Mommy Review Monday: for Finding Childcare

I have excellent babysitters/nannies that help us out.  And, with four kids and both of us traveling for work, boy, do we need it?!?  When I tell people that we have great sitters they typically ask me how I found them.  It’s hard to find good help from word-of-mouth.  If you hear about someone who’s great, guess what?  They’re already busy helping someone else.   Or they’re busy with school or extracurricular activities.

Moms and Dads, the struggle is real….

So here’s how we found our awesome helpers:  We have used twice now to find regular babysitters/nannies for our litter.  And we’ve been pleased with the result both times- in fact, I’m pretty sure we’ve had our first babysitter that we found there for over two years now.  Time flies when you have good help I guess!

We recently found another babysitter- only because our regulars are getting busier as they “grow up” (they’re nursing students and school and “real jobs” keep them from helping out as much).  The process was good again.

I’ll admit that I was very leery of using  It seemed so unthinkable to find a babysitter online.  I mean, they’re your kids!!!  But, like I said above, the struggle was real.  Really real.  We need the help with our work schedules to maintain sanity in our household.

Here’s what I liked about it:

  • You can post a position with exactly what you’re looking for in a sitter from hours to age to experience, etc.  Do you want them to have reliable transportation?  Great.  Add that to your requirements.
  • You can view their profile- not just their photo but also their experience and information.  I sorted through these carefully.  I don’t care what people look like but it is important to have that so that when you meet them, if you want to meet them in a public place, you’ll know who to be looking for.  You can avoid awkwardly walking up to someone in Starbucks and asking if they are so and so there to interview for a babysitting job.
  • You can ask for certain certifications such as CPR and first aid.  This is important to me if I’m going to leave my kids alone with them.  Our sitters are all nursing students, so we feel very comfortable.
  • There is the ability to read and post reviews about the providers.  This is very helpful in seeing what other families’ experiences were.
  • There’s the ability to message on the system with them without giving them your phone number or address, etc.  (See below for the flip side of this too)
  • If you’re interested in Au Pairs as an option, you can look at different companies and some of the Au Pairs that they offer.  We seriously explored this as an option but since we currently don’t want to pay for that level of care when the girls are still in pre-school, which would be an additional cost.  Oh, and our extra bedroom is currently serving as my office too, so that would be something we’d have to work out.  Maybe someday.
  • There’s a good search feature.  That is an obvious must.  As you are reviewing them you can add them to your favorites so you can easily find them later. See below image for these search filters available.

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  • The app is pretty good as well.  If you’re like me, the time in between errands, work, etc. is not at your computer so being able to quickly look at this on your mobile device is very helpful.  You also have the option to get notifications.  I personally hate phone notifications.  My semi-ADHD personallity gets overwhelmed by them so I’ve got them turned off.  It’s nice to have the options should I ever get in a position where I really, really needed help quickly though.

Additional options that I haven’t used but could also be helpful:

  • If you’re looking for child care centers, you can look at them online- although, there aren’t that many reviews online for that so you’d be better off reviewing them on another search engine than this site.  I also would say that there’s a good chance they don’t have all centers on here since it’s likely the center has to pay them to be hosted.
  • Family childcare (what I always called in-home daycare) is an option you may want to explore.  You can view their information, reviews, and whether they’re certified, etc.
  • If you’re in need of someone with experience with special needs, that is something that you can easily search for.
  • They have a search function for senior/elderly care, which is great if you have a family member you may need assistance with.
  • You can pay your babysitters through them.  We don’t do this but if we were having someone full time this might be something we’d look into, so it could be a good feature if that’s what you’re considering.
  • You can schedule them online.  Again, we don’t do that.  I find that texting our sitters works just fine and I feel like it’s more personal.  It’s always nice to have the option I guess though.
  • Do you need housekeeping or other help around the house?  You can post a job or search for candidates on here.
  • Do you need help with your fur babies?  You can get a dog sitter or walker or even someone to feed your pet lizard on here.  Our cat fends for herself while we’re gone most of the time but we’ll be looking into this if we ever go on an extended vacation.
  • Not sure if you feel confident in their record?  You can do background checks on here as a extra precaution.
  • You could put yourself out there as a caregiver/provider as well.  I’ve not tried it but sometimes I feel like, hey, what’s a few more when you have four???  Just kidding but some extra money might be good.

