NKT Faves: Friday Fab 5

 

Influenced by hip hop legend Fab 5 Freddy, I thought I’d jumpstart a weekly feature list: Friday Fab 5. As a product blogger, I often acquire really great samples and don’t get to post about them until way later.

With Friday Fab 5, I thought I could photograph a group of finds that we’re using and currently enjoying, whether we bought them or were provided as a sample. I plan to include kid and family-centric products, and maybe a few products that I enjoy for myself.  As always, I will include the info about the find and whether we bought or received as a sample.

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1. Melissa and Doug Water Wow

My husband often brings home random samples from his office. One morning this week, he left this activity book on the couch. Littles found the book and begged for me to open it. Upon first investigation, admittedly, I was annoyed that this used water, because toddlers + water typically equals wet mess. Melissa and Doug proved me wrong this time around. The Water Wow uses a chubby water filled paintbrush to “color” thick cardboard pages. After filling the refillable paintbrush, the child can easily swipe the brush on the dry white pages to reveal a pre-determined colorful picture. After coloring all four pages of animal-themed images, my guy was excited that he could do it all by himself. Unfortunately, he was quickly frustrated that he’d have to wait for the pages to dry to color the in the book all over again. I love the size of the Water Wow book because it’s perfect for small hands and easy to throw in a bag for travel.  However, I’d love to see a few more pages, or perhaps, even a bigger book to engage kids even longer. The water color concept isn’t anything new, but I have to say, this mess-less water color play pattern is ingenious!

Melissa and Doug Water Wow can be found at Michael’s and Amazon. 

 

2. Wet ’n Wild Fantasy Makers

I honestly haven’t used (or seen) Wet ’n Wild since my jr. high days. And clearly, I’m not your most knowledgeable beauty source; however, I love this fun polish. I believe I received this Wet ’n Wild Fantasy Makers in a Halloween sample pack from an event. I was in need of a quick polish change and remembered I had this. The polish was light and easy, and quick to dry. Surpringly, it stayed on for almost a week! Loved this black color with fun sparkles.

 

3. Disney Creative Studio Deluxe Stylus

As major Disney fans, we’re always onboard for reviewing Disney-themed gadgets. I’ll do a thorough review soon, but the boys are both loving the capabilities of this the Disney Creative Studio Deluxe Stylus. They’re able to draw and color via the Disney Creative Studio platform. And truly, I can always get behind a product that entertains both kids and promotes imagination.

 

4. SoapSox

SoapSox is another product that I received to review. It’s been sitting on my desk for months, and I just haven’t had the chance to unpack it to share with the kids…until last night. I gave each kid one SoapSox to play with and it was an absolute hit during bath time. The shark was a true hit with my Sharknado-obsessed kids. You can load the soap through the designated soap pocket and then play with the bath-friendly stuffed animal. I love how functional and fun SoapSox is during bathtime. Best part of this bath toy, after using it, you can pop it in the washing machine! 

 

5. Thames & Kosmos Mini Volcano

Science projects are always a big hit in my house of geeky boys, but projects that blow up and make messes are always favorites. I received this small kit in a Toy Fair gift bag from a visit to the Southard showroom, and let me tell you, it kept my guys entertained for hours. Baking soda and vinegar volcanoes are a staple for creating erupting volcanoes, but this project took it up a notch with a little plastic volcano and some red dye.  Let’s just say I was not a fan of the red dye, but we will be using this mini volcano and goggles over and over again. The goggles might be my favorite part!

 

Ruby Rocket’s Shares Healthy Snacking Options with Philip’s Academy in Newark, NJ

It may be frigid and gray outside, but things at Philip’s Academy are quite vibrant and full of energy.  Last week, I had the unique opportunity to visit Philip’s Academy, a charter school in Newark, to cover an assembly on nutrition and healthy snacking presented by Ruby Rockets.

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Ruby Rockets, a frozen snack brand known for its naturally sweet, non-GMO veggie and fruit pops, presented an informational presentation to eager students. The brand, who aligns with making nutritional choices, suggested to the grade schoolers that making healthier snack options has many benefits.  The brand, which boasts snacks that don’t contain any extras such as added sweeteners, artificial coloring or chemicals, presented a slideshow with healthy snacking guidelines. 

