Skipping Through the Holiday Season with Born Shoes + a Fabulous Giveaway!

Right now, in this season of my life with five children including babies and toddlers, parenthood defines me. I suppose it has since I became a mother and likely will until they leave the nest, and it’s a state of being that I am absolutely privileged to experience and embrace. I have come to understand that while I can be a parent 24/7, it is essential for my sense of self that I maintain the things that I personally love and appreciate-my work, my art, and my personal style.

 

 

Over the years and drastic changes that my body has been through with five pregnancies and our lifestyle residing in a big city or beach town, there are few wardrobe consistencies with what I can trust and expect to get me through each big change: my shoes. I have worn and had the fortune of working with Born Footwear for years, and I am thrilled to partner with them this winter season to showcase a few of my favorite styles. Born Footwear is not only fashionable (a must for me) but they are well made and absolutely comfortable.

 

Whether I am chasing kids around a playground or running errands with a baby or hosting a holiday party, I can count on Born Footwear to have a style that suits the occasion. This year, I fell in love with the AVALA, a suede boot that I’ve been able to pair with a dress + leggings and even denim jeans, the GALLINARA, a beautiful and trendy over-the-knee style that I love wearing with my favorite blue jeans, and the WINEMA, a super cute bootie that has a bit of detail around the ankle making them look a bit polished but casual and cute as well. Each pair is made with five layers including a leather upper and rubber soles, designed for comfort-and they truly are. Born Footwear is made with a handcrafted construction that offers a unique stitching around the toe up to the heel that is sewn by hand and allows the shoe to flex and move with the foot for a natural feel.

The holiday season often allows me to have a little fun with my outfits by getting dressed up. I can easily pair the black suede Avala for a dressier look if I’m attending a holiday party, and the Gallinara is perfect for hosting a more casual family gathering at home. The Winema is my go-to for outdoorsy things like Christmas Tree picking with the family and I love how comfortable they are even walking around in the dirt!

Even though I can expect my days as a working mother to be filled with all kinds of different events and adventures, not to mention the chaos of the holiday season, I have embraced the fact that I won’t have full control over each day and situation. Knowing that I have the consistency of relying on a great pair of shoes makes my our adventures much easier and more comfortable!

I am happy to offer a $500 holiday shopping spree giveaway to one of you, to either add to your own wardrobe or your holiday list!

Please follow the instructions below-and good luck!

Momma’s Gone City & Børn Shoes Give the Gift of Comfort

 

 

Kindness Matters Most

It took awhile for us to narrow our family motto, the single core value that not only brings us together as a family but also connects and bonds us to our pets, our peers and acquaintances and even strangers. There are a lot of things that we treasure as a family, but kindness truly trumps the rest and encompasses everything. The most genuine values are the least fussy and the most effective.

We preach kindness, whether it comes to animals and pets or the opposing teams during sports and even friends at school that don’t always act with love in their hearts. It is an honor to partner with iconic oral care brand (and Shyba Family staple) Crest as they team up with the movie WONDER, in theaters November 17th, to establish smiles as a universal act of kindness.

If there’s one thing that I promote with my family, in my own everyday life, and even on social media-kindness is truly one of the most important things you can practice. I have been deliberate about making sure to smile at people everywhere I go, and it’s pretty remarkable how much of a difference it makes in my own life, but also as I see the positive gestures spreading.

The new movie Wonder-in theaters November 17th– tells a beautiful story, but most importantly it’s message is about diversity and inclusion, both of which begin with understanding, kindness, and smiles. In order to help create a kinder world, Crest invites you to join their powerful new campaign to amplify the power of smiles. Let’s join forces to #ChooseSmiles & #ChooseKind every day.

Lead With Love

This post was developed in collaboration with P&G as part of their Love Over Bias campaign. 

The last couple of summers, my daughter Zoe elected to sign up for a baseball camp organized by our local World Series champion major league baseball team. This particular team, like lots of MLB teams, are heroes to so many children and adults, and so when the opportunity came up to participate, both my oldest son and daughter wanted to play.

Zoe played on an all-girls softball team for a few seasons now, and she loves it. She has also grown up watching her brother play baseball and her parents are avid fans, so the love for the game has been instilled in her at an early age. So, when she signed up, it didn’t matter to her that it would be mostly boys playing-she’s used to being around boys, and she knows that the game of professional baseball is all men. That did not deter her. She is strong and fearless, but when the boys began to “boo” her from the dugout while she was at bat, she came home upset and discouraged. Gender bias, as subtle as it can be, is woven throughout the fabric of our society and it starts with us as parents to inform and make the difference with our children.

On November 1 P&G launched “Love Over Bias,” the newest installment of its hallmark “Thank You, Mom” series. The film imagines what the world could be like if we all saw each other through a mom’s eyes.

