Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Joanna Monger Photography: Greater Seattle area Photographer

You know that quiet awkwardness you sometimes see in portraits? How your smile is strained, your eyes are just a little fake and your entire posture is so stiff and unnatural? That's because you're trying to show a very personal side of yourself to a complete stranger. Portraits are hard work! 

Shortly after Ruby was born, I had the pleasure of working with Joanna Monger, of Joanna Monger Photography, to take our family portraits. I was a little worried as I was preparing for this event. To call Penny "shy" in new situations is a severe understatement. She was at a very insecure stage; she would cling to me and completely shut down in new situations.  I knew that it would show in a picture that she's uncomfortable. Her comfort level was extremely important to me, but getting a family picture with our new addition was too. I knew this was going to be a very difficult task.

Joanna and I met in January when she was at the tail end of her pregnancy with her second son and I was in my 3rd trimester with Ruby. We initially started out meeting for coffee but ended up at the local burger joint - what a sight we two pregnant gals must have been! We chatted for a couple hours about our two businesses and how we anticipate the addition of second children would be. Not too long after our meeting, she had her precious little boy and a few months later Ruby followed suit.

Ruby was a fresh 13 days old when we visited Joanna at her home studio. In addition to the challenge of getting my toddler to be at ease for the photo shoot, we asked Joanna for the trifecta of a photography session - newborn, sister and a family portrait session all into one sitting. We approached our appointment with caution and hoped for just one great photo. Just one is all I ask for!

As soon as we arrived I could tell that Penny wasn't completely at ease. Her eyes roamed around Joanna's studio, eagerly searching for something to play with. Joanna quickly brought out necklaces, boas and a toddler sized rocking chair. She got down to Penny's level and simply introduced herself. Imagine my shock at how quickly Penny warmed up to her! Words couldn't describe how much it meant to me that this woman knew exactly what to do. It has to be a mom thing, because within a few minutes Penny saw the environment as comfortable and safe...and as we all know, if the toddler is happy - everyone is happy!

Getting along with Joanna was so easy, and that clearly shows in her photography. You can see the genuine smile on our faces - because even our eyes are happy. She caught so many wonderful moments in our studio session and my entire family was comfortable while she was working with us.  Joanna also made sure that I was getting the breaks that I needed to either sit down or nurse Ruby, and took advantage of the few minutes of just Adam and Penny to take very sweet Father/Daughter portraits too.

When it was time for Ruby's newborn session, we sent Adam and Penny home so that we don't have to worry about keeping the toddler content and quiet. I gave my new little lovebug a nice top off of milk and attempted to get her into that sleepy newborn state that everyone loves for their newborn photography.

...Well, Miss Ruby had other ideas. She wasn't letting me put her down so that we could take adorable swaddled poses! Eeek! After a few attempts with only being able to catch a millisecond of snooze time, Joanna suggested that we try taking some pictures of her nestled in my arms. Those pictures ended up being my favorite...

It's so hard to believe that this tiny little girl is now 4 months old and is rolling around, pulling toys to her mouth and will be sitting up before I know it. Looking back at these precious images reminds me just how fleeting these moments are. Thanks Joanna! 

If you're in the greater Seattle area, don't wait! Joanna offers several styles of photography to fit what you're looking for. She offers maternity, glamour/boudoir, family, studio or in home sessions for newborn portraits, and she's currently booking 2015 seniors (better hurry!). She also has a fun "Baby's First Year" program, which documents their first year with sessions as a newborn, 6 month and 12 month old. 


Monday, July 28, 2014

Mom Voyage

I participated in a Blog Blast on behalf of Mom Central for Urbini. I received information from Urbini to facilitate my post as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

Do you find yourself reading more books or online resources as a mother or during pregnancy? For my first pregnancy, I read a handful of books (focusing on Ina May's accounts and natural birth) but once my first daughter arrived and afterwards...shoot, ain't nobody got time for that! I found myself preferring websites and blogs for reading material because my iPad and phone were always handy during our marathon nursing sessions. It was through these online resources that I began to realize that if one looks, it's not hard to find a community (even different communities) of moms who share my interests and goals. The wonder of the internet has brought all of us together and you can quickly ask other moms breastfeeding questions throughout the night via the LLL forums, research a weird rash (of course, never completely relying Dr. Google) and even yesterday I got an answer within a few minutes when I posted in  my local mom's facebook group where I can find cheap stickers in town. It's not hard to find a niche to fit into, where we can easily support and encourage each other in our journeys. Mama tribes, they're called. T

hen I also took the step to instead of simply being a listener in these communities to building my own...The Pierogie Mama. I hope that your place here has given you support, encouragement and maybe you've learned something new along the way. 

