Thursday, November 30, 2017

Giving the gift of water safety

As the holidays arrive, gift-giving goes into full  motion. My kids definitely enjoy creating a list of wishes and the joy of granting some of those wishes is very special! But we also know our households can only handle so much "stuff". So I love the idea of giving experiences for our kids rather than just gifts. Swimming lessons are such a high priority for our family and I think they make a fantastic Christmas gift!


We started swimming lessons with British Swim School almost two years ago. Our kids were 6, 4, 4 & 3. They all started as yellow cap and hey - when you have 4 kids close in age you can fill your own swim class! 😃


The first focus for lessons with British Swim School is water safety. Learning to float on your back and call for help and even lessons with clothing on to practice if a child were to fall into the water unexpectedly.


One of my kids has extreme fear of not being able to touch the bottom of the pool and also is extra sensitive to uncomfortable water temps. So the fact that BSS uses indoor heated pools has been a huge boost in alleviating that discomfort. The instructors have also been patient, kind and encouraging through their process of learning to overcome those fears.


It's been fun to see them progress from yellow to red to blue to green caps. Each level is celebrated! 



My kids love swimming, so lessons during the winter is perfect. They love getting to swim every week throughout the year and FUN is always incorporated into every lesson!


British Swim School offers lessons beginning at 3 months. Go here to check out the variety of programs they offer. They also offer lessons at 10 locations throughout the Pittsburgh region so you can find the one that is most convenient for your family. 

My kids are so confident and comfortable in the water now. It definitely makes water activities less stressful for this mama of 4! 


Need a gift idea for your kids that will be with them for the rest of their lives? Swimming lessons would make a fantastic and fun gift. Be sure to mention Pgh Momtourage when signing up to receive FREE registration! 



This post sponsored by British Swim School with whom we partner for swimming lessons. We only endorse companies that pass the test of our family! 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Family Get-Away in DC

A few weeks ago, I was pleasantly surprised when the George Washington Mt. Vernon organization reached out to me to come for a visit! Since our family is always up for a road trip and we weren't able to be with our out-of-state families over Thanksgiving, we decided it was the perfect time for a little family get-away. If you've been to DC, you know it's an awesome spot to take your family because of all the free venues! DC is only about 4 hours from Pittsburgh, so it makes a great weekend destination. 

We had never taken the opportunity to visit Mt. Vernon, so this was a special chance. And it was extra fun to do the candlelight tour


Visiting Mt. Vernon was a great opportunity to teach our kids about some pieces of American history. It was fun to see how the Washington's home operated and learn about all the entertaining they did, how their household functioned and even see their original bed! Fun fact: they never lived in the White House as it was still under construction during his presidency. 


You'll see characters on site including the blacksmith, cooks, house manager and Martha Washington. You can even learn to square dance!


The tour concludes with seeing George Washington's camel, hot cider, cookies & Christmas carols!
We were bundled up for the evening and it was a fun family night. If you're looking to do a DC road trip, it's definitely a great stop on your list. You can make reservations ahead for the Mt. Vernon Inn Restaurant to add to your evening tour as well. Go here for more info on the candlelight tour.


Besides visiting Mt. Vernon, we then had the hard decision of what else to pack in for our 2 day visit. So many choices! The Museum of Natural History was our kids favorite stop on a previous trip. We also really want to visit the new African American History Museum, but find it's very hard to get tickets since it's opened! But top of our list was the DC Zoo since we had never before been to this venue. It did not disappoint!


We were lucky to get a 60 degree day and so it was perfect for walking around the zoo! Staying hydrated is important obviously, and whatever was in these kids drinks we brought with us was totally gross!! 😆 


It was fun to see some animals that our local zoo doesn't have on site. 


We made a brief stop at the National Air & Space Museum - also a previous favorite for our kids! 


Another new one to us that a friend had recommended was the National Postal Museum. We learned about our national postal system from the time of the Pony Express to the current mail-sorting system of today. It was fun, informational and hands-on for the kids!


They loved being able to make stamps with their picture and then getting it emailed to us.


