Friday, June 26, 2015

How to choose suncare

Today I'd like to welcome my good friend Melody on the blog! She's a mom of three and someone who I can always count on to look at the facts at face value.

A little about Melody..
I became a mother shortly after graduating from college. These last 7 years I have been sharing my time between local sustainability leaders and my three beautiful, nature-loving, crayon-eating children. 

Through all of this, I've come to understand that taking care of our internal environments (bodies) needs to be a priority.  And stress can be just as toxic to our bodies as all the scary synthetic chemicals that we are being exposed to. So, it's all about balance. I'm glad to be able to share some of what I have learned with you. 

The warm weather season brings a whole new list of skin care products for our little ones, but not
all skin care products are created equally, and “natural” means absolutely nothing. The challenge
for us parents its to ignore the hype, and somehow find time to gather the right facts, so that we
can outsmart the ad companies and choose the products that are actually best for our families.

Easier said than done.

The store aisles have too many choices, and maybe none of the right choices. Products have long lists of hard to pronounce ingredients, and lots of confusing or misleading messaging! And who has time to do all that research!?

Well, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) does! Their website is fantastic!

If you get a chance, I highly recommend you spend some time exploring all of their resources. You can search any skin care product and it will give you a report, showing the concerns for each ingredient. Even if they don't have the product already in the database, you can enter the ingredients by hand and it will generate a customized report for you!

I went through my house and grabbed all the kids products I have, and ran reports on them,
including their score on a scale of 0­-10 where 0 means “good, harmless”, and 10 means “really bad, toxic”.

Here's my list with a link to the full report for each. (link)

If you find that many of the products in your home contain harmful chemicals, don't feel guilty. You didn't buy them for their side effects. You made a good decision with the information you had at the time. And don't feel the need to throw them all out at once and buy new. That would be wasteful and expensive (I couldn't afford to do that!). Instead, just be open to learning, and when it  is time to buy new, consider choosing a safer replacement.

To me summer is all about hiking, camping and swimming and sunbathing! 
How can I choose safe products for my family?

Here's some information I have gathered from the EWG on seasonal products.

How do you keep the bugs away without DEETing your babes? My recommendation: non­toxic deet­free sprays, or essential oils! Find out more about what the American Academy of Pediatrics has to say about insect repellants.

SUNSCREEN tips from the EWG:
Say no to:
• SPF above 50
• Retinyl palmitate
• Aerosol spray and powder sunscreen
• Oxybenzone
• Added insect repellent

Say yes to:
• Hats and shade in mid­day sun
• Zinc Oxide or Titanium Dioxide as active ingredients, otherwise Avobenzone (at 3%)
• SPF 15 to 50, depending on your own skin coloration, time outside, shade and cloud cover.
• Use a lot and reapply frequently

The EWG has a fairly exhaustive list of products found on the market, but here are a few seasonal products to absolutely avoid because of their rating on the EWG scale:

:( Sunscreens :(
Aveeno Active Naturals Positively Radiant Tinted Moisturizer, Medium Sheer Tint
Banana Boat Protective Tanning Dry Oil Continuous Spray Sunscreen

:( After Sun :(
ULTA Refresh Redness Relief Continuous Spray
CVS Aftersun Redness Relief Continuous Spray
Ocean Potion Suncare Therapeutic Hemp Seed After Sun Lotion

There are lots of good middle ground choices, but if you're for the best of the best, here are some
seasonal products that get a perfect score from the EWG:

:) Sunscreen :)
Pure Daily Essentials Body Glow Sun Bar
Luminance Skincare Sunscreen
Healthy Home Company Sunscreen Broad Spectrum, SPF 32
Belly Buttons & Babies Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
Just Skin Food Natural and Organic Sunscreen, SPF 30
The Honest Company Honest Sunscreen Stick, SPF 30
Nurture My Body Sunscreen Fragrance Free, SPF 32

:) After Sun :)
Aromatica Organic Aloe Vera Gel
Belly Buttons & Babies After Sun Body Lotion
Pure Daily Essentials Body Glow Sun Bar
Vika's Essentials Prodigal Sun Oil Blend
Banana Boat Sooth­A­Caine Aloe Mist Spray

But, what's so bad about “chemicals”?
So glad you asked...

The toxic chemicals I worry about, are the ones that often resemble hormones. Hormone-
mimicking, aka endocrine disrupting chemicals can be especially worrisome in babies and young children who are still developing and growing. Research suggests these chemicals may cause:

• Reductions in male fertility and declines in the numbers of males born.
• Abnormalities in male reproductive organs.
• Female reproductive health issues, including fertility problems, early puberty, and early
reproductive senescence.
• Increases in mammary, ovarian, and prostate cancers.
• Increases in immune and autoimmune diseases, and some neurodegenerative diseases.