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For healthier options, Ruby Rockets suggests that snacks should:
  • be low in sugar, contain sugar from fruit and veggies only
  • have a 2:1 ratio between carbs and protein
  • high in dietary fiber
  • have around 200 calories
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After the informational presentation, the children at Philip’s Academy were treated to Ruby Rockets as a dessert following their lunch. Many of the children were excited about tasting Ruby Rockets for the first time. Representatives from Ruby Rockets presented the kids with the naturally colorful frozen treats and were greeted with elation from all corners of the cafeteria.

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The students at Philip’s Academy are no stranger to making healthy choices. The school has a curriculum-based initiative that follows many environmental and sustainable concepts with its innovative EcoSpaces program. As part of EcoSpaces, the school has its own rooftop garden and maintains an AeroFarm, which is a hydroponic garden that doesn’t require sun or soil.

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As part of the program, the students’ lessons about sustainability, urban farming and their healthy lunch program is reinforced with hands-on exposure in their teaching kitchen. The students’ salad bar is a unique feature of the cafeteria. It was quite inspiring to see so many children enjoy a spectrum of vegetables and fruits.

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Ruby Rockets wanted to partner with Philip’s Academy because they felt that they were a good fit since their EcoSpaces program reinforced what they were doing.  

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When Frank Mentesana, EcoSpaces Director at Philip’s Academy, saw Ruby Rockets’ ingredients and understood their mission, he agreed that they were in line with what they were trying to do.  In fact, “we make smoothies all the time—almost all the time.  I looked at their ingredients and they sound like our ingredients,” Mentesana said. “I saw they had beets in one of their pops. We do a beet and berry smoothie. We do a spinach and kale smoothie. This was a great opportunity for the kids to see snacks alternatively. We also do tastings and those ingredients are on our menu and appear in different forms. For example, they’ll try beets six different ways. So, they may not like beets one way, but they may like it another way.”

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And because the dining room is also used as a classroom for the students at Phillip’s Academy, the conversation that started at the assembly with Ruby Rockets was a topic of discussion during and after lunch.

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As an outsider looking in, I admired the way things were run at the school. Not only was the EcoSpaces program mind-blowing, but I thought the interaction between students and educators was inspiring. Overall, the school exuded such positivity and seemed like a model for a cohesive learning and teaching environment. I think I came away learning more about urban farming and the EcoSpaces curriculum, considering how the students were so well-versed with healthy eating. 

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When asked what their favorite part about Ruby Rocket’s frozen snacks one intuitive student told me: “I love that these pops have natural colors and sugars from the fruits and vegetables.”

 

What grade schooler says that?  Super smart ones who are a reflection of their learning environment.

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Well, there you have it: this, my friends, was a prime example of students schooling adults. After spending a day with these students, I feel the need to boost my beet intake! 

 

A big thank you to Philip’s Academy for welcoming me to cover this assembly and event, and to Ruby Rockets for letting me be a part of this conversation on healthy snacking.

 

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Ruby Rockets come in Rock-it Red, Orbit Orange and Galaxy Green. The frozen snacks can be found at retailers such as Wegmans and Stop and Shop.

 

Full disclosure: This is a sponsored post and I was compensated for my time and efforts. Opinions on NKT are my own, just as healthy snacking is always encouraged.

YouTube Launches YouTube Kids App

YouTube has launched YouTube Kids, a new free app that’s tailored to deliver carefully-curated content geared to kids and families. This huge move for Google and YouTube was met with excitement and could be regarded as a game-changer. 

YouTube Kids Logo

YouTube is the second largest search engine, the fastest growing video sharing website and has become a staple in our children’s media landscape, so the development for YouTube Kids was an expected and heavily anticipated move from parents and tech enthusiasts alike.

 

YouTube Kids App Icon

 

The new YouTube Kids app will allow kids to explore family-friendly content within safer parameters. With larger images and bold icons, the app features a fun design and easy-to-navigate interface for smaller hands.The search has a voice option, which is perfect for kids who can’t spell or type yet.

YouTube Kids Screenshot

Parents will appreciate the parental controls that will help to safeguard their kids’ usage and content they watch. The timer allows the app to shut down when their window of time is up. If headphones aren’t within reach, the sound settings can be adjusted to turn off background noise or sound effects. If you only want your kids to watch certain videos, you can shut down the search option to limit their ability to search for other videos. And, as with any new version, YouTube has allowed for an option to submit feedback.

