Li’l Helper {Review}

There is something different about having a second baby…it’s not that he/she is cared for less, but some things aren’t as big of a deal as they were the first time around.

Maybe it’s because you don’t have as much time to obsess.  Maybe it’s because you learn the baby is not as fragile as you thought he/she was.  Maybe it’s because you have to put the baby down and wipe a preschooler’s booty after the poo he did because he is potty training.

For us, Charlie learned to wait much earlier than Eddie did.  From the first day Charlie was home from the hospital, he had to wait while we got Eddie his dinner or wait to be held because we were cleaning up a potty training accident.

One thing Charlie learned WAY faster than Eddie was to hold his own bottle.  Charlie learned pretty quickly and in fact, because he’s so darn independent, much prefers doing it himself.

One of his favorite ways to “hold” his bottle is with his Li’l Helper.

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The Li’l Helper fits snugly around most bottles.  We use Avent bottles and because of the chubbiness of the bottle, the Li’l Helper doesn’t fit around the middle of the bottle. But Charlie doesn’t seem to care.

He had been holding his bottle with his hands, but when I gave him this nifty little tool, he was better about not letting it roll away just because he was squirming around on the floor trying to see what Eddie was doing.

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The Li’l Helper is shaped to the natural grasp that a baby has.  Plus it has little rattles on the bottom, which Charlie loves.

Although, since I let him plan with all the time, he will slam it on the ground when he wants a bottle. Oops.

Anyway, my favoimage001rite part of this is when Charlie does want to be held, but also Eddie is asking me to do things, it makes it all possible.

Li’l Helper was dreamed up by a dad who wanted to be able to feed the baby and work with his toddler.

Since I am a bottle-feeding momma of two, this is really a great product.

Charlie is getting to the point of learning a sippy cup, so soon bottles will be a moot point in our house, but maybe someday a Baby #3 will be an even better candidate for the Li’l Helper when we have TWO crazy kids running around while trying to give the baby his (or her, I suppose) bottle.

Legal Stuff: I was sent a Li’l Helper to try, but was not compensated in any other way. Opinions are all my own.

Baba + Boo Review {and Giveaway!}

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Being the second child and the second boy, poor Charlie doesn’t have many things that are new to him.  For Christmas he got a couple things, but really, he just didn’t need anything.

I kind of feel bad for him.  I mean, not that he cares, but he doesn’t have a lot that is just his.

When the UK company Baba and Boo announced that they would like to make a United States debut, I jumped at the chance to help them out and give Charlie a little something of his own.

As their welcome message says…

Welcome to a completely new shopping experience for your Babas and Boos…cloth nappies and funky fashion..

Admittedly I read everything on their site with a British accent.  A very bad British accent.

Ahem.

They have bunches and bunches of awesome cloth diaper products (if I were thinking of cloth diapering, this would probably put me over the edge to try. I mean, they even have cute reusable wipes!), and tons of super cute, unique clothing items.

They also have training pants that are like a diaper/undies hybrid. They help when you’re potty training your little one.  He/she feels the wet, but your flooring does not.  HOW AMAZING IS THAT?

I won’t lie, when I was contacted, I sort of wished Eddie hadn’t just been potty trained so we could try those out.

But alas, I have a potty trained 3-year old and not even close to potty training 11-month old.

So I picked a long-sleeved T-shirt for Charlie.

And doesn’t he look so cute?

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The shirts are nice and heavy-duty, totally not thin or flimsy.  They also have the neckline that is similar to a onsie, which I like because I can clip Charlie’s paci-clip to it.

I also liked how unique the design is.

I have a tendency to buy all things Carters since we have an outlet just down the road.  But then my kids look like all the other kids in America.  This is affordable and different.

Plus they carry baby legs.  If you follow me on instagram, you know I love baby legs.

I love Baba and Boo.

I am pretty sure you will too.  Especially since they want to give one of you a T-shirt for the little peanut in your life!

Just follow the directions in the widget below to enter.  And good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Legal Stuff: Baba + Boo sent me the t-shirt pictured above and they will be providing a t-shirt to the winner of this contest.  They did not provide my opinions.  Those are my own.

