Archives for March 2012

The #CloroxLounge & The Last Comic Sitting Contest

I love to laugh. It’s my favorite way to relieve stress and just have a good time. And, with so many kids in my house, you can be sure there’s lots and lots of laughter. I have tons of stories I could tell that would keep you rolling for hours.

Clorox and SocialMoms asked me to share my funniest bathroom story with my readers in this post. I have so many I could choose from, but I think I’ll share the most recent mishap:

The first weekend of February, we moved into a new house. In the master bathroom, we have a jetted tub. Now, we have never had a jetted tub before, so this was quite entertaining to the kids. Whenever I give Lucy, Parker, and Gage a bath, I always add just a squirt of bubbles to the water. Well, the first night we were using the new bathtub, I made the mistake of leaving Lucy unattended in the bathroom for just a moment while I got the boys undressed and ready for their bath. {Safety note: She was not in the water. She was just in the bathroom, fully clothed, just watching the tub fill with water.} A minute later, I hear the jets in the tub. I laughed to myself thinking that she discovered the “magic” button and was having a good time with it.

Little did I know, she had found the bubble bath under the counter and proceeded to dump the entire bottle into the bathtub before turning the jets on. Oh my gosh. In that one minute I was out of the room, she had bubbles everywhere.

I walk back into the bathroom to see Lucy, fully clothed, sitting in a pool of bubbles in the middle of my bathroom floor.

I couldn’t be upset. After all, I was the one that left the room unattended – and she knew where the bubble bath was. After the initial shock, all we could do was laugh. Soon, I had three kids covered in bubbles helping me scoop up the bubbles off the floor and put them back near the bathtub. It was definitely a night I will never forget. {And now we keep the bubble bath way up high so we don’t have any more “accidents” like that.}

 The bathroom is definitely one of the most used rooms in our house. Now, The Clorox Lounge is making every bathroom into a “laughroom.” The Clorox Lounge is mom go-to place for comedy, and with host mom, actress, and comedian Sherri Shepherd, you are sure to find tons of hilarious stories and anecdotes. While you’re there, you’ll also find giveaways, fun contests, and coupons… all topped off with just the right amount of comic relief. I do hope you’ll take a minute and check out The Clorox Lounge for a daily dose of fun.

On February 27th, The Clorox Lounge activities started with the Last Comic Sitting Competition and Sweepstakes. In this contest, you will have an opportunity to win $10,000! All you have to do is visit The Clorox Lounge to sign up. Then, you’ll be automatically entered for a chance to win the big prize! {There are also be chances to win cool prize packs.}

Don’t miss your chance to enter to be the Last Comic Sitting and win $10,000! Hurry on over to The Clorox Lounge and get started right now.

Disclaimer: I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Clorox® blogging program, to earn My SocialMoms Rewards Points. The opinions and ideas expressed here are my own. To read more posts on this topic, click here.

After The Hunger Games

The other day, I mentioned that my daughter’s 8th grade class would be going on a field trip to see The Hunger Games. The field trip was this morning, and I had promised to update the original post with my thoughts on the movie. However, after what I witnessed today,I feel the topic deserved its own post.

First, I want to thank those that took a moment to comment on the original post. I value each of your opinions, and I respect them. I like hearing how you feel about particular situations. We may not always agree, but hearing someone else’s viewpoint can help broaden my own thoughts and opinions.

This morning was the field trip. I was told that I could attend as long as I didn’t bring the baby. Sigh. Like I’d be that dumb. Did they not read my note? I didn’t even want to have my 14 year old there. But, sure, I’ll bring my 1 year old.

After pushing thoughts of showing up with my 5 year old, my 3 year old, AND my 1 year old – just for spite – aside, I arrived at the theater in time to pay for my ticket and go in. I was the only parent allowed to attend the movie. I know many other parents wanted to go just to see the movie themselves, but I was allowed only because I had stated that if I didn’t go, Ashley didn’t go.

The movie itself wasn’t bad. Had I seen it beforehand, I probably would not have allowed Ashley to go with the school. Not because I thought it was too violent, or that she couldn’t handle it. I wish she had read the book because the book explains SO much better the reasoning behind the Hunger Games. A movie just can’t convey the detail that a book can. If she had read the book and we had the opportunity to discuss it in great detail, I would have felt much better about her seeing the movie.

It quickly became clear to me that the children in the theater had no idea what the “story” behind the movie. As we sat there, I was horrified to hear children clapping with each death – or the shouts of “Kill him!” “Slit his throat!” and other such phrases. At one point, I wanted nothing more than to grab Ashley and leave the theater. I wanted to go back in time and say that she wasn’t allowed to go on the field trip at all, and I would force her to read the book and then take her to the movie myself.

The behavior of the children during the movie was terrible. They were not mature enough to sit through the movie, and they were not mature enough to be subjected to that movie. Had they first been required to read the book and then take a test before viewing the movie, I might be singing a different tune. But they weren’t required any of that, and it was clear they were simply there to have a good time.

The first thing I did when I got home was send an email to the Superintendent. I told her basically what I’ve told you here. I know that I’m not like most parents, and that most view it as “just a movie.” That’s just not how things work in our house.

I don’t know that anything will ever come of my letter to the Superintendent. With 30 days left of school, it will probably be written off as nothing more than an upset mom having her say. And that’s fine. We’re switching school districts next year, so I won’t have to deal with this school system anymore. But, you’d better believe I will stand up for what’s right in their new school district. I’ll just be another “one of those” moms.

The movie definitely doesn’t get 2 thumbs up from me. It was good, but not fantastic. And it definitely wasn’t field trip material without a thorough study of the book prior to the movie.

Did your child see the movie? Do they understand the concept, or just view it as “just a movie”?