Be a part of The Pierogie Mama community via
  facebook   twitter   pinterest   

Mom Voyáge is a community of Mom bloggers sharing their experiences in motherhood from all around the world. You can read blog articles written by mothers from the Netherlands, France, Britain, Holland, Japan, China and Australia as well as the US. Articles include how different cultures name their babies, how they celebrate pregnancies, thoughts on maternity leave, and many other Mom-inspired topics.

Mom Voyage is a part of Urbini, a stroller and car seat company. 
Click to read read my Urbini Touri Travel System review

Monday, July 21, 2014

So I guess I'm Mother Gothel, she's a princess and princesses only eat princess food.

Two big things have been going on around here.

1. I have a very independent two and a half year old. She is fearless, bold, adventurous, feisty and just an all around kick in the pants. Every day she surprises me. These days dinner tends to get in the way of these imaginary adventures and she's been opting for on the go foods. 

2. Princesses. 24/7.
So more often than not we encounter days where the only food she wants to eat is "princess food." Does anyone have any idea what "princess food" means to a toddler? My best guess as to the most basic requirement of "princess food" is that it needs to be pink. What is a mama to do?

So like the wicked Mother Gothel, I've figured out how to sneakily disguise her essential nutrients, with the help of a my Cuisinart Baby Food Maker and Yummi Pouches. Mother knows best!

The first part of my master plan is to create an easy to eat, yet very "princessy" puree that even the pickiest toddler won't be able to resist. One of our standard recipes that I have created is Apple, Strawberry and Butternut Squash with a touch of cinnamon. Butternut squash is an excellent source of Vitamin A, fiber, potassium and magnesium. Apples are an additional fiber source, and pack some Vitamin C. Strawberries have lots of Vitamin K and are an antioxidant powerhouse. Combine all of those and you've got the makings of a healthy snack! Mwwaaaa hahahaha! 

The second part of my evil plan involves one of my henchmen, the Cuisinart Baby Food Maker.  It's an all-in-one appliance, meaning I can steam my apples and squash, then add my strawberries and puree, without pulling out tons of gadgets or adapters. That leaves enough time to meddle in my daughter's affairs, boil some toads and worry about my waning beauty while talking to magical mirrors or tending to a mysterious fountain of youth plant.

Finally, to ensure the assimilation of said wicked potion, Yummi Pouches make normally messy purees portable, so that was a no-brainer in my evil plot to ensure Penny eats healthy. We love Yummi Pouch because...

  • The shape - it's a rectangle and super easy to clean. 
  • Dishwasher and freezer safe. 
  • BPA free, PVC free and phthalate free. 
In addition to pureed food, I like to prepare packs of yogurt, applesauce or smoothies thickened up with ground oats for quick on the go snacks.

Does this sound like a truly evil plan or what? Let me tell you, the unknowing princess surely fell victim to my tricks and walked away satiated.

Want to win a Cuisinart Baby Food Maker along with a 4 pack of Yummi Pouch Brights to put your dubious potions delicious creations in? Enter to win this fabulous prize pack by commenting below:

1. Visit Cuisinart's baby food recipe site and tell me which recipe you think your little one will go "goo goo" for. Please leave your best contact email address so that I can email you if you win. (See full rules below)

2. Gain an additional entry point by visiting Yummi Pouch's recipe page and leaving a comment here with a recipe that you'd  like from there too!

This giveaway has ended. Thank you to all who entered!

Rules: Entering this giveaway is completely optional; however in order to qualify to enter you will need to leave a comment answering question #1, and for an additional entry option you may also answer question #2 in separate comments. The winning entry will be validated. Open to the US only, aged 18 years or older. The contest ends at 6:00pm PST 7/25/2014. The winner has until 6:00pm PST 7/26/2014 to respond to the email notification. The Pierogie Mama is not responsible for prize fulfillment. The winner will be contacted at the end of the giveaway and will have 48 hours to respond before another winner is chosen. 