Checking out all the stamps ever made. And they got to choose 6 stamps to take with them!


So here's my mom-to-mom disclaimer for taking kids to DC. 😊 We waited until our youngest was 5 to do a significant trip here. There is a LOT of walking and if it's too cold or too hot.....well you know that WHINING comes out in full force. 😮 Kids of all ages can definitely enjoy the city and learning more about American history through all the beautiful monuments, memorials, museums + more. But when you go, know your kids limits and plan accordingly, so that it doesn't become full of stress and fussing.


With a family of 6, we often first look to Air B&B for accommodations, but the lure of the pool and free breakfast for the family made a hotel win out this time!


My son's one request was playing football at the Washington Monument, so that's how we ended our final evening.





Thank you, Mt. Vernon, for inspiring our fun, family get-away to DC! We look forward to more weekend trips in the future!


Disclaimer: Mt. Vernon provided us with tickets and compensation to share about their venue. We don't share venues that don't pass the test of our family for fun! 

Monday, November 20, 2017

Kid-friendly benefits of Xfinity

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Xfinity. All opinions are my own. 

Along with some fellow Pittsburgh bloggers, I was recently invited to the new Xfinity store in Upper St. Clair.  Full disclosure: we use Comcast internet in our home, but do not currently have cable.


We try to do limited screen time in our home and as my kids have gotten older, it's not unusual for us not to watch any TV Monday - Thursday. To mamas of toddlers, I definitely used some afternoon shows to give us all a break when we were home all day every day. :) My kids use some devices as part of their homework, but the evenings go fast between off the bus and bedtime. Too fast!

Ever since my husband and I have been married, we chose to cut the cable bill and rely on our 3 local channels + Netflix for down time. We also were grandfathered into a monthly $20 internet bill for several years which made that an easy choice. But unfortunately, that nice perk has now gone away and we have been thinking through some other options. We've realized that we can now bundle and get cable for only $10 more per month that we are currently paying for our internet. So this was perfect timing to see what the Xfinity experience could offer us!


Our guide first introduced us to the X1 experience and Common Sense Media. First awesome perk - voice feature of the remote. Can your kids say "kids zone"? Then they can operate it by themselves! (This obviously has pros and cons. ☺) One of the best options for this is that there is a ton of parental control for wifi + TV . Once they get into kids zone, they cannot get back out without a password. That brings peace of mind that they won't be surfing through content that you haven't already screened!


X1 will give you a clear review of each show and movie as to what elements will be appropriate for your kids. You have the option to block any shows or movies from kids zone that you don't want them to see. 

Some other benefits of parental control options: 
  • Can pause a device from your app 
  • Can monitor the usage and see what times they were on their device. 
  • Bedtime pause 
  • Control wifi during dinner, bed time, ect....


Another important option that we learned about is the Xfinity Home system. This gives great control and peace of mind for who's coming in & out of your home. It can be extremely personalized based on your needs. You can download an app that will allow you to control cameras, thermostats, lights, sensors and monitor activity in your home from afar. But you also don't have to get cameras to use many of the benefits of the home system.  You can monitor anytime doors or windows are opened in your home - for example checking to see that your kids arrived home after their scheduled bus drop off.


And lastly, for those that may be interested in their phone options - they have Xfinity mobile. They work off the very reliable Verizon network. Currently, you need to buy their device, but can bring your own device beginning in 2018. 
  • Pay by the gig which is shared with all phones.
  • Up to 5 lines which can each be on a different plan. Customize to each person.
  • Unlimited for $45 a month
  • Unlimited calls & texts
  • Port your number
  • Free upgrades
  • Buy back program for your device



This was a very informative evening to learn about so many family-friendly and safety features that Xfinity offers! I hope passing this information on to you will be helpful in the decisions you are making for your family as well.

#XfinityMoms

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Giveaway: Holiday Lights Mini Golf

There's a new holiday tradition in the Pittsburgh region! That would be Holiday Lights Mini Golf at Fun Fore All Family Fun Park in Cranberry Twp., Pa. 36 holes of award-winning miniature golf decked in holiday lights, as well as tons of great events centered around the holiday season!



