BabyBrownSugar

BBS Feature: The Solo Mama – Beauty Tips For Working Moms

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I’m really honored to have been featured on mommy blog The Solo Mama chatting all about beauty tips for working moms. Much love and thanks to site founder Regina Sayles for allowing me to share some of my best beauty secrets as a new mom. Here’s a snippet of my story:

Based on these past 10 months as a new mom, here are some quick beauty tips that all working moms should know:

1.Have a go-to hairstyle

Hair is such a major part of your overall beauty look. Many times, it’s the first thing people notice and it really frames your entire look so it’s important to maintain it well. What has helped me tremendously is having a go-to hairstyle. One that I can rely on, that I know I’ll look good in and one that takes me less than 5 minutes to put together. I rely on extensions alot so I make sure to get a style that is easy for me to maintain. It may be a top knot bun or even a french braid. Whatever it is, know how to make it look good in under 5 minutes.

2. Invest in three must-haves: mascara, concealer & lip balm

Gone are the days when I can spend an entire day experimenting with new makeup looks. As part of my job as a style blogger, I do get to do it every once in a while, but when baby is around or when we’re on-the-go, I rely on these three simple products. Concealer is an easy alternative to freshen your complexion without the need for heavy foundation. It will correct small imperfections, help even out those dark circles under your eyes (sleepless nights, we know) and won’t come off when you kiss the kids before they head to school. Mascara is an instant eye opener and an all-around easy product to smooth on in very little time. And lip balm is perfect for keeping lips supple and making it look like you have something on even if you don’t have the time or energy for full-on lipstick.

Read the other two beauty tips at The Solo Mama by clicking here!

BabyBrownSugar 2014 Ultimate Baby Holiday Gift Guide

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When it comes to holiday shopping, I’ve always been pretty calm and collected this time of year. I had just a short list of friends and close family members to get gifts for and I’ve never really had to stress about who is or isn’t on my list. I’ve also never really had to worry about buying children’s gifts. That all changed drastically a few years ago when my nephew was born. Then after him another nephew, then another nephew, and now my very own daughter! Now Christmas shopping is an anxiety-inducing game of multi-tasking, making long lists, checking them twice, forgetting someone, making more lists and then eventually crying in a corner. It’s HARD. But it doesn’t have to be. This year, as it’s my very first year as a mom, I decided to pull together a 2014 Ultimate Baby Holiday Gift Guide with just a few of my favorite things that I think make great gifts for babies:

Personalized Gifts

Personalized-Gifts

There’s something very special about giving a gift with a child’s name or face on it. They can keep it forever and they never have to fight with anyone else in the house (including siblings) about who it belongs to.

Personalized Plates – Sarah + Abraham ($27)

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This is by far one of the coolest items I purchased for my little sweet pea before she arrived.I scored this on a discount through Zulily last November and I would undoubtedly purchase from them again. What’s cool is that these plates are totally customizable. Just go to the website and you can enter the baby’s skin complexion, hair type, eye color and even expression!

Personalized Onesies – Initial Request ($30)

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These Initial Request onesies are a really great gift. Her C is Cadence onesie (although it no longer fits) is still hanging in her nursery and is a really great keepsake. See here for my post about how I named Cadence. This one’s a no-brainer and really affordable considering that it’s personalized.

Personalized Name Toys – Damhorst ($4.95/Letter)

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These are perfect additions to the baby’s nursery. You can keep them up on display in the beginning months and then take them down and let baby plat with them once they’re older.

Personalized Sketches – Laidiecloth ($30)

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The owner of Etsy shop Laidiecloth reached out to me about her shop and created this really cool sketch based on the below picture of Cadence at about 3 months old.

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Works of art like this are always great as keepsakes and offer a creative spin on a classic portrait.

Educational Gifts

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Puzzles & Books – Paige & Paxton ($10)

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Paige & Paxton is a great series of puzzles, books and activities geared towards children 6 and under to help engage them in concepts around science and technology. Being the geek that I am, I plan on passing some of that down to my baby girl so giving her books and activities about these topics is going to be really important for me.

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I broke these puzzles out for my nephews over Thanksgiving and they spent hours with them. Great gifts!

Baby Genius Activity Fun Pack ($17.99)

Baby-Genius

For the kid who loves music, this is an awesome activity set. Cadence LOVES to dance so anything music-related is right up her alley. Not only is it fun, but it’s educational which is key.