Bluberry Yogurt Popsciles with doTERRA Lemon Essential Oil

Do you use essential oils therapeutically or in your cooking? I recently purchased my first set of doTERRA oils through That Mama Gretchen (Breathe, OnGuard and Lemon Essential Oil) and I've been having a blast experimenting with the lemon in my cooking.

Check out my recipe for Blueberry Yogurt + doTERRA Lemon Essential Oil popsicles on her blog!

Did you see my recipe for raspberry creamsicle popsicles on the blog earlier? I made them using my Zoku Duo popsicle mold, but you can really use any mold you like. Check out that post to see the recipe & enter my giveaway for the adorable Zoku Fish Pops 
(which are sure to make your kiddies giggle). 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Seattle area: Got a princess? Take her to the Enchanting Fall Ball!

I've mentioned a few times around the blog that we are in full princess mode with Penny. It hasn't been that much of a surprise; my husband's family are die-hard Disney lovers and there has been plenty of princess swag passed down and around. We love it, it's cute, and I'm working really hard to teach my daughters what the true meaning of a princess is. She's anything but a dainty waif who waits around for her prince to do the job - Disney has been doing much better as portraying stronger female characters than they have in the past.

Not too long ago we met a few of the characters of Enchanting Princess Events.  Not only was that experience what led to the full on princess-obsession that currently rules my house; meeting these ladies has started my thinking-wheels on how to successfully introduce women as capable and strong role models.
After our quick meet-and-greet with Beauty and Cinderella, I contacted Lianna (who plays Beauty) and we got to talking about how she started her company and how we can work together. I quickly learned that Lianna has the same goals in mind when it comes to using her power as a princess in molding young minds and making a difference.

You see- dressing up and taking photos with children isn't all what it's about for Enchanting Princess Events. These ladies take it a step further and give back to the community. In addition to being available for private events, the characters of ePe host various non-profit events and you'll find them throughout the greater Seattle area for various appearances; namely visits to the Children's Hospital! Lianna says "when we visit the hospital, our characters get to visit the Playroom as well as the various floors with patients and we autograph photos to leave with everyone. The kid’s expressions are so priceless when visiting! Our last visit, The Ice Queen and Ice Princess attended and most of the patients had Frozen playing in their rooms! We aren’t Russell Wilson, but we are able to make some of the patient’s day!" 

Their largest fundraising event is their annual Enchanting Fall Ball, which is held in October. With the growing popularity over the last 3 years, ePe has been able to expand the beneficiaries of this event to The Children’s Museum of Skagit County and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Snohomish County!

This year the Enchanting Fall Ball is being held at the Marysville Opera House. At the Fall Ball there will be mingling, photos, activities, desserts and of course, DANCING! A couple surprises include an Arendelle area including Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post! The entire family will love it! In addition to the 2 ball sessions, there are limited slots available for the VIP (Very Important Princess) ticket. There are only 9 tickets available for each VIP Tea event and you get to have your own private tea party with the 9 characters for an hour before attending the Fall Ball!

The heart for charity and bringing children to higher levels is really what sets Enchanting Princess Events apart from any other "book a character" business. You can also easily see from the photos that the characters and their costumes look like the real thing. Lianna takes great pride in her business that everything about these princesses are real. They do not wear wigs (well, Rapunzel had to break that rule, but she really does have long blonde hair!) and their dresses are custom made for the actress. I daresay that their dresses are truer to the movies than what the actresses at Disneyland & Disneyworld's actresses wear!

It's the deliberate act of acting real and being real that is important to the characters of ePe, as well as showing little girls that a princess is not just pretty. This is why Lianna also launched Enchanting Apparel, to display some of the characteristics of each princess that is beyond simply beauty. These adorable shirts carry words that identify strengths that young women should all strive to achieve. The goal with this line is to encourage young girls that being a princess is not all about being pretty, but more importantly embracing the inner beauty and amazing characteristics they possess. There will be an exclusive Enchanting Apparel shirt available for pre-purchase for the Fall Ball!

So have I convinced you that this is THE event of the season to take your littles to? Yes, even your sons will enjoy the magic coming alive from their favorite Disney classics! Lianna has made an unprecidented, exclusive offer to Pierogie Mama readers for tickets at a discounted rate to the Enchanting Fall Ball on October 18, 2014.

