Product Review and Mom Approved: BinkyBox

I always relished in delight when I would receive a package in the mail as a kid. It was usually a birthday present or holiday gift from a relative from a few states away, but a package for ME nonetheless. As a parent, I am now able to see my child experience the exact same excitement I so fondly remember.

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There it was sitting on our front porch, calling my son’s name, saying “open me!” It was HIS BinkyBox, a customized baby subscription box for my developing toddler. After getting ourselves organized from our daily outing, we sat down together and opened the box which contained, what can only be described in my son’s giggles and joy. From the yellow paper confetti straw to the fantastic full-sized items hand selected for my two-year-old, this box of goodies did not disappoint.

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The magical scents of lemon and berry quickly caught the attention of our noses. A bath bomb, that looked good enough to eat, decked in dissolvable sprinkles from Feeling Smitten was the first BinkyBox surprise we unveiled. Later in the evening we used the bath bomb in our nighttime routine and my son was over the moon. It made bath time more exciting (it left no colored residue) and he smelled scrumptious all the way into the next day.

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We continued to dig through the box and we were greeted with a classic, “BUBBLES!” as my son screamed into my right ear. Now, these weren’t just any bubbles, these were Fubbles. The no-spill mini bubble tumbler is an absolute blessing for a mother with an active toddler. My son can spend countless hours blowing bubbles and I don’t have to worry about him spilling the soapy water all over the floor or table. Fubbles can be enjoyed without all the mess.

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At the bottom of the box was the perfect item for a little boy, a Kidoozie Little Builder Tool Belt. This toolkit came equipped with all your toddler’s building needs, such as a hammer, plyer, screwdriver with interchanging bits, level, wrench, and canvas tool belt. We recently moved and my husband has been hanging pictures, reinforcing furniture, and building the baby’s crib, so my son was walking around “fixing” things just like daddy. Let’s just say, we had a minor meltdown when we had to take off the tool belt to take a bath. When he woke up the next day, he ran straight for his toolkit.

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BinkyBox is a BRAND NEW subscription box service designed for baby (0-2-years-old) as well as mom and dad. Their mission is to make life easier for the whole family, and let me be the first to exclaim, IT DOES! Each month you will receive a box filled with a variety of full-size products, such as an age appropriate and development focused toy(s) as well as items to make this whole parenting thing a heck of a lot simpler (i.e., organizational, safety, storage, etc.). Additionally, from time-to-time there may be accessories for mom and/or baby, like a teething necklace or pair of adorable baby socks.

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Now, you may ask, “I have a kid that’s older than two, can they get a BinkyBox?” If you have an older child, BinkyBox will be offering one-time retail items in their online shop. If you’re a family with multiple children and you’re worried about your older child not receiving a gift in the mail like their younger sibling, BinkyBox will hand pick a $30 gift (typically a developmental toy) and ship it free along with your regularly scheduled BinkyBox. This special gift will be wrapped up for the child to open along with their sibling. Both items, the BinkyBox and gift, will be shipped at the same time.

YOU can get YOUR BinkyBox for $35 when purchased on a month to month basis or $30 per box when you purchase and select the 12-month prepay option. If you are interested in getting your BinkyBox, which I know you are, you may contact Sabrina@binkyboxes.com or pre-order on their website http://www.binkyboxes.com

As a mother of a toddler and newborn (arriving April 2017), I highly recommend BinkyBox for every type of family. This product is #MomAndToddlerApproved

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A Toddler’s Review: Top 5 Books

My kid is particular (leaning towards OCD) and our bedtime routine is something that cannot change. If it were to change, I truly believe the world would cease to exist, at least to my toddler.

We start-off with bath time, progress to moisturizing, get our jammies on, grab our beloved blanket and stuffed Alligator (a.k.a. Anton), and snuggle up on the reading chair with three books of his choice. His selection of books is a well-thought-out process and usually leans towards the educational side.

I thought it would be fun to have my toddler review his top five favorite nighttime books of the moment. So, I asked him, “what do you think of this book?” The comments made are his opinions and his opinions alone (with mom’s thoughts added in as well).

