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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Star Market. The opinions and text are my own.

It’s the time of year where you want to show your appreciation for some of the most important people in your children’s lives; their teachers. A great way to show them that you’re thankful for all they do for your kids is with some fun themed gifts. Our gift ideas for teacher appreciation come from our local Star Market.

The NEW Signature RESERVE line offers premium products that are both authentic and unique. Products earn the Signature RESERVE label only after a rigorous selection process. All products are scrutinized by our culinary professionals for top quality craftsmanship. If your child is old enough, get them involved in selecting a gift. Have them ask their teachers about their favorite things. For my kid’s teachers this year, here’s our list of teacher appreciation gifts.

Holiday Gift Ideas for Teacher Appreciation The Italian Food Lover

I recommend a gift set including a Signature RESERVE pasta sauce and pasta, exclusively available at Star Market stores. Include a gift card so they can make their favorite pasta recipe. My son’s science teacher will be sure to love our selections. The Signature RESERVE sauces are made in Torino, Italy traditional techniques to really bring out the flavors. The pastas have a porous surface that perfectly absorbs sauce and is slow-dried for optimal flavor and texture. YUM!! Add to your dinner rotation:

  • Sauces:
    • Truffle Mushroom
    • Tomato Parmesan
    • Pomodoro Marinara
    • Roasted Garlic
    • Tomato Basil

  • Pastas:
    • Bucatini
    • Linguine
    • Penne Rigate
    • Pasta Fusilli
    • Pasta Orecchiette
Tea Drinker

My daughter’s English teacher is an avid tea drinker. She’s sure to love our gift of Signature RESERVE tea tins with a scented debi lilly design candle from the floral department, exclusively available at Star Market stores. Each flavorful loose leaf tea has quality whole-leaves that have room to expand as they steep for a fuller flavor. My daughter wanted to create a relaxing atmosphere for her teacher to have an evening cup of tea. Relax with:

  • Ginger Peach
  • Green Hibiscus Berry
  • Spearmint Lavender
  • Cranberry Blood Orange
Ice Cream Fan

Have an ice cream lover on your list? You have to give them a flavor or two from the Signature RESERVE line. The creamy flavors have ingredients like real vanilla sourced from Madagascar, Colombian cold-brewed caramel with slow brewed coffee, caramel swirl, and dark chocolate chunks, and more. My daughter says her history teachers will need to hide these in the school freezer for sneaking an indulgent and amazing afternoon snack. Try them all!

  • Colombian Cold Brew Caramel Mocha Ice Cream
  • Madagascar Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
  • Guatemalan Guava Cheesecake Ice Cream
  • Bourbon Maple Blondie Ice Cream
  • Cardamom Sicilian Pistachio Ice Cream
  • Caramel Apple Chai Ice Cream
  • Belgian Chocolate Almond Butter Swirl Ice Cream

For the chocolate addict on your list, the Signature RESERVE chocolate covered caramels are a must for a teacher gift. Who wouldn’t love a gift basket filled with these indulgent flavors? They are super smooth in texture by using real butter and fresh cream. Each caramel is coated with a decadent layer of chocolate and sprinkle each caramel with flaky sea salt to bring out the sweetness and add a hint of crunch. Isn’t your mouth watering?

  • Dark Chocolate Covered Caramels
  • Milk Chocolate Covered Caramels
  • Chocolate French Truffles
Coffee Lover

Show teacher appreciation for the coffee lover with one of the single origin Signature RESERVE coffees. The beans are grown by local farmers in Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Colombia. We also found this adorable holiday mug to accompany the coffee. My son says his history teacher is sure to love it! Take home a bag:

  • Antioquia Finca Orizaba
  • La Pradera
  • Ratu Batak
  • Sake Quto
  • Don Chico Lansas

Make your teacher appreciation gifts special with ultra-premium Signature RESERVE products. I buy the products at my local Star Market. You can also find them exclusively at all of the Albertsons Companies family of stores, including Albertsons, Safeway, Jewel-Osco, Vons, Pavilions, Randalls, Shaw’s, Tom Thumb, and Carrs/Safeway. Visit  StarMarket.com to find a store near you.

More products will be coming in 2019 so keep an eye out on store shelves and follow #signaturereserve on social media for more details.

Make your holiday gift basket special with ultra-premium Signature RESERVE products – available in my area exclusively at Shaw’s and Star Market stores and online. I buy my Signature RESERVE products at my local Shaw’s and Star Market, and you can also find them exclusively at all of the Albertsons Companies family of stores, including Albertsons, Safeway, Jewel-Osco, Vons, Pavilions, Randalls, Tom Thumb, and Carrs/Safeway. Visit Shaws.com or StarMarket.com to find a store near you and discover more meal prep tips and recipe ideas.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Albertsons Companies. The opinions and text are my own.

The post Great Holiday Gift Ideas for Teacher Appreciation appeared first on Comeback Momma.

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If you’re a soon-to-be mama, trying to stay on top of all the latest information to ensure a healthy pregnancy can be a bit overwhelming!  First off, let me tell you this: you’re probably already doing an amazing job taking care of that growing bundle of joy in your belly.

Second, I wanted to share some tips I learned along the way when it comes to key vitamins for pregnant women.  I know sometimes the medical handouts can be a bit confusing, so hopefully, this will help break it down for you in an easy-to-understand way!

