Author Archives: Melissa Lawrence

About Melissa Lawrence

Mother of Five Rowdy, Sweet, Sassy Kids Co-Founder, CEO and Co-Executive Produce Learn More About Melissa

Gratitude themed yoga and a giveaway from our lovely sponsor Onzie. Get moving & appreciate it all! > More

When things get rough at home with the kids (or your beloved partner!), it helps to step back and remind yourself how lucky you are for all the good things in life. Yoga can help us achieve this state of gratitude. When you breathe, think, ponder, move your body, and break a sweat in a room with fellow peace seekers, you acknowledge many basic things: togetherness, air, breath, thoughts, movement, strength, challenge, time.

Most Thanksgiving posts focus on food, but today I’m focusing on gratitude and how to achieve it, and discussing one of my favorite vinyasa poses, Parivrtta Parsvakonasana, twisted side angle pose.

Gratitude Themed Yoga

Twisting is a great metaphor for life. In life, we have our own notions of how we want to do things. We have a vision of the right way to overcome a challenge. But life doesn’t always allow us to walk our own straight line. As partners, parents, colleagues, friends, we have to keep adjusting, moving, twisting in order to make our relationships jive.

Your child pitches a fit over a lost Lego piece and dismisses your attempts to convince him that his project can be built without it? You want to scream but you can’t. Rather, you have to breathe deeply, control your voice, and essentially twist your mind into looking at your child (who is driving you crazy in the moment) as a human being you love deeply. Mental gymnastics, so to speak.

Your partner arrives home from a business trip and gives you a hard time about a minor household repair, when you’re feeling all romantic, and into a twist you go, thinking back to a recent romantic dinner, and forgiving him for driving you just a little crazy in the moment.

Your leaps of mind achieved, be grateful that as a mom and wife, you’ve found a way to achieve inner peace.

Let’s get to the physical part and talk about a yoga pose that inspires gratitude due to its sheer difficulty. To execute twisted side angle pose, first stand in tadasana. Lower your upper body and place your arms on the floor. Then, drive your right knee forward and place your foot on the ground. Keep the knee of your other leg locked straight and tighten your quad muscle. Raise your back heel and your arms. Take a breath. Then, twist your torso, leaving your hips parallel to the ground. Join your hands into prayer, and press your left elbow into the outside of your bent leg. Suck in your belly, loosen your neck, keep your quad tight and firm. Voila. You did it, mama. With gratitude, move into the next pose of your yoga flow.

gratitude themed yoga

And smile …

practicing gratitude themed yoga

As for the outfit, find something that makes you feel comfy and strong. I adore Onzie’s elegant, soft, flexible clothes and wear them almost every day. Here, I combine a bright blue bra with transparent netting with some funky, gladiator-style black pants. You can mix and match almost any of Onzie’s luxurious items and achieve creative, personal looks.

onzie black and blue yoga look

Pose accomplished (and gratitude achieved), here’s the view from the back.

onzie black and blue yoga outfit

What are you grateful for this Thanksgiving? I’ve actually never cooked a Thanksgiving dinner, having had the luxury of relying on my rockin’ Mom. This year, my cupboards and fridge are packed. Nutmeg, ginger, corn-meal, pecans, bread cubes, a 15 pound turkey, all these items await my beginning touches tomorrow. I feel intimidated yet thrilled at once. My kids have promised to help. It’s our first Thanksgiving in a new apartment and a new country. We feel more bonded as a family than ever before. So, much as though I crave being with my siblings and parents, I am grateful for the intimacy of this new Thanksgiving experience. The biggest chunk of gratitude is focusing on what you have versus what eludes you.

Sending much love to you and yours for Thanksgiving and don’t forget to enter our giveaway below.

Onzie Giveaway

Prize: One (1) $100 Onzie gift card.

Rules:

  • Enter using the Gleam widget below.
  • Open to U.S readers.
  • You must be 18 or older to enter.
  • You have multiple ways you can enter to increase your chances of winning.
  • The giveaway ends on Monday, December 31, 2018 at 11:59 PM (Eastern Time).
  • Winner will be announced on the widget below within 48 hours after the giveaway has ended.

Onzie Active Wear Giveaway

Good luck!

4-month-old sleep often means a regression with night wakings. The Baby Sleep Site is here to help. > More

This is a sponsored post.

Having stumbled through the first few months of babydom, new parents often think they are over the hump, clear of the bigger challenges. The nights are looking calmer, the days seem easier, and life seems to be gaining a new normalcy. But lo and behold, your baby decides: “Um, thanks but no thanks. Let me shake things up a bit here; wouldn’t it be fun to keep waking up frequently over the course of the night, keeping these parent-people on their toes? Ha!” It’s enough to make a new parent cry.

4 Month Old Sleep Regression Solutions

4 Month Old Sleep Regression

Welcome 4 month old sleep regression. This phenomenon hits babies at 4 months, but also later, at 8 months, 12 months, 18 months and even two years of age.

What is “sleep regression”? As mom of two boys and founder of The Baby Sleep Site Nicole Johnson explains, “A sleep regression describes a period of time (anywhere from 1 – 4 weeks) when a baby or toddler who has been sleeping well suddenly starts waking at night, and/or skipping naps (or waking early from naps) for no apparent reason. Parents often describe being caught totally off guard: you think your have conquered all your little one’s sleep challenges, when suddenly, out of nowhere, you’re back to constant night wakings and nonexistent naps.”

sleepy baby

In today’s video, I offer up some tips based on my own experience and the sage advice of the Baby Sleep Site. Here goes. Oh, and make sure to enter an awesome giveaway below.

4 Month Baby Sleep Tips

First up, stick to your routine. At around four months, babies change their sleep patterns, shifting in and out of deeper sleep more quickly and thus awakening more often. Babies this young do not yet know how to soothe themselves back to sleep, and thus cry out for your help. It’s a painful reality, but don’t give in and revert to bad habits. Resist the temptation to start rocking, singing, nursing, or cajoling your baby to sleep. These habits will make your life more difficult in the long run. Rather, stay calm and stick to your good habits.

Second, maintain a healthy 4 month old sleep schedule. Do frequent feedings during the day (I advise every three hours for a breastfed baby, and every four hours for a formula-fed baby), making sure baby is awake and full at the end of a feeding. When a baby consumes most of the calories they need during the day, and is awake for a lot of the day using up her energy, she will wake up less frequently at night.

Finally, when all else fails, seek professional help. The Baby Sleep Site offers expert advice not just on 4 month old babies’ sleep, but on all the sleep stages babies encounter across various ages.

The Baby Sleep Site - Helping you and your child sleep

Their comprehensive advice comes in the form of two specialized sleep plans: A Personalized Sleep Plan, which is based on your baby’s particular circumstances, and an Express Sleep Plan, which is a great fit when your baby’s sleep problems seem easier to solve. Priced reasonably, both plans offer a holistic, analytic approach to your baby’s situation and — by examining all the factors involved — help you to craft a comprehensive plan that works.

baby sleeping

Don’t feel guilty when you encounter the inevitable bumps of parenting. Gather the information you need, and enlist all the good help you can get. With expert advice that is specifically tailored to your baby’s particular situation, The Baby Sleep Site can be an invaluable part of your “parenting village.” Check out it’s expert packages and put yourself on the path to rest.

