The Busy Giffs: March 2016

March 28, 2016

Getting MORE with Walmart Family Mobile Plus! #ad

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

With spring finally here, I feel like I'm getting more every day.  More sunshine, more time to play with the kids, more adventures now that it's not freezing! Thankfully it's also tax return season which means we have a little more money in our account for adventures and spending.  I made my husband promise that we'd do some decor updates with our tax return money so we headed off to Walmart to start with some new bedding for the kids.

While we were at Walmart, we found ourselves in the Walmart Entertainment section and stumbled across their cell phone section. I mean, if we're using our tax money to upgrade our house, why not upgrade our phone plans as well?! Full disclosure: I had no idea they even had cell phones! But the Walmart Family Mobile Plan Plus sounded exactly like what we needed. It includes Unlimited Talk, Text, and Data that includes up to 10 GB of 4G LTE for only $49.88 a month, which is a huge value for more data! The PLUS is that it also includes one free new release VUDU rental (a $7 value) every month! 


We've been paying much more than that for much less data so I was sold on the value and the extras that the Walmart Family Mobile Plus plan offered, and I was just as excited by the phones that were offered in store.  Walmart had multiple phones at different price points but I decided to purchase a Samsung Galaxy Core Prime phone, originally $99.92 but on Rollback for only $79.92! Because we were not currently using Walmart Family Mobile as our service provider, we also picked up a Starter Kit for an additional $25.
Disclaimer: All prices for phones and plans included in this post are accurate as of the date of posting; however, these prices are subject to change. Please refer to http://cbi.as/2-ovk or your local Walmart for current pricing. 

I am so excited about our new phone plans and just as excited about the new phone! With a 5 MP camera and a 4.5" screen, the Samsung Galaxy Core Prime is perfect for my entertainment needs. Whether I'm blogging on the go, emailing a parent about their child's grade, scrolling through social media, or constantly uploading pictures of my kids and I on our adventures, the unlimited data that the Walmart Family Mobile Plus plan helps me relax knowing I'll never go over my data limit again! It's such a great value since we're always running around and on the go, so I'm constantly afraid I'll hit, or worse-- go over, my data limits.


Last weekend was one of the few weekends that we didn't have a ton of plans. Between Easter and baby showers and play dates, it's been crazy and we really just wanted a night to relax and enjoy each other's company.  With the Walmart Family Mobile Plus plan, we get one free VUDU new release movie every month and we took full advantage of it.  The cool thing about VUDU is that we can also stream our free movie rental through our video game console for a great family night on the couch!


Sunday was unseasonably warm for us so we decided to move our movie afternoon out on to the back deck. Such a great way to PLUS up our traditional family movie time! If we're getting MORE everywhere else with our new phone plan, why not get more entertainment too!? Some portioned candies, popcorn and a make your own lemonade bar was perfect for our family time. Did I mention that I now have unlimited data and a free VUDU movie each month? Which means super affordable, super amazing afternoon with my family, without any stress of using up too much data!



The candy was delicious and the lemonade bar even more so, but the best was hanging out together watching a movie.  My husband is already looking at the new rentals, making a mental list of which movies he wants to see so we can start planning another VUDU family movie night! 

Which movies are you excited to check out thanks to the free VUDU movie rental from the Walmart Family Mobile Plus plan?






March 24, 2016

Visit the Easter Bunny at Roger Williams Park

Disclosure: My family was provided free entrance in exchange for this post; all thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links, I may be compensated for purchases made through these links. For more information, click here

This year, Emmalee has been super into the Easter Bunny and everything Easter. Four really is a great age. Not only does she get the holidays but she's excited enough to know they are coming. 
Last week she saw the Easter Bunny at the mall and it was all she talked about. But I know my daughter and I was not paying $25 for her to decide she didn't actually want to sit with him, so I was super excited when I saw that Roger Williams Park was going to have the Easter Bunny visit! 
With the impending snow storm, we packed the kids up nice and warm and set off for Rhode Island. We decided since we were already heading to the park, we should stop by the Zoo as well! Roger Williams Park Zoo is seriously one of my favorites. They have such an amazing assortment of animals but you can still walk the whole zoo without feeling like you need a nap. 