Disclosure:  This post is sponsored by Viactiv.  As always, all opinions are my own.

While every nutrient is important, there are three key vitamins for pregnant women that become even more important at this stage of life…

1. Calcium Why do you need calcium during pregnancy?

Your growing baby needs calcium to help develop healthy bones and teeth – just like we need it for that purpose throughout life.  Also, calcium is involved in proper heart and muscle function for your little one.

If you don’t get enough calcium during pregnancy, your body will actually take it from your own bones to provide to your baby.  This ensures the baby develops properly, but it puts you at risk for weak bones and potentially osteoporosis down the road.

How much calcium does a pregnant woman need?

Pregnant women, as well as women who aren’t carrying babies, need 1300 mg of calcium per day.  The requirement doesn’t increase during pregnancy – it’s just super important to meet those needs to ensure both you and your baby have good bone health.

What’s the best way to meet calcium needs?

Calcium is found primarily in dairy foods like milk, yogurt, and cheese – as well as in certain plant-based foods like broccoli, dried figs, tofu, and sesame seeds.  (This chart has a really handy breakdown of how much calcium is in various foods!).

While you can meet your calcium needs through food sources alone, many women struggle to do so – especially during pregnancy, when morning sickness or cravings can throw off our normal healthy diet.  I know for me, I was not gulping down glasses of milk or eating tons of broccoli in that first trimester.

One great way I found to help supplement calcium intake was with Viactiv Calcium Soft Chews.  They come in flavors like milk chocolate and caramel – yes, please! – and each chew provides 650 mg of calcium.  That means you could take two a day and you’d meet your daily needs.

Plus, I like that they’re a bit more balanced compared to some of the other calcium gummy supplements.  They’ve got 30% more calcium and half the sugar.

Of course, if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or trying to become pregnant, you’ll want to speak with your healthcare provider before taking any supplements.  It’s just always good to double check with them first!

2. Folic Acid Why do you need folic acid during pregnancy?

Folic acid is a man-made form of a B vitamin (folate), which is essential for helping reduce the risk of neural tube defects during pregnancy.  Neural tube defects refer to problems with a baby’s brain or spinal cord.  The two most common examples in our country are spina bifida and anencephaly.

Here’s what I learned that’s so interesting – because there’s so much rapid development happening in the first month of pregnancy, that’s when folic acid is most important for reducing the risk of those neural tube defects.  That means it’s important to take folic acid before you start trying to get pregnant, so you have the right levels in your body from the start.

Of course, if you just found out you’re pregnant and you haven’t been doing that yet – don’t freak out.  Just start making sure you meet your needs now.

How much folic acid does a pregnant woman need?

The CDC recommends that women who are planning to get pregnant, or who are currently pregnant, take 400 mcg of folic acid each day.  Some medical groups recommend increasing this to 600 mcg once pregnant.

Oh, and a quick tip I discovered!  Most medical professionals recommend staying below 1000 mcg of total folic acid, as high intake can sometimes “hide” signs of another vitamin deficiency.

One exception:  If you’ve previously had a baby with neural tube defects and are pregnant again, the CDC and other medical organizations recommend talking to your doctor about higher dose folic acid supplements.

What’s the best way to meet folic acid needs?

For most women, the best way to ensure you’re meeting your needs within that early pregnancy time frame is by taking a supplement.  Most prenatal vitamins contain around 600-800 mcg, so you’ll meet your needs just fine with those!

It’s of course also wise to include good food sources of folate and folic acid in your diet.  Folic acid is found in fortified foods like cereals and bread.  Folate is found in dark green vegetables and beans/lentils.

3. Vitamin D Why do you need Vitamin D during pregnancy?

Vitamin D works in partnership with calcium for bone health, both for you and your baby.

Research suggests a lot of pregnant women may be deficient in Vitamin D, and that achieving good Vitamin D levels may have other benefits during pregnancy in addition to bone health (though it seems these are still being studied!).

How much Vitamin D does a pregnant woman need?

According to the Institute of Medicine, most pregnant women should aim for around 600 IU of calcium each day.  Some doctors may suggest higher levels if you already have a Vitamin D deficiency, which many women do.  It’s best to check with your doctor for your specific needs!

According to the NIH, the current upper limit for Vitamin D intake among pregnant women is 4000 IU per day, which means you wouldn’t want to exceed that amount.

What’s the best way to meet Vitamin D needs?

You can get Vitamin D from some food sources, like egg yolks, fatty fish, and some fortified dairy products.  Your skin also makes Vitamin D from sunlight when you go outside.

I don’t know about you, but I can have a tough time meeting my needs these ways.  I don’t eat enough fatty fish and egg yolks to get what I need, and up here in Massachusetts, it’s not like we’re basking in sunlight for most of the year.

If that’s you too, it might be worthwhile to check out supplement options that have Vitamin D as well.  Some prenatal vitamins contain Vitamin D, and others may not.

I like those Viactiv Calcium Soft Chews I mentioned earlier as an adjunct to the prenatal since, in addition to the calcium, they also contain 500 IU of Vitamin D per chew.

Want to Find Out More About Viactiv?

If you’ve been reading this post and thinking about trying the Viactiv Calcium Soft Chews, be sure to visit their website and poke around to learn more about their supplements.  I feel like for many moms, taking their prenatal along with one Viactiv is great to help them really ensure they’re meeting their nutrient needs for all three of the vitamins in this post!