Affresh Review and Giveaway

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My least favorite thing to do in this world is cleaning.

My most favorite thing in this world is having a clean, organized life.

You see my problem, yes?

We used to have a cleaning lady, but alas, that is not in the budget anymore.  So the next best thing is to find products I don’t hate that help make my life easier.

This is where Affresh enters into my life.

Affresh sent me five of their newest products: the appliance cleaner, the stainless steel cleaner, the stove top cleaner, the dishwasher cleaner, and the washing machine cleaner.

And I’ll be honest, getting a box load of shiny new cleaning supplies made me want to, well, clean!  No, really, I wanted to sniff it to see what it would smell like, but that is weird (and probably rather harmful), so instead I took a Saturday and cleaned ALL THE THINGS.

First I tackled my stove.

Friends, white appliances are a stupid invention.  My stove was nasty and it had been less than a week since it’s last good clean.

why yes, I did burn milk on the stove top. Doesn't everyone have this issue?

why yes, I did burn milk on the stove top. Doesn’t everyone have this issue? And it appears we had pasta that week too by the red sauce that I spy.

Gross.

So anyway, I covered it in Affresh stove top cleaner and gave some of the really nasty spots a good scrub with the little blue scrubby pads that come with it.

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BAM!  Sparkling clean!

I really thought it would take more elbow grease and/or have a stinky bleachy smell, but it was fairly easy to clean (yes, even with all the nasty that piled up over the week).  It also had a clean, fresh (it IS called Affresh, after all) scent to it.

Then I tackled our sink and the appliances and surfaces.

clean stainless steel sink.

clean stainless steel sink.

Cleaned up the appliances and even the surfaces.

Cleaned up the appliances and even the surfaces.

I really loved the citrius smell of these products.  They reminded me of how my mom used to use a lemon-scented product to do the dusting and mopping of the floors.  Citrus is the “clean” smell of my childhood.

The tablets for cleaning the dishwasher probably would have worked better if my dishwasher didn’t suck.  They did leave it with a nice clean smell, so there’s that.

Also the tablets for cleaning the washing machine worked well, but I don’t have a picture because I didn’t wash out the fabric softener thingy and I am too embarrassed to show you all how gross I have let that get.  But it also left my washer smelling fresh and not mildewy.

After I was done cleaning on Saturday, I sat back and enjoyed it…for about 30 minutes before someone spilled something somewhere.

But the nice scent stayed on after spills reappeared.

Do you want to try Affresh too?  Yeah you do!  Enter to win the same pack of cleaning supplies that I used: The Appliance Cleaner, the Stove Top Cleaner, the Stainless Steel Cleaner, the Dishwasher Cleaner, and the Washing Machine Cleaner.

Just enter in the Rafflecopter widget below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Legal stuff: I was sent the five cleaning products from Affresh to review, however all opinions are my own.

Trying to Be an UpScale Mom

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Before Charlie was born, we finished our downstairs basement.

We knew from the first piece of drywall that went up that this would be the bathroom for the kids that lived downstairs…probably boys (and then, yup, Charlie was a boy), but it would also serve as a secondary bathroom to any guests we have over.

We wanted the room to be cute, but not too kidish; boyish, but not overly boy-themed; attractive, but user-friendly.

My favorite part of building this bathroom was being able to choose everything that went into it.  The color (orange!), the fixtures, the cabinets, the mirror, and all the accessories.

Truth be told, this bathroom (and Eddie’s room and the nursery) will be the hardest things for me to leave if/when we ever move on to a bigger home.  Cort gave me {almost} complete free-reign in “designing” and “decorating” those rooms.  All I needed was to avoid a veto from him…and that wasn’t hard, he can be talked into most design choices by my saying, “trust me, babe. It will be so awesome!”

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For over a year and a half after the completion of the bathroom, this spot sat empty.  We couldn’t decide if we wanted artwork, shelving, or what to take up the spot.

Then I was contacted by UpScale Mom to try out their new product: The Windel.

It arrived on my doorstep all wrapped up in pretty paper with a big bow on it.  The first time it came, the package had been damaged, but UpScale Mom was quick to send me a new one…and this time, it was perfect!