Fun Fore All's Holiday Lights Mini Golf is a NEW Christmas tradition in the making!  Fun Fore All is turning their two award-winning miniature golf courses (Cave Course and Lighthouse Course) into a fully playable walk-through holiday lights show. You will experience various animated themed holiday lights (country western, penguins, Taj Mahal, under the sea, Victorian Christmas + more) in the most FUNtastic way possible! 




Complete with two walk through light tunnels, a twenty-foot Christmas tree, and a holiday musical show that plays several times an hour, Fun Fore All’s Holiday Lights Mini Golf is sure to put you in the Christmas spirit!


You can view a full schedule of special events here, including some of these specially-themed evenings!

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 25TH - PRINCESS NIGHT 

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 2ND - STAR WARS NIGHT

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 9TH - STEELERS‘ NIGHT 

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 16TH - PENGUINS‘ NIGHT 

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 31st - NEW YEAR’S FUNTASTIC EVE 

TUESDAY, JANUARY 2nd LAST NIGHT OF HOLIDAY LIGHTS MINI GOLF 


Best of all, each mini golf admission benefits the Highmark Caring Place. 

WHAT IS THE CARING PLACE?

    The death of a loved one is devastating to a child. The impact can be overwhelming and the children and family often need support. The Highmark Caring Place can provide that support through its various programs. Thousands of community members are helped by the Caring Place each year at no cost through our peer support programs, and our education, consultation, and referral services.


After a brisk game of mini golf, you can head inside and warm up with more fun activities. Their 4-story, soft-style play area (Ballocity) is one of my kids favorite play areas! There are also arcade games, the NEW XD Dark Ride, rock climbing wall + more. 


So, who wants to take the family for a fun outing? I have 4 tickets to give away! 



This post sponsored by Fun Fore All. I have received product or compensation for my review. I don't endorse things I don't love!

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Giveaway with Jord Watches

Gift giving season is here! I love buying gifts for others and enjoying the joy in giving. But does anyone else have trouble with finding the right gifts for their husband? My hubby is notoriously picky. And that's ok! He has great taste. But it definitely makes gift-giving a challenge!

So I'm always on the lookout for things that he might like. When JORD Watches approached me with the opportunity to try one of their beautiful watches, I was pretty sure we had a sure winner!


Wood Watches by JORD  are created out of unique and beautiful woods. There are so many gorgeous choices, it's hard to pick just one!

What's to love about JORD?
Hand-crafted wood timepieces. Raw material, refined design. JORD is run by artists, designers, marketers, and minders. We are focused on creating timepieces that are modeled after a modern lifestyle. We value sustainability, efficiency, and experiential living. 



GIVEAWAY:

For anyone that might want to snap up one of these beauties for yourself or choose to give one as a gift this holiday season, I'm excited to offer a $100 giveaway to JORD! 

Simply go here to enter to win!

And if you don't want to wait to see if you win....I can offer you all a 25% promo code today! Simply use code pghmoms where it asks for a gift code. 

Would you choose a Ladies Wood Watch Ladies Wood Watch or a Guys Wood Watches by JORD? TOUGH CHOICE! All I can say is you can't go wrong either way and getting a his + hers might be the way to go. ☺




Happy shopping! 

This post sponsored by JORD Watches. I have received product or compensation for my review. I don't endorse things I don't love!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Sick kid on vacation – is there an app for that?

This is a sponsored post in partnership with The Motherhood on behalf of UPMC.


Picture this: You and your husband are taking a vacation with your kids. You’re away from home and it’s hard enough to keep a small humans happy and healthy in a familiar place – but you’re about to take your family somewhere you’ve never been. So, after what seems like the longest flight you’ve ever been on (really only one hour and 50 mins), you all head to the hotel and notice that your son is coughing. By the time you check in he feels warm and has a rash on his belly. What?! Not on vacation! He can’t get sick here! You have no idea where the Urgent Care is or the local pharmacy, for that matter. Your husband says, “Sick kid on vacation – is there an app for that?” 

