Monday, July 25, 2011

Oliver is 9 Months Old Already!!

9 months ago I gave birth to a special little man.  He sure was tenacious and still remains that way today.  I love his new little teeth that he just got and how he says Mama and Dada with ease.  He is crawling ferociously all around the house and he is quite content playing by himself.  He loves pasta, crackers and naps but he isn't a huge fan of taking a bottle.  He also is a little fish just like his big brother.  Each day keeps getting better and better!

Silly Face <3

I know you want to know how Oliver got so cute and I would like to thank my husband for sending me these amazingly cute milestone onesies.  I designed them myself and I chose all of the colors/fonts. makes it easy to create your own t-shirts and onesies.  They even have big brother t-shirts for Dexter :)  

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Hiking and Camping Tips

Keep your eyes peeled for my The North Face Backpack Review later this week.....

A few years before we got married, Hubby and I discovered we both enjoyed camping. A lot. I don’t know why it took us something like seven years of dating to realize it, but it did. Anyway, we started camping and never looked back.
It wasn’t long before we started craving more solitude. After all, many campgrounds are anything but serene. There are children chattering, parents calling for them, teenagers being themselves (aka obnoxious), college kids and adults drinking too much and being too loud, family dogs barking, radios blaring and more. That’s when we decided to give backpacking a try.
Well, it was a perfect fit, and over the next few years as a married couple, we enjoyed a number of spectacular hikes around the state from spring through fall (never tried winter camping, though we did experience a snowy Easter weekend hike once), including the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Isle Royale National Park, North and South Manitou Islands, the Jordan River Valley, the Fox River Pathway, the Manistee River Trail and more. It was exactly what we were looking for:  Peace. Serenity.  Being alone with nature.
Then we had a baby.
We knew we were going to be taking our kids camping. We wanted them to enjoy the outdoors and feel  comfortable there, just as we do. We started out right away, when our first son Logan was five weeks old. We took him to Leelanau State Park. We didn’t actually camp, instead choosing to rent one of the small campground cabins, but he got to enjoy the outdoors at the campfire, dipping his tiny baby feet in Lake Michigan, his first Michigan mosquito bites, and eating at a restaurant with the best view—nursing on top of the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes. A few months later, we took him tent camping on the Au Sable River, and he did great. Right at home in the outdoors.
That Christmas, Santa bought the Johns family a Kelty backpack that was made for carrying a child. The following summer, not too long after he turned one, it was time. We scheduled a two-night trip out to South Manitou, and boarded a ferry in Leland’s Fishtown.  The boat deposited us on the island and there we were, no turning back. We hiked in a couple miles, set up camp, and explored the island, Hubby and I taking turns carrying the baby. Aside from an extremely windy visit to the perched sand dunes (Poor baby was taking sand to the face at high speed. I would’ve been screaming too!) he did beautifully. Even with a super-long and rough boat ride back to the mainland (The ride took over three hours, when it would’ve normally been about a third of that) the trip was a roaring success.
Since then, we’ve taken Logan hiking a number of times, and now that he has a little brother, we’ve ventured out into the wild with both of the boys.
Hiking with kids—especially if one of them is in diapers—can definitely be a challenge, but with careful planning, a good attitude and an open mind, it can be a very fun, enriching experience for the entire family.
Here are a few tips if you want to take your little ones hiking:
*Don’t worry too much about taking things to occupy your kids. The Great Outdoors has plenty of playthings. Throw rocks into the lake. Find and follow animal tracks. Build mini log cabins out of twigs you find around camp. Make rock art on the beach. Just be. That said, one tiny new toy, like a matchbox car, hidden in Daddy’s pack and brought out when it’s time to set up camp can be very welcome.
*Take maybe one favorite book to signal that it’s bedtime.
*Don’t forget to offer snacks and water to your kids periodically. A thirsty or hungry kid is a cranky kid. Occasional snacks that aren’t allowed at home (a strategic bag of Skittles is popular with our kids) can go a long way to make a hike fun for kids.
*If your child takes naps, try to at least have some quiet camp time in the tent around that time of day. Or, your child might enjoy taking his nap in the backpack as mom and dad explore.
*Take insect and sun protection. Little discomforts seem big to the little guys.
*Be prepared to pack out nasty diapers. Don’t ever bury them in the wilderness. Take out what you take in.
*If your child is old enough, give them little camp chores. “Chipmunk chaser” and “Leave no Trace Enforcer” are some of ours. Give the child a Ziploc bag and have them pick up any tidbits of trash they see on the trip. Tell them why they’re doing it. Reward them with a penny for each piece of litter they find, once you get back to civilization.
*LET THEM GET DIRTY. It’s a great deal of fun. Who goes hiking to stay clean anyway?
*Point out things in the natural world to capture their interest. Bugs, interesting rocks, even animal poop, all can be intriguing to kids.
*Think of their likes and dislikes when you plan the trip’s food. That doesn’t tie you to mac n’ cheese or PB&J at every meal, but don’t take something you know they don’t like. For fun, let your child plan one of the trip’s meals.
*Above all, keep an open mind, plan well, and TAKE PHOTOS!
Oh, and don’t listen to the people that tell you you’re crazy for taking your kids hiking and camping. Feel sorry for them.