Thanks for reading and make sure to check out our amazing giveaway below,

Melissa

The Baby Sleep Site Giveaway

Prize: $50 Amazon Gift Card + The Baby Sleep Site‘s Basic Sleep Consultation Package that includes a Personalized Sleep Plan (value $197)

Total prize package value: $247!

Rules:

  • Enter using the Gleam widget below.
  • Open to U.S readers.
  • You must be 18 or older to enter.
  • You have multiple ways you can enter to increase your chances of winning.
  • The giveaway ends on Monday, December 17, 2018, at 11:59 PM (Eastern Time).
  • Winner will be announced on the widget below after the giveaway has ended.

The Baby Sleep Site Giveaway

This is a sponsored post. CloudMom received monetary compensation for this post. The ideas and opinions expressed in this post are my own. 

Moving tips in this week's Wrap Up plus giveaway on our huge adventure of moving to Spain with our kids. > More

Hello there, mamas and papas. Those of you who follow me on Instagram might have noticed some pictures from Barcelona popping up in my feed over the past two weeks. Things have been so busy that I haven’t had time to get a post up but finally, here it is; and with it comes our news: we’ve moved to Barcelona for the year. With Marc starting his own business and me being mobile for CloudMom, we figured now or never.

Moving Abroad with Kids

We had always dreamed about spending a year abroad with our kids. My imagination led me to the rocky beaches of Spain, long lunches in a plush French garden, or strolls through historic museums. Contrast these cultural treats with the overwhelming practical reality of moving five kiddos across the Atlantic within the span of a few weeks!

Moving Tips

Like other practical challenges in life, moving requires planning and organization. Our move hit us quite suddenly. The idea emerged in late July, when we starting researching schools and apartments in Barcelona on the Internet. Then, we needed to get up to speed on the process of applying for visas.

There was a lot to do and little time. Just as I suggest regarding babies, toddlers or older kids, when it comes to moving your family, prioritize and execute step by step. Each day, I jotted down ten tasks I wanted to accomplish. One by one, I tried to get through them. Once your in it, moving ahead, being productive, you feel good. What freezes us, stresses us, is lack of progress. So keep that in mind. If you dream of another place, go for it. Figure out what you need to do and each day move a little closer.

In addition to breaking things down into small parts, prioritize which to do first. In our case, the visa took priority. We needed, for example, original birth certificates for the children with an apostle that then had to be translated. It took time to order and process these documents so that had to happen first. We scheduled an appointment with the Spanish Consulate and rushed to assemble what they required.

Next up, finding a school. I began emailing and texting friends here and getting their views. One friend, Sarah, introduced me to the Spanish school her children had attended, which has a large portion of its curriculum in English. We visited in late August and thankfully, they admitted all five of our kids.

moving tips with kids moving abroad with kids moving with kids

Once we had the school figured out, we looked for a place to live. Working through a real estate agent, we rented the least expensive apartment we could find in the area we were required by the school to live. A few IKEA orders followed and we were up and running for the most part. We got pretty much set up, but many items are still missing. During dinner with another family last weekend, Marc and I shared a fork.

During the coming weeks, I’ll continue to share tidbits of our adventure and its inevitable ups and downs. For now, let me say that through this incredible challenge, we’ve grown closer as a family. We’ve had many chats and many meals, and the kids have a new perspective on their lives.

Sending love from Barcelona and check back in this week for more fun content.

Weekly Giveaway

Prize: One (1) $25 Amazon Gift Card
Rules:

  • Enter using the Gleam widget below.
  • Open to U.S readers.
  • You must be 18 or older to enter.
  • You have multiple ways you can enter to increase your chances of winning.
  • The giveaway ends on Monday, November 5, 2018, at 11:59 PM (Eastern Time).
  • Winner will be announced on the widget below within 48 hours after the giveaway has ended.

Weekly Giveaway

Thanks for reading and good luck! xo

Weaning baby from milk to solid foods can be tough. Try these great first baby food options! > More

Starting the journey from breastmilk or formula to solid foods is scary- you don’t want to do anything wrong that could deter baby from exploring and eating new things. Some babies may resist the transition, but eventually it will be time to introduce some new material in order for them to get the nutrients they need. Here are my top 5 first baby foods for weaning baby from milk to solids:

Top 5 Solid Foods For Weaning Baby

1. Avocado

All the rage from spreading it on toast to blending it into pudding, avocado is a favorite for everyone. Let baby be a part of the trend by introducing avocado as one of their first foods. High in healthy fats and smooth in texture, avocado is perfect for babies.

Avocado

Just scoop out the flesh, mash it up a bit, and serve it up to baby on a spoon.The creamy texture is perfect, because it isn’t too much of a shift from milk, but still provides nutrients and exposure that will get their body on the way to a solid diet. If you want to spice things up a bit, add milk or yogurt to increase the creaminess. Don’t season the mixture, as foods high in salt and sugar are not a good idea for baby’s underdeveloped palate and digestive tract.

2. Iron-rich cereals

One of the most important nutrients to expose baby to, foods high in iron are a great first food. Iron is crucial to baby, as it helps their brain develop normally.

Iron-rich cereals

Now, I wasn’t quite ready to give my kids solid baby food like meat at the tender age of six months, so I opted for iron cereals, which you can find in most grocery stores in the baby aisle. The cereals come in really tiny pieces, which baby can pick up and explore with ease. Mix in some breast milk or formula for added nutrition, and serve this up to baby for an iron-rich, delicious first solid food.

3. Baked Apples

I make this for my family sometimes, adding cinnamon and a little bit of oil to the pan before baking. This could also be a great option for baby’s first solid food.

Apples

Chop up apples, removing the skin if you want, add a bit of oil to a pan, and bake them in the oven until soft. Wait for them to be slightly warm rather than hot, and then mash them up for baby. Fruits are always good solid foods for baby, but baked apples are great because they aren’t tough to chew like raw apples.

4. Egg Yolks

Yolk is everyone’s favorite part of the egg, because it’s fatty and delicious! Lucky for baby, these are two elements great for new eaters and developing digestive tracts.

Egg yolks

I like to prepare them by soft boiling the entire egg and then scooping out the yolk. I might mix in a little milk depending on the consistency of the yolk. Once baby gets used to the taste and texture, they will love all of the healthy fats and nutrients found in the yolk.

5. Sweet Potato/Yams

Aside from being deliciously nutritious, naturally sweet, and beautifully colorful, babies adore the texture and taste of sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes or yams are high in vitamins A and C, great for baby’s development, as well as minerals like calcium and potassium.

Yams

I like to boil or bake the yams in the oven until soft and then puree or mash them up for baby. You can add some milk to thin it or baby cereal to thicken it for older babies. Yams are delicious and smooth, two things baby will appreciate in their first solid foods.

 

There are so many foods to choose from when weaning baby off of breastmilk or formula, but these five are my favorites because they are delicious and contain so many vitamins and minerals that feed baby’s development. The most important thing to remember when deciding which foods to introduce baby to first is that single-ingredient recipes are best. Combining too many flavors and ingredients could deter baby’s like of natural foods and make them crave artificial flavoring like salt and sugar. Thanks for reading, and let me know in the comments what foods you chose to expose baby to first, as well as any recipes that work well for you!

What is the appropriate age for ear piercing? Talking kids ear piercing today and some of my tips. > More

Ear piercing has been a hot topic among my kids for the past few years. My girls have been begging me to get their ears pierced for ages. This summer, I finally caved under pressure and promised them that if they endured sleepaway camp, they could get their ears pierced at the end of the summer. Lo and behold, my bribery worked.