What I would change:

  • I’d love for it to cost less.  This year the subscription was $168.00 without tax.  I’ll admit that I feel as if I’ve gotten my money’s worth out of it just finding our gem of a babysitter and knowing that I can find additional help pretty easily, but still…. that’s a lot.  The only good thing about it is that it automatically renews for me yearly so I don’t really have to think about it too much until I’m up for renewal and it shows up on my statement.  I think there are shorter subscriptions but it’s nice to be able to find help all year long and the yearly subscription is the best rate available.
  • I had a hard time getting our sitter’s contact information outside of the site, which doesn’t allow you to share phone numbers.  You can call them through the site but not text.  Please, please correct me if this is “user error” on my part.  I think this is a safety thing but it did make it harder than I’d like.  I had to get her email to have her send me her phone number so I could text her.  (You know us (barely) millennials and younger- we like to text each other rather than actually talk to someone on the phone)

There you go- from a busy working mom.  It’s been good to us.  I’d love to hear your tips on finding good sitters/nannies.  What has worked best for you???

ALSO:  For the record- I am NOT getting paid or any discount from, although if anyone from there is reading this and wants to give me a discount, I’d take it!!!  

Mommy Review Monday: Discount Tire

I drive a lot.  A WHOLE lot.  It’s part of being in sales, covering the state of Texas.  With that, my tires see a lot of wear.  I buy my tires from Discount Tire.  And I’m soooo glad.  Here’s why:

  • You can buy certifications for them and they cover repairs and replacements for the life of the tire.  What does this mean for me?  Well, over the last two weeks I’ve managed to destroy two tires:  one from a screw while driving on a jobsite and one today from what I think was a curb that totally popped up out of nowhere.  Both were replaced and I just had to pay for the $30 to re-insure each of them.Yes, this is the family truckster earlier today.
  • They will do a free air check.  You know how during the winter months your tire pressure warning will come on in your car and you don’t know whether a tire is really low or not?  It happens to me and because there are so many Discount Tires it’s really easy to swing into one.  And if it’s low, they’ll inspect it to make sure there’s nothing wrong.
  • They will rotate your tires for free too.
  • They have amazing customer service.  I have NEVER had a bad experience with anyone that works there.  They are all very kind, fast, and honest.  Today, as I sit here, it’s packed so there’s a wait.  They offered me fresh coffee and water. They told me where the restrooms are without me asking and even told me there’s a QT (gas station that has pretty decent food too) next door. They keep people appraised of their progress. Service with a smile.
  • They’ve got free WiFi, so I’ve got my laptop open and I’ve already gotten quite a bit of work done that I needed to.
  • I’ve yet to be in one where they didn’t keep it clean and neat.  It’s a nice, open layout with comfy chairs.  None of those loveseats that you sometimes get stuck snuggled up next to a perfect stranger.  That’s something you can’t say about all vehicle service places.
  • They have great prices and give you plenty of options for tires- from super fancy to economy.  They will tell you which ones they typically keep in stock, which helps me for cases like this where I am having to replace one.
  • There are a TON of these places.  I realize if you live in a rural area it might not be as easy to take as much advantage of all of the benefits such as the air check and tire rotations.

I honestly don’t have anything bad to say about them.  I am super-thankful for them today as the family wagon and I limped into their parking lot, knowing that they’d get us taken care of.  I’m pretty sure Garen is glad too- especially that I made it here without having to call in backup since even though I know how to change a tire, it’s been a LONG time!

Happy Mommy Review Monday!

And, FYI, I don’t get any kickbacks from these guys…although that would pretty awesome. Ha!

Mommy Review Monday: Stride Rite made2play® Phibian Sneaker Sandal

Are your kids hard on play shoes? Mine are. That was really a stupid question. What kid isn’t hard on shoes???

We go through a lot in our house. Fast.

I had been watching Facebook ads for Stride Rite made2play® Phibian Sneaker Sandal for a while but, being the semi-tightwad that I am, I wasn’t wanting to spend that much on a pair of shoes that looked like a glorified mixture of Keens and Crocs.

