Monday, September 14, 2015

New Father Gift Ideas

“This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Scandinavian Tobacco Group, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia  #havanahoneys

When I think about the past 9 months, one of the first things that comes to mind is how much more I needed my husband than ever before. With two toddlers, continuing to work full time nights, and staying up during the day with the kiddos until Andrew rolled in the door around 6pm, I was exhausted, cranky, and definitely more impatient than I'd like to admit. Andrew picked up on these cues right away, and would jump right in. Without even asking. He'd take on the bath role, reading books, and putting the kids to bed, all while I took a moment to sit the couch and just decompress. Most nights? I'd fall asleep before he would even make it back down for night time in-home dates.

I wouldn't say that this pregnancy was the hardest of my three, but I would definitely say that I felt every moment of it. I have felt the fatigue, the pain in my joints, and the heaviness of carrying around a full term baby. I have felt the restless nights, the constant getting up, and the difficulty of simple tasks like-getting out of bed.

And I've always felt the full love and support of my husband.

Often times, when we think of a mom delivering a baby, we think about people bringing her flowers, balloons, and even a "push gift" presented to her by her husband. Everyone congratulates both parents, but it's the mother that they focus on when acknowledging all her hard efforts in bringing a healthy baby into this world.

But the fathers. My baby father, is someone that also needs just as equal acknowledgement. Sure, they may not be the one to physically feel the heaviness of a 9 month pregnancy, but they definitely feel the emotional and mental roller coaster. And for that, they deserve more than just a high five.

So this year, I decided to make him something special to take to the hospital on the day of the delivery. Something for him to do, something for him to enjoy, and something for a little later when I know that we will need on those late nights and early mornings—hello coffee again.

I had so many ideas when it came time to making his New Father Gift idea basket, but I tried to not overwhelm him and keep it simple. I really wanted to make sure that I kept some of his favorite things in mind, and to think about what he would reach for come go-time. Push time. This baby is coming soon-time!

So here are my list of things I added, and some others that would be a great thing to think about. I also think it would be cute to attach a little fun sticky note to each item to explain why you chose it and how they may benefit from it. For instance Starbucks gift card: for all the times we will need coffee to stay awake. And gum- because you know we will forget to brush our teeth more times than not. It's fun, and makes this whole process even that much more real.

New Father Gift Ideas

1. Gum. This is simple, easy, compact, and necessary. With not knowing how long labor will last, and knowing the nerves are going to be kicking in, it's nice to have something to chew on and to get your mind off of what is about to happen.

2. Book. I suggest one that prepares {or reminds} dad of the early days and what to expect. Although a pleasure read would also be nice, it definitely isn't ideal during the labor process. Remember, they have to frequently come and rub our feet, hold our hand, and fluff our pillow. Even if it's not their first time around, they do appreciate a little reminding of what to expect.

3. Gift card. To treat themselves to either something they enjoy or something as simple as coffee.

4. A gift. A small gesture of appreciation. For Andrew, I chose his favorite cologne. So he can cover up the smell of "being up all night" and then going to work the next day. You know, that smell.

5. A treat. For my husband, I chose gum. For yours, it may be twizzlers. But definitely something sweet and yummy for them to enjoy. Now just don't get mad when they are eating in front of you during labor and you know that you can't have a single bite. You might just have to remind them to wait on that one.

6.  A celebration gift. Havana Honeys is the way to go. After we are settled in our room, and after all the commotion starts to settle down, it will give him the opportunity to leave for a moment, to walk outside to breathe in some fresh air, and enjoy a cigar for himself {and maybe his dad or friend} with tasty flavors and great Cuban quality.

**To sign up for free coupons and to find a retailer near you visit Havana Honeys website here.

So here we are, 9 months in, and ready for a baby to be here any day now. With our bags packed, car seat installed, baby items out and ready to be used, and finally my gift basket for the best father ever, I can officially say we are ready. 

We are ready for our lives to be turned upside down all over again, but in a great way. Our arms are open, our hearts are ready to be filled again, and the excitement is at its ultimate high.

We will see you soon baby Polina.

Monday, July 20, 2015

A healthy mama just trying to survive this heartburn

“This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and healthy mama® , but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #gethealthymama” 

People keep asking me how this pregnancy is going—how this pregnancy is going in comparison to the other two. How I'm surviving the changes and the physical difficulties that go along with pregnancy all while already taking care of two little ones and every other thing that goes along with being a wife, working nights at the hospital, and taking care of the home in between. To me, I feel like I'm just doing what everyone else is doing—surviving. To me, I forget at times that I am even pregnant. But I am, and very much so at this point. 

