Happy 4th!

One year ago, we were in Ohio for the weekend of the Fourth of July celebrating Justin and Dana’s wedding.  William was just twelve weeks old…

audrey william flag

And now, one year later, he’s walking (running!) and talking and has way more hair now and is just the biggest boy ever!

We are heading to the lake this weekend for lots of outdoor time, fireworks, good food, and time with friends and family.

And secretly hoping Stephanie will take a new Fourth of July picture of William…

William american flag baby

That’s when he was just three weeks old!

Happy Fourth of July! Be safe!

Struggling to Work Out

Argh.  I’m frustrated.  When summer was approaching I had all these grand plans of working out on an almost daily basis.  I figured between my family and friends watching William for an hour at a time, taking him to the gym, and jogging with him in the stroller, it would be no problem for me to work out.  After all, I’m a teacher and I have my summers off.  Not a thing to do besides play with my baby, enjoy the weather, and move my body.  Ha!  Was I ever wrong or what!  I’m still busy, it’s just a different kind of busy.  Plus, it’s summer, so I want to enjoy more down time than I get during the school year.  So what’s up with working out?

I just don’t know.  I wouldn’t say I’m in a rut because I’m switching up what I’m doing.  I’m running, biking, swimming, taking BodyPump classes, lifting weights, and doing the stair stepper at the gym… just not as often as I’d like.  Usually when I don’t have William for the short time, I feel like I “need” to work out, and I think that’s the problem.  Working out has never been something I’ve “needed” to do.  It’s always been something I’ve enjoyed because it makes me feel good.

itzlinz 5k race photo

Running in the rain with my sister, not caring about the time or speed, just having a good time.  My favorite race picture!

So when I do have time to work out, I feel like I should swim, bike, or run with my upcoming triathlon less than a month away.  I’ve only been biking once this summer.  I’ve swam a few times.  And my runs have been less than stellar.  Take yesterday, for example.  I had some time, but found it difficult to get motivated to work out.  I told myself I would “only” run two miles.  Two miles seems doable pretty much always.  That two miles was tougher than it should have been, but I shouldn’t be surprised due to my lack of running.  I don’t like starting over, but I’m not running consistently to be making real progress.  Where do I go from here?

I’m hesitant to make a set schedule because I like my summers to be more relaxed.  More than a few times, we’ve made last minute plans to get together with friends, and I don’t want to decline due to a planned work out.  William is not on a set schedule, and I feel like our days revolve around his naps.  Some mornings he may nap at eight, while other days not til later.  But I can’t take him to the gym when he’s really tired because he will be cranky, and I can’t go jogging with outside because he’ll fall asleep and not take a good nap.  Oh, the dilemmas!  I don’t feel the need to work out everyday, but I do want to be more consistent and train harder than I am right now.  I like lifting weights, but I feel like I should be focusing more on running, biking, and swimming right now.

Here’s the other thing: When I do have time, sometimes I have a million other things to do.  House things, cleaning, laundry, errands, etc.  I’ve been spending a lot of time with my new business as it’s taking off, too.  There’s just not enough time in the day!!!

Maybe I just need to take a couple yoga classes to clear my head and get out of this funk.  Clearly I’m all over the place with my thoughts, with my workouts, with this post.  Hence the reason I’m not making progress in my training.

It’s not that I’m upset with not working out, I just wish I was more excited, more motivated, and more structured with my fitness right now.  But you know one thing?

I do love this baby of mine, and I’m certainly grateful for all the time I’ve been getting to spend with him this summer!

Help me out, friends! Give me some advice! What should my new plan of attack be?

Splash Pad Fun

Do you know what a splash pad is?  I didn’t before this summer.  It’s literally just an area (a pad) that has multiple fountains to splash in. Aka the PERFECT summertime activity for kids of all ages, especially on hot, sunny days!  I didn’t want to take William to one before he was walking (PS: WILLIAM IS WALKING!!!), but now that I’ve been, I totally wish I would have taken him sooner.  It’s completely fine for crawlers!  We’ve been twice so far, but after the first time I decided I was going every single day.  William absolutely loves it!  Not only is it the cutest thing ever to see him toddling around in his little swim trunks and swim shirt, but his facial expressions are priceless!  He waves his hands, claps, splashes, squeals.  It’s the best!

Side note: Obviously, sunscreen is a must when you’re outside for any length of time.  There have been so many articles lately published on how toxic chemicals have made their way into sunscreens, even ones claiming to be “natural.”  The solution? Ava Anderson Non Toxic.  It’s not greasy, it’s organic, it does not contain any nanoparticles, no chemical UV absorbers, no parabens, phthalates, synthetic preservatives, fragrance or dyes.  30+ SPF, perfect for babies, kids, and adults, alike.  I don’t feel compelled to rush William into the bath tub right when we’re finished.  It doesn’t have the usual sunscreen smell.  It’s awesome.