Finally, I was in Kid to Kid, my favorite local resale shop, when I spotted a pair of pink ones in Anna’s size that looked barely worn. They were still asking $15 for them, which is more than I really wanted to spend for a pair of gently used shoes…. even if they were Stride Rite. I went ahead and did it so I could try them out though.

stride rite made2play® phibian sneaker sandalAnd I’m so glad I did. Here’s why I love the Stride Rite made2play® Phibian Sneaker Sandals:

  • They held up beautifully! That used pair…I actually packed it away to save for the littles- even after Anna wore them for a year and who knows who wore them before that! I have since bought Will a pair. We bought them in the spring last year and they still look pretty good, which is amazing because he’s the hardest on shoes of all of my kiddos.
  • They clean easily. They’re kind of plasticish (I know that’s not a word but you get what I mean) so they wash off easily with just plane water and soap. I’ve never tried washing them in the washer because I haven’t ever needed to, although they say their machine washable so it must be ok!
  • Parents who hate tying shoes over and over again for kids that should be able to tie their own darned shoes- rejoice.  No laces!  Easy-on-and-off is a wonderful feature.
  • They come in pretty cool colors that aren’t all that crazy… or with cheesy characters on them- which is a little rare for easy-on/off shoes.
  • They can wear them with or without socks comfortably.
  • They seem super comfy because my kids wear them all the time….or they can’t find their other shoes.  One of the two is correct.
  • They dry out quickly.  If your kids like to stomp in water or you’re going somewhere wet (think the beach or an amusement park), these are perfect.  Or…if your kids have sweaty, stinky feet like mine do, they’re pretty good for that too.  They smell less than any other pair of tennis shoes we’ve ever bought the kids even though they are being worn more.
  • The price is right.  $35 may seem high but it really isn’t for a pair that lasts an entire year to constant activity and wear, stays comfy, looks good, and can be worn in wet conditions.  Oh, yeah- and can still be handed down to the next lucky kiddo in line.  If they wear them for only 130 days, that’s just over $.26 a day.

Stride Rite made2play® Phibian Sneaker SandalsYou got it “rite” this time, Stride Rite.  Yes, I know…. cheesy.  Will would be embarrassed of that cheesy mom joke!

But seriously, I the Stride Rite made2play® Phibian Sneaker Sandals will be the next pair of shoes I buy for Clara and Kate- in the new metallic purple and pink since those are “their colors.”

For the record- I bought these shoes and am receiving no payment, etc. for this review.  The rambling review is mine, all mine.

Mommy Review Monday: Faster Than Normal- how to use your ADHD super powers

I’ve never been diagnosed as ADHD, however, I’m pretty sure I’ve got it.  For example, this is the third time I’ve started and stopped writing this blog and I’m only two sentences in.

Or another example:  I’m having a serious conversation about school and discipline with a friend about grounding from TV. I go from that to Netflix to HBO to When is the Next Game of Thrones going to be on to What will John Snow and Calecee’s baby look like (I’m not stopping to look up how to spell her name right or I’ll be on Google for 2 hours reading about who knows what).

Wait, Google….

Wasn’t I supposed to Google something earlier today when Garen and I were talking?  I wonder what Garen is doing now?  Oh yeah, Kate was crying when we talked.  I bet he had a crazy night with the four kiddos with me in Houston.  Wait, the new babysitter started tonight……. Hold up!  How did I get here?  Wasn’t I supposed to be giving examples???

So you get the general idea.  That can happen to me in the middle of a dead serious conversation- like at a doctor’s office or while talking to the school principle.  Seriously, every minute of my life is like this.  But it’s not just that.

I struggle to be on time.  I procrastinate on important things that are overwhelming to me. But on certain tasks that get my attention, I can get things done with super-focus.  There’s a reason my blog is called Chicken Minus Head- because I’m often running around like that, from one thing to another!

I’m NOT saying this to try to get sympathy or to make excuses.  I deal with it and work hard every day to overcome through crazy-weird organization techniques. I’m also a self-proclaimed self improvement junkie.  I listen to a TON of audiobooks and podcasts since I have so much windshield time every week.  One I read a while back is really worth sharing on Mommy Review Monday.  It’s called Faster Than Normal by Peter Shankman.

