November 30, 2011

An Honest Christmas Letter


You know how everyone sends out Christmas letters about their families talking about everyone's special accomplishments and achievements during the previous year?  I've been tempted to write an every-day "real life" Christmas letter for my family. It would go something like this:



Merry Christmas from the Brooks Family!

Sarah, former valedictorian and summa cum laude graduate with a double major in Mass Communications and Christian Studies/Missiology emphasis, spends most of her time wiping bottoms and preparing meals (although not necessarily in that order). On special occasions she takes a shower before noon AND fixes her hair and puts on make-up.

BJ works full-time and takes masters level classes part-time in the evening. He is also an amazing dad to two little boys, which means he is super busy from sun up to sun down.

Ben loves to eat cookies and candy, spin in circles, and color on the wall behind mommy's recliner. Sometimes he listens to mommy and daddy, and sometimes he doesn't, it depends on whether he wants to or not. He has a fun personality and is full of energy.

Andrew is our newest arrival. He gets a kick out of watching Ben run around. He dislikes every green vegetable but loves sweet potatoes. He has a sweet smile and laid back personality, a perfect balance to Ben's exuberance and strong will.


All kidding aside, I have the world's most precious family, and I am blessed beyond words to get to be a full-time parent. I just love my Brooks boys. We may not have a whole lot of accomplishments to speak of, no big honors to brag about, but I'm thankful for this stage of life.

Maybe one day I can say that my children are all on the Honor Roll and are the star athletes in their sport of choice, that I have a novel on the bestseller's list, and that my husband just received a doctorate; But, the things we do right this second are special too. They may not get a lot of "glory," but they matter (trust me, people would notice if I stopped changing diapers). They may not be impressive, but they are important.

I have to remind myself regularly, that what I do as a stay-at-home mom is significant. I'm investing in my children's future; I'm providing a safe place for my husband to rest and be renewed; I'm making our home a place of refuge and security.

Sometimes I have to put some of my own dreams and ambitions on hold for a while to tend to other people's needs. I may not be teaching orphans in a foreign country, but I can teach my sons that God loves them. I may not reach a broad audience with my writing, but I can share my thoughts through my blog and through Facebook. I no longer have any impressive accomplishments of my own -no prestigious awards or sought-after titles . . . I take that back. I'm a Mom, and if that's not a well-earned and accomplished title, I don't know what else is.

November 21, 2011

(In)spired deals review - Give Thanks Wooden Caddy

Each November we gather as a family to share what we are thankful for. Tonight as I was tucking my two-year-old into bed we talked about what we could thank God for. He listed off the expected things: mommy, daddy, books, friends, and then he caught me a little off guard. He said, "Dear God, thank you for God. I don't see Him, but He's nice." My little boy is just learning how to put sentences together. Each day his vocabulary grows a little bit more. I love to see the boy he is becoming. He's no longer the same little baby I brought home twenty-seven months ago.

 What am I thankful for? My family, my friends, my home. I'm also thankful for a God who is nice, even though we can't see Him. My little boy mentioned that God doesn't fall down either. It's a good reminder.
The Give Thanks Wooden Caddy is a visual reminder throughout my day to give thanks. Even though it's intended for cutlery, I've actually decided to use it to store my family's remote controls. It sits in a prominent position on our entertainment stand.


It's nice and sturdy and is quite beautiful. I'm super excited to use it this Thanksgiving. I love that the handles on the side make it easy to transport the caddy from the kitchen to the table or buffet. It will be great when we have our friends and family come over and visit.

If you order it by Nov. 28th you can actually save 60%, making the caddy only $9 (it regularly retails for $29.99). You can definitely use this piece all year long in a variety of ways (both silverware and remote controls).

Photobucket

I received a complimentary product from Dayspring to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed are my honest thoughts of the product. 

November 1, 2011

CouponCabin's 25 Crazy Dayz of Giveawayz!



Welcome to CouponCabin’s 25 Crazy Dayz of Giveawayz! This multi-blog event is hosted by Simply StacieMakobi Scribe and Sassy Mama in LA and is sponsored by CouponCabin. This is the biggest event the blogosphere has seen with over 400 giveaways each at $25 value or more plus a huge giveaway with some major prizes like a MacBook Air, iPad2 & Visa Gift Cards. 


To find a complete list of participating blogs, check out one of the host blogs, Simply StacieMakobi Scribe and Sassy Mama in LA. There are tons of prizes available from the various participating blogs. 
Stop by Simply StacieMakobi Scribe and Sassy Mama in LA to enter the giveaway. Let them know that "Mommy's Minute" sent you. Enter just one, or enter at all three to increase your chances of winning one of the big prizes! 
Check out these awesome prizes from CouponCabin:
  • Grand Prize: MacBook Air (11-inch, 128GB; ARV $1,199)
  • 2nd Runner Up: iPad2 (16GB, with Wi-Fi +3G; ARV $629) & $200 Visa Gift Card
  • 3rd Runner Up: iPad2 (16GB, with Wi-Fi +3G; ARV $629)
  • 4th Runner Up: $300 Visa Gift Card
  • 5th Runner Up: $200 Visa Gift Card
  • 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th Runner Ups: $100 Visa Gift Card each
I am offering my readers a fantastic prize from a local artist in my area: Carly's Homefront! She has a super cute Etsy shop and offers custom signs, jewelry and much more! She has a fantastic assortment of products for those serving in the armed forces and for their friend and families!


Carly is a military wife and creates some great products to show support for our troops


Check out her facebook page for pictures of some of her work as well as information about her business on Etsy!  


Enter to win a custom sign for you or a loved one: http://www.etsy.com/listing/80784671/home-is-where-his-boots-are-sign

The Handy Dandy Housewife
Do you ever have a hard time finding your keys in your purse? Is it difficult to juggle your cell phone, your purse, your bag, AND your keys. These handy, dandy keychains from the Handy Dandy Housewife are a fantastic resource for busy women of all ages. 



The 10" ribbon slips comfortably onto the wrist, leaving your hands free to do other things. As a mom, these types of keychains are ESSENTIAL! They help me hold onto my children's hands instead of fumbling in the depths of my purse for my keys! 


They make fantastic teacher's gifts or affordable gifts for friends and co-workers. They are only $6, and definitely worth the money. 


The Handy Dandy Housewife is offering EVERYONE a 10% discount on any purchases made during the Blog Hop (Nov. 1-25). Simply enter the code "BLOGHOP" during check out to receive your discount!


Keep in touch with the latest discounts and products by visiting our Facebook Page


Pampered Chef
I'm an independent Pampered Chef Consultant, and I'm throwing in a few items just for kicks. I'll be giving away a copy of the 2011 Fall/Winter Season's Best Cookbook!




Enter using this simple Rafflecopter form! Good Luck! Don't forget to stop by the other participating blogs on the hop!!

**Rafflecopter has been a little quirky on my site lately, if the form doesn't look right, try hitting f5 to reload the page. You may have to click on the actual blog post instead of just viewing it from the home screen**


Photobucket



October 28, 2011

Fantasty vs. Reality

Have you ever wished you were "that" mom? You know, the one who appears to have it all together. Perfectly manicured nails, stylish hair, perfectly applied make-up. Fit and ready to face the day. Maybe your version of "that" mom prepares organic meals from scratch for her children. Or perhaps "that" mom has a spotless home and well-behaved children. I'd like to welcome you to a not so perfect place called "reality."

This is what my mornings would look like in my fantasy world:
  • 6:00 AM - Wake up to a quiet house. Fix myself a cup of hot tea and nestle down in my sun room for morning devotional reading. Pray, reflect, relax and savor the moment.
  • 6:45 AM - Exercise 
  • 7:30 AM - Shower, get dressed, put on make-up, fix my hair.
  • 8:00 AM - My delightfully cheerful children request permission to get out of bed. They happily eat what I put in front of them. And then read quietly for the next hour. 
  • 9-12 AM - Fun activities with my children: crafts, reading books, playing at the park.
  • 12:00 - I would serve a highly nutritious lunch, incorporating both fruits and vegetables.
  • 1:00 -3 PM Ben naps
  • 3-4 PM - More playing with the children.
  • 4-5 PM - Prepare a delicious and nutrition meal for my family from scratch
  • 5:30 PM - Serve dinner, get everything cleaned up. Enjoy an evening of family time. 
  • 7:30 Ben and Andrew go to sleep
  • 7:30-9:30 - Hang out with the husb
  • 10:00 PM Go to Bed.
Reality:
  • I wake up three times in the middle of the night to attend to a teething child.
  • 6:00 AM - Husband gets up with the two-year-old in order to help with the sleep I lost getting up with the 6-month-old the night before.
  • 7:30 AM - I am awakened by a two-year-old standing next to my pillow saying "Gick up Mommy, Gick up. ("Get up" for those of you not fluent in toddler speak).
  • 7:45 - Change child's diaper, get him dressed. Turn on Netflix.
  • 8:00 I lay on the couch in a groggy stupor (thanks to the 4 hours of sleep I had the night before) while my oldest watches PBS. 
  • 8:15 AM - The baby wakes up and needs to be fed, changed, and dressed (I'm still in my pajamas.)
  • 10:00 AM - I remember that I haven't eaten breakfast and that I'm quiet hungry. So I grab a handy packet of my son's gummy fruit snacks (They have 10% fruit juice in them, so that should count as a serving of fruit).
  • 11:00 AM - Surf around the web on Facebook or Pintrest while Ben plays happily with his toys.
  • 12:00 - Heat up a hotdog for Ben. (Ketchup is a vegetable, right?) Son refuses to eat what I fix for lunch and demands cookies instead.  Cookies are denied resulting in a kicking and screaming tantrum.
  • 1:00 - Lay Ben down for nap.
  • 1:30 - Take a shower if Andrew is content and finally get dressed for the day (which usually entails a t-shirt and jeans). If I'm lucky, I'll have enough time to blow dry my hair. I don't even bother with the make-up since I won't be leaving the house today. 
  • 2:00 - Surf the web while Ben continues to nap.
  • 3-5: Watch Super Why, Sesame Street, or Fireman Sam
  • 5 PM Heat up a frozen dinner.
  • 6 PM Pile the dishes by the sink with the promise that "I'll clean them later"
  • 7 PM Bathe the kiddos; get their jammies on.
  • 7:30 Lay Ben down 
  • 8:00 Try to find the motivation to do the things I've put off all day long. 
  • 9:00 Facebook or Pintrest while hubby does schoolwork
  • 12:00 - stumble into bed around midnight depending on when I'm able to get Andrew to sleep. 
  • 1:30 - Wake up and attend to an upset teething child.
Rinse and Repeat.

I suppose the frustrating thing for me is that my "Fantasy" is full of obtainable goals and activities. I feasibly COULD do all of those things in the day, but most of the time I don't. It's not that I don't have the time or opportunity, it's that I lack the motivation. I often choose to do "other" things, usually things that are of no value or worth.

At this stage in my life, sleep is as valuable as gold, primarily because it's such a rare commodity. So the likelihood of waking up before my kids get up is slim to none. I'm not going to wake up at 5 AM especially since I don't go to bed until 1 or 2 AM.

I'm just not "that" mom. I don't have it all together all the time. My house is routinely in a state of disorder. I don't always take care of myself physically or spend a lot of time on my appearance. Most times I forget to pluck my eyebrows until I'm in the car and get a good look at myself in the rear-view mirror.

The majority of the time, I'd rather spend an hour on Pintrest than clean out my closets or wash my dishes. I guess I'm normal, but there's always that temptation to compare myself to other moms. I like to think that they have it all together, but I have the sneaking suspicion that there is no such thing as a "perfect mom" or a "perfect wife."

My main thing is that I know that there are things that I can do better. As a recovering perfectionist, I've learned that it's OK not to do everything perfectly. I don't have to be a perfect mom, but I'd like to do better. I'd like to do a better job of taking care of myself, both physically and spiritually. I'd like to do a better job of taking care of my house and family. It's a gradual process which will take a lifetime to improve on.

I think I'm going to try to find just ONE thing to work on this next month. To try to change everything at once would not be realistic. So, I've decided I'm going to eat breakfast every day. I'm going to sit at the table with my Bible and enjoy some tea and toast. Slowly but surely my fantasies can become reality.

October 7, 2011

Free $10 Credit to Beyond the Rack

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love the word "free." Right now you can get a free $10 credit to Beyond the Rack. They have some fantastic stuff right now. They have a variety of home/kitchen products as well as a lot of great items for every member of the family.
Right now you can get this awesome $30 spice rack for only $4.99 by using this link to sign up.

Or if kitchen stuff isn't your thing. There is a great selection of European 100% leather infant shoes for only $9.99 after the free credit, usually they are $35. That's a $24 savings!
There really is something for everyone. Check them out and sign up for your free $10 credit today!

They have a variety of items for UNDER $10 which means you can get some great stuff for FREE! Photobucket

September 28, 2011

Ten Tips for De-cluttering and Organizing Toys

Toys are a little bit like rabbits. They seem to multiply in dark corners and they make a tremendous mess. Ok, but seriously, keeping the rooms in our hose clutter free can be a bit of a challenge. My son's toys seem to creep up in every room of the house. I've even found them in my shower and under my bed. So how do we keep this toy tide under control? Here are my top ten recommendations for de-cluttering and organizing toys in your own home.

  1. Buy some baskets or buckets to help keep your kids stuff contained. 
  2. Clean out the toybox. If you child hasn't played with the item in the last two weeks consider rotating it out. Chances are they won't even notice that it's gone (that is, if they don't see you removing it, if you are caught in the act, they will claim that that toy is their most prized possession).
  3. Make your organization age appropriate. For younger kids consider placing a picture of what needs to go in the bin on the outside of the container. Even toddlers can understand this basic concept. Cars go in the container with the car picture on them, blocks, books, etc.
  4. Think outside the box. I turned an old entertainment stand into a toy center in my sons room. All of his toys are now contained in an organized space. It helps his room seem cleaner and it eliminates the cluttered feeling.
  5. Re-purpose items. I saw a mom who used those magnetic kitchen strips used for knifes to store her sons hot wheels. The magnetic strip held the cars in place and kept the organized and off the floor.
  6. Encourage your child to go through their toys themselves. Make a family trip to a shelter or donation center and explain how the toys that we're tired of can really be special to someone who doesn't have any toys. It can be a good learning experience for all involved, and can help keep the greedies under control.
  7. For every new toy that comes in, one needs to be rotated out. This helps keep the room being overwhelmed with toys. Before you bring the new item in, encourage your child to select one toy to remove. It may be an item that they've outgrown, or one that is broken. Placing a toy limit helps keep things from getting out of control.
  8. Consider selling some gently used items on e-bay or in a garage sale. Sometimes if kids can "earn" the money from the sale it can encourage them to part with the item.
  9. Don't contribute to the problem. If you child doesn't need any more toys, don't buy them. Kids don't want us to buy their affection, they want us to spend time with them. In the long run, they won't remember every toy they owned, but they will remember quality time spent with a parent.
  10. Create boundaries. It's ok to have a "no toy" space. For example, we keep toys out of the guest bedroom, so that it's clean and tidy for company when they come over. 
There are several practical steps that you can take to help keep clutter under control. No one likes stepping on toys in the middle of the night. With a little bit of practice, you too can help you child keep the toys from overwhelming the space.

“I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Hot Wheels® blogging program, for a gift card worth $40. For more information on how you can participate, click here.”

September 16, 2011

Fall Giveaway Festival



RetailMeNot has every online coupon and promo you could ever hope to find—all in one place. With the help of a dedicated community, RetailMeNot thrives as a money-saving mecca free of full-priced foes. With more than 1,000,000 coupons from over 100,000 stores, RetailMeNot is your go-to site when you want to grab the goods to create a one-of-a-kind Halloween costume, lock down the biggest savings on Black Friday and Cyber Monday or surf the Web for financial finds.

RetailMeNot is giving away an iPad2 to one lucky person! Visit Sassy Mama in LASimply StacieMakobi Scribe and Matter of Cents to enter the giveaway.

The holiday greeting card season is just around the corner! Photo Card Creations offers a wide variety of cards to fit your needs! They just introduced 50 new designs this fall, as well as a new way to preview your cards before you order them. You can zoom, re-position, and even change your photos to black and white or sepia. You can see exactly what your photo card will look like! You can choose from a variety of backgrounds and photo border colors.



The text is fully customizable, allowing you to select the font, color, and size that suits your needs!

I have used them in the past with great success. The card quality is excellent. They are printed on high quality paper using leading technology. A professional graphic designer handles each order, ensuring that your cards come out the way that you would like them to.

Once you've finished customizing your card you can place your order online, cards are shipped approximately three business days later! They even have a promotion for free shipping on orders placed before Sept. 21st!

Photo Card Creations also offers a great selection of birth announcements, thank you notes, and party invitations! There is truly something for everyone!

September 11, 2011

Mompact: Review and Giveaway of Little Looster Booster


I have two kids age two and under. I spend most of my day changing diapers. I dream of the day when my oldest is potty trained. We read books about going on the potty. We talk about going on the potty, but so far we've had no success. I've been looking into different potty products to help us with our potty-training endeavors. I recently had the opportunity to try the Little Looster and I'm a definite fan.