We forgot our Lillebaby carrier and our Joovy stroller at home (I just cleaned the car last week and forgot to put them back in) so we rented a stroller from the zoo for only $7! I'm so glad we did because it made it so much easier to scoot the kids around. Emma was really excited because they had stations set up all around the zoo featuring great local companies and animal riddles to figure out!

We finished up and hopped in the car to take the super short 2 minute drive over to Carousel Village.
To celebrate Easter, the Easter Bunny will be at Carousel Village on March 26th and 27th from 10 am until 12 pm and from 1 pm until 3 pm. Adults are free and kids over the age of 1 are only $5. Parents must bring their own camera, but I used my phone and got a couple great pictures. I loved that we weren't rushed through and no one tried to get Emmalee to sit with the Bunny after she decided that in fact, she didn't want to take a picture with him, just like I expected...


After meeting the bunny, we took a ride on the carousel.  While the $5 does not include a carousel ride, tickets can be purchased for only $2! It's such a gorgeous carousel and the Bunny takes a ride every hour, on the hour with families, as long as you purchase a carousel ticket!

Outside of Carousel Village, to help celebrate the Easter Bunny visit, there were two really yummy food trucks! Crazy hot dogs with sauteed onions and fried chicken! The food smelled so good but we went off to the Hasbro No Boundaries Playground, which was open for families to play in. It's fully accessible so all kids have fun. 


For more information about seeing the Easter Bunny at Roger Williams Park, click here.
You'll have to share your pictures with the bunny with me!



March 23, 2016

Truffle Bunnies Recipe


Okay, that's just fun to say.
Truffle Bunnies. Ha!

Know what's not funny? How good they taste! I wanted to come up with a fun Easter dessert that was better than just sprinkled cupcakes and really decided to have some fun!

Easter cake pop truffle bunnies chocolate

I put a twist on the classic, and super loved, cake pop. Instead of shaping into a perfect ball, I made more of an egg shape, slightly flattened. Instead of using a cake pop stick, I simply allowed it to harden on a cookie sheet after sticking in some marshmallow ears! I finished them off with a sprinkle nose and some piped melted chocolate and they were set!
So easy and so delicious.


Ingredients:

  • Snack size cake mix (makes roughly 12 cupcakes) or you can double the whole recipe with a normal boxed cake mix.
  • Ingredients to make cake
  • I can of frosting (any flavor)
  • 12 large marshmallows
  • pink sugar sprinkles
  • 4 cups white chocolate candy melts (I like Wilton Candy Melts)
  • 1/2 cup black candy melts (again, I like Wilton Candy melts)
  • 2 pink sprinkles (or 1/2 cup pink candy melts)
  • cookie sheet
  • wax paper
  • ziploc bag or piping bags
  1. Make the cake according to the directions. Let fully cool.
  2. Crumble up cake into a bowl.
  3. Add half a container of frosting. It should hold the pieces together without being too wet or sticky. Be careful not to add too much frosting.
  4. Put the bowl in the fridge for 20 minutes.
  5. While the mixture is in the fridge lay wax paper down on a large 13 x 9 cookie sheet.
  6. Cut the marshmallows into 4 pieces, parallel to the flat edges. Dip one side of the sticky marshmallow into the pink sugar and set aside. Repeat for all the marshmallow pieces.
  7. Remove bowl and roll 2 tablespoons of the mixture into a ball and flatten out a bit to give it a face shape.
  8. Put into fridge again.
  9. While they are in the fridge, heat up the white chocolate candy melts. I used a microwave or you can use a double broiler.  Be careful not to burn the chocolate. 
  10. When the candy is melted, remove the cake balls from the fridge and dip into the white chocolate, being sure to coat the whole ball. 
  11. Let excess candy drip off and then place on the wax lined cookie sheet. Immediately press two marshmallow ears to the top so that they are also resting on the cookie sheet.  If using a pink sprinkle for the nose, now is the time to place it.
  12. When all the cake balls have been coated and given ears, put them back in the fridge for 15 more minutes.
  13. As they candy melts are setting, melt the black candy melts and place into a ziploc bag or piping bag. 
  14. Remove from fridge and draw your bunny eyes and mouth.
  15. Enjoy!
Chocolate Easter bunny truffle cake pops