Web Design For Babies Book Series ($9.99)

This book was given as a gift to Cadence and when I saw it I started cracking up. I learned a few things myself from this book. Never too early, right?

Self-Empowerment Books for Kids

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Empowering my daughter to be herself and to appreciate her beauty is something that is so important to me. If I can do it through my own blog LoveBrownSugar.com for other women, there’s no reason I can’t do it for my baby girl. Since the very beginning I’ve asserted her with verbal affirmation that she is beautiful. The following books help with that:

Happy Hair™ by Mechal Renae Roe ($15.29)

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All I can say is that I absolutely LOVE this book for young girls with textured hair. Not only are the illustrations beautiful, but it emphasizes a message that is SO important for young girls of color.

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I also got some really great hairstyling ideas from it, believe it or not. This one is a must-have for baby girl’s library.

I Love My Hair by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley ($6.00)

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This was the very FIRST book I purchased for Cadence’s nursery. I knew before she was even born that I wanted to encourage her to embrace her curls. This book was released over 13 years ago all the way back in 2001 and the message is still powerful.

Emi’s Curly Coily Cotton Candy Hair by Tina Olajide ($6.76)

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This book about accepting and maintaining curly hair is definitely a must-have as well. We get to see Emi recap her entire process from washing and detangling to wrapping up her hair for bed at night. This was so good I was taking notes! Great book for the young curly-haired girl in your life.

Victoria’s Glow Stick by Shannon Ellis ($8.67)

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Recently released on Black Friday, author Shannon Ellis tells a story about a young girl named Victoria who brings her favorite toy to school for show & tell. It provides a great message about taking turns, sharing and also about diversity. I loved seeing all the different races and breeds represented in Victoria’s classroom. As someone who grew up in very diverse settings at school, I really appreciate that being emphasized in the story.

Gift Cards

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Who couldn’t use a gift card? Baby and kid clothes are expensive. And they outgrow them so quickly! Every parent and child will be thankful for a gift card from one of these brands. Here are three of my favorites:

Zulily.com - creative gifts at super low prices! This is where I purchased many of Cadence’s personalized gifts (see above).

GAP  – whether it’s a baby or an older kid, GAP has a little something for everyone. This is one of my FAVE places to shop for Cadence.

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The clothes are such great quality and they’re classic, which is key to a great kiddie wardrobe.

Old Navy - Old Navy has some of the best PJ’s and stocking stuffers around. They also always have really incredible deals on baby clothes and accessories.

What’s at the top of your holiday gift list for the babies and kids in your life? Anything I forgot to include? Leave a comment! I’m always open to new suggestions.

BBS Chic: How To Maintain Baby’s Curly Hair

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A few months back, Cadence and I had the opportunity to film with the lovely folks at Essence.com. I was called in to interview with Beauty Editor Deena Campbell about how I maintain Cadence’s hair! It’s actually something I get asked ALL the time whether I’m out in public with her or after posting her pics on social media.

So I’m really happy I had the opportunity to chat with Essence.com about the process and record this video as well. Check it out below:

 

3 Tips To Maintain Baby’s Curly Hair

1. Use Products With Natural Ingredients

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From the very beginning I was very mindful of the ingredients that went into and onto Cadence’s little body. From the food she eats to the products I put on her body, I’m very mindful of exposing her to healthy, natural ingredients. In the beginning, I used purely water, shea butter and coconut oil on her hair.

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The first set of products I felt comfortable putting on Cadence’s hair were part of the Shea Moisture Baby line. I wrote a review of their products here. I would use a bit of their Shea Moisture Ultra Sensitive Baby Wash & Shampoo to cleanse Cady’s hair during bath time and follow it up with a dab of coconut oil on her curls before bed.

2. Moisturize Hair Daily

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When Cadence was a smaller baby, her hair actually maintained moisture alot easier. Now that she’s older, I have to add a little extra to it in order to prevent her curls from becoming dry. Even if I don’t “shampoo” her hair during bath time, I always add water to it and I seal in the moisture with a butter or an oil before putting her to bed. I really like this Belle Butters Whipped Shea Butter for sealing in moisture after I rinse her hair. It’s great for twists as well.