The Little Looster is a wraparound step stool that fits around the contours of the toilet. Unlike other step stools that may move or slip, the Little Looster remains in its place, and does not interfere with grown-ups who may also need to make use of the facilities. In my bathroom there is not a lot of space between the toilet and the door. I was initially concerned that there would not be enough room to open the door with the Little Looster in place, but it fit perfectly. I was able to open the door without any difficulty.


My two-year-old was able to easily climb up on his own. His feet did not dangle when he sat down, but they were able to rest securely on the Little Looster.

I would definitely recommend this product to parents. I love that the Looster Booster enables my son to use the "big potty" which means I don't have to spend time cleaning out a small potty (or trying to discreetly hide it when company comes over.) This is a great product for parents who are tight on space!

I give the product five stars: It's easy to use, easy to clean, and is a great resource for those with young children.

They are currently available on Amazon for only $34.99. (I think not having to clean out a tiny toilet is definitely worth the price!)

You can learn more about the Little Looster by visiting their website at http://www.littlelooster.com



This post is part of the Mompact Blog Tour. There are 120 blogs participating with over a hundred fantastic reviews and giveaways. You can return to www.mompact.com to find a complete list of links. (Or click on the Blog Hop Banner at the top of the page)

  I received a complimentary product to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed are my hones thoughts of the product

Continue to the next blog on the hopYummy! Yummy! Yummy's review of Bunchees

  Photobucket

September 7, 2011

CouponCabin's 25 Crazy Dayz of Giveaways - Sign Up Now!



Have you ever visited a giveaway blog and wondered how you can build a blog following of your own? Blog hops are a fantastic way to build your followers and increase your site's stats (making your site more appealing to PR reps and companies).

Simply Stacie, Makobi Scribe, and Sassy Mama in LA are hosting the hop. CouponCabin is sponsoring the event and offering some HUGE prizes including iPads, MacBooks, and cash! Sign-ups just opened today. Reserve your spot in the hop and get a chance to earn giftcards and fantastic prizes. Thanks Simply Stacie's for sharing the info!

Are you ready for an AMAZING giveaway hop? and I mean AMAZING!!! CouponCabin’s 25 Crazy Dayz of Giveawayz is hosted by Simply Stacie,Makobi Scribe and Sassy Mama in LA and sponsored by CouponCabin.com, a leading online destination for coupons including coupon codes, printables, grocery coupons and more. Here are the giveaways for your readers:
Grand Prize: MacBook Air (11-inch, 128GB; ARV $1,199)
First Runner Up: iPad2 (16GB, with Wi-Fi +3G; ARV $629)
Second Runner Up: $250 VISA Gift Card
Other Prizes: $100 VISA Gift Cards will be given out to four (4) additional winners
Want to hear something super, duper cool? Bloggers are eligible for FANTASTIC prizes as well!!
  • The blogger who refers the most readers to the giveaway will win a MacBook Air
  • The blogger who refers the 2nd most readers to the giveaway will win an iPad2
  • The blogger who refers the 3rd most readers to the giveaway will win a $250 Visa Gift Card
Total Value of Prizes: $4,300!!
There's even more!! Each participating blogger will receive a $20 Target Gift Card for each blog that they refer who registers to participate (No, you cannot refer yourself!)
Is that cool or WHAT!
The main giveaway for these fantastic prizes will be held on the three host blogs and we will also feature a linky so that readers can hop to enter all the other giveaways on participating blogs. Reader entries will start on November 1st and go through November 25th.
Sign-up now to secure your spot!

How to Participate:

Sign up on the form HERE (Tell them Mommy's Minute you)and send a $5 administrative fee via Paypal to SassyScorpYM@gmail.com. (This is very easy to do - this is the second hop I've participated in w/ these ladies, it's safe)

When:

November 1 at 12:01 am EST to November 25, 2011 at 11:59 pm EST. The winner will be announced during a live event on Twitter on November 28th. Further details will follow at a later date.

Requirements for participating blogs:

  • Have a giveaway specifically for this event and cannot start before start time, or end before specified end timeMinimum prize/pack value of $25
  • Display the event button in your post so hoppers can easily identify it.
  • Display the linky in your post to encourage hopping
  • Comply with proper disclosures, no entries that violate Facebook policies (i.e. requiring comments on walls), must follow FTC guidelines (no extras for making purchases, etc.)
  • Sign up for CouponCabin’s Blogger Email Newsletter. They will send you top coupons, promotion and giveaway announcements geared specifically for bloggers. There is no cost to joining their newsletter. By providing your email address at sign up, you will be automatically enrolled.
  • Since this event is sponsored by CouponCabin, we ask that your giveaway sponsor for this specific event not be in direct competition with them (ie. another coupon website).
Only bloggers who are participating in CouponCabin’s 25 Crazy Dayz of Giveawayz are eligible for the Blogger prizes (Macbook Air, iPad2 and VISA Gift Cards).
The Blogger & Reader Prizes will be open to both US and Canada.

What does all this mean for you?

A great deal of traffic to your blog, opportunities to network with other bloggers and eligibility to win the Blogger prizes! Plus it will be lots of fun!

Want to take part in CouponCabin’s 25 Crazy Dayz of Giveawayz Hop?

Sign ups are now open! Please fill out the form (tell them Mommy's Minute sent you) and submit your administrative fee of $5 to SassyScorpYM@gmail.com We will email you within 24 hours to confirm your participation. Then please spread the word and tell others about this amazing hop and to say that YOU referred them!!
Thanks to Simply Stacie for sharing this info!!

Good luck to all bloggers involved!


  Photobucket

September 4, 2011

Does Becoming a Mom Mean Giving Up Your Dreams?

Is it possible to pursue dreams and motherhood at the same time?

I just finished reading the book Quitter by Jon Acuff, blogger of StuffChristiansLike.net. Why is a stay-at-home mom doing reading a book about quitting your day job to pursue your dream job? After all, I don't technically have a day job . . .well, not a paid one at least, and motherhood certainly is not a job that I could/would quit. So, why was I attracted to this book?