If you want to scope ’em out for yourself, you can buy them at major retailers like CVS and Target – you can find the specific locations near you using the Viactiv store locator.

You can also check out their Facebook page and Instagram page to learn more about their products and the importance of calcium throughout life!

Other Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy

In addition to those three vitamins for pregnant women, there are so many other aspects to a healthy pregnancy.  Here are just a few other tips that I found helpful when I was pregnant:

  • Get enough sleep each night.  People would always say “sleep now because you won’t sleep when the baby gets here” – but sleeping during pregnancy can be tough too!  Instead of stressing about it, just try to get as much sleep as you can when possible.
  • Stick with your exercise plan!  If you were active prior to pregnancy, it’s really beneficial to stick with most forms of exercise during pregnancy.
  • Be careful about certain foods.  There’s a bacteria called listeria that’s dangerous during pregnancy, and it can be found in certain foods like lunch meat and soft cheeses.  But, there are steps you can take if you still want to enjoy these!  For lunch meat, simply heat it up until it’s steaming hot.  For soft cheeses, look for varieties that are pasteurized.
  • Eat more foods with fiber.  Sometimes with all the hormones and physical changes, constipation can happen.  Eating foods with fiber and drinking lots of water will help with this.

Disclaimer:  This post is for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice.

Share:  If you’re reading this and are pregnant, how are you feeling about your journey so far?!  Do you struggle with meeting your needs for any of these vitamins for pregnant women?  Have you ever tried Viactiv calcium chews?

The post A Mom-to-Mom Guide to Key Vitamins for Pregnant Women appeared first on Comeback Momma.

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Do you still have fond memories of books you read as a child? Some of my most special memories come from children’s holiday books we take out year after year. Even our teens don’t get tired of a few of these. These books are wonderful reads for family time with toddlers during the Christmas season.  They do so much to introduce Christmas traditions that make the season so special. Here’s our list of 8 Christmas books for Toddlers to create new memories that your kids are sure to cherish for years to come.

This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

8 Christmas Books for Toddlers The Night Before Christmas

No Christmas book for toddlers collection should be without a version of this classic tale. I love this version with photos illustrated by master artist Charles Santore who has drawn art for The Wizard of Oz, Snow White and more. My teens still want to hear this story every year.

That’s Not My Reindeer

Touchy Feely books are wonderful for toddlers.  They can’t get enough.  That’s Not My Reindeer is part of a series of touchy-feely books that are well illustrated and tell very cute stories.  This one, in particular, is perfect for Christmas time and it gives your toddler more to explore through touch.

The Sweet Smell of Christmas

Who doesn’t remember this special Christmas book from their childhood?  I think everybody had it.  I still compare some Christmas scented candles to the scents I remember from this book.  The story is a great introduction to Christmas traditions and the interactivity of the scratch and sniff items on each page make it an unforgettable milestone for toddlers.

Little Blue Truck’s Christmas

The Little Blue Truck Series is fun and distinct in its style.  It’s so great that Little Blue Truck can be part of Christmas tradition as well.  In this counting game story, Little Blue delivers trees to farm animals.  Your toddler will have fun with animal sounds and counting to five and back down again.  To finish it off, the Christmas tree at the end lights up!

Christmas in a Manger

This is a beautifully simplistic telling of the first Christmas with nice illustrations and rhyming text.  The story of the nativity is communicated in a way that is perfect for the youngest audience.  This is a perfect addition to your toddler’s Christmas book library if you are looking for something that goes beyond reindeer and candy canes.

Snowmen at Night

Not specifically a Christmas book for toddlers, but still a great read-aloud story for giggles. Follow snowmen around the neighborhood to see what they really do after dark. Who knows, maybe even your snowman joined in the fun.

Christmas Songs: Interactive Children’s Sound Book

These board books with the sound buttons on the side are always a big hit.  Sometimes the buttons are all that is needed to keep the little ones amused, but the sturdy pages of this big book also feature some very cute Christmas artwork.  The book features several traditional Christmas Songs which is perfect for promoting family time and introducing toddlers to the magic of Christmas through music.

Babies Love Christmas

This lift-a-flap book will keep toddlers entertained. They can practice first Christmas words too like star, tree, Santa, etc. This is a great stocking stuffer and a fun one to pass down to other generations.

Looking for more Christmas fun for the family?

Check out these festive posts:

Have another favorite Christmas book for toddlers? Let us know in a comment.

The post 8 Christmas Books for Toddlers that Kids Will Love appeared first on Comeback Momma.

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In any aspect of life, it seems like we’re more apt to jump to a negative thought or comment, rather than embracing positivity.  I’m guilty of it for sure – I’m quick to complain about something, but far less swift to provide a compliment – and am trying to change that.  As a parent, I’m hoping to bring more of a focus on positivity in our house, especially with positive praise and words of affirmation for kids.

As an adult, you know how good it feels when you’re complimented or commended for something.  Kids experience that same good feeling, multiplied.  Positive affirmations for children help to establish their self-worth and know they have a parent “in their corner” who believes in them.

Try speaking one of these positive affirmations for children to your child each day.  It may feel a little funny at first, but you might be surprised at how good both you and your child feel hearing them.  Some will be more relevant for younger kids and some more relevant for older kids, but I’m sure you’ll find a few that work for your family.