3. Minimize Hair Manipulation

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When Cadence was first born, I really didn’t do anything to her hair. I’d put a pretty bow on her head and that was it. As I mentioned in the video, less is more when it comes to small babies. You don’t want to do anything that will put too much tension on baby’s tender head.

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Now that she’s older and her hair is much longer and thicker, I’ve been experimenting a bit with styling. I braid her hair once a week after our detangling session. Sometimes, I’ll give her two-strand twist/bantu knots. I have been experimenting also with new product lines like the Curly Kids Haircare line. Though it isn’t 100% natural, their ingredients are safe and they have been doing wonders for keeping Cady’s hair tangle-free and manageable.

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Any other questions on how to maintain baby’s curly hair? Leave me a comment below! (Moms out there with suggestions of your own – I want to hear from you too!)

My Two Cents: How To Be A Fairy Godmother

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There is nothing greater than knowing that you have loving, caring and encouraging people in your life who not only care about you but care about your offspring as well. Cadence’s godmother Jessica Andrews is one such person. Which is why when she sent me this post via email, the minute I started reading, my eyes welled up with tears. She is a proud godmother, a hard worker and in addition to all the fabulous things she does for a living (being a top style blogger, a freelance contributor for publications like the New York Times, Elle and Vanity Fair and an overall amazing human being), she does everything in her power to support me on my journey in motherhood. It’s with pride and honor that I present you with a letter from Jessica on how to be an amazing godmother aka a “Fairy Godmother”:

It was the night before Cadence’s sip-and-see party, and I had piles of printed photo paper sprawled on the living room floor at my Dad’s house, scissors in hand. My Dad walked in and gave me a quizzical look. “Godmother duties,” I explained. He laughed. “You’re not a regular godmother. You’re a fairy godmother.” My Dad has jokes. But he’s right in that I do go above and beyond for my little godbabies, Cadence and Naomi. I don’t do it to get anything in return, or simply to say that I did. I do it out of love. Love, I’ve found, is the source of every Mom’s superpower.

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I can’t tell the story of my love for Cadence, without explaining my friendship with her Mom. Christina was my roommate for two years before Cady got here. And it was then that I saw how friends can become family. She was there cheering the loudest when things were going well for me. And she was also there when I was sick, or sad, or scared, or stressed — still cheering me on, still supporting me. She has this way of being honest without judging and always finding the bright side in everything.

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When she found out she was pregnant with Cadence, I did everything I could to support her the same way. I went to the store for sandwiches and chips. I tried my best to encourage her as she made the brave journey to motherhood. “Look how much you’ve already sacrificed for your baby,” I’d say, pointing out her move from our apartment in Harlem to New Jersey. “You’re already a great Mom!”

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The truth is she’s an even better Mom than I could’ve imagined then. It’s amazing to see your friend take on the most challenging and rewarding role of her life, and do it with such strength and grace. In between feedings and diaper changes and doctor visits, Christina still manages to pursue her own dreams, run her businesses and make sure Cadence’s life is full of fun adventures like water parks and apple-picking. Cadence has so much to be proud of.

Christina makes it look easy, but it’s not. There are many times when she’s juggling a million things at once. I laugh at how she’s always on a conference call handling business and the person on the phone has no idea she’s feeding, rocking or changing Cadence at the same time. That is when I try to step in as her village and her support, alongside Cadence’s Dad, grandparents and her many aunts and uncles (both blood relatives and friends). And we all do it out of love.

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My friendship with Christina naturally transferred to her daughter. I loved Cadence before she even got here! And after that chilly day in February when she was born, I learned she’s pretty amazing on her own. I love the way her whole face lights up when she smiles and laughs. I love that she knows the camera and serves face as soon as she hears ‘click’ (#Slaydence). I love that she’s sharp and independent, always figuring out how to do new things on her own. I love seeing the determination on her face when she tries to crawl to the other side of the room, or contemplate how to get her walker past our makeshift chair fort in the kitchen. I love when she dances (on beat…to Beyonce!) or gets excited turning the pages when I’m reading “Goodnight Moon” to her before bed. I love when she lays her little head on my shoulder before going to sleep.

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By definition, godparents make a pledge to take care of the child should something happen to their parents. But being a godmom is much more than serving as a stand-in. It’s about supporting the parents as best you can, reinforcing what they teach at home and giving them a break when they ask for it (and especially when they don’t). It’s about being there for the child: being present for lazy days spent watching “Sprout” and playing with toys, and action-packed days visiting the beach or exploring the FAO Schwartz toy store in Manhattan.