Now, some splash pad fun pictures because they’re too cute not to share!

See? Even crawlers love the splash pad!

HAPPINESS!

William could probably spend all day there.  Well, actually not because the splash pad wipes him out!  He’s always super tired and hungry after!

The water and humidity does great things for his curls.

Fountains are the coolest!

Can you hear him shrieking?  He loves it!

Mommas: do you take your little ones to a splash pad? How do you keep cool in the summer?

What’s in the Ava Anderson Non Toxic Business Kit?

I’ve been getting an overwhelming response ever since I announced Ava Anderson Non Toxic on the blog.  It’s awesome!  Keep the questions and orders coming!  I’m so happy to help share a message about the dangers of toxic chemicals and what we can do about them.  Ava Anderson Non Toxic is all about the ingredients.  The right ingredients.  Safe, organic, toxin-free, and harmful-chemical free.  Ingredients you can feel good about.  Ingredients you can trust for your family that are both safe and extremely effective.

One of the biggest questions I keep being asked is, “What should I buy first?” When I first responded to this question, I wrote a ridiculously long email back detailing the many products I would suggest and why.  I also mentioned how it depended on what she was looking for as there are so many different parts of the line (skin, face, body, sun, scent, kids, hair, home, smile, baby, garden, men, auto, bugs, pet, or candle).  She told me she appreciated my response, my enthusiasm, but she still felt incredibly overwhelmed.  Haha oops, sorry about that!  Living and learning!  So now I’ve condensed my answer to the Ava Anderson Non Toxic Business Kit and here’s why.

ava anderson business kit

The Ava Anderson Non Toxic Business Kit is a great sampler of the entire line.  You get products from avaSKIN, avaBODY, avaFACE, avaHAIR, avaBABY, avaMEN, avaHOME, avaSUN, and avaSCENT.  I’ll go into detail about what exactly you receive because that was my biggest question when I was considering purchasing the business kit.  The Ava Anderson Non Toxic Business Kit costs $99.  While this may sound like a lot of money right away, let me tell you why it’s worth every penny.

  • Close to $500 worth of products
  • 30% discount on all other products
  • No commitment, no minimum, or no annual fee
  • Receive 30% of sales back when others buy from you
  • Non toxic, organic products that you can trust

A quote posted on the Ava Anderson Facebook page really hit home with me:

Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want. –Anna Lappe

Not only are the major manufacturers using harmful chemicals linked to disease in conventional products, but they are financially supporting a bill that would prevent states from passing legislation to prevent these chemicals from commerce in their states, due to a lack of the federal government to do so… HERE is more information.

Here’s the thing: you’re already purchasing products to use whether it’s skin care products, cleaning products, or items for the kids.  Why not invest in a line that’s good for you, your family, and the environment?  And here’s the kicker: Ava Anderson Non Toxic products are NOT expensive!  I’m constantly amazed at how reasonable the prices are – especially in comparison with other “natural” brands (which aren’t really so natural after all!).

Alright, so what’s in the Ava Anderson Non Toxic Business Kit?

ava anderson avaSKIN

The 6-piece avaSKIN set which includes makeup remover, cleanser, exfoliator, toner, moisturizer, and the sugar lip scrub.  This set alone costs $99.95 so you’ve immediately made your business kit purchase worth it.  Plus, you get the eye cream, too.  A little goes a long way, so these products last a long time.

  • Makeup Remover: Gently wipes away face and eye makeup with ease – no need for two different makeup removers as this spray takes it all off
  • Cleanser: Antioxidant and enriching cleanser leaves the skin clean and refreshed
  • Exfoliator: Fine apricot kernels and skin softening ingredients buff away dry skin, dirt, and imperfections, leaving your skin fresh and radiant. Improves skin tone and texture
  • Toner: Non drying, non stinging, made with yucca, a natural antiseptic, and witch hazel which opens pores and removes impurities
  • Moisturizer: Enriched with antioxidants, conditioners, emollients, nourishing oils and vitamins, to achieve radiant skin with improved elasticity
  • Sugar Lip Scrub: Gently exfoliates and leaves them smooth, soft, and nourished
  • Eye Cream: Moisturizes and firms, while reducing fine lines, wrinkles, puffiness, and discoloration

ava anderson travel set

This travel set is awesome because you get a sample of the great avaBODY line with shampoo, conditioner, hand sanitizer, shower gel, and hand & body lotion.  This travel set is not available for purchase outside of the business kit.