My sister-in-law Eileen, a pediatrician in Connecticut, kindly met us at her office on a Sunday in August to perform the ritual. Among her many other attributes, Eileen is a very precise person. I admired how carefully she positioned the girls’ earring holes. She marked the spot numerous times and looked at each girl from multiple angles before selecting the perfect location.

In your view, what is the appropriate age for ear piercing? Weigh in with your thoughts and tips below.

Ear Piercing for Kids

Kids Ear Piercing Tips

If you have decided to have your children’s ears pierced, go to someone like Eileen who will take them time to do it right. My own ear holes are too low on my ear lobes; many of my girlfriends complain of the same. Once the holes are in, they are pretty much in for go, so make sure to do it right from the get-go. Before selecting the person who will pierce your children’s ears, ask questions until you feel comfortable. That way, you know you will be happy with the result.

Kids Ear Piercing

In my day, everyone had gold studs but my girls had a choice of different colored stones. Choice creates anxiety and it was hard to choose. When one sister chose the others color, the second sister had to find an alternative.

Ear Piercing for Kids

Patient #1 all set to go with never a tear shed.

Kids getting ears pierced

Patient #2 found the process to be more painful, but only for a few minutes.

Kids getting their ears pierced

You’re pretty fortunate when, in addition to having a 1-800 pediatrician hotline, you have an expert in-house family ear piercer!

Since that day, we are cleaning our ears twice a day and getting excited about our first pair of real earrings. It’s the small stuff in life that keeps us excited and happy. After sleep away camp and traveling in Europe, if you asked my girls what was the single most special thing about their summer they will reply without pause: getting our ears pierced!

Tell me about your girls’ experience with getting their ears pierced and don’t forget to enter our weekly giveaway below.

Weekly Giveaway

Prize: One (1) $25 Amazon Gift Card
Rules:

  • Enter using the Gleam widget below.
  • Open to U.S readers.
  • You must be 18 or older to enter.
  • You have multiple ways you can enter to increase your chances of winning.
  • The giveaway ends on Monday, October 8, 2018, at 11:59 PM (Eastern Time).
  • Winner will be announced on the widget below within 48 hours after the giveaway has ended.

Weekly Giveaway

Thanks for reading and good luck!

How do you combine activities for toddlers and older kids? My thoughts and weigh in with yours. > More

What toddler activities can you combine with stimulating endeavors for a five year old? Ruth Styles, a loyal CloudMom viewer, wrote in asking how to handle her two kids aged two and five along with a two and a half year old she watches after. Ruth, given how much I appreciate your years of loyalty (you’ve been writing in since I launched CloudMom!), I just had to answer you as soon as I could. I set forth a myriad of my own ideas in today’s video. Viewers, please write in with your own below.

How to Entertain Young Kids of Different Ages

Entertaining Kids of Different Ages

Two year olds should be playing with what are called “manipulatives,” like Mr. Potato Man, finger paints, and blocks. Try letting your toddler play with a pencil scribbling right and left. When at a loss (and busy with housework) try narrating your experience, talking your toddler though everything you are doing, like cooking, cleaning, or even errands. This is so much better than sticking an iPhone in your child’s hand. Studies show that kids who hear a lot of words grow up smarter. So give your children a lot of words! Also take your child outside to get some fresh air. The good old sandbox did not become a classic for no reason: here, your child interacts with others, uses his hands (honing fine motor skills) and becomes the master of his own universe, developing independence.

How do you marry these two year old activities with the needs of a five year old? Toys like magnatiles, Lincoln Logs, and even Thomas the Train (which both my boys and girls loved) can be great for bridging this gap. Try getting on the floor and playing with your toddler and older child. Maybe set up teams and join hands with the littler ones. Involve your older child even more in whatever activity you are engaged in — cooking or grocery shopping – and give them small errands to do, like fetching a towel after the young child’s bath.

So, all of these activities — each so stimulating and enriching for your children — can drain a hardworking mama! Hang in there. By way of your question, I know you are a terrific mom and caregiver. Make sure to take care of yourself all the while!

Thanks for writing in and see you back soon on CloudMom.

Learn the benefits of the Warrior 3 pose plus a new Onzie outfit with shorts and bra in today's giveaway! > More

Hello yogi mamas and welcome back to another Onzie giveaway. Here, I’m enjoying Spain’s Costa Brava and discussing Virabhadrasana III or the Warrior 3 pose, a favorite pose I’ve featured before.

Onzie yoga outfit

What are the benefits of Warrior 3?

The Warrior 3 pose encourages you to use all the muscles throughout your core, arms, legs and back. How do you do the warrior pose? Start in mountain pose and slowly lift one leg behind you (keeping it straight) with your arms held tight to the outside of your hips. Then, once you have found you balance, try bringing your arms forward so that your upper arms touch your ears. Keep your arms and leg very straight. It’s easy to get wobbly! If you fall (and I do a lot) just try, try again. I stare at one spot on the floor to gain stability. I also think about my core, imagining a small circle right in my center — that helps!

tips for Warrior 3 pose

Yoga does become a metaphor for life when you consider how challenging it is to keep your balance every day. Getting the right amount of food, exercise and sleep really helps. My better days come after a good yoga class which allows me to disconnect, concentrate, center myself and breathe.

[What helps you find balance and your center? Comment below and enter our Onzie giveaway!]

Onzie’s adorable yoga shorts and bras are great for bikram or vinyasa yoga, or even for a walk along the beach.

yoga outfit by onzie

Light, comfortable fabrics take you from the yoga studio to the beach in style, and flatter any figure.

onzie yoga clothes

I love the stripes on these shorts, and the celestial pattern to the bra. Stars and stripes together, yet across the Atlantic in Spain. Thanks so much for reading and make sure to enter our giveaway!

Onzie Giveaway

Prize: One (1) $100 Onzie gift card.

Rules:

  • Enter using the Gleam widget below.
  • Open to U.S readers.
  • You must be 18 or older to enter.
  • You have multiple ways you can enter to increase your chances of winning.
  • The giveaway ends on Monday, October 29, 2018 at 11:59 PM (Eastern Time).
  • Winner will be announced on the widget below within 48 hours after the giveaway has ended.

Onzie Yoga Wear Giveaway

Good luck!

A mom's two-year-old is a picky eater and won't eat anything! My tips in a new video. > More

Hi there, mamas and papas. An overwhelmed mom wrote in with a myriad of questions concerning her 22 month old toddler. This mama is straddling a two-year old toddler who is not eating and a fussy baby. Mama, I don’t envy you. Remember that this too shall pass. Don’t give up! Here are some strategies for keeping your toddler happy, stimulated, and (ideally) filled with nutritious food.

Two Year Old Picky Eater

Toddler Won’t Eat

There is one classic mantra when it comes to picky eaters: introduce, introduce, introduce. We parents stop introducing because it is just exhausting to see our children pitch fits. It’s also wasteful to have to toss away food. So to placate our children, we start giving them what they ask for. This is where the trouble starts because children who are picky eaters get less and less accustomed to seeing things they do not like.

In our house, we do not follow the restaurant model. No child gets to choose what they would like to eat. Rather, dinner is dinner and if you don’t eat pretty much all of it, you are not getting dessert. Some folks don’t agree with this classic approach, but this has pretty much worked for me. We usually do some sort of meat dish (beef, chicken or fish), rice or pasta, veggies, and then some sort of dried beans that we boil until they become a soft mash. We top it off with fruit and milk. On a good night, my kids get a bit of ice cream or a brownie. My kids are all pretty thin so I’m fine with giving them dessert, but check with your doctor as to what your approach should be.

