* Guest-edited by Laura Manske, travel expert
This is the seventh in a weekly series of special travel deals. For the first few months we’ll focus exclusively on babymoons. About half of expectant couples say they take a pre-baby vacay; we’ll help you be one of them.
Between the Intercoastal Waterway and Gulf of Mexico, this pink-hued resort with spa, rooftop pool, and three restaurants stands tall on a spacious beach — an idyllic locale for spectacular sunsets. Looking for a fun day trip? St. Pete’s Beach is a little over 30 minutes south and features a sweet zoo where you can feed rhinos and giraffes. Plus the entire area is famous for fresh seafood, cool museums and miles of sandy shoreline.
BOOK IT! From $259; you can check your travel dates online at ClearwaterBeach.Hyatt.com
HERE’S OUR SPECIAL! With the BABY14 package, enjoy a welcome amenity of sparkling cider and chocolates; full daily breakfast for two; guaranteed late checkout at 1 p.m.; and valet parking (resort fee included). Other restrictions, as well as specific book-by-and-stay-by dates, may apply; call 800-233-1234 for full details.
Before you leave, check out these tips on traveling while preggers!
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By Susan Yoo-Lee, Editor of Savings.com
If you’re a family that celebrates Easter, you know how the costs can add up quickly. The cute little outfits. The Easter baskets. The meal and decorations. These days families need a separate savings account just to celebrate the holidays. This week’s deals can help you out with all of that, though. With discounts on everything from egg decorating kits to the perfect Easter outfit to tasty Easter treats, we’ve got you covered.
- Lillian Vernon. 20% off orders $40 or more (Coupon code: 99JAO107). Expires 4/30/2014.
- Build-A-Bear Workshop. Free egg decorating kit on orders $25 or more (No code needed). Expires 4/20/2014.
- The Children’s Place. 20% off sitewide (Coupon code: w5hcust20). Expires 4/20/2014.
- Cheryl’s. 15% off all orders (Coupon code: TAKE15). Expires 4/21/2014.
- 1-800-Flowers.com. Save 20% on orders over $49.99 (Coupon code: ESTR49). Expires 4/20/2014.
This post contains affiliate links.
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Once my sister and I got older, it became a lot harder for my parents to entertain us on family trips. The one thing that did hold our attention in the car was watching movies. It was as big a deal to figure out what DVDs we were taking as it was to pack clothing. Here are two new releases you’ll want for this year’s summer travels:
* Fans of funny animal flicks will love the animated action-adventure The Nut Job, released on DVD today. It follows the thieving squirrel Surly as he attempts to pull off the greatest nut heist of his life.
* Seeing a new spin on a classic can also be rewarding, like with The Little Rascals Save The Day. Key members of the gang, including sweethearts Alfalfa and Darla, return to help Grandma’s bakery stay afloat. After some botched fundraising attempts, they set their heart on winning the local talent show to raise money, proving they’re all still the same bunch of good-hearted, silly kids today’s parents may remember watching from their own childhood.
To celebrate the release of both movies, Universal Studios is giving away the DVD/Blu-ray Combo Packs of both plus an iPad mini so your kids can take their entertainment on the go. FOUR lucky GoodyBlog readers will have the chance to win this prize package, which retails at $370!
To enter, leave a comment below, up to one a day between today and the end of the day April 21. Be sure to check back on April 22 and scroll to the bottom of the post to see the four winners. We reach out to winners via Facebook message (it goes into your “other” message folder on Facebook), so if you win, look for us there as well. Goody luck!
For a fun outdoors activity, follow these steps to build a terrarium with your child!
Click here for official rules.
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This past weekend, Parents joined Josh Duhamel as he closed out National Volunteer Week (April 6-12) and kicked off the Advil Relief in Action volunteer campaign. As part of the annual New York Cares Day Spring, Josh helped clean up Franz Sigel Park in the Bronx. The actor, husband of Fergie, and dad of 7-month-old Axl took a break from the dirty work to chat with us about volunteerism and fatherhood.