While there is still a lot we do not know, many of us agree that it is better to be safe, and limit our
exposure to these chemicals. Here is the EWG's Dirty Dozen of Endocrine Disruptors

I'd don't want to expose myself and my family to these nasty chemicals, 
but they seem to be everywhere. Where do I even begin!?

Start small. Small changes add up, and small changes actually last. Here are some guidelines to get started:

  1. Give yourself credit for making one small change that you can stick with, instead of trying to unrealistically tackle the universe in one shopping trip.
  2. Look at labels for the items you use daily, and let yourself relax on the rest.
  3. Look at labels for what you use that you don't wash off (like lotion and hand sanitizer) and cut yourself some slack on the others.
  4. Don't let guilt or flashy ads control you!
  5. When it comes to kids, think “could they eat it?” Because you know, they probably will!
Thanks for reading,

Disclosure: We are not healthcare providers! 
The information on this post is intended to encourage (and advise) readers to do their own research. 
Products and/or information are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent any disease. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Just Between Friends of Everett/Monroe Summer event is here!

A few weeks ago I introduced Eunice Gong, the owner of Just Between Friends of Everett/Monroe, and tonight I am super excited to share with you what I snagged at her first summer event! Not sure what "Just Between Friends" aka "JBF" is? It's a maternity and children's consignment sale that happens all across North America, and I'm a pretty big fan of it! I've been shopping at Eunice's JBF sale for 3 years and have save literally thousands of dollars on clothing and gear for my kids.

Each time that I shop at a JBF event, I like to share what I snagged because not only am I super proud of the awesome deals I got, but I also want to encourage you to check it out too! So without further adieu....

Let me just lay that out in the open. 15 items, $77.53 total. An average of $4.73 per item! The most expensive item that I bought was a $12 Disney store brand sweat shirt for Penny, and the least expensive was a whopping dollar for a cute Ariel placemat. 

Not a bad haul for the essentials, right?
As I mentioned before, this is the first summer sale that JBF Everett/Monroe has put on, and it's also the first time that they've held it at Everett Community College. Normally it's at the Evergreen State Fairgrounds in Monroe, so I was interested to see how the new venue and location would affect the sale. Many consignors and shoppers are willing to drive a bit to check out each of the several JBF sales in the Seattle area, and this opened up an opportunity for the greater Everett area families to consign and shop as well. 

Both of my kids accompanied me while I shopped and I totally had a laugh at this experience. Penny is now very much at the age where she wants to do what I do and also has a very quickly growing opinion on things. So while I was perusing the racks for Penny's size (and thinking ahead in the next year), I would hold up an item against her to see if the length was about right. She would be very quick to veto or pass on the item based on it's cuteness factor (we are talking about a 3 year old, after all). Some items were the right size but didn't fit her whimsy. She quickly learned this game and started pulling items out of the racks that she thought were nice and would hold them against herself. Regardless of whether they really were going to fit or not, she would say "hmm, yes, I think this will fit after all."
Ruby also quickly learned a new game. It was called "chase after Penny, pull down random items from the racks and shove them into Mama's shopping bag while she wasn't looking."
With that being said, I think that I still made off with a ton of awesome finds!
If you want to see what else you can find at the Just Between Friends of Everett/Monroe, check me out on instagram!

Just Between Friends of Everett/Monroe Summer 2015 consignment sale
Friday June 26
10:00-6:00p Free admission
Saturday June 27
                                                           9:00a-5:00p Free Admission
                                             5:30p-7:00p HALF PRICE EARLY BIRD SHOPPING! 
                                            Items without a star are 50% OFF Purchase Tickets Here
Sunday June 28
8:00a-1:00p Free Admission (no ticket needed)
50% off items without stars
Click to see the full sale schedule 

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Just Between Friends of Everett/Monroe. 
All opinions expressed are my own.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Summer Cloth Diaper Giveaway - Little Monsters

Welcome to the 4th annual Summer Cloth Diaper Giveaway Hop hosted by Mommy's Favorite Things and Mama's Baby Cupcakes. This hop is focused on items you'd want/need for everything cloth diaper related! After visiting my giveaway, make sure you use the linky below to take a look at the other 20+ blogs and see what they have to offer for you and your little one! Each blog has a minimum prize package of $25 per winner. 

Be sure to enter the Grand Prize as well where one lucky US winner will receive the $152 prize. With great sponsors like Best BottomPlanet WiseButtonsBabyKicksWinning Colors Baby and Little Bear Bums this package offers a little something for everyone or a great package for someone wanting to start cloth. 

Little Monsters cloth diapers has been on my "must try" list for a long time! I fell in love with their designs when Penny was a brand new babe because they had a print with a giraffe on the bottom. The embroidered bottoms are such a cute touch!

Pocket diapers are the staple of my cloth diaper stash. They are the easiest to put on and you don't have to ever worry about the insert sliding around. They are called "pockets" because you stuff the insert into a pocket in between the outer waterproof PUL material and the soft fleece inner material (that goes against baby's skin). You can stuff pocket diapers with a variety of materials, microfiber inserts being the most common. A microfiber insert is included with Little Monsters diapers.