So long story short, when you keep introducing healthy foods and your children home home hungry from school, and you are not caving and giving them a more limited range of less nutritious foods, you will ultimately win the food battle. Your kids will come around.

Mamas and papas, please write in with whatever tips you have regarding picky eaters and thanks so much for watching.

Getting newborns to sleep can be difficult. Sharing products that help baby sleep soundly + a giveaway! > More

Hi there, mamas! Melissa here, writing in with some awesome baby products for sleep that you should check out for your little one. Sleep was such a HUGE issue for me. I remember feeling like a zombie for the first few months, which led me to discover my love for and obsession with sleep schedules!  I really wish some of the awesome products that exist now were there for me during my long nights. Sigh. I couldn’t take advantage of them but you all can! So with all that said, here are five amazing products that can really help you get a better night of zzz’s.

We’re also giving away a Baby Shusher by the Sleep Miracle at the bottom of this blog! Enter our giveaway to win and share this page with your friends so they can have a chance, too!

5 Products to Help Newborn Sleep

1. Rest Night Light and Sound Machine

I think we can all agree that getting baby to sleep through the night can be quite challenging in those first few months, so trying to establish a sleep schedule might sound impossible. Enter: Hatch Baby’s Rest night light and sound machine! It’s kind of like a nightlight, sound machine, and sleep trainer all wrapped in one! It glows softly in several colors (the nightlight part), which my kids love and babies will too. It also has a bunch of soothing sounds you can play, and it’s all controlled from an app on your phone! The soft light would also be great for midnight nursing, so you don’t have to stub your toes in the dark! The low light keeps baby calm and sleepy, a great feature because I’ve found that turning on all the lights to nurse can make it difficult to get them back down. I wish I’d had Rest when my kids were babies, it would have been a lifesaver when I was trying to get them on a regular sleeping schedule. You can find this product here.

2. Baby Shusher by the Sleep Miracle

When my kids were babies, they would cry for no reason…frequently, anytime and anywhere. I checked everything on my mommy checklist: their diaper was clean, they had just eaten, what could possibly be wrong? I learned over time that often, they’re just tired and frustrated that they can’t fall asleep! I wish I’d had something like the Baby Shusher to save the day. The Baby Shusher is a kind of sound machine, but it mimics the “shhh” sound we moms know well, lulling baby to sleep. It operates on a timer, so you can just turn it on and forget about it. You can also adjust the volume for different babies and situations, great for when you don’t want to wake your other kids while trying to put baby to sleep. Because of its portable size, The Baby Shusher works for long car rides, doctors appointments, or even at home. I wish I’d had a gadget like this with me when my new babies needed to be shushed! You can find the shusher here.

3. Owlet Smart Sock 2 Baby Monitor

Next up we have the Owlet Smart Sock monitor. A friend gifted me a baby monitor with my first baby Hedley, and I found that it did help me relax at night, but not always. Often, I would wake up, look at the monitor, and worry still that the baby was not breathing well enough. Into baby’s room I went to make sure all was ok, and well, you get the rest. I was awake, in the baby’s room, and the monitor? Not so helpful. The Owlet sock monitor solves this problem by really monitoring what baby needs to be doing: moving. Attached to baby’s foot as a sock, it stays with your baby all night long, sounding an alarm on your phone if ever something should seem amiss. The fibers in the sock are designed to measure baby’s small breathing movements, which happens through oximetry technology. That’s a lot of high tech stuff in a tiny baby sock. I’ll take it! This is one of those “must have” products that should figure among the top items of any new moms list. You can find the smart sock here.

4. Babies Magic Tea by Secrets of Tea

I’ve found that most of the time when my babies weren’t sleeping through the night, their issues were tummy-related. Think about it: everything they’re eating feels new to them, even milk! Their body hasn’t yet figured out how to process all these new things, which in my experience has led to bouts of gas, indigestion, constipation, and a plethora of other issues. Enter Tea! Babies’ Magic Tea helps baby’s tummy process milk or food better, so they don’t wake up crying in the night. In my experience, when baby has less tummy pain, they can sleep better and longer, helping to establish a normal schedule. Made from all natural ingredients, this tea has been used around the world to help fight night-time stomach pain in babies. I especially love how transparent and accommodating this company is. They will let you try a free sample, no strings attached. Giving this tea to baby a few times a day naturally soothes stomach pain. What could be better? You can find the tea here.

 

5. SwaddleMe Mommie’s Melodies Soother Lamb

When my kids were babies, I couldn’t get them away from their plush animals for even a minute, I still can’t now! Now, imagine if those animals could also help them sleep through the night, wouldn’t that be a dream? I wish I’d had something like this lamb for my babies, because not only is it cuddly and cute, but it’s also…drumroll please….a SOUND MACHINE! Equipped with six different soothing sounds, little lamb here will easily lull baby to sleep. Even if they wake up during the night, the lamb hears baby crying and activates soothing noises to put them back to sleep. If this had been around when my babies were babies, I would’ve hung it on their crib rail as newborns, and when they were old enough let them cuddle it. It shuts off automatically on a timer, so you don’t have to worry about turning it off and risk waking up baby. You can find the lamb here.

There you have it! There are so many more gadgets and tools around now than there were when I was a new mom, and these five would have been awesome to have. Sleep is one of the most important things for a new baby, so any product that promotes that has my seal of approval! Let me know in the comments below if you try out any of these, I’m curious what you think of their features and if they helped you. Also comment any suggestions for sleep products that I didn’t mention, because I’m sure there are plenty more!

Baby Shusher by the Sleep Miracle Giveaway

Prize: One (1) Baby Shusher by the Sleep Miracle (ARV $34.99)
Rules:

  • Enter using the Gleam widget below.
  • Open to U.S readers.
  • You must be 18 or older to enter.
  • You have multiple ways you can enter to increase your chances of winning.
  • The giveaway ends on Monday, October 29, 2018, at 11:59 PM (Eastern Time).
  • Winner will be announced on the widget below within 48 hours after the giveaway has ended.

Baby Shusher by the Sleep Miracle Giveaway

Thanks for reading and good luck!

There is a crib for every nursery decor. Take a look at the most unique, modern cribs on the market. > More

Hey there, mamas! Buying a crib is perhaps the most important decision you make for baby, as they will spend hours upon hours in it. Of course, we want to make sure it’s comfortable and stable, and cute as well! I used the same crib for all five of my children because I loved it so much. However, if I had chosen to get a new one, I might have ventured into the world of unique and specialty cribs. There are so many cool models and designs of nursery furniture nowadays, so I thought I would share with you the top five most unique cribs on the market.

Top 5 Most Unique Cribs

1. Spot on Square Roh Crib

Rather than seeing the world through rails, the Roh Crib by Spot on Square gives baby a full view of the room around them. Two acrylic walls rest on the walnut frame, so baby can see clearly. The acrylic panels are partitioned into wide, thin bars so baby can stick their hands out and explore, while still protected by the barrier. I love this design, especially for modern homes. Giving baby a non-restricted view of their room may help them familiarize and feel less trapped, while also making the transition to a bar-less bed much easier. The acrylic crib walls are, of course, BPA free, 100% recyclable, and durable to avoid cracks and breakage. Check out the Roh Crib here.

