Joyful News! Ashley’s Baby Was Born

We all love Ashley Shaffer around here. You all know she has been writing for MomStart for about two years now. She moved away last year so I can’t go see her in the hospital to give her our love but we can do it from here.


Holden William Shaffer – 8lb 12oz, 21.5 inches, born 4:01am. Mom and baby are doing find and mom is itching to get out of the hospital. As I’m writing this she may already be on her way home. He’s being wrapped in Aden & Anais blankets that MomStart won a while back and he’ll be using Pampers Diapers. It’s Ashley’s favorite brand.


Behind the Movie The Croods: Creating The Storyboards

Creating The Croods – The Storyboards Behind the Scenes

By: Ashley

The Croods will be crashing into theatres in just a few weeks, which makes this the perfect time to share some behind the scenes animation info with you. When I visited DreamWorks, I was actually able to meet some of the character teams that worked on creating the Croods family. Hearing how committed, dedicated and loyal the developers are to the story and the characters definitely explains why the animation is so real and lifelike!

Meet Steve MacLeod. Steve was a guest story artist on The Croods for the past 5 years! He actually started as a trainee with the DreamWorks education system, and now , his name is in the credits. A great tribute to DreamWorks, and also a glimpse into how long it actually takes to make an animated feature film. Writer/Director Chris Sanders added, “That’s the shocking truth of how long it takes to make these. If you have a child at the beginning, they will be going to the premier.”

(Check out Steve and some of his storyboarding.)


So where did the ideas for the actual Croods family come from? The designers on the film, looked back at cave paintings for inspiration on character creation. When they noticed that all of the primitive people seemed to have a certain shape, it was determined that the Croods would be a big, athletic bunch. “…we always were looking at beach volleyball players and downhill skiers and ust people that were athletic and for the whole family because we wanted it to feel real…that they could actually do what we were making them do, “ Kirk DeMicco (Director of TheCroods) added.

Chris Sanders sharing some of the early stages from The Croods storyboards with eager bloggers.


A rough world is definitely one way to describe the intense conditions that the DreamWorks crew created for The Croods. The opening scenes of the movie immediately set the tone of a rugged, tough, primitive world that The Croods call home. In a hunt for breakfast, you see how primitive the terrain and the family really is. Sanders added, “One of the reasons we wanted that in the film from the very beginning was we wanted to really set the dials as far as how tough are these people, how fast are they.” Knowing that the storyboards for this scene were shorthand labeled “Breakfast is a full contact sport” lets you know exactly how tough everyone and everything in these opening scenes really are! Add to that an amazing score including the USC Marching Band, and you’ve basically got a close up view of caveman family football for food!

The Croods having a little down time… obviously NOT during their full contact breakfast.


So what is the storyboarding process like? For The Croods, it started with Chris Sanders and Kirk DeMicco writing the script. From there, it weren’t on to stroyboards. He artists really adjust the story as they go to really begin bringing things to life. After reading the script, and meeting with the directors to get special notes on a particular scene, the artists get to work. Using EXTREMELY rough drawings, they will then pitch a set of storyboards, get more notes, and go back to the drawing board – literally. After a vicious cycle of revising, editing, re-working, and pitching again, and again, they’ll send it off to editorial to start adding the rough sound. SO COOL!

Some shots of storyboards from The Croods.


Like I said before, knowing how closely the animators, artists, and really the entire DreamWorks team work with a film before it’s released… it comes as no surprise that The Croods made me laugh, cry, and hold my breath more than a couple of times! I can’t wait to see it hit theaters March 22!


The Croods smashes into theaters March 22.

Link Up!

Visit the official website

Like The Croods on Facebook

Follow @DWAnimation on Twitter #TheCroods

Re-pin great DIY tutorials, printables & more from The Croods on Pinterest!

A big thank you to 20th Century Fox and DreamWorks Animation for inviting us to The Croods Parent Blogger Summit.

About Ashley – Ashley is a mom, wife, sister, daughter, friend, and former teacher working to navigate through the mysterious world of Mommyia. Read more about her adventures at Momicles and follow her@Momicles2010.

Joy To Ashley: And Then There Were 4…

And Then There Were 4…

By: Ashley

I’m a little old fashioned. I’m even a little superstitious. I’m also a little bit of a secret keeper… I guess that all explains why I’m sharing this news with all of you now instead of a couple months ago. You see, this Christmas, we made a big announcement to all of our friends…


Yep! In June (the due date is set for June 25), we will welcome our second baby! I can’t wait to start sharing news, updates, and stories with you all! But why wait?!?

So as of now, I am officially out of the first trimester – thank goodness! This pregnancy started out a little more on the sick side than my first. Thankfully Louise was patient as we tried to buckle down and get out all of our holiday posts. (Thanks again, Louise!!!) We’ve actually gotten to see the baby three times now! Not because of any complications or anything, but it just seems like the doctors here do ultrasounds a lot more readily than my doctor did with Atticus. Interesting, but I’m not complaining!

Okay, that’s all for now, but I really can’t wait to tell you more! I hope you had a great time celebrating Christmas and all of the holidays with your friends and family… I know I have absolutely loved celebrating and enjoying time with mine. Next year sure will be different!

Check out the story of how we found out about baby #2.

Photo taken by Shannon Haynie. Check her out online at:

About Ashley (Managing Editor at MomStart): Ashley is a mom, wife, sister, daughter, friend, and former teacher working to navigate through the mysterious world of Mommyia. Read more about her adventures at Momicles and follow her @Momicles2010.

Easiest DIY Fall Centerpiece Craft EVER!

Easiest DIY Fall Centerpiece (table decoration) EVER!

By: Ashley

Decorating with pumpkins and gourds is the easiest and most inexpensive way to transform your home into a fall harvest festival. You might think you need to be super crafty or at least have a large decorating budget to get the job done, but nothing could be further from the truth. A trip to Wal-Mart for the gourds and the Dollar Tree for the basket and leaves, and you are set. This particular centerpiece has been my go to for a couple years now, so I figured I could share it with you guys!


You will need:


Assorted decorative gourds

Artificial colored leaves

Basket or bowl


Create a bed with the artificial leaves. Add the gourds and arrange them until your satisfied. Ta-dah! The easiest thing EVER, right? It may seem silly to bother writing out these directions, but I’ve actually had a couple of people ask about my centerpiece. I think adding the leaves really makes it look like more than some pumpkins in a basket. What do you think?

About Ashley (Managing Editor at MomStart): Ashley is a mom, wife, sister, daughter, friend, and

former teacher working to navigate through the mysterious world of Mommyia. Read more about her adventures at Momicles and follow her @Momicles2010

Saving With Ashley: Ibotta Video Review – A New Way to Coupon and Earn Money!

By: Ashley

Have you heard about Ibotta? Think of an app for couponing… but SO MUCH BETTER! Instead of clipping coupons, Ibotta allows users to earn money back from their favorite brands. Sounds amazing, right? I tested Ibotta out this weekend, and loved it! Here is my experience.

Ibotta is set to launch later this month. Soon you’ll even be hearing about it from some of your favorite news spots. So, no nonsense… what do I really think about the Ibotta app? I honestly love it.

– Easy to use. Even for the technologically challenged. (Like me! ;))

– Ibotta refills your offers and personalizes them to your tastes.

– You learn cool things about products you love.

– You can donate the money you earn to a school of your choice.

– You can split your earnings between your PayPal account and a school. (AWESOME!)

– It’s okay to use regular manufacturers’ coupons and store coupons in addition to Ibotta!


When Ibotta launches this month, there is probably going to be a big waitlist. It kind of makes me think of when Pintrest came out. MomStart readers can easily sign up to bypass the wait and be one of the first to use this money saving app. All you have to do is visit , enter your email address, and they’ll let you know when the app goes live. This is DEFINITELY worth checking out.

For more info:

Find Ibotta on Facebook

Follow Ibotta on Twitter

Visit Ibotta Online

About Ashley (Managing Editor at MomStart): Ashley is a mom, wife, sister, daughter, friend, and former teacher working to navigate through the mysterious world of Mommyia. Read more about her adventures at Momicles and follow her @Momicles2010 .

This is a sponsored post, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

What is Hip at Disneyland’s California Adventure These Days? #DisneyInHomeBloggers

Disneyland’s California Adventure – Experiences to Last a Lifetime! (With #DisneyInHomeBloggers)

By: Ashley

“I’m going to Disneyland!” We’ve all heard it on the Superbowl commercials, heard the stories from our friends, and some of us are even lucky enough to have those special memories from the happiest place on Earth. I was pretty much just as excited and flipping out like I’d just one the Superbowl when I got to use that phase last week. It was my first trip to Disneyland and it had been YEARS since I’d been to Disneyworld.

So what’s hip and happening in Disneyland these days? What are some things you should check out? If I learned anything on my trip, it’s that you can’t go to Disneyland and not explore the California Adventure.


Walking down the street of California Adventure takes you to a time and place like only Disney can do. Storefronts, streetcars, and cast members take guests back to the 1920’s/1930’s Hollywood. And much like you’re in the middle of a Disney film, song and dance can come in at any time. The Newsies perform throughout the day in the streets. If you listen closely, you can even get a nice history lesson about Walt Disney himself. After all, you know he came to Hollywood with nothing but a suitcase and a dream, right?



When you head out into California Adventure, you can’t miss Cars Land. As soon as you pass the welcome sign and head on in, you are immediately transported to the streets of Radiator Springs. Whether you’re looking to fill up at Flo’s Diner, take a swing on Luigi’s tires, or get some groovy snacks and gear from Fillmore’s Taste-In, Cars Land will have you asking if they filmed the movies right there!

Raidiator Springs in the newest attraction in Cars Land and an experience like no other with fast cars, amazing characters, and great storytelling. It all comes together to take you into the world of Lightening McQueen, Tow Mater, Luigi and the rest of the cars gang. Cars Land is definitely a place that you need to see in the daytime AND at night.


Planning a trip to Disneyland is tough, mostly because there is just SO MUCH to see. If you’re heading to Disneyland and hoping to tie it into a little more sightseeing in the LA area, you should probably spend AT LEAST 2 days in Disneyland. You’ll want to catch the nighttime festivities, the daytime excitement, and have enough time to take it all in. After all, these are memories that you (and your family) will hold onto forever.

About Ashley (Managing Editor at MomStart): Ashley is a mom, wife, sister, daughter, friend, and former teacher working to navigate through the mysterious world of Mommyia. Read more about her adventures atMomicles and follow her @Momicles2010 .

I went to Disneyland as part of a #DisneyInHomeBloggers Press Trip. All opinions expressed are my own.

Easy Oven Roasted Potatoes Recipe

Oven Roasted Potatoes Recipe

By: Ashley

I think that potatoes are the chicken of the vegetable world. You can do ANYTHING with a potato – mash it, bake it, fry it, slice it, dice it, boil it… and the seasoning options are just as diverse. If you need a quick side dish that can go along with ANY meal, these oven roasted potatoes are it. The recipe can vary depending on what spices you have in the cabinet, but no matter what you do, it’s easy… and DELICIOUS!

Oven potatoes

Oven Roasted Potatoes Recipe (3 servings)


· 6-8 medium red potatoes (diced)

· 3 T extra virgin olive oil

· 2 T minced garlic

· 1 – 2 tsp. Onion powder

· 2 – 3 tsp. Paprika

· 2 – 3 T Parsley

· Salt (to taste)

· Pepper (to taste)


Preheat the oven to 400*. Dice the potatoes into ½ inch cubes. Toss the potatoes, olive oil, and spices in a large plastic bag (or bowl) to evenly coat all potato pieces. Line a cookie sheet with non-stick Reynolds wrap (best stuff EVER). Bake potatoes for about 30 minutes or until cooked. IMPORTANT – Stir potatoes on pan every 10-15 minutes.

As with any recipe, modify the spices and quantities to fit you and your family. Try this out and let us know how it goes .

About Ashley (Managing Editor at MomStart): Ashley is a mom, wife, sister, daughter, friend, and former teacher working to navigate through the mysterious world of Mommyia. Read more about her adventures at Momicles and follow her @Momicles2010 .

Pampers Spirit of Play Interview with Olympians Dominique Moceanu and Jennie Finch

Pampers Spirit of Play – An Interview with Gold Medal Moms Dominique Moceanu and Jennie Finch

By: Ashley

You may have seen some special Olympic diapers floating around during these past 2012 Olympics. Earlier this year, we were lucky enough to get our hands on them thanks to Pampers. These diapers were all about Pampers special Spirit of Play movement… and all about Team USA pride! I loved getting Atticus all decked out in his Team USA gear from Pampers. clip_image004

By the way, have I mentioned that I love… LOVE the Olympics? Last night we got in from a quick family vacation and enjoyed the evening watching the recap of the 2012 games and, of course, the closing ceremonies. This year Pampers gave me an AMAZING opportunity. I was lucky enough to celebrate the Olympics by interviewing 2 Gold Medal winning past Olympians – Jennie Finch and Dominique Moceanu. These amazing ladies are moms just like so many of us, and having the chance to talk to them about their families, their careers, and the Olympics was incredible. Here’s a video of the whole thing! I wasn’t really thinking about the fact that I was being recorded, so please excuse my silly asking if we were out of time moment! ACK!


What do I have in common with these gold medal moms? We all love Pampers, of course! I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s true. Pampers has been our #1 diaper since the beginning. I definitely can’t pitch a ball like Jennie, or do ANYTHING on a gymnastics mat like Dominique, but we all love our kids… and encourage their spirit of play with Pampers.