Plain and simple: I'm a dreamer.

The moment I took on the title "mom" the "Sarah" part of me didn't disappear. I still have a unique set of God-given gifts and abilities, and I believe they're there for a purpose. They exist to help me fulfill my dream. Acuff doesn't word it quite in this way, but I personally believe that each individual was created by God to fulfill a purpose. If you breathe on this earth, then you have a reason for living. I believe that our "dream" and our "calling" can be synonymous. Why would God give us talents and desires if he didn't intend for us to use them for His purposes? Our task is to unite our unique selves to the work we were created to do. Does that responsibility end when we become mothers? I think not.

Don't misunderstand me. Motherhood in itself is a noble and important calling, and for some people it may be their sole calling, and there is not a thing in the world wrong with that. I know that these children have been entrusted to me for a reason and God has equipped me with everything I need to be the best mother to these particular kids. However, I also believe that it's OK to pursue our dreams, our destinies (insert dramatic music here). To cultivate our skills and abilities- to set goals and have godly ambitions.

I don't claim to have it all together, but I have observed from my own personal experience that if I don't set attainable goals I will accomplish very little. I will remain in survival mode - accomplishing only what needs to be done to make it through to the next day. I think pursuing dreams and having a plan will actually enable me to become a better mother.

Kids grow up. They leave home (hopefully not to come back and live on your sofa). Then what? Although your children are yours forever, the amount of time that they remain under your direct influence is limited in the grand scheme of your lifetime. Who will you be when your children are grown and the days of 24/7 mom duty are behind you?

As a child, I always dreamed of becoming a published author. I spent summers scribbling in notebooks and reading every book I could get my hands on. This blog is, in part, a manifestation of that dream, but I still have so much to learn. There are writing workshops that I could attend, books I could read, lectures I could listen to. Am I progressing toward my dream of writing or am I putting it on hold until it's more feasible?

I may not have the time to sit down and write a 50,000 word novel at this stage in my life, BUT I can move toward that goal. I can learn. I can hone my skills and I can take steps in that direction. Motherhood may alter the course, but I'm still capable of taking that journey. If we wait until we "have the time" we'll be waiting for decades and we'll miss opportunities along the way.

We should never offer our children on the altar of our own dreams, but if you have the desire and the ability, don't be afraid to take that next step to put your dreams into action.

Pursuing our dreams makes us better mothers. It enables our sons and daughters to see that not only are we unique individuals, but that we can make a difference. So, whether your dream is to open a bakery on Main Street or to feed starving orphans in Africa, don't be afraid to take that first small step.

So, what's my point? Don't give up on your dreams. They are there for a reason.  God has big plans for you.

Question: What are your dreams? Have they altered since becoming a parent or entering the "real world"r?

  Photobucket

September 2, 2011

"Young Love" Mat Kearney Review

Mat Kearney's latest release, Young Love just hit the shelves and has already flown to the #1 Top Digital Album's chart in its first week. Right now it's available on Amazon for only $4.99, definitely worth the price.

The hit single "Hey Mama" is probably one of my favorite tracks on this album. I find myself walking around the house singing "Hey mama, hey mama, hey hey mama." Which is appropriate because I usually have a two-year-old walking around saying the same thing.

It's a fun album from start to finish. Some of my other favorites include the more mellow "Sooner or Later" and the upbeat "Count on Me." For some reason the sound of Mat Kearney's voice makes me think of California. It's completely illogical, but for some reason his music makes me think of hanging out on the beach.

Young Love is a great album for enjoying relaxing summer nights or driving around town. With its positive message and upbeat rhythms, Kearney's latest release is a great follow-up to his previous two albums. When the album was first released it went to #1 on the iTunes Rock album charts. It's available online and in stores. Want to see Mat Kearney in person? He is currently on his Young Love tour. Check his website for more info on if he's be visiting a town near you. 

To find out more about Mat Kearney and Young Love check out his website and Facebook page.

I received a complimentary album from the One2One network to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed are my honest thoughts of the album.

August 28, 2011

"Route 66" by Krish Kandiah Review

Route 66: A Crash Course in Navigating Life with the Bible
Few believers doubt the Bible's ability to change their lives. The challenge for many is learning how to navigate the pages of Scripture in a way that impacts our everyday lives in a practical way. Understanding the unique nature and message of God's Word enables the individual to apply scripture and therefore make a difference in his or her everyday life.

Using the analogy of a road trip, Route 66  by Krish Kandiah provides the tools necessary to navigate and apply Scripture in a practical way. The book contains eight sections - "living faithfully, distinctively, poetically, discerningly, prophetically, infectiously, purposefully, and hopefully each provide an introduction to a different kind of literature within the Bible and follows with questions for discussion and five days of daily readings."

This book would be a wonderful resource for individual study or in a small group setting. The study can be completed in an eight-week time frame. The five daily readings are a great length, not at all overwhelming in length or in content. There are a total of 40 readings and a wonderful selection of discussion questions. The author does an excellent job of making the readings accessible and understandable. It's a great resource for those seeking to navigate God's Word! Bring a friend along for the journey, this trip down Route 66 has the potential to impact your Christian journey.

About the Author:

Krish Kandiah is the Executive Director: Churches in Mission for the UK Evangelical Alliance. He is also an external examiner for Oak Hill College, an Associate Research Fellow at London School of Theology, and is part of the theme development group for Spring Harvest.


Dr. Kandiah previously held the position of Director of the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics, in addition to being Tutor for the Mission and Evangelism at Wycliffe Hall. He was also an Oxford University Theology faculty member.

Before becoming the pastor of a multi-cultural church in Harrow, Kandiah worked with students in the UK with Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship, and in Albania with the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students. He has wide experience in evangelism and cross cultural mission, and he is in demand around the world as a speaker and lecturer—though he is still a regular speaker at university missions and at Spring Harvest.