 

As for content, YouTube has partnered with many of the most popular content creators that already provide kid-friendly videos. YouTube has aligned with Sesame Street, Thomas the Tank Engine, National Geographic, KidzBop, Play-Doh, among other kid favorites. A few months ago, we got a sneak peek of Furchester Hotel, the new YouTube series from Sesame Street. It’s safe to say, Littles is quite smitten with this cool new series.

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Entertainment and Educational 

I was initially under the impression that YouTube Kids would be more for the preschool set, where cartoons could live freely. After further exploring, I was quite excited to find Biggie’s favorite YT channel and personality, Mr. Stampycat. Oh, Mr. Stampycat…you’ve been so kind to keep my sporty kid with cabin fever entertained this winter! Before discovering Stampycat, Biggie has clicked on way too many inappropriate Minecraft tutorials where F bombs or other inappropriate words were dropped. Another excellent channel that I’m so glad is featured on YT Kids is the Khan Academy. The Khan Academy, themselves, are a game changer in the educational video realm. If your friends are like mine, it seems so many parents are lost by the new educational concepts being implemented, it’s great that kids will be able to get help with their common core math homework thanks to Khan. (Or will they?)

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A few things to note: I did not see an option to create and upload videos to YouTube Kids, which is good. It’s important for younger kids to enlist their parents’ help before uploading any content to YT. I would love to see YT partner with smart sites such as KidzVuz so kids can easily view authentic video reviews. Like bloggers are required, I think video content creators need to disclose products that were provided for review, as well as paid placement.  And speaking of sponsored content, there are ads within videos. I noticed mostly family-friendly advertisements. I know ads make services such as this “free,” and considering the target audience, this is a slippery slope. So I think the ad presence might be my main qualm for an otherwise innovative media app for kids.

YouTube: the ultimate kid distraction

Having spent so much time in the hospital and doctor’s offices for my younger guy, YouTube has always been an invaluable resource. Whenever Littles would have to get the electrodes placed on his head for an EEG, a process that would sometimes take up to an hour because of his physical resistance, we always turn to YouTube. YouTube always has new or different videos that would distract my toddler from the medical procedure du jour.

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After we’ve run out of things to play with in the hospital’s massive playroom, Mother Goose Club and Thomas videos were our only savior. 

With the ability to search for unboxing videos before buying something or how to fix our washing machine, YouTube has already changed life or modern parenting as we know it. For families who have limited media access, free services such as YouTube may be a child’s only exposure to educational video content. The YouTube Kids app will streamline family-friendly content, a measure that any media enthusiast—young or grown up—can appreciate. A big kudos to Google and YouTube for creating something that will undoubtedly be a game changer, and for some, life-changing.

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The free YouTube Kids app is available for download at Google Play and the App Store.

Toy Fair 2015 Faves: Knit’s Cool, Snap Pets, Lego Minecraft, Plan Toys

There was so much to see and do at Toy Fair this year. Before I share about the trends I saw, I wanted to share a few of my favorites from this year’s show. Most of these toys won’t hit shelves until this summer or fall, so here’s your sneak peek at a few of my favorite next kid things:
 

Knit’s Cool
 

Spinmaster’s Sew Cool did so well last year that they’re riding the maker trend with a number of cool activity sets for Tweens. Knit Cool is an interesting set that allows kids to knit with ease, similar to that of finger/arm knitting. I can’t wait to see this generation of kids continue to make cool things with their own imagination and ingenuity.
 

Snap Pets

Selfies and tech toys were displayed loud and proud at Toy Fair. Snap Pets from Wowee is a fun selfie tool that can be used to take selfie images or as a remote. Tweens will love the small size of this cool selfie tool. 
 

Lego Minecraft

Speaking of creations, Lego, as expected, has a slew of cool new sets. Because Lego Minecraft was one of hottest gifts last holiday season, I thought I’d share a few photos of the upcoming sets in this series.

I saw a lot of new and upcoming Lego sets that encourage kids to forego the instruction manual and enjoy open-ended play. The crafting box is just one of many sets that give suggestions on what to build, but just like the digital version of Minecraft, this set capitalizes on pure imagination.

The Mine is another cool set that I loved seeing coming to life. The skeleton, creeper and spider are my favorite part of this set!

The Ender Dragon is another cool set that is sure to be huge among Minecraft aficionados.

Plan Toys
 

Plan Toys remains one of my absolute favorite toy companies, not just because they produce aesthetically pleasing goodies, but also because they’re eco-friendly and socially conscious.
Here are just a few of my favorite finds from my Plan Toys booth visit.
 