The idea behind the Windel is that it’s not just a frame, not just a cabinet…it’s three products in one: A frame, a cabinet, AND a diaper/wipes dispenser!

See that pull-up sticking out of the side up there?  I pulled it out a little way so you could see that there is a diaper dispenser right on the side.

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And underneath is a spot to dispense wipes.  It’s easy to slide the wipes in and open and close them from below to have easy access without having to rummage through a drawer or sprint back upstairs to the nursery for a diaper and wipe.  This is especially handy since this bathroom is right next to our playroom/family room downstairs.  Since Eddie graduated to being potty trained, we don’t keep a stock of diapers downstairs.  But we do now!

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The inside…wipes on the bottom, diapers above, with Pull-ups above that for easy-access every night before Eddie’s bedtime.  We also store medicines in here since it’s too high for Eddie to reach.  His toothbrush is also safely tucked in there so it can stay clear of all the nasty that boys can do in bathrooms.

Someday, this will be able to convert to a regular cabinet (the angled shelf can be straightened) and as the boys grow, this will become their medicine cabinet.

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We are EXTREMELY happy with our Windel and would definitely recommend it to anyone who has kids, small or not.  We use it in the bathroom, but we are thinking about getting a second one to keep in the living room upstairs as well.  Wii games and remotes can be tucked inside along with a stock of wipes and diapers for that room as well.  And the front is big enough (16 x 20 frame size) to fit a large family picture or some artwork.

I’m not blowing smoke up your shorts when I tell you this is one of my favorite products I’ve gotten to review in a LONG time.  Anything that hides the fact that I am up to my elbows in poop most of the time I am at home is a great product!

Hop on over and “like” Upscale Mom on Facebook.  You can also follow Upscale Mom on twitter.

Currently Windel is only available in the continental US, and will soon be available for purchase on Amazon and Ebay.  You can get your own now by shopping here.

Legal Stuff: I was sent a Windel to review, but was not further compensated.  All opinions are my own.

Breaking the First Rule of Healthy Club

EpiCorThe first rule of Healthy Club is to never mention you are in the Healthy Club.

Do not talk about Healthy Club.

Yeah, I am going to risk my family’s health and break this rule.

It seems like every time I log on to Facebook or Twitter, someone is sick.  Actually, more like everyone in the social media world is coming down with a form of the plague.

I would be lying if I didn’t feel completely exposed to it just by reading about it.  I may even use hand sanitizer after reading those updates.  I”m just saying.

Anyway, you would think with all this plague around, and being a teacher, and having small kids in daycare, I would have had us first in line for the flu shot.  But no.  We don’t “do” the flu shot.  It’s not for any controversially charged reasons other than a case of severe LAZY.

We do all the other things…we take our vitamins, we wash our hands to the point of dry and cracked, and we cover when we cough and sneeze.

So far, so good.  We are generally a pretty healthy family. (See? I just broke the rule.  Temping fate, much? Wait, I don’t believe in fate.  Phew.)

But I’ll be honest.  If we do ever get sick? I blame myself.  I’m the one who takes the germs in the house. (As I type this kids are coughing and hacking while doing their listening activity in Spanish class…yay germs flying through the air!)

Just under a month ago a package arrived on my doorstep. In it was a 30-day supply of EpiCor–an immune boosting supplement.

What is EpiCor? It’s an ingredient made up of protein, fiber, vitamins, amino acids, antioxidants, and other metabolites. Studies have shown that when taken daily, EpiCor can help balance out the immune system.

I’ve read before that stress really brings down the immune system.  And if you know me at all, you know that I have stress.  And when I have stress, I get anxiety.  And then I get sick.  EpiCor is meant to balance out the immune system to combat the ill-effects stress can have.

I was all about trying it.  I already take a vitamin (still on prenatals since they are the “best” for women), eat pretty healthy foods (we cut out as much processed, not “real” foods as possible), and drink loads of water, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt during this nasty plague flu season if I helped my immune system a bit more.

So I have been taking it with my vitamin for almost 30 days.