Dr. Kandiah and his wife, Miriam, have four elementary aged children and regularly take in foster babies. Kandiah has a keen interest in movies, photography, rock music, and Liverpool FC.

Route 66: A Crash Course in Navigating Life (978-0-85721-018-0) by Krish Kandiah is published by Monarch Books and distributed by Kregel Publications.

Visit the author’s website: http://krishk.com/route66/ for more information.



Photobucket

I received a complimentary copy of the book to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed are my honest thoughts of the book.

August 24, 2011

A Different Kind of Good

Every so often I go through college withdrawals. College was a good time. Friends lived literally just around the corner. There was freedom, there was fun, without all the full responsibilities of adulthood (mortgages, insurance, bills, bills, and more bills).

Of course while in college, I couldn't help but look forward to the "next" phase of life. Marriage, a family. No tests. No papers. Surely, that would beat the endless schedule of exams and lectures.

No stage of life is perfect. If I'm constantly looking ahead or behind, I'm bound to be disappointed with the present. As I type I have a two-year-old coloring at my feet and a sleeping baby on my chest. This is good. It may not be the same as 2 AM runs to Wal-mart with the girls, or outdoor concerts and activities on a college campus, but it is a time that I know I'll look back on and miss.

I've always been tempted to look back and say "those were the best days." Or anticipate the future (when kiddos will be out of diapers and old enough to take on responsibilities on their own) and think "I can't wait for that day to get here."

I know one day I'll miss rocking my babies, just like I miss things from different phases of my life. So, I should thoroughly enjoy this day, because it won't last forever.

I'm thankful that God doesn't leave us in the same place. We'd take it for granted. I'm grateful for the past, enjoying the present, and looking forward to the future. They are all a different kind of good.


Photobucket

August 15, 2011

"A Bug Collection" DVD Review



As the mother of a preschooler, I'm always on the lookout for wholesome, entertaining videos for my family. Although (before kids) I swore I was never going to be one of those moms who plopped their kids in front of the TV all day, I have learned that 30 minutes of entertainment = 30 minutes that I can use to accomplish all those chores that seem to pile up overnight.

"A Bug Collection" is a set of DVDs from Max Lucado's Hermie & Friends series. This DVD set includes: Buzby and the Grumblebees—it’s about bee-having, Haily & Bailey's Silly Fight—it’s about getting along, Milo, the Mantis Who Wouldn't Pray—it's about prayer.

Buzby and the Grumblebees is my son's favorite. I can't even begin to tell you how many times I've watched it today.

I like that the series communicates positive values, including: the importance of behaving, learning to get along, and the importance of prayer.

They'd be a great addition to your home video library. They're great for the whole family!

Photobucket

I received a complimentary copy to facilitate my review. All opinions expressed are my honest thoughts of the product.

"Pocket Purifier" Review and Giveaway

I've seen a lot of those "As Seen on TV" products recently. Have you ever wondered if any of them actually work?

I had the opportunity to try out the Pocket Purifier: The Handheld Germ Eliminating Light.



The device includes a 4 watt germicidal UV light. It's the same type of technology that a lot of hospitals use to steralize surgical equipment.

So . . . does it work?

Honest answer, I don't really know. I don't have the scientific equipment necessary to test and see if it kills the germs, but scientific tests have shown that UV light will kill any DNA-based organism with a large enough dose of UV and that the UV light breaks down DNA on a cumulative basis. It has been proven to be effective on the germs that cause the cold and flu virus, plus e-coli, mold, and fungus.

It is certainly easy to use. It just takes four AA batteries and is small enough to easily transport in your purse. I'm thinking this is a MUST have for dirty hotel rooms. Am I the only one afraid to touch the hotel remote control? All you have to do is turn the device on. Hold the UV-C light over the area that needs to be disinfected for about 10-15 seconds and voila - sanitized surface.

I tried it out on some of my kids toys. They say you can also use it on kitchen utensils, telephones, office equipment, bathroom products, etc. It certainly seems like a good idea - especially with flu season on the horizon.

It also comes with a built in flashlight which I think isn't completely necessary, but hey, maybe the lights go out while you're disinfecting . . . you never know, and at $20 or less it seems like a decent deal.

As a mom, I can definitely see the benefit in a product like this. It's potable, easy to use, and affordable. They are available at a variety of retail locations and online at their website www.purelyproducts.com

Would you like to try one in your own home?

It's easy to enter and win!





Photobucket

I received a complimentary copy of the product to facilitate my review. All opinions expressed are my honest thoughts of the product.

July 26, 2011

Teething Bling - Jewelry to Drool Over


When you become a mom you naturally give up a lot of things. I remember after Ben started teething, I had to put all of my jewelry away. I wasn't sure that it could hold up to a toddler's tugs and pulls, not to mention the inevitable drool. It seems like everything goes straight into a baby's mouth, especially when he's teething.

Fast-forward a few months - A mom in my MOPS group had on a really neat piece of jewelry. Her little one was gnawing away on it without a worry in the world. This was the first I'd ever heard of teething jewelry, but it really is a brilliant idea.

Teething Bling pendants and bangles are made out of non-toxic, BPA, PVC, Latex free materials. It's essentially the same FDA approved stuff that teething toys are made out of. The icing on the cake - they're really cute. I plan on wearing mine even after my little guy gets out of the teething phase. They come in a variety of colors and patterns. They just recently released shimmer pendants for you glam moms out there. Plus, since they're only between $20-25, they are definitely affordable.


I have the Zebra pendant and I was very impressed. It looks as if it is your standard, hard, jewelry pendant, but upon closer inspection it is a semi-flexible silicone. And to make things even cooler - these pendants can be washed to keep them clean and sanitary.

These would make a fantastic shower gift (something for both mom AND baby). You can find Teething Bling online at Smart Mom Jewelry's website. Check out their assortment of jewelry! Smart Mom Jewelry was founded by two stay-at-home moms and is fully-staffed by moms.