This chalkboard table set would look super cool in a playroom or classroom!

This rocket nesting toy is so eye-catching. The toys nesting inside were never-ending!

I can’t resist boat toys. This sailboat was so classic and cute!

If only NYC taxis could be this innocent and cute. Nevertheless, I love this sweet wooden taxi.

You can’t go wrong with wooden pull toys. Plan Toys owns the cute card in this category.

 More details and fun finds to come!

The Cookie Thief Debuts on PBS Kids on Monday February 16

Cookie Monster is up to his regular shenanigans, except this time, he’s starring in The Cookie Thief on Monday, February 16 on PBS Kids. The all-new one-hour special follows Cookie’s adventure at a cookie art museum. When art goes missing, questions arise as to whether or not Cookie had something to do with it.

Cookie Monster tries to eat the Cookie Art in Sesame Street s The Cookie Thief  Zach Hyman

And in Sesame Street fashion, this special focuses on important emotions and offers teaching moments. As Cookie Monster hopes to clear his name, kids learn about self-regulation concepts including impulse control, following directions and managing emotions.

The Cookie Thief with Rachel Dratch  Zach Hyman

 

My preschooler, who is learning all about self-regulation concepts himself, absolutely loved The Cookie Thief. Not only did the 3 year old love it, but my 7 year old probably loved it even more. There was action, mystery and culture, what more could we want in a Sesame Street special? Cookie Monster’s starring role in the Cookie Thief is a fun and engaging movie for preschoolers, and one that is perfect to watch while the kids are home for school this president’s day!

Highlights from Day 1 of Toy Fair 2015

It feels like Arundel here in NYC, but I’m onsite at the Javits Center for Toy Fair 2015 covering the latest and greatest in toys and games. As in years past, I typically spend my days at Toy Fair meeting with companies, checking out their latest wares and getting the dish from their developers, marketing team and sometimes the creators themselves.

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For the first day, I started my day by having breakfast with one of my favorites: Spinmaster. Spinmaster is responsible for many recent top toys, most notably one of the hottest sellers from last year: Kinetic Sand and Sew Cool. Who knew modernizing two classic activities and repackaging them to make them kid AND parent friendly would make these toys such a success in 2014? Spinmaster, that’s whom! Piggybacking on kids’ interest in sewing, knitting and crafting, Spinmaster has new activities that emphasize this trend. Text Cool was my absolute favorite, mainly because it reminds me of my parents’ 1970s clicker label maker. This updated activity allows kids to design text bracelets with letters, emoticons and other designs. It’s a simple craft, but one that I think will resonate with nostalgic parents like myself.

 

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Another highlight with Spinmaster was checking out the cool Paw Patrol toys, including the Paw Patroler.

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On the heels of Dino Zoomer being honored with a TOTY award, Spinmaster revealed the latest iterations of this line: Zoomer Kitty and Zoomer Chomplings.

 

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One of the best aspects of Toy Fair is walking the first floor and meeting new companies who are exhibiting for the first time. This time around, I loved learning about Lace Locks, which is an innovative accessory for shoelaces. This company has well known partners and their expansive line has a lot of licenses and designs to choose from. Since we’re huge superhero fans at our house, I especially loved all the fun Marvel Lace Locks. I loved seeing the Lace Locks on branded Marvel shoes. 

 

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Another cool toy/app that I loved learning about on the first floor was Painting LuLu which is a traditional coloring book with a partnering app and crayon stylus. I loved the way the way the app and crayon stylus can bring a child’s real artwork to life.

 

 

 

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My first meeting of the day was with one of my all-time favorites: Crayola. Crayola always has innovations that are forward-thinking and fun for both kids and parents. I’ll have to share more in-depth details about Crayola, but some of my new favorite products include the Thread Wrapper, Color Wonder Stamper, Color Me a Song and the Cling Creator.

 

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Tomy has all kinds of cool stuff coming up this year. As the master licenser for the new Disney Jr. Show, Miles from Tomorrowland, I got to see all the fun toys for this hit new show. The Stellosphere and this cool board that reminded me a of a hooverboard.

 

 

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One of the highlights of my day was checking out Cloud B’s lovely night lights and plush toys. One particular new toy that I fell in love with Super Max the Turtle, which is a special turtle nightlight that was inspired by a young cancer patient who spent a lot of time in the hospital. The special protective casing on this light can be used in hospitals or settings where shared items can be sanitized. The story about this beautiful toy was amazing.