The bottoms of Little Monsters diapers are very unique - they each feature an embroidered design. I was always curious how the diaper remains leakproof in spite of the embroidering, as that is a concern any time you make a hole in the PUL materia. Little Monsters was one step ahead of me and they've included an additional backing of a second layer of PUL behind the embroidered area so that leaks don't get through the stitching.
 Across the back you'll find the pocket that you stuff the inserts inside. They've added an additional band of elastic to help keep that pocket closed (no worries about inserts wiggling out!) and creates a better fit on baby.
The multiple rise settings allow these diapers to fit most babies from 9 - 35 lbs. These fit perfectly on Ruby, who is 15 months old and 22 lbs. She's got chunky thighs but with the right snap arrangement I don't have to worry about leaks at all!

Want to try one for yourself? These adorable diapers are sure to turn heads this summer!

Disclosure: The Pierogie Mama, Mommy's Favorite Things, Mama's Baby Cupcakes and the Summer Cloth Participating bloggers are not responsible for sponsors who don't provide prizes.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Visiting Great Wolf Lodge (and staying organized with Mabel's Labels)

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Mabel’s Labels
I received a voucher to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item 
to thank me for my participation.

This past weekend we spent 3 days at Great Wolf Lodge in Grand Mound, WA. It's an indoor water park resort that is truly geared towards fun for all members of the family, at all developmental levels and ages. It was a big gift from Nana to her grandbabies - all 6 of them. We, as their parents, were so lucky to get to tag along! ;) So count this - 6 grand babies (between the ages of 1-12) and 8 adults piled into two suites and we spent 3 days of family fun at the park.  

Words can't describe how wonderful it was to be with so many family members for a few days of fun, relaxation and a break from the hum-drum every day. We made a ton of memories that will last a life time and most importantly spent it with those whom we love. 

A few memories from the trip...
  • Margarita night for the ladies. It was awesome.
  • Nearly falling out of the inner tube while going down The Tornado (!!)
  • Watching Ruby overcome her anxiousness around the water and eventually hear her squeals of excitement while she "swam" through the water like a frog.
  • At every meal, Penny would ask the auntie or uncle closest to her and make sure that they were enjoying their meal and saying "that makes me glad." We've been focusing on empathy lately and it's been paying off!
If you've got a big-group Great Wolf trip planned for the future, here are a few tips of what {I think} we did right:
  • Coordinate meals. We were there for almost three whole days, so between 3 families we split who would be taking care of meals for that day. 
  • Collaborative naps. We came up with a cuddle puddle of toddler aged nap time where they all snuggled in together for a nap on the pull out, while Ruby (the only infant) slept quietly in a separate room. One or two parents stuck around to keep an eye on things (aka also take a nap). The two "Bigs" went on a Magiquest while the rest of the adults got to have some non-kid fun time at the water park! 
  • Collaborative bed-time. Pretty much the same thing happened as it did at nap time, except we let the kids wind down with a movie while the grown ups played games or chatted.
  • Mabel's Labels made it easy to quickly see who's stuff belonged to whom. 

Can you imagine the amount of stuff we had? All of the moms started out with the best of intentions by sectioning off our family's things into our respective areas and kept it nice and tidy. That was the first part of day one. Then the morning's swim session was over and everyone hurriedly stripped off their wet swim suits in preparation for lunch and naps. As you can imagine, there was A LOT of kid stuff floating around between those two suites. Keeping track of all that was a job and a nightmare in itself.

Thankfully a few of the kids' items were accounted for and easily identified thanks to Mabel's Labels. Mabel's Labels are super durable sticker labels that you can use to identify your kids' items, such as shoes, jackets, toys, water bottles, backbacks and more. They are laundry,  dishwasher and microwave-safe! Because of their waterproof quality, I knew they'd be perfect for our trip to Great Wolf!
note: identifying information was omitted by using photo editing. Your order from Mabel's Labels will not have blocked out text like the labels do above.
I've heard about Mabel's Labels for the last few years, I knew that they were popular and had won awards...but now I am totally hooked! The quality of the sticker and printing is awesome and they are really robust. I wasn't worried about the sticker wearing off the bottom of the sandal (we wore them in the water too!) or falling off. 

We tried out the Limited Edition Camp Label Pack - for $39.95 you get a variety of 64 labels that include:
  • 10 Personalized Name Stickers: 70mm x 16mm (2-3/4" x 5/8")
  • 24 Mini Custom Name Stickers: 38mm x 8mm (1-1/2" x 5/16")
  • 8 Custom Shoe Stickers: 33mm (1.3")
  • 50 Tag Mates™ Stick On Clothing Labels: 21mm x 10mm (13/16" x 3/8")
  • 2 Personalized Bag Tags: 57mm x 32mm (2-1/4" x 1-1/4")
What a deal, right? There were so many tags included that we have use for them on items down the road.