  • Shampoo & Conditioner: Designed to repair and restore, safe for color-treated hair, too
  • Hand Sanitizer: Organic essential oils work together to cleanse and moisturize hands naturally and safely – no alcohol
  • Shower Gel: Naturally citrus scented gel is packed with organic oils to leave your skin clean, soft, and smooth
  • Hand & Body Lotion: Delivers gentle hydration and moisture to the skin, leaves hands and skin soft, not greasy

ava anderson avaface

Three of my new favorite products!   The avaSCENT Hope smells SO good!!! I used my old perfume (aka probably filled with toxic chemicals) the other day because now I just want to use it up, and it gave me the biggest headache!  Yeah, won’t be doing that again.  I’ve never used “natural” makeup before, but I was pleasantly impressed with how well the mascara works!  There’s no smudging, flaking, clumping, or brittleness! The lip gloss comes in five shades, and I want to try their lip stick, too!

  • Hope: Fruity with passion flowers in the heart notes; accentuated by notes of orris, blond sandalwood, and cacao
  • Mascara: Formulated to increase lash length, thickness, curl, and separation
  • Lip Gloss: Moisturizing and conditioning with vitamins and antioxidants

ava anderson avabody

This stuff is awesome!  Every single one of Ava Anderson’s products rocks.  I mean, I’ve used a million lip balms before, and they just don’t compare to this!  And again and again, Ava Anderson’s products are all non toxic!  They all smell so good, too!

  • Spearmint Lip Balm: Organic shea butter, beeswax, and essential oils keep lips healthy, hydrated, and soft
  • Body Butter: Naturally rich in vitamins, maintains skin health and elasticity, helpful for dry skin conditions
  • Hand & Body Lotion: Delivers gentle hydration and moisture to the skin; leaves skin soft, not greasy
  • Shave Gel: Enriched with natural oils, non foaming, softens hair for easy, clean removal, gentler than regular soaps

Linking up with Healthy Diva as these are definitely HEALTHY products!

ava anderson nontoxic dishwasher detergent

When Ava Anderson first learned about how many toxic chemicals were in everything, she went through her house throwing out EVERYTHING.  I’m not that dramatic, but I will definitely be switching as I run out of things like dishwasher detergent, laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, etc.  I have used these dishwasher pods because I wanted to see how they work, and they work great!

  • Dishwasher Detergent Pods: Biodegradable, fragrance free, and highly effective pods leave all glass, dishes, pots and pans sparking clean

ava anderson sun baby

I’m OBSESSED!  Hands down, best diaper cream and sunscreen I’ve ever used!  The diaper cream actually nourishes William’s skin instead of just being a barrier.  It heals diaper rash where other creams just prevent it from worsening.  It’s so hydrating that I’ve been using it on William’s eczema, and it’s definitely gotten better.  Diaper cream that’s not just for diapers!  There have been so many stories being published lately about how toxic chemicals are in sunscreens.  Ava Anderson Non Toxic is your answer.  I can’t even stand the smell of regular sunscreen anymore.  AANT all the way!

  • Diaper Cream: Hydrates, comforts, softens and soothes, good for eczema (YES!), rosacea, dry patches and other skin conditions
  • Sunscreen Lotion: Broad spectrum UVA/UVB coverage, water resistant, best safe sunscreen on the market

Now you see!  Best new (well, since 2009 – new to me!) products out there!  I cannot recommend Ava Anderson Non Toxic products enough!  Don’t know what to get?  Start with the business kit to find your favorites! Just a reminder, only during the month of June I’m offering FREE SHIPPING when you shop my store and use party #74822.  I would encourage you to take advantage of this free shipping offer, try some products out, and I know you’ll be sold! Or, if you’re already sold, let me know and I’ll help you get started with the business kit! You won’t be disappointed!

Which products from the business kit are you most excited about?!

Baby + Aviator Sunglasses = Babiators

All photos in post by Ashley at A Family Affair Photography

As you know, baby William’s first birthday party had a Red Carpet theme, complete with an actual red carpet set up for a photo booth.  Yes, red carpet and a photo booth for babies.  It was adorable.  Babies were dressed up.  Paparazzi, I mean a photographer, was present.  There was live entertainment.  Swag bags were handed out.  It was the first birthday bash of the century.  Ok, maybe not that far, but for the 15 babies (and their mommas!) that were in attendance, it was really fun!

Babiators was a huge sponsor of the swag bags as they donated the most adorable baby sunglasses to ensure each little babe was decked out in style.  Baby + Aviator Sunglasses = Babiators.  Amazing.  I had this great vision of getting each and every baby styled in their Babiators on the red carpet for an adorable photo, and then maybe a group photo of all the babies and their stylish shades.  Clearly I’m a first time mom and my expectations were way.too.high.  Many babies wouldn’t keep the sunglasses on for more than a few moments (which was enough to get a couple cute shots!).  Many babies including my baby William who is supposed to be perfect an do exactly as I say! Ha! (KIDDING!)

babiators william

Hey, mister! Keep them on!