This special discounted rate will be valid only from July 20, 2014 - August 1, 2014. On August 2 their tickets will be at full price. So get this date on the calendar, get your family dressed up in their best and
be our guest!

You'll see my little Pierogie family at the first session of the fall ball.  If you happen to notice us, please stop me and say hi! I love meeting my readers :)

Keep in touch with Enchanting Princess Events

Comment below and tell me which princess is your & your child's favorite!

Disclosure: Thank you, Enchanting Princess Events, for sharing about this great cause and event with my local readers, and for sponsoring my family to attend the ball. No other compensation was provided, all opinions are my own. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Importance of a Good Fitting Nursing Bra

Did you experience a change in your breasts during pregnancy and nursing? Silly question, right? :)

Our bodies undergo so many changes during the brief 9 month period where we grow our children within our bodies. It's not just our skin that changes; too many people focus on stretch marks or weight after baby. It's a beautiful thing that we experience, and God intended for us to be marked after this important time. These changes call for a different way that we care for ourselves though.

I argue that our breasts go through the biggest change of all. What didn't produce milk before now does. They are bigger, heavier, fluctuate in size throughout the day and over time. A good fitting bra during pregnancy and nursing is monumental in the short term and long term of your breast health!

I never knew how to fit myself correctly for a bra though. It's funny, the day when I bought my first supportive and comfortable bra in my 3rd trimester with Penny, it truly sunk in that my life would never be the same. I never shopped for supportive and comfortable; I always opted for cute or flattering. I felt like such an old lady when I explained to the "sizing expert" what I was looking for in a bra. Oh yes, how my world has changed. These days, comfort and support are #1 on my list (cute and flattering are a bonus). #sahmproblems

Ever since breaking the ice on having a supportive bra, I've been hooked (pardon the pun). After Penny's birth I lived in nursing tanks for the better part of her first year and purchased several nursing bras as "going out" / "fancying it up" occasions. My poor husband. I tried on a few different brands of retail store cheapies and finally snagged a couple Bravado Designs bras on sale at my local baby boutique. And my view of bras changed again. Prior to nursing I was a 100% underwire gal. All the time. I never had a problem with them and liked how it felt. Once I began to nurse I found that I will never look at underwires the same way ever again. I also found that the sizing I found most comfortable in nursing bras was completely different to what I used to wear. A big part of that, of course, is because my body changed after having children. Another part of it was that I never learned how to correctly size myself.

The Bravado Designs website has a really good video on how to properly size yourself - check it out. Are you the same size you thought you are?

Why is having a well fitting nursing bra important?

  • Function: you'll be nursing (or pumping) all day and you need to have quick and easy access. Bravado Bras have very well made clips that are durable and easy to clip on/off with one hand.
  • Fit: a bad fitting bra is a sure fire way to cause more problems than just discomfort. It can lead to mastitis or plugged ducts. Because your breasts change size throughout the day as they fill and drain, your bra needs to be able to accommodate that change without putting pressure on the breast tissue. In addition to checking the sizing video above, you want to be sure that you're not spilling out of the cups when your full or empty.
I've had the chance to review 3 of Bravado Designs' nursing bras, here's what I thought about them!

The Bravado Bliss has always been my favorite nursing bra, hands down. It is thick enough that if I spring a minor leak it won't go through and you can't see nursing pad outlines. It is the closest bra that  I've found that makes me feel close to my pre-pregnancy days. It has no underwire, which I love, but that doesn't stop it from making your rack look good ;) This bra is fitted by rib cage and cup size.

The Bravado Essential Embrace is my replacement for nursing tanks. It is made of thinner material (a combination of cotton and microfiber), but is still very supportive. Again, no underwire but fits like a good sports bra too. Because it is so thin, I usually wear it only at home or if I have a sweatshirt (or thicker shirt) over it, because it will show pad outlines and nip bumps. This bra is fitted by rib cage and cup size.

The Bravado Body Silk is my in-between; it is thin and breathable like the Essential Embrace but also features moulded cups that you can slip in to make it look more like a cupped bra (like the Bliss). It's one of the top selling bras that Bravado makes. This bra is sized in small through XL.

If you're looking for a good set of workhorse bras, these are my top picks. My Bliss and Essential Embrace have lasted me through two kids (and almost 2 1/2 years of nursing), without wear and tear.