P: You’ve mentioned that your mom made volunteering a part of your life.
JD: Yeah, and my dad really. For my mom it was more about organized volunteering. Getting out and doing things in the community. But my dad is a really selfless dude, too. He’s always helping somebody do something.
P: What kind of volunteering did they have you doing when you were young?
JD: Everything from parking cars at events for the football team to the local downtown cleanup. It was always kind of a drag for me when I was a kid. I always felt good afterwards, but it wasn’t until recently when I started organizing things [that I became passionate]. I was having a bit of a problem with just putting on a suit and going to charity events and calling it charity. Even though they are raising money for a worthy cause, I didn’t feel like I was really doing anything. I started organizing youth runs throughout Los Angeles where I go recruit people in schools to come out, raise money for Haiti or Japan and then again we did it in Minot where I’m from. Ever since then I’ve just sort of been an advocate of volunteering. I just read something yesterday where it’s the lowest it’s been since 2002, volunteerism, which is a little bit disconcerting.
I really believe that nothing really meaningful happens without the help of many. So we’re here with Advil and the Relief in Action campaign trying to get people to go pledge to volunteer in their communities and share their stories and re-inspire people to get out and volunteer.
P: Obviously Axl’s a bit young, but how do you hope to encourage this spirit of volunteerism as he gets older?
JD: The best way to do that is by showing them by example. Definitely gonna take him [to volunteer], also to keep everything in perspective. There are consequences to not going to school, doing drugs, things like that. Take him to soup kitchens and places like that, not only so that he’s helping, but so that he can see “better keep myself in line.”
P: What other values aside from volunteerism, generosity, do you hope to impart to him?
JD: Hard work is one. Valuing money—things just aren’t handed to you. It’s going to be hard because people want to give [us] stuff and I don’t want him to think that that’s normal. Mom and dad had to work hard for what they got. It’s a tough thing to do in our position, in that town, but we were both raised with very modest houses.
P: When was the first moment that you felt that “I’m a dad” feeling?
JD: Immediately when he was born. There’s this excitement-slash-terror that comes with a newborn baby like “Oh my God I love him! Oh my God I gotta take care of him for the rest of my life!” But it came pretty naturally. I’ve been wanting this for a long time. All my friends have kids. There haven’t been any major shockers, but, you know, I still look at him sometimes and go “Omg, I can’t believe that’s my kid. That’s my kid. We made him.” He’s got a very sweet nature about him, which we love.
P: I know you grew up with three sisters. How do you think will it be to having a little man around the house?
JD: Honestly, I was expecting a girl because I have three sisters, [my wife] has a sister, our dog is a girl. Everything around me is female, so when they said ‘boy’ it took me a minute to actually register. He’ll need me as a male energy in the house.
P: Father’s Day is a little ways off but at Parents we’re already working on our June issue. This will be your first Father’s Day as a dad. Any special plans?
JD: In June he’ll be close to 10 months. Maybe we’ll go to the zoo so he can see all the animals. I do look forward to that.
P: He’s still a baby, but what do you enjoy doing with him on a regular Sunday afternoon?
JD: Right now he’s learning how to roll. He rolls all over the place, that’s how he gets around. But he has this car that was given to him by one of our friends, it’s a little Ferrari—it’s the only Ferrari that he’ll ever own as far as I can control him—but he gets in that thing and he’s all over the place. He becomes very independent and it’s very funny to see him explore in this little car. He loves to go in the pool; he loves to sort of kick his feet and play in the water. I’m gonna teach him how to swim as early as possible because that’s one of my biggest nightmares.
P: Sounds like safety is constantly on your mind.
JD: Unfortunately you have these crazy scenarios that run through your head that I think are there to make sure that you’re keeping him as safe as possible. I see things vividly and I’m like “No no no no no, that’s never gonna happen. We need to put a fence around the pool immediately,” or “We need to put a door here because this is not safe.” You know that he’s gonna get hurt, but it’s just a matter of how hurt.