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My absolute favorite toy of toy fair so fair has to be VTech Toys’ Kidizoom. This small action camera packs a punch and fills a void for our social sharing youth. I watched a little demo video created by the Kidizoom and the quality is pretty impressive for an action cam of this size and stature.

 

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As always, I’ll have much much more to share, but for now, check out more of my favorites on Instagram and Twitter!

Preschool Non-Candy Valentines: Twistable Crayons + Free Printable

At my house, we have approximately 17 tons of candy leftover from all of the various holidays. With Valentine’s Day class parties looming, I knew I wanted to do a non-candy treat for the preschooler’s class party. But other than candy, the only other options seem to be plastic tchotchkes, and who needs any more tiny plastic toys?

I opted to do a more practical Valentine’s treat: twistable crayons.

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When checking out the discount store for something else a few weeks ago, I spotted these packs of twistable crayons on the clearance rack for less than $1. For my older guy, these crayons were like currency in Kindergarten. Biggie was also known to trade crayons with his best buddies. They did so much coloring, these Twistables were a fun change. For preschoolers, many of whom can barely hold regular crayons without breaking or dropping them, these packs of twistable crayons seem like such a fun alternative to candy and toys.

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Since the personalized candy bag tag is so hot on the DIY circuit, I knew I wanted to do something along that vein. But, again, these packs of crayons were such a find because creating the Valentine card/tag would be so easy. 

 

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First, I measured the inner label in the crayon pack. I considered making a label that would cover both sides, but knew that would be redundant. I opted to create a tag just for the front. The front label measured about 2.5 x 4, which is just about the same size as a classic valentine’s day card. 

 

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Next, I headed to Picmonkey to create a “pun”ny card to slide over the front label. Since the crayons are all about color, I went with “You brighten my day, Valentine!” And as a play on the twistable crayon, I created a tag that says: “You’re a twist above the rest, Valentine!”

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Since Littles doesn’t write anything other than circles yet, I had big brother help me personalize the crayon packs with some name tags. We punched out red card stock and wrote the kids’ names in silver Sharpie and slipped it into the back. We closed the pack and sealed it with a decorative V-day-themed washi tape. Names are blurred out to protect the innocent <3

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Since my guy’s preschool class is rather small, as in less than 10 kids, buying one of those Valentines class packs with 25 cards would be a waste. So, I’m very happy with the way these crayon packs turned out. Instead of candy or tiny toys, we have crayons that my preschooler’s classmates will (hopefully) use again and again!

Hurray for practical goodies!

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And since Valentine’s Day is all about sharing the love, I thought I’d share the tags with you. I grouped the 12 tags together for you to download and print for your personal use. The tags are about 2.5 x 4 in. and would be perfect for a pack of crayons, markers or anything colorful!  p.s. I eyeballed measurements, so the layouts and sizes are wonky. Of course it is…

Enjoy this freebie! If you use this, I’d love to see how your projects turned out. Make sure to Pin or share on IG and tag me! I’m jenrab on all social media outlets.

Valentine’s Day Goodies: Vermont Nut-Free Chocolates

If I’m going to review something, then it might as well be delicious! Lucky us, we were sent a selection of very delicious chocolates and candies from Vermont Nut-Free Chocolates

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These were some of the most delicious gourmet chocolates I’ve ever had. They’re rich and smooth, with beautiful packaging to boot. And because we know so many friends with nut allergies, it’s great to know that a company such as Vermont Nut-Free Chocolates provides allergy friendly confections.

 

My favorites are a toss up between the Crispy Rice Chocolates and the Valentines Drops. The beautiful chocolates and candy that we were sent to review for Valentine’s Day are reasonably priced. I appreciate that they’re affordable, yet gourmet quality chocolates suitable for your Valentine or your little sweeties!

We had fun doing a little video in honor of these delicious chocolates. Check it out!

 

 

Beyond Valentine’s Day, Vermont Nut-Free Chocolates has an expansive selection of chocolates and other treats, perfect for those on the hunt for nut-free confections.

A Look Back at My Pregnancies + Clearblue Advanced with Weeks Estimator (giveaway)

There are so many positives about blogging, but one of the very best things is that my online content serves as a time capsule. In the early days, there were no set rules; blogging was a creative outlet and a way to document the things that mattered most to me. So, when tasked to write about my pregnancies, it was fun to backtrack since my blogs and social media outlets have been my online baby books and pregnancy journals. 

