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Mama Must-Haves

Mama Must-Haves

Teeth Whitening For Coffee Stains

September 16, 2019

I love the saying “life is what happens between coffee and wine” because those two beverages are pretty much what keeps this mama going! Naturally those dark colored drinks aren’t doing any favors for my teeth. Over time I started noticing less of a white smile in a lot of our family photos so I was very excited to be approached by Smile Br!lliant to review their at-home professional kit to help teeth whitening for coffee stains.

When I learned that the first step I needed to take was to make a mold of my teeth for the whitening trays I had instant flash backs of gagging on clay molding trays at the orthodontist about 20 years ago. (That kind of torture will stay with you forever). However, the molding trays were extremely easy to use! I had no trouble making the impressions, and it was effortless to drop them in their pre-paid package and stick in the mail to send out to the lab. Not even a week later my finished trays arrived!

I received the whitening trays and began whitening my teeth every evening. I love to read a good book at night so I simply popped in my trays before reading and it became a part of my night time routine.

My teeth have always been extra sensitive so I used the desensitizing gel provided in the kit and noticed a huge difference in sensitivity when I consistantly used the gel after whitening sessions.

As mentioned this mama really can’t go a day without coffee and I was afraid that would affect my results but luckily the desensitizing gel
helps close the pores on your teeth faster – which also helps prevent re-staining! I still used a straw when sipping my morning Starbucks to help minimize stains.

Photography: Kate Elizabeth Photography

After just one week of using the whitening trays I could see a huge difference in the brightness of my smile, which really makes you feel confident all over. I continued using the trays every other day for a total of 12 days and I still have some product left over for touch-ups later on!

Here is a look at the before and after results of my teeth whitening. I love the noticeable difference and how easy this entire process was!

Before left, after right

I’m so excited to partner with Smile Br!lliant to giveaway this great product! Click the link below to enter a professional at-home teeth whitening kit by Smile Brill!ant, a $150 value! Good luck!!!

 Click here for chance to win:

Also feel free to shop 15% off store wide code using my code: makingmemorieswithmyminis15

Tooth Whitening Gel
Mama Must-Haves

Nap Time Tips

January 18, 2019
One of the toughest parts about sleep training (in my opinion) is setting a successful nap time routine throughout the day and staying consistent with that routine. Certified Gentle Sleep Coach, Lauren Lowenstein helps share lots of great nap time tips as well as some insight on how much sleep your child should be getting every day. 
Mama Must-Haves

Infant Sleep Training

January 15, 2019

Pretty much the first question people ask when they see a new mom with her baby is “how is he/she sleeping?” I think everyone is just curious because if you’ve ever been there you know that getting that sweet baby to sleep is no easy task. I’m currently in the beginning phases of sleep training my 4 month old daughter and was lucky enough to get to chat with Lauren Lowenstein, a Certified Gentle Sleep Coach to get some expert advice on infant sleep training.  This subject is super broad so we are breaking this up into a two-part series, see nap time tips to get helpful info about your child’s nap time. 

  • What does a sleep coach do? Can you come to my house at 3 AM? (That’s a joke unless you say yes)
Great question! Many young parents whose children are struggling with sleep have no idea what a sleep coach is or that we even exist!
Mama Must-Haves

Learning Toys for Toddlers

August 28, 2018

My girls just started preschool last week and I’m not going to lie, I am VERY excited they have started this transition! I can just tell they’re at the point where they need constant interaction with other kids their age. I also feel like a structured learning environment will be really beneficial for them. They have late summer birthdays and are the youngest kiddos in their classes so we started working over the summer on basic learning tools I thought they should know to help prepare them for preschool. So far I have found these toys to be the best learning toys for toddlers.


I love this one because there are so many different ways for them to learn. They can count the number of chocolate chips on one side of the cookie and the number on the other side helps them with number recognition. The cookie jar also talks and asks that they find different numbers to put in the jar, if they find the wrong one the jar will ask them to try again.  Finding the correct way to place the cookies into the jar also helps improve their fine motor skills. There are a few different types of these on Amazon, this one is our favorite and is currently priced at $19.99.