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? – Bill Martin Jr/ Eric Carle

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“Red bird! Red bird!” he exclaims in excitement. The anticipation builds-up and once he sees the next animal, the look of joy takes over his face. This book has really helped him in pairing words together. We went from not wanting to communicate at all, to now being unable to stop, especially during reading time.

Fliptastic Colors – DK Publishing

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[Jumping up and down in glee] “Book! Red…flowerrrr, BUG, Berry!” This new addition to the library (thank you Uncle Aaron) not only encourages his identification of colors and objects, but it also works on his hand-eye coordination. Each page flips in a different direction keeping your little one on their toes. It easy for them to just keep flipping through, but this “fliptastic” book requires them to really pay attention.

First 100 Words Board Book – Roger Priddy

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This is an oldie, but a goodie. When all else fails this book is guaranteed to delight. “Train! Choo, Choo [pumping his arms up and down] …Yellow [d]uck, quack, quack.” With a collection of actions, objects, and animals, he points out each and when appropriate adds in the accompanying sound. I’ve never seen him as focused as he is when goes through all 100 words.

*This book gets a mom’s all star stamp of approval*

I Love You Stinky Face – Lisa McCourt

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“MINE” is screamed at my face when I try to put this book back on the shelf. He clutches it over his heart like a character out of a Jane Austen novel. Instead of me reading it to him, he reads it to me. Passionately he captures the intensity of each of the personalities of the main character. He also loves that there is an alligator on the front cover like his stuffed best friend, Anton.

The Pout-Pout Fish – Deborah Diesen  

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SPOILER ALERT – I have read this book so many times, I could recite it to you word-for-word without hesitation. In tandem, he and I say “blub, bluuub, bluuuuub” and when Pout-Pout Fish realizes he is actually a Kiss-Kiss Fish, my son’s face lights up, because he knows he is going to get SMOOCHES! Whenever he’s not feeling well, he runs over to his bookshelf, grabs the Pout-Pout Fish, and says “Peas, Ma!” How can you say no to that sweet baby?

My son’s library of books is extensive, but the selections listed above are his favorites. Not only do they get my seal of approval, but they get the approval of a two-year-old, and let’s be honest folks that says a lot!

His Big Boy Room

We recently moved house. Please let me be the first to tell you, it’s not easy moving when you’re 7+ months pregnant, especially when your super particular and want to do everything on your own. If anyone is considering this, I am going to strongly advise against it.

OK, with that said, the purpose of this post is to highlight one of my favorite rooms in the house; my son’s “big boy” room. I know what you’re thinking, “Hannah he’s still in a crib, how can this be a big boy room?” Well, your observation is correct. Yes, he is still in a crib and I can easily transform his bed into a toddler right now if I wanted to, but he hasn’t expressed any interest in trying to climb out of the crib, so I’m OK just leaving it like that for right now. He can still have a “big boy” room even with a crib. He’s two for heavens sake.

When we moved out of our last home, we had to make a few improvements. We repainted the walls in our master bedroom, Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray. I loved this color so much, I decided I was going to use it in both of my boy’s rooms once we moved into our new place.  That is exactly what I did!

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Right when you enter this room, hanging just above the light switch is a framed copy of my mom’s family crest. Rorie is my mother’s maiden name, and I always said, boy or girl, my first born would be named Rorie. I love the uniqueness it adds to the room. “The surname Rorie appears to be patronymical in origin, and is believed to be associated with the Scots, meaning, ‘descendants of Ruairidh, (Red King).’”  How appropriate? He is my little ginger babe after all.

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The accent wall is all thanks to my mom, a.k.a. Oma, and the folks at Hobby Lobby. Let me tell you, Hobby Lobby is a dangerous place for someone’s wallet, especially when a grandmother and pregnant mom want to decorate the little one’s room to perfection. From the mountainscapes to the tribal inspiration, this wall sums up my child’s fearless personality. It makes me smile!

