A Shoebox Full of Photographs

Mystery Boxes Nine and Ten: Ecocentric Mom
rabbidhamster
Wrapping up the month with our last two subscription boxes is Ecocentric Mom. An Ecological box of goodies that you can subscribe to as "Mom" "Mom-to-be" or "Baby and mom". This box starts at about $17/month, but there is no referral program in place yet.

It comes wrapped sweetly in pink tissue paper. Love this presentation. (Similar to the Citrus Lane presentation, except they use yellow). photo IMG_20130826_145500_419_zps6ecdb865.jpg

I subscribed to both the Mom box, and the baby box. This month the Mom box arrived first, so I'll talk about it first.

If I am being completely honest, I was slightly disappointed in this box. But it's not them, it's ME! The box contained some all natural make-up, including mascara and nail polish, and I'm just not big on make-up. But those two items alone easily covered the price of the box...and I guess it's nice to have a nail polish I can trust for my 2 yr old daughter. Another thing I wasn't super excited about was a bar of soap from Possum Hallow that was scented with Rose. I don't like the smell of roses...I know, I'm hardly a girl at all, right?! I should have seen this coming. Anyway, the rest of the box was great. Super Food Vitamin mixes, Teas, truebar, lotions, biodegradable bags for compost, and my favorite food item to ever come in any subscription box EVER... "ips" egg white chips. These were packed with protein and oh so yummy! My kids gobbled them up with me, leaving none for the hubby to taste. Sorry dear!
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I think I am going to keep this subscription for one more month and hope they send more bath & basic products and less beauty supply. ...like I said, it's me, not them. This was a great box!

Moving onto the Baby box! I was uber pumped for this one! I'd heard nothing but AWESOMENESS, and I love baby stuff! The box did not disappoint! The presentation was the same... wrapped all nice like Christmas!
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This box contained Possum Hallow bar soap as well, but the baby scent was more up my ally: Lavender Vanilla Oat! YES, thank you! There were also neat toys for my little ones. Rubbabu all natural rubber balls, a Gao all wood teether, and there was also an oogaa spoon shaped like a little train, cute! I love Oogaa! It also contained 3 products from Nature's Baby: shampoo/body wash, Conditioner/detangler, and an aromatherapy calming spray. There was a weeks supply of massage oils, another truebar for me...and some stretch mark cream. Very happy with this box, definitely a keeper! The value of the ecocentric mom boxes is almost double what you pay, so I'm into that!

And there you have it! One Month, Ten Boxes. Some were instantly nixed. Some "try one more time". And some "Keepers!" Which boxes will you subscribe to?!

Mystery Box Eight: Kiwi Crate (and coupon code!)
rabbidhamster
Kiwi Crate is a really cute kids craft box for children ages 3-7.
It's packed with all the supplies needed to complete several art projects.
The cost is $20/month

I actually ordered this one for my 5 year old nephew, so I wasn't there for the unboxing. Although I did receive a fun email with printable lunchbox greeting cards, which I passed onto my mom to use for my nephew (he lives with her). Kiwi Crate was awesome about keeping in touch with tracking information as well.

The theme this month was FLIGHT!
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My nephew was most pumped to build his own Kite and Rocket! It also had stuff to create a paper helicopter, and a straw flier paper airplane, as well as a Book!
It would be really hard to place individual values on the art supplies, but my mom assured me it was worth the $20/mo. And my nephew was SUPER EXCITED! So THUMBS UP to Kiwi Crate! I am looking forward to starting Felicity on this subscription when she is slightly older.

If you'd like to try Kiwi Crate (or send it as a gift like I did) this link will save you $10! I used it to save on my nephews subscription. 3 months of fun mail, surprises, and hours of ART is totally worth $50, IMO.
CLICK HERE to SAVE

Have FUN!!!