Do you have a favorite Bravado Bra? Tell me all about it!

Disclosure: I received product in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Weekly Family Slumber Party // Princess Movie Night (with The Perfect Pop App)

Thank you, Pop Secret, for sponsoring today's post! 
Check out the new Perfect Pop App to make your family movie night a memorable one too. 

A few months ago, Penny got to meet a couple real-life princesses and ever since then it has been 100% princesses 100% of the time. We've got princess books, princess shoes, princess dresses, princess necklaces, princess balls, princess dolls, princess forks...ok you get the drift. If I need to convince Penny to do something, I tell her that this is the princess way. For example, she got this weird bloody nose right before nap time a few weeks ago, so after cleaning her up and getting her back to bed for her nap, I wanted her to lay on her back for a few more minutes to make sure the bloody nose had stopped. Penny normally likes to sleep on her side or stomach, so the best way I could convince her to sleep on her back was to show her how Princess Aurora sleeps, on her back and her hands clasped at her chest. Worked like a charm!

Riding along this princess wave, one of the ways that we reconnect as a family at the end of a long week is our weekly family movie / slumber party nights. We don't ever have to ask Penny what movie she wants to watch; you guessed it - Princess Movie! This typically means Frozen, Tangled or The Princess and The Frog. We've tried a couple other animated movies but these three have stuck.

Snacks are an important part of movie nights, and because our movie night is also a slumber party we opt for bed friendly snacks. We fill our water bottles for the night and keep them close on the night stand, this way
we don't worry about spilled drinks in our bed. We also opt for easy to grab snacks, specifically popcorn, because c'mon, movie night just isn't complete without popcorn! Our favorite popcorn is Pop Secret Movie Theater Butter. Other ideas include meat and cheese slices or hummus and pita bread triangles. We try to avoid sugary snacks because it's late and part of the point of a movie night is to not have to actively put your kids to sleep ;)

Our tradition is to pile into our pile into our king sized bed around 6:00 on Friday nights and snuggle together for a couple hours of uninterrupted, technology free family time. I nurse Ruby to sleep and we settle quietly in. Penny will usually stay awake for the entire movie, but sometimes she curls up and sleeps on me like she did when she was a baby. Oh, my mama heart swoons when my big toddler girl snuggles on me like that!

I had mentioned popcorn on movie nights - isn't burned popcorn one of the most annoying things in the world? It's such a difficult balance between perfect pops and making sure all the kernels are cooked. I recently got to try out the Pop Secret Perfect Pop app and I think we've got a winner!

With our microwave, the Perfect Pop app suggested that we stop 34 seconds early. The result? Not one burned piece and they were softer too. I ran a comparison bag (because one bag simply isn't enough) without using the app and the popcorn was tougher. However, and maybe this was a fluke, there were more unpopped kernels in the first batch than there were in the second (90 vs 70). I still think that I'd be willing to give up a few kernels to make sure that my popcorn tastes good.. Quality over quantity, right?

If you're like me, you're probably wondering how does an app know that my popcorn is done (and isn't that what the popcorn button on the microwave is for?!). Well, even with that handy-dandy button we still end up with burned bags from time to time. The Perfect Pop app listens to the pops and the time in between and will tell you when it's done. In the meantime, it also gives you trivia to pass the time!

The Perfect Pop App is free at the iTunes store and is compatible with most Apple devices. Liked this post? Please take this 1 question survey.

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Pop Secret, though all opinions are my own. Apple is not affiliated with in any way, nor does it endorse or support this third party app. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

DIY Popsicles for Kids (recipes + a Zoku giveaway!)

Western Washington's don't-blink-or-else-it's-gone summer is in full swing around here. And let me tell ya - I love summer and all, but it has been rough. Sleep is not on Penny's radar at all and I can't bring myself to turn on the stove or oven to cook. I've run out of crock-pot and cook ahead ideas...but, of course, then there's all the fun that summer brings.

Like backyard play and picnics. Our favorites!

So when I do bring myself to cooking whatever it is that sounds good that day, I've been treating the fam to delicious homemade popsicles for dessert. Homemade is a no brainer right now because store bought frozen goodies have so much sugar and that's just unnecessary for our bubbly toddler.

Finding ingredients to make popsicles at home can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. When I'm low on inspiration, simply a 1:1 ratio of whatever yogurt I have in the fridge mixed with milk is just fine. Or watered down juice. No matter what ingredients you use, you definitely want to use a Zoku popsicle mold.