You can order your stickers. I also used promocode RETAILMENOT and got an additional discount!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Salmon: 2 ways

Unless you are, or are friends with, a fisherman, good salmon is really hard to find. Especially outside of the Pacific Northwest. I count myself as very fortunate as sometimes being the very blessed recipient of a friend's end of the day catch. There are so very few things better in this world than salmon caught that day. But most of us don't ever get that.

In my humble opinion a very close second to fresh caught salmon, and light years beyond what you'll find at the store, is Zaycon Fresh's Wild Sockey Salmon filets. I've ordered 3 cases (25 lbs each) in the last year. This allows me to cook salmon almost weekly and on a budget!

"Wild" seafood is also somewhat of a hot topic right now. I'm always researching my food to make
sure that I am, at the very least, aware of what is the quality of the food I purchase. The price of Zaycon Fresh's salmon can't be beat, and I was initially a little wary about it. I bought my first case,
fell in love with my first filet and started to do a little bit of digging on it. Was it really what it's advertised to be? I contacted the fishery, using the clearly marked label on my case that I received, and was able to track down where my salmon had been caught and when. Isn't that pretty awesome that in this day and age we can find that information?

What is Zaycon Fresh? It's super easy. You sign up, enter in your zip code and it will populate "events" near you. Each event will bring fresh or frozen meets to an agreed upon place and time. You place your order for what you'd like and then on the day of the event you bring your order slip and they put your case of bulk meats in the trunk of your car for you. You don't even have to get out of the car! Throughout the year they will offer different products; such as delicious bacon, fresh ground beef, fresh chicken breasts, frozen breaded chicken fritters (I like to make this), select steaks, even turkey and ham around the holidays! They are constantly adding more.

When you sign up, they'll send you non-spammy newsletters letting you know what they're adding, great recipe ideas and you can refer friends to get credit for your next purchase. Truly, I haven't bought meat any other way for a long time now.

And now, on to my two favorite ways to prepare salmon these days. YUM! When you thaw a filet, cut it in half and reserve one half for the second recipe below. Now you can have salmon twice in one week!

Honey Lemon Baked Salmon
This is my favorite go-to. It's easy, I have all of the ingredients on hand and it goes with most sides.
  • Half a salmon filet, thawed.
  • 3T cup of honey
  • 1T minced garlic
  • 1T lemon pepper seasoning
  • juice from 1/4 of a fresh lemon
1. Warm the honey briefly in the microwave (about 10 seconds should be enough). Mix in garlic, lemon pepper and lemon juice. 
2. Line a baking dish with tin foil. Place the fish, skin down, in the baking dish. Pour the honey mixture over top. Allow to marinate for 20 minutes, up to 24 hours in the fridge. Prior to baking, spoon the marinate back over top of the salmon again.
3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit. Bake the salmon until it flakes easily with a fork, about 8 minutes. Most recommend about 4-6 minutes per 1/2 inch of thickness. 

Thai Inspired Salmon
This recipe is adapted from ifood real. I went out on a limb and thought that spicey salmon might be tasty. We gave it a shot for my birthday dinner and it was a hit. The marinade is great for chicken too!

  • Half a salmon filet, thawed
  • 1/2 cup Thai sauce, recipe below
To prepare Thai sauce:
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup (the real kind, if you can get it)
  • 1/4 cup sweet chili sauce (I use Sun Luck brand)
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1 T cornstarch
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes 
Mix all of the ingredients until combined. Add to a small saucepan and cook until boiling. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Allow to cool before pouring onto fresh meat. Refrigerate leftovers.

To prepare the salmon:
1. Pour 1/2 cup of the cooled Thai sauce over the uncooked salmon. Allow to marinate for at least two hours. 
2. Before cooking, coat the meat again with the marinade sauce.

3. Broil or grill until the meat flakes easily with a fork. My favorite is to grill it!

Honorable mention: Cilantro Salmon burgers by Alaska from Scratch. Oh lawd, it's changed my opinion on burgers.

So are you ready to order some salmon?  If you're interested in learning more about how to determine if your salmon is truly wild, sustainably caught and basically not messing around, here are some resources:


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Signing up for a Zaycon Fresh account is free, but you'll be amazed at the quality of all the different kinds of meats and products you can find through them. If you loved this post and want to learn more about Zaycon Fresh - feel free to sign up using my referral code. I'll get a tiny kickback and you'll get a ton of delicious meat to stock your freezer!

Friday, June 12, 2015

My "Positive Moments" - Finding out that I was pregnant with Penny and Ruby

I participated in a Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for First Response. I received product samples as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

I became pregnant, both times, in June. This month holds a very special place in my heart because I'm reminded that it's the month that I became a mama. I am also realizing that I have been pregnant, breastfeeding, or pregnant and breastfeeding for 4 years! 

