Read, Build, & Win!

I am so excited about today’s review and giveaway! This review was really done by Hudson, so that’s what has me so excited. Hudson is in this really fun stage where he is just a sponge. He never stops talking. He loves hands-on activities and loves to make things. He loves to learn, and he especially loves to read!

Hudson and I were given the opportunity to review the new LEGO DUPLO Read & Build Set. LEGO DUPLO is introducing its new line of Read & Build products. These sets come with bricks (or LEGOs) that allow preschool aged kids like Hudson to engage with the book storyline in a hands on way, which helps them learn to read.

The set comes in a box with a sturdy board book and twelve bricks. Hudson absolutely loves books and he loves to build things. He is constantly stacking things and using LEGO bricks at home. So I knew he would get so excited about this set!

He immediately wanted to start putting things together using the bricks, so I started reading the book to him. The story was about a girl named Penny and a boy named Joe. Penny needed an airplane, and the story told us how to put together the airplane. It shows you the picture of all the different bricks you need and how to put them together.

It was so simple that Hudson was able to figure out how to do it by himself. And he was so very excited that he built something that looked exactly like what he saw in the book! He kept walking around showing everyone the picture of the airplane in the book and showing us that he made one that looked just like it.

Then we built the car for Joe. Hudson kept wanting to play with the airplane and the car, but he only wanted to play with them if we could read the book at the same time. I’m excited that Hudson is learning more and more about reading. He recognizes some sight words and has learned all of his phonics over the last year. It’s fun to show him new ways to learn to read, so I’m really happy that LEGO DUPLO has introduced this new product line to help engage kids with reading.

For a chance to win a $100 LEGO gift card, tell me how do you think Lego Duplo Read & Build will help your child learn to read?

Visit to see other Read & Build sets and order online. Check out to find other reviews and more ways you can enter to win.

Sweepstakes Rules:

No duplicate comments.

You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:
a) Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
b) Tweet about this promotion and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
c) Blog about this promotion and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
d) For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.

The Official Rules are available here.
This sweepstakes runs from 7/11 – 8/19/12.

the boy mom's bookshelf

I have a thing for other boy moms. If I hear someone say that they have all boys, I want to be her friend. I want to pick her brain and share stories and laugh and cry and sip Diet Cokes. I just think there’s something that boy moms share.

And today I wanted to share what our favorite “boy books” are. I’ve had to learn a lot of this stuff along the way. Some of my favorite books for Hudson and Hayes were some of my favorite books. But there are a lot of great books for boys that I’d never heard of before having my own boys.

We love to read books, so please chime in and let me know what your favorite boy books are. And if you’re a girl mom, go ahead and list your favorite books, too, so the other girl moms can find them in the comments.

In the beginning, when Hudson was a baby, we read Goodnight Moon about 10 times a day. He loved it so much and still sometimes asks for it. He knew it by heart. Hayes’s bed time book is Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See?

The Little Blue Truck is our current favorite. Our boy book flavor of the week, you could say.

How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight, How Do Dinosaurs Get Well Soon, and How Do Dinosaurs Go to School (and there are many more of the How Do Dinosaurs… books that I’d love to add to our collection)

Chugga Chugga Choo Choo, not to be confused with Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, which is also a great book that we love

The Matthew Van Fleet books are all great, but we love Dog and Heads

Two great lift-the-flap books are Elmo’s Big Lift and Look Book and Little People Let’s Go To The Farm

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and If You Give a Cat a Cupcake (We have all of the books in this series, but these two are Hudson’s favorites)

Of course we love Green Eggs and Ham and my childhood favorite, The Cat In The Hat Comes Back

Eight Silly Monkeys

The Jan Pienkowski books were favorites of mine as a kid, even though the pop up illustrations are kind of scary. Hudson loves Dinnertime and Little Monsters

This Is My Tractor is lots of fun and has a little button that makes a tractor sound. Fun!

We also love all of the Karen Katz books and the Fiona Watt “That’s Not My…” books for babies. And Hayes’s current favorite book is Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?

So, boy moms, what are you favorite books? We need more animal, dinosaur, and transportation books. And girl moms, share your favorites, too!