One of my daughters in particular is obsessed with Mega Blocks. Mom loves them too because it keeps them entertained for long periods of time and they are fun to do together. I find that it also helps improve their team work because they have to work together to make sure their “castle” doesn’t fall over. Carefully stacking the blocks also helps improve fine motor skills in toddlers.

Mega blocks run around $15 to $20 at most retailers, we purchased ours on Amazon.


Creativity through art is a big part of preschool and this double sided multi-purpose easel is great for displaying all of the girls art work. They can hang their pictures on it or color with chalk on one side and with the dry erase markers on the opposite side. It’s a major bonus that both kids can use this easel at the same time on different sides without anyone fighting for space to color! This one is currently on sale for only $62.99.


These magnets helped my girls learn the alphabet at a very young age. We practiced putting the different letters on the boards and worked on learning colors. We are just now starting to get into spelling as well. They also have animal magnets which helped them learn the names of all of the animals and made going to the zoo so much more fun since they immediately recognized the names of all of the animals!

The animal magnets in the picture above are currently on sale for $10.64.

The number and letter magnets are $18.69, this package also includes addition, subtraction and multiplication math signs that can be saved for when the kids get a little older. 


Similar to the magnets my kiddos love spelling out different words in the bathtub. These letters stick to the wall in the bathtub and float in the water. This is such a great and educational way to spend tub time! The ONLY thing I do not like about these is that the foam letters absorb water like a sponge and over time water collects and attracts bugs to the tub – yuck! We occasionally set ours outside to completely dry in between usage. These foam letters are less than $15 and this set includes a bath tub toy organizer. 


This one is a little advanced but it’s great for kids who LOVE puzzles like mine do. It’s nice that each word is only three or four letters long so they don’t get overwhelmed trying to figure each one out. This puzzle helps with cognition of spelling and words, it’s also great for improving their attention span and concentration because they have to work until each individual puzzle is completed.  The Learning Journey Match It Puzzles run around $10 on Amazon.


You can’t go wrong with some old fashioned flashcards! These are wonderful because similar to the counting cookie jar there is a number on one side of the card and the same number of pictures for them to count on the other side. The bright pictures on each card also helps keep them stimulated. We were given these flash cards as a party favor at a birthday party about two years ago and the girls still love playing with these! Such a perfect idea for a party favor!


You can get several packs of numbers, letters, colors, and shapes cards for only $14.95 on Amazon. This pack also includes a dry erase board to practice writing. 


This one was recommended to me by another mom, I just ordered it and am so excited for the girls to play it. The point of the game is to be the first to fill your log with all of the different colored acorns for the squirrel. This game reinforces color learning and the development of strategic thinking because you can spin to pick an acorn or lose an acorn in the game. It also helps emphasize turn-taking which is something my girls definitely could use some practice with! The Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game is less than $20 on Amazon.


I try to keep two of these in the car for the girls to look at with while we are running from place to place. This book in particular has over 100 words and 12 different interactive pages to keep them engaged. Most books like these also include music and touch and teach quiz games to help with word association. There are lots of interactive books like this but this one is currently one of our favorites.


  • Board Books

The director of the girl’s preschool told me that the best thing I can do for them at this age is to read to them and I really could not agree more. Reading helps them learn in so many ways, and it’s such a great way for them to bond with mom or dad before bedtime. I really like the board books because they don’t get ripped when the girls want to touch the pages and hold the books themselves. A few of our favorite bedtime reads are Good Night Moon, Guess How Much I Love You, and any of these Sesame Street Board Books. 

Which toys have helped your child learn? Please feel free to share your comments below or by reaching out to

Mama Must-Haves

20 Creative Summer Play Date Ideas

June 4, 2018

“Summertime and the livin’ is easy” – HA! Unless you’re a momma of course! I am ALWAYS searching for ways to entertain my two little ones, especially in the summer when their usual activities are over for the year.  Here are a few creative summer play date ideas we have enjoyed lately and a few other activites we are planning to try out later in the summer.