For super-quick-gotta-have-them-now popsicles, I've been using our Zoku Duo popsicle mold. Once you have the core prepped (freeze it for 24 hours prior), you have popsicles in 6-7 minutes. Boom. And it couldn't be easier than prep, pour, wait, enjoy.

My favorite quick pop recipe these days has been the raspberry creamsicle; we picked our own raspberries at our local farm and I combined it with orange juice.. Voila! Delicious.

1/2 cup fresh raspberries
1/4 cup vanilla yogurt
1/4 cup orange juice
*This will yield 2, maybe 3, quick pops.


Pretty simple, right?

The Zoku Duo Quick Pop is pretty ingenious, if you ask me. The kind of ingenious where you're like.. why didn't I think of that? The quick pop maker is filled with a liquid, so after you have prepped it by freezing it for 24 hours, it is ice cold and freezes your pops super fast on your counter top, without electricity! To remove your pops thread the Super Tool into the handle of the popsicle stick and it'll pull the pop right out. It's just too easy! And it'll make 6 pops before needing to be re-frozen.

A few other ideas for flavors:
Find my Blueberry Yogurt + Lemon Essential Oil Popsicle recipe at That Mama Gretchen
Freeze your favorite smoothies (try avocado smoothies for toddlers - an even easier way to get them to eat their veggies!)
Got leftover coffee? Pour that in!


But if you've got some time to spare (say, 8 hours), the Zoku Fish Pops Molds are soooo adorable and perfect for your pint-sized pipsqueak to enjoy. The tray of 6 pops features different sea creatures with matching tails as handles. The fish pop mold is just like most other popsicle molds, you have to pour and freeze for 8 hours, but I love that you can easily pull the pops out when they're done because the mold is made of silicone.
Some of my favorite flavors to put in the fish pop molds are:

  • Juices, like orange juice or cran-raspberry, lemonade
  • Pureed fruit or veggies, diluted with of coconut water

Disclosure: I received product in exchange for my honest review. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Pierogie Babies v.8

In the last month her vocabulary has totally exploded. She's talking about things that we've never talked about before, talks to herself constantly and now sings songs. One thing I've noticed about her in comparison to some of the other kids in her age group is that she spends a lot of time describing the world around her versus making statements or requests. She has very much become a girly girl; the other day I saw her standing by the front door wearing a hat, her Hello Kitty Purse, a bracelet and had her princess shoes (little play shoes with a bit of a heel) on. She announced "Time to go to the store, mama!"

Since visiting our local Touch A Truck event and meeting a few real live princesses, she has gone into full princess mode and loves our Friday night family movie nights and always insists on a princess movie. When given the choice, she chooses Belle as her favorite princess, but her favorite movie is The Princess and the Frog. Elmo has slowly fallen out of favor and she prefers to watch an episode of Super Why in the morning while I take a shower and get ready for the day. Because of that, she's learned phoenetics much faster than I expected and is starting to connect letters on the screen with what sound they make. We are working on asking politely ("can I please" versus "Penny wants") and she has a few chores that she helps with (putting away tupperware out of the dishwasher, throwing dirty clothes in the hamper).

Her imagination is also going at full force. She has a couple baby dolls that she dances around with (waltz style) and feeds them. She has started to pretend making food and eating it. She also started swim lessons with her daddy!

Hilarious things Penny says (which I think I might start writing as a new series):
  • She poked at my post partum muffin top and said "mama, this is HUGE!"
  • "Mama crab pants" (what Penny meant to say) "Mama crap pants" (what Penny really said)
  • Penny: it's mama's birthday!B: not today. Do you know who's birthday is next? Mia's! We're going to Mia's cowgirl party soon.P: (wide eyes) No!B: yep!P: PENNY'S BIRTHDAY NEXT!B: no, Mia's birthday is next. Then Jack and Pammy's.P: Noooo!! Penny birthday!B: you're being a little irrational. well, your birthday is in 9 months but it'll be soon.P: I-rash-nal...cake.B: yes, we can have some irrational cake too. 
  • Your eggs are deeee-wish-us, mama! I must be huuuuuuungry!

