baby’s best friend

Baby's Best Friend | crackersandcarrots.com

Man’s best friend is a phrase you often hear about how loyal dogs are and how they make the best companions. The same goes for children.

Growing up, my 3 sisters and I were constantly around animals. I blame my animal-loving mother. At one point we had 9 animals, including 3 dogs, 1 rabbit, 1 guinea pig, 1 blind squirrel, 1 hamster and 2 fish. You could say it was a zoo. However crazy it was, it taught me responsibility, companionship, respect and kindness. To this day, I truly appreciate these traits in both myself and others. Observing how others care for animals is a pretty good inclination as to how they treat other people.

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Long before my husband and I thought about having children, he gave me permission to adopt a dog. We named him Leland. And it was Leland who kept me company throughout the tail-end of our 5 years of long distance. Leland’s sweet disposition and lovingness had turned my husband into a dog lover.

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Fast forward 4 years to the day from when Leland was born, our son Liam was born. Don’t even ask me why we named them so similarly. It’s insanely hard to not get tongue tied when calling their names. Before bringing Liam home from the hospital, my mother took one of Liam’s baby blankets home to Leland to let him smell and get used to. Once we arrived home from the hospital for the first time, Leland was very curious to meet this new baby. It took a matter of minutes for them to both share my lap. Below is the first photo of Liam and Leland together on the day we came home from the hospital.

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Ever since the two met, they’ve been great friends. Any time Liam cries, Leland is right there to help or come get me for help. Liam has mastered the art of playing fetch with Leland, which keeps them both entertained for hours. And finally, Liam is learning the words gentle, be nice and how to love on Leland. Thankfully, Leland is a very patient dog and would never do anything to hurt Liam. Leland is baby’s best friend and I’m so thankful that Liam is growing up with a dog in the family.

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I know some dogs are just not friendly or patient with kids, so be mindful of this when considering bringing a dog into the home. When a dog is first meeting the baby, be very careful with the introductions and carefully monitor how well they get along to ensure both baby and dog are safe. 

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road trip entertainment #giveaway

My Universal Mount Review | crackersandcarrots.com

Before we moved back home to Charleston, SC, we made frequent trips back and forth from Columbia to visit our families in Charleston. This required creativity with a baby in the car.

Liam has never been a good car rider. He rarely sleeps in the car (weird) and when he was an infant, he would just scream (so fun). Since discovering the power of technology, our car rides turned from something out of our worst nightmare to peaceful joy rides. Thank you Baby Einsteins!

My geek and handsome husband designed and 3D printed a unique holder for my iPad mini for Liam’s viewing purposes in the car. It hangs on a bungee cord between the seats for optimal toddler viewing. When My Universal Mount emailed me about trying their product, I was excited to compare their product to my husband’s design.

Okay, let’s talk.

The My Universal Mount (MUM) is sturdy and designed for rear seat passengers. The nice thing is that it fits pretty much all devices with it’s spring-loaded clamps. The spring-loaded clamps makes it insanely easy to place a device or remove a device from the MUM. So far I’ve tried it with my iPad Mini and iPhone 5, as seen below:

Device Comparison with the My Universal Mount | crackersandcarrots.com

It’s a two part mount, one portion clamps onto the headrest and the other one clicks into the first part. This makes it easy to remove the device while you’re either getting in or out of the car or removing the device while your car is parked. The MUM comes in either black or tan to match the interior of your car, or in this case, to match the device.

While the overall usefulness is great, I still have a few issues with the MUM. First, is the inability to angle the devices from left to right. It is primarily for viewing from the seat directly behind the MUM. Our toddler sits in the middle seat, so he has to view from an angle. However, I’m sure it would be perfectly fine for passengers in a larger car, like a mini-van. Secondly, the MUM has a minimum size for which to hold devices. Unfortunately, the iPhone doesn’t fit horizontally, which is optimal for viewing movies. For now, we’ll have to stick with the pre-loaded movies on the iPad Mini. Finally, since the MUM sits directly behind the seat, it doesn’t work well sedans and carseats. As you can see in the photo below:

Driver Seat Comparison with the My Universal Mount | crackersandcarrots.com

When we’re on the road, Liam is able to completely kick and push on the MUM and the device that is in it. This wouldn’t be an issue in a larger car or with a child that doesn’t require a carseat. However, in our little sedan, it is sometimes a challenge to distract him from kicking it. And forget about putting the carseat right behind the MUM. He wouldn’t have any leg room at all.