The Hunger Games – Thoughts & Ramblings

About a week ago, I started reading the Hunger Games Trilogy. It started with Book 1, and by the end of the book, I had chewed every single nail down to the bone. Last Friday night, I was sitting at home wishing for Book 2, and my 8th grade history teacher sent me the Kindle version so I could download it to my iPhone. I finished Book 2 yesterday and started Book 3 right away.

I am hooked. I normally don’t take the time to read anything. In fact, I’m lucky if I can thumb through a magazine and make it through a full article. But for some reason, I cannot seem to put these books down. I can’t remember the last time I remember reading a series of books as much as I have these.

I am dying to see the movie. Honestly, if it’s half as good as the first book, I’ll be blown away. I can’t wait to see it.

What I do have an issue with, though, is the fact that my daughter’s middle school sees this movie as an acceptable field trip.

I do understand when they say, “This movie has brought the childrens’ interest in reading to a whole new level.” That’s fantastic. Yes, I want my daughter to want to read. I can’t say anything against that.

What bothers me though are several other issues:

  • The movie is rated PG-13. I know that it is rated such for violence, and I know that I cannot shield my daughter from everything the world throws at her. But, in our house, it has been a rule that any movie rated PG-13 or above must first be viewed by myself or my husband and be deemed appropriate viewing for any of our children…. including our 14 year old. We at least need to know what they are getting into. These are middle school kids. Not high school. Middle school.
  • The fact that the permission said “Chaperones are not needed on this trip.” That one sentence burns me up. Hundreds of 7th and 8th graders, and they don’t need chaperones? Really? I don’t think so.

So, I sent a note to my daughter’s school with the permission slip that said if I don’t go, she won’t be at school that day. Not because of my desire to go see the movie myself, but because I haven’t had the chance to preview the movie. If I think Ashley needs to leave the theater, I want to be there to allow her a way out – and a way home.

Do I think that she’s going to need to leave the theater? Probably not. I’ve heard really good things about the movie. But, this is a very strong conviction that I have, and if I waiver, what have I taught my daughter? Sin is ok if….

My husband, Ashley, and I all sat down last night and discussed everything. She understands my feelings, and told me that she expected it. She knew she wouldn’t get to see the movie without me seeing it first – that’s just how things have always been. I am so thankful she doesn’t fight me on this. She wouldn’t, though. This is what she knows, and she’s ok with it. I am so blessed to have a daughter that stands on her own convictions and respects the wishes of her parents…. usually. 😉 She is a teenage girl afterall.

My letter went to the school this morning, and by 8:10, I had a text message from Ashley’s teacher. I am more than welcome to come to the theater, I just need to meet them there at the appointed time. I feel much better knowing that I’ll be there and that the school isn’t going to fight me on this. Truth be told, if they hadn’t allowed me to come, I would have kept Ashley home that day and taken her to the theater myself later in the day. But we would have gone together.

What are your thoughts? Did your child go see The Hunger Games for a field trip? Have you seen the movie? Talk to me…

I will edit this post after the movie on Friday and let you know my thoughts. Here’s hoping it’s as intriguing as the book.

Baby Anti Monkey Butt {Review – Ends 4/15}

Having lots of little monkeys around here, I deal with an awful lot of monkey butt. Having one in diapers, I feel like I am constantly battling some kind of rash or irritation on Gage’s little bottom.

I’ve been using Baby Anti Monkey Butt powder and paste on Gage’s butt for a couple of weeks now, and I love what it’s done for his skin. There are no more signs of monkey butt anywhere. Just a soft, smooth baby bottom – just like there should be.

The Baby Anti Monkey Butt Diaper line offers up something special that I haven’t seen before: Calamine. Baby Anti Monkey Butt diaper rash cream has a unique formula that utilizes the power of calamine and zinc oxide the prevent and heal delicate skin that’s irritated. It seals out wetness, and prevents soreness, itchiness, and redness {aka “monkey butt”} that infants and toddlers experience from wearing diapers.

Baby Anti Monkey Butt powder has a powerful combination of calamine and cornstarch that works together to absorb moisture, minimize discomfort, and treat irritation. It’s a fresh-scented powder that’s as soft as silk, and it keeps baby both dry and happy.

I am super impressed with how well Baby Anti Monkey Butt powder and paste has worked on Gage’s super delicate skin. Before, we were dealing with rash after rash. Now, I haven’t seen the slightest hint of irritation. I’ve also found that it works well on the bigger kids too. We had a bout with the flu recently, and poor Parker couldn’t seem to stay out of the bathroom. his little butt was rubbed raw from the toilet paper. A little dab of Baby Anti Monkey Butt, and he was feeling better in no time.

I would definitely recommend Baby Anti Monkey Butt products to moms of infants and toddlers. These are my diaper bag essentials, and I don’t go anywhere without them anymore.

Do you think your little monkey has cuteness cornered? Right now you can enter the Cutest Little Monkey Photo Sweeps on the Anti Monkey Butt Facebook page. Prizes include a Babies R Us shopping spree, fun monkey-themed baby gear, and Baby Monkey Butt products. But you have to hurry! The contest ends March 29th! Click HERE to enter to win.

Want to try Anti Monkey Butt products on your monkeys?

Buy It: Visit the Anti Monkey Butt website and start shopping. They’ve got something for Every”Butt”y on their website – from the teeniest bottom to the not-so-tiny. You can also find Anti Monkey Butt products at Buy Buy Baby in addition to Walgreens, Walmart, and Babies R Us. The Baby Anti Monkey Butt Diaper Rash Powder sells for a suggested retail price of $5.99 and the cream for $6.45.

Enter to Win! One lucky winner from Blessed Beyond Words will win their choice of Baby Anti Monkey Butt Powder or Paste. Just use the Rafflecopter Gadget Below to enter.


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Disclaimer: I received a sample of the products mentioned above from Robin Leedy & Associates on behalf of Anti Monkey Butt in order to facilitate my honest review. Opinions expressed are 100% my own. I have not been compensated for this post in any other way.