50 Words of Affirmation for Kids

1.  You did a great job cleaning up.

2.  I’m so impressed at how you kept working on that until you figured it out.

3.  I’m so glad you are my child.

4.  You gave me the best job I could have – being a mom to you.

5.  It makes me proud to see the person you’re becoming as you grow up.

6.  I love spending time with you.

7.  You are a really hard worker.

8.  You are an excellent big brother/sister.

9.  You did a great job on your homework today.

10.  I’m proud of how hard you work at school.

11.  You inspire me.

12.  Wow, you really light up the room.

13.  You were so brave today.

14.  I love how kind you were to your friend.

15.  You tell me the funniest jokes ever.

16.  It’s really impressive how honest you are.

17.  Thank you for your help cooking dinner – it made it so much easier for me.

18.  You are a really generous person.

19.  Did you know I think you’re the best kiddo in the whole world?

20.  I know you can be successful at anything you want to do.

21.  Wow, you were really resilient in that situation.

22.  You’re really improving at that!

23.  You played a great game today.

24.  I’m impressed by how much you’ve been practicing that.

25.  You were really courageous today.

26.  Thank you for being so polite at dinner.

27.  You were really on top of your chores this week!

28.  I’m so happy that I have you in my life.

29.  Even on tough days, know that I always love you.

30.  You make this world a better place.

31.  I’m always impressed by how much inner strength you have.

32.  You have such a kind heart.

33.  Guess what?  I was having a bad day, but getting to spend time with you turned it around into a good day.

34.  One of the best days of my life was the day you were born.

35.  I’m really impressed at how independent you are.

36.  You are being a really great listener today.

37.  That was a great choice you just made.

38.  You always make me smile.

39.  You can always make me laugh.

40.  Our family is really blessed that you’re a part of it.

41.  Wow, you are so creative!

42.  You really made a difference today.

43.  I’m proud of how respectful you are to your teachers.

44.  I can’t believe how much you are learning!

45.  I hope you know I’m always happy to talk with you, even about hard stuff.

46.  I’m so grateful for you.

47.  Your practice is paying off – you’re really getting better at that!

48.  I can see that you’re becoming more responsible.

49.  It’s OK not to succeed in every challenge – I’m more impressed that you tried really hard.

50.  You always have such great ideas!

I hope these words of affirmation for kids help put a smile on the faces of those little ones (and big ones)!

PS – Looking for more positive parenting advice?  Try checking out 10 ways you and your family can give back to the community and these 5 ideas for quality family time.

Share:  Are there any other good positive affirmations for children that you’d recommend?  Have you struggled (like I have!) on the balance between positive versus negative talk?

The post 50 Words of Affirmation for Kids appeared first on Comeback Momma.

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This is a sponsored post on behalf of Visit Bentonville. All opinions expressed are 100% my own. 

A small town in Northwest Arkansas is not likely on your radar for a family-friendly vacation. Well, you should think again about adding Bentonville Arkansas and the surrounding area to your family travel bucket list. Bentonville is a quintessential American small town. While the town square looks like something out of an old movie, the town has culture, amenities, and activities you’d expect to find in a modern city. Here’s my list of 13 fabulous and family-friendly things to do in Bentonville.

A new small town USA

Downtown Bentonville

Walk the square to explore a wide variety of shops, boutiques, cafes, and restaurants. Kids will especially enjoy the replica of the restored Walton’s 5 & 10 shop from the 1950s and the Spark Cafe Soda Fountain. A stop at the Bentonville Baking Company is also a must. The Station Cafe is a perfect spot for a family breakfast or lunch. If your kids will entertain food that’s a bit more creative, I highly recommend Oven and Tap (the meatballs are divine!) and The Preacher’s Son. You’ll notice southern charm and hospitality wherever you go.

Satisfy your sweet tooth at 8th Street Market’s Markham & Fitz

8th Street Market

Located in the heart of the Market District about a half mile from the center of town, the 8th Street Market is a wonderful community-focused food center. There is a culinary school, restaurants, a brewpub and my family favorite – Markham & Fitz. They are a chocolate factory, a dessert bar, and cafe. The Brown Sugar Bourbon Chocolate Chip Cookies are to die for. Kids will love the hot chocolate, cakes and more.

There’s even art outside the museum hotel.

21C Museum Hotel

Located steps away from Bentonville town square, this boutique hotel features 104 rooms, a contemporary art museum, and The Hive restaurant. Delicious breakfast, lunch, and dinner led by executive chef Matthew McClure. The breakfast scones are amazing and the pancakes will make any child drool. While I did not stay at this hotel, I’ve heard wonderful things. I highly recommend a visit to the museum gallery and The Hive restaurant even if you don’t stay here.

A modern art piece overlooks the exterior of the Crystal Bridges Museum

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art 

The exponential growth of Bentonville over the past 10 years was ignited by the opening of this architectural wonder. The Crystal Bridges Museum and surrounding grounds are perfect for a family day out. It may be a place you’ll even want to spend more than one day. The museum takes its name from a nearby spring and the bridges incorporated into the building’s design.