I am personally a sucker for these beautiful videos- last year’s “Thank You, Mom” campaign video still makes me cry whenever I see it. It’s important that those with big voices draw attention to unfair and unnecessary biases, in hopes of making a difference. As parents, we know that teaching and guiding our children to overcome adversity is one of the greatest things we can do for them. I wished every boy on that baseball field could see my daughter the same way I do – a strong baseball player that can hold her own amongst all the boys!

Though she was momentarily deterred from playing on the nearly all-boys team from their jeering, Zoe persevered and not only finished the camp, but went back the following year to clean up in achievement awards for her age group!

I am sure you’ll enjoy this video as much as I did as a mother, and be encouraged to share it using the hashtag #LoveOverBias with your own communities. The message is a strong and important one, and I am more than happy to support it!  I hope you will, too.

Growing Up Happy, Healthy + Armed with SpoonfulOne, Plus a Giveaway!

Whenever I mention to someone that I have five children, the response is usually that of shock and awe. It’s not really my generation’s thing to have more than 3 children, at least in the area that we live. I try to explain that our experiences as parents are all relative, that we have the same joys and concerns, trials and tribulations.

When my first two children were babies, I worried a lot. I spent a lot of energy pining over everyday parenting decisions like splurging on organic food, what kinds of cleaning products to use around the house and whether or not I should be using cloth diapers. After years of making sure I did everything right, we learned that Jack was severely allergic to tree nuts. No matter how many children or years of parenting experience I have, nothing I can do diminishes the fear that we live with and the work that I put into managing his food allergies and our overall health as a family.

Over the past eight years of living with Jack’s allergy to tree nuts and heightened sensitivity to certain raw vegetables, I’ve dedicated myself in many ways to being an advocate for him and learning as much as I can to reduce the risk of developing food allergies with my younger children. A lot of research has been done surrounding the growing problem of food allergies in children. Nearly 6 million in the United States alone are affected-that’s 2 kids per classroom. Learning more about food allergies and how to manage them has been a personal investment for our entire family, so I was incredibly honored to partner with Before Brands on the launch of their new product, SpoonfulOne.

Developed by a pediatrician, allergist and fellow mother of five, SpoonfulOne Daily Food Mix-In is a daily dietary supplement comprised of gentle portions of the foods responsible for 90% of allergies. Sourced from real food – including peanuts, tree nuts, milk, wheat, egg, soy, fish, shellfish and sesame – SpoonfulOne is designed to help a child’s body get to know and stay accustomed to a wide variety of potential food allergens. The fine texture and mild taste make it easy to simply incorporate the packet into everyday food portions-Evvie loves the process of dumping and mixing the “magic potion” into her yogurt and Demi is just happy to be eating, period.

Being as deliberate as I possibly can about making sure my children are as happy and healthy as possible is my ultimate goal, and I feel armed with a wealth of tools and information for steering my non-food allergic children towards immunity against many food allergens. SpoonfulOne is designed to be introduced to children without known food allergies when they begin eating solid foods, as science and research has shown that the “early and consistent” approach to including potential allergens in a child’s diet is proven safe and may be beneficial.

As a mother there is nothing I strive for more than to see my children grow to be healthy and well-adjusted adults. If I can begin to address the fear and stress of potential allergies before they begin, I am all for it. I am a passionate believer in the benefits of science and research, and I am so proud to be partnering with SpoonfulOne. I can’t wait to share more about our journey with it.

GIVEAWAY:

I am thrilled to be able to offer a one year subscription for SpoonfulOne to one of you! To enter, follow the prompts. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

This post was sponsored by SpoonfulOne, all opinions are my own.

Everything I’ve Learned From Potty-Training My Four Kids

September is a big month for the Shyba family, and this year is no exception. All of the kids besides baby Demi have started school, with Jack in 5th, Zoe in 4th, Beau in Kindergarten and Evangeline began attending preschool. Though we were already on the track to practicing using the potty, Evvie’s preschool does not allow children in diapers, so there was a hard date by which she was to be completely toilet trained.

Of all the major early milestones in a child’s life, learning how to listen to their body in a way that requires them to also want to use a toilet rather than a diaper is such a major stage. It always completely amazes and impresses me how quickly the transition ultimately happens, though the process itself can be long and grueling. My boys were both fairly challenging to potty train, and while my girls seem to be more eager for the independence, our experience with Evvie has been unique. She is incredibly determined, precocious and independent; and never more so than when she’s making decisions for herself and her body. The control that she exhibits when communicating with us about her routine and various stages of her day is astounding, even to me. As the fourth child, one of three daughters, Evvie is not about to go unnoticed or unaccounted for.