Well…
I am so very excited to tell you that YES – There’s an app for that! It’s called UPMC Anywhere Care!

The UPMC Anywhere Care app allows you to have a face to face visit with a UPMC doctor right from your phone, tablet or desktop! The app is free and it’s free to sign up for an account. Visits start at $49, but for those with UPMC Health Plan, the cost is similar to the cost of a PCP co-pay. So, even if you don’t have UPMC insurance, you can access a UPMC doctor for $49 per virtual visit.

Here’s how it works:
  • Download the free UPMC Anywhere Care app and sign up for a free account.
  • When someone in your household is sick, you can use the app to find the appropriate UPMC doctor for your virtual visit. You will be able to scroll through and read about available doctors. You will even be able to see what languages they can speak and their specialties.
  • After you choose a doctor, you will be notified when your visit will begin. You can choose to use video chat or audio only. You can also send photos if necessary.
  • If a prescription is required, it will be sent to the nearest pharmacy for your convenience.
  • If you’re in Pennsylvania (PA), you’ll be connected with a UPMC doctor. If you’re are outside of PA, you can still use Anywhere Care, but you’ll see doctors staffed from American Well (Online Care Group).




When I heard about this app, my mind started recalling all the times it would have saved me time and unnecessary anxiety. 

Imagine:

·         Not having to wait until your PCP can get you in.
·         Not having to take your already sick kid out in the freezing winter air to go to the doctor.
·         Not having to pay for parking at the hospital ;)

I urge you to take the stress out of being sick and download the free UPMC Anywhere Care app so you are ready for the inevitable, non-emergent illness. Some of the most common visits fall into the following diagnoses:
  •         Sinusitis
  •         Upper respiratory infection
  •         Bronchitis
  •         Urinary tract infection
  •         Conjunctivitis
  •         Cough
  •        Allergies

So, next time you are packing for vacation, be sure you have the UPMC Anywhere Care app with you, so you will have one less thing to worry about and maybe you will actually be able to relax!


EXCITING NEW DEVELOPMENTS!

The UPMC AnywhereCare Smart Thermometer is in development! 
This is not your everyday, average thermometer, and it goes a step beyond taking your temperature. When it detects a fever, it immediately opens the UPMC AnywhereCare app on your smartphone to connect you with a health care provider for a virtual visit.
Go here to see the thermometer in action. 

EXTRA GOOD NEWS!

UPMC Health Plan is giving away digital thermometers to help parents during cold and flu season, along with instructions on how to download and use the UPMC AnywhereCare app. Those who make a free UPMC AnywhereCare account by February 16 are automatically entered to win.

Sign up for UPMC AnywhereCare online or on the app between January 16 and February 16, and you'll be entered for a chance to win a free digital thermometer!

And for more great health information from UMPC, check out their blog: UPMC’s HealthBeat




Thanks to Momtourage mama, Kayt Bech, for the great write-up!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Pittsburgh Light Up Night

It's one of our favorite family nights in Pittsburgh! Bundle warm, pack some snacks and head out to enjoy our city at Light Up Night!


We love stopping at Fifth Avenue Place because it's a great place to warm up in the cold, there's fun activities for kids, indoor bathrooms (🙆) and a food court so you have multiple options. Not that anyone's kids might have a difference in opinion for dinner. 😜

Here is what's happening at Fifth Avenue Place:

Friday, November 17
   Light Up Night

The Shops and Food Court will be open until 9 p.m. with select eateries open later

5 – 9 p.m.         Fifth Avenue FREEZE  Liberty Avenue & Stanwix Street

Visit Pittsburgh’s very own Winter Wonderland at the Fifth Avenue FREEZE!  Discover a shimmering display featuring Arctic Ice Animals welcoming the Holidays!  Get up close and snap photos with our Ice Polar Bear, Reindeer, Arctic Dog Sled and more.  And enjoy live ice carving shows by award winning master ice carver Rich Bubin of Ice Creations.