My Universal Mount Review | crackersandcarrots.com

Overall, I think the MUM is a good product and definitely well-built. It’ll last you longer than your electronic device will last you. It’s easily moveable to another car or even another seat. The main detractor of the MUM is the retail price. I quickly researched built-in tv headrests and they go as low as $80. With that said, if I had a larger vehicle, I would consider purchasing one of these units.

You can purchase the MUM on their website for $139.95.

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This post is sponsored by My Universal Mount. I received a complimentary product to reviewPlease read my disclosure policy for further information.
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snacks on-the-go #giveaway

I’m honored to be a Stonyfield Ambassador this year, sharing deliciousness including these brand new products, YoBaby, YoToddler and YoKids Yogurt Pouches.

Stonyfield Organic Yogurt Pouches Review and Giveaway | crackersandcarrots.com

My little guy is an independent toddler who loves to feed himself. This is often challenging when we’re in a hurry. Many times I reach for the pretzels or crackers for a quick snack on-the-go, but now I have other options. These healthier options are Stonyfield’s new Organic Yogurt Pouches. They come in three varieties to suit the needs of your family:

  • YoBaby – Made with whole milk as recommended by pediatricians for proper growth and development. Comes in Blueberry, Mango, Sweet Potato and Vanilla.
  • YoToddler – Made with whole milk as recommended by pediatricians for proper growth and development. It also has real fruits and veggies blended in, plus Omega-3 DHA, ranked by moms as a high priority benefit. Comes in Pear Spinach Mango and Strawberry Beet Raspberry.
  • YoKids – Made with low-fat milk and come in Blueberry, Strawberry and Strawberry Banana.

All three varieties are made with pure, organic ingredients, and never any high fructose corn syrup or artificial flavors. They also have calcium, protein, vitamin D and live active cultures. Things mama likes to hear!

Stonyfield Organic Yogurt Pouches Review and Giveaway | crackersandcarrots.com

Liam is accustomed to pouch type snacks. When he was really little, I’d purchase the baby food in the pouches for on-the-go eating, which especially came in handy when traveling. He now knows where they are located in the house and reaches for them when I open the fridge.

I try a lot of different products out with the help of Liam and this was probably the easiest one to capture in photographs. He instantly got excited when I pulled the YoTodder pouch from my bag. He was so excited that he handed it right back to me to open when I gave it to him.

Stonyfield Organic Yogurt Pouches Review and Giveaway | crackersandcarrots.com

I had my husband snap these photos while I opened and monitored the “squeezability” of the pouches. The pouches are easy for Liam to get every last bit of yogurt out of them, especially with the help of mama squeezing the last few drops up to the top of the pouch. As soon as he sucked down the entire pouch he was begging for more. It only took us three days to go through all 10 pouches that I picked up!

We tried a variety of YoBaby, YoToddler and YoKids flavors and Liam and I loved every one of them! I felt good giving the Stonyfield Yogurt Pouches to him, knowing it was a healthy snack and easy clean up for mama!

My List of Great Snacks On-The-Go

Stonyfield Organic Yogurt Pouches Review and Giveaway | crackersandcarrots.com

Now, it’s time for you to enter the giveaway to win your own Stonyfield Yogurt Pouches!

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This post was sponsored by Stonyfield Organic. I am a Stonyfield blogger captain/brand ambassador because I truly believe in their products. I received coupons to purchase these pouches. This post also contains affiliate links that help support this site. All opinions are my own. Please read my disclosure policy for further information.
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sippy cups

The First Years One Piece Lid Sippy Cup Review | crackersandcarrots.com

We have tried a slew of sippy cups since transitioning from a bottle at 1 year. One after another, there were sippy cups Liam didn’t like or they had something that drove me crazy. Thankfully, I purchased most of them at children’s consignment shops, so it wasn’t too big of an investment. He never could master the tilting of the cup, so we settled on the straw variety.

The First Years One Piece Lid Sippy Cup Review | crackersandcarrots.com

After many months of trial and error, I purchased a Munchkin straw sippy cup that he loved! It required a hard suck, similar to the bottle and my favorite part was the no-leak design. I just throw it in my purse when we run errands or I even sit it in his lap while we are on a jog. He knows it always has water and it’s easy for him to hold with one hand. Plus, it’s fairly easy to clean.