1. Berry Picking

We went to a blueberry farm first thing in the morning and wore hats and sunscreen so the blazing sun would be tolerable and the girls ended up having a great time! I also brought along these water spraying fans to help cool us all down and they were lifesavers!  This is a fun and very affordable activity year round because depending on where you live you can pick strawberries in the spring, blueberries and blackberries in the summer and pumpkins in the fall. The girls really enjoyed picking all of the blueberries and eating blueberry muffins and pancakes throughout the week.

2. A trip to the Pet Store & Fish Gallery

This is a dangerous one – pretty much every time we do this my poor husband gets a phone call at work “Can we PLEASE get this pet (kitty, puppy, bunny, fish, pig, etc.)” LOL! But, it is a lot of fun to go visit them at the store even if we can’t take them all home! Some pet stores even allow you to take the animals out of their cages to play with them. We also frequent a fish gallery by our house that provides tours for the kids and allows them to touch some of the sea creatures at the store. They even have a giant fish bowl for the kiddos to climb inside (see below).

3. Ice Cream & Popsicle Shops

Since I’m preggo and it’s hot as can be outside we’ve been doing this one a lot!!! Pop Bar is a new favorite place & luckily more shops like Pop Bar are popping up everywhere (no pun intended). Gourmet ice cream trucks  & snow cone shops are also a savior for us in the hot Houston heat!

4. Church Playgrounds

The best thing about these is that they are usually very clean and always free which is wonderful! Everyone is welcome to the indoor church playground and some of them are extremely impressive. Check out this massive one in our area! There are usually designated times for the public to attend that don’t interfere with private schools or church gatherings so be sure to check the available times before you head out.

5. Trolley, Train & Water Taxi Rides

If any of the above exist in your area I definitely recommend doing this with the kiddos! My girls LOVE Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood so as soon as I found out we had a free neighborhood trolley service I knew we had to go for a trolley ride.  I wasn’t sure if this would be exciting enough for them but they absolutely loved it & still talk about it all the time (it’s the simple things). We paired this activity with a picnic in the park to stretch the morning out.

6. Library Events

This may seem like a no-brainer but I was actually shocked to learn about all of the cool events our library hosts, especially in the summer! In addition to their usual toddler story time our library offers visits from therapy dogs, a snake and wildlife encounter and they even have an outdoor maze with book statues. Seriously, libraries are underrated!!! Check with yours to find out what activities are offered this summer, most events are FREE!

7. Fly a kite

We saw a few kids at the park flying kites and my daughters were extremely interested so we thought, why not? We ordered this rainbow kite on Amazon because it’s a great beginner kite for kids.  I didn’t think it was going to entertain them for that long but they actually loved it! We took turns holding it and of course mom and dad had to do most of the work but this was a fun activity for all!

8. Nature Walk

We are lucky enough to live right next to a forest so we do this one pretty often! Here is a cute nature walk check list to bring along on your next hike with the kiddos. 

9. $1 Summer Movies 

I could not love this idea more, a cheap place to take the kids with buttery popcorn and lots of air conditioning to soak up – sounds like every pregnant momma’s dream! The price is also great because if the girls can’t focus and sit still during the movie it’s no big deal if we decide to leave. Info here on Cinemark Summer Movie Clubhouse.

10. Build-A-Bear Work Shop 

We went to Build-A-Bear for the first time yesterday and the girls had an absolute blast! I can already tell we’ll be back several times this summer. The employees are great with getting the kids involved in the process of making their bear (or lion, unicorn, tiger etc). The kids get to pick out which animal they want and what sound they would like for it to make, they then help push a lever with their foot and watch a machine add stuffing to their animal. The add-ons for these are endless you can add different smells, clothes, additional noises, and they even have mini hair brushes and hair dryers available for the animals 🙂 Each one also gets a birth certificate to commemorate it’s birthday.


More ideas we are planning to try this summer:


11. Check out this sidewalk chalk paint and glitter chalk  – we have regular chalk of course but we’ve never tried chalk paint, especially not with glitter! My girls will not be able to resist this!!!