MomStart is on the Pampers Baby Board.

About Ashley (Managing Editor at MomStart): Ashley is a mom, wife, sister, daughter, friend, and former teacher working to navigate through the mysterious world of Mommyia. Read more about her adventures at Momicles and follow her @Momicles2010 .

Talking with The Jimmy Dean Sun #Blogher12

My Interview with the Jimmy Dean Sun – Watch And Support No Kid Hungry

By: Ashley

This weekend at BlogHer 2012, I had the chance to be interviewed by one of the brightest guys I’ve ever met. I mean, who’s brighter than the sun?!? It was such a pleasure to talk with the warm and friendly Jimmy Dean Sun… and luckily I have a video to share with you! Just by viewing, you’ll be working to end childhood hunger. For every view, Jimmy Dean will donate $5 to to Share Our Strength in support of the No Kid Hungry campaign. So please… take a look… and share with your friends.


Together with Share Our Strength, the Jimmy Dean® brand has joined the No Kid Hungry® Campaign, working to end childhood hunger in America by 2015. For every view this video receives now through August 18, 2012, Jimmy Dean will donate $5 to Share Our Strength (up to $5,000). This is in addition to the brand’s annual commitment of $150,000.

About Ashley (Managing Editor at MomStart): Ashley is a mom, wife, sister, daughter, friend, and former teacher working to navigate through the mysterious world of Mommyia. Read more about her adventures at Momicles and follow her @Momicles2010 .

Western Digital Live TV Hub Gets You Ahead of the TV Tech Curve

By: Ashley

We are SO happy to work with our friends at The Windows Blog and Western Digital. Thanks to them, we will be bringing you some GREAT information on Western Digital products and ways to get your media ahead of the technology curve. Did we mention there would be great giveaways too? Stay tuned and check out some of our favorite in home media center must haves. =)

clip_image002Can you believe that 30 years ago we didn’t even care about having cable for our television? Families were happy to have the typical handful of channels that the rabbit ears could bring in. Now, most families compare satellite, cable, and online television viewing to decide what’s right for their family. It really is crazy to think about how many options we have these days.

When my family and I moved, we decided it was time to ask some of those questions ourselves. We decided that we wanted to try and get ahead of the technology curve. What do I mean by that? Things seem to moving towards all online, shared media. Yes, there is definitely still a time and a place for cable/satellite if your family watches a lot of live events (like my husband who is the diehard sports fan). Outside of that, you can really do all you need to do with a few simple in home devices.

Thanks to Western Digital, we have been testing out the WD Live TV Hub to help us get ahead of that technology curve. I am NOT a very tech-savvy person, but after using the Hub for about a month, I’m getting the hang of it and LOVE having it in our home.


So what is the Western Digital Live TV Hub and what does it do? Good question.

In my non-techy terms, the LiveTV Hub allows you to store and share media files throughout your home to any internet enabled device. The easiest way for me to think of it was like an external hard drive for all of our media files (movies, TV show files, music, and pictures).

– If you connect the WD Live TV Hub to your wireless router, it pops up on menus and allows you to play the movies, music, etc. from any device (TV, DVD player, or even an XBOX) on your TV.

– If you connect it directly to your internet ready TV, the hub comes with its own remote and you can select what files you would like to play.

– You can choose from the TONS of apps (Netflix, Spotify, Facebook, Pandora, Hulu) to watch your favorite shows, listen to your favorite songs, and stream some great movies. (When connected to the internet.)

– As long as everything is connected to the internet, it is SUPER easy to add files to your WD Live TV Hub. It’s basically just a drag and drop to the right filebox on your computer.

– All of the pictures and videos stream from the Live TV Hub with AMAZING clarity and quality. (Full-HD 1080p)

– You can set your smart phone to work as a remote! (How cool is that!)

I really love our Western Digital Live TV Hub. I have to say though, I feel like I’m missing out a little since we don’t have any of the WD Live TV boxes. Then I could have all of our files stored (and accessed) from the Live TV Hub and still use all of the cool apps at any of our TVs. I know Louise has one though. Maybe she’ll send it out to me so I can test it out! 😉

Learn more about the Western Digital Live TV Hub. And Stay Tuned because we will have one to give away very very soon.



Disclosure – I was provided with a product to facilitate this review and giveaway. I am a Windows Champion and they helped support my relationship with Western Digital. All opinions expressed are my own.

About Ashley (Managing Editor at MomStart): Ashley is a mom, wife, sister, daughter, friend, and former teacher working to navigate through the mysterious world of Mommyia. Read more about her adventures at Momicles and follow her @Momicles2010 .