March 21, 2016

Mermaid Tail and Shark Blankets from Penny and Me Designs

Disclosure: I was provided blankets in exchange for my post, however all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Apparently Mother Nature missed the memo and even though this weekend was the first day of Spring, we got hit with snow. It was enough of a threat to cancel school and snuggle up on the couch with the kids watching movies. I am so in love with their blankets. 

Emma has a mermaid tail and Tyler has a shark blanket, both courtesy of Penny and Me Designs on Etsy. They are seriously, the cutest things and so well made. Each one is handmade after you order so it's special just for you! Even though they are handmade, the turn around time is amazing! They are ready in less than 2 weeks! Plus, each blanket is available in different sizes, ranging from infant to adult.

Emmalee's mermaid tail blanket is her favorite blanket and almost every night she gets tucked into it! While she got a toddler sized blanket, this thing will grow with her. The tail is closed, offering her a place to put her feet but the cocoon of the blanket opens up at the top so it can be wrapped around her. 



Tyler is a such a big fan of sharks so he is constantly grabbing his shark blanket! Unlike the mermaid tail, which is only a tail, the shark blanket is a full shark! It looks like he's being eaten and I just die laughing. 


Not only does the shark have teeth, but also fins! The detail is extraordinary! The kids have been using them nonstop since we got them and I'm amazed at how well they have stood up.  Erin at Penny and Me Designs really puts quality into the items. 

Which design will you purchase? You can check out the Penny and Me Designs Etsy page or find Penny and Me Designs on Facebook!


Candy Free Easter Basket Options!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, I may be compensated for purchases made through these links. For more information, click here

It drives me crazy that so many holidays are becoming Christmas 2.0. Seriously, the Easter Bunny brought a bike to someone! I'm all for parenting the way you want but it's more than I'm willing to do.

With my kids being only 1 and 4 I'm always looking for Easter basket filler that isn't candy and won't break the bank.  Here's a list of  more than 20 items that you can purchase too!


For the Super Little Ones:


  1. Pacifiers
  2. Yogurt Bites
  3. Teething Cookies
  4. Puffs
  5. Teething keys
  6. WubbaNub Pacifier
  7. Bendy Ball
  8. Mesh Fruit Feeders
  9. A Soft Book

For Little Kids: 


  1. Tsum Tsum plush
  2. Tsum Tsum vinyl
  3. Bubbles
  4. Goldfish Crackers
  5. Blind Bags
  6. Charlie Brown Movie
  7. Outdoor Ball
  8. Chalk
  9. Annie's Fruit snacks
  10. Barbie Doll
  11. Hallmark Itty Bittys
  12. Clementines
  13. Little People Figures
  14. Wooden Cars
  15. Child Size Gardening supplies



March 11, 2016

One Year Ago

I love writing. I started this blog as a way to deal with my feelings, to share our pregnancy, to have something to confide in when Dave lost his job, and as a place to share the milestones my babies were hitting. It gave me a place that I could share because no one actually read it. It was my safe space.

But then as I started working with more companies I also started working a "real" job, we bought a house, we added another baby and school and the about me posts disappeared as I tried to make sure my sponsored stuff was done and my work stuff was done and I was still making time to be a mom.  I gained more followers and I was embarrassed by what some may think when they read what I had to say. My deeply personal stories were out there for everyone to read.