Rolls go on for days. And days. She's now very happy and comfortable laying on the floor and hanging out in the play gym, or on a towel in the backyard looking up at our maple tree's leaves. For her 4 month weigh in she was 15 lbs 2 oz.

She recently got her own amber necklace, straight from Poland, and probably in the knick of time because I took a look at her gums and I can see those little two bottom teeth making their journey northward. I haven't seen a lot of signs of teething just yet, but I'm happy that we got her started around the same time that we did for Penny.

She's now a roller and goes from back to tummy with ease. Crinkly toys blow her mind and she loooves this bird that I hang from her car seat. She's also working on blowing raspberries, which is absolutely adorable.

Penny singing the "Ruby Roo" song:

Friday, July 11, 2014

Kids II Oball™ Obounce Activity Center™ Review

Hey y'all, I want to introduce someone who will be making special appearances on The Pierogie Mama every once in a while.. Sarah! She's the lovely mama of the adorable Laura, whom Penny absolutely adores. Because Miss L is in middle age gap between Penny and Ruby, every once in a while Sarah will be helping me out by sharing reviews for products that are either too old for Ruby or too young for Penny. You can see Laura's first appearance on my recent Buttons Diapers review, and Sarah's hands modeled the S'Nookie last summer! 
So read on for her inaugural review on The Pierogie Mama of the 
Kids II Oball Obounce Activity Center!

Hi everyone! I'm excited to share my review of this activity center with you today. My daughter, Laura, started using this activity center at about 6 months and 14 lbs. She's now 10 months and 17.5 lbs and although she is starting to crawl, she still goes back to it to play some more. Overall, she has liked it the whole time, but for varying lengths of being in it. She has a pretty long attention span, but for a period from 8-9 months or so she would only be happy in it for a few minutes. From 6-8 and 9-10 months she has tolerated it for a longer period of time each time she is in it. 

The Oball Obounce features a variety of toys that will appeal to a child at varying levels of development. They are brightly colored, easy to clean (the toys are made of 
plastic to wipe down and the cloth cover can go in washer/dryer), and there are a couple hooks to add more toys as you see fit.

The platform is adjustable in height, and she is still on the highest (shortest) setting but we will be moving it down soon. The platform is textured which helps those cute sweaty baby toes keep traction as they bounce around or twist to play with the toys, as the seat can swivel 360 degrees to allow the child to play with each toy. It also has a 
music feature, which you can turn off, control the volume and choose from 3 different song tracks.

We recently traveled and brought the Obounce with us. We like that it comes apart easily for storage/travel, although it still takes up quite a bit of space. Even with being taken apart and moved around, we like that it was still very sturdy, is good quality and can withstand being dissembled and reassembled many times.

With all of these great points, I did find a few features that could use a bit of re-design. The activity center does take up quite a bit of floor space (and trunk space when traveling). The light features are somewhat cheesy (weird flashes under the Oball toy) - but the baby loves that! The animal stationary toys are very stiff, so when she was smaller she couldn't pull them toward her to chew on and seemed somewhat pointless without her being able to put them in her mouth. Though the cloth seat cover is removable and washable (which I love), it was very difficult putting it back on the first time. But once I had done it that first time I was able to do it easier the next time.

Overall it's been a great toy for Laura and we've loved watching her grow with it!

Check out my full video review!

Get it at Amazon or Toys 'R Us

Disclosure: Thank you Kids II for providing an Oball Obounce Activity Center for my review. No other compensation was provided. All opinons expressed are my own.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Family BBQ with Klondike Kandy Bars

This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Weave Made Media® and Klondike, but all my opinions are my own. #weavemade #KandyBar

This past 4th of July was a busy one for us! We celebrated 5 years of marriage, visited my in-laws to watch the local parade, had some family fun with a BBQ afterwards, then Adam and I took off to celebrate anniversary!

Besides all the great family fun to be had, my favorite part of any family get together is always the food. We had the good ol' all-American cheeseburgers with an assortment of sides and I was (and usually am) the bringer of desserts. I had already baked a peach cobbler, but I also wanted to share the all new Klondike Kandy Bars!

So after lunch we sent the kids outside to the sprinkler and the grown ups tore into (well, I should say that my brother in law tore into) the ice cream and we sat back, enjoying our sinfully delicious KANDY Bars and laughed at the kids run around.