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I really enjoyed taking both my goddaughters to FAO Schwartz on our first of many goddaughter play dates. Those are the kinds of things my godmom and Aunts did with me growing up. My childhood is full of beautiful memories of trips to the zoo, the beach, the circus, amusement parks, playgrounds, toy stores, kids museums and more. I’m grateful for the chance to create those same memories with Cady. I’m so lucky to be somebody’s “fairy godmother.”

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Are you a godmom? What do you love most about it? Please leave a comment & share your stories.

How To Make Baby Food At Home

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Though I love the convenience and ease of packaged baby foods, from the moment Cadence started eating solids I have been making her food from scratch. Though it’s a much longer process than picking up a pre-prepared jar, I enjoy knowing exactly what’s going into her little tummy because I put it there. Also, I’ve been a BIG proponent of starting my baby off with organic fruits & veggies (full post on that coming soon). As you probably know, organic food is a bit of an investment (see here for my review of organic baby food brand Lizzy’s Garden) so it has been much more cost-effective for me to make handmade food for her. Here’s a quick rundown on how to make baby food at home and my whole process for creating my daughter’s wholesome organic meals:

What You Need:

Fresh Fruits & Vegetables (your choice)
Cutting Board
Peeler/Knife
Baby Food Processor (or Blender)

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So I start off with fresh fruits & vegetables. I like to get my organic fruits & veggies from Trader Joe’s because I can shop for Cadence’s food and my favorite foods from there at the same time. I get a combination of fruits and veggies that go well together in purees. Some of Cadence’s favorites include: Apples, Sweet Potatoes, Bananas, Pears, Peas, and Carrots. When she got a little older, I added in more advanced foods like Broccoli, Spinach, Brown Rice, Squash, etc. Consult with your pediatrician to determine the best time to introduce certain foods to your baby.

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BabyBrownSugar Update: 9 Months

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We’re only a few days away from Cadence turning TEN months and I’m just getting around to posting her 9 month update. I couldn’t let this month go by without telling you guys what the little one is up to on the eve of 10 months. Cadence’s 9th month of life was so very exciting and had it’s fair share of amazing firsts. Here’s a rundown:

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Cadence is standing up (and attempting to walk)

In her crib, in her playpen, in your lap. Whenever she has the chance, Cadence wants to stand straight up.  I guess it’s a good thing because she’s on track with her development, but I am terrified of her walking. More baby-proofing!

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Cadence now knows how to refuse something adamantly.

For the first time this month, Cadence literally pushed her bottle away because she didn’t want it anymore. At first I was confused, then I thought she was confused. Then, when she did it the third time I said “Oh so you just don’t want it. Ok.” I’m guessing the word “No!” comes next?

Cadence knows how to wave “bye bye”

There’s nothing that makes me happier than seeing her wave goodbye to me when I leave her at the sitter. Warms my heart!

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Cadence likes:

– Running over everyone’s feet in her walker. That thing is lethal! When Cadence is in the room in her walker, watch your toes. She takes no prisoners.

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– Playtime with her cousins. She’s the smallest one with the biggest mouth.

– Pulling any and all cabinets and drawers open in amazement

– Dropping things off the side of her highchair only so I can go pick them up.

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Cadence dislikes:

– Bedtime without mommy in the room

– Being held (captive). She doesn’t want to be in her crib and she certainly doesn’t want to be in your arms. She wants complete independence from everything and everyone!

– When mommy scolds her for dropping things off the side of the highchair (see Cadence’s likes above)

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We’re just two months away from a year! Time is really zipping by. Later this month I’ll be writing up a post about some of the lessons I’ve learned as a mommy in 2014. So much to say, so many lessons in such a short period of time!

Anything I can look forward to for her last two months before the big ONE YEAR? Leave me a comment!

BBS Review: Lizzy’s Garden Baby Food

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As an entrepreneur, I think it’s so important to support independent small businesses who make great products. So when Jennifer Miles of organic baby food brand Lizzy’s Garden reached out to me about reviewing their baby food, I was all ears. Before reviewing the products, I asked her a few questions to get some background on the story behind Lizzy’s Garden™ and all about their brand or organic baby food. Here’s what she told me:

When did the company start?
February of 2014 was the birth of Lizzy’s Garden™

Why did you start making food?
Following the birth of our youngest daughter (Elizabeth), the search for a healthy dietary option led me to making her food myself. What started as a creative, fun activity in my kitchen transformed into the making of Lizzy’s Garden™.