Mystery Box Seven: Bluum
rabbidhamster
Bluum is another children's care package for babies to preschool. It's your typical $25/mo box. I signed my 8 month old son up to try this one.
First off, I was a little disappointed when, instead of a card tucked inside the box itself, I got an EMAIL telling me about everything in the box. It wouldn't have bothered me so much except for the fact that I received the email several days BEFORE the box arrived. So the MYSTERY in this mystery box was ruined. Plus, after receiving the email, and then checking the bluum facebook page and seeing others already had their boxes, it just made me think our box was LOST. So I was contacting customer service like "what's up?!" Well, our box wasn't lost, just delayed. And Bluum apologized for ruining the surprise.
Fast forward a bit - THE BOX ARRIVES!
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The theme this month is "Let's practice standing!" ...my son is still practicing sitting up, but ya'know, whatever. I realize he is taking his time and I'm happy with that. Doesn't matter because nothing in the box actually has anything to do with standing anyway. In fact, there is a book/toy gift set that is titled Bunny's Goodnight. Haha! Moving on:
Happy Munchies Rice Cakes. Valued at $3.00
My whole family eats these, so yay!

Child's Play Mulberry Bush CD, valued at $6.00
This was a bit confusing. The disc is labeled as a "read-along, sing along" but there was no book from which to read from... we won't get much use out of a CD with only 1 song on it, so 'meh'.

Little Learners Snuggle Bunny Book & Toy, valued at $13.00
Mostly my son was creeped out by the toy unless I was using it to act out the book as we read. That got him giggling. But otherwise, he won't touch it. Either way, it's a nice gift set...but not something I'd spend money on myself.

Dreambaby outlet plugs, valued at $4.00
These are shaped like butterflies... which is interesting since our box was supposed to be for a boy. I don't gender stereotype (a butterfly is just a BUG anyway) so I didn't mind, just found it interesting; when I noticed many moms on the bluum page complaining about their boys getting girly items (I guess lots of older boys got pink socks). MmmKay.

Luna Fiber Bar, valued at $2.00
Mom gift. I ate it. It was all right. Wouldn't pay $2.00 for one bar EVER though.

And lastly...an item that was NOT included in our box, but was SUPPOSED to be:
BuggyLOVE all over organic freshening mist, valued at $10.00

This brings the total value of the $25 box to $38! Not bad! (Except for the $10 spray not actually being in the box!)

I had to contact customer service (again) about this missing item. They say they sent one out to me and I will receive it next week. Hopefully I love it. Customer service was good, Right on top of things! Kudos for that! But overall I am unimpressed with bluum, and will most likely NOT keep this subscription. The items were just not stuff we'll use. Some people knocked Citrus Lane this month for sending wipes and bandaids - but that stuff gets used on the daily! That $13.00 bunny book/toy, however, got tossed aside after a few minutes of play. I want things in my boxes that have been "kid tested and approved!" Not just nice looking expensive stuff that celebs give their kids. Let's be real.

If you're interested in giving it a whirl, please do so and let me know what your experience was like! Bluum is packed in NY city, so if you are into the Big Apple and all the trends over there - it may be just the thing for you! Here is a link: http://bluum.me/13ovAtu

Stay tuned for more subscription box reviews!

Mystery Box(es) Five and Six: Citrus Lane (plus coupon!)
rabbidhamster
I've actually been a subscriber to Citrus Lane since April... with BOTH kids getting boxes since May. So I've had 9 Citrus Lane boxes total, and can vouch for them! They have incredible customer service, and the boxes always have good value. (Minus the month of June - the only somewhat disappointing boxes I've ever had). Anyway, Citrus Lane is for babies newborn to age 5. It runs $25/mo, or if you prepay for 6 or 12 months all at once, the price is only $21 each. Age appropriate surprises for you kids anywhere from books and toys, to eating and bath supplies!

If you're interested in giving Citrus Lane a try, you can get $10 off your first box by using this link or copy & paste: https://www.citruslane.com/invitedby/citrus.lane.886192

You can cancel at any time.
This months theme was "Back to School"
And both children received:

All Natural Hand Sanitizing Wipes from CleanWell. Vanilla Orange scented and alcohol free! We even got a code to save 20% on the cleanwell website. A 2 pack of wipes is valued at $10.99

And a FREE outfit trial to FabKids (valued at $39.95, but you have to pay $4.95 shipping, and keep in mind that you are signing up for a monthly subscription by redeeming the free outfit). I redeemed Felicity's outfit, but did not like the boy selection of clothing - and then I read a lot of bad things about FabKids being "impossible" to cancel. So that could turn into a whole new review! We'll see!