Finding out that I was pregnant was so different between the two girls! The road to becoming pregnant with Penny was one filled with uncertainties, anxious waiting and feeling like we hit a wall at the end of each month. We wondered what was God's timing on all of this? And then Miss Ruby happened right when we wanted her to. So incredibly different!

Penny's first positive moment came when I had finally given in to God's plan. We had given up on our own "timing" and relaxed. It would happen when it would happen. It actually happened on an afternoon where I was a week late and I begrudgingly took a test - sarcastically expecting another disappointing result of a few minutes of annoying, yet hopeful waiting. When that positive happened, I stared. And stared. And stared some more. Hold on, really? Am I reading this right? Like every other woman before me, I scrambled back to read the instructions that I had hastily tossed aside thinking that it would be obvious when the result came. And that first positive was ... well, unbelievable. I couldn't believe that this was that moment where I learned that I was going to be a mom! A few weeks later my first ultrasound confirmed it.

Ruby's first positive moment happened on our 4 year anniversary. We had my parents watch Penny for the afternoon and we went out for drinks and lunch. I had a little hunch at that time that I might be pregnant, but didn't really want to get my hopes up. But all through lunch it kept nagging at me and finally we decided to just go buy a test. No bones about it - I was pregnant and found this out in the bathroom at Target. The lady in the other stall probably thought I was really weird when she heard my squeal of delight, but got the message when we washed our hands and she saw me walk out with a beaming face and the pregnancy test box in my hand.

That moment when you realize that you're carrying someone special is unforgettable. The whole world ceases to exist and it's just you and your baby. When the time is right, I'm excited for our "someday baby" #3 and maybe even #4. 

Both times that I confirmed my pregnancies I used the First Response Early Result Pregnancy Test. The new design features a wider tip and a longer handle (no more worries about that special moment being "messy" - you've got lots of time for that!).  It detects all relevant forms of urinary hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) throughout pregnancy and is able to tell you if you're pregnant as early as 6 (six) days before the day of your missed period.  You can find out whether you are pregnant or not within 3 minutes with 99% accuracy - and two pink lines mean you'r pregnant!  First Response Pregnancy tests are easy to find; they are available at all major drugstores, mass and grocery stores for $8.99 - $15.99.

Tell me about your first positive moment with your children!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

MCS Touch A Truck Recap!

Holy cow I am behind on a lot of posts. Seriously. So today I'm just going to limit this post to mostly pictures, because there's little needed beyond that.

Last week was MCS's Touch a Truck event. Without sounding overly gushy, this was hands down the best way to spend $20 for a day of fun for a family of 8. Not kidding. Let me begin...

Firstly, Touch a Truck was hosted at Monroe Christian School and coordinated by my lovely friend, Molly. See her? Powerhouse woman who is the definition of go-getter. Deserves an award, this woman.

Follow me on instagram! @Thepierogiemama
It all started in the morning when my husband was picked up at our house by the Kenworth Mariner's truck. We got 2 Kenworth big rigs represented at this year's MCS Touch a Truck and it was pretty cool to see the look of amazement in Penny's eyes when this big truck rolled up to our house and dad climbed in.

We followed shortly after and here's a snippet of our day.

In addition to the 50+ trucks that were there, there were a ton of free activities included:
Face Painting, Caricature Drawings, Bubble Soccer, Agility Training, Kindermusik Mini Classes, Storytime, Bubble Blowing, Craft Tables, Balloon Animals, YMCA Activity booth, live music, petting and feeding ponies & bunnies, juggling lessons, nail art, toddler zone, meeting Blitz the offical Seahawk mascot, the Reptile Man and sooooooo much more. 

Over 2,500 people came and there are tons more pictures on their facebook page.

Keep in touch for next year!

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by MCS Touch A Truck. All opinions are my own.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Our trip to Dallas, Part 1: Getting there.

In the last year we've been very blessed in getting to take several family vacations at a discount. My husband travels for work often and sometimes he ends up going somewhere that I would like to take the girls along with too. Pretty much anywhere warm. Ruby flies as a lap infant, which saves us a little bit of money, and my husband's flight and hotel is covered so that leaves flights for Penny and I. Last October we took our first plane ride as a family of 4 to Long Beach, CA (a mere two hour flight from Seattle) and this past month we flew to Dallas for the week.

We stayed at the Omni Hotel in Dallas, which is connected to the convention center where my husband spent the week talking up natural gas in semi truck applications. I'm an independent gal; we expected hubby to be busy all day and past dinner while schmoozing with his contractor contacts so I had a list of ideas of what we could do while visiting. I've never been to that part of the country before so I was excited primarily for the food (if I'm being totally honest) and learning a little bit about the culture.

Let me start with the flight. Well, how about our TSA experience. No, let me back up to the day before.

