Category: review

Family Travel: Visiting Dollywood in Tennessee with Kids


As a fan of theme parks, roller coasters, and Dolly Parton, loving Dollywood comes naturally for me. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to take my family to the park on our recent trip to the Smoky Mountains. I received free tickets to the park to facilitate this review, but all opinions are my own. I love Dollywood because it is family friendly, family focused, and has a little something for everyone. Read on to find out how our trip went with two toddlers and how to enter to win a trip to Dollywood for your family.


Family Travel: Our Smoky Mountain Family Vacation at Hidden Mountain Resort


Our family loves to spend the summer traveling, and this year we were blessed to spend a few days of our family vacation in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee at Hidden Mountain Resort. The family owned resort features luxury cabin rentals and villas, as well as a motor coach resort. Located in Sevierville, Tennessee, Hidden Mountain is close to all of the action in The Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg, but feels tucked away and secluded. We stayed at Hidden Mountain at no cost in exchange for this review, but all opinions are strictly my own. Read on to find out why we love cabin rentals for frugal family vacations, what we thought about Hidden Mountain Resort, and how you can win a trip of your own to the Smoky Mountains.


Evenflo Symphony DLX Platinum Convertible Car Seat Review ~ The Only Car Seat You’ll Ever Need #EvenfloPlatinum


Our little Pearl Girl just turned one and we have been on the look out for a new car seat. Her infant seat has been great, but she is getting to the point where she wants to sit up a little higher and see more of the world around her. We knew we wanted to upgrade to a convertible seat because we want to keep her rear facing as long as possible. When I had the opportunity to try Evenflo’s new Symphony DLX Platinum Convertible Car Seat, I thought it looked like the perfect fit for us. The seat is designed to fit children from 5-110 pounds, so it is seriously the only one you’ll ever need. We wear our kids rather than tote them around in infant seats, so a convertible car seat is just right for our family. Read on for our convertible car seat review to find out what we loved  and didn’t love about the seat and our recommendations.


Fun and Durable Name Labels for Kids: Bright Star Kids Review

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial. I have wanted a set of name labels for my children’s things for ages, so I was super excited when Bright Star Kids sent me a set to review.  I ordered the red labels and had both kids names printed on them for simplicity.  I’ve put them through the ringer for a few weeks and am pleased to tell you they are awesome.  The set came with a variety of labels and has worked really well for us.


Fun and Funky Gifts for Everyone on Your List: An Uncommon Goods Review

If you are one who likes to give the unexpected, the creative, the responsibly sourced, or the incredibly unique, Uncommon Goods is the place to shop.  When they contacted me about doing a review, I was quickly sucked in to the rabbit hole of shopping on their site.  A few of my favorite items are shown above: a men’s belt made from recycled bike parts, blocks with braille and sign language, sleeping bear and pig slippers, and a gorgeous rough stone ring.  Click here to find the perfect holiday gift for everyone on your list from Uncommon Goods.  Besides featuring a plethora of recycled, upcycled, eco-friendly, and handmade goods, Uncommon Goods uses sustainable environmental and fair wage practices. I’m giving away a $25 gift card from the generous folks at Uncommon Goods as well, so click here to enter.  
I chose to review gifts for the Bear and Jed – Kinetic Sand and a Pick Punch. 
For review purpose I gave the gifts early, and they were both a big hit.
We all agreed the Kinetic Sand is one of our favorite review items EVER.  
If you have a curious kid on your list, this stuff is ridiculously amazing.
We received the small package weighing 2.2 pounds (1 kg) that retails at $15.  It pretty much saved us during the crazy ice storm we had this weekend. We got it out 4 times the first day and 5 times the second day, playing for 20-30 minutes each time.  That is an eternity in toddler years, people.   

I was worried about the mess so I put it on a cookie tray on a sheet.  Turns out I didn’t need to worry.  The stuff is pretty much magic.  It sticks together and if some gets away you can pick it up with a chunk of the sand.  Crazy and awesome.  It feels like a fun science experiment mixed and we all seriously loved it.  I was skeptical at first, but I played almost as much as Bear. 

I’ve missed my calling as a sculptor, obviously.
You can mold it, shape it, cut it, let it drift through your fingers, and then roll it up and do it over again.
The Bear’s favorite game was to build a castle and then promptly bash it.  

I don’t know what kind of wizardry is used to keep it together, but I’m dying to find out.
The girl who spent a summer at science camp and was the historian of her high school science club came out to play for sure.  Nerd alert.  Jed was fascinated as well.  He starting teaching Bear how to use a butter knife to play with the sand.  Then we got out the cookie cutters.  The possibilities are endless.  

If you have a kid or kid-at-heart on your list, this is the perfect gift.  
We could not recommend it any more.  We truly love it. 

