Archives for June 2012

Hodgson Mill Summer Pastabilities {Ends 7/15}

I have been entered into the Hodgson Mill Summer Pastabilities Recipe Contest, and I am so excited about it!

For this contest, bloggers were asked to come up with an original recipe that uses Hodgson Mill whole wheat pasta as the main ingredient.

This was such a fun challenge for me, and for my family. We are pasta lovers, so trying different recipes was a blast. Some worked… some not so much. But, boy, was it fun trying!

I finally decided to submit the Yummy Goodness Pasta Salad. This was the favorite among my crew. And the best part is that it’s perfect as a side dish, or as part of the main dish. It tastes fantastic, and it’s good for you!

Since I’m part of a contest, I’m going to beg my wonderful readers to head on over to the Hodgson Mill Summer Pastabilities Page on Pinterest and “like” my pin. {Repinning doesn’t count toward the contest, but I hope you love the recipe so much that you want to repin it as well.} 🙂 Here’s the direct link to my pin to make it super easy for you: Yummy Goodness Pasta Salad

And to encourage you to vote for your favorite recipe and get involved in the Summer Pastabilities contest, Hodgson Mills is giving one of my fabulous readers $25 worth of Hodgson Mills Whole Wheat Pasta. This is my favorite pasta. It tastes fantastic, and it is so much better for you than the white flour pasta.

Head on over, like my pin, and then enter to win some Hodgson Mills pasta for your family.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: I received samples of Hodgson Mills Whole Wheat Pasta in order to facilitate my review and participate in the contest. This giveaway is sponsored by Hodgson Mills. Opinions expressed are 100% my own and have no been influenced in any way.

Love Target? Enter for a $50 GC! {Ends 7/25}

We have much to celebrate and be thankful for here on Blessed Beyond Words, so I’m sharing the love with my readers!

Use the rafflecopter gadget below and enter to win a $50 Target Gift Card.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: I am sponsoring this post myself. Just want to reward my loyal readers!

Lots of Joovy Reviews Coming Soon!

I love Joovy. Seriously. There aren’t many baby companies that impress me quite the way that Joovy does.

I first fell in love with Joovy back in 2008 when I won a Joovy Caboose through a Virtual Baby Shower. We used that stroller all the time – and in fact, we still use it quite often. Anytime we’re planning on doing a lot of walking, this stroller goes with us.

Then, in November of last year, I got the chance to review the Joovy Scooter X2. LOVED that stroller, but I ended up giving it to a friend so that she could raffle it off and raise money to adopt a baby. I figured it was the least I could do, and I know that stroller ended up making someone very happy.

In November, I also got the chance to review the Joovy Bicycoo. Parker loves this balance bike, and any time he’s outside, you’ll find him riding it. He does so great on it, and he’ll be moving up to a 2 wheel bike soon – with no training wheels, thanks to the Bicycoo!

This week, Joovy sent me a whole bunch of packages, and I can’t wait to get started on the reviews for them!

Want to know what I’ll be reviewing soon?

First is the Joovy Footcot. We have such a hard time with Parker staying in his bed, that we are hoping having his own little cot to sleep on will help him want to stay in bed. We’ll be trying out the Footcot for the next few nights, and I’ll be letting you know what Parker thinks of it.

Then, I’ll be reviewing the Joovy StepTool. I can already tell that I am going to love having this in the house. It’s great for helping Parker reach the sink to wash his hands, and I can use it to reach the spice cupboard above the microwave. 🙂 Be on the lookout for my review of the StepTool soon.

After that, I’ll be reviewing the Joovy Loo. Ok, so just the name cracks me up. But, soon, it’ll be time for potty training Gage, and I am certain that we’ll get lots of use out of the Loo.