The hardest part of this was last year. I needed a place to talk and I couldn't.  I couldn't write and I couldn't share and the only person I could talk to was either related to me or one of my superiors at work. If you know anything about me, you know that I struggle with "being a burden" and usually shoulder it myself before running to help.

It almost killed me last year. I still find myself yearning for a place to finally put it down and today I'm saying screw it to anyone who might read this, to anyone who might judge it. This is my safe place, my space to lay down what's in my head.

Just over a year ago I had to make the decision between doing the right thing and doing what I wanted to do. Doing what I wanted to do would have been easy. I could have ignored it, kept my mouth shut, and I could have moved on with my life. Only I couldn't.


There are certain lines drawn in all professions and when lines are crossed, I can't stay quiet, even when I consider that person my friend. How I wish I could unsee the messages I saw. How I wish I could have been sick at home the day the student brought her phone up to me with the messages. How I wish she had just brought it to another teacher's attention instead of mine.  But she didn't. She came to me and I had to do what all mandated reporters have to do.

And then I had to stay quiet. I wasn't allowed to say anything while lawyers looked into the messages. I wasn't allowed to say anything while the administration made a decision on my friend's future. I wasn't allowed to say anything in the aftermath because I was the new bad guy. I did what was right, what I would have wanted my hypothetical 16 year old daughter's teacher to do, but it killed me inside. So many people hated me because they didn't know the whole story, that I started to hate myself. Every day was a fight to get up. Every day was a fight to go to work.  Everyday was a fight to not run from the building crying when I would get confronted in the hallways or when people would raise their voice and say terrible things about me in front of other teachers and students. Every day sucked. I had to learn quickly, that my life there was over, at least in the way it had been.


As someone who thrived on the praise of others, who needed reassurance that I was doing okay, I was lost.  My poor husband had to pick up my pieces every day when I got home from school.  I would curl up on the couch and not move for hours.  I don't know how he dealt with me and kids and his job, but he never gave up on me. I got to that dark place and he pulled me back. He and my children saved me. 

I slowly lost the hatred in my heart because how can you hate someone who is ignorant of the facts? How can you be angry at someone who doesn't understand why they are mad?  I lost a lot of friends in that week and many have not come back into my life but for those who have, I am forever grateful.  These people showed me true friendship.  These people helped me want to be at work again.  These people helped me feel better, and still they don't know the whole story.

Even to this day I've shared the story with maybe 6 outside of my family.  Regardless of what was done, it was not my job to share it. When I'm approached now, I'll share my side, the side that was left out in the feelings of anger and betrayal of last year. But that's not who I am anymore.


A year ago, I sent an apology because I felt so bad about how things went.  I was willing to curl up and die because I was so unhappy. With special thanks to an amazing counselor, I am stronger now than ever.  I don't need validation in my actions.  I don't seek approval anymore. That's not who I am anymore. The last year was hard, but that's not me anymore. That's not who I will be.  Instead, I will be the strong, confident woman I know I've become. I know right from wrong and I know that if I'm ever in this situation again, I'll handle it the same way, the right way. I am in charge of me, and I choose to be happy, even if other people can't see the whole story.




March 9, 2016

Swooning Over Skip Hop at #ToyFair

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, I may be compensated for purchases made through these links. For more information, click here

The best "problem" with blogging is that I get to see these amazing baby things that are coming out and I have to remind myself that my baby is going to be 2 in a few short months and our baby days are over.

While I've been fine with this decision for the past almost 2 years, I found myself seriously swooning over baby gear at Toy Fair and in turn thinking about a baby again.

Skip Hop's new baby line is seriously dream worthy.

This Activity center, which will retail around $80 and will be released in August is just the most adorable thing I saw all day. The subdued colors and the woodland creatures... squee.


The other activity center they had was the softest one I've ever touched... with a cloud pillow, it would be perfect in a nursery for either gender.  It will be released a bit earlier in July and will also be priced around $80.