The First Years One Piece Lid Sippy Cup Review | crackersandcarrots.com

However, we needed a sippy cup for milk.

I used another Munchkin for milk for a while, but noticed it was too hard to clean properly. Also, we needed an insulated cup to not spoil the milk every time we used it. I bought the Tommee Tippee straw sippy and it’s worked pretty well. However, there are 6 different parts to the cup. I just don’t have time for that. It also requires two hands to pick up, which is harder for the younger toddler.

The First Years One Piece Lid Sippy Cup Review | crackersandcarrots.com

Since Liam is almost 2 years old (how is that possible?!), it was time for another transition. So, we tried The First Years One Piece Lid sippy cup. The thing that attracted me most to it was the thought of only cleaning three pieces: the lid, the straw and the cup. Luckily, it comes in our favorite Disney characters, too. We got the Cars and Mickey sippy cups. As soon as Liam saw that his favorite movie (Disney’s Cars) was on the front of his sippy cup, it became his favorite. Now instead of asking for ‘wa-wa’ (water), he asks for his ‘ca-ca’ (car).

The First Years One Piece Lid Sippy Cup Review | crackersandcarrots.com

The ease of cleaning is really nice and it’s dishwasher friendly. It’s insulated and still requires two hands to hold, but he gets joy out of drinking his water. The top straw is also really squishy and soft, so much so that he likes chewing on it between sips.

However, every time I put it in my purse on an outing or in his lap, it ends up turned upside down and leaks everywhere. Luckily, I just put water in it so far and it’s fairly easy to clean up. But, it’s supposed to be spill-proof. It is for the most part spill-proof, but requires the watchful mother’s eye while it’s in the hands of a toddler. The leaking is really my only issue with it.

You can purchase The First Years One Piece Lid sippy cups at Kmart or online at Amazon or Target. The First Years is also running a big giveaway on their Facebook page for the month of April!

TFY One Piece Lid Giveaway Graphic

This post is sponsored by The First Years. I received complimentary cups to review. This post contains affiliate links that help support this site. Please read my disclosure policy for further information.
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citrus lane

I was asked by Dr. Smith’s to review and share this Citrus Lane box with you! Ready to see inside?Citrus Lane Review | crackersandcarrots.com

I’ve tried a few of these subscription based boxes and I do believe this is one of my favorites! Another baby box I’ve tried and also loved was littlefox.

This is actually the second Citrus Lane box I’ve gotten. The first one I received (photograph at the bottom of this page) had a lot of really cute things, including a book and bubble bath Liam loves and nail polish just for mama! If my review was just based off of this most recent box, I wouldn’t have given it as good of a review. However, like most subscription boxes, you’ll like most of the stuff and some stuff you won’t. Overall, I would probably purchase another.

Moving on. I really appreciate that the box is customized for your child’s age. They send 4-5 hand picked items for your child, from newborn – five years old. It includes items like toys, books, snacks, household and body care products, as well as the occasional treat for parents (woot!), with a total value of $25. The brands are ones that are trustworthy, too (think Green Toys, Barefoot Books, Honest Company, Skip Hop, Plum Organics, and Aden & Anais). Unfortunately, since this box was sent to me as a reviewer, it was meant more for a 6 month old child, but my son is almost 2 years old. Poop on that. Nevertheless, if he was 6 months old again, I would love all of this stuff!

And you’re probably wondering about cost. The price is based on the amount of months you subscribe with just one month costing $25 (includes shipping). But for those of you new to Citrus lane, you can get 1/2 off your first box with the code: DRSMITHS. More details on the bottom of the page.

Citrus Lane Review | crackersandcarrots.com

First up in this box are two travel size tubes of Dr. Smith’s! Personally, I love tiny tubes that you can stick in a purse or diaper bag. Leave one at home and take one with you! Bonus…it works.

Citrus Lane Review | crackersandcarrots.com

Next up is a cute little Nursery Rhymes book. Liam and I have been reading it every night. He especially loves the last page in the book which is the poem:

“I see the moon and the moon sees me.

God bless the moon and God bless me.”

He loves saying ‘Mah’…his word for moon.