P: Some actors decorate their kids rooms with paraphernalia from movies or projects that they’ve done. Anything like that in Axl’s room? Maybe some Transformers goodies?
JD: No, he’s got nothing but Safe Haven posters all over his room. [Laughs] Ah no. We’re just about to move into our house. We didn’t make his room too babyish, so it’ll be a room that he’ll grow into. Behind our house is this beautiful little ravine, this valley with all these birds and geckos and there’s a fox down there. We painted a mural of all those animals that are down below. One of the things that I look forward to is taking him down to explore. That’s the kind of stuff I did growing up. It’s all about imagination and nature.
Help get your child’s creative juices flowing with these fun activities.
Photograph: Getty Images for Advil / Duhamel is encouraging everyone to join him in taking the #ReliefinAction Pledge on the Advil® Facebook page and commit to volunteering this year.
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Stumped about what type of present to purchase for your umpteenth baby shower? Before you resort to a gift card, consider checking out one of the various retailers—including Kmart and Ebay—that have partnered with the March of Dimes’ annual “imbornto” campaign.
March of Dimes is known for addressing the health issues that affect mothers and babies—you may be familiar with their charity walk that raises money to keep pregnant women and their newborns healthy, for example. March of Dimes has also conducted medical research. Specifically, the goal of the “imbornto” campaign—which honors the parents who take good care of their little ones both in the womb and out—is to raise money to continue the various March of Dimes efforts.
One March of Dimes success story, Aidan Lamothe, serves as the organization’s national ambassador for 2014. The 6-year-old boy was born 11 weeks premature and has continued to thank March of Dimes for their life-saving efforts through volunteer work and yearly NICU visits. Check out the cutie’s moving campaign video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vqdqz2L28iQ&feature=youtu.be
Each retailer participating in the campaign has its own method of giving back. Some will make donations to March of Dimes after buyers purchase a particular product, while others will give after patrons send a text (The Bon-Ton Stores) or upload a photo (Martha Stewart Omnimedia). A full list of stores and their policies is available here: http://imbornto.com/partners.html and information on making an online donation in a loved one’s honor is also accessible: https://www.marchofdimes.com/giving/support-imbornto.aspx. The adorable rabbit pictured above is available through Scentsy.
Happy gift-giving! And if you’re throwing a baby shower, check out this cute baby-bodysuit bouquet idea.
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Have your kids been begging for a dog? I adopted a puppy about a month and a half ago, and I’m here to confirm what you probably already know: it’s a blast but so much work at the same time. One of the trickiest parts has been sorting through all the conflicting training advice. Everybody has a different opinion on what to do, leaving me feeling overwhelmed and concerned that I am somehow setting my little furball up for a lifetime of problems. (Yes, it’s a little like parenthood!)
I spoke to renowned dog behaviorist Cesar Millan, known for his work on the television show Dog Whisperer, and here are his recommendations for families raising a puppy:
- Make an agreement as a group. “Everybody focuses on what kind of breed they want, but first you need to all commit to the work ahead of you,” Millan explains. Often, a dog is brought into the family because the kids push for it, regardless of whether or not they are ready for the responsibility. Everyone needs to be prepared—and Mom and Dad need to make the ultimate decision together.
- Consider fostering a dog before you bring home your own. Everybody benefits this way: The dog gets to experience a house with a loving family, and you can get insight into whether or not your clan is ready for a permanent pet.
- Look for a dog with low or medium energy. “It has nothing to do with breed,” Millan says. “In a family of three kids, one will often be more active than the others even though they have the same parents. It’s the same with dogs.” Puppies with lower energy levels are more likely to be followers and won’t try to become the leader of the “pack.”