The day before was my nephew and sister-in-law's birthday celebration. We went to the local indoor trampoline park and had a lot of fun being ridiculous. Well, the grand finale was a suggested moms vs dads dodgeball game (yes, on trampolines). There was a designated area just for dodgeball and there was a group of tweens playing first so we waited our turn. When the tweens were done, the ref, who was honestly just a high schooler babysitting that part of the park, ushered the kids off and allowed the adults to get into place. Somehow, the tweens came back to play and put way to many players on the court. I don't know why the ref didn't say anything, she just kind of shrugged it off and said it would be ok. Apparently not worried about an 11 year old getting pelted by grown man playing dodge ball, or the fact that there were two people to a trampoline which was against the rules in the rest of the park. I'm not even sure why none of us said anything, we definitely looked at each other like "is this a good idea?" but the game started quickly before anyone could say anything. The whistle goes off and we dash to the middle to get the 6 balls that were meant to be shared between probably 16 players. Let me preface that I am not athletic. Really, I'm not. So it was no surprise that it took less than 3 seconds of game time for me to be disqualified. Not because I was hit with a ball, instead because the 11 year old girl that was sharing my trampoline with me double bounced me and gave me a sprained ankle. Yipee! Our flight to Dallas was leaving the next morning. Ain't no body got time for that. So I tried to heal it as quickly as possible, but this was a bad one and even 3 weeks later I still can't walk on it correctly.

Ok, so that brings us to our flight experience.

Because of my sprained ankle, we opted to babywear both kids at the airport and use our double stroller as the transportation for our carry ons. This helped a little bit, but ultimately it was still very painful but I just had to tough it out. Can you guess why there is only one picture of our airport / airplane experience??

I'm always on the look out for experiences in what to expect from TSA because it seems that each time I fly that there are new policies. I've flown internationally while pregnant, twice domestically with newborns and now twice with a family of 4. I had a few bad experiences, but they weren't at SeaTac, thankfully. Adam and I both wore our children as we got to TSA and they were happy to allow us to opt out without asking us to remove the kids.

On the plane Penny had her own seat because she's 3 years old. I was given some super great advice on how to fly with littles ahead of time, and I am oh-so-thankful that we opted to have Penny fly in her car seat. We had checked it when we flew to Long Beach and it was a hassle trying to contain two wiggly kids. This time around, Penny comfortably settled in and ended up falling asleep quickly because it was no different than a car ride for her. Ruby was pretty restless. She had just learned to confidently walk and wants to do it all the time now. But we made it through and got checked into our hotel at 10:30p local time. We all settled in to the king sized bed and the next morning my husband said his goodbyes as he took off for his conference, then the girls and I prepared for our day.

Because of the sprained ankle, I really had to take it easy on the first day. It was a big bummer, it took out our day trip to the Perot Museum. Instead we relaxed in the hotel room, went down and had our first meal of many at Texas Spice and later visited the hotel's pool. Just like our visit to Long Beach in October, the locals seemed to be surprised that we are excited to go to the pool in Texas in May. Whatever, it's 80 degrees outside and that's when we play in the water in Washington! Getting into the water with my sprained ankle helped relax and stretch it a little bit too. I used my extremely handy-dandy BeachFront Baby water sling, which allowed me to play in the water with a toddler and infant!

I wasn't going to let this sprained ankle stop me from enjoying our much anticipated vacation, so regardless of how puffy and sore I was, I knew that the following morning we'd be spending our day at the Dallas Zoo. That's a blog post of it's own, because A) you know how I love to drag out blog posts into a series of stories and B) I love zoos.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Meet Eunice - Owner of JBF Everett, plus a giveaway!

Just Between Friends is a nationwide consignment sales event that features children and maternity clothes and gear. Each event is a local franchise and the items that are consigned come from families in the area. In the last 3 years that I've been shopping at these events I've spent less than $1,000 on clothes and toys for both of my girls! Because the wide range of sizes are available at these sales I am able to shop ahead for what I'll be needing in the near future - so I'm also saving a lot of time by having it all available in one spot.

This summer JBF Everett is mixing it up and adding in a 3rd consignment sale event! I am beyond excited for another opportunity to de-stash our kid clothes and gear and to .. well .. stock up on more. If I'm being totally honest.

JBF is really what started my commitment to thrifting or consigning most of the clothes and toys I buy for my kids. The cost of children's clothing is incredibly high and for the short time that they wear it, I can hardly see the reason why I should spend the money! Buying clothes on consignment or thrifting is also a very "green" activitiy - it's giving life to

Today I'd like to introduce Eunice, the owner of Just Between Friends of Everett/Monroe. She and I have worked together since her first event in Monroe and I always love getting a chance to talk with her when we meet up. If you happen to spot her at a JBF event, be sure to pull her over and say hi! This woman is a meticulous powerhouse, and she's often seen buzzing around the event like a determined humming bird! ;)

