Thursday, December 31, 2015:

Four Weeks to Due Date and I Can't Wait to...

Use the skincare "good stuff"!  I miss my retin-A so so much and I am craving a good chemical peel!  You can keep your wine, I just want to exfoliate my face off!  

Edited to add: I also can't wait to hold my baby ;)
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Monday, December 28, 2015:

Nesting? Here's a Fun Organizational DIY!

This nesting situation is out of control!!  I've gotten so bad that I think some of my symptoms have rubbed off on my husband!!  It's actually kind of nice sharing motivation to get stuff done!

My husband just spent a week at home with all of us for the holidays and I feel like this extended family time in our natural habitat has helped him to appreciate functional organization!

After doing some research I came across this IKEA hack and fell in love!  Often the queen of Pinterest Fails, I was pleasantly surprised at how well this came together!!!  Thanks Mommy Vignettes for the brilliant idea and easy-to-follow tutorial!

To show you how easy this really was, here's a look at how we tackled this DIY!

What You Need:

  • Kallax- IKEA.  One tall book shelf/bench and two square end shelving units 
  • MDF board- Home Depot. Cut to size for free (approx $10)
  • Cushion Foam-Walmart (This was the priciest piece at $16 for a 2'x3' piece.  We made three benches and bought four foam cushions and just jimmied around the cut outs to cover the bench.  Get foam that is at least 3" high)  
  • Batting- Walmart 
  • Fabric- IKEA (Hack alert- while in IKEA we found a table cloth that we liked for the benches.  Org. $18.99 on sale for $6.99. One table cloth was enough for two benches- with leftovers- hmm...pillows?) 
  • Staple Gun
  • Scissors
  • Hammer (we needed this in order to tap in the staples that were sitting a little high in the MDF)
  • Bread knife (for cutting foam)

Francois aligning foam cushion in order to cut to size

Batting over the cushion foam with cut outs at right

Stapling the batting around the foam and MDF board

We cut the table cloth in half and then just lined it up over the batting and foam

Mommy Vignettes recommended double folding the fabric before stapling to ensure a more secure hold



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Friday, December 25, 2015:

Merry Christmas!!

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Tuesday, December 22, 2015:

What to do With All of Those Holiday Cards?

I wasn't planning on posting about this little holiday tradition I stole from my brother and sister-in-law, but after a few comments on a Facebook photo, figured I'd share!

I love decorating our tree with the faces of friends and family and the boys love to name everyone they recognize!  It helps me hold on to these thoughtful cards while eliminating cluttered mantels (for the record, I love a cluttered mantel, my husband, however, hates when they cover the TV remote sensors...fair).

So every year we save our cards by nestling them into our (cough...artificial) tree!

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Sunday, December 20, 2015:

Stemming off of Yesterdays Smoothie Recipe- Another Yummy Beverage!

I'd like to begin this post by saying that if I EVER suggested we buy a 12 pack of $2 per can beverages, my husband would laugh at me.  ESPECIALLY if I said, "But honey, these drinks are full of antioxidants and powered by a 'super fruit'- the coffee fruit!"

So THANK GOODNESS my husband fell in love with these first!

Introducing the Coffee Fruit, Antioxidant Drinks of Bai- our personal favorite Gimbi Pink Gratefruit

So the healthy skin loving passionista in me loves the idea that so much of this beverage is derived from earth's natural resources and jam-packed with free-radical fighting antioxidants!  The champagne-abstaining, 34 weeks + 5 days pregnant mother in me loves the bubbles (and secretly cannot wait to "celebrate" our new arrival with a little Gimbi Pink Gratefruit and Vueve)!

What my husband loves about these drinks is that they are a low-calorie, caffeinated, and satisfying beverage to jumpstart his mornings!

The best part, Bai is up-cycling the pulpy coffee fruit (the coffee bean lives inside!) that's often discarded in the coffee bean harvesting process.  And to Bai, the coffee fruit might just be the better of the two ingredients!

Bai's coffee growing country of choice?  Indonesia.  So not only are Bai's drink infused with antioxidant power, but Bai is also infusing remote and frequently poor regions with long-term economic opportunities!  Cheers to that!

There is a lot of good that comes out of this yummy beverage!  Check out the website and the insightful FAQ's- might be worth adding this to your pantry!

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Saturday, December 19, 2015:

The Final Stretch Smoothie Recipe- Six Weeks Out!

My due date is fast approaching at a snail's pace- why do these last few weeks of pregnancy always seem to go by

This is my third go-around and I am just looking forward to hitting the post-partum ground running.  The toughest part of the last weeks of pregnancy is the conflict I have between my physical capabilities and my ambitions!  I am a go go go kind of person but the extra baby weight and inability to actually take a full breath make it hard for my body to keep up with my busy-body mind!

Thank goodness I can blog sitting down!

So in this last stretch I am doing my best to just stay as active as possible and to eat as mindfully as possible!

We recently bought a Vitamix- it's beautiful!  Sadly, it will be returned- not because we don't trust the rave reviews about this miracle blender, it's just that my husband realized that they sell refurbished models for a LOT less!  You're welcome aspiring Vitamix owners, you're welcome.... ;)

While we won't be keeping this Vitamix, the purchase has inspired me to re-integrate healthy smoothies into my diet!  This pregnancy has come with a toddler-like appreciation for healthy food.  In other words, if it isn't sugary and high in carbohydrates, I'm not interested.  I joke that baby #1 received daily salads and lean proteins in utero.  Baby #2 received mostly salads with the occasional lunch of goldfish and puffs.  But baby #3...yikes- he's being built upon stale candy corns and pre-natal vitamins!

I really had to step up my healthy pregnancy game so these last few mornings have started with the following smoothie!  I hope to keep up this healthy habit!

  • Baby Spinach
  • Carrots
  • Strawberries
  • Banana
  • Skim Milk
  • Fat Free Yogurt
  • Tbl Spoon of Flax Seed
  • Tbl Spoon of Chia Seed
  • 2 Tbl Spoons of Barlean's (this stuff is so so good!)

Customize your quantities until you reach the consistency that works for you, blend, and enjoy!

Happy healthy blending!

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Tuesday, December 15, 2015:

Do "Something" About Gun Violence

Image from
Ok, so we're shifting gears from the skincare tips and kid toy reviews!  Gun violence is certainly a hot button issue- especially when it seems that once a week the news covers another tragedy!

Recently I posted a snarky article from The Onion regarding people's obsession with the second amendment (right to bear arms).  It stirred a thought-provoking debate on my Facebook feed (and let the record show that I am happy to share my FB real estate with smart commentary on hot-button issues!).

In response to that commentary, a former classmate of mine penned this post to help explain why most of the suggestions on what to do would not actually cause actionable change.  I wanted to share that post here.  I am still digesting the content myself and I certainly have opinions on the recommendations, but I think it's worth a read if you are interested in this issue.  Stay tuned for my thoughts on the matter.....

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Friday, December 11, 2015:

My AllPakt Review

Ok!  We've had some time to play around with our AllPakt and the votes are in!!

First Things First- What is an AllPakt?:
An AllPakt is a durable and reusable kid-sized backpack that's filled with travel-friendly toys, activities and accessories road-tested and approved by road warrior parents!  The company's sole mission is to bring peace to parents and joy to kids en route to family vacations.  Side note: this idea started in a swim up bar...over a margarita.  I mean, how can the idea NOT be genius with that sort of foundation?!

Initial Thoughts:
Overall, I love the concept of this bag!  My son was first drawn to the sculpting clay (ok, and I'll admit that that item didn't even make it to the car), but all of the other goodies really kept his attention.  It helped because many of the items were new to him- and I think THAT's the key with the AllPakt.  An argument could be made that you could just throw current toys and activities in a bag and call it a day, but what really keeps the kids engaged are new and shiny toys they haven't yet played with. 

Two thumbs up for our AllPakt!

Part of the draw of this bag is the excitement of getting a travel pack that builds up the enthusiasm of going on a trip.  Sure, all items can be purchased on their own (and with my rough calculations that would be close to $65* making the AllPakt a steal!), but I see my AllPakt package in the same way I see those "Sealed With A Kiss" packages (you know the ones that I never received at summer camp....thanks Mom...  Insert side eye).  It's a travel care package for your kiddo that benefits parents too by keeping kids busy while on the road!  I could easily see this becoming a travel tradition in the Brochu household!

I also liked that the backpack was of good durable quality.  Zippers seem sturdy and I can see my son using the bag long after he's moved on from the goodies inside.

Honest Baby Wipes were included.  I am a wipe enthusiast (Wet Ones, Kirlands, name it).  I don't necessarily have a preference- I just prefer to have wipes within a sticky arm's reach at all times.  With toddlers, you can never have enough!  So the Honest Wipes were a nice touch in my honest (mom) opinion (couldn't' help myself).

While we loved the idea overall, there were a few things I could have done without.  Check out my breakdown by item below!

Thoughts by item: 
Magnetic Board with Magnets- I was surprised at how long my son played with this.  He even wanted to take it from the car to play with in the house.  The magnets diminished the amount of "Mom can you pick that up" requests and I liked that this toy stirred his imaginative play talents.  Ours was dino themed and we happen to be obsessed with Dino's in this house (ICYMI- dino jewelry for mom too :)

Plush Hand Puppet- eh, take it or leave it.  It's cute and fun.  But really only provided a few minutes of silliness between me and my son.  That might say something about the other stuff in the bag- too many other really neat goodies to be sidetracked by a hand puppet.

Doodle Pad- This is perfect for my four year old.  He is learning his letters and loves to write.  He also loves doodling and drawing.

Stackable Crayons- Smart! The anti-roll feature is just genius when it comes to travel crayons.  Ours were lego themed so provided both coloring and construction entertainment.

Bilingual Book- I am all about the bilingualism (we happen to be pushing French in this house- and by "we" I mean my husband and kids since I do not parle the francais).  I think any book would do but I guess it's always good to expose our kids to other languages.  Fortunately I happen to know a little espanol so was able to provide a stirring rendition of Jorge el Curioso.

Lap Tray- This was good.  Small, but it worked.  It provided a decent surface for coloring.  The edge around the trey helped prevent things from falling off which was significantly easier for my son to manage than the clipboard we had been using.

Wikki Stix- I could probably do without these.  My son lost interest in these pretty quickly.  My husband played a bit with them to show my son how he could sculpt and manipulate the stix to make funny shapes, but they still didn't keep my son's interest and I continue to find them crumbled on the floor or in the playroom.

Sculpting Clay- My son loves clay and Play-Doh so he was instantly drawn to this item first.  My only complaint, it would be better if this was stored in a reusable container (vs. the foil wrap it came in).  I think the Play-Doh mini's would be a perfect swap.  Otherwise, it's hard to reseal and pack back up into the bag (then again, as I write this, I wonder if maybe the foil was resealable and we just didn't notice it in our zeal to get it open....unfortunately we have already tossed the packaging and the clay because it dried out).

CubeBot- My son thought this was neat but it may have been a little sophisticated for him.  He didn't really understand what to do with it and tossed it to the side to play with the other items.

Honest Travel Wipes- Always a win.

Our Surprise- Wipeable Activity Cards- Super Smart and I will definitely keep these on hand (except, maybe I'll hand them out one at a time so I don't have to pick up 100 cards off the back of the car again...and again!).  These little activity cards are genius and include mazes and little scribble activities.

So speaking of handing out items one-by-one, that's probably the best way to handle the AllPakt.  I found that my son was over stimulated with all of the options- sort of like when he opens a bunch of gifts for his birthday or holiday.  He is excited to play with each toy but eager to move on to the next. For the sake of making the most of a long car ride or flight, best to spread them out and encourage your child to really engage with each activity before moving on to the next.

Are you interested in an AllPakt- Take advantage of the Friends & Family Special Offer- $5 off with promo code TU1D5LB

Important notes:
I received our complimentary AllPakt in return for a fair and honest review
*My calculations are cursory at best!  I did a quick Amazon search and ballparked prices when exact items weren't available.  I also added on a $5 "surprise" toy charge.
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Tuesday, December 8, 2015:

Some Tuesday Truth (and Motivation)

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Monday, December 7, 2015:

AllPakt Has Arrived!!

I've been anxiously awaiting the delivery of our AllPakt and it's finally here!  What better time to review a children's product than right before the holidays!!??  Good thing Santa's elf brought this to us early- just in time for holiday travel!!

Ok, so what is it??  
The AllPakt backpack is a bag stuffed to the brim with travel-friendly goodies for your kids.  Designed specifically for pre-schoolers, the AllPakt team creates the perfect travel bag for kiddos.  Easy, engaging, and (so far) mess free!  Perfect for the jet set kiddos out there!  

If I had any self control, I'd hold on to this until Christmas (ok, and maybe I'd probably wrap each item separately to get some serious gift points- did you see how many items are in this bag??), but both my four year old and I were too excited to hold off on unpacking!

I think part of the fun of these book bags is unpacking the AllPakt and discovering all of the goodies!!

We have yet to take the book bag in the car and already my son is eager to try all of the goodies!  

Before my official review I feel it's only fair to give the kiddo some time to explore all of the swag!  But just take a peek at all of our goodies!!

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Thursday, December 3, 2015:

As the Mom to All Boys...

...including one who frequently identifies as a "Dinosaurus", it's my maternal obligation to buy these.

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Tuesday, December 1, 2015:

My AllPakt is On It's Way!!

Have you guys heard of this new children's brand- AllPakt??

A backpack stocked full of some serious travel goodies for kids! How genius!

We are fresh off of our Thanksgiving travels and bracing for potential Christmas commutes so the timing could not be more perfect!  Stay tuned for my review once we have a some time to play!!

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