And…here is the part where I am REALLY breaking the first rule of Healthy Club…I have not been sick at all this year.  Not even the sniffles.

Cort has had a bit of sniffles as have Eddie and Charlie, but generally? We have been a picture of complete health.

Now, I can’t credit EpiCor with the family’s health, but when I am healthy, the family tends to stay well too.  And I am definitely crediting EpiCor with that.

I can’t remember the last time I have stayed cold/flu free from the start of school through January.  I realize I have two more months of “flu season” left to go, but I have another month of EpiCor to use and hopefully that will help me ride out this nasty epidemic of the Nasty that everyone seems to be getting.

I’m seriously thinking of hitting up our local GNC to get more to take year-round.

Want more info?  Check out this youtube video about EpiCor. Or check out EpiCor’s site. Find out where to buy EpiCor here. And “like” EpiCor on facebook.

Disclaimer:I was provided two months worth of EpiCor to try and write about.  No other compensation was given.  All opinions are my own.

Ready, Set…BABYHUDDLE!

If you are a mom with internet access you have probably visited some sort of group resource site aimed to give you resources and advice.

You’ve probably also fell down the rabbit hole of searching big box department store websites trying to find products for your baby or toddler.

After a while they can all start to look the same, and in my opinion, very cluttered, overwhelming, and confusing.

Everything is blinking at you!

There are things to sign up for!

How can I find the answer I am looking for? Oh look an ad for nipple shields!

After Eddie was born, I gave up on using sites for legit answers to my questions.  There was just too much going on in the chat rooms–not to mention mean, judgmental mommas–and I really didn’t know how to navigate through so much.

When I was pregnant with Charlie I didn’t even try again. There were times I really wished I could find what the latest and greatest stuff was for baby…especially when I realized Charlie was so different than his brother as a newborn.  But there just wasn’t a place I knew about that seemed both helpful and user-friendly.

Until now.

I am SO excited to announce the United States launch of BabyHuddle.Com (previously exclusively UK), a “social shop” full of resources for moms and dads BY moms and dads. Check out this tidbit from their “about” section:

[W]e set ourselves the objective to build a site where parents can be comfortable soliciting suggestions and sharing product recommendations between themselves. From browsing each other’s lists of products and answering their questions, parents will find all the information they need within this fun and supportive community. We’ve also ensured that you can find a huge range of cool products at great prices for you to get.

BabyHuddle is not crowded with eleventy billion possible things to click on blinking at you from all over your screen.  It is simple and organized.  There are three areas: Shop, Lists, & Ask.

The Shop area is where I have already spent WAY TOO MUCH TIME, if I am being honest.  Everything is separated into categories, much like a Babies R Us type site, but it’s easier to navigate without all the drop down menus.

The Lists area is where you can create wishlist, must have lists, and any other list you want.  You can also browse other people’s lists.  For instance, Charlie is getting his top front teeth and even with his amber necklace, they are kicking homeboy’s booty (literally…he has the diaper rash to prove it).  So I peeked through the lists other moms had started and wouldn’t you know it? Someone had started a “Teething Essentials” list.  BOOM!

And look! I already created my own list!

The Ask area is where you can ask a question or browse questions that have already been asked to see if someone asked something you were wondering.  You can also answer questions here.  I REALLY love this part of the site because it’s what makes it different from just a store. It’s also a community.  It’s moms helping each other out with advice and products they have used and loved.

Think Babies R Us meets BabyCenter, but without all the hoopla.

As BabyHuddle’s about section states, they are the “leading social baby shop”.

To celebrate their awesome, you should really go sign up now.  It’s free. It’s easy.

And I am over there making lists like a madwoman.

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This post has been sponsored by BabyHuddle.com.  While I have been compensated for my time, I have not been given my opinions.  Those are all my own.

What’s With All the Hullabalu?

Last week this little guy appeared on our doorstep:

This guy’s name is Ziggy and he came home to us from Hullabalu, an online company that, up until recently, curated stuffed animals from other companies for their site.  Ziggy was one of those animals.

He came to live with us because he fits our nursery’s zoo theme perfectly.  I tried to place him next to Charlie’s giraffe, but someone had other plans for him.

