine of thinking embed in all OT's from the American Occupational Therapy Association's Practice Framework.

1. Functional Mobility; Experiencing 'normal' gait patterns and movement from the babywearing caregiver's movements. This includes shifting weight, turning, safe bending and moving from location to location during activity.
2. Participation in Every Day Occupation; Occupations may include cooking, care of others, and household chores like laundry. This is only as limited as your imagination and even as a passive participant a child benefits from this experience.
3. Sensory; Vestibular, Tactile, Visual and Proprioceptive input from caregiver's movements, and from the pressure and support of the woven wrap or soft structured carrier. 
4. Rest; Resting post surgery or illness doesn't prevent participating in activities while babywearing. The child participates semi-passively however still benefits and experiences the activities from caregiver's perspective and height. In addition to restful participation, carriers can also provide a safe haven for napping. We had to make sure to get an 'okay' from his surgeon to place pressure from the carrier on the surgical site.
5. Social Participation; Engaging in social activities via a babywearing caregiver provides a child with experiences he/she may not otherwise be able to participate in. Limited movement, height and skill in this area is circumvented by quite literally piggybacking off of a babywearing caregiver.
6. Play; Engaging in fun activities are often a welcome diversion from medical care and events. One of my favorite games to play is 'Tag' with  my son's brothers. He chases his older brother passively through me, and his brother chases him back while he rides his 'Horse' (that's me, I'm the horse!).

     Experiencing these benefits can be done through varying types of carriers, and the type of carrier(s) needed are dependent on a child's needs and abilities. My son here is shown in a woven wrap, however a soft structured carrier may be appropriate for some, or a Ringsling as well. A great resource for trying carriers is your local babywearing library, babywearing store or baby retailer. 
     Unable to afford a carrier for your disabled child? A PT run organization Lift Me Up Babywearing provides carriers to families of disabled children who don't already have one and meet certain criteria.
     As always...thanks for stopping by! I always appreciate a follow on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and love to network on Google and LinkedIn.

How To Make Baby Food; Baby's First Food

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. Please consult with your pediatrician about starting foods with baby. The internet is not a good place to diagnose, treat or replace doctoral care.

     I remember hearing the phrase "He'll sleep better once he starts cereal" over and over again. I couldn't wait for this magical day! With my first son I was given terrible advice and our old (we have someone else now!) pediatrician told me he should go 3 hours between breastfeeding sessions! He would maybe go 1.5 hours, and nursed for long periods of time (I later learned this was normal). 
     When I first mixed cereal with breast milk I was surprised at it's appearance. It was flaky, kind of shiny and reminded me of fish food. I tried it a few times and then dealt with a fussy baby who didn't sleep any longer.... and constipation. I attended a La Leche League meeting and learned from other Moms that cereal didn't have to be baby's first food. My next move was onto yams! I subsequently used yams for my 2nd, and 3rd son's first food as well. Fortified with breast milk this was not only super digestible, but agreed well with my baby's tummy and I was proud to make it at home.
     What is pureed food? Basically the food you buy in jars in different levels is varying degrees of puree. The first foods, are super pulverized and totally smooth. The 2nd and 3rd foods have a little texture and spend less time in the processor being pulverized. Most companies add water to help out the puree process, otherwise it would be thick and pasty...but if you're making it at home you can use other liquid like breast milk! Awesome, right?!

Here's what I use:

Organic Yams
Food Processor
Aluminium foil
Breast Milk
Ice Cube Trays
Plastic Wrap
Storage Freezer Containers 

First, choose some good quality organic or regular yams at your local store. Make sure to scrub and wash all before baking. You can read more about saving money on organic groceries HERE.

     Wrap each Yam individually in aluminum foil keeping the seam at the top, if you're careful you can save, rinse and reuse the foil for more batches! Place directly on wire rack in oven. Make sure foil is free from holes or yam juice can bubble down into the oven and start to smoke.

     Preheat oven to 400. After yams have roasted 30-40 min. (smaller yams will take less time, larger yams more time) get your oven glove and poke through a larger yam with a fork. When yams are done, the fork will pass easily and the yam will feel very soft.
     Once yams are done, remove with tongs and place in a safe space to cool. Once yams are cool, you can peel the skin and compost for your organic garden!

     Toss peeled yams into your food processor. The one shown here is a Hamilton Beach and was $30 on sale at Target several years ago and is just used for baby food. Start the processor and mix in liquid adding a little at a time until the puree is a good consistency. I add 4-5oz of breast milk for a nearly full food processor, but have also used water. If you're pumping/nursing Here are my must have's for nursing Moms.

     Once the consistency is to your liking, keep a jar of commercial grade baby food handy to compare the consistency if necessary, it's time to portion it out. The puree should be free from chunks and lumps.
     For large batches I use ice cube trays. I also use glass baby food jars for fridge storage, and have containers designed specifically for this purpose too (but the ice cube trays work the best for us!). Carefully spoon puree into tray slots filling the entire tray one cube at a time.

     Carefully wrap plastic wrap around prepared trays. Try to avoid touching the wrap to the puree as much as possible. After cubes are frozen, transfer to a freezer storage container (glass preferably). Remove cubes as needed and warm in a glass baby food jar in a bottle warmer. If made with breast milk, microwaving baby food can lessen some of the amazing breast milk properties, so the bottle warmer has been the best for us. 

     With 1 bag of organic yams ($3.79 at our Wegmans) I can fill 4+ ice cube trays! Not only is making baby food economical, but I know my baby is getting the best and I love fortifying the puree with breast milk. If I'm gone and baby doesn't want a bottle from Grandma, I know he's getting  milk in this puree!! Fantastic right?! 
      Thank you for stopping by! I always appreciate a follow on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and love to network on Google! Have a wonderful day!

