Aug 22, 2016

Back to School, Are You Prepared?



Does anyone else have a house full of cranky, fighting kids?  I feel like I have worn through an entire day's worth of patience by 8 am.  Even the thought of being that frustrated with the kids makes me sad, but there it is.  We all need a break.

Our school doesn't start for another week, and I have mostly finished the school shopping. The supply lists have been completed, and I am excited to have a break.  For the first time ever, ALL of the kiddos will be in school.  That's right folks!  The Belle starts Mothers Morning Out preschool too.  I will actually have kid-free time every week.  While the thought of that (and all of the activities I have planned) is exciting, I am not ready to have my littlest little in school.

If  you thought my kindergarten tears were over the top, prepare for all the feelings. Sure, I have plans for the gym, and heck, I might even be able to do Barre (or something fancy like that).  Call them delusions, I don't know.  Other thoughts creep in like unadulterated work time.  I'm not sure how I will write without screaming fights in my ear, or a little one holding onto my feet as I dream of coffee, but I have big plans.

Mostly, I have dreams of no fighting, screaming kids in my face 24/7.  You?

In the meantime, here are some of my back to school favorites:

1. PlanetBox- Super cute and I love that they are stainless.  These were a little more than I wanted to spend, so I opted for another version that I can just pop in a standard lunchbox (and mine can hold liquids).




2. Super cute kids clothes-Ok, I am all for buying better quality kids brands.  Generally they last longer, and I can hand them down.  Sometimes, I just need cute stuff quickly.  This brand on Amazon pays homage to an expensive kids brand but is very affordable.  I mean, look at those APPLES!




and




I actually purchased this dino shirt for Ry.  It is adorable, the quality is great, but I would recommend sizing up.

3. Water bottle for the lunchbox.  The kleen kanteen is my hands down fave.


4.  The backpack.  Bam!  I'm just going to throw down this amazing unicorn.  Last year, I bought that freaking backpack that costs a zillion dollars from that famous children's company, and within 4 months the buckles had broken. I was sure it had to be under warranty, but NOPE.  Nothing to be done, but replace said backpack.  Did  I mention that my son is Autistic, and likes things a certain way?  (Eye roll.)  NEVER AGAIN.







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STANDARD FTC DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Please note that I only endorse products that are in alignment with Stained with Style's ideals and that I believe would be of value to my readers. Stained with Style is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.  Stained with Style is also a participant in the Ting and Instant Pot affiliates programs.


Aug 10, 2016

Amazon Echo, How Technology Helped My Son Improve His Speech


Before my son was diagnosed with Autism, he was receiving services for a speech delay.  We, as all parents do, were trying everything to help him.

One of the coolest gadgets that we use is the Amazon Echo!  I am a big fan of the Amazon Prime two days shipping, but a HUGE surprise has been the GINORMOUS music library that is included with Amazon Prime (and that's not it. Gizmodo calls it the best deal in tech). This one-two combination is just incredible!



With Alexa, (Echo's name) Ry can ask for a song that he wants! He started out
"A yess ka?"
"a YESS ka?"
"AYEXKA!!!"

Slowly, but surely, he slowed down, calmed down, and figured out that she would light up when he said it right.

"a-LEX-ah, play GO AWAY by WEEZER!"
"a-LEX-ah, PLAY RUBY SOHO!"
"a-LEX-ah, PLAY LET IT GO!"

 Its not a big deal for most kids, but the first time that he articulated it well enough for Echo to understand, we were very excited! Alexa stores our music library (plus Pandora and I Heart Radio), and we can ask for any song on demand.  (There are a lot of free ones too.)

Now he is able to activate her, ask for a song that he wants to hear, or set a timer for sharing toys.  This is actually new and I love it.  When he shares his favorite toy, he will walk over to the Echo, and say, "Alexa, set a two minute timer."  I cracked up the first time!

Echo is not just a gimmick for the kidlets. Its voice activation lets me ask for kitchen conversions with dirty hands, order things from Amazon (DANGER), or what the weather will be tomorrow.  Just in case you are concerned, (like my super nerd hubs) the sound quality is excellent.  My very favorite feature is the shopping list.  I simply ask Alexa to add something to the list.  When shopping, I open the app to the shopping list, and BAM, there it is!

We have just begun to explore Echo's capabilities. It can tell jokes (from knock-knock to political), play bingo, and many, many other "skills" we have yet to explore. They have all of these new accessories to make it smart home compatible.  You can program your thermostat, turn on lights, and do all kinds of neat things.  We haven't taken that next step, but my hubby is very excited.


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STANDARD FTC DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Please note that I only endorse products that are in alignment with Stained with Style's ideals and that I believe would be of value to my readers. Stained with Style is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.  Stained with Style is also a participant in the Ting, Nordstrom and Instant Pot affiliates programs.