The museum is free to visitors except for special exhibits and the Frank Lloyd Wright house carefully moved piece by piece from New Jersey. Visitors can move easily from dark galleries to natural light hallways and bridges. It’s truly magical. Even the museum restaurant “Eleven” is fantastic (kids menu included).

The Experience Art Studio gives kids the opportunity to create their own art, play games and more. If your kids get bored inside the museum, the surrounding grounds and sculpture gardens beg to be explored. Family Sundays feature live entertainment, gallery hunts, and creative play.

Scott Family Amazeum

This is a truly marvelous place for kids and adult alike. The Scott Family Amazeum houses 50,000 square feet of learning, play and exhibit spaces and an additional acre of property for outdoor activities. Interactive exhibits focus on Arkansas industries and agriculture. Exhibitions include the 3M Tinkering Hub; General Mills Lift, Load and Haul; Market Sponsored by Walmart; Nature Valley Water Amazements; Nickelodeon Play Lab; Hershey’s Lab and more.

Exhibit and learning activity creators are called “Makers.” I had the chance to look at some prototype ideas. This museum is always evolving with new ideas. There’s even a tinker space for kids to come up with their own inventions. Maker Ryan Jenkins says, “Making and tinkering are ways of understanding the world and expressing yourself through a very playful and collaborative activity.” The Amazeum truly embodies this notion.

I recommend visiting either first thing or after 3 when school trips and camps will have left for the day. At closing, the staff creates a parade to escort visitors out of the building. The staff says it’s a fun way to avoid temper tantrums from kids not wanting to leave. What a brilliant idea!

Museum of Native American History

Museum of Native American History

The museum houses an impressive collection of over 10,000 Native American artifacts. It’s a perfect destination for children interested in learning more about Native American culture or in conjunction with school lessons on the subject. Some artifacts like “Tusker,” a mammoth comprised of 3 authentic skeletons are thousands of years old.

An added treat is the opportunity for kids to go arrowhead hunting. Hidden in the rocks around the tipi outside of the museum. Children under 15 can keep one for free.

So much nature to explore in the area. I can’t wait to return.

Exploring Nature

The area surrounding Bentonville provides a gorgeous backdrop for nature exploration. From biking to hiking, camping to kayaking there is so much for an active family to do. I can’t wait to return during warmer months to experience these activities.


Connecting Bentonville to Fayetteville is a 36-mile paved bike patch called the Razorback Greenway. Mountain bikers flock to the area to enjoy the 20-mile single track bike paths. My husband can’t wait to give this trail a try. I’ll stick to the paved paths with the kids.


I can’t wait to return to the area to hike some of the most beautiful nature trails in America. Hobbs State Park is only 14 miles from Bentonville with over 12,000 acres of trails. Devils Den is just a few miles south of Fayetteville with caves to explore and bluffs overlooking Ozark National Forest. My kids will LOVE this!


Visitors can kayak and canoe the nearby Buffalo National River, supposedly one of the country’s best. We are a kayaking family so we will definitely give this a try when I bring my family.

Skating during Winter Wonderland, Photo credit: Play Bentonville

Family Friendly Events

In addition to specific places to visit, the town of Bentonville has a rotating calendar of family-friendly events. Check the calendar at VisitBentonville.com to see what’s scheduled during your visit. I really want to return during Farmer’s Market season. I bet it’s amazing! Regular annual events include:

Winter Wonderland

From Thanksgiving through mid-January Bentonville hosts many cold-weather events. The town square is lit up just before Thanksgiving and then the Lawrence Plaza Ice Rink opens. Other events include outdoor movies and a Christmas Parade.

First Friday Celebrations

April through November, the downtown area is turned into one huge block party. There is great food, music, children’s activities and more.

Farmers Market

April through October farmers, artists and ranchers provide visitors with the opportunity to purchase fresh local meat, produce, arts and crafts.

Friday Flicks

During the summer months, the Lawrence Ice Rink turns into a splash park. They play family-friendly movies typically around 8 pm.

Getting to and around Bentonville

With a modern regional airport only 30 minutes outside of town, it’s easy to get to Bentonville from all over the country. I stayed at the Family-friendly Doubletree Suites by Hilton. Ask for a room on the back side of the hotel to avoid noise from the busy road. A rental car is likely needed, but Uber is readily available as well. Weekends are a great time to visit as the business travelers leave town.

If your family is looking for a unique, inexpensive and family-friendly vacation, you should definitely add Bentonville to your list.

The post 13 Family Friendly Things to do in Bentonville Arkansas appeared first on Comeback Momma.

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I have a love/hate relationship with ugly Christmas sweaters. How about you? What makes for the ugliest Christmas sweater? Once considered gaudy or tacky, folks now create and wear ugly Christmas sweaters to win pride and prizes via themed parties and contests. We’ve collected a fun list of some of the ugliest Christmas sweaters for the entire family from Amazon and some of our favorite Etsy sellers.

Disclosure:  This post contains Amazon affiliate links, as well as Etsy affiliate links.  As an affiliate, I earn commissions on qualifying purhcases.  This does not affect your user experience in any way.
Photos from Etsy shops published with owner’s permission.

OK, this one is a sweatshirt, but certainly UGLY! Buy It Here! 

The ugly Christmas sweater has become a regular sight during the holidays. Sweaters you once thought were hideous, possibly worn by a grandmother or elementary school teacher are now “in fashion.” It’s pretty easy to spot ugly Christmas sweaters. Lots of red and green with large characters of holiday staples like snowmen, Santa, reindeer and more. Practically any animal with a Santa hat is included in the mix. Having bells, lights, ribbons and other baubles definitely creates some winners in this category.

Ugliest Christmas Sweaters

I’ve had a blast searching for the ugliest Christmas sweaters. What do you think? Would they rank as ugliest in your book?

Female Abominable Snowman Light Up Sweater

I think I might win at an Ugly Christmas Sweater party in this one. Buy it here.

Green and Red Ugly Christmas Sweater with Bow

Can you imagine wearing this one? It would be fantastic at a White Elephant gift exchange. Buy it here.

Santa Floss

I love this one with Santa performing one of the popular dance moves. Buy it here.

What’s the History of Ugly Christmas Sweaters?

It’s hard to say when this theme started. When I did some research and found vintage sweaters, it seems that many were actually meant to be fashionable in their day. Since then, companies like Tipsy Elves have launched entire businesses based on the ugly Christmas sweater popularity. According to Time Magazine, there has been a noticeable increase in Ugliest Christmas Sweater parties.

In the 80s, generally “ugly” sweaters (by today’s standards) became a popular norm through TV shows like The Cosby Show, fashion brands like United Colors of Benetton and more.

More Ugly Christmas Sweaters on Etsy! Personalized Family Ugly Christmas Sweatshirts

Get the entire family into the act with these customized sweatshirts from FamFam Shirts on Etsy.

Kids Light-Up Penguin

You can see this penguin sweater even with the lights out. While kids might not call this one ugly today, wait until they look back on family photos.

Homemade Ugliest Christmas Sweater for girls

This Etsy seller certainly creates some of the ugliest Christmas sweaters for sure!

Moving on from Etsy, you can find a plethora of Ugly Christmas Sweaters on Amazon as well.

Here are even more favorites:

What’s your spirit animal?

Lately, the sloth is my spirit animal, why not make it my Christmas sweater too! Buy it Here!

How about a Christmas Dress?

Women’s Christmas Santa Claus Print Pullover Flared A Line Dress is sure to turn heads.

The Reindeer with Glasses

This Ugly Christmas sweater comes in sizes for both men and women. Buy it here!

Tacky Christmas Sweater w/Ornaments

This Tipsy Elves Men’s Gaudy Garland Sweater is sure to be a winner! Buy it here.

Men’s Santa Unicorn Christmas Sweater

I don’t think my husband would be caught dead in this one except for an Ugly Christmas Sweater party. Buy it here!

Unicorn Red Sweater for Girls

I’d love to see my daughter’s face if I give her this one! Buy it here.

Sort of cute and Ugly

I can’t decide if this one is cute or ugly. Kids Rudolph Reindeer Red Nose Ugly Christmas Sweater. Buy it here!

Too Cute for Ugly Sweaters

Last, but not least, I had to include a cute one as well, although this one may also be seen as ugly soon enough. This is another Etsy one – you can buy it here!

Does an Ugly Christmas sweater bring on a nostalgic feeling for you? It certainly does for me. Check your parents and grandparents closet and see what you can find. Who knows, maybe it will be an Ugliest Christmas Sweater winner!

You might also like:

10 Best Adventure Gifts for Family

10 Ways to Give Back to the Community for Christmas

The post We’ve Found Some of The Ugliest Christmas Sweaters Just for You! appeared first on Comeback Momma.

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You’ve probably noticed that there has been a big push in the beauty industry lately for more natural products, and some people are even making their own non-toxic products at home.  Deodorant is one particularly hot topic – and I’ve got the scoop for you on natural coconut oil deodorant, including a DIY recipe!

Why Natural Deodorant?

Some researchers are concerned that certain chemicals in deodorants may be absorbed through the skin into the blood stream.  In large doses, there are some worries about toxic effects, specifically with endocrine disruptors (chemicals that affect your hormones).

Here are a few of the ingredients that some people worry about:

  • Aluminum – This is a widely used anti-perspirant, thanks to aluminum’s ability to plug up sweat ducts and reduce sweating.  Some people are concerned about the absorption of aluminum into the body, especially in close proximity to breast tissue.
  • Parabens – These are used in makeup, skin care products, and foods.  There is a concern that parabens exhibit weak estrogenic properties.  Though most brands of deodorants do not contain parabens, there may be some that do.  You can look for these on the label as they typically list the word “paraben”, such as methylparaben.
  • Fragrance – Legally, a manufacturer can list “fragrance” and not include the specific chemicals used, making it unclear what the ingredient actually is.  This can be problematic for people with chemical sensitivities.  Even among the lay population, a recent study found that almost 35% of people reported an adverse health effect (like a headache or respiratory issue) from fragranced products, including personal care products, cleaning supplies, and air fresheners.

Now just to be clear – most research has not supported any connections between deodorants/anti-perspirants and major health issues like cancer.  A 2016 review found no association between breast cancer and deodorant risk.

The downside is that this review was only able to include two reliable studies.  In fact, the authors concluded that there is currently an “insufficient number of studies to conduct a quantitative review and obtain reliable results.”

That said, the American Cancer Society states “There are no strong epidemiologic studies in the medical literature that link breast cancer risk and antiperspirant use, and very little scientific evidence to support this claim.”