$425 in Gift Card Giveaway; Life After 25 Always Giveaway

MBA is Participating as a Promoter To Celebrate National Bladder Health Awareness Month
We're Partying and doing a GIVEAWAY, Everyone is WELCOME but ladies 35+ are encouraged
As an Occupational Therapist, bladder control is something that I speak about regularly with clients. The muscles that control our bladder can become weakened just like muscles elsewhere throughout our bodies and are often referred to as our pelvic floor muscles. I'm happy to participate as a promoter for this giveaway to help raise awareness to this common issue and open the floor for conversation!!
Always is the gracious sponsor of the twitter party!!
Your Life After 25 is the gracious sponsor for the Amazon OR Paypal giveaway!!
Now to the giveaway!! There will be 3 prizes!
1. $125.00 Paypal or Amazon Gift Card
2. $75.00 Paypal or Amazon Gift Card
3. $50.00 Paypal or Amazon Gift Card
Giveaway Rules:
Open to US & Canada.
• Winners will be chosen at random through Giveaway tools.
• Giveaway ends Dec 12 at 11:59pm ET.
• Winners will be notified via email or Twitter DM.
• Each winner will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen.
• Mom Powered Media & associated bloggers are not responsible for prize fulfillment.
• Must be 18 years or older to enter.
• Unlimited Entries
• Void where prohibited.
• Entering the giveaway means you agree to terms above.
• Good Luck!
 Disclaimer: The participating bloggers may have been compensated for this post. No purchase is necessary to enter. One entrant per household, per address. Void where prohibited by law. Winner(s) will be contacted by email and have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen. The sponsor(s) will be responsible for product shipment to winner(s) of this sweepstakes. This event is in no way administered, sponsored, or endorsed by, or associated with, Facebook and/or Twitter, Google, Pinterest. Contact natasha@mompoweredmedia.com if you have any additional questions or comments. 

Baby Kicks Cloth Diaper Giveaway!! 11/11-11/25

Sponsored by: Baby Kicks
Baby Kicks got the fitted diaper right! This could just be the night-time solution you are looking for. They are made with hemp and cotton and a touch of polyester for stretch and fit.
     As a Cloth Diapering Mom you know I LOVE natural fibers. If you read my recent article; Are There Chemicals in Cloth Diapers...then you know why this giveaway is so awesome!! 
     Baby Kicks has this to say on its website about hemp:
"We use hemp because of its durability, absorbency, and it's natural anti-microbial properties. This means your baby will be protected naturally from bacteria, mold, mildew and fungus.
Furthermore using hemp, instead of cotton, really is better for the environment. Hemp does not deplete the soil; in fact hemp leaves return nitrogen back to the soil, which improves soil fertility, therefore requiring less fertilizer for subsequent rotated crops."
I personally like that! It makes using cloth diapers even more eco-friendly! Sustainability is key to survival and I find diapers that use this material attractive. Baby Kicks is giving away one of their awesome organic hemp fitted diapers for our Holiday Gift Guide! You can see the full review HERE! Enter below, Good luck and Happy Holidays!
This blog did not receive any compensation for this giveaway. Sponsor is responsible for shipment of prize to the winner. This giveaway is no way sponsored, endorsed by, affiliated with, or associated with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google or any other social media platform. If you have any questions or would like to see your product featured please email Julie at julie.talesfromasouthernmom@gmail.com or Mamabananasadventures@gmail.com to be featured on this blog!

Bumble Collection Dana Daytripper Diper Bag Giveaway!! 11/11-11/25

 A Giveaway hosted by: Tales From A Southern Mom and Mommy by Nurture Co-Hosted by: Mama Banana Adventures Sponsored by: The Bumble Collection   The Bumble Collection is a family lifestyle brand specializing in children’s products including diaper bags and family accessories such as lunch bags, picnic baskets, and food/beverage coolers for fashionable families. Since 1999, their diaper bags have graced the pages of magazines and have been carried on the shoulders of many A-list celebrities. Our products have been placed on the shelves of top retailers spanning the globe. Our loyal Bumble Collection fans happily followed us into the family accessories category as their kids have grown and the family calendar has been filled with family outings, sporting events and day trips away from home. The goal at The Bumble Collection is to provide products for parents with our full-service line of family lifestyle accessories, adding ease into their daily routine and busy schedules while attending their children’s soccer games, friendly picnics and beach trips. danadaytripper At The Bumble Collection, it is our mission to support and invest in our local communities by creating products that contribute to a healthier world for tomorrow’s children. Over the years, we have partnered with charitable organizations that focus on giving children in need a better life. Some of these include Horizons for Homeless Children, Angels Above, March of Dimes, and The Starlight Children’s Foundation. All products from The Bumble Collection are made of the finest materials using an all-natural process without the use of synthetic preservatives as we respect and embrace the value of sustainability and it’s effects on the environment. They have been so wonderful to sponsor a giveaway for our Holiday Gift Guide, by giving away one of their fabulous Dana Daytripper Bags! If you want to win one of the best diaper bags this is the one!
Enter below, Good Luck and Happy Holiday!
This blog did not receive any compensation for this giveaway. Sponsor is responsible for shipment of prize to the winner. This giveaway is no way sponsored, endorsed by, affiliated with, or associated with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google or any other social media platform. If you have any questions or would like to see your product featured please email Julie at julie.talesfromasouthernmom@gmail.com or mamabananasadventures@gmail.com