Selecting the Diaper Bag


One of the things I was most excited about when I found out I was pregnant with Hudson was getting to pick out a diaper bag. For some, it’s just a diaper bag. But for me, it was another excuse to buy an accessory. And I knew that this particular accessory and I would be spending a lot of time together over the years. I had a solid list of the things I wanted in my diaper bag.

I wanted it to be stylish. And I wanted it to match my style. I didn’t want a baby bag. I wanted a bag that I would enjoy carrying. After all, it wasn’t going to be my baby’s accessory, it was my accessory. It needed to be neutral enough to match my ever-changing wardrobe. I didn’t want a pink or blue bag that screamed “baby.”

While I wanted my bag to be stylish, I wanted it to be practical. I wanted to buy an actual diaper bag. It was important to me that I could empty the bag and wipe it out with a wet wipe to clean it all out. If a bottle or sippy cup spilled in the bag, I didn’t want to be crying because my bag was ruined! I wanted it to be designed to handle any messes that come from baby and toddler gear.

It needed to be slightly man-friendly. There would be the chance that Todd would have to carry it on occasion, so I wanted him to feel comfortable carrying it. But I still wanted it to be stylish for me. The bag needed to be comfortable. It was really important to me to go to the store and try the bag on. It needed to feel comfortable on my shoulder and needed to have easy access. So I pretended to hold a baby with my right arm while the bag sat on my left shoulder. I attempted to access the inside of the bag while just using my left hand and not using my right hand. Some of my favorite bags were a tote style, and I couldn’t get inside the bag without taking it off my arm.

The final thing I was looking for was lots of pockets. I need to be able to put my keys and cell phone in an outside pocket so I can easily access them. I also wanted to have two outside pockets for bottles or sippy cups. Inside the bag, I wanted at least one zipper pocket and then two or three more pockets/compartments to help organize and divide up the necessities.

I ultimately decided that a stylish, nylon-lined, messenger-style bag was the perfect one for me. It was a little bit man-friendly. The black and white pattern was neutral enough to go with lots of different outfits. The inside is nylon, so it could be easily wiped out when messes occur. The flap closure and long shoulder strap make it extremely easy to access while I hold one of my kids with the other arm. There are plenty of pockets for keys, cell phones, bottles on the outside and lots of great pockets on the inside. I’ve carried this bag every single day for the last three years. I still love it!

What kind of diaper bag did you look for? What was most important to you when choosing a bag?

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my favorite products and brands for babies

A few people have asked me if I would do a post with my favorite baby products and recommendations for first-time baby registries. After seeing what worked with Hudson and now knowing what works for Hayes so far, I have a decent list of recommendations for products, brands, and other registry tips. We made some “mistakes” with our registry for Hudson (and we didn’t register for Hayes because he was our second baby), so I’ve compiled this list to show what our favorite products are.

I apologize in advance for the lengthy post! There are links to all of the items and that is also where I found all of the images for each item.

Click on this post and this post if you want to see my reviews from when Hudson was a baby and for toy reviews for babies, even though some opinions may have changed since then.

And please feel free to leave your favorite registry items in the comments so new mamas that are browsing for ideas can also get ideas from you!

Baby Gear

Fisher Price My Little Snugabunny Bouncer

I didn’t love our first bouncy seat that we had for Hudson for a few reasons. The main reason was that it was more of a vibrating seat and not also a bouncy seat. I like to be able to sit on my chair and bounce the bouncy seat with my foot. I saw this one and knew it was perfect. It’s big and plush and cozy. It also bounces! Go figure. This seat also has a vibration mode and plays music and bird chirping sounds. Hayes really loves it for his awake time. When we brought him home from the hospital, we put this seat in front of the window and Hayes was able to get his indirect sunlight that way.

Fisher Price Rainforest Melodies and Lights Activity Gym

I have loved this mat. We got a new one when Hayes was born because Hudson’s was a little beat up. Hayes loves the lights and the music and it even has a feature that causes the music to respond to the baby’s movement, which I think is pretty cool. It’s great for tummy time and play time. Now that Hayes is doing more rolling around, we put a blanket next to the mat so he can travel a little bit.