5 – 9 p.m.         Family Fun & Festivities  Fifth Avenue Place
·         Catch up with the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh and create your own Northern Lights Landscape to illuminate your way throughout downtown.
·         Show your holiday spirit with a commemorative Airbrush Tattoo.
·         Enjoy festive balloon art.
·         Get in the holiday spirit with live musical performances by the:
Roger Barbour Jazz Quartet                 4:30p – 6:30p
Cross/Current                                       7:00p – 9:00p


7 – 7:15 p.m.    Unity Tree Lighting  Corner of Penn Avenue & Stanwix Avenue

Join one of Pittsburgh’s best known neighbors, Mr. McFeely, for a traditional countdown & splash of fireworks to kick off the official lighting of the historic UNITY TREE!


Ever since we moved in Pittsburgh in 2009, enjoying festivities in Downtown Pittsburgh has always been one our family's highlights! Holiday KidsPlay, Free horse-drawn carriage rides, the ice rink, Gingerbread House Displays, Peoples Gas Holiday Market and Santa's House are all part of the fun!! Go here to find more light up night events. Fireworks will end the night at 9:30PM!


Whether you are able to attend Light Up Night or not, there will be plenty of other times to enjoy the holiday festivities!

Saturdays November 18 – December 23
& Friday November 24

Every Saturday              FREE Fifth Avenue Place Holly Trolley
11 a.m. – 5 p.m             Discover all the sights and sounds of the holiday season in downtown Pittsburgh aboard the FREE Fifth Avenue Place Holly Trolley.  Hosted by Santa’s little helpers, trolleys circle downtown each weekend picking up at stops approximately every 15 minutes
Visit www.downtownpittsburgh.com in early November for a listing of all trolley stop locations.


Saturdays, November 25 – December 16
            Creation Stations - FREE Family Fun with the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh

Saturday, November 25
11 a.m. – 2 p.m.            Holidays in Paradise
Yes, there really “is” a Santa Claus and you’ll find him at Fifth Avenue Place.  Stop by after the parade, meet Santa in person straight from the North Pole and receive a special Surprise!  One of Santa’s favorite helpers, The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, will be on hand with holidays in paradise workshops where children can craft their very own holiday colored leis and pineapple pine cone ornaments.  Display the colors of the season with creative face painting.


Saturday, December 2
11 a.m. – 2 p.m.            Under the Palms
Reflect upon the warmth of the holidays under the palms with The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh by creating a palm tree Christmas tree and tropical leaves wreath.  Visit for story time and enjoy holiday classics as read by Mrs. Claus and be amazed as magician Chris Handa brings holiday magic to life!

Saturday, December 9
11 a.m. – 2 p.m.            Surf’s Up Saturday
Join cheerful elves for surfs up Saturday from the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh and design surfboard Christmas trees. Showcase your talent and create your very own flip flop ornament.  Capture the seasonal spirit with a keepsake caricature.

Saturday, December 16
11 a.m. – 2 p.m.            Flamingo fun
Design one-of-a-kind flamingo snow globes and finger puppets with The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh.  Show off your holiday spirit with a fun face painting and catch up with everyone’s favorite elf for creative balloon art.

Friday, November 24 – Friday, December 22

Monday – Friday            Holiday Lunchtime Concerts
12 p.m Daily                  Live musical performances from some of Pittsburgh’s favorite artists bring the sounds of the season to life during the always entertaining Lunchtime Concert Series.
           
Friday-November 24:   Featured performer The Roger Barbour Jazz Quartet
12p-2p

Friday, November 24 – Saturday, December 23

After 4 p.m. Weekdays  Holiday Parking Validation
All Day Saturdays          Enjoy FREE Parking with any $20 Fifth Avenue Place retail purchase in the Fifth Avenue Place Garage on Evenings(enter after 4pm) and Weekends.
See Stores for Details • Limit: One Per Person


This post sponsored by Fifth Avenue Place. All opinions remain my own. I don't endorse activities that my own family doesn't love!