Udi’s Gluten Free Foods {Review}

I don’t post an awful lot about being gluten-free here on my blog. I do know that I’ve mentioned several times, though, that my 7 year old Jace is gluten-intolerant. I discovered his sensitivity to gluten after reading a book I reviewed here on the blog. {You can read that review here.}

I have to really limit Jace’s intake of Gluten, so I try to buy as many Gluten-free products as I can find. One brand I hadn’t had the option to try yet is Udi’s.

Until now!

Udi’s recently sent me a box of yummy goodies to test out and review with Jace. Boy, oh boy, was Jace ever excited when he found out this review was just for him. Inside the box, we found Snickerdoodle Cookies, Brownie Bites, Chocolate Chia Muffin Tops, and Blueberry Oat Muffin Tops. I could see Jace’s mouth watering as he looked over everything inside.

Because I don’t want Jace to feel like we’ve singled him out, I will often eat whatever he’s eating. {That way if he says something is gross, I’ll know if it really is.}

After he took a few bites of the Udi’s, he didn’t want to share. 🙂 It was so great to see him actually love something that I knew was good for him.

I did end up getting him to hand over a Snickerdoodle cookie. Oh my goodness. If I didn’t know they were gluten free, I never would have guessed it to be true. They tasted just like the Snickerdoodle cookies that Joan White used to make after school when we were kids. So so good. Soft, chewy, moist, and just delicious. Over the next week or so, he allowed me to sample other items too. Every item was delicious, and knowing they were gluten free – and that the muffin tops were full of 10 essential vitamins and minerals – made them even sweeter.

I found out that my husband’s store – as well as many other Ingles stores – carry Udi’s Gluten Free products. I’m so excited because now I can call him and ask him to grab a few items for Jace on his way home any time I need to. {By the way, their bread is amazing. It looks AND tastes just like “real” bread. I didn’t get any with this review, but after tasting the items in the review, I decided to try more of their items on my own.}

There are several facts about UDi’s Gluten Free Foods I want to share with you:

  • They are the #1 gluten free baked goods brand.
  • Their Gluten Free products are now in 150 Wal-Mart stores across the country.
    • Wal-Mart will carry 5 of Udi’s best-selling products in the bakery department: soft white bread, soft whole grain bread, plain bagels, chocolate chip cookies, and pizza crust.
    • To see if there is a Wal-Mart near you that carries Udi’s, check out their store locator: www.udisglutenfree.com/stores

I am super impressed with Udi’s gluten-free products, and so is my son, Jace. We will definitely continue to purchase Udi products for our household. I would also highly recommend Udi’s products to anyone that is gluten-free or is considering going that route. These products taste so good, you’ll actually wonder if they really are gluten free!

To learn more, connect with Udi’s in the following ways:

Disclaimer: I received the products mentioned above from Udi’s in order to facilitate my review. Opinions expressed are 100% my own. I have not been compensated for this post in any other way.

Clean+Green Furniture Refresher {Review – Ends 4/12}

Recently, our household welcomed a furry new member. We call her Rotten because, well, within the first few hours of having her, we had her spoiled rotten. She slept anywhere she wanted to: cradled in Lucy’s arms, at the foot of our bed, on the couch… we even found her sound asleep on the dining room table. Crazy kitten.

When it comes to having pets in the house, one thing I am *super* picky about is the smell that animals can bring. If someone walks into my home, I want to make sure our new kitten isn’t the first thing they smell. That’s why I love Clean+Green’s Furniture Refresher. In just seconds, my couch smells brand new again, and I don’t have to worry if anyone can smell any trace of the cat.

There are many other things I love about Clean+Green:

  • Clean+Green products are safe for people, pets, and the planet. They use an all-natural formula that delivers instant results that are safe, non-toxic, and eco-friendly.
  • Clean+Green products use a patented formula that eliminates stain and odor on contact. {Odors like skunk odor!} Their products naturally biodegrade the stain or odor source.
  • Ingredients in Clean+Green products include cane sugar derivatives, a special blend of botanical extracts, hydrated cellulose, purified water, and a natural aerosol propellant {nitrogen}.
  • Their products are safe on all water-safe surfaces, are non-flammable, non-corrosive, non-carcinogenic, and are 100% biodegradable.
  • Your satisfaction is guaranteed with money back guarantee. I love when companies stand behind their products.

I am so thankful for the Clean+Green Furniture Refresher, especially now that we have Rotten. It has made me one very happy pet owner knowing that people can walk into my home and not smell that we have a kitten in the house.

To learn more about Clean+Green and all the products available, visit www.odorandstainremover.com. You can also become a fan on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.

Want to try out Clean+Green for yourself?

Buy It: Head to www.odorandstainremover.com and start shopping. They have products geared toward dogs, cats, birds, and other small animals.

Win it: Use the Rafflecopter gadget below and enter to win one item from their shop.


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Disclaimer: I received the product mentioned above in order to facilitate my review. Opinions expressed are 100% my own after using the product in my own home. I have not been compensated for this post in any other way. Clean+Green is sponsoring this giveaway.

Parenting Discussion: Baby Etiquette & RSV Protection

Have you ever dealt with RSV? {Respiratory Syncytial Virus}

Thankfully, none of my children have had RSV, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t seen it firsthand.

Before I got married, I worked in the infant room of a daycare center. One of the little boys under my care ended up with RSV. His case was so severe that he was hospitalized for weeks. It ended up being months before he had completely recovered from the virus. I remember how scared his parents were – constant hospital visits, doctors visits, watching their baby gasp for air. I just couldn’t image what they were going through. He did pull through, though, and I’ve kept in touch with his parents over the years. He is now a strong, healthy 11 year old.

A few years ago, I had many complications with my pregnancy with Parker. After he was born, things started to get worse. Because he was so tiny and had so many complications, the doctor was afraid he could contract RSV and it could be severe.