Summer Baby Touch Monitor or any video monitor

We had a different Summer video monitor for Hudson and then got this newer model for Hayes. I cannot even tell you how much we love having a video monitor. Is it worth the splurge for a few reasons. The first reason is that in the middle of the night when your baby makes a noise, you can look to make sure he or she is okay before rushing into the nursery. The video monitor has saved me many trips out of the bed. It has also been great to watch Hudson in his big boy room to make sure he is still in his bed and not playing in his room. This is such a great investment. The Summer Baby Touch Monitor allows for multiple cameras, which is great! We still use separate monitors for the boys because I like to be able to look at both of them if I open my eyes in the middle of the night.

Brookstone White Noise Machine

This is totally worth the splurge. We have a Homedics noise machine in Hayes’s room and after 5 months it is almost finished. It did not last long. We have a great, more expensive, white noise machine in Hudson’s room that we have had for almost 2.5 years now and it is still going strong. It’s wonderful! And both of my boys sleep with white noise.

Graco Pack n Play Silhouette

There are many brands of pack n plays/ portable cribs/ play yards, but I really like our Graco. I don’t have any experience with other brands, but I’m sure they’re all pretty similar. We only use the bassinet setting when we travel because Hayes and Hudson both slept in their rooms when they came home from the hospital. But I also used it as a play pen was Hudson became mobile. He would sit or stand in the Pack n Play to play or watch videos while I folded laundry or took a shower. Even if you’re not planning on having your baby sleeping in your room, it’s still worth it to have a Pack n Play for travel and for confining your baby when they become mobile.

Strollers and Carseats

GracoPedic SnugRide

We used the same infant seat for Hayes that we used for Hudson. It is light weight and has a very high safety rating. It also is compatible with our strollers, which is a big plus. We also got multiple car seat bases to go in different vehicles.

BOB Revolution Stroller

We have the BOB single jogging stroller (Stroller Strides edition) that we got when Hudson was 6 months old. It is still my absolute favorite stroller. It is so smooth. It’s like buying a luxury, all-terrain vehicle. When I push other strollers, I realize that nothing compares to our BOB.

Baby Jogger City Select (with second seat attachment)

We love this stroller. It isn’t nearly as smooth as the BOB, but when used as a single stroller it’s much easier to push. I love it because it can be a single or double stroller. It can be more compact or it can be large. I like that Hudson can ride in the front and face out, but that Hayes can face me. Hayes can also start facing out as he gets bigger and more alert. There are so many possibilities and configurations with this stroller!

MacLaren Triumph Umbrella Stroller

We mostly used this for airports and quick trips, when our big stroller wasn’t really needed. It’s a great little ride, the canopy gives lots of coverage and it collapses very easily. It doesn’t take up much space, but it’s also very sturdy.

Britax Boulevard

We absolutely love our Britax Boulevard for our convertible car seat. The cowmooflage print is adorable, but the seat is so cozy and has so many protective features. Hudson’s head never flops down when he falls asleep because there is plenty of neck support in this seat. There are also lots of side impact protection features that I’m so thankful to have, just in case.

Childress Car Seat Bag for flying

Okay, so this is mostly for you mamas who do a lot of flying with your little ones. We got this fantastic Childress Car Seat bag to protect our car seats when we fly. We always check our car seats at baggage check and this protects them as they’re under the plane. It also comes on wheels and with backpack straps so it’s easy to carry around when you get off the plane! We love having this thing. And there’s always a little bit of extra space in it that we use for packing toys!

Baby Trend High Chair

I chose this chair for its price and because it wasn’t too big. It folds up nicely. But the price was right! We also have a little booster seat that Hudson can use instead of the high chair when we travel.

Clothes, Blankets, and Burp Cloths

Just a list of some of my favorite clothing brands!