Different people will have different levels of concern regarding these ingredients and the available data.  If you’re personally concerned, then it may be worthwhile to take the “precautionary principle” and use a natural deodorant instead of a commercial one with these ingredients.  Do what you feel is best for you!

Why Is Coconut Oil Used in Natural Deodorants?

While there are many natural deodorants on the market, several use coconut oil as a base.

Coconut oil is not only lovely smelling, but it also contains lauric acid.  This fatty acid has natural anti-bacterial properties.  A very early study suggested that lauric acid was one of the most effective anti-bacterial fatty acids.  And another study found that coconut oil had anti-fungal properties as well.  Research has shown similar beneficial effects for reducing harmful oral bacteria, and inhibiting a gastrointestinal pathogen.

So what does all this have to do with deodorant?  When you sweat, that icky body odor smell is caused by bacteria in your armpits breaking down the sweat.  It would stand to reason that if you can reduce the bacteria there via coconut oil, it would help to control the smell.

5 Coconut Oil Deodorants You Can Buy

There are a few natural deodorants with a coconut oil base that you can order online:

(Disclosure:  This contains Amazon affiliate links.  As an affiliate, I earn a commission on qualifying sales.  This does not change your user experience in anyway.)

1. NOW Solutions Long Lasting Deodorant Stick

NOW is by far my favorite natural deodorant, and not just because I work with NOW sometimes.  As a runner and triathlete, I need a deodorant that actually works, and this stuff is amazing.  It smells lovely and keeps odors at bay all day long.  Plus, it’s probably the most reasonably priced pre-made coconut oil deodorant on the market.

Here are the ingredients in the product:

Coconut Oil, Cetearyl Alcohol, Zinc Oxide, Cetearyl Alcohol / Cetearyl Glucoside, Lavender Oil, Pine Needle Oil, Rosemary Oil, d-alpha Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (Vitamin C), and Cedar Bark Extract

You can see the very short list of natural ingredients.  In addition, it does not contain baking soda which is a plus for anyone sensitive to baking soda.  I love this product!

2. Kopari Aluminum Free Coconut Deodorant

Kopari deodorant has hit or miss reviews on Amazon – people either love it or hate it – but I feel like that’s true of most beauty products.  The scent is described as a mixture of coconut and sage, and most say it’s a very pleasant scent.  However, some people noted in reviews that they didn’t feel like the odor protection lasted all day.

Here are the ingredients in the product:

Propylene Glycol*, Water/aqua/eau, Sodium Stearate, Fragrance (parfum), Propanediol, Caprylyl/capryl Glucoside, Glycerin, Saccharomyces Ferment Filtrate**, Cocos Nucifera (coconut) Oil**, Cocos Nucifera (coconut) Fruit Juice, Sodium Caproyl/lauroyl Lactyl Lactate, Silica, Ethylhexylglycerin, Polyglyceryl-5 Oleate, Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate, Glyceryl Caprylate, Triethyl Citrate, Cocos Nucifera (coconut) Water, Salvia Officinalis (sage) Oil, Glyceryl Laurate, Sodium Anisate, Citric Acid *Biobased/Base Végétale **Organic/Biologique

One thing to note is that this version does contain “fragrance (parfum)” which some people get nervous about in natural beauty products.  Fragrance can mean any number of chemicals, so if you are sensitive to some or worried about the effects, you would want to keep that in mind.  They do have a new fragrance free variety on their website though!

Native Deodorant

A coconut oil deodorant that comes in scents like pumpkin spice latte and cucumber mint?!  How fun!  Native produces several different varieties of their natural coconut oil based deodorant, including classic and seasonal scents.  The reviews on their website indicate a 4.68/5 rating, so it seems like people enjoy the product.  You can purchase their deodorants directly from the site for $12 and it includes free shipping – and free returns if you’re unhappy.

Here are the ingredients in their products:

Caprylic/capric triglyceride (fractionated coconut oil), arrowroot powder, stearyl alcohol, baking soda, shea butter, coconut oil, hydrogenated castor oil, polyglycerol-3 beeswax (cera bellina wax), jojoba esters, tocopherol (Vitamin E), L. acidophilus (natural bacteria found in your body already), maltodextrin, glyceryl caprylate, glyceryl undecylenate.  *Our scented deodorants include a proprietary blend of oils. Due to FDA recommendations, we use the term “fragrance” to refer to these oils.

The brand produces both unscented and scented products, so the base formulation says the same.  You’ll see “fragrance” on the scented products.  Based on the note above, it appears that they use essential oils, however you would not know exactly which blend in each.

Explore Naturals Aluminum-Free Natural Deodorant

Explore Naturals coconut oil deodorant, similar to some of the others on this list, is not only free of aluminum but also free of parabens and phthalates.  The reviews on Amazon are very positive, with most people noting that the deodorants smell great, are long-lasting, and glide on easily.

As a heads up, apparently the sea sage is the most “manly” sent if you’re looking for a version for your hubby!

Here are the ingredients in the coconut delight product:

Manihot Esculenta (arrowroot) root powder, caprylic/capric triglyceride, sodium bicarbonate, stearyl alcohol, helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil, butryospermum parkii (shea) fruit butter, cocos nucifera (virgin coconut) oil, triethyl citrate, hydrogenated castor oil, polyglycerol-3 beeswax, fragrance, jojoba esters, vanilla planifolia fruit extract, oryza sativa (rice) bran extract, Rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) extract, helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed extract, tocopherol.