Spot on Square Roh Crib

2. Tribeca 4-in-1 Convertible Crib

If you’re looking for a crib that will truly last through the years, the Tribeca 4-in-1 Convertible Crib is perfect for you. At a glance, it looks like any other chic, modern crib. But with a few small tweaks, this convertible crib can transform into a toddler bed, daybed, and full size bed! Not only will this crib grow with baby (literally), it can also turn your nursery into a guest room easily. The chic white and grey palate and interesting geometric shapes will give your nursery, and later child’s bedroom, a  modern touch that completes the room. I love the versatility of this crib, especially for such a reasonable price as far as cribs go. Of all the cribs on this list, the Tribeca 4-in-1 is by far the best budget-friendly option that is still beautiful and high quality. You can find this crib here.

Tribeca 4-in-1 Convertible Crib

3. Leander The Budding Superhero

Keeping with the theme of convertible cribs, The Budding Superhero by Leander is a modern yet traditional crib with smooth, beautiful lines. The crib comes in four different finishes, a rarity for crib designs, so you can find one that matches your color palette easily. The design incorporates lines of a round crib and rectangular crib, which looks beautiful in any nursery. Once baby is old enough to climb in and out of bed alone, you can remove the front wall to give them the freedom to do so. As time progresses and baby becomes more independent, you can remove both side walls to form a bed perfect for a toddler. There is even an extension kit to make the toddler bed longer if needed. When your child is too big for the crib, it can be converted into a daybed and used in their room or any other room of your home. This is truly a piece of furniture that is great for baby and will remain in your home forever. Take a look at Leander’s The Budding Superhero here.

Leander The Budding Superhero

4. Vetro Crib by Nursery Works

If I were to imagine a crib of the future, the Vetro Crib by Nursery Works would be it. Made entirely from 100% recyclable, non-toxic acrylic, this crib is the first of its kind to hit the market. This crib is completely hand-crafted and has three adjustable mattress sizes to last baby a long time. The chic, transparent shape will contribute a high-end touch to any nursery decor. On the downside, these cribs are limited edition due to the extreme amount of artistry needed to construct one. While you may not be able to get your hands on one easily, the Vetro Crib is still one of the most unique, modern and futuristic cribs on the market. Not to mention, it’s extremely beautiful and would be an asset to any nursery. Take a closer look at the Vetro Crib here.

Vetro Crib by Nursery Works

5. Whitney Brothers Space Saver Two Level Crib

While I can respect and acknowledge the space-saving benefits of a double crib like this one, I simply couldn’t imagine using it for my own children. For starters, the mattresses are small, so they would not last long for speedy-growing babies. Also, the bottom crib seems very claustrophobic and I would not constrict a baby to a closed space like that. I have never had a double crib before, so I suppose there are ways to prevent bottom baby from hitting their head or feeling boxed in. Regardless, this is one of the most unique ideas for a space-saving crib I have seen, so I thought it deserved a place on this list. You can find this crib here.

Whitney Brothers Space Saver Two Level Crib

With that, I conclude the list! Modern and unique cribs can be really beautiful and great for baby, but some of them might be a bit ahead of my time. I loved the crib I used for my kids because it was great quality and lasted almost a decade. Whichever crib you mamas decide to get for baby, make sure you love it and they are safe and secure sleeping inside. Thanks for reading, and let me know in the comments the craziest feature you have ever seen on a crib. Have a wonderful day, mamas!

Pregnancy stress is real, so pamper yourself to ensure a healthy pregnancy plus enter our giveaway. > More

Hey Mamas! Pregnancy stress is real and it takes some major tolls, physical, emotional and mental. Eating right, going to doctor’s appointments and prenatal yoga classes can take a lot out of anyone, especially while carrying an extra thirty or so pounds! Pampering yourself during those nine months can help you feel better in every way, as well as give you a pick-me-up when you’re feeling a little down. Making time to do things for yourself, even just a small treat, makes all the difference in your mood and attitude during pregnancy. Here are some of my favorite ways to pamper mama-to-be.

Enter our Amazon Giveaway below to treat yourself, pregnant mama!

How To Pamper Yourself During Pregnancy

Pregnancy Pampering Ideas

Take a Bath

Aches and pains are a common symptom of pregnancy, so taking a relaxing bath is a great way to soothe your muscles and relax your mind. Some people worry that taking baths is not good for you during pregnancy, but that is just a myth. The only factor to worry about if you’re going to take a bath is keeping the water at or below 100 degrees. Higher temperatures, especially during the first trimester, can raise your overall body temperature and cause stress for the baby. As long as you keep an eye on the water temperature, baths are a wonderful way to pamper yourself and relax during pregnancy. There are additives you can incorporate into the bath, such as essential oils and epsom salts, to enhance the experience and provide even more relief for achy muscles. Essential oils are best used in the second and third trimesters, but only soothing scents such as lavender and chamomile, as stronger oils like clove and cinnamon can cause contractions.

Get Your Hair and Nails Done

Feeling done-up might be the last thing on your mind during pregnancy, but something as simple as blowing out your hair or going to the salon for a trim can help you feel refreshed and beautiful, especially when your body feels brand new and foreign to you. I know that for me, having my nails done makes me feel productive and put together, two things I really lacked during pregnancy. Pampering yourself with beauty treatments not only gives you time alone to relax, but also leaves you feeling refreshed and pretty – more like yourself.

Aromatherapy

Remember those soothing essential oils I mentioned before? Well, the same ones can be used to do aromatherapy either at home or at the spa. When you’re pregnant, essential oils like lavender and chamomile during the first trimester and even later on help to calm nausea and morning sickness. Anything that helps with those symptoms qualifies as pampering in my book! You can incorporate these oils into your day by adding drops to your bath, putting them in a diffuser in your home, or even keeping a water-oil solution in a bowl by your bed.

Get a Massage

Many salons and spas have special treatments for pregnant women, and nothing beats a back rub after carrying baby around in your belly for a few months! Research spas in your area to find one that specializes in pregnant massage, so they’ll know exactly where you need help. If you don’t want to spend the money or travel to a spa, ask your hubby or a friend to rub your back and feet. They’ll be happy to help you in any way they can, and if they aren’t sure how to do it, there are tons of videos online regarding how to massage a pregnant woman. Massages are great for alleviating stress and muscle aches, which are very common for pregnant women.

Any way you can, make sure to pamper yourself during pregnancy. Your body is undergoing changes like never before, and it’s important to take time and steps to make yourself more comfortable and to feel good to ensure a healthy pregnancy. Simple things like a warm bath or foot rub made all the difference during my pregnancies, so try these out to pamper yourself future mamas!

Enter our giveaway below and let me know in the comments how you like to pamper yourself during pregnancy! Thanks for reading!

Amazon Giveaway

Prize: One (1) $25 Amazon Gift Card
Rules:

  • Enter using the Gleam widget below.
  • Open to U.S readers.
  • You must be 18 or older to enter.
  • You have multiple ways you can enter to increase your chances of winning.
  • The giveaway ends on Monday, October 15, 2018, at 11:59 PM (Eastern Time).
  • Winner will be announced on the widget below within 48 hours after the giveaway has ended.

Amazon Giveaway

Good luck!