The girl babies were much better at keeping them on for an extended period of time.  Maybe us boy moms just have to get used to the boys not listening?  Hopefully not for many more years.  Regardless, we did get some ridiculously adorable photos of many of the babies with their Babiators…. on or off.  And lots of babies got more used to the Babiators the more they wore them.  Many of my friends have been texting and Instagramming photos of their littles sporting their stylish shades.

Babiators are SAFE as they provide 100% UVA & UVB protection, DURABLE as they have flexible frames and shatter-resistant lenses, GUARANTEED as they replace them if lost or broken, and AWESOME with ten great colors and two sizes! They also have polarized Babiators, Aces (sunglasses for kids 7-14), submariners swim goggles (so cute!!!), rocket packs, and rx glasses.  They’ve got you covered!

Pictures from the party for your viewing pleasure:

babiators elli

fancy miss elliana

babiators wolf

cool mr wolf man

babiators jackson

Jackson wore his Aces (Babiators for ages 7-14) almost the entire party

babiators zoey

silly miss zoey

babiators gia

sweet miss gia

babiators carly

pretty miss carly

babiators cora

stylish miss cora

babiators shoot

and handsome mr william

Don’t forget to use code ItzLinz30OFF to get 30% off during the month of June! STOCK UP and shop now at Babiators.com!

Do you own [an adult] pair of aviators? What color would you get for your baby?

best race photo ever

How many of you generally like your race photos when you see them?  Not me.  I feel like they’re usually super awkward.  Eyes half closed, arms in awkward positions, legs confirming that I don’t have perfect form, and what is going on with my face?  Am I about to sneeze?  Am I in pain?  Oy.  Race photos are usually less than flattering.  When I was racing more frequently, I would at least attempt to get a semi-decent picture at the finish line by throwing my hands up in the air.  Sometimes it worked, most of the time it didn’t.

Anyway, as you know, during the All American 5K this past weekend, it rained the entire time.  Poured.  My sister and I (and every other runner out there) were drenched.  When we saw the finish line in the near distance, we were stoked.  Yes, that meant the race was concluding, but more importantly because it meant we could get under some shelter, dry off, and eventually shower and get out of our sopping wet clothes that were hanging off us due to them being so wet.  When I was crossing the finish line, I threw my hands in the air and smiled like I just won the race…

itzlinz 5k race photo

[photo credit]

…which I didn’t, of course, but you can’t really tell that from the picture.  Stephanie was cracking up in the background.  I love the picture.  I love it because it shows what running should be all about: FUN!  Sometimes we get so caught up in the numbers that it’s hard to remember that running and races, while good exercise and very healthy for our bodies, is fun!  While I’ve tried to have this pose captured in other races, they’ve never been caught like this one.  Pure joy!

And since it’s Thursday, I’m linking up with Amanda to do some thinking out loud…

I attended a BodyPump class yesterday.

It’s such a good workout.  Pre-baby I used to lift weights all the time, but now BodyPump is definitely the best weight lifting routine I do.  I wish I could go multiple times a week, but when I do have time to workout, I’ve been dedicating it to running, biking, or swimming in preparation for my upcoming triathlon.

No shame in taking selfies either!  Especially after reading THIS POST!

You can see in that picture how bad my roots were.  Luckily, I was able to get into Preston Salon yesterday, and Zac fixed me right up.

audrey

I swung by my sister’s after the salon as it was on the way to the nail shop.  I asked Audrey if she wanted to come get her nails done with me, and of course she said yes.  So we had a little day date.  I love my mini-me.

And how about this guy? Teething monster, but always a #ladiesman!

ladiesman

Are you usually happy with your race photos? Do you try to pose for the camera?

BUFF Bowls

What’s the first thing you think of when you hear BUFF Bowls?  For me, I was thinking like, “Woah, you’re so buff, dude!”  (Don’t worry; I don’t really talk like that.)  Buff… like big muscles, right?  Noodles & Company had a different idea.  Their tagline for these bowls is, “A Few Favorite Dishes in the Buff.”  The BUFF Bowls have no noodles which makes them “in the buff.”  Clever, Noodles & Co.  Real clever!  I’ll tell you more about those buff bowls in just a moment, but since today is WIAW, let’s back up and start with the first meal of the day –

// breakfast //

green smoothie

A simple green smoothie with a banana, cinnamon, honey, spinach, flax seed, hemp seed, and milk.   Right when I started drinking it, I instantly regretted not adding peanut butter.  Peanut butter makes everything better.  Since this guy wasn’t loaded with protein, I was hungry shortly after, which led me to my first snack of the day:

// snack #1 //

flatout

A Sea Salt & Crushed Black Pepper Flatout ProteinUP wrap with red sauce, kale, and mozzarella cheese.  I microwaved it, rolled it up, and devoured it.  That was the protein that I needed! I’m still impressed that those ProteinUP wraps have 12 grams of protein in them!  That’s so good for a wrap!