In addition to those 2 items, Felicity (30 months) also received:
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"Bear on the Go First Puzzles" from Barefoot Books
We LOVE Barefoot Books, and these puzzles are really cute. However, they seemed a little over Felicity's head, so I put them away to save for a Christmas gift. The box of 4 puzzles is valued at $12.99

"Fun Things to Color A-to-Z" from Creativity for Kids
She loves this coloring book that came with a set of 8 washable markers. I love it too because the pages are NOT printed on both sides, so if the marker bleeds, it doesn't ruin another picture. But even still the pages are thicker than your average coloring book and much less likely to bleed through. Perfect! This art set is valued at $7.99 and worth every penny, IMHO. They also gave a 20% off code if we order more.

Cheddar Bunnies from Annies
Baked, Organic Wheat and flour, and the cheddar is produced from cows that have NOT been treated with any hormones. No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. Pure GOODNESS! This bag usually comes in a box of 6 for around 4.99. Putting it's individual value at about $0.65.

Adhesive Bandages from Ouchies Jr.
100% Latex Free and packaged in cute lead-free tins.
Felicity loves her Paddington Bear bandaids. Valued at $5.00

This puts the total value of Felicity's Box at $32.13 before the FabKids outfit, and since we did claim that, it puts the value at about $47.00. I paid $25.00 NICE!

In addition to the first 2 items, Keaton also received:
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Cleo's Color Book from Barefoot Books
A board book about a kitty that explores colors in her world. Super cute! Both my kids love it! AND we got a 20% off code for ordering online. This book is valued at $6.99

Earthworms from BeginAgain
A cute wiggly worm made of wood...I'm pretty sure I like it even more than my kids, it's adorable! The worm is valued at $11.00

Organic Socks from iPlay
Plus a 20% off code to order more online. Warm, Cozy, Organic, and super Snazzy! Felicity wanted Keaton to wear these socks immediately! They are valued at $5.50

And finally, Little Yums from Plum Organics
Buckwheat, kale, apple, and spinach. Keaton munched these right down. Perfect for teethers! Normally you get a box of 6 for about $4.49, putting this individual packages value at about $0.75 cents.

And bringing the overall value of Keaton's box to $29.74 before the fabkids offer. Which I may not use. But either way, I paid $19 for Keaton's box (prepaid plus $10 off since he was "referred" by his sister). But even if I'd paid the full amount, I'd have gotten my moneys worth.

I recommend them, and Thank you Citrus Lane!

Mystery Box Four: Love with Food
rabbidhamster
Love with Food is a fun subscription that donates a meal to a hungry child for every box they ship out. It's full of tasty treats and you get to review the items you taste. I love leaving feedback. I'm an opinionated person! (If you're not, you certainly don't HAVE to!) It's only about $10/mo but there are often deals going on. Use this link when you sign up to save!

I've heard people say they refer to Love with Food as their "go to" Wedding/Anniversary Gift. I think it's a great gift for ANY occasion! Food is awesome. Who doesn't love food?!

So, it's really hard to put a "value" on the items in this box because they are mostly individual and trial sizes. And because you have to keep in mind that not only is shipping free, but you're feeding a hungry child with each box as well. So regardless of what you get in your box, it's WORTH IT!
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August's "theme" was Backyard BBQ! And it began with an All Natural Spice Rub from "The Dizzy Pig BBQ Co." We haven't tasted this yet - but my husband LOVES spices, so I'm sure it won't be left in the kitchen for very long.

Sea Salt Potato Chips from Good Bop Organics. Baked and GMO free. I love baked chips, so these were a hit with me, and my 2 year old!

All Natural Salsa from El Pinto. Hey, a taste of NM in our box! How exciting!

Original Creamy Praline from Aunt Sally's. Haven't tasted this yet, but many are saying it was their most favorite thing in the box! When that sweet tooth hits - I'll give it a whirl!