- Don’t try to be your dog’s best buddy. “Dog lovers want to be friends with their pet rather than the authority figure,” Millan says. This can cause serious behavior problems from a young age. Millan adds, “Discipline is not punishment. It’s teaching him how to behave. In the long run, giving your dog constant affection and no discipline is far more hurtful to him.”
- Let children help out by walking the dog. “Most kids want to chase dogs, but that’s encouraging a predatory behavior,” Millan explains. “They also like to carry puppies around like a baby. But puppies need to walk to experience their own environment. Otherwise, they’ll never learn the boundaries and rules around the house.”
- Start training young. Sure, he’s just a puppy right now, but if you let him get away with jumping or barking from the get-go, you will have serious trouble setting boundaries later on.
For more expert advice, check out the finale of Cesar 911, which airs tonight on Nat Geo Wild. (But first, watch our video on teaching kids to be responsible pet owners below!)
Photo by Allen Birnbach
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We did it! We survived a day of no sugar. Inspired by Eve Schaub’s new book Year of No Sugar, several of my colleagues and I shunned the sweet stuff on Wednesday, part of a national #NoSugarChallenge. That meant no table sugar, honey, agave, maple syrup, or any sugar in packaged foods. Sweet fruit and vegetables were still on the table.
While Eve and her family gave up sugar for an entire year, one day seemed like a manageable goal. But, for many of us, it was a tougher challenge than we anticipated, primarily because sugar is in so many foods—80 percent of products found in the supermarket in fact.
• Learn more about identifying added sugar and cutting processed food from your diet.
Here are our reports on what was easy, what was hard, and what we learned:
Laura Fenton, Lifestyle Director – So, I failed straight off the bat: I forgot it was no-sugar day and poured myself a bowl of cereal for breakfast (looking at the label after work, I saw that the brand contains both honey and molasses, a.k.a. sugar). But once I got to work and remembered my mission I had a steely reserve to resist sugar, including: Bagels, cookies at my cube mate’s desk, and jelly beans at my other cube mate’s desk. When I went for lunch, I actually looked at the label for the salad dressing to make sure it was sugar free (it seemed to be!) and said “no thank you” to the roll that was offered with my salad that was likely made with sugar.
Alexandra Johnston, Assistant Photo Editor – I thought by biggest struggle would be handling my after-lunch sweet tooth, but my sugar-free banana chocolate “ice cream” was amazing and it actually felt very indulgent. The rest of the day proved to be more difficult. I didn’t realize how many condiments and packaged ingredients actually had sugar in them. While I won’t be making this a permanent change at this time, it did open my eyes to the problem and I will be checking the labels more closely in the grocery store from now on.
Rheanna Bellomo, Editorial Assistant – I made it through breakfast, lunch, and dinner by making all my own fresh food (nothing processed) and snacking on a mango in the afternoon. What I found so funny was that once I settled in for the night with my book, the challenge completely slipped my mind and I had a piece of chocolate. It was so mindless! That’s what really stuck with me: the need to be more thoughtful about food.
Karen Cicero, Contributing Food and Nutrition Editor – It was a lot harder than I expected—and we are really careful about added sugar to begin with. Breakfast was easy (eggs & fruit), but when packing lunch, I remembered that our whole-wheat bread has one gram of sugar per slice and the peanut butter has a gram per serving. I couldn’t do much about that last minute so Katie had three grams of added sugar in her lunch. I had a salad for lunch, and made my own balsamic vinaigrette so it would be sugar-free. But I blew my sugar-free day when I mindlessly tried a piece of a granola bar that came in the mail for an upcoming story—that was about three grams of sugar. For dinner, we had whole-grain pasta with a fresh sauce I made with heirloom tomatoes and red onions. Overall, it was a really good reminder about how pervasive added sugar is in foods that don’t taste at all sweet, and how deliciously sweet and satisfying fruit is. I’m going to try to do it once a week–a la Meatless Monday, maybe this is Sugar-Free Sunday. Starting the week after Easter, of course!