 

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When I started blogging eight years ago this month, I was working as an editor in NYC. I had a lot going on back then, but life as I knew it was about to change. In fact, my very first blog post in January 2007 declared my long-awaited pregnancy.

 

Because we tried to conceive (TTC for those in the know) for two years, I was emotionally overwhelmed, but mostly in disbelief. For about two years, I charted and documented my fertile days. Every month, I would test multiple times, only to be disappointed with negative results. So, when I couldn’t get pregnant, I started to fill my free time. (Free time. Ha!) We traveled, I joined a gym, we’d go out on date nights more often—I couldn’t keep myself busy enough. I read every pregnancy book, visited every forum, but truly, things didn’t happen until we least expected it.  

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When I found out I was pregnant with my first son, disbelief was the main emotion.The night before I tested, I was at a dance class at the gym, but I remember my boobs being more pronounced and tender.  At work the next day, the day I missed my period, I just knew something was different. Because I worked in the city, there was a drugstore across the street, so I grabbed a pregnancy test during lunch.  I stared at the pregnancy test at my desk but couldn’t wait to take it, so I took it at work. So when that faint plus sign appeared, I practically screamed! I couldn’t confide to anyone at work, but I shared the early news with my online friends. Since smartphones weren’t really a thing yet in early 2007, I secretly scanned my positive pregnancy tests!  I must’ve skipped all the way to the subway that evening, I was that happy. One of the most fulfilling moments though, was taking a Clearblue test at home and to read the word “pregnant.” Even better? To wrap that test and announce to my excited husband!

Some bday present.

 

Throughout the next nine months, I continued to document what I ate, how I slept, how I felt—basically anything having to do with my first pregnancy. Everything was brand new and totally foreign with my first pregnancy. Even though I was sick up until the seventh month, I remember basking in the thrill of pregnancy. When people refused to let me sit on the subway, even at 37 weeks, I let it roll. The first time is such a glorious time!

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The Second Time Around

The thing about having multiple kids: life just gets busier and crazier!  Also? Your memory retention gets a bit foggy, and sometimes, corners are cut to make life a little bit easier.  When I found out I was pregnant with Littles, again, I just knew because my boobs were the first marker. My body started to show me signs of pregnancy once again.  Since TTC the second time around was more systematic than the first time around, I think I was a little more stressed. 

 

 

Say hello to my little friend.

A photo posted by Jen Rabulan-Bertram (@jenrab) onJul 21, 2011 at 5:16pm PDT

 

 

I was just as excited as the first time, but the disbelief was exchanged for exhaustion.  I was a little bit older and a bit frustrated that it took so long to get pregnant again. When I found out I was pregnant with Littles, I was at home, here in the suburbs. Once again, I charted and noticed the spike in my temperature. When I missed my period, I just knew I was pregnant with my second.  I remember taking multiple tests and I was able to document the positives with an iPhone and Instagram this time, rather than with a scanner like last time!  I shared the news with my husband and life truly got a little more colorful as we embarked on our next pregnancy journey! Apparently, I took way less photos of this second reveal. At least Littles was Instagram and FB official. 

Clearblue played such an integral part to both of my pregnancies. I was able to learn that I was pregnant after trying for long and I was able to use the positive tests as a way to announce these special moments.  Since my pregnancy with Littles in 2011, the technology in pregnancy tests have truly evolved.

Clearblue easy weeks estimator january 2015 box

 

Clearblue Advanced Pregnancy Test with Weeks Estimator is an OTC hCG test that not only detects pregnancy, but in some cases can detect hCG 4 days before your period is expected. This test can estimate how many weeks have passed since ovulation. For anyone that’s struggled to get pregnant like I did, you know how it feels like an eternity waiting to test!

Clearblue weeks estimator table Jan2015 campaign

 

 

Pregnancy is such a wonderful time, and I’m so glad that I documented it in photos and blog posts. Even though the details are more vivid with Biggie, I’m so glad that I was able to capture the moments that mattered— even if the second kid might have fewer blog posts, we know it all happened thanks to Instagram.

 

 

Are you or someone you know TTC?  We’re giving away a Clearblue Advanced Pregnancy Test with Weeks Estimator.