Amsterdam Waffle Cookie from Rip & Wafels. This was amazeballz. Eat it with your coffee! SO yummy!

Snappea Crisps from Harvest Snaps. This was MY favorite thing in the box! Keaton's too! Not often you can find a healthy "junk" food that your toothless baby can enjoy with you, right?! Bakes & Natural.

Sugar Free Fresh Mints from Project7. These "Save the Earth" mints are really good, and for every tube enjoyed, a fruit tree is planted. Thank you & you're welcome, Mother Earth!

Crunchers from Sahale Snacks. Naturally dried cranberries, roasted sliced almonds, and sesame seeds are lightly glazed in orange blossom honey. I haven't tasted this yet - but was thinking it might make a good "cereal" with some vanilla almond milk, a great vegan breakfast! Yum!

Keeping this subscription for a few months at least!

Again, if you want to try Love with Food, Click Here!

Mystery Box Three: Stork Stack (and coupon code!)
rabbidhamster
Initially was was underwhelmed by Stork Stack based solely on shipping. It took EIGHT shipping days to get to our doorstep! Our tracking number had lost track of the box...and our first email to customer support had gone ignored. I was ready to hit the cancel button before I even got a taste of our first stack!

However, once it did arrive, I changed my mind! The presentation was great, cute box, cute tissue paper, and a nice card with this months theme and a list or product information on it.
The theme was "Splish Splash Bed & Bath!" and all the products were along those lines.
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Green Toys Submarine - valued at $14.99
My daughter was excited to have another tubby toy to go with her "Jackson boat" as she calls her other Green Toys bath boat. Green Toys are made in the USA from 100% recycled plastic jugs. They are dishwasher safe. No BPA, phthalates, PVC, or external coatings. They even meet FDA food contact standards - just in case your toddler likes to stick her goldfish crackers inside her toys like mine does. ;)

Rich Frog Soap Sack - valued at $7.95
I love the Rich Frog brand products and this is a super cute little walrus that perfectly holds a bar of soap to make it easy for children to scrub a dub!

Book: "It's time to sleep, my love" - valued at $7.99
We love books. Period. This one is a sweet whimsical story based on a lullabye (yeah, you can sing it as you read it!). It's a sturdy board book, with just a few words on each page, and gorgeous pictures. Love!

Bionee Pure hair & body cleansing foam - valued at $11.50
This is great for maternity skin care as well as delicate infant skin. So soap, no tears, just a soothing gentle foam with a calming scent. Perfect for bedtime baths.
...and finally,

Chivas Bath Salts - valued at $4.00
Dead Sea salt to detoxify, goat milk to nourish, essential oils to soothe the scenses. I LOVED this bath sachet! I used it myself as the children slept and my skin felt SO GOOD afterwards. I slept so comfortably! My husband was jealous, but luckily they also sent a $5.00 off coupon for us to place an order online with chivasskincare.com ;)

That brings the overall value of our Stork Stack to $46.43. (And if we use the $5.00 coupon, over $50!)

Price I paid for our first stack: $17.99, with a $10 off code. (The normal price is $27.99/mo, but if they continue to hold such value, they'll be well worth it!)

I'm extremely satisfied with Stork Stack and would like to keep our subscription for another month or two at least and hope the shipping issue was a 1 time deal.

If you want to try Stork Stack for yourself, use promo code: E0F36F7E to save $10 on your first month/stack! (That second number is a zero not a letter o). The Stork sets out at the first of each month. The "cancel" button is easily located in your account info when you log into www.StorkStack.com should you decide you're done. ENJOY!

Mystery Box Two: Panty Fly
rabbidhamster
The second mystery package to arrive this month was a fun little one called "Panty Fly". For $9/mo they send 3 pairs of underwear in a discreet little package simply labeled from "PFLY". If you purchase 3/6/12 months at a time, the price goes down. I did a 3-month subscription and paid $25. Shipping is Free.

You can choose from 3 different types of packages... "Barely There" which contains thongs and string bikinis; "Sleek and Sexy" which has bikini briefs, hipsters, and the like. Or a combination of the two. I'm not personally a big fan of thong underwear, so I ordered the sleek & sexy package.