The Pierogie Mama: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your beautiful family, Eunice! 
Eunice Gong: Thanks for asking! My early years were spent traveling the world with my family since my dad was in the military. It was an adventurous time for me being able to experience different cultures throughout the US and Europe and eventually we settled here in Washington. This was actually the second time I lived it Washington as we first came here when I was 4-6 years old and then returned again in the late 1980's when I was in high school. I did the typical teenager things, played sports (soccer/softball) and hung out with my friends. I worked 2 jobs at a grocery store and library plus babysat on the weekends to earn money for college. I attended the University of Washington as a psychology major then got the travel bug and headed south to study physical therapy at University of the Pacific in California. I was fortunate to meet my husband, Michael, within the first month of starting college at UW. In fact, I met him while we were both participating as lab rats in a psychology experiment! We were only 18 years old at the time with so much to accomplish individually and together, so it was 7 years before we got married and then it took another 7 years before we were able to have kids. Marcus (8 years old) was our first born and then Tala (5 years old) came along 3 years later. Both kids were our miracle babies in so many ways as we thought at one point we weren't going to be able to have kids, let alone two, so we feel truly blessed to have these two little ones in our lives. We've homeschooled them each starting at 3 years old. Marcus did attend K-1 grades, but we decided to bring him back to homeschool and have been loving the time together to live, laugh and learn as a family ever since! 

TPM: When you're not prepping for the next JBF sale, what are you and your family up to? 
EG: I worked as a Physical Therapist before I started coordinating JBF Everett/Monroe. Helping others to recover from pain and injury is still very rewarding for me, so I continue to work part-time in addition to running JBF. Evenings and weekends are primarily spent homeschooling the kids so I'm sure you can imagine how busy it gets the 2-3 months before an event. However, when I'm not working or homeschooling the kids, I'm usually spending any spare time I have out exploring life with my family/friends.   

TPM: How did you first hear about JBF? Describe your journey to becoming an Owner. 

EG: I was initially introduced to JBF when my son was 1 years old. A friend in my baby group told me about this "REALLY BIG kids' sale" that I just couldn't miss! So I went with her and was instantly blown away by the concept of helping parents, the community and the environment all at once! I started out as a Shopper that first sale, but by the next sale I was signed up as a Shopper, Consignor & Team Member. From then on I stopped shopping retail and was hooked on JBF! I spent the next 5 years happily saving and selling off items from my 2 kids at several of the area JBF sales. I enjoyed helping out and connecting with some amazing moms in the process...some of which I still know and keep in touch with through JBF. So when the opportunity to take over the JBF Everett/Monroe territory from the previous owners came up, I jumped on it and have enjoyed helping other families and the community ever since! By the way, the friend who introduced me to JBF, has become one of my best Consignors. Isn't it crazy how things turn out?

TPM: How long have you been the Owner of JBF Everett/Monroe? How has the sale changed in the amount of time that you've been running it? 

EG: I've been the owner of the JBF Everett/Monroe territory for the last 2.5 years. We started off in Monroe with just 2 sales (Fall and Spring) for the first 2 years and now we've grown to hosting a third event in Everett this year (Summer). My goal for the territory is to be able to host events all 4 seasons so that Consignors can have more options to clear out the clutter in their homes and earn money as well as offer more frequent opportunities for Shoppers to come and get the things their children need at huge savings with us rather than having to pay more with retail.   

TPM: The Puget Sound area has quite a few JBF locations to shop at throughout the year. I love that as a Shopper I can expect the same care for quality of consigned items and a similar format at each event. But tell me, how does JBF Everett/Monroe differ from other local consignment semi-annual sales?

EG: Because Just Between Friends is a franchised system, you'll see a lot of similarities and benefits to working with JBF as a whole because you can tag your items for one event and then take them to ANY of our 9 events throughout the Puget Sound (and North America if you ever move). However, each Owner has their own strengths and focus for their event. For me, it's about having a welcoming, family-friendly event that is well-organized and accessible so that it benefits all of our Consignors, Shoppers, and Vendors. 

TPM: When I shopped at JBF for the first time I was really impressed with the wide range of what you can find. It's not just kids clothes! There's all kinds of gear (like bedding, bath, babywearing, car seats, strollers), toys (new and vintage) and local vendors set up too. How much does the average Shopper save when they shop at JBF? 

EG: Each Consignor prepares and prices their own items to sell at our Events. However, it's my job to educate our Consignors to help them know what to sell and how to price everything to provide a large variety of reasonably priced items for our Shoppers. Because of the awesome job our Consignors have been doing, the average savings has typically been up to 50-90% off of retail for our Shoppers!

TPM: For those interested in consigning, what kinds of items sell the best at your sales?

EG: Baby Gear/Equipment such as car seats, strollers, swings, activity tables, beds, etc. tend to sell the best and are in high demand as they can usually be very expensive items if purchased new. 