I couldn’t help but think of that sweet little boy from all those years ago and everything he and his parents endured because of RSV. I was determined that I would keep Parker as safe as I possibly could – which isn’t easy when you’ve got 4 older children.

The first month of Parker’s life, he and I didn’t leave the house. When Gene or the kids came home, they immediately washed their hands before coming near the baby. It was an incredibly difficult first month of his life, but it was worth every moment, and I would do it all again just to keep him safe.

I know that when a family has a new baby, everyone wants to see the baby, hold the baby, and just share their love with their family. The problem is that RSV is a very common virus and it can spread very easily.

If you are a new parent, it’s OK to ask that people not come over. You are not being rude, you are simply protecting your baby. If you are interested in a “Open Letter” that you can share with friends and family, I have one that I would be happy to send you. Just email me and let me know you would like a copy.

Now, to the friends and family of the newly expanded family:

  • If new parents aren’t ready for visitors, don’t be offended. Show your love and support in other ways. Do laundry, bring dinner, send a card. That way you can show them you care, but you can still respect their efforts to keep their baby safe from germs those first crucial months.
  • If you are invited to the home of the new baby, you *must* know how to act and prepare for that visit. Wash your hands often, and always ask before you touch the baby. If you have been sick recently, have been exposed to an illness, or if you think you might be getting sick, you’d best stay at home. Postponing your visit would be best if there’s any chance you are carrying germs.
  • Call before you visit. Never just stop by. New parents need time to get into a routine and bond with their new baby.
  • Leave your toddlers at home – especially during the winter. Young children that are in day care or preschool often carry germs and viruses like RSV that can spread easily.
  • Remember that parents know best…. even if they are new parents to their first baby, and you have 5 children. A parent has a right to protect their child’s heath in any way they seem appropriate. It is never our place to judge, but to support and love the family in any other way that we can.

Here are facts about RSV that every parent, caregiver, and loved one should be aware of:

  • Almost every baby will contract RSV by the age of 2, but only 1/3 of moms say they’ve even heard of the virus.
  • Serious RSV infection is the number one cause of hospitalization in infants. It is responsible for more than 125,000 hospitalizations and up to 500 infant deaths each year.
  • RSV occurs in epidemics from fall through spring. The CDC has defined RSV season as November through March for most of North America.
  • There is no treatment for RSV. That’s why it’s so important for parents to take any precautions to protect their child.
  • Certain babies are at an increased risk of developing a serious RSV infection, so parents should speak with their child’s pediatrician to determine if their baby may be at a high risk for RSV and what steps they can take to help prevent their child from contracting the virus.
  • Symptoms of serious RSV infection include persistent coughing/wheezing; rapid, difficult breathing or gasping breaths; blue color on the lips, mouth or under fingernails; high fever; extreme fatigue; and difficulty feeding. If your baby shows and of these symptoms, contact a medical professional immediately.

I hope you will take a few moments to check out the RSVProtection website to learn more about RSV and ways to prevent it.

Disclaimer: I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of MedImmune and received promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Up For the MaxClarity Challenge

As the mom of a teenage girl, I know firsthand that acne can quickly send her self esteem out the window. What we see as just a little pimple can feel like the end of the world to a teenager. I was the same way when I was a teen, and my parents tried everything they could find to help eliminate my acne problems. I started wearing makeup at 13 just to cover up my problem areas. My daughter is 14, and she has no desire to wear makeup yet. {Her morning routine is already 2 hours long. Could you imagine what it will be if she starts applying makeup every day?}

That being said, though, there are many times when she’ll wish that she wore makeup, just to hide the acne. Certain days are worse than others, and when she gets a major breakout, she wants to hide in her room until it passes.

We are both so excited about taking the MaxClarity Challenge. I may be 30-something, but it seems my acne has only gotten worse as time has gone on. There are days when I look more like a pimply-faced teenager than I do a mom of 6. I hate it.

I’ve been checking out the MaxClarity website quite a bit lately, and I have to say that I am really impressed with the system – and with the results others have had. And I love that there are only 2 simple steps, twice a day. Even a teenager can handle that! {Even MY teenager can handle that, and it won’t add a whole lot of time into her already hectic morning routine.} No getting up extra early just to be able to follow through with the MaxClarity program.

I was also impressed by the MaxClarity Difference Team and the MaxClarity Difference Promise. MaxClarity offers an entire Customer Service Team  that will have your back. With 60 members, there is always someone available to answer your questions and discuss any concerns you have. In addition to their excellent customer service, they also have a research team dedicated to bring us new acne innovations and the best in skin care science. It’s nice to know the company truly stands behind their product and wants to offer their consumers a product that works well – and a product that works quickly. MaxClarity is a foam-based acne medicine. It’s the first and only non-prescription acne-fighting foam system. The foam goes deep below the skin, allowing it to work for all skin types, as well as for people of all ages. {That’s what excited me the most!}

Participating in this Challenge is only going to do good things for my daughter’s confidence. If we can get rid of those trouble spots, she’ll feel better about herself, and she won’t feel the desire to hide in her room for days on end. Ashley is a very responsible girl, and I’m certain that adding the MaxClarity program to her morning and night time routine is only going to make her feel more responsible. And if she sees results quickly, it will encourage her even more to stick with the program.

I know my daughter is going to strangle me when she discovers that I put up this picture, but I wanted to give you a before shot of her problem areas:

As you can see, her forehead, cheeks, and chin are where she has the most trouble. I can’t wait to see what the MaxClarity Challenge does for her skin – and her confidence.

In the coming weeks, I’ll post an update about how the MaxClarity Challenge has worked for Ashley, and I promise to include pictures of the results.

While you wait for that, I hope you’ll take some time to get to know more about MaxClarity and all they offer. You can learn more by visiting their website, following them on twitter, and becoming a fan on Facebook.