It's true what they say—being pregnant a third time makes you almost oblivious to the entire process. You're so busy running around and doing every day things, that you seldom stop and slow down. That is, until the symptoms start knocking on your door. From the nausea during the first trimester along with the food aversions, to the current symptoms of joint pains and heartburn, this third pregnancy has definitely not been all rainbows and butterflies.

Oh heartburn, what I would do to never see you again.

The interesting thing about my heartburn is that I had it pretty bad with my first—a girl. During my second pregnancy I never got it once—a boy. And here we are with my second girl and the heartburn is really kicking me in the behind this time around. With my first two, they both had a full head of hair, and I imagine it will be the same with this one.  So it is true what they say after all.

The heartburn seems to be most prominent after I eat chocolate {which is a lot}, but there is no way that I'm going to be giving that up anytime soon, so in the meantime I needed to find some sort of relief. I like to stay healthy and do things the natural way, so medications prescribed by physicians is usually not the route I take. I was in need of a more natural solution to my symptoms, but was not sure where to begin.

That is where healthy mama® comes into the picture. A brand that is new to me, and one that I wish had been available to me with my other two. One that has all your symptoms covered—from nausea to heartburn and constipation relief, prenatal vitamins, and caffeine-free protein shakes with Boost it up. They really had every pregnant mama in mind when they formulated these products, and I literally skipped down the aisle when I saw they had a product for heartburn.

And if you thought it doesn't get any better, let me just tell you the best part about healthy mama® new products that are creating a new spot in Target for prenatal/postnatal care :they are organic, non-gmo, and free of any dyes, parabens, and artificial flavors and sweeteners.  Products united under one brand.

And just like that, my name was written all over it.

No more heartburn for me, and all the chocolate that I can eat. That is an equation that equals one very happy mama as well.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Taxes with TurboTax is the best decision I ever made.

“This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and TurboTax, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #TurboTaxACA

I was 15 years old when I first walked into a tax preparation office with my dad. I got my first job at age 14 working at Meijer as a bagger, and I was the proudest girl there ever was to hold a W-2 in my hands. It felt so real, it felt so responsible, it just felt accomplishing.

And then I sat there going over every little detail of my taxes with a man that knew nothing about me, and yet wanted to know everything about me. Again, I was 15. I didn't own a business. I didn't have rent, mortgage, or even school interest to pay. I didn't invest, and I surely didn't have stocks or retirement funds. So what exactly was I doing sitting in an office getting my taxes prepared by someone who was going to take it all? And he did.

I may have been young, but I wasn't stupid. When he told me my return, and then told me the amount that would be going towards his fee, I vowed to find a new way after this year. And I wasn't going to start tomorrow or next year, I was going to go home and find out my options right away. Little did I know, I really did have options. My parents, who were never internet savvy at the time, had no idea there were options, and the greatest of them all: TurboTax. Now it's their only way as well. To think of the money we have saved year after year.

For over ten years, I have now been using TurboTax, I have conformed others around me to turn to TurboTax, and I have never ran into one single problem in those ten plus years. I no longer have a "simple" return either; I'm married and file jointly. I own a business. I have investments. I have a retirement, student loans, 529's for the kids, and more. And yet, it is still just as "simple" as the day that I started with just a W-2.

I want to tell you that I was worried when I had heard about the Affordable Care Act, but the truth is I wasn't. Somehow, I knew that TurboTax would make it a smooth process, and sure enough, I was right. When I was doing my taxes and came to that section of the process, I simply had to check a box stating that I got insurance from work. The rest was taken care of from me. No extensive filling out of forms and going through multiple boxes, it was just a click of a box and then we moved on to the next question.

Does all this sound foreign to you and making you worry a little? Don't. Don't worry.  I'm here to tell you that TurboTax has a great guide, the TurboTax Health to get yourself familiarized with the Affordable Care Act and what you need to know in regards to your taxes this year; whether you are uninsured, have medicare or medicaid, have insurance through your work, or insured on your own.

I know that everyone is looking forward to Valentine's Day this weekend, but another very important date is February 15th, the day that open enrollment for health insurance ends before one has to face a penalty. You can go to TurboTax Health to find out if you are exempt from paying a penalty, and even file today. An even better incentive? File an easy return {1040A/EZ} before February 16th, and the cost will be free to you.

So if you have never tried TurboTax, believe me when I say this: once you do, you will never go back. It stores your information for future taxes, it is extremely user friendly and it saves you money. It is what I like to call a no-brainer, and that is precisely why I have been using it for over 10 years.