No, that is not the nursery Ziggy is in.  That would be Eddie’s room.

Eddie sort of fell in love with him the minute I took Ziggy out of the box, so who was I to deny a 3-year old some cuddles with a cute elephant?

Right now, Hullabalu is working on their own line of animals due out October first.  There will be five animals with a fantastical story line to go with them: a turtle and a fox, possibly a panda and/or a dragon.

You will not want to miss out!

Right now, the Hullabalu site has launched with a referral program. If you head over there with my link, I will earn points and so will you!  Points get you money off your order, free shipping, and a TON more!

I have to be honest, I really can’t wait!  I know already that I will be choosing two animals to welcome my nieces to the world when they are born in November, and maybe something for Charlie for Christmas (since you know, Eddie took over his Ziggy).

So head over, sign up, and send out invites so you can have access to some cuddly friends for the kids in your life!

Legal Stuff: I was sent Ziggy the elephant as compensation for this post.  He did not, however come with the opinions.  Those are my own.

papersalt {review and giveaway}

I love books.

I love learning.

I love quotes.

I love reading to my children to help them learn with good quotes.

And this is where Papersalt comes in.

Papersalt is simple, effective, to-the-point books and other tools for kids and family.

I admit I was skeptical at first. I mean, they look cute, but as a fairly progressive parent, something called “Being a Boy” had me a bit worried about gender stereotypes.

But I cracked it open and it was…fabulous.

Our goal is to deliver “just enough” content, with cool designs, that kids (and adults) will pay more attention to.

Eddie sat through the whole thing, asked some questions, and listened.  I couldn’t believe it.  Also?  I love the messages.

There is one called Being a Girl also, that I imagine is just as wonderful.  I am seeing these books in the future as baby gifts for all new babies in my life.  They are just so lovely.

Another one that I have is We Do. Cort and I are guilty of saying “we don’t do {fill in the blank}” a LOT in our house.  This book is filled with stuff we DO do.  It’s awesome.  I am think I will display a new page a day on rotation.  It’s that awesome.

I also have the Quotes book.  This one I display on the windowsill by our sink.  I change the quote daily on this one for a little piece of brain food each day.

And lastly, I have the “ME” journal. This one is just for me.  I love it because it has little prompts/quotes at the top of each page to write about.  Writing out by hand.  Sigh…my first love.

This is just a sampling of what Papersalt has to offer.  All their books are cute, clean, simple, and awesome.

…no fluff…just “need-to-know” things.

They make wonderful gifts: for graduates, new parents, seasoned parents, yourself…

I really could have just ordered a few of every single book and found people to randomly give them to.

So you want some?

Yeah you do.

Papersalt is letting me give TWO lucky readers TWO books of their choice from the Papersalt collection.  So head over there, check it out, and then come back and enter to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Legal Stuff: Papersalt is generously providing the spoils of this giveaway.  I was sent the four books above to review, but I was not sent my opinions.  Those are my own.  Their stuff is cool, yo. This giveaway is open to residents of the USA, Canada, and Puerto Rico.  Contest ends Friday at 12:01am est.

PaLooZa BooTY #8

Welcome to SLuiTeRPaLooZa DAY 2!!!

In case you didn’t know, Saturday will mark my FIVE YEAR Blogaversary.

FIVE YEARS.

What better way to celebrate than with something HUGE?

And so, SLuiTeRPaLooZa was born.

FIFTEEN giveaways over three days = PaLooZa BooTY.

You know you want to win some.

So here we go.

BooTY the FiRST is a Thirty-One Utility Bag.

BooTY the SeCoND is a Blog Makeover.

BooTY the THiRD is something pretty for your hair.

BooTY the FouRTH is a dozen yummy cookies.

BooTY the FiFTH is a book of  good reads.

BooTY the SiXTH is another Thirty-One Utility Bag!

BooTY the SeVeNTH is a funny bookish tote

BooTY the eiGHTH:

There is an amazing new business I have to tell you about.

Ball + Chain.