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Here’s Where You Can Order These Items Online:

Little Explorer MDF Wall Art

Rustic Oars Explore Wall Sign

Strong & Brave Tribal Wall Plaque

Move Mountains MDF Block

Abstract Mountains Wood Sign

Weathered Grey Wooden Wall Arrow

5” MDF Letter – R

Our reading chair is a well loved space in his room. Each night before bed, my son selects three books for us to read together. We snuggle up with his blanket (crocheted by Oma) and favorite companion, a stuffed Alligator named Anton (not pictured, because he’s probably being cuddled to death in the playroom somewhere). The chair was something I inherited from my Nana and she gave me the owl pillow on my 18th birthday. It would take a lot for me to part with these items, so when we moved, I thought these pieces would be great additions to his space. I think they fit in quite nicely.

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Above his dresser and changing table (yes, the changing table is reinforced to the reinforced dresser), we added these fabulous inspirational wall stickers, found at our local Target (i.e. the greatest place on earth). The booklet of wall decals consists of sayings, birds, trees, mountains, etc. I didn’t want to leave this wall blank, but I didn’t want there to be any temptation to reach out and pull on anything as well. There are so many wall decals available in the booklet that I will also being using some in baby no. 2’s room.

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Here’s Where You Can Order This Item Online:

Paper Riot Travel Often Large Playbook Wall Decals

I heard its terrible Feng shui to have mirror directly facing your bed, so the only true option in this room was to place it next to the crib, but not directly over it. I don’t want anything negative entering through a “mirror portal” and disrupting my kid’s life. I’m too paranoid and anxiety ridden for that. The tribal mirror and chevron arrow garland above his crib were also purchased at Hobby Lobby. These two pieces really tie in the overall theme of his room.

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Here’s Where You Can Order These Items Online:

Square Natural Wood Wall Mirror with Arrows

Gray Chevron Arrow Garland Wall Décor

Finally, these personalized Jones Soda Bottles with his ultrasound and one-year-old pictures are proudly displayed on the unreachable top shelf of his bookshelf. My uncle gave these to us as gifts, and I think they are so cool! This would be a great gift for family or favor at a birthday party.

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I wanted this room to be a special place for my son. A place for him to grow, develop, and unwind. A toddler’s “sanctuary.” The selected décor aligns with his bigger than life personality, and the personal touches make the room even more special. He may never know how much thought was put into the paint color or the organization of the accent wall, but I do. Let me take a moment to pat myself on the back. “Way to go Hannah; way to go” (she said to herself).

The Most Important Job: Raising Decent Human Beings

As parents we have a vision for how we hope our kids will turn out. We place all of our hopes and dreams into these little human beings and pray they will develop into decent individuals. As the mother of an outgoing two-year-old boy and soon to be newborn baby boy, I want to make sure my kids grow up to be positive catalysts for change in this crazy world.

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Photo courtesy of Access Consciousness Blog

My kids, God-willing, will be gentlemen. Now more than ever, we need men who are going to bring everyone up and not push them down. Men who see each individual as an equal, and don’t hold themselves superior to others. We need men who know how to love others the right way, instead of the wrong. As a mother, it is my job to make sure my kids work towards the greater good.

Here are just 5 of the hopes and dreams I put out into the world on a daily basis for my kids:

  1. I hope they will become caring individuals. I want both of my boys to express concern and kindness to every person and animal they meet (while also being aware of potential danger; I am a paranoid mama for heaven sake).
  2. I want my kids to be loving and accepting of everyone, no matter the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, religious affiliation, age, etc. They should not feel like they have the right to pass judgement on anyone. That’s not their privilege to have.
  3. My kids will stand up for what is right and never cower at an opportunity to make a positive difference. I truly believe they will make a difference in this world.
  4. As brothers, they will always love one another and champion for each other. These two little boys should always be the strongest advocates for one another and help guide each other in the right direction.
  5. Finally, they should be men who show love and respect to those they love. They should never, ever, put down the ones they care about or those who care about them. Their dad and I will let them know each and every day how much they are loved (more than they can probably handle) and together, he and I will be positive examples of how to love your partner.

As parents we have a very important job; we are tasked with raising our kids to be good people! I know, this can be a lot of pressure, but together, we can raise a generation of children who spread joy, love, and kindness. I don’t know about you, but I’m game for this undertaking. Put me in coach!!