 

xo

 

Finding healthy snacks for kids that they won't resist is tough, but these options are tasty and fun. > More

Packing your children’s lunch boxes can prove daunting, especially when you’re packing more than one. While I usually attempt to put fresh produce in my kids’ lunch boxes, I also find myself opting for healthy packaged snacks that are a great alternative to sugar and sodium-laden classic cookies and chips. Here are some of my favorite healthy snacks:

5 Healthy Snacks to Put in your Child's Lunchbox

1. Enlightened Roasted Broad Beans

Say the word “beans” and your kiddos no doubt raise their eyebrows in skepticism. Yet urge them to keep an open mind. Enlightened’s beans are crunchy, salty and tasty. Packed with fiber, protein, and healthy fats, they will keep your kiddos satiated between meals.  Due to their small size, these beans make a great portable snack for when you are on the move to sports practices or activities. Buy them hereEnlightened Roasted Broad Beans

2. Simply7 Lentil Chips

Brace yourselves, little people, here comes another bean-based snack! Thin, crispy, salty, and airy, Simply 7 Lentil Chips “don’t taste healthy”, according to my in-house experts. Free of peanuts, they can go freely into schools. Packed with protein, iron, and 40% less fat than potato chips), lentil chips are composed of only five ingredients, so you know what your kids are eating. Buy these lentil chips here

Simply7 Lentil Chips

3. Simply7 Quinoa Chips

Crunchy and salty like these lentil chips, Simply 7’s quinoa chips offer a different heartiness for older kids. These protein and amino acid-packed chips help kids stay full during the eternally-long afternoon before dinner. Soy and nut free like lentil chips, quinoa chips offer the same simplicity when it comes to ingredients, putting your mama-mind at ease. Find these quinoa chips here. 

Simply7 Quinoa Chips

4. Boom Chicka Pop

Boom Chicka Pop offers a wide variety of flavors at a low calorie count and likewise with minimal ingredients. My boys love the sea salt & vinegar flavor, because it tastes like their favorite chips. Find Boom Chicka Pop popcorn here

Boom Chicka Pop

5. The Chia Co. Chia Pod

Resembling a pudding or yoghurt, the Chia Co. pods are composed of chia seeds, coconut milk, vanilla bean and cinnamon. Sweet and rich, and loaded with protein and fiber, as well as healthy fats from the chia, Chia Pods offer a myriad of health benefits. I like to incorporate chia seeds into my kids diets via smoothies and  salads served at home, but for snacking purposes, these pods do the trick. Browse the options here. 

The Chia Co. Chia PodSo it’s a wrap. Keep it inventive, mamas, and when your kids complain, don’t listen. Keep putting healthy foods and snacks in front of them and sooner or later, they will cave and try them. And then, they will love them.

Thanks for reading!

Melissa

A Sandro cotton shirt dress with sleeves provided the perfect outfit for a lunch out with a dear friend. > More

Long sleeve cotton dresses have been a trend this summer. If, like me, you shun the sun, long sleeves offer protection while being cool enough for even the hottest day. Long sleeved dresses also provide the perfect solution for the office or a dinner out when you’re trying to have a lower profile.

cotton shirt dress with sleeves

Describe what you’re wearing at this point in late summer and enter our giveaway to win a Sandro gift card!

When it comes to fashion, my personal mantra is that “opposites attract.” If your dress is demure, try to be a bit more adventurous with your shoes. When styling a long sleeve dress, try wedge sandals like I have here, thinner heels or even gladiator-type sandals. I wouldn’t do any more conservative shoe that than, because after all, you don’t want to cover up everything.

long sleeve cotton dresses

Special thanks to substitute photographer and awesome friend Sandra from Barcelona! Miss you, chica!

Melissa and Sandra

Thanks for reading and check back in soon for another fashion post.

Sandro Giveaway

Prize: $50 Sandro gift card
Rules:

  • Enter using the Gleam widget below.
  • Open to U.S readers.
  • You must be 18 or older to enter.
  • You have multiple ways you can enter to increase your chances of winning.
  • The giveaway ends on Monday, October 1, 2018, at 11:59 PM (Eastern Time).
  • Winner will be announced on the widget below within 48 hours after the giveaway has ended.

Sandro Giveaway

Good luck!!

Love,

A mean teacher is blaming her class for her stress and resulting medications. Sharing my thoughts! > More

Just in time for back to school, a mom wrote in lamenting her child’s current school problems. Her child is inheriting her teacher from last year. Meanwhile, the teacher has told her 5th grade class that she takes a myriad of medications for stress caused by the class! This poor mama is asking: what should I do? Should I discuss the situation with the teacher? Write her a note?

How to Handle a Mean Teacher

I have the highest regard for teachers. Teachers must keep a class in order, stimulate children to learn, and accommodate various learning styles. We have this Norman Rockwell-like image of a complacent class taking notes and smiling with clean, shiny faces but that image is far from the reality. Kids are coming into school these days from all sorts of environments. Discipline problems at schools run rampant and respectful behavior is too often lacking on the part of our students.

So an oversized hat goes off to our amazing teachers. Yet in this case, a teacher is clearly suffering from immense psychological stress and taking it out on the kids. This mom asked me what to do, and I give my advice in today’s new video.

Hat’s off to you, mama, and thanks for writing in to explain your situation.

Gratefully,

Why doing things that scare you will make you happier plus our weekly giveaway! > More

None of us like to confront difficulty. We instinctively feel more comfortable with what we know and with what we know how to do. Think of how comforting it is to have someone proclaim you an “expert” in some area. The opposite of this is a fledgling, a newbie, someone who is lost and less adept at the task at hand. Nobody wants to be that person.

That said, I have been finding that there’s a tremendous value in doing the things that scare you most. Doing things that scare you will make you happier because simply put, you feel darn good about yourself when you overcome a challenge.

On my recent trip to see my close friend Sarah (mother of seven!) and her family in Brittany, France I witnessed first hand the value of doing difficult things. Sarah and her family are huge walkers: they have walked for days across areas of France and Italy. No terrain gives them pause. On my first morning, Sarah suggested a picnic on the beach. I put on my sneakers and hat and off we went.

Little did I know that getting to the beach meant climbing over a series of enormous rocks that went on for about half an hour. Below appears  Sarah’s unflappable mom Anne (my beloved French mother) making her way across the stones. Let me note that she wasn’t even wearing sneakers!

climbing rocks in France

At first, I said to myself “no way!” I gingerly wrapped my way around the first rock and looked back, thinking of withdrawing from the group. I considered how easy it would be to fall and break a knee, hip or even a tooth. Then, I took my eye of the landscape and focused on just the rock ahead. Step by step, rock by rock, I made my way. Sarah’s little boys skipped over the rocks as if they were running on a flat carpet, so accustomed were they to this type of landscape.

I fell into a trance, not thinking, not questioning, just doing. Just getting there. A human body walking over rocks. Part of a group of people I love dearly but single in the effort it took.

Once I forgot about how difficult the walk was, I enjoyed it. Two hours later, we had made it over rocks, wet sand, grassy marshes and landed onto a gorgeous beach where the rest of our group met us with a picnic. We feasted on cheese, avocado, ham, bread, chocolate bars and looked out to the rough sea. The kids and Sarah took a dip. I sat in the sun, exhilarated, proud.

rocks in France

Brittany France

beach in France

rocks

The next morning, I woke up and guess what I did? I took the same walk by myself. Challenge makes us stronger. It lifts our spirits because we realize how capable we are. We feel whole and complete. That day, the walk seemed a little tricky, but I didn’t even give it a second thought. Returning home three hours later, though, I was more than ready for lunch!

walk in France

Do something today that petrifies you. When you come out on the other side, you won’t be the same person. That’s growth.