As a note, caprylic/capric triglyceride is a mixture derived from coconut oil and glycerin, and sodium bicarbonate is baking soda.  As far as the fragrance on the label, the company has stated in an Amazon question that all the fragrances are derived from essential oils.

Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant

Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant uses a baking soda and coconut oil combination to help fight odors.  The manufacturer note that the product is a bit firmer than conventional deodorants, but it only requires a small amount to be effective.  That said, several reviewers on Amazon noted that the product is hard to get on because of this, and some said it stained shirts.

In addition, quite a few reviewers reported rashes with use – this may be due to a sensitivity to the amount of baking soda used in the product.  Many other reviewers rated it highly.  If you do decide to try it, be sure to discontinue use if you experience any rashes.

Here are the ingredients in this product:

Maranta arundinacea (arrowroot) powder, Cocos Nucifera (coconut) Oil, Euphorbia Cerifera (candelilla) Wax, Butyrospermum parkii (shea butter), Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (fractionated coconut oil), Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Natural fragrance, Tocopherol (vitamin E)

DIY Coconut Oil Deodorant

If you’d rather go the DIY route, it’s actually quite easy to make a homemade deodorant.

There are lots of variations of homemade coconut oil deodorant on the internet, and most use the same basic ingredients – coconut oil, arrowroot powder or cornstarch, baking soda, and essential oils.  Mine has those same basic ingredients, though I increase the cornstarch/arrowroot powder and decrease the baking soda, as I find it’s less likely to irritate the skin.

Which brings me to an important note – natural does not necessarily mean gentle.  Many DIY deodorant recipes contain a relatively high amount of baking soda, which can be abrasive on the skin.  This recipe has a lower concentration, but still may irritate some people.

In addition, some people may not find the odor protection ideal with a lower baking soda formula.  This is highly individualized, so just keep in mind there are other DIY recipes or store-bought products if this upsets your skin or does not work well for you.

DIY Coconut Oil Deodorant


  • 5 tbsp coconut oil
  • 5 1/2 tbsp cornstarch or arrowroot powder
  • 2 1/2 tbsp baking soda
  • 10-15 drops grapefruit essential oil (or another essential oil of your choice)


Warm the coconut oil just a bit so that it’s melted and it’s easier to blend everything together.  Stir in the cornstarch or arrowroot powder and baking soda until well combined.  Stir in the essential oil.  Pour into a clean small jar and keep in a cool place.

To use, take a small popsicle stick and remove a pea size amount.  Rub into your armpit.  The warmth of your fingers will help it spread on smoothly and absorb into the skin.

Coconut Oil Deodorant FAQ Do you sweat more with a natural deodorant?

You may feel like you are sweating more if you are used to using a conventional antiperspirant.

For some background:  in the personal care market, there are deodorants (which mask odor and often have ingredients to absorb sweat), and antiperspirants (which reduce actual perspiration).

I don’t believe there are currently any scientifically proven “natural” antiperspirants on the market right now.  Instead, the products are deodorants.  This means that if you are used to an antiperspirant, you may experience more sweating when you switch to a deodorant.  However, it does not mean you’ll be smellier.

Does coconut oil deodorant stain your shirt?

It can, depending on the brand, fit, and type of fabric.  I have not had any problems with the NOW deodorant mentioned above, or the DIY recipe.

If you do have problems with staining, you can:

  • Try a different coconut oil deodorant that you can buy
  • Try a DIY recipe with a higher proportion of powder ingredients (baking soda, arrowroot, cornstarch, zinc oxide, etc)
  • Try a natural deodorant that does not have a coconut oil base
  • Return to conventional deodorants
Do natural deodorants cause skin darkening?

This is a common problem reported by some people who use various types of natural deodorants, including those with a coconut oil base.  I decided to do a little digging into this phenomenon.

For the most part, the skin darkening appears to be a result of the baking soda that is present in certain natural deodorants.  The alkaline nature of the baking soda alters the pH balance of the underarm skin, and this can result in darkening (and sometimes altered texture).

Here’s the good news – if this is happening to you, it should resolve itself when you quit using a deodorant that contains baking soda.

Do natural deodorants cause rashes or irritation?

Similar to above, this is generally caused by a sensitivity to baking soda in products.  Baking soda is abrasive and it can irritate the skin – either in high concentrations and/or if you are sensitive to it at all.  If you bought or made a product that contains baking soda, switch to one without baking soda (like the NOW or Kopari products above).

In conclusion…

Natural deodorants, like these coconut oil-based deodorants, can be a great choice for someone looking to reduce certain chemical exposures.  However, keep in mind that natural products may still irritate the skin, particularly if they contain baking soda.  Using a DIY recipe with a lower baking soda concentration (like the one included here) or selecting a store-bought product without baking soda may be beneficial if you are sensitive to it.

PS – Looking for more DIY Beauty Recipes?  Try these 9 DIY Sugar Scrubs!

Share:  Have you ever tried a natural deodorant – either that you’ve bought or that you’ve made?  What did you think? 

The post Coconut Oil Deodorant: DIY Recipe, Options You Can Buy, & FAQ! appeared first on Comeback Momma.

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