Kissy Kissy, Magnolia Baby, Monag, Petit Ami, Funtasia Too, Anavini, Claire and Charlie, Vive la Fete, Rosalina, Bailey Boys, Feltman Brothers, Monday’s Child, Carter’s onesies, Janie and Jack, Baby GAP, Ragsland, Orient Expressed, Blessed Be The Name, Kelly’s Kids and Shrimp n Grits Kids

A lot of these brands can be found on Southern Tots and Best-Dressed Child

Swaddle Designs Blankets and Burp Cloths

The Swaddle Designs flannel blankets are my favorite. They come in a great, large square shape and are the perfect size for doing a really great, tight swaddle. (See the Moms on Call method or the Happiest Baby on the Block method.) Swaddle Designs burp cloths are also great because they fold nicely and they’re very thick and absorbent. (They can be purchased on


We discovered the Woombie when Hudson was about 3 months old and was becoming too big to swaddle with blankets. The Woombie is stretchy and allows the baby to wiggle and move a little bit, but still keeps the hands away from the face. This is best, in my opinion, for a baby who isn’t brand new!

3 Marthas Burp Cloths, Bibs, and Towels

This is just the cutest brand! They have the most adorable appliques on their burp cloths, bibs and towels– and other items. Their hooded towels are my favorite because they’re large and so cozy. So cute!

Baby Care

Dr. Brown’s Bottles

These were our favorites because that’s what our boys liked. There are a lot of pieces with the Dr. Brown’s bottles, but that didn’t bother us because the boys liked the bottle so much. I’d recommend registering for the “starter packs” of a few different types of bottles and then when your baby takes a bottle, just try different kinds. Moms on Call recommends Gerber bottles.

Pacifiers- Nuks and Soothies

Nuks and Soothies are just what my boys liked, but just like bottles, pacifiers are another thing where every baby is different. Just register for a few different types and try them out. As you figure out what your baby likes, just go buy more.

Mustela Bath Products

This stuff smells SO amazing. The bath wash, the shampoo, the lotion, the facial cleanser and the facial wipes are all things that we just keep stocked around here. I absolutely love the smell and it’s very gentle on baby’s skin.

Dr. Brown’s Formula Mixing Pitcher

My friend, Callie, recommended this to me. It is such a great thing for formula-fed babies. You can mix up to 32 ounces of formula and keep it refrigerated in the mixer. It helps evenly mix up the formula and helps you always have formula ready to go when it’s time for the baby to eat.

The First Years Spinning Bottle Drying Rack

I like this drying rack because it is 2-tiered and takes up less space. You can store many more bottles this way.

The First Years Bottle Warmer

Some babies don’t need a bottle warmer, but both of my boys liked their bottles warm. They wouldn’t take them if they were cold. When we were doing feedings in the middle of the night, we could grab pre-made bottle out of the refrigerator, put it on the warmer, change Hayes’s diaper and then feed him. It was so easy and so quick!


I love the Boppy! It’s great for nursing, but it’s also great for propping the baby up when doing tummy time or back time on the floor. It also can be used as a support when children are holding the baby or when baby is learning to sit up. I got a monogrammed Boppy cover from Pottery Barn kids. But you can buy your Boppy at all baby superstores and buy all kinds of covers. Or you can have a cover made for you.

Baby Bjorn

We love our Baby Bjorn! We also have the K’Tan wrap, but both of my kids were so big that they didn’t really care for it. The Baby Bjorn has been used so many times!

Bumbo Seat

Hudson didn’t care for the Bumbo, but Hayes loves it.

Summer Infant Bath Seat

Hayes started off in this seat. For Hudson, we had a big plastic bath tub that could sit on the counter top or in our bath tub. But it was so bulky and I hated having to figure out where to put it when guests came. For Hayes, we got this great Summer bath seat and it is wonderful! We used it on the counter when he was teeny, he can be propped up in the bath tub now that he’s bigger. We also took it the beach to use as his beach recliner!

Munchkin Duck Bath Tub

This thing is great! It’s an inflatable larger bath tub. This is perfect for when the baby starts to sit up, but is still so slippery. This little tub is fun and if the baby tips over or loses his balance, there’s a soft surface for them to fall into.

*I registered for and received a great Medela breast pump. Unfortunately, breast feeding didn’t really work out with either of my babies. And now I have a very expensive breast pump that I only used for six weeks with Hayes. My advice would be to make sure that breast feeding is going to work out before getting an expensive pump.

*We have the Graco SweetPeace swing, but neither of my kids ever cared for the swing, so that’s why it’s not on the list. I also didn’t hear good review on the MamaRoo, so I didn’t end up getting one. The bouncy seat was a great buy.

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