Sunday, June 21, 2015

My thoughts on baby number four

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.

As a woman who's taken her fair share of pregnancy tests I can tell you that it's one of the most nerve racking moments a woman can ever experience. The peeing, the waiting...everything about it just screams "OMG!" It can seem like some of the longest moments of your life! I remember the last time I took a test and the double lines showed up. Clearly, the test was inaccurate. I couldn't actually be pregnant. I decided to take another, and then just one more to be sure. Finally, it hit me. I was pregnant. Kind of crazy how much life can change in one little trip to the bathroom.

I've been getting a lot of questions lately at the prospect of baby number four. I don't know if it's because of Harper's upcoming first birthday or if people just assume I'm a baby machine now (what's one more, really?) but it's been a very popular question. I think the immediate response people expect from me is "Oh, no! We're done!" But when I pause and reply with "I don't know, we'll see." it really throws people for a loop.

The truth is, I'm not sure if we're done. For the longest time, I was set on two children. But then we decided to see if three was "our number," and along came Harper (read that pregnancy announcement here). We have a 10 year age gap between our oldest and youngest child, and you know what? We love it. It's been an absolutely amazing experience for my older kids to have their baby sister around, and I know Harper feels smothered in love by her older siblings each and every day. Maybe we need one more baby in the house. It looks like there may be more pregnancy tests in my near future!

The next time around, at least I know who to trust when I need to spend a few life-changing moments in the bathroom peeing on a stick: First Response. Pregnancy tests have seriously changed a lot since I first started taking them. First Response features their Comfort Sure Design Features with a cutting-edge curved shape to perfectly fit a woman's hand, which is perfect because it sure is an awkward angle when you're trying to hit that little target. Speaking of which, they also now have a 50% wider tip with a longer handle, so you can avoid that dreadful "splash" factor. 

For the impatient ones (like me) fear not: First Response detects all relevant forms of hCG hormones and can detect pregnancy 6 days before your missed period with 99% accuracy from the day of the expected period. That means I could have saved myself the hassle (and money!) and quit after just 1 positive test. First Response gives results in less than 3 minutes and results are easy to read: two pink lines means you're pregnant. You can also take the test at any time- no more waiting for your morning pee. Just head to any major drugstore or grocery store, day or night, and find the pink First Response packaging. They retail for $8.99-$15.99.

So here's to the idea of baby number four! Who knows what the future holds, right? Maybe some day soon I'll be sharing more pictures of positive pee sticks. Do you have any funny or memorable stories involving pregnancy tests? 

Friday, June 19, 2015

Embracing life's #UnscriptedBeauty with AVEENO {contest + giveaway}

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

I think we can all agree that life isn't always perfect, and that things don't always go according to the plan. As a mom, I've learned to embrace this and just go with it. When you walk into my house you aren't going to see Pinterest-worthy decor or perfectly dressed children, and you know what? That's real life, and I'm OK with it. Life isn't always picturesque perfection.

An AVEENO survey found most parents say that “unscripted” moments are more beautiful than those that are perfectly planned, and I couldn't agree more. Sure, I have tons of pictures of my children posing for the camera with their cheesy grins. In fact, when I flip through my phone's photo album I noticed that it's full of those types of pictures. They do make for some cute shots, because let's face it, I have great looking kids. But those candid shots- the ones they weren't prepared for, or didn't see me take, where they aren't posing are the ones that melt my heart and are truly the most beautiful. The real, raw moments are the ones that build a lifetime of memories.

This #UnscriptedBeauty moment happened a few weeks ago. It had been a crazy, long, hectic day (aren't they all?) and I was struggling to make dinner and entertain my 10 month old daughter, Harper. I was trying to make dinner and Harper was screaming at me from the living room, when she suddenly quieted down. Uh oh. For a mom, that spells trouble, and usually means she's doing something she shouldn't be doing. Preparing for the worst, I popped into the living room to see what was going on. What I found absolutely melted my heart: my 7 year old daughter, Lily, was crouched on the ground next to Harper and was talking softly to her. Harper's tears quickly turned to laughter as her big sister played with her and showed her "open" and "closed" with a little hippo toy. It was so sweet to stand there (hiding, of course, lest they see me and spoil the moment) and watch them play, sing, and clap together. I snapped a picture and quickly went back to finish dinner while the two girls happily played together for another 10 minutes. So beautiful, and totally unscripted. I didn't ask Lily to entertain Harper- she heard her baby sister crying and knew just the thing to cheer her up. Be still, my heart!

AVEENO is flipping-the-script by creating an #UnscriptedBeauty Movement. You can even join in with a contest they are hosting to encourage parents to embrace the natural beauty of life. AVEENO wants you to share some of your favorite unscripted and beautiful parenting moments! One winner will receive a photo shoot with acclaimed photographer, Danielle Guenther, as well as AVEENO products.