My husband, Jed, loves to play the guitar.  I gave him the Pick Punch to review, and he thinks it is really fun.  He used an old Starbucks gift card to test it out, and was able to create three picks from one gift card.  They are the same size as the picks he purchased, and work perfectly.  

If you have a musician in your life, the Pick Punch would make a great gift.  It retails for $25.  Teenagers who’ve taken up the guitar would be prime recipients, as would rock start dads like my husband.  In my experience, men and teenagers are the most difficult to buy for.  My husband is picky, and he loves this little machine.  If you need more gift ideas for men, click here.  

Uncommon Goods is also budget friendly.  Click here to find a great selection of gifts under $50.

Check out Uncommon Goods and come back and tell me your favorite item.  
Be sure to enter my giveaway for a $25 gift card here (ends 12/16).

Mama Needs a Minute: Graco Little Lounger Review #Graco15ForMe

Adjusting to life with two wee ones has been… a challenge.  I love it, but lately we’ve had a few days when naps don’t overlap and I’m desperate for a shower.  Sometimes mama just needs a minute.  Through a sponsored opportunity I had the chance to learn about Graco’s new Little Lounger at an event on White Rock Lake in Dallas, as well as review it in depth at home.  It is a 2 in 1 rocking seat and vibrating bouncer, perfect for naps or a comfy spot for baby to lounge while Mommy checks off the to do list or takes a minute to breathe.  If you are expecting or the parent of a baby under thirty pounds, the Little Lounger should be on your radar.  
The Little Lounger was really put to the test when we were trying to get out the door for a road trip.  My Pearl girl lounged contentedly for over half an hour while we rounded up last minute stuff and packed the car.  I didn’t have to worry about her crawling under the book shelf or trying to eat one of the Bear’s toys.  She coo’ed and laughed and batted at the little leaves hanging down.  It was glorious.  
We received the Graco Little Lounger in Caraway, available exclusively at Babies R Us.  I love the gender neutral design and soothing colors, as well as the leaf motif.  It retails for $79.99, and other designs are available at Target and Buy Buy Baby. 
My Favorite Features:
vibration – soothes the angry teething baby
Rock Locks – keeps the lounger in place if desired and keeps big brother from rocking her too hard
secure – three point harness
comfortable & breathable – mesh on the sides with soft plush on the seat
adjustable recline – one pull adjusts the incline to the perfect angle
compact – folds flat for easy travel and storage
I think the Graco Little Lounger would make the perfect baby shower gift, but it is much more than that.  Pregnant or expectant adoptive mamas should add it to their registries.  If you are a grandparent, this would be a perfect option to have on hand for visiting grandbabies without taking up too much closet space.  For parents traveling with infants, the lounger folds nearly flat, sets up in a second, and takes up much less space than bulkier alternatives.  

 At our Graco 15 For Me event, Baby Boot Camp instructor Amanda Foose taught us a quick series of exercises to do while baby happily lounges.  She made it seem so doable, and I was excited to get home and try it myself.  I tried a mini work out while the Pearl girl lounged, and she thought it was hilarious.  She is newly crawling and putting everything straight in to her mouth, so having her happily playing in the Little Lounger really allowed me to concentrate on the exercises.

Follow @GracoBaby on Twitter and find Graco on Facebook to connect and learn about more great Graco products as well as discounts and promotions. 
What would you do with “15 minutes for me”?

Mombo Comfort & Harmony Nursing Pillow Review

My sweet Pearl girl and I were so excited to review the Mombo Comfort & Harmony Nursing Pillow, and even more thrilled to give one away to one lucky reader.  Click here for the Mombo giveaway.  If you are expecting a baby and planning to breastfeed, a nursing pillow will be on every registry check list.  I nursed my son for a year and am 4 months into nursing my daughter for at least a year (hopefully).  You can read more about my breastfeeding battles the first time around here, and read all I’ve learned about breastfeeding here.  
With the Bear, I used a nursing pillow all the way through until he weaned.  I suffer from back problems, and using a nursing pillow greatly relieves the stress on my back that breastfeeding can bring.  I use one every time I nurse at home, and take it with me when I travel.  The only time I don’t use one is if I’m out running errands or in public.  

What makes the Mombo different from other nursing pillows?  The Mombo has two sides, a firmer side and a softer side.  We prefer the softer side, but I think the firmer side would be ideal with a newborn.  The Mombo also comes with a battery operated vibrating insert that soothes my sweet girl gently.  I’ve found that for my sometimes distracted nurser, the vibration helps her to concentrate and eat rather than pulling off and looking around.  Hallelujah! 

The pillow and cover are very well made, and the cover is super soft and easily comes off to wash.  If you have a spit up queen like I do, easy washing is key.  I love the gender neutral Mosaic Moonlight cover, but there are several cover options including gender specific ones to choose from.