When I’m home all day I tend to snack a lot more than usual.  So…

// snack #2 //

carrot chips

Carrot chips!  I picked up a container of these at World Market the other day since they were on sale.  I love that place.  I went because I needed cute little jars to put Bourbon Syrup in that I made for all the guys in my family for Father’s Day.  World Market has the best stuff, particularly for your kitchen!

// snack #3 //

sugar snap peas

I opened a package of sugar snap peas while at my parents’ house yesterday and dipped them into my mom’s homemade guacamole (so good!).  Sugar snap peas are probably my most favorite vegetable to eat raw.

// snack #4-1,000,000 //

Not pictured, as you can see, because I ate a million snacks yesterday, and literally just grazed my way through the day, never really sitting down for lunch.  My dad is always baffled when he sees me take a couple bites of everything they have in their fridge, and asks, “Why don’t you put some on a plate and warm it up?”  Nah… I’d rather just have a little taste of EVERYTHING.  Yesterday my grazing included an orange, some chips, a bite of cookie cake (wish I had more of that), salmon, chocolate covered almonds, and other things that I can’t seem to remember right now.  Now you see why I didn’t sit down for lunch.

// dinner //

buff bowl

BUFF Bowls!  Ok, so I clearly didn’t eat all three of these in one night.  There are four different Buff Bowls and I’ve tried three of them.  The idea behind BUFF Bowls is that they swap spinach for noodles, double the fresh veggies, and add a protein of steak, chicken, pork, or tofu.  All the BUFF Bowls are under 400 calories.  I was sent coupons to try the new BUFF Bowls free of charge.  From left to right:

  • BUFF Tuscan Fresca with Grilled Chicken Breast: Grilled chicken breast with tomato, roasted garlic and red onion, tossed with olive oil and served on a bed of spinach, and topped with feta cheese. This was good, but I feel like I could have easily made it at home. When I got out to eat, I like to eat something that I wouldn’t typically make myself.
  • BUFF Japanese Pan with Marinated Steak: Marinated steak sits atop a bed of spinach with broccoli, carrots, shiitake mushrooms, Asian sprouts, black sesame seeds and cilantro, dressed with a sweet soy sauce. This was my favorite! Lots of flavor and fun vegetables!
  • BUFF Pesto with Naturally Raised Pork: Naturally raised pork tossed with basil pesto, garlic, mushrooms, tomato, all served on a bed of spinach. This was my second favorite. The pork was shredded, so William had a couple bites, too.
  • (not pictured) BUFF Bangkok Curry with Organic Tofu: Organic tofu flavored with sweet coconut curry and served with broccoli, carrots, red bell pepper, onion, mushrooms, spinach and sprinkled with black sesame seeds and Asian seasonings.  I didn’t taste this one, but it sounds good.

// dessert //

frozen custard

Andy’s was handing out little containers of their frozen custard post-race, but since we were going to my parents’ for brunch right after, I threw this in my freezer for later.  Well, later was last night, and I was so glad I did!  I topped it with sprinkles (of course!) and ate every bite.

You snack your way through lunch like I did. What snacks do you eat? 

All American 5K | American Flag Tank

I love love love that I’m back into running again, particularly racing.  It’s so much fun, and I adore the atmosphere of race day bursting with excitement from all sorts of runners.  That’s yet another reason I love running and racing – the community.  It doesn’t matter how old or young you are, how big or thin you are, how fast or not you are.  If you run, if you signed up for the race, if you’re there at the starting line, you’re a runner!  Sometimes races can intimidate people, but don’t let it!  Every race I’ve been to has been full of supportive people cheering each other on with one similar goal – to cross the finish line.

Sure, some people are faster than others and race to compete, but that’s the nature of the sport.  You can be as ambitious as you want.  You can try to achieve a PR (personal record), you can try to place, or you can aim to finish. No matter what, we’re all running the same race!  That’s my take on it anyway.

My sister Stephanie and I ran the All American 5K in St. Louis this past weekend.  I ran as a Chipotle runner, and like I always do, I set out my outfit the night before.