The beautiful activity chair matches both activity mats and has the cutest little kick piano!
Add in the stroller toys with the stand up sun mirror and I'm swooning over these products and maybe even wishing for a new baby? No, not really but I do want to buy them as gifts asap!

Since I won't be buying any of the new Skip Hop items for myself anytime soon, I was thinking I'd end up getting each kid a new lunchbox for school and playgroup and the new characters are perfect! Tyler would absolutely get the lizard and Emma is already asking for the raccoon!

Which do you prefer? The woodland animals or the clouds?



March 4, 2016

All Mixed Up, Don't Know What to Do


Hopefully you just started singing 311 lyrics in your head, and if you didn't google that. Now.

But on a more serious note, I have been feeling blah about blogging lately.  I don't have the stories to share that I did 5 years ago (thank god),  and most weeks I'm barely pulling off my well paying job and being a mom, never mind adding in posts.

I think a big problem is that I joined a few blogging groups and when I hear people complain about their "super low" numbers that are still three to five or more times higher than mine, I wonder if I'm doing this right.  I don't have enough time to devote to it to really push for bigger numbers to see the returns and opportunities that so many others are getting.

So, what do I do? Do I make time? To I push myself harder to keep writing? Or do I let it fall until I find something I'm excited about writing? Going to ToyFair was amazing. I came back so energized with posts and now that they're writing and scheduled, I'm just waiting to feel inspired again.

This is a rut. I don't like ruts.



March 2, 2016

Dolls, Dolls, Dolls - Toy Fair 2016

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, I may be compensated for purchases made through these links. For more information, click here

Last week I wrote about 10 of my favorite toys that I saw at Toy Fair but I left out a very important category- 18" dolls!

Since our trip to New York in December, Emma has seriously been bitten by the American Girl bug. We have visited the Natick store, poured over the catalogs, and her 3 dolls share a bunk bed in the living room next to boxes of clothes and accessories. She is obsessed!

While American Girl products are amazing, sometimes it's hard to justify $30 outfits for a doll when I don't spend that much on my own clothes! I'm constantly looking for other companies that offer quality products for her 18" inch dolls and was happily surprised by all the options available at Toy fair.

1. The Queen's Treasures


The Queen's Treasures had some amazingly well put together items.  I was especially in love with the Jane Goodall scene (the tent can be bought here!) they had set up and the little tiki coconut stand. The food looks almost real enough to eat!


2. American Fashion World


The American Fashion World Booth caught my attention because it was one of the least expensive as far as doll clothes, in addition to the variety of outfits that were offered.  I was especially drawn to the Frozen inspired outfits: Anna, Elsa, and Olaf. I know a 4 year old who would LOVE to have them and at around $30 for all 3 outfits, it's a price point I'm comfortable spending on doll clothes.

3. Sophia's


I have actually bought a ton of Sophia's accessories off Amazon before so I was very excited to see them at Toy fair. Their treat accessories are the best I have seen and hold up amazingly well.  The ASPCA collaboration and the small Coleman accessories are the cutest!

4. Kid Kraft


While Kid Kraft does not make dolls or doll clothes, they make the most gorgeous doll houses for 18" dolls. Both stand over 4 feet and are beautifully detailed. You can find both doll houses on the Kid Kraft website or at Amazon: the Elegant Doll house (on the left)  or the Breanna Doll house (on the right) for under $250 right now!

5. The Great Pretenders


Hands down one of my favorite booths of the whole day.  Not only would Emma be obsessed with the gorgeous princess inspired 18" doll outfits, but they offer matching dresses in her size! I love that they are actual quality dresses, not cheap polyester that will fall apart quickly. While I didn't take any pictures of them, there were also lots of great male dress up options: pirates, knights, and superheros because let's be honest, boys like to play pretend too!

Have a Girl's Day Out at King Richard's Faire

I was provided admission in exchange for my review, however, all thoughts and opinions are my own.  It is definitely Fall now.  Sweatshirt...

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