 

Clearblue easy weeks estimator january 2015 box 2

 

Just enter below:

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 







This is a sponsored post as part of the BabyCenter Blog Network. I have been compensated for my participation and time, but as always, opinions on NKT are my own.

NKT Faves: Preschooler Must-Haves

It’s been quite the hectic start to 2015. With all the snow, a stint in the hospital, a pair of birthdays AND a major transition to preschool, we had our plates pretty full with family obligations.  I have quite a few posts devoted to Littles turning 3, but in the meantime, I wanted to share just some of our preschooler must-haves.  

Since it’s been a few years since the older guy went to preschool, and ultimately because each kids’ needs are different, I found myself packing a much different backpack with a whole different set of supplies. Finding a backpack small enough for a wee preschooler, yet big enough to hold a folder is quite the ordeal. Since most guys this age are so small, I’ve found that the backpacks are smaller than 12 inches, which is the size of a regular school folder. I’m currently on the hunt for a backpack that we love, but until then, check out the things we do love!

So, without further ado, here’s what was in Little J’s backpack this week:

 

NKTPreschoolerMustHaves

 
1. Contigo Autospout Kids’ Striker Water Bottle

We’ve been longtime fans of Contigo products, so it was a welcomed surprise when Santa gifted this fun water leakproof bottle. I like the design of the bottles and how the spout pops up with the touch of a button. The detachable straw makes for easy cleaning, which is a plus. This BPA-free bottle that has a lifetime guarantee, is a perfect size for preschoolers to tote to school.  I’ve read online that this design has been getting poor reviews, but honestly, it works well for us.

2. Lunchbot trio stainless steel bento box

Lunchbots are our bento box of choice around here. This box which features three compartments is small, yet spacious enough for the littler guys. Plus, I don’t have to hunt for a ton of foods to fill the compartments, considering Littles is such a finicky eater. I love that this box is just stainless steel; there’s less paint and designs to deal with, which make it easy to share between the two boys.

3. Munchkin Lunch Bag

Even though he’s off to school like a big boy, my little guy is very much still a tot. I know he’ll be into superheroes and other characters in years to come, so I try to keep things age-appropriate. Animals and things that have wheels take top billing on his favorites list. I personally love this Munchkin owl lunch bag that we’ve been using for the past year. It’s cute, but extremely functional. It fits his full lunch, snack, and two small boxed drinks. In the mesh pocket, I like to stuff an extra straw and paper towels.

4. New Balance 750v3

New Balance running shoes have been some of my favorite athletic shoes for my little guy. With the firm soles and easy fit, even though he’s not running super fast quite yet, I know his feet are well supported. What makes these shoes a top pick is that my guy is quite uncoordinated because of low tone, but the firm fit and higher soles give him a much more secure step. The colors and design in shoes such as the 750v3 tend to complete his cute little outfits.

5. Name Bubbles Preschool Pack

Name Bubbles are, hands down, one of my most favorite labels for my kids’ things. From the designs to the cool fonts, Name Bubbles has a look tailored for every family member.  The labels are waterproof and durable, making them perfect for every day use for the kids’ gear. The preschool pack is an ideal pack that offers different-sized labels for the 3-5 year old set. My guy is obsessed with trains, so the labels from the preschool pack happily adorn his lunch box, winter gear, folders and even his little toy he brings every day!

6. Stonyfield Organic Smoothie

Like many toddler/preschoolers that I know, Littles is quite the finicky eater. So far, he’s come home with an almost untouched lunchbox every day. Nevertheless, I’m always looking for a drink or smoothie to satisfy his hunger and nutritional needs. J loves yogurt and smoothies, and Stonyfield happens to be his favorite. While we love the YoKids line, he loves this Strawberry smoothies the most.  It’s organic and has the nutrition elements that he needs. The sugar content is high, like many yogurts, but when this is sometimes the only thing he’ll eat all day, I’m grateful that it’s so accessible and easy to pack. 

7. Huggies Pull Ups

It’s a bit daunting to send your child to school every day, especially when they’re not potty trained yet. Pull Ups were a big part of our lives when my older one was 3, so, as Littles turns the corner, we’re starting to transition to Pull Ups and potty training. Every kid has their own way of learning, but I’m totally expecting this potty training phase to be quite the adventure. The cool designs and easy side tabs make these our favorite training pants. They’re absorbent and light, too, which makes for easy packing in that backpack.

Now, to find the ideal backpack for my newly-minted preschooler…