**This is a guest post by Krystal Johns from Musings from Mom School, isn't she great?!**
Let me know what you think?  Should I invite Krystal back for more fun posts?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

flipflop wine review

I am a wine lover.  I live in wine country here in Northern Michigan and taking my friends and family on wine tours is a favorite pastime of mine.  I adore this regions rieslings, pinot grigios and we are really starting to come into some fantastic reds.  
One thing that I love more than a good wine is a good wine at a great price.  flipflop wines combine the flavors that one comes to expect from a brilliant wine with a price tag that will wow even the most frugal wino.  I would definitely pay $7.99 a bottle for their pinot grigio and pinot noir. 

flipflop's Pinot Grigio is light, fragrant and semi-dry.  I would call this the perfect match to a great piece of grilled fish.  I actually enjoyed the bottle with some fish tacos and the flavors of the cilantro and onion paired nicely with the subtle citrus notes of this great Pinot Grigio.  I could most definitely taste hints of lime and apple in this perfect summertime wine.

I had high expectations of flipflop's Riesling and I was somewhat disappointed.  Within seconds of my first sip I was met with a strong alcohol taste.  Obviously wine is alcoholic but this is not something that I have tasted in a wine before.  I really loved the nose on this light Riesling but something went awry.  What is a girl to do with an open bottle of wine, MAKE SANGRIA!  And make sangria I did.  I soaked some apples, oranges, one lime and some pineapple in brandy for about a day and a half.  I then mixed that luscious marriage with this bottle of Riesling and it made some great sangria!  I would totally buy this wine for Sangria again in the future!

Pinot Noir is my favorite of all of the reds.  It is not too boastful and it isn't too heavy. It usually goes well with both spicy food and red meat and it can also be enjoyed along with dessert!  WIN!  flipflop's Pinot Noir was anything but simple and affordable.  Holding the same $7.99 price tag as their other wines one might expect an epic fail but instead I was met with a great blackberry nose and surprising hints of smoke and vanilla.  What did I intend to do with this wine besides drink it?  I drank it with some chocolate of course!  I ate some Equal Exchange Organic Milk Chocolate and let me tell you that was a treat!  It almost made me feel as though I was drinking a Coca Cola, weird eh?  As for the 70% Super Dark Chocolate that I ate alongside of the Pinot Noir.  That was an experience in and of itself.  The dark chocolate made the smokiness of the wine POP and it really made it feel like a wine I could chew (for those of you who know me well you know that is something I say when I LOVE a wine!)

Overall I was extremely satisfied with my experience with flipflop wines.  One thing that makes me love this company even more is the fact that they are a company that loves to give back.  flipflop wines has partnered with Soles4Souls Inc., the international shoe charity dedicated to providing free footwear to those in need. The program will raise much needed funds to give one pair of flip-flop sandals for each bottle of flipflop wine purchased. *up to 100,000 pairs for the first 100,000 bottles sold, where promotion is legal.

**I was sent these bottles of wine for review not only because I am of legal drinking age here in Michigan but also because I am not afraid to admit that I am a wino.  No other compensation was received and all opinions are mine and were written when I was still sober!**

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

How about a contest?! $50 Amazon Gift Card

I know you all love giveaways and why would today be any different?  How would you like to win a $50 Amazon Gift Card?  All you have to do is "like" ecoSTORE USA on Facebook and comment on this post with your Facebook name and you are entered!  This contest will end on August 19th-GOOD LUCK!!

Also, you can request two free Laundry Liquid Samples when you like ecoSTORE on Facebook.  Email with your full name and mailing address and you will get to do two loads on them!

Tweet or Share this contest on Facebook and leave a copy of the URL here for an additional entry! (One for each)

*This contest is now being sponsored by ecoSTORE USA.  ecoSTORE is also offering the samples*

Monday, July 11, 2011

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