Citrus Lane Review | crackersandcarrots.com

Now, we have this absolutely precious 6-12 month tea onesie. It’s soft and adorable! If Liam was smaller, you better bet he’d be in it. I guess I’ll just have to save it for the next kiddie!Citrus Lane Review | crackersandcarrots.com

Lastly, we have this Boon Pulp Teether. I would have loved to have had it for Liam when he was younger. Now that he has molars, he’s a chewing master. Maybe I’ll stick some steak in there and he and the dog can fight it out. Just kidding.

Oh, and here’s the Citrus Lane box I got a few months ago. Such cute stuff!

Citrus Lane Review | crackersandcarrots.com

Offer Terms:  Only new, first-time Citrus Lane subscribers who start a monthly subscription are eligible to redeem this offer.  Multi-month packages and gift subscriptions do not qualify.  To redeem this offer you must enter code DRSMITHS at checkout.
This post was sponsored by Dr. Smith’s. I received compensation for this post and this box to review. All opinions are my own. Please read my disclosure policy for further information.
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Toddler Snack Ideas

Toddler Snack Ideas | chocolateandcarrots.com

Now that Liam is officially a toddler, he has two eating speeds.

  1. “I’m not hungry. I’ll nibble on a goldfish here and there. Maybe I’ll eat tomorrow. Give me more chocolate.”
  2. “I am so freaking hungry. I will pack away more food than you Mommy…and I’ll do it for all three of today’s meals!”

His two eating speeds have me guessing every day. I’m always trying to offer him healthy choices and some days we have a Smörgåsbord of snack foods. It’s amazing how excited he got when I placed these snacks on a tray. I got two trays at Target for $2.

Such a big boy!

Toddler Snack Ideas | chocolateandcarrots.com

I love letting Liam try new foods and I’m curious, what are your toddler’s favorite snack foods?

For more toddler snack ideas visit me on Land O’Moms!

Oh, and if you were wondering, the blueberries and strawberries went first, then the cheese, broccoli, chocolate chips, cookies and crackers. The rest he fed to the dog.

I try.

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childhood toys #giveaway

Childhood Toys | crackersandcarrots.com-2

It’s a throwback Thursday to childhood toys. While these aren’t old photographs, I love that I can edit them to make them look old. My little cutie pie looks timeless, don’t you think?

Anyway. Let’s talk toys.

Childhood Toys | crackersandcarrots.com-4

Let me introduce you to Manhattan Toy’s Roll-Along-Bear Shape Sorter. It’s perfect for children ages 12 months and older. Liam and I love it because:

  • It’s a great learning tool for colors and shapes.
  • You can pull the bear with the string.
  • It’s made of wood so it won’t break and doesn’t make loud noises like most modern toys do. Yay, no batteries!
  • It has wheels. God bless the caveman who invented wheels so my little Liam could be mesmerized for hours spinning them.

I think Liam likes it.

Childhood Toys | crackersandcarrots.com-3

I already feel overwhelmed by the number of toys Liam has received. He’s the first grand and great-grandbaby in both of our families, so he’s a little bit spoiled rotten. He also gets overwhelmed and disinterested with the abundance of toys.

To remedy that, I usually put 80% of his toys away in a place where he can’t find them. Then, every week, I rotate through another batch of 20% of his toys. It’s like they’re new again!

Childhood Toys | crackersandcarrots.com-6

I personally prefer the simple toys, too. He has some loud and annoying toys that just won’t shut up and we always appreciate the toys he can quietly play with.

Shopping for toys gets me overwhelmed sometimes, too. I never seem to know what will be good for him and what he’ll actually play with. That’s why I appreciate being able to online shop at Manhattan Toy. They have a great variety and they are all fairly simple toys and you can review the ones you own. The wooden ones are my favorite!

They even carry the Skwish Classic toy that I used to play with as a kid!

Childhood Toys | crackersandcarrots.com-1

I’ve got to say, Santa might just be bringing Liam some Motorworks cars in a few years. They are modern wooden cars! So cool.

Childhood Toys | crackersandcarrots.com-5

Cars are his thing.

He can’t get enough of the wheels spinning!

Childhood Toys | crackersandcarrots.com-7

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This post was sponsored by Manhattan Toy. I received the toy to review for this post. All opinions are my own. Please read my disclosure policy for further information.
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testing diapers #giveaway

My little dude goes through diapers like you wouldn’t believe. Well, I bet you can believe it, but still.

Ever since Liam was an itty bitty baby, we’ve been using Pampers. At one point I was curious to see if any of the other brands would work any better with him, but that wasn’t so. Hello, leakage! Back to Pampers we went and we’ve stayed ever since!