Faster than Normal

It’s all about how ADHD can actually become your personal super power if you learn how to harness it and use it to your advantage.  It also is very helpful for anyone who has someone that has ADHD in their life and often times doesn’t know how to handle them.

Garen and I both listened to it.  There are times that the author went on about himself a little much and that bothered Garen more than me.  I think he did it to make a point that he didn’t achieve so much despite having ADHD but more to demonstrate that he achieved a lot because he had ADHD.  Look beyond that to get the useful tips.  Plus, the author is pretty hilarious so it was a fun listen. I’m going to start listening to his podcast to see if there are more tips that I can use.

This book is worth the read (or listen) if you’re a parent or teacher of an ADHD so you can learn ways to encourage and coach (and stay sane) or if you’re just a person that likes to get a lot done (even if you don’t have ADHD).

FREE ADHD TIP:  I finally finished this blog by setting my alarm for 10 minute time intervals and didn’t let myself do anything else until I finished it.  Doing that allowed me to get it done MUCH faster.  A lot of folks term this “time blocking.”  During the work week I use it a lot to get things done that I don’t look forward to and sometimes for chores I hate too.  It really works well for me.  I can’t remember if this is in the book or not but this gives you an idea of the kinds of ideas you can get out of it.

Mommy Review Monday: ezpz Happy Mat – One-piece silicone placemat + plate

DISCLOSURE: Due to the recent iPhone update my i’s are now malfunctioning. I️ am NOT going back through to fix. I’m too frustrated. Sorry folks.

It’s borderline Migraine Monday instead of Mommy Review Monday so this will be a sort one today so I can get off to bed. I should apologize to those who get actual migraines because I️ realize my headache isn’t really a migraine since I️ can manage to look at the screen.

I’ll thank the black beans all over the floor and the screaming toddlers for the tension headache. With that said, I’ll move onto our review of the day, the ezpz Happy Mat, without which there would’ve been many more beans on the floor.


  • Cost. $24.99 may seem like a lot but if you use I️t every meal, I️t pays for itself pretty quickly.
  • Hardiness. It’s made of silicone so you know it’s tough. And unlike your friends’ fake boobs, these don’t have to be hand-washed. You can stick them in the lower rack of your dishwasher time after time.
  • Dividers. Since so many kids are funny about not mixing foods, this is a great feature.
  • Protection. The full placemats give your table the armor it needs against banging silverware and/or sippy cups.
  • Stay-put-ness. I️ realize that’s a made up word but you get the point. No pates thrown across the room. As I️ said earlier, had we served black beans on a regular plate, they would’ve been everywhere. This plate-mat stayed in place throughout Clara’s mid-dinner temper tantrum.


  • Fit on High Chair Trays. They don’t fit on high chair trays. I️ know that’s not really what they’re made for so I️ really have a hard time declaring that a con but I️ do want to make sure no one assumes they’ll work that way. They do make a smaller version, the Mini Mat but it still may or may not work on your high chair tray.
  • Only Stick on Hard, Level Surfaces. Again, this seems common sense but they don’t stick or suction themselves down to fabric tablecloths or very unlevel surface. They’re still nice to use to protect your nice fabric tablecloth but there is the chance they could still move. We used a nylon table cloth at Halloween though and it still worked pretty well.

All together, these Happy Mats are what the brand name explains, ezpz. They’re a great gift idea, especially paired with these bibs. I’d buy another. In fact, I may buy another set for when one set is dirty. I’m not sure if that’s lazy or smart.

Happy Monday!!!

Mommy Review Monday: Garanimals Play Clothes

For years my kiddos wore mostly Children’s Place and Gymboree clothes. And they still wear a lot of it because we can occasionally get really good deals. Oh, and because Mammy buys them a ton of beautiful clothes from there.  I’m always thankful for whatever we’re given.  Gifted clothes are the best clothes.