I am telling you, this is the COOLEST concept.  Check it out:

Ball + Chain sells the latest fashions and trends in jewelry and accessories.  A business brewed by best-friends, Ball + Chain offers frugal fashionistas style at a price they can afford…because it is a price they choose to pay!

Every Tuesday we host a NAME YOUR PRICE auction at 8pm CST.  During each auction fans bid on items up for sale. If we can meet their proposed price, they “win”!  We also offer FREE SHIPPING on all sales.

Just hop over to our facebook page; our “How to Bid” tab offers further information on the bidding process.

I am telling you, this is the coolest thing EVER!

So after I heard about them, I hopped over to their facebook page to check this auction thing out.

The pictures of the items?  Did not impress me.

But then?  I received my items.

KC Malhan Regatta Clutch, beaded in white and pink

a trio of canary yellow bamboo inspired bangles

long gold chain necklace with white tag detailing…preppy meets dog tags

Super cute, right?

I am in LOVE with each piece!

And guess what?

One lucky winner will win all three of these pieces from Ball + Chain!

Enter to win in the Rafflecopter widget below.

Good luck!

And party on!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Legal Stuff: Ball + Chain is providing the spoils of the giveaway.  I received the clutch, bracelets, and necklace to review, but all opinions are my own.

better than ignoring the Today Show

Since having my second child something has happened to my regular reading schedule.

I don’t just mean that I read even less than I did before (I do, by the way), I mean what is in my google reader has changed.

After Eddie was born, I was searching for people just like me.  People having the same struggles.  I was desperate to know I wasn’t alone.  I was also looking to laugh since I felt like my world was falling apart.  Laughing helped get through each day.

While I still have some of my favorite blogs and sites from those darker days of momhood hanging out in my reader because they have become friends and touchstones in my life, new things are popping up.

One of the sites I visit daily is allParenting.com.

Let me back up…

For the past three months I have been turning on The Today Show when Charlie and I get up.  And everyday I hop on twitter and complain about The Today Show.

I am sure the entire internet wonders why in the crap I still turn it on.

Well that is an easy answer, I don’t.  Not because I don’t want to, but because Eddie is now home with me, so we are watching Octonauts at 7am (don’t even talk to me about this show.  It’s weird.  I could do a whole post on it’s weirdness).

So why do I still want to watch the Today Show even though it bothers me?  Because I like most of of the segments, just not all of the segments. I wish I could scroll through their offerings and choose which ones I want to view because most of them are ridiculous (I do NOT care about any celebrity and their “reality” show.  You are a celebrity…that by itself is not reality).

This is why I love allParenting.com.

It’s sort of a new site and I found it because some of my favorite people in the whole wide world write there.

I stayed (and subscribed) because it’s exactly like the Today Show–only in print,so I can “tune in” to read any time during the day.  I can also pick to read what interests me.

So I skip most celebrity stuff (‘cuz it brings me down, yo.  I will never be that hip.  #sadpanda #hashtaggingablogpost), and hit up the funny, the interesting, and the important…to me…stuff.

For instance, as a high school teacher and a mom to kids who will be tweens some day I enjoyed How to Handle Tweens with Attitude.

Again as a teacher and mom to an almost-three-year-old, I was interested in iPhones for First Graders? Have we Gone Mad?

This is the one I thought was so important I shared it with my husband: June is National Safety Month: How Safe is Your Family?

Because I want to make my/our carbon footprint a little smaller, I like articles like Green Your Cleaning Routine.

And because I am obsessed with finding new yummy recipes, I just added Fully Loaded Tex Mex Sliders to my “recipes” bookmarks.

An extra bonus to allParenting?  They have an entire section devoted to baby names.  I KNOW! Even though we JUST had a baby?  I find you are never too “not having babies” to love reading about baby names.  Am I right?  Can I get an amen?

Right.

So yes, allParenting is better than the Today Show except that you don’t get to ogle Matt Lauer.

Now excuse me while I pour over the Top 100 Baby Boy Names from 2011 to see if my boys’ names are on it.

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The legal stuff: This post is sponsored by allparenting.com.  All opinions are my own.  I chose the links to use because I really do love reading about these things.