Aug 5, 2016

Thoughts on our Annual Visit to the Autism Clinic



Monday was our annual visit to Johns Hopkins Autism clinic.  It is always a hard, long day for all of us.

The appointment starts at 9 am and sometimes can go until 5 pm.  We answer tons of questions about R3, and talk about the things that he can and can't do.  He also had an in depth evaluation by a different doc than we usually see. It's called a neuro/psych evaluation.  Usually, we would just check in with his developmental pediatrician.

Like every parent of a differently-abled  child, I hate these visits. I hate the reminders of all of the things that he can't do.  Believe me, I feel it in my heart every day.

We choose to focus on my he things that he CAN do.  This child is a blessing.  He is lovely, sweet, so tender hearted, and kind.  When I answer all of the zillion questionnaires and they ask things like, does your child intentionally hurt people or animals, or does he play with feces, I am reminded how lucky we are.  Things could be so different, and are so different for so many families.

On the other hand, everyone there knows how to talk to him.  When you have a child with communication issues, it can be a challenge with people who aren't aware.  You can't necessarily ask him a question without making sure he is paying attention.  He may not hear you.  He isn't ignoring, he needs a bit...extra.  They know that.  EVERYONE gets his attention before talking to him.  They get it.

There is no question about a kiddo behaving oddly. It doesn't matter and doesn't even warrant a second glance from anyone, not a janitor, not the security staff.  I love that.  We don't have to explain that he's just a little bit different.




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STANDARD FTC DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Please note that I only endorse products that are in alignment with Stained with Style's ideals and that I believe would be of value to my readers. Stained with Style is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.  Stained with Style is also a participant in the Ting, Instant Pot and Nordstrom affiliates programs.

Jul 28, 2016

Keeping Your Kids Safe on a Disney Vacation (and what to do before they get lost)


It's something every parent fears, and most of us have done...losing a child.  For most of us, we have found our child quickly and have only our memories of those horrible moments.  Lets keep it that way, shall we?

We recently went to Disney, and I interviewed a member of Disney security.  My basic question was: what can I do if I lose my child at Disney?  His answer was reassuring!

Prepare before you go.

Plan on brightly colored and/or matching outfits that stand out in a crowd.  It can get crazy in the parks, and it is helpful to spot your party quickly.

Take a picture.

Take a picture of your child upon entering the park.  It will help identify the clothing they are wearing, and what they look like THAT DAY.

Phone Number ID.

If your child has the ability to talk, and remember your cell phone number, this is the perfect time to start working on it.  If not, there are aids that you can make, and buy to help.  A simple idea project is to make a beaded bracelet with your phone number on it.  If you aren't crafty, you can order one on Amazon.

Talk to your kiddos about what to do if they can't find you.

I always tell my kids to look for another mom with kids, but at Disney there is an even better option.  Find a cast member.  Anyone wearing a costume knows what to do if they encounter a child without their adult.  Upon arrival, show your children what a cast member wearing a badge looks like.  

An Eye in the sky.

Its true.  Disney has cameras EVERYWHERE.  The guard that I interviewed said they have hundreds of cameras in locations all over the park.  He said they often have an eye on children who wander before anyone else notices.  (That made me breathe easier!)

Forget your bracelet, or have a non-verbal child?  Don't worry.

They have special stickers, and I used them on R3.  All you have to do is walk into City Hall or the Chamber or Commerce (depending on the park), and ask for one. Those stickers let the cast members know that that kiddo needs a little extra attention.  

If your child does become lost, here is the information for Disneyland and Disney World.  I sincerely hope you never need to use these resources, but having a plan can relieve the stress and let you enjoy Disney!

Have you ever lost a child at Disney?  What is your best advice about what to do?


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STANDARD FTC DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Please note that I only endorse products that are in alignment with Stained with Style's ideals and that I believe would be of value to my readers. Stained with Style is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.  Stained with Style is also a participant in the Ting and Instant Pot affiliates programs.

Jul 22, 2016

My Closet Overhaul, Planning my New Wardrobe


If you have been following, you know that I am on a budget friendly mission to improve my mommy wardrobe.  Nothing fit well, or I had worn it 10 zillion times.  I came up with a way to make money selling my old things to buy new!

This was extremely frustrating.  I love the idea of a capsule(ish)wardrobe.  One where I have staple pieces, timeless ones that I want to wear year after year.  In addition to that core wardrobe, I want to throw in seasonal, trendy items.  Mama wants to look cute!

I decided to do some research.  After the Konmari purge, those freaking capsule people drove me crazy.  Everyone disagrees with everyone else.  How many pieces, what constitutes a capsule, blah, blah, blah.  Basically I was on my own.

My super smart hubby used the trello app, to make a list for me.  Its an app that allows you to make lists and share them.  I was able to add the things that I need, that I want, and what I love.

One of the first things I decided that I needed?   A pair of patent leather, nude-colored heels.  They will go with everything and add a certain amount of sophistication to any outfit.  Sold.  Clearly, being perpetually stained, I need some sophistication!

 I added those Louboutin heels, but I also realize that they aren't practical or budget friendly.  Frankly, they aren't super comfy either.  I will probably still buy very nice ones, but I find Kate Spade and Stuart Weitzman to be not only more budget friendly, but more comfortable on my foot.  Still a very high quality shoe that will last!






Here is a super secret way to add some more expensive items to your wardrobe.  1.  Be a sale shopper.  There are a ton of sale alert apps where you can add your item and be alerted when it goes on sale.  The higher end retailers like Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom often have GREAT sales at the end of the season, and those fancy shoes and purses will be on there. Just be patient.  2. Another way is to shop consignment.  Sites like Poshmark have lots of gently used or never worn items for a great price.  You just need to be a bit more careful about authenticity.

Thats all I have added right now.  I am crushing on a new pair of Birkenstocks, and am waiting very patiently (not patiently at all) for them to go on sale!


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STANDARD FTC DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Please note that I only endorse products that are in alignment with Stained with Style's ideals and that I believe would be of value to my readers. Stained with Style is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.  Stained with Style is also a participant in the Ting and Instant Pot affiliates programs.

Jul 12, 2016

Stylish and Inexpensive Bathing Suits for Moms on the Go



I know, that you know, that I know, that swimsuit shopping with little kids is impossible.  It's just never going to happen.  You may also know that my favorite store is Amazon.  I love anything that saves me from dragging all three kids into a store.  I am especially loving Prime Day!

We have been spending every day at the pool and my bathing suits are looking a bit rough.  I decided to check out Amazon and HOLY COW!  They have some super cute and cheap options.  Here are some of my favorites.  Every one of these is less than $25.  Yahoo!

1. This one also comes in black...for obvious reasons.  HA!




2.  This one has been all over Pinterest.  Its so stinking cute, I may need it.  Done.  On the way, and read the reviews, I ordered a size up.



3.  Also making the rounds on Pinterest is this one, but I think it may not be that flattering on. I would love to see real pictures and not some pre-teen wearing it.


4.  This one reminds me of a much more expensive Trina Turk, and it is SO cute!



5.  LOVE the lace detail on this one.  Also comes in Navy and Black.




6.  I like the illusion of the bikini, with coverage.



7.  If you are excited by the high waisted retro look, here's one for you.  They have similar ones in a variety of colors.

  


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STANDARD FTC DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Please note that I only endorse products that are in alignment with Stained with Style's ideals and that I believe would be of value to my readers. Stained with Style is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.  Stained with Style is also a participant in the Ting and Instant Pot affiliates programs.

Jul 6, 2016

The Secret Life of Pets, a Hilarious Concept that Falls Short


I was lucky enough to have been invited to see The Secret Life of Pets last night, and it was so fun! What a cool experience to see the movie at a special screening before everyone else gets to see it. The Honeybadger and I put on fancy dresses and hit the road.

We have been looking forward to this one for awhile.  I remember seeing the first preview, months ago, and recognizing some serious comedy heavy hitters.  Louis C.K., Kevin Hart, Ellie Kemper (one of our faves from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Albert Brooks, Dana Carvey, Jaime Camil (Rogelio from Jane the Virgin) are just a few of my personal favorites.

I wanted to love it, I really did, but it fell short for me.  The cast was fantastic and there were some really great moments.  I loved Gidget, by Jenny Slate, and was moved by parts of the story, but found myself wondering when it would end.

My six year old found the story to be a too intense for her taste, she said several times that she was scared.  Coming from a kid who rolled through Star Wars like a boss and shed no tears for Bambi's mom, that's saying something.  A point in favor of The Secret Life of Pets was that she was worried enough about the characters to be fearful for their safety. A point against is that they did not have more fun with it once they got her to care.

I was glad that the poop jokes were over the Honeybadger's head, but the older elementary aged kids will get a kick out of that part.  When I asked her afterward, she thought it was pretty funny.

During a year with the Jungle Book, Finding Dory and Zootopia, this one isn't worth the money.  Wait until it's on Netflix, and you are forced to watch it 10 zillion times at home.


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STANDARD FTC DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Please note that I only endorse products that are in alignment with Stained with Style's ideals and that I believe would be of value to my readers. Stained with Style is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.  Stained with Style is also a participant in the Ting and Instant Pot affiliates programs.