12. Visit a splash pad – This one is a given but there are so many in our area we haven’t even been to half of them yet!

13. Visit a board walk – We will likely take the kids for a trip down to Kemah this summer. Kemah has a huge boardwalk and tons of kid-friendly restaurants including The Aquarium with no shortage of things for them to see and do. I feel like kids of all ages will enjoy this!

14. This Inflatable Backyard Bowling – The girls played with this at a friend’s house and absolutely loved it! We are going to have to order one this summer!

15. Outdoor Concert – Luckily our area offers a lot of these in the evenings throughout the summer and most are completely free! Check with your local city or township to find out about concerts in your area.

16. Get a manicure/pedicure – I cannot wait to bring the girls with me to do this! 

17. Feed the ducks – This is fun to do if you live close to a pond or lake but beware – some ducks get aggressive when they see bread which can be scary and overwhelming for younger kids.  

18. Make your own ice cream – We definitely want to try this one! I found this ice cream maker on Amazon that has high ratings and is under $25.

19. Throw an ice cream party play date – Clearly I’m preggo and cannot stop thinking about ice cream LOL! But, I think this would actually be a lot of fun! Here are some cute ideas for an ice cream party or play date.

20. While we’re on the topic I’ve never met a kid that doesn’t love these ice cream cone cupcakes! So simple and fun for the kiddos!


I would LOVE to hear about your summer plans/kids activities! Please add to this list by commenting below 🙂


Mama Must-Haves

8 Father’s Day Gift Ideas

May 29, 2018

I feel like buying anything for my husband or dad is always a challenge because what do you get the man who already has everything??? When I ask either of them for ideas the usual reply is “I don’t need anything.” Obviously they are still getting something so I tried to get creative this year and put together a list of father’s day gift ideas that both dad & grandpa would appreciate. My hubby isn’t allowed to look at this list because some of his gifts are on here. 🙂

1. Pottery 

Something handmade from the kids is obviously a great go-to for gift for relatives. This year the girl’s helped decorate this plate for their dad since he loves to grill out. We went to a local paint and pottery place and although momma did most of the work the girls still had fun lending a hand print to make these. 

2. Beer Cake/Tower

I feel like you can never go wrong with getting any guy beer, right??? My husband loves his craft brew so I had this made last year for his birthday although I think it would also make a great  father’s day gift! He probably wouldn’t even mind getting this gift more than once! HEB put this one together for me. Pricing depends on the type of beer you select and on the quantity, they can do as much or as little as you want.

3. Golf Tee Holders

Tell dad or grandpa that they are tee-rific with some golf tees holders. My dad is an avid golfer so this is something we will probably get for him. I found two different kinds of these on Amazon, both at very good price points!

ProActive Sports Golf Tee Holder with Ball Markers and 12 Tee

On Par Golf Leather Organizer in Presentation Gift Box – Divot Repair Tool, Ball Marker, Scorecard, golf tees

picture courtesy of Amazon

4. Trump Mug

I know, I know… I just couldn’t resist! LOL This is a great, great mug, really terrific, everyone agrees. 🙂

There are several different types of these on Amazon, I found this one for only $11!

5. Breakfast in bed

Ummm who wouldn’t want breakfast in bed???  My hubby loves banana pancakes so that’s what he’ll be getting, with fresh coffee in the Trump mug of course. 🙂

6. Brief Case/Weekender Bag

I splurged on one of these from Pottery Barn for a Christmas gift one year and I’m so glad I did because it gets used ALL the time! This style of bag is so versatile it can easily be used as a weekender bag, briefcase, a carry on bag for the plane, nice gym bag, etc… I found a few very reasonably priced bags like this on Amazon – links below.

7. Docking Station

I love this multi-purpose wooden docking station, this one is only $28! It can easily hold everything in dad’s pockets and will help keep him more organized! This is another style of docking station on Amazon for only $28. 

 picture courtesy of Amazon

8. Engraved Beer Mug With Kid’s Birthdays

How cute is this etched glass beer mug??? I’ll definitely be ordering one of these for my hubby next year after our third LO is born! I found this mug on Etsy from a shop called Black Rock Engraving for only $13.68 plus shipping!

picture courtesy Black Rock Engraving

Want to add to this list??? Please comment below!