Allison Berry, Editorial Assistant – My goal of cooking vegan was unsuccessful (I didn’t realize how complicated some of the recipes could be!), but I was able to eat vegan for the day, which I loved! The hardest part was passing up a morning bagel and cream cheese, but I was surprised to find that during the workday especially, my sugar-free snacks of fruit, almonds, and tea kept me going between meals. After dinner did get hard for me, seeing as a lot of the snacks I go for after dinner have added sugar in them. If definitely opened my eyes to what even having a cookie after dinner can do to your sugar intake. The habit I’ll definitely continue is snacking on almonds and fruit through the workday. I bought a 1 bag of almonds at the drug store and they’ve kept me full and lasted all week.
Sherry Huang, Features Editor – The two toughest times of the day were the afternoon (when I usually eat a sugary snack) and the evening (when I usually have dessert after dinner). After eating a few Craisins by accident (shoot, added sugar!), Jenna rescued me with a no-sugar-added protein bar for a snack. Dessert was a little pitiful – plain saltine crackers and natural peanut butter. I did feel slightly more alert and energetic throughout the day, so that was a bonus. Overall, the challenge was slightly easier than I anticipated, in part because it was just for one day, and there were no tempting treats lying around the office! I do confess to waiting until midnight to eat some cake, but I’d be willing to try avoiding sugar for a few more days…but maybe not consecutive ones.
Ruthie Fierberg, Editorial Assistant – It took some planning, but turns out I have a good amount of meal options that I typically eat anyway that are sugar-free. The main component of my meals didn’t deviate from my norm (eggs over spinach with some nuts for breakfast, a salad with black beans and an apple for lunch, banana for an afternoon snack, chicken and rice and a small salad for dinner with blackberries for dessert). What DID surprise me is how many of my condiments had sugar in them. I couldn’t have my usual salad dressing – I opted for lemon juice instead – and I couldn’t have barbeque sauce on my chicken – that actually has a LOT of sugar in it. I think in the future I will pay more attention to the “sugars” listing on nutrition labels and opt for things with less sugar, but I have no plans to go sugar-free for good. I like my whole wheat pastas and multigrain breads and even that barbeque sauce. The challenge was certainly interesting and eye-opening!
Madeleine Burry, Associate Managing Editor – The best part of the sugar-free day was the need to be thoughtful about what I eat: Does that salad dressing have sugar added? What about that bottled tomato sauce? I prepped for the day with lots of tiny containers of fruits and veggies (apple slices in one, cut up cucumber in another, and grapes in the last little tupperware), and was able to escape the kitchen without trying the cookies temptingly laid out on the counter, and make it through the treacherous three to five p.m. window, when I’m most vulnerable to lure of the sugary snack. Will I quit sugar forever? No way! I quit sugar for a month once, and midway through, life felt dark and dreary. A little sweetness is a good thing, and sometimes an apple just doesn’t cut it. But I will definitely try to be more mindful when eating, especially about the presence of sugar in foods I don’t think of as being sweet (like ketchup, instant oatmeal packets, dried fruit, and salad dressing).
For my part, feeding my daughter sugar-free meals turned out to be the toughest challenge. She usually has a low-sugar cereal for breakfast, but we decided on eggs and whole grain crackers for breakfast—not something I’d want her to have everyday. I left a list of sugar-free snacks for the babysitter, and it was a little humdrum: dried plums, more crackers, fruit, milk.
Participating in this challenge made me realize just how hard it is to not eat sugar throughout the day, especially for kids. Since all the grams of sugar – in cereal, chocolate milk, yogurt, and granola bars – add up, even if I feel like I’m feeding my daughter a “healthy” diet, it is still very sugary. My new goal is to step up my game and find some delicious, sugar-free options for her everyday diet.
Could you or your kids ever go sugar-free—even just for a day?
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Image: Sugar on wooden table via Shutterstock
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