Out of the three flavors, the Caramel & Peanuts disappeared the fastest - the runner up was Cookies & Cream. All three flavors have a chocolatey coating and a ribbon of gooey goodness inside along with the ice cream. They were the perfect compliment to our low key dinner and a total crowd pleaser!

Keep in touch with Klondike for recipe inspiration & deals via 

Disclosure: Thanks Klondike for sponsoring today's post and treating my family with some yummies!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Talking to your children about step-grandparents and families

One day, my daughters will ask me why I don't call their Vovo (maternal grandfather) "dad" or why my husband doesn't call their Grandma (paternal grandmother) "mom." That's because we come from blended families, and that makes things a little complicated. I gained a step-family through divorce and eventually lost my dad to cancer, and my husband gained a step-family when his father became a widower (also due to cancer).

When we started our family it was very hard for my husband and I to wrap our minds (and hearts) around the fact that our children wouldn't have complete sets of biological grandparents; and it's taken many years for both of us to simply accept that sometimes life deals you shit cards and that's just the way it goes. It was an extremely difficult and long road towards acceptance, even love. Blending families, especially during the teenage and adult years, has many difficulties that I can't even begin to imagine were laid upon our parents, but it definitely has a huge impact on the children (my generation) as well.  We are now blessed that we all get along extremely well and can call upon our extended families whenever we need them.  So how does one explain this, tactfully, to your children when they start to ask? Many parents of our generation will have this problem as so many of us are children of divorce.

While I definitely don't have the perfect answer (maybe someday I will), and how my heart aches that my children won't know their DziaDzia (my dad) or Grandma (my husband's mom), there's certainly a whole lot of good that blossomed from a difficult situation too. Both of our families doubled in the wake of The Blend, and now instead of my kids having 4 aunts and uncles, they now have 8. That means twice (or more!) as many cousins. Family get-togethers are crazy and it seems like each person is on a different wavelength in life but we have so much to share. Honestly, the grandbabies are what ties us all together. Until we became aunts and uncles to each other's children, there was mostly ambivalence between the step-siblings. Once the little kids starting rolling out we all grew so much closer and make an effort to see each other and spend time together outside of the holidays. And for that, I feel truly blessed. Life doesn't always deal you aces, but I feel that at least for me, my life turned out pretty swell.

I love you all the same, by Donna Keith, is a great resource for teaching children about love's endurance even when your family may not be your "blood" family. It teaches children to appreciate each individual's differences and recognize similarities that make a family a whole unit. It appeals to blended families, adoption, even new sibling addition.

As you read through each bear cub shares his and her special talent or characteristic that makes them unique and special, and in the end they tie together as a family with a mama and daddy who love them equally and honors their differences. Penny is still a little young to truly understand the take-away lesson of this story, but it has given me some ideas on how to explain the situation to her when she is older.

Do you come from a blended family? 
How will you tell your children about the story of how you gained step-parents and step-siblings?

Win it!
Thomas Nelson is a Christian publisher that includes books for kids and teens.  One Pierogie Mama reader will win a copy of I Love You All the Same! Check out how to win below.

Disclosure: I am a Tommy Nelson Mommy and I was provided the books below for review.  All opinions are my own. 

Happy 4th! It's our anniversary :)

Welp, got 5 years under our belt!

My husband and I were married at my parents' lake house on the 4th o' July 2009. It was the hottest day on record for the Seattle area. We chose that date not particularly because we are patriotic, but mainly because we always wanted a day off on our anniversary ;) I know, so selfish, right?

As all anniversaries go, the day is always a special one to us. Our first year anniversary was celebrated in Vegas with our best man and his wife, one of my bridesmaids..
Our second anniversary was spent wine tasting in California (little did we know that a few weeks later we'd have a confirmed pregnancy!)
The third year Penny was 4 months old and we kept it low-key with a staycation filled with hikes and a bbq dinner at the lake house where we were married..
The fourth year, which just might be my absolute favorite so far, we confirmed our pregnancy with little Ruby! This picture is on the dock where we were married.
And now for the fifth year we'll be spending the day with my in-laws. My father in law takes part in Corvette drive the town's parade every year and my niece will be throwing candy from the car (so sweet!). We'll have a family BBQ following and then the hubs and I will be off for a dinner date. Another low key anniversary (in comparison to years past), but with a 28 month and 4 month old...I couldn't ask for a more relaxing day!


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