 

Disclaimer: I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of MaxClarity and received a product sample to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Why Can’t I Just Trust Him to Take Care of It?

Last week, the day before Gage’s party – and also the day before I was scheduled to take family pictures for my best friend AND pictures of my Grandparents and the kids, I blew up my photography studio light. And I mean I truly blew it up. I plug it into the outlet, and sparks came flying out of the light. Craziest, scariest thing I have ever seen. I tried to turn it back on, and nothing. No flash. No light. No sign of power.

Immediately, I burst into tears. How was I going to take pictures for everyone? How was I ever going to replace this $350 light? We don’t have that kind of money. Not right now, anyway.

I immediately started praying. “Lord, I can’t fix this light. I can’t afford to replace it. I can’t do anything to make this situation any better. You have to take care of this for me. I was so certain it was your will that I finally open my photography studio back up, and this happens. If this isn’t meant to be, I’m ok with that. I just need a clear answer.”

The next day, I used my flash to take portraits for my best friend as well as for the grandparents. The pictures turned out quite well, and my best friend says she absolutely loved her family portrait. God worked that all out.

The next day, I found out about a local photographer that was shutting down her business. She decided to sell everything. I happened to ask her if she had a light for sale, and she did – for $150. That’s $200 less than it would have cost me just to replace the light I blew up.

I didn’t have $100, so I started praying again. “Lord, this is an amazing opportunity. She has the exact light I need at a much more reasonable price. I know I don’t have the money right now, so I’m just going to trust that you will provide, and when the time is right, I’ll be able to purchase the light.”

The very next morning, I woke up to find $150 had been sent to my paypal address during the night for design jobs I had done for people over the last 2 weeks. Talk about an answer to prayer. He provided every single penny I needed to purchase the light. Plus, I already had some money in Paypal, so not only was I able to get the light, I was also able to get several new backdrops and props – and I was still $150 less than if I had purchased a brand new light.

I don’t know why I can’t just trust God to take control. I’m always so surprised when he works every detail out and makes His plan clear. I know that I am supposed to open the studio back up. He has made that abundantly clear. But after 5 years of having to resort to only shooting weddings or on-location shoots, it was so hard to believe that everything could just work out and I’d be able to open my doors again.

I am so good at putting everything in God’s hands, but then I think I either need to figure out how to ‘fix” it on my own, or I fret and worry about how He’s going to work it all out. I can never seem to just let go and let Him work it out according to His plan. And when He DOES answer my prayers, I’m actually surprised. Why can’t I just have faith that He will take care of it all?

Do you find yourself surprised when God answers your prayers? Or is it easy for you to just Let Go and Let God?

The Brother P-Touch Challenge – My Final Thoughts

In August, I first posted about the Brother P-Touch Challenge. I was sent a P-Touch labeling system, and was told to make over a room in my house. In October, I showed you the results of my Basement Makeover. I absolutely loved the basement’s new look, and it was SO nice to have a clearly labeled space to work in while the kids played down there.

At the end of January, my husband and I moved into a new home. This home has a much larger basement, and WAY more space for everyone to move around. We kept a living room/play area in the basement for the kids. This confines their mess to one area, and I don’t have to worry about toys all over the house. Plus, we have lots of room for lots of bins and boxes, each clearly labeled with the appropriate child’s name for their toys.

{I also want to interject: I LOVED having the P-Touch while packing for the move! I labeled every box, and I didn’t have to worry about any of the labels falling off any of the boxes during the move. Everything arrived safe and sound, and each box was put in the proper room.}

I am super impressed with how these labels have held up since I did the original Basement Makeover last fall. I’ve not had a single label fall off, and if you look closely at the labels, they still look as good as they did the day I put them on. Here, take a look for yourself:

See? It’s still perfect! I haven’t had a single problem with any of the labels.

Now I want to take a few minutes and show you my new basement and workspace:

My new workspace - everything is perfectly labeled, neat, and organized!

I love, love, love coming down here to work!

My "best" friend - and favorite labeler!

The kids still have a play area {with a few boxes of toys}. The rest of the tubs and boxes are in the storage area behind the tv. Keeps everything so organized!

Here's the storage area with lots more labeled tubs and boxes.

I will say it again and again: I LOVE my P-Touch label machine! I haven’t had a single problem with any of the labels, and my P-Touch labeler works as well as it did the first time I used it.

This is my new go-to gift for “the person who has everything.” If they don’t have a P-Touch labeler, they NEED to have one. I love mine, and I use it all the time – for anything and everything.

{Another side note: We added labels to the boys’ matching scooters they got for Christmas so they could tell them apart. Even with them constantly playing on them outside, the labels are still perfectly in tact and look fantastic.}

A HUGE thank you to Mom Central and Brother for allowing me the opportunity to participate in this campaign. I have really enjoyed it.

What do you think of my new workspace?

Disclaimer: I wrote this review while participating in a campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Brother P-Touch and received a product and gift card to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.

“What’s for Dinner?” It’s Hamburger Helper! { #MyBlogSpark Ends 4/6}

Do you ever find yourself staring at your pantry contents and asking yourself, “What in the world am I going to make for dinner tonight?”

Luckily, Hamburger Helper has got your back! They’ve been around for 40 years no, and they make dinner time easy. There are so many different varieties to choose from, and there’s something to please even the pickiest eater.

Recently, Hamburger Helper introduced 2 new varieties: Ultimate Beef Stroganoff and Cheesy Italian Beef. They sent me a box of each kind to try out with my family, along with some other fun goodies: a really nice serving plate, a slotted spoon, and a gorgeous trivet.

The Ultimate Beef Stroganoff won top scores with my husband. He loves Beef Stroganoff, and he was pleasantly surprised how much this tasted like homemade. Sure, it’s hamburger meat instead of beef chunks, but the sour cream flavored sauce was really good, and this was FAR easier to make than homemade Beef Stroganoff.