A few weeks ago, someone from Tipsy Elves reached out asking to provide me with some of their new patriotic gear for the upcoming Fourth of July holiday. You’ve probably heard of Tipsy Elves before.  Their brand and products were first featured on ABC’s hit show Shark Tank in 2013 and have received favorable press with the TODAY Show, Good Morning America, New York Times, and others. Tipsy Elves started as a Christmas sweater company, but has since evolved and expanded into a one stop shop for all fun and unique holiday apparel.

As I was browsing through their selection, I couldn’t help but chuckle.  I mean, they have everything from American flag tank tops to long sleeve shirts to fanny packs to dresses to jackets to FULL JUMPSUITS!  It’s funny, too, because Stephanie is kind of obsessed with all things with the American flag.  So much so that we often tease her about it and send her pictures of the most ridiculous American flag stuff we can find.  Anyway, I chose this American flag tank top.

It arrived just in time for the All American 5K. They kindly sent one for Stephanie, as well, which was a nice surprise for her.  She was ecstatic because the tanks really are so cute and crazy soft! They were perfect for the race!

fourth of july tanks

We were literally standing beneath the tiniest ledge on the side of a building before the race started as it was pouring down rain!  As we drove to the race, the skies were dark and threatening.  By the time we were on the shuttle, it was raining.  We stepped off the bus into pouring rain.  We tried to camp out under the ledge before the race began, but it was pointless as our shoes quickly became soaked with the standing groundwater.

The race was showcased as “The Fastest 5K in St. Louis!” as the majority of it is flat or downhill.  However, we didn’t want to bust our butts in the rain, so we stayed at a comfortable pace.  It literally rained THE ENTIRE RACE!  It let up a couple of times, and I would make some remark about how it stopped, and then instantly it would begin again.  It was unbelievable how hard and how long it poured.  Everyone, everything was absolutely drenched.  St. Louis is totally over this rain.  But… we finished and proudly sported our medals!

post race sisters steph

27:58 to be exact!  It is faster than our last 5K and not too shabby considering the torrential downpour!  Post-race goodies included ice cream which you know I was a fan of.  I can’t wait to see which Chipotle race is next in the Go! St. Louis series!

We raced (ha!) home and speedily showered and got dressed before heading to our parents’ house for a delicious Father’s Day brunch.  I was starving by the time we got there and ate a ton.  If you know my parents, you know what amazing food (and how much!) we always have, and this brunch certainly didn’t disappoint.  But more importantly, we celebrated my amazing father – the smartest, kindest, most selfless and talented dad we’ve ever known!

dad fathers day 2015

We love him so much and William has the BEST “Pops” in the world!

momma william june2015

How adorable is his outfit?! My mom got it for him! LOVE it!

No family brunch would be complete without some cousin love and William-squeezing:

cousins 615

(This was the best we got after many arguments of who got to hold William; they finally compromised on putting him in the middle, but they both got to “help” hold him. Must be touching baby at.all.times!)

Running in the rain – yay or nay? I don’t love it, but we survived!

First Birthday Party Favors | Baby Swag Bags

When you’re planning a kid’s birthday party, you mustn’t forget about party favors!  Actually, there’s a debate among parents whether or not party favors are really necessary or not, as some kids come to expect something when they go to a birthday to celebrate someone else’s birthday party, but let’s save that debate for another day.  When I had William’s first birthday party, I knew I wanted to have party favors of some sort.  William had a Red Carpet Event theme for his 1st birthday party.  Some themes lend themselves easily to party favors, and I knew I did want to try to stick to the theme if at all possible. Hmm…

Baby Swag Bags!  Yes, William’s first birthday party favors would be baby swag bags!  Now what do baby swag bags entail?  Well, I wanted to include items that would actually get used by the babies.  No junk.  Mom-approved.  Most of the babies were all around the age of one, maybe a few a couple months younger or older, but mostly the same age, which helped in planning what would be given as party favors.  So what do you put in baby party favor bags?

what to put in first birthday party favor bags

photo (and others in post) by A Family Affair Photography 

Before we get into the actual contents, let’s talk for a quick second about putting the bags together.  I bought very inexpensive clear bags and closed them with the twisty ties that came with them.  My sister printed labels that were similar to William’s invitations and my mom attached ribbon.  (They always know how to make things look way better than I do!)  It was simple, yet it showed what was inside, and looked cute!

partyfavor bags

Ok, funny story:  So I put these together at my house and my dad stopped over and brought them to his house.  To my mother’s dismay, they would not stand straight up (they did when I put them together – promise!), so she made my older brother Jason untie them all and fix them.  Clearly they look better this way.  My mom always has the touch that’s needed and is so attentive to even the smallest details! Thank you, Mom!

party favor bags

Definitely better!

Alright, let’s get to the goods!  All of the items were donated by the wonderful companies who I very carefully hand-selected to be part of William’s special celebration.  They knew the importance of putting together party favor bags that would be baby and momma approved and would actually get used!  The items I chose can be bought in bulk which is perfect for parties and keeps the cost down!

What do you put in first birthday party favor bags? Aka SWAG BAGS

Nuby Wash or Toss Straw Cups

nuby sippycup pack

I’ve always been a fan of Nuby from their teethers to their bath toys to their sippy cups.  All babies use sippy cups, and I’ve learned that many parents buy hundreds (slight exaggeration) of sippy cups to find the “best” one or the one that their child will drink from.  Also, there is some discussion between the spout vs. the straw sippy cup, but some speech pathologists believe that straw sippy cups help children strengthen their muscles in their face and in their mouth which is beneficial to proper speech. (Another debate for another day.)  I went with the straw sippy cup instead of the spout because at some point in time babies will learn how to drink from a straw, and my personal opinion is the earlier the better.

Linking up with Katie today!

nuby sippycups

These Nuby Wash or Toss Straw Cups are perfect for party favor bags for several reasons.  For one thing, they come in packs of four in the colors you see above.  (Another reason I liked using the clear bags was so parents could choose which color cup they wanted!)  These cups are easy to hold, have snap on straw lids, are BPA free, and are sturdy enough to reuse… or inexpensive enough to toss.

Baby Mum-Mums

mummums

A box of Baby Mum-Mums is just a few dollars and contain 12 individually wrapped packages with two mum-mums in each.  Mum-Mums are great for six month olds all the way up to toddlers.  (They actually have toddler mum-mums, but this baby version works for both!  My niece Audrey still loves “sharing” William’s mum-mums!)  Mum-Mums come in several flavors; I added three packs to each party favor bag.  Baby mum-mums are a good first food as they help babies work on their eye-hand coordination and dissolves easily.  Even though William knows how to eat, I still give him them if we’re out and about.  They also work well as a cracker to use with dips or spreads for babies. (This is how I introduced peanut butter to William!)

Baby Mum-Mums are baked with no preservatives, contain no artificial colors or flavors, and are gluten, egg, and peanut free.  See? Perfect for all!

Earth’s Best Organic Pouches

earthsbest pouches

We’ve been long time fans of Earth’s Best!  We started with their oatmeal and then moved to some of their jarred baby food.  Now, we’re a fan of their pouches.  They come in many different flavors and are perfect for on the go.  Even moms who make all their own baby food, uses pouches from time to time.  I put just one in every baby’s favor bag and many of my friends exclaimed how much their baby enjoyed the pouch!

Yet another reason why I love all three of the aforementioned brands and products is that they can be found easily in retail stores or online.  They are carried anywhere from Walmart to Target to Whole Foods to local groceries.

The last part of William’s party favor bags didn’t actually go inside the bags…

babiators box

They had their own special box because I wanted parents to be able to pick which color Babiators they wanted, and I wanted them to get their baby’s picture taken with the Babiators on the red carpet!  Babiators are literally the cutest baby sunglasses ever…

babiators sunglasses

Baby + Aviators = Babiators

Babiators are SAFE as they provide 100% UVA & UVB protection, DURABLE as they have flexible frames and shatter-resistant lenses, GUARANTEED as they replace them if lost or broken, and AWESOME with ten great colors and two sizes! Cool, right?!

They also have polarized Babiators, Aces (sunglasses for kids 7-14), submariners swim goggles (so cute!!!), rocket packs, and rx glasses.  They’ve got you covered!

Now if only I could get baby William to keep his stylish shades on for longer than a half a second…

babiators shoot

Every swag bag, red carpet event, and baby definitely needs Babiators!

Get 30% off with code ItzLinz30OFF during the month of June! STOCK UP!

Mommas: What did / will you put in your baby’s party favor bags?  Other good ideas? We’ve received books and musical shakers which were also awesome!

Do you like chemicals?

Do you like chemicals?  How about TOXIC chemicals? I sure don’t.  Do you know what else I don’t like?  Rain.  It’s been raining all week long here in St. Louis.  Everything is flooded and everyone is missing the sunshine and being outdoors.  I know I am.  But that’s a story for another day.  Today we’re talking chemicals, those nasty little things that are harmful to you, your babies, your family, your friends, your pets, and the environment.