But there are times when we do buy our own kids clothes.  And, in the past couple of years, I’ve been drawn to Garanimals, the brand carried by Walmart. I’m actually a big fan. Here’s the pros and cons:


  • Quality. You may be questioning me at this point but I’m telling the truth. We’re hard on our clothes. Really hard. Clara and Kate (the twins) go to day care so we’ve got lots of assorted stains every day and they play pretty rough on the playground. They give the pavement and wood chips a run for their money.  Plus, laundry sorting isn’t our strongest attribute so they get thrown in with other stuff that that might not be the best- think clothes with velcro, etc.  Yet, the Garanimals clothes still hold up really well through it all without fading or piling like the Gymboree and Children’s Place clothes tend to do faster.
  • Cuteness. The clothes are pretty darn cute. Don’t get me wrong. There are some graphic tee designs that I’m not crazy about. But that’s true for all brands. Clara is pretty picky about her clothes and she still likes a lot of them.  Yes, I realize two (tomorrow) is a little early to be picky about clothing but that girl has a mind of her own.

Garanimal Kitty ShirtPrice. When you have to buy as many clothes as I do, price is a factor. The price is right. They’re always priced well. You don’t have to worry about coupons or sales to get a good deal.  Plus, the kitty shirt pictured above is only $3.88. Pair them with this adorable set of French Terry Jogging pants, also Garanimals brand, for $4.88, and you’ve got a pretty cute play outfit for less than $10.

  • Convenience. A lot of time my only time to shop is early morning or late at night. That’s why shopping at Walmart is convenient for me. Plus, now you can shop online with free 2-day shipping. You can’t beat that.  Ok, Ok.  So you can if you find free one-day shipping with Amazon Prime but I bet you’ll have a harder time finding this for cheaper than
  • Mix and MatchableMatchable may or may not be a real word but regardless, you parents know exactly what I mean.  Most of their stuff you can mix and match, as an added bonus, which is helpful when you want to just grab something quickly (or if they’ve decided they’re going to dress themselves).  They even have solid colors that can sometimes be really hard to find (which work great for embroidery and screen-printing if you’re crafty like that- I recommend washing them first though).


  • Walmart. Yes, I realize that I just said above that going to Walmart is convenient but sometimes it’s not. If you go at the wrong time, you’ll find it totally crowded and unorganized.  Some folks don’t like Walmart because their merchandise comes from other countries, etc. but…. I’m not going there since that’s a politically fueled can of worms that I don’t choose to open tonight.
  • Cheesy prints. I also said above that the clothes are cute. And most are but there are a few I think aren’t so cute and some that are just downright tacky. This is really just a personal preference though. What I might think is adorable, you may think is an abomination.  This is play clothes, so does it really matter?!?

Bottom-line:  For our family, Garanimals baby and toddler clothes have been a great value.  I’ll continue to buy them.  In fact, I’m about to buy a few more sets of tights tonight for the girls because they got some adorable shirts for their birthday on Saturday that I need to pair something with.

Here’s a few of the outfits we’ve already got:

Happy shopping!

Mommy Review Monday: Big Block Singsong

I can’t take credit for finding this group because Garen introduced this lovely group to me. If you’re like me, you quickly get tired of kids music.

Enter Big Block Singsong.


  • They will crack you up with their off-the-wall lyrics. This may be helpful if you’re ever in the car with everyone yelling at each other….not that we ever experience that in our family….
  • You don’t have to worry about anything offensive or bad words. I guess that’s almost a given with children’s music but a pro is s pro.
  • Even your older kids will like them, despite there being no inappropriate language.
  • They’re educational in a bazar way.
  • As a mom of girls, the “Princess” song is empowering, yet allows them to feel like it’s ok to be a girly-girl. Is that too much to read into a children’s song? Maybe…
  • The music is decent too. Very upbeat.
  • They’re easily found on YouTube or iTunes.

What they could do better:

  • I’m not a huge fan of the videos. I expect too much of them but we never really watched them anyway so that’s not a huge deal. They’re probably perfect for babies and toddlers so I guess that’s really a positive rather than negative.
  • Maybe produce more songs? Yes, I like them that much. No more negatives for them.

There you have it. What are you waiting for? Check them out.

Hair is one of our family favorites if you need a starting point….or a quick pick-me-up.