Ashley preferred the Cheesy Italian Beef option. She loved the flavorings used in the sauce, and that it was so cheesy.

With my other kids, I just need to say, “Who wants Hamburger Helper for dinner?” and there are smiles and cheers all around.

What do I love most about Hamburger Helper? I LOVE how easy it is to make. With 8 people in our family, it feels like we’re constantly trying to come up with a quick dinner before running out the door again. I mix together 3 boxes of Hamburger Helper, meat, milk, and water, and 20 minutes later, we’re ready for dinner. Hamburger Helper is my go-to meal when we need dinner fast. We are definitely adding the two new varieties into our routine.

If you love Hamburger Helper as much as I do, be sure to grab this coupon: $0.70 off One Box of Hamburger Helper

Also be sure to enter the giveaway to win a Hamburger Helper Prize Pack of your very own. To enter, just use the Rafflecopter Gadget below.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: The Hamburger Helper New Varieties information, product, and prize pack have been provided free of charge by Betty Crocker® and General Mills®, through MyBlogSpark. Opinions expressed are 100% my own. I have not been compensated for this post in any other way.

Baby’s First Birthday

Gage turned 1 on Sunday. I can hardly believe an entire year has passed. I know every mom says that it “feels like yesterday”… but it really, really does.

My plan was to have a low-key party for him. Mostly family and really no big deal. 2 weeks before the party, that all changed. I ended up with almost 40 people in my house for his party.

It was SUCH a great day. Gage wasn’t so thrilled about having 40 people watching him blow out his candles, and he absolutely refused to touch his cake, but he loved opening presents and being passed from person to person.

I was thrilled with how everything turned out. The decorations were my favorite part:

And look how sweet his cake was:

Too bad THIS is what ended up happening when we tried to feed him the cake:

But, that’s ok. It meant *I* got some of his cake. 🙂

If you want to see all the pictures I took at the party, you can see them here: Gage’s 1st Birthday

To close out the post, I’ll share my handsome 1 year old boy with you all:

Glasses.com Website Review

Recently I was asked to check out Glasses.com and share the website with my readers. I’m always looking for new places to order glasses.

In my home, 4 of the 8 of us wear glasses: myself, my husband, my 14 year old daughter Ashley, and my 8 year old son Zander. I cannot tell you how many pairs of glasses we go through every year. Zander was sitting in class at school the other day, and his lens popped out for no explanation. So, I always need resources on hand for reliable places to order glasses. You can even shop sunglasses at Glasses.com.

There are several things I really like about Glasses.com:

  • Their prices are incredibly reasonable. With frames starting at just $29, there are options for every budget.
  • FREE shipping. {Need I say more?!}
  • They offer a satisfaction guarantee. If you don’t like your glasses, just send them back – they’ll even cover the cost of shipping.
  • They offer a virtual try-on option that is TONS of fun to play with. {Seriously. You need to check it out!}
  • They even have an option for a home try-on service. You can order several frames to try on at home before you make a purchase.
  • Their standard lens features include scratch resistant, no glare, and lightweight options. Most places charge you upgrade fees for those.
  • The look and feel of their website is crisp, clean, and easy to find exactly what you’re looking for.

I am super impressed with the Glasses.com website and I can’t wait to use them for my next order.

I hope you will take some time and check out Glasses.com for yourself. Even if you don’t wear prescription glasses, you can still check out their line of sunglasses – Glasses.com/sunglasses/.

Disclaimer: I have been compensated for this post. However, opinions expressed are 100% my own based on spending time on their website. Glasses.com is sponsoring this review.

Winners Page Updated!

I am SO far behind. With Gage’s birthday being tomorrow, I have been swamped, and I feel like I cannot catch my breath.  As I type this post, a new floor is being put in my dining room… and yes, it’s ONE DAY until Gage’s birthday party.

I did want to let you know that I’ve finally picked winners for the following giveaways:

  • 80Bites Diet Membership
  • Nature’s Path Love Crunch Granola
  • Cranberry Naturals
  • Shabby Apple Bali Hai Dress

I’ve sent an email to every winner, and if prizes are not claimed by Monday, March 12th at noon ET, new winners will be selected.

Not sure if you won? Check the winner’s page for more details.

The Juppy Baby Walker {Ends 3/25}

Helping a baby learn to walk can be challenging. And that’s putting it mildly. I’m in the process of watching my 6th child learn to walk, and each time you forget just how difficult it can be.

Most of my kids have been stubborn and refuse to let me hold their hands and help them walk. And with the children that would allow me to hold their hands, I remember how badly it hurt my back to be hunched over to help them.

Recently I was introduced to The Juppy Baby Walker. This is one product I wish I had with all of my children when they were younger. The amount of strain this little product has saved my back is incredible.

When I heard the term “baby walker,” my mind went to the thought of teh wheeled walkers that are so dangerous for children. The Juppy is anything but that!

Take a look at how adorable Gage looks in his Juppy:

He LOVES it! He will let me, my husband, or Ashley walk him around all day. And isn’t it adorable? I love the colors. My favorite part is that they personalized it with his name.

Take a look at how the Juppy works:

If Gage finds the Juppy lying around the house, he’ll pick it up and bring it to me – no matter where I am or what I’m doing. Or, if I happen to pull it out, he’ll sit on the floor, bounce up and down, and clap his hands. I’ve never seen him get so excited about anything.

The Juppy is a safe and secure way to help your child learn to walk: without the need to hold onto your hands and hurt your back in the process. The straps are adjustable, so you can use them no matter how tall you are {or aren’t!}, and the material is super soft. Gage never seems like he’s uncomfortable in it.

I am super impressed with the Juppy and would highly recommend it to anyone that has a baby that is – or soon will be – learning to walk. It would also make a great baby shower gift if you know someone that’s expecting. Available in pink, blue, or black, the Juppy is perfect for any baby. Right now you can order a Juppy for just $29.95, and have it personalized for just $6.95 more. It also comes with a really nice carrying case, so you can take the Juppy out and about with you. It’s a great price and worth every penny.