Pampers Giveaway | chocolateandcarrots.com:crackersandcarrots

For a really long time we stuck with the Pampers Swaddlers (the infamous ‘Blue Line’ as it’s known in our family), which we loved when he was really tiny and made really tiny diapers. Now that he’s bigger, you can TOTALLY tell he has wet his diaper without the need for the Blue Line and we moved to Pampers Cruisers diapers.

When Pampers wanted to send me an assortment of diapers to test, I was all over it. Here’s what they sent me:

Pampers Giveaway | chocolateandcarrots.com:crackersandcarrots

  1. Pampers Baby Dry
  2. Pampers Cruisers
  3. Luvs
  4. Pampers Swaddlers

We tried each package in different scenarios and this is what I found:

  • Pampers Cruisers are still great for every day wear. However, they leaked if used overnight.
  • Pampers Baby Dry are amazing! No leakage after 12 hours of sleep, which hardly ever happens…especially since Liam has 16 ounces of milk before bed lately.
  • Luvs are great too. Only a few leaks during the night and they’re great during the day.
  • Pampers Swaddlers are good for short term diapers. For example, I changed his diaper after his nap. He had lunch and we went to Target for a little shopping. Four hours after his diaper had been changed, the diaper had been filled and was wetting his clothes through the diaper. I would only use these for 1-2 hours or just be sure to constantly check for wet diapers.

Overall, I’m a huge fan of the Cruisers for the day and Baby Dry for the nights. No wetness and maximum comfort. As a little side note, I had been purchasing the Pampers Extra Protection diapers for night time and have found that 8 times out of 10, the diaper leaks. No good. Baby Dry it is!

Now let’s talk saving money.

Once upon a time, I discovered the art of CVSing. I wrote about one of my trips to CVS here. You can match up sales with store and manufactures coupons and use CVS’s Extra Care Bucks as cash.

Beautiful.

They also have an ExtraCare Coupon Center at your local CVS where you can scan your ExtraCare card and get deals and coupons for things you regularly buy, like diapers! And if you ever need to purchase baby gifts for a new mom or even for a baby’s birthday, ask their size and buy them diapers. It’s such a helpful gift!

Now, it’s time to give a gift to you!

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This post was sponsored by Pampers and CVS. I received diapers to review for this post. All opinions are my own. Please read my disclosure policy for further information.
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the very hungry caterpillar

The Very Hungry Caterpillar | chocolateandcarrots.com:crackersandcarrots

Growing up in the age of reading Harry Potter and Twilight, I got a chance to read the books before the thought of turning them into movies was sparked. I always love seeing how I imagined the characters looked and acted compared to how the directors shaped them in the movies.

I’m sure Liam growing up in an incredibly digital age, he’ll have an abundance of books turned movie. First up, a classic children’s book, Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar | chocolateandcarrots.com:crackersandcarrots

This is one of his favorites right now, especially the edition with the puppet. :) But, the great thing for me is that Netflix has the book on instant play, where I can show him the book coming to life! It also has a few other Eric Carle stories brought to life in the same movie. So neat!

Take the next step by transforming the book and movie into a snack!

To make these The Very Hungry Caterpillar inspired snacks, simply skewer green grapes and a hulled strawberry. Mix a tiny bit of yellow food coloring, powdered sugar and drops of water to make the base of the eyes (add powdered sugar to get it thicker or more water to make it thinner). Then, push a green sprinkle on the yellow icing. Push two grape stems into each strawberry and enjoy!

(Be sure to remove the grape stems before eating. Always watch your toddler with the more dangerous skewers and slice up the grapes and strawberries for easier munching.)

The Very Hungry Caterpillar | chocolateandcarrots.com:crackersandcarrots

This post was sponsored by Netflix Stream Team to spark conversation about bullying. I received compensation for this post and posts to follow. All opinions are my own. Please read my disclosure policy for further information.
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Halloween 2013

Better late than never, right?

Here are some photos from Liam’s second Halloween. He was a spider with his web!

It was an unusually hot and humid Halloween here in South Carolina, so we were all a little bit toasty, having prepared costumes that were for the cooler October weather. Despite the heat, we still had a blast trick or treating at a couple family and friend’s houses and going to a neighborhood party in the park!

What were you (or your children) for Halloween this year?

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Posted in baby | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment