Jan 21, 2018

 $100 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

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Open to US
1/21/18 12am ~ 2/04/18 11:59pm

$100 Amazon Gift Card 

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Jan 19, 2018

If you are a fan of Black Mirror and have not seen this episode or are planning to watch the Black Mirror series at any point and don't want spoilers, I suggest you stop reading now as this post will contain spoilers of the Arkangel episode. 
I honestly have not watched the Black Mirror series from start to finish, but my husband loves it. Unlike other series, each episode is a separate story with a separate plot line. They are basically mini-movies. I have only parts here and there of some episodes, but when my husband started this one while I was working on my blog, I had to stop what I was doing and pay attention.

From what I have heard from my husband and what scenes I have seen, you learn to expect the weird everytime something happens on this show. For example, there was one episode where these people were being blackmailed to do horrible things, like rob a bank, or their dirty secret will be shared with those they didn't want to know. In another episode, a guy recreated all his coworkers in a virtual video game where he could torment them, but the game characters make a plan to escape.

So when Arkangel starts out with a woman, Marie, getting a C-section, I'm already expecting something to be wrong with the baby, but no, the baby, Sara, is perfectly fine and handed to mom. I think this is one of the first shows I have actually seen a C-section birth on, usually, they like to over-dramatize natural birth, but this was very well done, so kudos to the director! I also think they start with this scene so we, as the viewer, experience the attachment between Marie and her daughter. Sara is her baby and she will do anything to protect her baby.

The show then skips to when Sara is a toddler. Her mom takes her to the park to play. My husband and I are both thinking something's going to happen now. Another mom with a boy shows up and starts talking to Sara's mom. The next thing we know, Sara is missing! Here we're thinking alien abduction due to the title of the show, but nope, Sara is found. She just ran after a cat and got lost (and this is why I can't watch these shows, the whole time I am an anxious wreck waiting for what goes wrong! Plus the foreboding background music does not help!).

The show skips to Marie taking Sara to the hospital to get a chip implanted in her daughter that can be synced to an iPad like device, allowing Marie to not only to see where her daughter is but allows her to see through daughter's eyes. This device is called Arkangel. The Arkangel also shows Marie her daughter's vitals so she can check up on Sara's health.

The doctor shows Marie how to work a setting that can shield her daughter from images and speech that may be uncomfortable or inappropriate for her daughter. Basically, it blurs out the image and makes the words sound like gibberish. Marie is uncomfortable with this at first, but when she arrives at the barking dog on their street (which scared Sara when they were on the way to the park), she turns on the feature and Sara is not bothered by the dog this time.

I'm going to skip ahead to when Sara is a little older (elementary age is my guess) and in school. This is when the trouble begins. She walks up to a group of kids who are looking at an older boy's iPad. From what we hear it sounds like they are watching a violent fight. Sara, of course, can't watch it, so the boy tries to explain it to her, but as he talks he becomes faded and his speech blurred. 

The next scene we see is Sara coloring while her mom is working on her computer. Sara is trying to draw a picture of someone bleeding like the boy described before the Arkangel blurred her vision. She begins to sharpen a pencil and this is when I look away. As the viewer, you just know she is going to cut herself and that's exactly what she does. Sara's vision is of course blurred, she can't see her bleeding finger. The device alerts her mom that something is wrong and when mom arrives Sara hits her.

The scene switches to Marie taking her daughter to therapy, where she discovers that she did this to her daughter (no surprise there), and the therapist recommends having the Arkangel removed. Instead, Marie takes the iPad and charging cord and stores it away in a box. As the viewer, we just know that is going to lead to trouble later on. I kept thinking someone was going to get ahold of it and control her daughter, but I guess that was a little too out there. Turns out mom just couldn't handle her daughter being a teenager.

We are lead to believe that Sara lives a pretty normal life up until she's 15 as it's not until one night when Marie can't get in touch with her daughter, that she digs up the iPad to see where her daughter is. Of course, she finds her daughter having sex!

This is where as a viewer we are kind of left to assume a lot of stuff, like that the mom and daughter relationship isn't that great as Marie had no idea that her daughter had a boyfriend. The boyfriend is older so maybe the daughter didn't think her mom would approve, but that just goes to show what kind of mom Marie is. To make matters worse, mom confronts the boyfriend, tells him to stay away from her daughter or she would show the videos to the police, so at this point, we know he must be at least 18. Boyfriend follows through and Sara ends up with a broken heart.

From the way her mom reacted to what she discovered using the Arkangel, I assume she must not be a very open-minded person. Also, why wouldn't she think to talk to her daughter first? She just helicopters in and tries to take control of the situation.

Her daughter, of course, ends up pregnant after her first time having sex so one can assume she didn't know about safe sex, another sign mom isn't open-minded. Marie learned this from the Arkangel as the device shows her daughter's health. Being the helicopter mom she is, Marie secretly inserts an emergency contraception pill into her daughter's morning smoothie (which isn't too far off from the parents that force their teens to get abortions).

Sara gets sick at school. The nurse explains that she was pregnant, but due to the pill, she's no longer pregnant. Sara, of course, is freaking out. She now knows her mom has been using the Arkangel, which she thought her mom had gotten rid of a long time ago.

Sara confronts her mom, which leads her to viciously beating her mom with the Arkangel iPad (in her defense the safety setting was on and she just wanted it to turn off so she couldn't really see what she was hitting). In the process the iPad is broken, her mom is left unconscious, and she leaves the house with packed bags. We later see her hitching a ride on a truck, running away. Marie eventually comes to, finds the iPad is broken, her daughter nowhere to be found, goes outside on the street and screams "Sara!" a few times. The very device that was supposed to protect her daughter, was the very device that caused her to lose her daughter.

The show left me wanting more! What happened in all those years when mom wasn't using the Arkangel? How good was her relationship with her daughter? It doesn't seem that great if she didn't know her daughter had a boyfriend. And of course was she able to find Sara again and repair the relationship?

Another thing my husband and I pondered was there was never any mention of a dad, nor was there a dad present. We concluded that it wasn't important to the storyline (not all kids have two parents in their lives)  and having another parent figure would have probably caused more conflict between mom and dad (unless they were both helicopter parents), rather than focus on mom and daughter. There was a grandpa at the beginning who mentioned he wasn't a fan of the device, but he dies before Sara gets to elementary school.

Arkangel is definitely a warning for parents, especially helicopter parents, about the dangers of trying to control your children. Marie is a classic helicopter parent. Yes, the show leaves out a lot of the in-between years when she wasn't using the Arkangel, but I'm guessing she controlled as much as she could without it, which is why Sara never told her mom about her boyfriend or even had the sex talk, as when she first has sex she does a lot of "dirty talk" because it is what she has seen in porn. This is stuff we have to assume in order for the mom's behavior to make sense.

Now I'm not saying we should give or children free-range and this episode is definitely on the extreme side, but being too controlling can definitely have negative effects on your children. There have even been studies done that show the consequences of helicopter parenting:

"College-aged students whose parents are overly involved in their academic lives, or whose parents created rigidly structured childhood environments, are more likely to experience anxiety and depression. They may also experience academic difficulties." (source)

The thing that really scares me about this episode is that if this technology did exist, there are parents out there that will use it, so I think it's great that Black Mirror is ahead of the game and showing us the potential harm something like this would have on the parent-child relationship.

If you haven't seen this episode, I highly recommend watching it! Black Mirror is currently available on Netflix. You can check out the preview for the Arkangel episode below. If you have seen this episode, let me know what your thoughts are in the comments!

For more info about the dangers of helicopter parenting check out these links:

Attribution: Image used in blog post photo does not belong to me and was found on Pexels.

Jan 12, 2018


Stretch marks, every pregnant woman's nightmare, but should they be?

According to WebMD, almost 90% of women will get stretch marks during their pregnancy. And no matter what anyone tells you, there is no way to prevent them. There is no magical cream out there that can stop them and no magical cream that can get rid of them (source). They are also genetic so if your mother had them, you will likely have them too. However, stretch marks will fade over time and there are treatments available to help them fade (source). 

From my pregnancy and after my pregnancy I have come to find that there are two vocal groups of women when it comes to stretch marks. There are the moms who will do anything to prevent stretch marks, the ones slathering themselves with cocoa butter every hour of the day and swear it works, and then there are the other moms who are proud of their "tiger stripes" and flaunt them off for the world to see. 

Then there is the third group, the non-vocal group. They are the moms that just don't talk about it. I was part of this group until now. 

Was I concerned about getting stretch marks during my pregnancy? Not really. My view is it's your choice to get pregnant and have a baby, so you should be ready to accept that stretchmarks are a possibility. It was just something I expected, and yes I got them. 

Maybe it was because I was told I may not be able to get pregnant on my own, that stretch marks were the last thing I was concerned about when I found out I was pregnant with our little miracle. However, I did put lotion on every day to soothe the skin as it stretched, which is recommended for all pregnant women, but this lotion was not magical and it did not prevent them as I still ended up with stretch marks. It may have helped keep my skin healthy and now, one year later, they are definitely still there but have also faded, which is what the lotion and any other kind of treatment is more likely to help with.

Every time I see another mom ask "is there a way to prevent stretch marks" or see an article that states "I used this miracle cream and didn't get stretch marks," I just want to roll my eyes. If stretch marks mean that much to you, then don't get pregnant or don't have the baby. Also, if you didn't get stretch marks, consider yourself lucky, it wasn't the cream, you just managed to gain the weight at a slow enough pace (source) for the skin to keep up or thank your mom as it could just be your genetics. It is encouraged for moms to gain weight at a steady pace, but even so, you may still get stretch marks as everyone's skin has different elasticity.

I didn't get very big or round like other moms did when they were pregnant, and I still got stretch marks. Here is a photo for comparison of when I was 5 weeks pregnant versus 38 weeks, which was my last pregnant photo as the baby was born at 38+6 weeks, so I didn't quite make it to 39 weeks!

Honestly, I don't understand why women care so much if they have stretch marks. They are usually in places no one sees, most commonly the stomach and breasts.  No one is going to be seeing that on a daily basis besides maybe your partner and they shouldn't care as you just gave birth to their child. The only other person who may see your body is your doctor, and doctors have seen way worse things, so no worry there. 

Now if your an avid beach goer and a bikini is your choice of swimwear, then yes, maybe the public will see your stretch marks, but why do you care what they think? Those people don't matter, the ones that matter are the ones that love you just the way you are. Also, if it does make you uncomfortable, just cover up. Bonus to one-pieces and tankinis are more coverage, which means you have more protection from the sun. 

I know we live in a society where looks matter and I think the moms who show off their stripes are trying to help put an end to that, to show the truth about pregnancy and birth. I'm more modest and don't like showing off my body, but I also believe that stretch marks shouldn't be a big deal and I think this could also be bringing more attention to them, which makes women feel it's a bigger deal than it is. So what if you have a few extra lines or "stripes" on your belly? There are women out there who would do anything to have those marks on their belly, so I am grateful for the stripes I do have as they gave me the chance to be a mom.

I think as a society, we are pretty vain. We're always trying to cover up imperfections with make-up or surgery. We are desperate to find ways to fix the impossible, like hair loss and stretch marks. We care too much about how we look and not enough about what's beneath the surface.

Then again, it's all a matter of perspective as well. Why do we find stretch marks ugly? Why aren't they beautiful? They are a part of pregnancy, a part of birth, which many say is a beautiful thing, but truth be told, to me it is ugly. There is nothing beautiful about birth except the baby. The part up to that is sweat, blood, tears, not a pretty picture if you ask me. So when you think about it, stretch marks are actually a beautiful thing as they are proof that you gave life. You just have to change your point of view.

I'm interested to hear what you think, so feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!


Attribution: Image used in blog post photo does not belong to me and was found on Pixabay.

Jan 5, 2018


Brentwood Home Pet Bed Giveaway! Winner Choose Style & Color ~ Up To $265 TRV @BrentwoodHomeLA

Deliciously Savvy Is Hosting A Giveaway In Which 1 Lucky Winner Will Receive A Pet Bed From Brentwood Home! Winner Chooses Style (Runyon Or Griffith) In Any Size And Color! RV Up To $265. Enter Below & Good Luck!

Sponsored By:

Hosted By: Deliciously Savvy

Co-Hosted By:

Amy & Aron's Real Life Reviews // We're Pawsitively Home // Missy's Views and Savings Clues // Michigan Saving and More // My Silly Little Gang // Miki's Hope // It’s Our Fab Fash Life // Heartbeats ~ Soul Stains // Sweet Southern Savings

PLUS a Big Thank You To All Blogs Helping To Promote This Giveaway! Thank You!


The Details:

1 Lucky Winner Will Receive A Pet Bed From Brentwood Home! Winners Chooses Style & Color (Selections Below)

Check Out The Review Here


Giveaway Dates: 1/05 9PM EST and runs until 2/03 at 11:59 PM EST

Entrants must be 18 years old to enter and giveaway is open to US residents only.
Any Questions Email Me At mcushing7 (at) hotmail (dot) com. This giveaway is in no way endorsed, affiliated or associated with Facebook, Twitter or any other Social Media Networking Site. This giveaway is valid only in the United States. Entrants must be 18+ years of age to enter. This giveaway will end at 11:59 PM (EST) on 02/03/2018.

Good Luck Everyone! Enter Below

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Deliciously Savvy and Before and After Baby did not receive any form of compensation for this giveaway. Once a winner is selected via the Rafflecopter process, the product will be shipped. The winner has 48 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen. No other blog associated with this giveaway is responsible for the product shipment. Brentwood Home LA will be providing the prize above to the winner. Thank You for stopping by! Any Questions or Concerns email mcushing7 (at) hotmail (dot) com.

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You may recall my previous post about how we started solids with our daughter, but now that we are nearing the end of purees and moving onto table food, I thought I would share some more tips and recipes!

I am not sure why people are so turned off by making their own baby food because it's really simple. All you need is a blender and food! I'm not even sure if time is really an issue because it takes less than 30 minutes to prep and then you can store it for 3 months.

What I think turns parents off from homemade baby food is the recipes that are out there. Heck, I was nervous at first when I started looking up how to make my own food as you see all these fancy mixes with 5-6 different foods in one puree!

We are lucky enough to live in a city that offers some free educational programs for parents, one of which was a nutrition class. After taking that class I felt so much better about making my own food.

The pediatrician even recommends homemade purees as she claimed that babies who eat more homemade are less picky eaters. Her reasoning is because store-bought purees are designed to always taste and feel the same, but when you make your own purees, it's going to be a little different each time. She says to counter this, you can buy different store brands, don't stick to just one, as this will help them get used to different flavors and textures as well. I personally couldn't find any studies online to back this up, but it makes sense to me, and you can always talk to your pediatrician about it as well. They probably have more access to studies than we do.

You do not have to get fancy unless you really want to when it comes to making your own purees. All you need to do is pick a fruit or veggie, and blend it with formula, breast milk, or water. You can combine different fruits and veggies too. With some veggies and fruit, you may have to cook or steam them first, so that may be an added step. In some cases, like with pears, you can buy the canned version instead and blend that.

I ended up tossing all the recipes I found and basically just winged it and highly recommend others to do the same!

However, if you are a recipe person or just need some ideas, I did provide a few more of my own recipes below. I will note that the water amounts are all approximate as I basically blended and added water as necessary. Plus it can vary each time depending on how ripe the food was or how much moisture was already in the food, etc, so please don't take that water amount as an absolute. Also, feel free to use formula or breast milk instead!

My Recipes

Pureed Avocados

Makes ~28 Cubes (or 12 4oz jars)

You Will Need:
  1. Peel the avocados. Toss the peels and pit.
  2. Put the avocado and water in a blender and blend until smooth. You may need to adjust the amount of water depending on how thick you want the mixture. 
  3. Once the mixture is how you like it, pour into ice cube trays and freeze. Once frozen you can pop them out and put them in a plastic freezer bag. You can also pour them directly into jars and freeze them that way as well. My favorite is the Ball Mason 4oz Jars.
Side Note: I also did a blueberry avocado puree, where I basically just added a package of fresh blueberries to this recipe.

Pureed Blueberries & Raspberries with Baby Oatmeal

Makes ~28 Cubes (or 12 4oz jars)

You Will Need:
  • Blender or food processor
  • 1 8 oz Package of Frozen Blueberries 
  • 1 8 oz Package of Frozen Raspberries
  • ~2 Cups of Water
  • Ice cube trays or jars
  • Freezer bags
  • Baby Oatmeal
  1. Pour both packages of blueberries and raspberries into a blender, along with water.
  2. Blend until you have a smoothie like consistency, you may have to adjust the amount of water you add.
  3. Pour into ice cube trays or jars and freeze. Once frozen you can pop them out and put them in a plastic freezer bag. 
  4. When ready to give to your baby, take out the night before and set in fridge to thaw. Once thawed it will no longer be smoothie like, but watery. I like to warm the puree first in the microwave before adding oatmeal. 
  5. Add oatmeal until mixture is nice and thick. This is one of my daughter's favorite breakfast foods!
Side Note: You can probably use fresh blueberries and raspberries as well, but that will likely require less water. I have done fresh blueberry puree, where I just blended up some blueberries with a little water, so it was still thick so it wouldn't work if you are looking to add flavor to your baby's oatmeal, but would make a nice puree on its own. You could probably use more water. 

A lot of these recipes are basically just trial and error. This was actually my first time using frozen fruit and I actually didn't expect it to turn to water after I defrosted it, though I should have known since frozen fruit has a lot of water. I used oatmeal to thicken it basically, and it turned out to be a happy accident as my daughter loved it!

Pureed Peas

Makes ~28 Cubes (or 12 4oz jars)

You Will Need:
  1. Cook frozen peas according to instructions on the bag.
  2. Let cooked peas cool before putting into blender. 
  3. Pour in water and blend. May have to adjust water depending on how thick you want the mixture. 
  4. Pour into ice cube trays or jars and freeze. Once frozen you can pop them out and put them in a plastic freezer bag. 

Side Note: You can also add fresh spinach leaves before blending!

Pureed Cauliflower & Broccoli

Makes ~28 Cubes (or 12 4oz jars)

You Will Need:
  • Blender or food processor
  • 1/2 of a head of Cauliflower
  • 1 bunch of Broccoli
  • ~ 1 Cup of Water
  • Ice cube trays or jars
  • Freezer bags
  1. Steam broccoli and cauliflower.
  2. Let veggies cool before putting in a blender with water.
  3. Blend until smooth, you may have to add more water.
  4. Pour into ice cube trays and freeze. Once frozen you can pop them out and put them in a plastic freezer bag.

Side Note: You can also add fresh spinach leaves before blending! (this makes the mixture more of a green color as well)

Jan 1, 2018


Disclosure: Affiliate links are used in this post..

Diono Car Organization Giveaway ~ 4 Prizes ~ 1 Winner (Ends 1/29) @diono @SMGurusNetwork

Welcome to the Diono Car Organization Giveaway!

There will be 1 Winner

This giveaway is part of our Valentine’s Day Gift Guide – Stop by to see all the giveaways and great products.

This contest is hosted by the Social Media Gurus Network!

Host that put together this giveaway is Deliciously Savvy

My co-hosts for this giveaway are Michigan Saving and More , Heartbeats ~ Soul Stains, and Tales From A Southern Mom

Below is a list of all the bloggers involved in the gift guide giveaways.

Now onto the sponsor!

Also available on Amazon.

1 Winner Receives All 4 Products Below:

diono stow ‘n go

Diono travel pal

Diono stuff ‘n scuff

Diono pop up trash bin

See the review HERE.

Enter the Giveaway Below!

This giveaway is in no way endorsed, affiliated, or associated with Facebook, Twitter or any other Social Media Networking Site. You are not eligible if you have won a prize from the sponsor in the last 12 month. This Giveaway is valid in the United States Only and Entrants must be 18+ years of age to enter. This giveaway event will end at 11:59 PM (EST) 1/29/18. The winners will have 48 hours to email their information back to mcushing7 at hotmail dot com or a new winner will be drawn, you may want to put this email address as safe as it could go to spam. The sponsors are each responsible for shipping of the above prizes. No blog associated with this contests are responsible for prize fulfillment. If you would like to be a sponsor in a giveaway like this please email Melissa Cushing at mcushing7 (at)hotmail (dot) com. If you take an entry you must stay following for the entire contest or you will be disqualified.

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