There are several ways you can connect with Juppy:

I also want to let you know that the Juppy needs our help! Wal-mart is having a contest called “Get on the Shelf.” It started on the 7th of this month, and fans can cast their vote for their favorite products. The grand prize winner will earn a spot on Wal-Mart shelves! I truly believe the Juppy belongs on the shelves of our local Wal-mart stores, and I hope you’ll take a moment to help. VOTE HERE

How would you like to try the Juppy for yourself and your baby? The wonderful folks from Juppy are offering up a Juppy Baby Walker to one lucky reader. You get your choice of pink or blue, and you also have the option to have your Juppy personalized.

To enter, use the Rafflecopter gadget below.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: I received a Juppy Baby Walker in order to facilitate my review. Opinions expressed are 100% my own. I have not been compensated for this post in any other way. Juppy is sponsoring the giveaway.

Parenting Advice: Grocery Shopping with Kids

I received the following email the other day, and after getting permission from the writer, I thought I would post it here and share it with all of you.

Dear Angie,
Lately every time I take my 3 year old to the grocery store, something goes terribly wrong. Either he screams the entire time, throws a fit, or he just won’t behave. Since you have 6 kids, and I know you take them to the grocery store with you most of the time, I was hoping you could give me some advice.
Sincerely,
Hates Going to the Grocery Store

It is true, 99% of the time when I go to the grocery store, I have anywhere from 3 – 6 kids with me. Without fail, every time I go, someone makes a comment about shopping with six kids. Sometimes the comments are unnecessary: “Better you than me.” or “God Bless You.” or “You certainly have your hands full.” But most of the time, people are amazed at how well behaved my children are while we’re in the store.

Can I let you in on a little secret? It’s really a whole lot easier to go to the store with all 6 kids than it is to just take the 3 youngest. Really.

Let’s see what advice I can give to my reader – and to anyone who may be struggling whenever it comes to grocery shopping with kids.

First, at 3 years old, your child is old enough to know what’s acceptable and what’s not. Does that mean he’s always going to do what’s acceptable? Absolutely not. He’s 3. He’s going to push every boundary he can find and see how long it takes for you to give into him.

Here’s what I suggest:

  • Before you even get out of the car, talk about what you expect while in the store. {I do this with my kids.} If I don’t have the extra money to get them anything, I let them know that they aren’t even to ask for it. We stick to our list, and that’s it. If it’s not on the list, I don’t get it.
  • Let your little one help you with the list. My 3 year old Parker loves to cross off the items as we put them in the cart. It keeps him quiet, entertained, and it keeps ME happy.
  • If your child starts acting out, nip it in the bud immediately… and not by giving him a toy or candy. My children get the look if they start acting up. Believe me, they know that I mean business when I give them the eye. If it continues, I say one word: Enough. If it continues past that, I make the older children walking behind me hold hands and start singing. Only once has it ever gotten that far, and it embarrassed them so much that I’ve never had to do it again. Try singing with your child. I’m not saying to do it to embarrass yourself, but rather to distract him. If you start singing “If you’re happy and you know it..” he may join right in and forget all about the fit he was throwing.
  • Take a snack into the store with you. Back when my oldest was a baby, I purchased a container at Babies R Us that snaps to the front handle of a shopping cart. I’ve used it for every child since then. Best investment I ever made. He can feed himself Cheerios, Raisins, or whatever you want to put into the container.
  • If your child still continues to misbehave, and you are at your wits end, LEAVE the store. Take your cart to the nearest employee, apologize that you have to leave, and walk out. I KNOW it’s a huge inconvenience to have to go back to the store later, but you need to decide which is worse: Making a scene or walking out. If your child no longer has an audience, he’s not going to act out anymore. And when he realizes how upset you are that you have to leave, he may not want to pull that stunt again.
  • Don’t ever go to the grocery store near a feeding time or a nap time… or if you know your child is already upset – unless you absolutely have to. I know it can’t always be avoided, but try to plan your day around his schedule.
  • Have everything ready for your trip ahead of time: Make a list of what you need, have coupons organized and ready, and do it. Going without a list can wreak the most havoc on a child. They don’t want to be there anymore than you do, but if you have a list and know what you need, it’s so much easier to get in and get out.
  • One last thing: Our local store has special car carts. If I don’t want my child to have a car cart, I don’t even go in the door where they are usually parked. I’ll start my shopping at the other end of the store. Out of sight, out of mind usually works.

I hope those tips help you out. I’m not saying that every trip to the grocery store if fun or even pleasant – but it doesn’t have to be an absolute nightmare.

What advice would you give to my reader?

If you have something you want parenting advice about, please use the contact me link and let me know.

If You Were Attending a Photography Talk…

What would you expect the person speaking to discuss?

The reason I ask is because I will be doing the speaking at my local MOPS group next Thursday night, and I’m having a hard time narrowing down a specific topic to discuss.

In December, I gave a short photography “teaser.” I offered the moms at our meeting 7 tips for taking better photographs. It was short, to the point, and was a ton of fun. There were even handouts!

But now, I’ve got to come up with enough discussion to cover at least 45 minutes. I could talk about photography for hours on end, but I need to hone in on a specific topic.

So, I’m coming to my wonderful readers. You always have the best ideas, and I KNOW you can help me out.

I will not be standing in a room of professional photographers. I’ll be talking to moms who want to get better pictures of their kids. Most of them will be using point and shoot cameras. I want to be able to help them get the most from their cameras and take the best pictures possible.

So, if you were going to a photography talk, what would you hope the photographer would share? What questions would you ask the photographer?

Do you think it would make sense to bring along my 6 kids and use them as props? I can show different poses, and such. Would that benefit you if you were at the meeting?