TPM: I shopped at JBF for a couple years before taking the plunge to consign. I was convinced that I should save each and every onesie, baby sock and bath toy for the upcoming "someday babies." After I consigned the first time, it's been addicting with how good the purge feels! What kind of advice would you give to the hesitant potential Consignor? What is the average payout per Consignor, and your best guess as to how much time it takes for a Consignor to prepare? 

EG: That's a great question and your experience is exactly the advice I would give to a hesitant Consignor - to shop and get to know how our event works first before taking the plunge to consign. In addition, sign up on our mailing list, follow us on Facebook on both our fan page and our new Consignor group page and also attend one of our Consignor 101 meet-up sessions so that you can see all the great tips we give to Consignors and also ask your own questions. The more knowledgeable you are, the less intimidating it will seem and therefore the better you'll do. In fact, a great example occurred this last Spring event with a Consignor who had been a Shopper the first 2 years at my event and then finally took the plunge and consigned. She is on the mailing list, follows us on Facebook and attended my Consignor 101 and it all paid off as her first Consignor check was over $550! This result was a little unique as our average Consignor check is $347 and 90% of her items were clothing which tend to be in abundance and therefore has to be competitively priced, but because she took her time getting to know the system and followed our suggestions she was able to have a great result. 

TPM: What are your best tips for a first time Shopper or Consignor? 
EG: The best tip I have for first time Shoppers is to make a list of what you absolutely need (including your children's shoe and clothing sizes) so you don't forget anything. In addition, bring a friend with you as shopping is so much better with a friend.

For the first time Consignor, I recommend coming to a Consignor 101 meet up session first to learn what you need to know about pricing, prepping and tagging your items. If you can't come to a Consignor 101 then join our Just Between Friends Everett/Monroe Consignors group on Facebook to ask questions and get great tips. 

TPM: As both a Consignor and Shopper, I've always been very impressed with how smoothly the event runs! There's A LOT of preparation that goes into running these sales! How DO you DO it?? 
EG: A lot of coffee and late nights! LOL! Truthfully, I have awesome Event Staff and the Team Members that give of their time to help me run things during the event. Without them it wouldn't be the fun and well-organized event it has become. 

TPM: I've noticed that the tags are sometimes marked as "Donate." Your website says that Consignors can select for their unsold items to be donated to local charities. Which ones do you work with? 
EG: We currently work with Arlington Kids' Kloset and The Treasure Chest as our charity partners. To date, we are proud that our Consignors have donated over 5,028 items valued at more than $21,372 to our charity partners.

TPM: When is the next JBF event? 
EG: Our next event will be a Summer Event held June 25-28 at the Everett Community College in the Student Fitness Center. I'm especially excited about this event as it will be our first ever Summer Event and also because it will be our first time hosting an event in Everett. Since taking over the Everett/Monroe territory it has been a frequent request to host an event in Everett. However, we first needed to start in Monroe before growing into an event in Everett. However, now that we've reached that milestone, I'm really excited to bring JBF to the other side of I-5. I look forward to everyone joining us!  Please stop me and say "Hi!"

TPM: Thank you so much for sharing a little bit about yourself and giving us some valuable insight into your JBF Sale! Anything else you'd like to tell the wonderful JBF Everett/Monroe and Pierogie Mama community? 

EG: I just want to say "Thank You!" to all you amazing mamas for all of the love and support I have received right from the very beginning! You have embraced me into your community and I feel very much that we have created our own fun JBF sub-community. It couldn't have grown this much without you all and your feedback. I look forward to continuing to grow JBF Everett/Monroe into the premiere children's and maternity consignment event.

This summer's Just Between Friends of Everett event can be found at the
Everett Community College at the Student Fitness Center. 

Thursday June 25, 2015

Friday June 26
10:00-6:00p Free admission

Saturday June 27
  • 9:00a-5:00p Free Admission
  • 5:30p-7:00p HALF PRICE EARLY BIRD SHOPPING! Items without a star are 50% OFF Purchase Tickets Here

Sunday June 28
8:00a-1:00p Free Admission 50% off items without stars

Click to see the full sale schedule 

Eunice and the Just Between Friends of Everett team wants to spread the JBF love and along with the Pierogie Mama, we invite you to enter the giveaway below to get a chance to win early access passes and JBF Bucks!

Winner 1: Prime Time Shopping Pass (good for 6/25, 4p-7p) + $10 JBF Bucks
Winner 2: Prime Time Shopping Pass (good for 6/25, 4p-7p) + $10 JBF Bucks
Winner 3: PreSale Pass (good for 6/25, 5p-7p) + $5 JBF Bucks
Winner 4:  PreSale Pass (good for 6/25, 5p-7p)  + $5 JBF Bucks

Disclosure: This post has been sponsored by Just Between Friends of Everett. 
All opinions are my own. Winners will be contacted via email. Your presale passes will not be mailed to you. They will be available at will call at the event. JBF Bucks are only valid for the JBF Everett Summer 2015 event. Please see giveaway details regarding winner policies.


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