Life beings at the end of your comfort zone.

Sending love,

Melissa

Weekly Giveaway

Prize: One (1) $25 Amazon Gift Card
Rules:

  • Enter using the Gleam widget below.
  • Open to U.S readers.
  • You must be 18 or older to enter.
  • You have multiple ways you can enter to increase your chances of winning.
  • The giveaway ends on August, July 27, 2018, at 11:59 PM (Eastern Time).
  • Winner will be announced on the widget below within 48 hours after the giveaway has ended.

Weekly Wrap Up Giveaway

Tips on home organization for back to school. > More

Hey mamas. Melissa here, mother of five and expert back-to-school guru (haha!). Leaving summer behind to start the school year can be stressful and hectic. Get ahead of the chaos and reduce stress by organizing your kids and home beforehand. Here’s how I plan to get my kids ready for the new school year, so as to make back to school 2018 a breeze!

5 Organizational Tips for Back to School

1. Clean Out the Closet

Every morning, your child will go to their closet to select an outfit (or clean uniform) for the day. This process costs more time if it is not easy-peasy, so make it quicker by clearing out old clothes and shoes. Pick a day towards the end of summer during which you and your child go through her closet, making “donate,” “throw away,” and “keep” piles. Going through her clothing and shoes will help you get rid of unnecessary clutter, reorganize their closet, and feel refreshed and ready to start the new school year.

2. Make a Family Calendar

In my experience, keeping the schedules of five children straight requires keeping everything perfectly noted and in the same place! A few years ago I began buying big desk calendars and hanging them on the wall in my kitchen. Each member of the family has their own colored marker, which they will use to write down events, assignments, or activities to remember. Now at a glance I can see what each of us has to do on a given day and for the entire month. You can make this calendar’s cute, like a decor piece, by adding stickers, a frame, or anything else you want. You can also create a shared family calendar online by using a shared gmail calendar. Whatever works for you: just keep it in one place and make sure everyone has easy access to your home organization system. 

3. Create a “Homework Zone”

Even if each of your children does not have his own room, each child should have a designated space to do his homework after school. Whether it be a desk or shared table, give your child a sense of ownership over their space. Let them decorate the area and stock it with school supplies, so that they will be excited to do homework there each afternoon. Designating an area for schoolwork will also help your child stay organized, because all of their work will be in one place and decrease the probability of losing papers or assignments. Keeping your child’s homework area organized will translate to good habits regarding school organization,as well. 

4. Establish a Routine

The hardest part of back to school for me is the transition from loads of free time to a daily routine of school, activities, and appointments. I like to get my kids used to the school routine a day or two before the year begins. Going to sleep a little earlier, turning off electronics, and waking up at a reasonable hour makes the adjustment smoother by easing them into the routine.

5. Stash Supplies

You never know when your child is going to come home with a project to do, and there may not always be time to shop for supplies. I combat this stress by having a drawer in my home filled with poster board, glue sticks, glitter and other art supplies we have needed over the years for projects. Now, when my kids have to do a book report quickly, I reach for the supplies in this drawer and they can get started working right away. Trips to the craft store will still happen, but they will be much less frequent if you buy a few extra of everything to have on hand during the year. Back to school supplies shopping isn’t just for what your kids need in September; think ahead to what they will need during the year. 

The school year lurks right around the corner. I hope these simple organizational tips will make your family’s transition from summer easier, combat the back to school blues and settle your family into the groove of back to school.

Let me know how you get your family ready for school in the comments below. Thanks for reading and best of luck for a fabulous school year!

Does putting cereal in your baby's bottle help them sleep at night? My thoughts in today's new video. > More

A mom wrote in asking about her 9 month old baby who won’t sleep, wondering if putting cereal in her baby’s bottle is a good idea. My thoughts in today’s new video.

Does Cereal in Bottle Help Baby Sleep?

Helping 9 Month Old Baby Sleep

First up, how to make a 9 month old baby sleep! It’s a subject I’ve tackled again and again since I get so many questions from viewers whose babies are not sleeping. We’ve all been there! My mantra is: regular feedings during the day (every three hours for a breastfed baby and every four for a formula fed baby); make sure baby is awake and full; and try a “top-off” feed at 10pm-11pm at night. When you stick to this sort of schedule, sooner or later the baby begins to do longer stints at night because the baby is awake for much of the day and consuming the majority of her calories during the day.

Does Cereal in Bottle Help Baby Sleep?

Now on to the issue of putting cereal in a bottle, which I thank you for, mama, since I’ve never been asked this question before. Meanwhile, my own mother did this, as did generations of mothers who had begun to bottle feed their babies. However, as appealing as this idea might seem, it is a “no no.” I went to Dr. Greene for the reasons why, and walk through his points step by step in the video.

How was your baby doing at 9 months of age? Weigh in below and thanks so much for watching.

Gratefully,

Melissa

 

Toledo is a must see that offers a valuable lesson for our kids on cultural and religious tolerance. > More

Hello all! Two weeks ago, I took the speed train from Barcelona to Madrid with my three boys. The day we arrived, we visited the Reina Sofia museum and saw Picasso’s Guernica, perhaps the most well-known painting of the 20th century. Guernica bears witness to the atrocities committed against the Spanish people during the Spanish Civil War in the early part of the 20th century. The next day, we stepped back in time, visiting Toledo, the former capital of Spain.

Is Toledo Spain a Must See?

If your family is lucky enough to be able to travel to Spain, I highly recommend you visit Toledo. In this picturesque city set high on a mountain overlooking miles and miles of barren ground, centuries of Spanish history shine through.

Toledo, Spain

beautiful Toledo, Spain

Toledo harbors a mosque, since Arabs were here; the former synagogue Santa María la Blanca, which welcomed worshipping Jews; and an elaborate Catholic cathedral complete with paintings by famed Spanish painter, El Greco.

Built it 1180, Santa María la Blanca is considered the oldest synagogue building in Europe still standing. Ironically, it is now owned and preserved by the Catholic church. Constructed by Islamic architects for Jewish use, it includes sparkling white walls and artistic motifs reminiscent of Moorish architecture (the architecture of North Africa and parts of Spain and Portugal where the Moors were dominant between 711 and 1492).

Spain

visit to Toledo Spain

During the Middle Ages, Jews, Christians and Arabs lived side by side in Toledo, appreciating a climate of mutual respect and religious tolerance. Sadly, that spirit did not endure. But the memory of this diverse, multi-cultural community remains.

beautiful door in Toledo

place of worship in Toledo Spain

place of worship in Toledo

Walking through Toledo’s places of worship with my boys, we thought about our current world, so filled with division and conflict. How ironic that during the Middle Ages, religions co-existed more peacefully than they do in many areas of the world today.

Toledo Spain with kids

I hope you enjoy these photos and here’s to accepting, appreciating and learning about people who don’t resemble us, who believe differently, who live differently, yet who love their children passionately as we do.

Gratefully,

Melissa

Weekly Giveaway

Prize: One (1) $25 Amazon Gift Card
Rules:

  • Enter using the Gleam widget below.
  • Open to U.S readers.
  • You must be 18 or older to enter.
  • You have multiple ways you can enter to increase your chances of winning.
  • The giveaway ends on Monday, July 30, 2018, at 11:59 PM (Eastern Time).
  • Winner will be announced on the widget below within 48 hours after the giveaway has ended.