Overall we really like our Mombo pillow.  The only negative I could find would be the size might be an issue for plus size mamas.  The angle of the pillow fits snuggle and comfortably for me and keeps my girl in place when she’s lounging, but might fit a plus size mama a bit too tight.  I don’t know for sure, but it is something to keep in mind.

 Probably my favorite aspect of the Mombo is that it doubles as a truly supportive lounger.  The Pearl girl is still a supported sitter at 4 1/2 months, and she was able to sit comfortably in the Mombo as you can see below.  Isn’t she the cutest?!
The Mombo is available at Target and retails for $29-39, depending on the cover.  Extra covers are $12.99.  Find your Mombo Nursing Pillow at Target and don’t forget to enter to win the Mombo giveaway here.  

This review was made possible by Double Duty Divas and Kids II. I was provided the featured product free of charge to facilitate my review, but all opinions are 100% my own.   

Family Fun in DFW: Rough Riders Baseball

The DFW metroplex has so much to offer when it comes to watching sports live.  My personal favorite is minor league baseball.  Don’t get me wrong, I love watching the Rangers.  I prefer minor league baseball because it is amazing to watch the players pursue their dreams with passion and talent, and tickets are much more affordable.  Many of them may never make the big show, but they work hard and spend countless nights on uncomfortable buses traveling endlessly around the south playing their hearts out.  That kind of dream chasing is inspiring.  
The Rough Riders are the AA farm team for the Texas Rangers.  This means we have the unique opportunity to watch players develop and then see them play in the big leagues as well.  It is so fun to see someone you’ve cheered for make their dreams come true when they get called up.  On rare occasions we get to watch Rangers stars play close up when they are rehabing an injury.  We had such an opportunity when we visited Dr. Pepper stadium, because Rangers pitcher Matt Harrison was on the mound. 
Here is the Pearl Girl at her first baseball game.  Please note she is dressed in a cowgirl dress in honor of the home team mascot.  

The Bear loved his first game, though he didn’t make it all the way through.  He has asked several times to watch baseball this past week.  I grew up watching the Arkansas Travelers play with my parents and grandparents.  My Grandmom and Grandad rarely missed a home game, and even had their picture featured in a Southern Living article on minor league parks. There is nothing like cheering on the home team with your family, and I hope this was the first of many games for us.

If you are interested in taking your family to watch the Rough Riders play in Frisco at Dr. Pepper Ballpark, you can buy tickets and get more information on their website here.  There are still plenty of home games left this month, and the season starts again in April of 2014. The team offers fabulous season ticket packages to fit every budget as well as meal packages with unlimited food and drinks.  Rough Rider season tickets are the perfect holiday gift for the baseball fans in your life.  You can also follow the team on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
**Thanks so much to the Rough Riders organization for providing tickets for our family in exchange for this post.  All opinions are strictly my own.  
What is your favorite sport to watch live?

Green Cleaning with the Norwex Dust Mitt & Kitchen Cloths

Last week I reviewed the Norwex Enviro Cloth for y’all, which is my favorite Norwex product.  Today I’m sharing details about two of my other favs, the dust mitt and the kitchen cloths.  Together with the Enviro Cloth and the Window Cloth, these products have helped us drastically reduce the chemical usage in our home, as well as reduce our paper waste and bring down our cleaning budget. 

First up is the dust mitt.  In my opinion, this little beauty is the most fun to use.  You put it on and just go for it, dusting any and every surface.  You don’t need Pledge, chemicals, or paper towels.  When you are done you bang the dust out of it (like you would a rug) and throw it in the laundry after a couple of uses.  It picks the dust up without spreading it around, so your surfaces stay dust free for quite a while and nothing ends up on the floor.  It can easily clean between mini blinds and the tops of ceiling fans.  The dust mitt retails for $16.99 and will last for years, paying for itself in savings on paper towels and chemical dusting sprays in a few months.  You can also get it as part of the Household package (my personal favorite deal) with the Enviro Cloth and Window Cloth for $48.99.  Click here to shop and be sure to list me (Becca Eby) as your hostess.

My other must have item from Norwex is the kitchen cloth.  This comes in two sizes (cloth and towel) and I have both.  I love the small one for cleaning up after meals and wiping down the counters and Bear’s high chair, and the large one for bigger messes.  As you can see below it has a looser weave than the Enviro cloth which helps it to grab onto big food particles and pick them up rather than spread them around.  The kitchen cloths contain silver making them anti-bacterial.  As long as you wring them out after each use bacterial growth in inhibited in the cloths and they won’t cross contaminate.  You can buy the small kitchen cloth for $9.99 and the larger kitchen towel for $19.99.  You can get a better deal and buy them together in the Kitchen Microfiber Collection with the Veggie and Fruit Cloth and Kitchen Scrub Cloth for $54.99.