You can also find out more about about Teething Bling by connecting with them on Facebook or Twitter

Photobucket

I received a complimentary product to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed are my honest thoughts of the product. Images are taken from www.smartmomjewelry.com

July 14, 2011

"What's in the Bible" DVD Review and Giveaway (Part 2)


I love, love, love the "What's in the Bible" series from Tyndale and Phil Vischer. They are so exceptionally well done! I think I find them just as entertaining as the kids do. In fact, the boys and I recently entered their video contest and came in second place. Wooo-hooo! Thanks to all who voted. If you want to see our entry you can check it out here.

The super cool news is that we are going to appear in Vol. #7 which will be released in the spring. How crazy is that!! I still don't have all the details yet, but I'll be sure to let you know once I do!

If you haven't seen the DVDs yet, here's your chance. I am giving away a certificate for a free DVD of Vol. #5 which covers the books of 1 & 2 Samuel. My little boy LOVES this DVD. They are super entertaining and also theologically sound. They are a great way to get kids to learn more about God's Word. I'm a huge fan. You can check out their website http://www.jellytelly.com to check out videos and tons of great content for kids and their families. You can also connect with them on Facebook (that's how I heard about and entered the video contest - they also seem to giveaway stuff on a regular basis)

I'm trying out a new giveaway method. If you entered on the previous post, I will add your entries here. I'd love to hear your feedback on this method of giveaway!

Best of luck! This giveaway will end at midnight EST on 7/22. Winner selected by Random.org. Winner has 24 hours to respond to e-mail notification or an alternate winner will be selected.

July 13, 2011

Ten Tips for Making Your Life Easier and More Efficient on the Go

I used to think I was busy . . . and then I had kids. The word busy now takes on a whole new meaning. That's why it's essential that I take any possible steps to make life a bit easier and more efficient as I go about my day. These don't have to be dramatic changes, but these ten simple steps can help lighten your mothering load.

  • Clear out clutter. Some people are hoarders. I'm the opposite. I get a thrill out of throwing stuff away. I think cleaning out closets is good for the soul. If it's been sitting unnoticed and unneeded in the dark recesses of your house, chances are, you don't have to keep it. It's amazing how much cleaner your house (and car) will become and how much lighter your spirit will be when you get rid of unnecessary belongings. 
  • Get organized. Rather than having things scattered all across the room try to group like items together. In my living room I keep the remote controls for all our different electronic devices in the same little box. I keep all of my power/computer cords stored together. That way, if I'm looking for something specific, I have a good idea of where it is located. The same is true when you're on the go. Try to keep your car organized  so that it's easy to find what you're looking for - whether that's a map (does anyone use those anymore) or your insurance card.
  •   Clean out your purse. I am terrible about throwing a bazillion and one things into a bag and then never cleaning it out. It's so much easier to find things on the go if you make a  habit of cleaning out your favorite handbag at least once a week. And who knows . . .you might find some treasures hidden in your bags. There's nothing better than finding forgotten money!
  • Have a plan. This is especially important if you are traveling with children. "Failing to plan is planning to fail." If you are traveling with young children, chart out necessary bathroom and food breaks along the way. This prevents you from "emergencies," which may be memorable, but certainly don't make your life easier.
  • Enlist help when needed. There's nothing wrong with enlisting a friend or family member to help you when you're on the go. My hubby helps get my little ones in and out of the car when we go to church. Although I could probably manage it on my own, it's so much easier to get  a two-year-old and two-month-old in and out of the car safely with an extra set of eyes and hands.
  • Pre-packaged Snacks - You can either buy these pre-portioned snacks at the grocery store or you can save a little cash and go ahead an divvy out your snacks into smaller snack bags. This way when you need to be out the door, you can just grab a baggie and get on your way.
  • If you don't need it, don't take it. This one may seem a bit redundant, but I've learned what is essential and what is not. Sure, I should probably take an extra outfit for my kiddos, but they probably don't need two. It's trial and error for you to determine what your family really needs. 
  • Do what you can ahead of time. If I'm going on a trip, I like to load up the stroller and accessories the night before.
  • Get a planner. Keep track of your appointments and plans so that you're not having to rush about at the last minute.
  • Download helpful apps for your smart phone. There is a plethora of helpful tools and apps that can help you when you're on the go. This can include everything from finding gas stations to finding clean, family-friendly restrooms. Take advantage of technology.
What are your tips for making life easier on the go? 


Photobucket






“I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Seattle’s Best Coffee blogging program for a gift card worth $30. For more information on how you can participate, click here.”

July 11, 2011

Ten Reasons I'd Like to Visit Virginia Beach

It's hard to believe that summer vacation is almost halfway over! When did July get here? My family just got back from visiting family in Texas last week. It was a fantastic time, but this warm weather has me wishing for a watery destination. Virginia Beach seems like a winner to me. Here are ten reasons I'd like to visit Virginia Beach:

1. My children have never seen the ocean. I'm surrounded by sand, unfortunately, it's because I live near the desert. We have the grit and the sand, but no ocean views. I'd loved for my land-locked kiddos to enjoy the beauty of the ocean.
2. I could use a romantic get-away. Everyone loves a romantic stroll on a beach. As the busy mom of two toddlers nothing sounds more appealing than sitting on a quiet beach with the husb. Ah, ocean sunsets. I think a girl could get used to that.
3. Can we build it? Yes, we can! Beaches are the perfect place to build a sandcastle. I would love to watch my family build a fantastic, sandy house. Of course, pretending to be a giant and knocking down a sandy city can be equally fun.
4. From Sand to Strawberries. You can visit Pungo and pick some yummy strawberries. This has definitely been on my to-do list. Too bad they don't have chocolate on hand. Chocolate and strawberries is one of my favorite food combinations.
5. Surrey Rentals - I did this once when I visited the Gulf of Mexico. It's fun to peddle this little Surrey around town. I think older kids would definitely get a kick out of being able to "drive" around town with the family.
6. Soaring above it all. My parents went parasailing in Hawaii a few years ago and said it was fantastic. I would love to give it a try. I'm not totally sure I can handle flying nearly 1,000 feet in the air, but it'd be worth a shot. I'm sure the views would be just beautiful.
7. Visit the Virginia Aquarium. My son loves all things fish-related. I would love to give him the opportunity to see his fishy friends up close. They also have an IMAX theater on site.
8. Expand Your Artistic Horizons - The Contemporary Art Center of Virginia offers instructional art classes for ages 2 - adult. I don't have a lot of skill in this department, but it'd be fun to admire the creative work of others!
9. Tons of Parks - The Virginia Beach area features several different parks. They'd be perfect for a picnic lunch or an afternoon of outdoor activities.
10. Food. Food. Food. I love fresh food. I'd love to sample some fresh seafood. Mmmm. I'm getting hungry just thinking about it. I'd love to just stroll along the Boardwalk sampling coastal cuisine.

I can't make it out there this year, but it seems like a great place to visit.

What are some of your favorite places to visit with your family?

Photobucket

“I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Virginia Beach Tourism blogging program, for a gift card worth $40. For more information on how you can participate, click here.”

July 5, 2011

You're not in this alone


There is nothing more powerful than moms living in community. I have loved being a part of Social Moms. It has been a great way to promote my blog and connect with other moms and great companies. They currently have over 32,000 moms involved.

When I first started my blog a year and a half ago, I wasn't completely sure where to begin. I know that I wanted to create a site that would be relevant to other moms, but I also wanted to learn how to connect with companies to learn/share about new products. Social Moms has given me the ability to earn a little extra income through blogging opportunities. In fact, I've had more opportunities through them than through any other site.

Whether you're just getting started, or your a social media pro, Social Moms is a great resource! All you need is a blog and a twitter account and you're good to go! Click here for more information!

Social Moms Social Media Toolkit


Photobucket

July 4, 2011

Parent's Choice Infant Formula Sweepstakes

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of PBM Products for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Raising a kid is expensive, especially when you begin considering the cost of a college education. The folks at Parent's Choice Infant Formula, in partnership with PBM Products, LLC, a Perrigo Company, are offering a scholarship sweepstakes in the amount of $10,000. The money will be placed in a College Savings 529 plan.

I am all for scholarship money! As the mother of two boys less than two years apart, I know it will be a challenge to pay for their college educations as they get older.

The Parent’s Choice Infant Formula Savings Sweepstakes was officially launched on June 15th and will run through 11:59 PM on August 1, 2011.

Parent's Choice is the private brand formula of Walmart and is available at Walmart locations nationwide and online at www.walmart.com For the last 13 years, Parent's Choice Infant Formula has provided families with affordable,  quality infant nutrition. It's good to know that families on a budget can still afford to provide their baby with the formula they need to get off to a great start.

For a complete list of rules, information, and an entry form, visit Parent’s Choice Infant Formula Savings Sweepstakes

Best of luck to you and your family in the sweepstakes!

Visit Sponsor's Site

June 30, 2011

Making a Difference with Yahoo! and Girls For A Change


The following is a post sponsored by Yahoo! Every time someone clicks here to make Yahoo! their homepage, they're showing their support for Girls For A Change.
I was selected for this opportunity by Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.


Do you ever feel like you don't make a difference? I know there have been many days when I have felt like what I do is of little consequence outside of my own home. After all, it's hard to save the world and be a stay-at-home mom at the same time (although there are certainly some SuperMoms out there who do!). Yahoo! has recently launched an initiative that will allow each of us to make a simple change and a huge impact! Between now and July 1st, Yahoo! will donate $10 per person (up to $10,000) to Girls For A Change when people use this link to change their homepage to Yahoo!

What is Girls For A Change? Here's how they describe themselves:

Girls For A Change (GFC) is a national organization that empowers girls to create social change. We invite young women to design, lead, fund and implement social change projects that tackle issues girls face in their own neighborhoods. GFC empowers girls for personal and social transformation. The program inspires girls to have the voice, ability and problem solving capacity to speak up, be decision makers, create visionary change and realize their full potential."
I love organizations that encourage young people to make a difference in their communities. I think a lot of times we underestimate their ability to bring about significant change due to their age, but teenagers have a lot going for them. They have the time, the opportunity, and the energy (something I'm seriously lacking these days). They still have a beautiful thing called "optimism." They really do believe they can solve the world's problems and through their ingenuity and hard work, they are doing their part to make the world a better place.

I can't go out and join the Peace Corp or teach math to inner-city kids, but I CAN switch my homepage. Remember to go through this link if you decide change your page in support of Girls For A Change (this is the link they're using to calculate how many people have made the switch!)

Photobucket

June 25, 2011

Almost FAMOUS! I need your help!

I don't frequently plead for your attention, but I'd love it if you could help me with one teeny little favor. . .

My boys and I are finalists in the "What's in the Bible" video promo contest. The winner will appear in Vol. #7 of the "What's in the Bible" series. If you haven't seen them yet, they are just outstanding. I love, love, love them.

Here's how you can help:
1. Like the "What's in the Bible" Facebook page at: http://facebook.com/WhatsintheBible
2. Click on "Video Contest" to the left of our page under the picture.
3. Click the "Vote Now" button.
4. Click on the green "Vote Now" button to vote for "More Bible Please"

The contest runs between now and June 29th. You can vote once a day if you don't have a facebook account you can also vote for my video by clicking on this link: http://bit.ly/lfrwzp and then vote for "More Bible Please."

Here's a preview of our entry:


You guys are fantastic! Thanks soooo much for your help. My little boy would be so thrilled if he turned on his "Bible" video and was able to see a character talking specifically to him. It'd be so neat! 
 

Photobucket

ShareThis