 

Based on research and observation of personality types in young children, and child development expert Dr. Heather Wittenberg identified five potty training personalities: the Puppy, the Owl, the Bear Cub, the Turtle and the Squirrel.

 

  • Puppy: seeks to please, ready and willing to potty train, tends to have regular habits
  • Owl: careful, meticulous, motivated to follow directions, wants to learn rules, responds well to clear expectations
  • Bear Cub: busy with toys, friends and food, has too much fun to worry about cleanliness
  • Turtle: nervous and resistant to anything new, shy, persistent, creative and loyal
  • Squirrel: driven and on the go, highly energetic and easily distracted, gets lost in play and forgets to potty

 

Based on Dr. Wittenberg’s assessment, my boys are all turtles, Zoe was an owl and Evvie is a cross between a turtle and a squirrel. Though they are such different children, the relationship that I’ve developed with them through this training process has been incredibly important for all of us, and I am certainly grateful for any and all tools I can find to help us both through it.

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With each child, we used Pull-Ups, which rank among the most effective methods for potty training. They help teach potty training skills – physical, cognitive and emotional – and they enable parents and children to work together towards a common goal. Pull-Ups are all about providing parents and kids with tips and advice to help make potty training easy and fun, plus lots of tools specifically designed to keep children engaged throughout the journey. In fact, 3 of 4 moms prefer Pull-Ups®!* We also recently discovered that you can give your child’s favorite characters a call on Pull-Ups.com. Evvie loves Minnie Mouse and it’s so cool, you can get your child excited about training and keep them engaged by receiving a call from one of their favorite characters. This is a great tool to keep potty training fun and exciting!

 

Evvie is now used to using the toilet during her waking hours, but we use the Pull-Ups Night Time Training Pants when she sleeps, though she almost always wakes up dry lately. As a parent, I appreciate any and all tools to help guide us both during the potty training period, and can confidently say that we made it through the rigors unscathed.

Healthy and Hearty at Mealtime

Though it’s already been a couple of weeks, I’m still slowly coming to accept the reality that I have four children in school. Three of them are, for the first and last time in their young lives, attending the same school. Evvie is going to a sweet little preschool right around the corner for a few days a week, a change that she was really excited about and is embracing wholeheartedly. I will admit that it’s not easy on my momma’s heart to watch them growing older, but I can’t hope for anything more than my children successfully and happily meeting milestones.

Logistically, four children in school is much easier than our previous arrangement, with two in elementary, one in preschool, one popping in and out of ballet and gymnastics classes and a baby along for the ride. It does mean that we’re constantly packing four lunches and washing four sets of lunch tins nearly four times a week. Justin and I are a great team though, and Jack and Zoe are involved in meal planning and often packing their own lunches. I like to be creative and different with their menu options, though most times they want something they are familiar with and something they consistently enjoy. Lunch can be socially exasperating for them, so I prioritize portability and taste more than anything. We’ve really relied on staples like deli meat, fruit and allergy friendly snacks, and I’ve had a lot of fun and success with Arla cheese products. Owned by farmers and with brand goals that include sustainability and environmentally friendly production practices, Arla cheese is one that is frequently in my arsenal for meal preparation for my family.

Evangeline really enjoys it when I make snack rolls and bite sized foods in the shapes of animals. It’s something I used to do when each of the kids were in preschool, so I’ve had a bit of practice. Arla cream cheese spread made with simple ingredients and come in various flavors like blueberry, strawberry, herbs & spices and original. It’s tasty in turkey wraps and on breakfast bagels, so much so that each child enjoys it. Sometimes I even send them as dips with sliced carrots, apples and pretzels.

Now that Jack and Zoe are in the upper grades, lunch tends to take a back seat to play time. I am tasked with sending simple and quickly consumable foods. Sandwiches with Arla sliced Gouda and Havarti are Jack’s favorites, while Zoe really likes to make her own grilled cheese with the Arla sliced Medium Cheddar and take it to school with a handful of cherry tomatoes.

Beau is our pickiest eater, and just wants sliced salami, Arla snack cheese with all the fruit he can fit into his lunch tin. It’s fun for him, nutritious, and I’m really just so happy when he actually consumes what I send that I only change it up with the various kinds of cheese (Arla Snack Cheese in Medium Cheddar and Havarti are his favorites) and crackers.

There’s a lot to be said about getting behind a good, consistent routine. Though back-to-school can be a challenging time to get everyone back on a homework and sleep schedule, it’s nice to have a naturally delicious, reliable lunch menu for the week with foods that are easy to prepare and fun to eat for the kids. Arla products are a favorite in our home and I’m happy to have the variety of options in my refrigerator