Weekly Wrap Up Giveaway

Few baby sunscreens offer gentle protection for newborns. Top sunscreens for baby and a giveaway! > More

Hey Mamas! After stepping outside into the (gasp!) 95 degree heat this morning, I decided it was high time to share my favorite baby sunscreens for summer. As a new mom, sun safety preoccupied me and I might have even gone overboard: so nervous was I about my babies getting sunburned that I avoided the sun entirely, opting to sit in the shade or NOT go to the beach. Kind of silly when you realize that the market does not include protective baby sunscreens gentle enough for newborns. Below you’ll find five amazing sunscreens that will keep your baby protected from the sun’s harsh rays.

Top 5 Baby Sunscreens

1. Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Mineral Sunscreen (SPF 50)

Formulated specifically for babies, Pure & Free Baby Mineral Sunscreen goes gently on the skin. Hypoallergenic and gentle on the eyes, it offers an SPF of 50. If your baby wails over a drop of sunscreen in the eyes, this is the product for you. Purchase Pure & Free Baby here.

baby sunscreens

2.  Badger Kids Sunscreen Cream (SPF 30)

With scents of tangerine and vanilla, Badger’s Kids Sunscreen Cream includes few ingredients. Other than the obligatory zinc oxide, only sunflower oil, beeswax, and vitamin E have been added. An 100% organic sunscreen, its hypoallergenic, resists water and sweat for almost an hour, and appeals to babies with sensitive skin. Consider this resistant yet healthy brand for beach days or sweaty activities! Also consider how environmentally conscious Badger sunscreen is: even the sunscreen’s tube was recycled and biodegradable. Buy Badger here.

badger sunscreen

3. Nurture My Body Mineral Baby Sunscreen (SPF 32)

Ok, now for a fancier but still great choice. Nurture My Body formulates their baby sunscreen from just eight ingredients, including shea butter. Fragrance-free, plant based, and devoid of artificial or harmful ingredients, Nurture My Body is formulated for babies aged 0-6 months. It’s so uniquely safe that it might be worth a try despite the higher price. Try this sunscreen here.

mineral sunscreen

4. Burt’s Bees Baby Nourishing Mineral Sunscreen (SPF 30)

Burt’s Bees organic sunscreen contains coconut extract and vitamin E. Water resistant qualities ensure that you don’t have to reapply constantly (although you should reapply every two hours). A mineral sunscreen, Burt’s Bee’s Baby absorbs quickly into baby’s skin and smells lovely. Buy it here.

organic sunscreen

5. Blue Lizard Baby Sunscreen (SPF 30)

An Australian company, Blue Lizard developed a special UV technology for this renowned sunscreen. When it senses harmful UV rays, the Blue Lizard bottle changes color to alert you! No more UV check-in’s on the phone. Blue Lizard is well-regarded by pediatricians for it’s safe, protective properties. I used this on my kids for years and nary a sunburn did we see. You can buy this sunscreen here.

blue lizard sunscreen

 

So there you go. These five products should give you all something to think about it. We’re giving away TWO bottles of Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen to whatever sun-savvy mom gets picked as our lucky winner. Thanks for reading and see you all back soon on CloudMom.

Melissa

Baby Sunscreens Giveaway

Prize: 2 Bottles of Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen (Total value = $30)

  • Enter using the Gleam widget below.
  • Open to U.S readers.
  • You must be 18 or older to enter.
  • You have multiple ways you can enter to increase your chances of winning.
  • The giveaway ends on Monday, August 20, 2018, at 11:59 PM (Eastern Time).
  • Winner will be announced on the widget below within 48 hours after the giveaway has ended.

Baby Sunscreen Giveaway

Rock it on the beach with these hip maternity bathing suit styles that are cute, comfortable and yes, sex > More

Hey mamas! Let’s face it: bathing suits can be a tricky part of pregnancy. We all felt it: bloated, stretch-marked, and well, just not sexy. I’m here to tell you to take pride in your pregnancy body! You are growing a human being in there, and your changing body bears witness to your generosity of spirit and strength of purpose. Don’t give up on the beach nor hide yourself in a tunic. You can and will look great on the beach this summer, clad in fashionable swimwear once you find a style that suits your unique pregnant body. With that being said, check out these maternity bathing suits to find the one that works for you.

Expecting and stressed about what to wear on the beach? Enter our giveaway to win an Oceanlily Over the Belly Maternity Bikini Bottom!

1. Cache Coeur Bloom Maternity Tankini

Tankinis flatter many different body types and come in a plethora of cute styles. Some pregnant women dread the constricted feeling of a one-piece. Tankinis such as this Cache Coeur Bloom maternity tankini let your belly breathe! The strapless look highlights your shoulders, bosom, and arms, flatters your belly, and adds enough panache for you to strut your stuff! Find this tankini here.

maternity tankini

2. Oceanlily Over The Belly Maternity Bikini Bottom

The belly bikini bottom solves a few issues. The high waisted bottom keeps your belly secure, covers up stretch marks, and can be combined with any sort of top: bikini, tankini or swim shirt.  You can find these versatile bottoms here.

maternity swimwear

3. PregO Maternity Women’s Maternity Dot Roll Waist Bikini

For those looking to wear your bump with pride, maternity bikinis like this model offer a raised waist for extra support. This waist will continue to stretch throughout your trimesters, while supporting your pregnant belly. Especially designed for pregnancy, this bikini’s breast cups are soft, flexible, and can be removed for extra comfort. Meanwhile, with or without the cups, the top remains supportive and feminine. Find this bikini here.

maternity bikini

4. Motherhood Smocked Waist Maternity One Piece Swimsuit

Simply designed with an adjustable halter neck and flattering v-neckline, Motherhood one-pieces offer a classic interpretation on pregnancy swimwear. A durable nylon material supports your breasts and growing belly during pregnancy, stretching generously as you grow. The ruching along the sides of this suit lend extra character. Whereas many bathing suits lack support in the breast area and bottom, this suit addresses that, holding you in and up and making it possible for you to move freely on the beach or in the pool. Find this swimsuit here.

maternity bathing suit

5. Momo Maternity UPF 50+ One Piece Halter Swim dress

Introducing: swim dresses! Comfortable, flattering, and subbing in for a cute sundress, the swim dress speaks to the more demure among us who want to be out there while having most of it covered. With integrated UPF 50, this swim dress guarantees that only 1/50th of the sun’s rays will touch your unborn belly. Nautically-inspired and perfect for any waterside summer outing, this swim dress can be found here

pregnant bathing suit

There you have it, expecting mamas! Don’t hide your bod, but instead cherish this special time as offering some new fashion opportunities! Find a style that suits you, head on out to the beach or pool, and send a picture to me.

Enjoy. Stay healthy. Feel good. Feel pretty. There’s a baby coming! And don’t forget to enter our giveaway! 

Melissa xo

Oceanlily Maternity Swimwear Giveaway

Prize: Oceanlily Over The Belly Maternity Bikini Bottom (ARV $34.00)

  • Enter using the Gleam widget below.
  • Open to U.S readers.
  • You must be 18 or older to enter.
  • You have multiple ways you can enter to increase your chances of winning.
  • The giveaway ends on Monday, August 27, 2018, at 11:59 PM (Eastern Time).
  • Winner will be announced on the widget below within 48 hours after the giveaway has ended.

Oceanlily Maternity Swimwear Giveaway