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Happy Birthday Little Man

I’ve been sitting here for over thirty minutes re-writing the introduction to this blog. It’s not that I can’t find the words to express exactly how I feel, but that I am so overwhelmed by the love I have for my little man. I want to make sure I perfectly encapsulate how much he means to me.

Today Rorie turns two! He has been on this planet for two years, yet I feel like he has been a part of my life since the very beginning. Our journey to have Rorie was a difficult one, and unfortunately one that many women face. We had suffered loss and I felt ultimately defeated and betrayed by my own body (multiple times), but I knew in the depths of my soul that there was a reason for the sadness and heartache.

The moment I found I out I was pregnant with Rorie, something felt different, both physically and emotionally. Something told me that this was IT and fate was finally on my side. Once we hit that 13-week mark, I could expel a partial sigh of relief, because let’s be honest, we never feel completely relaxed as parents; it’s our job to constantly worry. When the ultrasound tech told us we were going to have a boy, I bursted into tears. I wasn’t because I was disappointed, but because this was real. I was going to have a little boy! A boy who will grow up to make a difference in this crazy world. A source of positive change!

After laboring for what seemed like forever, but only required 15 minutes of pushing, I was looking into the face of love. The greatest thing I had ever done in my life, was right there in my arms. He needed me; we needed each other. My love for him was beyond instinctual; it was an instantaneous powerful maternal connection. I dare you take it on, because you will lose. This was my baby. My baby! He will always be my baby.

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Now as a two-year-old, we are still connected as we were from the very beginning, but he is more independent. He is a child with opinions and a larger than life personality. I have never met a person who can instantaneously light up a room, effectively demand and receive everyone’s attention, and know exactly what to do to put a smile on someone’s face. What two-year-old brings you a tissue when you’re upset or knows when to give hugs at the right moment? Not many, but my kid does.

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Ya’ll I made this magical human being who is outgoing, compassionate, resilient, stubborn as all, slightly OCD, and possesses an unnatural amount of energy. My kid is awesome! I feel privileged to be his mother. I am excited to see what type of person he will become, but I feel certain it will be a caring, compassionate, and accepting individual.

Happy birthday to coolest kid I know! Two never looked so good!

Pregnancy Insomnia: 5 Things to Do at 3 AM

The past few nights I have been blessed (she said sarcastically) with the dreaded joint pains, restless leg syndrome, and hormonal temperature imbalance that often comes along with pregnancy. There is nothing more betraying than your body depriving you of sleep. I thought perhaps if I kept saying the mantra “go to sleep, go to sleep, go to sleep” my body would eventually say “hey, I should probably go to sleep,” but NO! I tossed, I turned, I poked my husband in the back every time he snored out of pure frustration, but nothing seemed to work, so I decided that if I was going to be wide awake at an ungodly hour I better take full advantage of my time.

Here are 5 things that I do, and you can do too, with your time when the pregnancy clock strikes:

  1. Clean out your Gmail inbox: Let me preface that I am often tidy when it comes to my primary email inbox, but I admittedly fail to review my junk, social, and promotion folders as often as I should. The count of 10 unread emails will suddenly escalate to 165 without a moments notice and my anxiety kicks in. I do not and will not have that little red circle which encapsulates my inability to read all of my emails taunt me. What a nasty little booger! So, when you lay wide-eyed, staring at the ceiling of your dark bedroom, pull out your Gmail account and start deleting. Show that red icon who’s boss!
  1. Pin a “crock” ton of crockpot recipes for when baby arrives: During one of my sleepless nights I started to think about my two-year-old, newborn, husband, and job, and I wondered to myself how in the heck am I going to have time to make dinner, make sure my son and husband feel extra loved, ensure the baby is full, dry, and well snuggled, and my job is done and done well? Meal prep! That’s what I am going to do. I have gone on multiple Pinterest rampages, where I have liked all of the “crack chicken” and baked ziti crockpot recipes I can find. I’m sure my followers question my sanity and if I really need 23 chili recipes. It doesn’t hurt to prep and create a crockpot focused Pinterest board.
  1. Get a leg up on the work day: I have a full time job during the week, so there is always work to be done. Now, I’ve learned my lesson, when I say get a leg up on work that does not include sending emails to your boss, colleagues, and clients in the middle of the night. I have been addressed in the past about an email that was received with a time stamp of 4:13 a.m. I could have easily said, “I’m sorry, I have pregnancy insomnia,” but no I was ashamed and insisted their email was acting out and perhaps they should restart their computer and refresh. With all of this said, I do make lists, work on email campaigns, social media, and other tasks that don’t need to be emailed right away or at least during an unsavory hour of the night.
  1. Journal like a 12 year-old pre-teen: After the new year I bought myself a journal. Now, I haven’t journaled since I was a pre-teen. I was previously accustomed to a dairy with a voice command password, you know, something like Swimgirl52. So, having purchased a “big girl” journal is what I would like to consider a major step in my life. Since the day I purchased this grownup journal I have dedicated a page to each day of the week. I write down, in bullet point fashion, what has happened, how did Rorie do that day, how is the baby developing, etc. I am essentially listing out my day. By creating these daily recaps, I can thoughtfully reflect on my day and move onto the next day without a worry or concern of what took place.
  1. Catch up on that Netflix documentary you’ve been meaning to watch: We live in an age where we can watch anything we want from a number of devices. The amount of content available is out of this world. I don’t know about you, but when I’m not watching Trollhunters, Zootopia, or Justin Time on Netflix, I take note of shows that I would like to watch that don’t involve animation. If it’s one of those nights when there is absolutely no chance of going back to sleep, I will pull out my phone or laptop, Boppy pregnancy pillow, and enjoy a Netflix original series or documentary. It can be so refreshing, because I’m pretty sure I can recite Zootopia forward and backwards. Should I be proud of that?

These are only just a few of the things I do when my internal clock goes askew. The list goes on and on. As a mother with a toddler, a wife, a full time employee, and 32 weeks pregnant, I’ve recognize time is precious. So, instead of cursing and thrashing my body in a toddler-like tantrum, I better be super productive.

What are some of the things you do when your body just won’t let you sleep?

Pregnancy Breakouts – How to Take Down Those Pesky Blemishes

When I was pregnant with my first son, my skin was flawless! My body naturally embraced that pregnancy glow (insert clip of Beyonce at the 2011 VMA Awards). So, when I got pregnant the second time around and my skin looked dull and I started to experience breakouts, I was convinced I was having a girl. I was wrong; I’m definitely having another boy. My hormones just decided to betray me. I was so long fresh face, and hello 13-year-old Hannah with the most horrific zits.

I’ve always had a difficult time finding the right combination of washes, scrubs, and/or foams to take down the craters that have decided to make my face their home. I’m one of those lucky people with combination dry and oily skin. Even the mildest soap will dry out my face, and flaky skin is just as bad as a blemish in my opinion. So, after testing a number of products, I think I have found my holy trinity to cure pregnancy pimples.

CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser: For about $11, this facial cleanser does not irritate my skin and leaves it feeling clean and smooth while also tackling the most stubborn spots. The fragrance free foaming action cleans out my clogged pores without causing a dry skin reaction. There is an added push of B3 Vitamin which “calms skin redness.” I usually keep my pump of CeraVe in the shower. The mixture of warm water, shower steam, and CeraVe leaves me feeling refreshed!

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Photo courtesy of www.cerave.com

 

Freeman Charcoal & Black Sugar Polishing Mask: For $4.29 (what a steal!!), this scrub will not obliterate your skin. If it’s not a harsh face wash, pregnancy naturally comes with dry skin, so this polishing mask is perfect! The charcoal “helps absorb oil and impurities” while the black sugar eliminates dry skin patches and leaves the skin feeling smooth. I use a little bit of this magic in a bottle 2 to 3 times a week, depending on how much of a lift my face needs.