Panty Fly did not disappoint! I won't go into great detail about my "unmentionables", (a photo is worth a thousand words, right?)
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All 3 pairs are "St. eve" brand, which retail for about $3.00 each. One is a cute sheer lace, and the others are more practical. Since I paid roughly $8.30 for my package this month, there is a little value to what I received although it's obviously not astronomical. Then again, with free shipping, the surprise/mystery, and the fact that you don't have to go out and shop undies for yourself adds to the value as well. I hear it's unusual to receive a package with all the same brand in it - so I am curious as to what next month holds.

Felicity, (2 year old daughter), was jealous the package was not for her... even after I opened it. She insisted she was going to wear the panties and attempted to put them on over her clothing. =)

There is no referral program attached to this company and no promo codes available at this time. But at $25 for a 3 month subscription, I figured it was worth a shot. That would only cover 1 month of most subscriptions - so why not? My underwear drawer needed a make-over anyway!

Mystery Box One: Sproutkin
rabbidhamster
Sproutkin "do-over" review!
Our first Sproutkin package was truly unimpressive. My initial complaint letter was too nice, and they only sent a $5 gift card to put toward the next months package. My 2nd complaint letter was a little pushier - and they sent out a new box immediately for a "do-over".

Our next package was better. It actually arrived in a BOX like it was supposed to, tissue paper and all. So the presentation was very nice. The contents were tied with twine and a cute bow on top, with the description card of this months theme; Manners.
There were 3 books on manners and 1 bonus "toy".
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The toy is really great!
Alex brand "My first Scribble book". It has 50 pages of pictures that the child completes simply by scribbling (a bald lion that needs a mane scribbled on, for example). And 70 stickers! We love stickers at this house! I am very pleased with this product! It retails for $10.95

The first book was titled "Good Table Manners for Little Monkeys" ... rather appropriate for Felicity. It was a board book with cute pictures and straight forward messages. "Don't do this. Do this."

The Author's website quotes the retail value at $5.99 (although every site that was selling the book had it for less).

My daughter's favorite book in the bunch was a flap paged hardcover titled "Excuse Me" by Karen Katz. It runs through very basic please and thank you's. This book also retails for $5.99

The third and final book was not as age appropriate as the other two, but it matched the Manners theme. "Richard Scarry's Please and Thank You book". It's paperback with a lot of words. Kind of hard to keep a busy toddler interested. But she may enjoy it later. This book retails for $3.99

This brings the total retail value of this month's Sproutkin box to $26.92. Barely over the $25.00 I paid. And while these books have a certain retail value, they can easily be found NEW on Amazon for less. But having the theme picked out and sent straight to your door in a pretty package each month is where Sproutkin earns points.

I think in normal circumstances, I would probably NOT be keeping this subscription. It was a nice package, but the value wasn't *remarkable*. (Or perhaps my first experiences with them just left a bad taste in my mouth?) But since I do have a $5 credit, I may go ahead and do 1 more month. Maybe the next box will blow me away. But Sproutkin already had 2 chances to impress me, and while their do-over was much better, I haven't been won over just yet!

If you would like to try Sproutkin for your infant or toddler, please use our link and then share your thoughts/reviews with me!

MYSTERY BOXES!!
rabbidhamster
There is a trend that is becoming increasingly popular. Subscription Boxes. Or, as my husband calls them, "Mystery Boxes". They are a mystery...a fun one that arrives every month. Everyone loves to get FUN MAIL - and now there are ALL KINDS of boxes out there sending all sorts of gifts and products right to your mailbox.

My personal interest began last year with WittleBee. It's a monthly box of Children's Clothing, hand picked by your child's "stylist", and sent out for $40. There was a 50% off code going around Felicity's birth board - so a bunch of us signed up. It's a good thing I only paid $20 for the clothes because I was less than impressed. Most of what the sent was black/boring. Although we DID receive some quality items (including 3 "cottonseed" organic shirts that retail for almost $20 each). Anyway, I really didn't need a box of clothing every month for my daughter that receives hand-me-downs from triplets, so I cancelled the subscription.