Help me out, friends. I’ve got one week to come up with something awesome. 🙂

Join Me for the #CerealDay Twitter Party TODAY! {3 – 4pm ET}

I am always honored when MomCentral asks me to co-host one of their fabulous twitter parties. I always have SO much fun!

Today’s twitter party is all about Cereal! We’ll discuss National Cereal Day, our morning routines, and healthy breakfast options.

Here are all the must-know details for today’s party:

Date: Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Time: 3–4 pm EST
Moderator: @MomCentral
Assistant Moderators: @StacyDeBroff, @DadCentral & @MomCentralChat
Guests: @GenMillsBellIns, @pediRD
Hashtag: #CerealDay
Prizes: 2 pre-party winners will win $50 Amazon gift code and 6 winners during the party will win $50 Amazon gift codes. Also, anyone who follows @GenMillsBellIns will be entered to win one of six cases of Cheerios!
TweetGrid: http://bit.ly/zmQZry

More details can be found here.

Don’t know what a Twitter Party is or haven’t been a part of one before? No worries! I’ve written a post that will help you out. Read it here: What is a twitter party?

Be sure to follow me on twitter.

Hope to see you this afternoon from 3 – 4pm ET.

Tornadoes… In The Mountains!

My husband and I had been planning a date night for weeks. Last Friday night was supposed to be “our” night. We were going to head up to Murphy, NC and eat at Brother’s Restaurant. Then, we’d spend some time shopping – hitting the shoe stores, Big Lots, Walmart, and anywhere else we wanted to go. I was finally going to be able to swing into Cato’s and buy some pants that fit me. {Mine are so big now! Yay!}

I have no idea why, but hubby and I gave up our date night and decided to take the boys to see The Lorax that night… in Hiawassee, GA.

What we didn’t know is how one little decision to stay out of Murphy may have saved us from danger… or potential death.

Friday night, a tornado tore through Murphy, NC, destroying as much as it could. It ripped roofs off buildings, picked up semi trailers and threw them into fields, ripped houses apart, uprooted trees, and damaged buildings.

We live in the mountains. As gullible as I am, I assumed a tornado could never gather enough speed or strength to touch down in the mountains.

Boy, was I wrong.

Saturday afternoon, I went up to Murphy to see the damage. I wanted to visit the party store and grab a few items for Gage’s party, and I needed to run into Walmart to grab some essentials.

My heart broke to see the damage that happened everywhere. So many lives were changed in a matter of minutes. What scared me the most is that my husband and I could have been right in the middle of it. As I drove through, I couldn’t help but think of the phrase, “But for the Grace of God…”

But for the Grace of God, my husband and I were miles away from where the tornado touched down.

But for the Grace of God, not a single soul was killed or injured in all the devastation.

But for the Grace of God, everything will be ok again.

At Walmart, I got out of the car and snapped a few pictures…. look what happens when a tornado rips through the mountains:






On my Facebook Fan page, I’ll share a link to more photos of the damage. I couldn’t even get to where the party store was at, the damage was so bad. 🙁

I am so thankful that no one was hurt in the tornado. My thoughts and prayers are still with the families, employees, and everyone working to rebuild their lives, homes, and businesses after the storm.

Personal items can be replaced…. people can’t.

I know tornadoes ripped through much of the Midwest last week. Prayers to every person affected by the storms… whether you were actually involved in them, or if it was someone you love.

My Thoughts on The Lorax

I am a huge Dr. Seuss fan. In fact, there are many of his books that I have memorized just because I’ve read them so many times.

One book I haven’t read, though, is The Lorax. I’m not sure why I’ve never read it… aside from the fact that I didn’t even know it existed.

the loraxWhen word came out that The Lorax was coming to theaters, I knew we’d have to go just to see what it was all about.

I’ll be honest: The cast didn’t impress me much. I can’t stand Zac Effron or Taylor Swift. But, knowing I wouldn’t have to stare at their faces throughout the movie definitely helped with that. I do, however, love Betty White…. I just knew she’d add a special touch to the movie.

Last night was the girls’ turn to spend the night at their MawMaw and PapPaw’s house. Normally, hubby and I would leave all the kids for a few hours and go on a date. But, the boys and I all really wanted to see The Lorax, so we decided to drop the girls off and take the boys to see the movie.

Expecting the show to sell out, we headed to the theater early to get tickets. We took the boys out for pizza and then went into the theater.

We were in the largest theater there is around here, and I was surprised that there weren’t more people there to see the movie. It was less than half full. {Of course, as the lights went down and the movie started, more people came in – because no one can ever be on time for anything around here.}

The movie started, and Parker’s eyes lit up. For a 3 year old, a movie is a very big deal. He had his little box of popcorn on his lap, and he looked like he was in heaven.

I never heard another sound from him until the movie was over.

I just wish I could say the same thing about all the other kids in the theater… but I digress…

I absolutely loved the movie. There were a few slow parts, and my husband fell asleep at one point, but overall, it was an excellent movie.

My favorite part was the music – even though I don’t care at all for either of the “star” singers, the music still blew me away. It was fun and catchy. If I had known the words, I totally would have been singing along in the theater. I will definitely be getting the soundtrack for the movie and putting it in my car.

The storyline was fantastic – all based on Dr. Seuss’ quote, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

I don’t know how true the movie is to the book, since I have yet to read the book, but I think they did a great job of getting their message across without jamming environmentalism down our throats. They made me laugh, they made me sad, and they made me want to go plant a tree. {Which is funny, because the Georgia Environmental Department passed out seedlings after the movie. Great timing!}

I would highly recommend you take your kids to go see The Lorax. {Maybe you should leave your husband at home, though – it makes for an expensive nap.} I am so glad we took the boys last night. We will definitely be purchasing the movie when it comes out on DVD, and I’m off to search Amazon to find a copy of the original Dr. Seuss book to read with my kids.

Have you seen The Lorax? What did you think?