Do you source the ingredients locally? Grow them yourself?
We source our ingredients locally and nationally. All of our ingredients are purchased from the most reputable vendors, whose supplier complies with the Fair Trade Laws and only accepts certified organic produce and ingredients.

How is Lizzy’s Garden different from other baby food brands?
Our organic baby food is FROZEN and does not have any preservatives, fillers or additives that parents would have to worry about. Our baby food is packaged in an eco-friendly tempered glass jar, which is BPA-FREE, so no worries on possible chemical leakage into the baby food.

Who is the ideal Lizzy’s Garden customer?
Any parent with little ones between the ages of 4-24 months that are interested in feeding them 100% organic baby food.
We understand that sometimes making the baby food yourself can be time consuming when you’re juggling so much, so we would like to be your kitchen away from home.

What are your plans for the company?
The plans for Lizzy’s Garden, would be to expand and grow domestically as well as internationally and eventually be in every major retailer. 5 years from now, we would like to be well-known and considered a top resource for organic baby food.

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After chatting with her about the brand, I was excited to give the baby food a try. At the time, Cadence was 8 months and so I was still giving her Stage 2 foods. As requested, they sent over a combination of flavors like their Sweet Pea Dinner, Butternut Squash Dinner, Homemade Apple & Pear Sauce and Lentil Dinner.

Here’s what I loved about Lizzy’s Garden:

1. It’s food I would make myself.

What I loved about the Lizzy’s Garden™ collection of baby foods is that many of her recipes are the same ones I started making myself when Cadence was old enough to eat solids. I started with the first food, then began mixing up some recipes including fruits & veggies that I myself like. MAny of those same recipes are the ones she sent me so it felt like I was giving my baby my own food straight from the kitchen but without the hours of cutting, peeling, boiling and pureeing. As a working mom, having a shortcut like this was golden.

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2. Cadence loved the taste.

In general, Cadence loves to eat – period. She has always been a really great eater. But I can always tell when she LOVES something because she is so enthusiastic about getting more of it. And she smiles while she’s eating it. Cadence really liked the Lizzy’s Garden Lentil Dinner. I myself had never made lentils for Cadence but she apparently loves them and now I have to make some for her after having it. I love that there are light seasoning in there like Garlic and Cinnamon to help develop baby’s palette without being overpowering.

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3. It’s 100% organic.

Though the price tag on Lizzy’s Garden baby food is slightly higher than the typical grocery store organic baby foods, it’s well worth it because it is 100% organic with no preservatives or fillers or any other stuff. It’s just food – that’s it. I love that when I look at the front of the jar, what I see there is what’s inside my baby’s food.

Click here to check out Lizzy’s Garden online.

I was gifted samples of Lizzy’s Garden™ baby food free of charge for the purpose of this review. 

BabyBrownSugar Update: 8 Months

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Geez. Time is rushing by without so much as a warning or an “excuse me”. Cadence is already 8 months old! My jaw is on the floor and my eyes are filled with tears (per the usual).

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I can’t believe her 1st birthday is slowly creeping up. I’ve already started thinking about themes and invitations and the like. “I wasn’t readyyy!!” *Kevin Hart voice*

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Baby’s First Apple-Picking Adventure + Tips For Fall Family Fun

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Earlier this month, we took Cadence on her very first trip to a farm for some fun family apple-picking. I remember going apple-picking with my family and even with my school classmates as a child. These excursions bring up some of my fondest childhood memories so I knew that’s something I wanted to share with Cadence.

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Even though she isn’t quite old enough to remember the excursion, I thought it would be great fun to spend some time outdoors, hitch a hay ride and pick up some delicious apple products from the bakery along the way. Essentially, it was an afternoon full of WIN.

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What’s In That Big Mac? McDonald’s Answers Our Questions

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Many of us grew up knowing exactly what time it was when Mom’s car pulled into the driveway and we saw those big golden arches up above. In fact, I think McDonald’s was the first word I learned to spell on my own because my parents used to have to spell it out in conversation so I didn’t accidentally overhear it and go crazy. Yes, we’ve all grown up loving the smell of their fries and those little surprise Happy Meal toys.

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