Did you know that your skin is the largest organ and it only takes 26 seconds for chemicals to be absorbed into your bloodstream? YUCK!  I used to be more concerned with what I put in my body rather than what I put on my body, but after learning this fact, my mindset is definitely shifting.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m still incredibly conscious about what I put in my body and try to nourish my body with mostly healthy foods.  However, now I’m learning so much about products and the harmful chemicals they’re filled with.  One might say I’m becoming a bit of an ingredient detective! Ha! With good reason though… Carcinogens, neurotoxins, reproductive mutagens, and endocrine disruptors have been found in the blood and urine of people all across the country.

do you like chemicals

What prompted this sudden interest (or disinterest?) in toxic chemicals?  I’ve always leaned more towards “natural” products and have tried to avoid toxic chemicals, processed goods, and unnecessary medicine, in general. (Not 100% because everything in moderation, and some medicine is really, truly needed. I do think it’s amazing how far scientists have come in the medical field. That’s a total digression though from my point today.)

Did you know that Europe bans 1,371 toxic chemicals from their personal care products and the US bans only 11? Ummm what?

Anyway, after having baby William, I’ve been VERY aware of what I’ve put on William and what he eats.  He has patches of eczema on his legs and belly, and I haven’t been too successful in completely eliminating it.  The doctor suggested a steroid cream which I would use if I absolutely had to, but I wanted to try a more natural way first.  I reached out to my friend Hannah who achieved her Doctorate in Public Health from Harvard and works as an epidemiologist.  Needless to say, she knows her stuff. First, she suggested starting William on an probiotic as that’s a relatively “easy” thing to do.  I did and continue to give him probiotics, but his eczema didn’t get any better.  Next, she asked me to look at the products I was using and start reading the labels.  She didn’t mention anything about her business, but I was surprised to see chemicals in all the products… even ones that were labeled “natural.”  When I asked which brands she recommended, without hesitation, she replied, “Ava Anderson Non Toxic.”

I started doing my own research and learning about Ava Anderson Non Toxic.  I liked what I saw, and went to check out the price tag and was pleasantly surprised at how affordable the products were! Not what I was expecting, and certainly not what I had been paying!  Still not 100% sure that I wanted to switch my dishwasher soap, laundry detergent, body soaps, shampoos, lotions, and the whole nine yards, I hesitated.  Then, my pediatrician informed me that I should be brushing William’s teeth with toothpaste.  I’d been brushing, but not with toothpaste.  He’s 14 months old; this concerned me.  I certainly didn’t want him ingesting toothpaste!  Again, I reached out to Hannah to inquire about which brand to purchase.  Her response, “Ava Anderson Non Toxic.”

That’s what sold me.  As I mentioned before, I always paid more attention to what I put in my body rather than in it.  With William especially, I was even more concerned with what he puts in his body.  I wanted to avoid the chance of William “eating” any toxic chemicals whatsoever, so I took a leap and joined Ava Anderson Non Toxic.

ava anderson independent consultant

I am now an Ava Anderson Non Toxic Independent Consultant.  I’ve been immersing myself in reading and listening, so I can learn as much as possible about the philosophy, products, benefits, and more.  That’s where I learned that your skin is the largest organ and it only takes 26 seconds for chemicals to be absorbed into your bloodstream.  Eek.  That’s where the shift in my mindset came.  I’m now becoming an “ingredient detective” and really looking at what’s in my products that I use on a daily basis.  I feel much more comfortable using Ava Anderson products because:

Ava Anderson Non Toxic offers quality skin care, cosmetic, bath and body, and home care products without harmful chemicals. This revolutionary lines contains NO parabens or PEG’s, NO synthetic “fragrance” or dyes, NO hidden ingredeints or contaminants, such as phthalates, nitrosamines or formaldehyde, NO Glycol, NO Sodium Laureth Sulfate, and NO Petroleum Byproducts and NO animal testing. All products are Gluten free. More avaSKIN and avaBODY lines are Vegan. Recyclable packaging too!

ava-2408ImageMontages.indd

This is just the beginning. I joined the Ava Anderson Non Toxic movement because I truly believe in the message and I wanted to help share it.  And to be honest, I wanted a discount when purchasing the products since I knew I’d be using them frequently and for the long run.  I’ll be sharing more of what I’m learning as I see relevant. Please let me know if there is a specific topic or issue you’d like me to cover.

Since this is my first month with Ava Anderson Non Toxic, I am offering FREE SHIPPING to anyone that makes a purchase by June 30, 2015, no minimum, no maximum, no commitment.  Because I want to get the products in your hands, this promotion is coming out of my own pocket. I want you to try the products, feel the benefits, see the difference, and make a small change in helping yourself and the world reduce the use of harmful chemicals while still enjoying quality products.

Shop avaandersonnontoxic.com/itzlinz and use the party number 74822.  Email me at [ itzlinz (at) gmail (dot) com ] to receive FREE SHIPPING.

Which category of Ava Anderson Non Toxic are you most interested in learning more about or trying for yourself: skin, face, body, sun, scent, kids, hair, home, smile, baby, garden, men, auto, bugs, pet, or candle?