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Photo courtesy of www.freemanbeauty.com

 

Good Ole H2O: I know what you’re thinking, “really Hannah?” Yes, water is a skin lifesaver and it’s easy to forget about the impact it has not only on your health, but the health of your baby. Find yourself a reusable water bottle and drink about 12 8-oz glasses of water (Institute of Medicine’s recommendation) a day. Don’t worry! Nobody will question how many times you go to the bathroom a day, because let’s face it, the toilet is our pregnancy headquarters as moms to be.

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Photo courtesy of www.target.com

 

The combination of the CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser, Freeman Charcoal & Black Sugar Polishing Mask, and the daily consumption of a kiddie-sized pool amount of water (12 8-oz glasses), may give you the same results I have – hydrated and rejuvenated skin. We already feel large and sluggish, so let’s do something to make ourselves feel better about our skin!

The Preschool Plague

Every parent who has ever put their child in preschool or daycare knows all to well, what I like to call, the preschool plague. You know, when your child’s nose streams fluorescent green snot, their eye-lids are crusty from the obscene amount of congestion building up inside, and they have this incessant need to croupy cough right into your face.

Each member of my family has contracted about ever pediatric illness known to man and a few that I believe have been dormant for years, since my son has reentered preschool. It’s as if we have all touched the snot encrusted teddy bears, trucks, and blocks that are around the classroom. No amount of hand washing, hand sanitizing, or Lysol can save you from this pandemic.

My poor son within the last month and half has had a sinus infection, cold/congestion, and ear infection. We get over one hurdle to be introduced to the next. During this time, I have tested numerous vapor rubs, nasal aspirators, and fever reducers. Here are my thoughts and what I feel is the best bang for your buck and sanity as a parent.

Vapor Rub: Now I’ve been known to use vapor rub personally when I haven’t needed it, because there is nothing like taking a deep and clear inhale through the nose. With my little one’s cold and congestion I have tested a number of infant/toddler friendly rubs.

Maty’s All Natural Petroleum and Menthol Free Baby Chest Rub was a staple when he was very small, and I have every plan on using it with boy babe number two, but I needed something a little stronger this time around. I will say, this natural remedy does not leave a sticky residue and holds a mild scent, but does the trick for the tiny ones.

Zarbee’s Naturals Baby Soothing Chest Rub is the perfect rub for those kids who are between a mild and severe cold. The eucalyptus, lavender, and beeswax chest rub has the perfect amount of fragrance and its application is clean and mess free. At the earlier stages of illness, this rub is ideal!

Vick’s Baby Rub Soothing Ointment is my vapor rub champion. When the preschool plague took full effect, I needed the strongest stuff I could find. With a twist of the cap, my son’s nasal passages immediately open up. When we snuggle before bedtime, I catch a whiff and my nose opens up too. Can one have a deep love for a chest ointment? If so, I’m madly in love!

*Another tip when it comes to vapor rubs, I put a little bit on both of his feet with socks. Does it do anything? I’m not sure, but it provides my son with needed comfort when it’s time for bed.

Nasal Aspirators: There is no question when it comes to nasal aspirators, always go with the Nose Frida. It is the perfect way to suck all of those boogers right out of their nose. As the website states, “it’s totally safe (for parents AND baby).” If the Swedes created it, it must be great, right!? I pair my Nose Frida with a few sprays in each nostril of Little Remedies Sterile Saline Mist. This power packed spray helps “moisturize and flush out mucus to clean little noses.” This combination works so well, that my kid comes up to me and asks for me to clean out his nose. If your two-year-old is asking for his nasal aspirator and saline mist, it must be GREAT!

*Another tip when it comes to saline mist, alternate mists from one nostril to the next.

The Tried and True: When it comes to the fevers and pain of ear and sinus infections, alternating between Infants Tylenol and Children’s Motrin, under a doctor’s supervision and designated dosage, is a must. My sons on an antibiotic as well as these pain and fever reducers, and we have seen a complete change in his mood and behavior.

*Remember, always refer to your pediatrician before administering these drugs. Your doctors will know and understand the appropriate dosage for your little one.

For all the parents out there who send their children to preschool, I send you my positive thoughts, surgical face mask, and Tide to Go Sticks for the snot crust you’ve accumulated on your shirt sleeve from your little one. You may find that these products provide you and your child some much needed comfort. God speed!