Then, this year my interest was rekindled when I found a 50% off Citrus Lane box. Citrus Lane sends all kinds of quality toys/gear/snacks. Really fun for kids! It's normally $25/mo, and I remember saying "I'll just pay the $12.50 for first box and then cancel. Unless it's actually good." Well, it was good. REALLY good. The value was good and my daughter was excited, and I was super happy with the fun surprises from all natural/organic/innovative companies. Items I can't find in stores, or had never heard of. So we kept the subscription, but for 3 months didn't even have to pay for it because Citrus Lane does a "Give $10 Get $10" referral program, and we had stocked up referrals. (Thanks friends!) Keaton is also now a Citrus Lane baby. In August I am going to write reviews, complete with photos and PROMO CODES! So come back for more info if you're interested in any of the "mystery boxes" I mention.

Anyway, since I actually have to PAY for Felicity's box in August *gasp!* =D ... I decided to look into some other subscription boxes and try something new. Well, I may have gone a little overboard...but it will give me a chance to experience new things and share what we learn! I did a bunch of research, read reviews, watched youtube video unboxings, and hunted down Promo Codes!

In August the children will receive their Citrus Lane boxes. Felicity will also receive Stork Stack (which is comparable to Citrus Lane), and Sproutkin (books and a toy). Keaton, will also receive a Bluum box (comparable to C.L.) and Ecocentric Mom's Baby Discovery Box. Squeaks and I, being the "fat kids" we are, will receive boxes from Goodies Co. and Love with Food, (which donates to hungry children every time we get a box, yay!) I'll get a Panty Fly package (3 pairs of panties), and my nephew will get a Kiwi Crate (Craft projects for pre-schoolers)!

Stay tuned to see more about our "Month of Mystery!"

A bit of a ranty venty bloggy blog
rabbidhamster
Today I am 40 weeks & 2 days pregnant. "Over due" as some say, even though due dates are merely estimations anyway.
I have stubborn babies. Felicity arrived 6 days past her due date. Now "Beebo baby" as she has dubbed this one (beebo meaning belly button), seems to be following suit.
My Doctor has scheduled an ultrasound for Dec 11th, and an induction for Dec 12th - assuming I go that long. It's funny because 12-12-12 was the date we were originally aiming for when we conceived. So maybe baby knows the plan and is simply cooperating...not being stubborn.
Anyhow - the reasons I feel like venting:

1.) One of the most ANNOYING things about being "past due" is NESTING. Seriously. You get your house all cleaned, organized, prepared...laundry and dishes all caught up on...kitchen stocked with groceries...bags packed...Mommy is all nicely shaven...you're READY! Then... nothing. No baby. So you notice the house is a mess again, kitchen is empty, laundry is piled up, things have been pulled from bags, and mommy is becoming a hairy embarrassment. So you begin again - get everything taken care of and accomplished...you're READY! Then...nothing. Ugh. Begin again. And again. And repeat every few days. It's exhausting. I know these are mostly just everyday normal chores that will continue on even after baby arrives - but when you are doing it in anticipation of something, and that something doesn't happen, it's really annoying. Like planning a party that nobody is showing up for.

2.) Hospital Rules and Regulations. I know they are put in place for a good reason - but sometimes it's really unfair! Because of an RSV outbreak, the hospital is now restricting anyone under 14 years old to go beyond the Lobby. This means, once the baby finally does arrive - my sweet little Felicity, the Big Sister, won't be able to come meet her new sibling. I won't get to have that first family photo in the hospital bed. All our family and friends that feel like coming to meet baby CAN... but my own child can NOT! I'm heart broken. I will have to go down to the Lobby to visit with her if I want to see her at all before we can be discharged (minimum 24 hours AFTER birth - so I could be in there 2 days). And I WILL want to see her...We have never been away from each other for more than about 3 hours at a time. But having to visit her in the hospital lobby AWAY from her new sibling is just SO WRONG. I sincerely pray they lift this restriction before Beebo baby arrives. Otherwise I'm going to cry. Heck, I'm crying now just thinking about it!

Guess I'm done now. /End Rant - Thank you, come again.

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