How to enter the #UnscriptedBeauty contest:
  • Capture photos of the authentic unscripted beauty in your life throughout June.
  • Post your photos on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook using #AVEENO, #UnscriptedBeauty, and #Contest.
  • For Facebook posts, tag @Aveeno.
  • Keep celebrating life’s Unscripted Beauty!

On top of that awesome contest, one lucky Lulu & Sweet Pea reader will be randomly selected win a Daily Care Gift Set from AVEENO!

I've been checking out all of the lovely #UnscriptedBeauty posts on Instagram and Twitter, and I'd love to check out yours! I hope you'll join me by posting your own. Which unscripted moment is your favorite?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

15 minute cleaning tips

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #RealLifeClean #CollectiveBias

Life gets messy sometimes, am I right? Especially if you have kids and/or pets. I used to be crazy about keeping my house clean, tidy, and spotless at all times...until I had more than 2 kids. Now, the majority of my cleaning is done in the 15 minutes right before guests arrive at my house. It's like a mad-dash to clean up everything and pretend like we actually live that way! Cleaning up doesn't have to take all day, so today I'm sharing a few of my favorite quick and easy cleaning tips to fool your guests too.

My little mess makers.

Clean up the clutter. First off, if you have children, use them! Give them a laundry basket and have them gather up all of their stuff that doesn't belong in the main living area: toys, shoes, jackets, dishes, backpacks, papers, books, etc. While they do that, I declutter the kitchen counters and dining room table to hide stuff I don't want my guests to see, like bills, phone chargers/cords, laptops, electronics, etc. To save time, I shove everything in my bedroom and then put it away after guests leave. Don't forget to close the bedroom doors.

Vacuum and sweep the floors. Once everything is picked up, do a quick vacuum/sweep. I usually make my oldest vacuum the living room and hallway while I sweep the dining room and kitchen. Don't forget the area rugs!

Quick kitchen clean up. I like to have my sink completely empty and my counters wiped down before guests arrive, because no one wants to see your dirty dishes and sticky counter tops. I use Clorox Pump 'N Clean Kitchen & Dish Cleaner on a sponge to quickly wash up any stray dishes that may have just been dumped in the sink (after we decluttered the living room). This stuff is perfect for dishes, utensils, cutting boards, stove tops and counter tops. The one-handed dispenser is convenient and it's perfect for cleaning up all kinds of messes on all kinds of surfaces. It's also food safe! After washing the dishes, grab a paper towel and Clorox Pump 'N Clean Kitchen & Dish Cleaner to wipe down the counter, sink, faucet, stove, and microwave. I also wipe down the dining room table with it. 

Dust the living room area. After the clutter has been picked up and the floor has been vacuumed, the living room is probably in pretty decent shape. Now it's time to dust. Grab a Clorox Triple Action Dust Wipe and wipe down the TV, entertainment center, coffee table, end tables, fireplace mantle, baseboards, picture frames, and bookshelves. These dust wipes are big enough to do an entire room with just one wipe! They feature an interlocking weave that traps and locks dust, allergens, pet dander, and hair without being abrasive, and are perfect for electronics too. I use these all the time for quick dusting jobs. Just one quick swipe is all it takes.

Quick bathroom clean up. First, pour some toilet cleaner or bleach in the toilet and let it sit while you clean the rest of the bathroom. Next, clear off and remove all products from the counter top and clean the mirror. Then use Clorox ScrubSingles Bathroom Pads to give the counter, sink, and faucet a good wipe down. These are preloaded with Clorox cleaner and feature a scrubbing surface designed to power through soap scum, dirt, and grime. Just wet, scrub, and toss! Make sure to clean up all of that splattered toothpaste from the kids. Finally, give the outside of the toilet a good wipe down too, and use the toilet brush to scrub the toilet bowl. 

Air it out. Open up your windows and let your house air out. Sometimes people don't notice when their own house starts to smell a little funky, but guests definitely notice (even if they're too polite to say anything). I'm always paranoid that my house stinks, so open up some windows and allow the fresh air to circulate (you can close them right before guests arrive). Also, empty your garbage can and put in a fresh liner. 

Set the mood. Light some candles or plug in your favorite air freshener. Then adjust your lighting- if you're entertaining during the day I prefer to open up the curtains and let in some sunshine so the room feels bright and cheery. If it's in the evening, skip the overhead lights (which can be unflattering), and opt for lamps instead. They give the room a softer, warm glow.

I found all of these great Clorox products at my local Target to help me get my house clean and tidy just in time for my guests to arrive. A quick, 15 minute clean up is all it takes! Make sure to check out the Target Cartwheel App to save 10% on these products now through July 4th!

What are some of your favorite cleaning tips? 
Will you be using these new Clorox products to do your quick cleaning jobs?


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