If you are truly interested in reducing the chemicals in your home, reducing your paper waste, and reducing your household cleaning budget, give Norwex a try.  There are several small collections you can check out just to get started.  The products are made with fair trade practices and will last for years, paying for themselves in savings on chemicals and paper goods in just a few months.  Feel free to email me or comment below if you have questions.  You can check out the full line of Norwex products here and shop away.  Please put my name (Becca Eby) as your hostess.  My online party will be open until June 20th.  

Frugal Friday: Reducing Our Cleaning Costs with Norwex ~ An Enviro Cloth Review

Our family strives to live frugally and reduce our environmental impact and waste as well as the toxins in our home.  For this week’s edition of Frugal Friday, I’m thrilled to share with you a line of products that are helping us meet those goals.  I was introduced to Norwex a few months ago by a friend who hosted a home party demonstration of the products.  I’ll be the first one to tell you I’m not really a home party direct sales kind of girl, and Norwex is a direct sales company.  However, Jed and I had recently discussed how much paper waste we created as a family, specifically paper towels, and how we could reduce that waste and cost.  The party came along and I was intrigued.  My friend has 3 kids and talked about many messes she cleaned with her Norwex cloths and how much she had reduced her paper waste, and I decided to try them for myself.  

I bought the Household package at the party, consisting of one Enviro Cloth, one dusting mitt, and one window cloth.  With those three items alone I brought our paper towel usage down by about 90%.  Seriously.  The other fabulous thing about Norwex products is that you clean with just the cloths and water.  No chemicals.  And they work.  For real.  Jed thought there was no possible way the Enviro Cloth and window cloth would clean Bear’s dirty finger prints off our glass door with just water, but they did leaving no streaks.  He was shocked.  My reply was, “Did you think I would buy something that didn’t work?”.  The Enviro Cloth is also naturally antibacterial because it is made with silver woven throughout the cloth.  I’ve used the dusting mitt all over my house with no Pledge, and it really picks up the dust instead of spreading it around like a feather duster.  The Enviro Cloth is my favorite product, because it really works.  A few of the messes I’ve cleaned with just the Enviro Cloth and water include: chocolate, bbq sauce, and crayon off my white couch; coffee and crayon off the carpet, countless counter spills, olive oil grime off the stove, and many others.       
Because I’ve become such a believer in Norwex products, I’m doing something I never thought I’d do.  I’m hosting a Norwex party at my house and right here on the blog.  You, fair reader, get to join in the party just as if you were hanging out at the Norwex Play Date I’m hosting for my mom friends here in Dallas.  

To shop through my party, head over to Emily’s Norwex page here.
Choose the products you want to try, then choose me (Becca Eby) as your host.  Be sure to check out the full line of Norwex products

They have everything from household cleaning cloths to mops, towels, skin care, and so much more.  I can’t wait to try more, which is one of the reasons I’m hosting this party.  I felt weird at first asking my friends both in real life and online to shop through my party, but then I realized how many home parties I’ve gone to for other folks and how many great products I’ve discovered through other bloggers’ reviews and I knew I had to do it.    
Norwex Enviro Cloth Review Summary:
Positives – reduces paper towel waste, reduces household chemical usage, reusable, 2 year warranty, 60 day satisfaction guarantee, naturally antibacterial (from silver woven into each cloth)
Negatives – start up cost, availability (you can’t get it at Target) 
So, if start up cost is one of only two negatives I found, why include this on a Frugal Friday post? 
Much like cloth diapers, the initial cost of family cloth products can seem daunting.  The Enviro Cloth retails for $16.49.  Your average pack of paper towels retails for around $12.  I was using about 3 rolls per week at $1.50 a roll or $4.50 per week.  At that rate my Enviro Cloth paid for itself in a little over a month.  Now if you add in the dust mitt and window cloth, the cost goes up to $48.99 for the Household package.  With less than 3 months of usage your cloths have already paid for themselves and you still have 1 3/4 years left on your warranty.  You can read testimonials of customers who’ve used the same cloths for over 10 years.  When you add in the money you save from not buying cleaning products like Clorox wipes, Pledge, Windex, All Purpose Spray, etc, the Norwex products become an even better deal.  
Check out my Norwex consultant Emily’s video explaining the ins and outs of Norwex microfiber cloths.
My Norwex party will run from May 24-June 20.  If you are interested in hosting a party yourself, contact Emily and she will help you out.  From May 30-June 13 I will be hosting a Norwex giveaway here on the blog as a part of the Green Your Summer Giveaway Hop.  Be sure to come back and enter to win.  I’ll also post a few more Norwex reviews during the event here on the blog.  If you are in the DFW area and interested in coming to my Norwex Play Date to see the products in person, send me an email at  
What steps does your family take to reduce waste and environmental impact?