Then, sometime soon I’ll also be reviewing theBabaSling. Since we’re expecting in February, it may be awhile before you see this review… but I can’t wait to test out this sling. I may not be able to contain myself, and may end up reviewing it with Gage just to see how much I love it. 🙂 {By the way – that’s a test to see how many of my readers are paying attention! I haven’t made the formal announcement yet, so you’ll have to catch it here.}

I hope you’ll come back and read about all the fabulous Joovy products I’ll be reviewing. I’m off to play with all the new stuff they sent us. 🙂

The First Sleep-Away Camp Experience

On Sunday night, I packed up my oldest daughter and sent her off to our Associate Pastor’s house, where she and about 20 of her closest friends stayed the night. Early Monday morning, they departed for camp in South Georgia. I think this is her 4th year going to this camp. She absolutely loves it, and I love how good she is when she gets home. 😉

This year, we also decided to do a trial run with our boys at a sleep away church camp. They’re still too young to go with the older teenagers to our church’s camp, so we found a local Baptist church that runs a camp about 15 minutes from our house. The rule of the camp is that you must be going into 2nd grade in order to stay the night, and both Zander and Jace meet those qualifications.

I was a little iffy about Jace going. He’s always been a Mama’s boy, and he doesn’t do well if he’s not home with us. {Unless he’s at my MIL’s house.} And Zander is just so shy that I never imagined he would be able to stay all week outside and away from home. I just knew that one of them wasn’t going to make it. I just wasn’t sure which one would cave first. Before we sent them off to camp, though, we told them that this was an all-or-nothing deal. If I got a phone call that I needed to come get them, there would be no second chances. They would come home, and they would have no fun the rest of the week.

My kids know that I always follow through on my threats, so I hoped we would be ok. I was really hoping that since both the boys had each other – and that they’d be sharing the same tent – that everything would be just fine.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Around 9 o’clock Monday night, I decided I was going to hit the sack. I put the 3 younger kids to bed, and climbed into my own bed. I closed my eyes, but sleep wouldn’t come. I just knew my phone was going to go off.

At 10:00, my phone rang. It was Ashley. She was having a great time, and she just called to say goodnight. {Love my girl!} She promised to call the next night, and we hung up. All was well, so I could finally sleep, right?

Wrong again. I just couldn’t seem to fall asleep. I watched the clock tick away the minutes, and waited for my phone to ring again.

At 11:01, I got another phone call. This time it was a hysterical little boy, crying his heart out. “I couldn’t do it, Mama. I tried, but I’m so afraid a bear is going to eat me.”

Sigh. Jace.

I reminded him that if I came to get him, that was the end of his fun. He said ok, so I got dressed and headed to the camp.

The camp was pitch black by this time, except for a roaring camp fire. {Oh, how I wanted to stay and sing songs and roast marshmallows… but no, I had to fumble my way to the meeting tent in the pitch black and find my son.}

When I finally got to the tent and found Jace, he was more than ready to go. He had his bags all packed, {or so we thought}, and he was clutching to his pillow so tightly that his hands were purple. I knew there was no chance of talking him into staying. When Jace makes up his mind that something is going to be bad, there’s no convincing him otherwise.

The ride home was silent. He wouldn’t talk to me, wouldn’t answer any of the questions I asked, just sat it complete silence.

That night, we got home and discovered half of his stuff was missing. His pajamas were gone, along with 3 pairs of shorts, 5 t-shirts, and both swimming trunks. His excuse? “I thought you were coming right that minute, and I didn’t want you to leave the camp without me.”

Sigh.

So, yesterday morning, I called up one of his counselors and headed back to the camp to get the items he left behind.

And, I won’t lie – I was anxious to see how Zander did overnight. Zander is very shy and VERY reserved, and camping is totally not his thing. I was nervous that he didn’t do well through the night and would be in complete panic mode.

Again, totally wrong.

We got there and Zander was having a BALL. They had to force him to come help Jace and I find their tent and get all of Jace’s stuff. He didn’t want to leave his class, not for a minute. I was so relieved! Zander was doing so great. And, Jace was SO jealous. He hated that Zander was having such a good time and that he was missing out on all the fun.

I overheard him ask his counselor if he could have another chance. He wanted to come back and stay the night and not go home this time. Then I heard the counselor say, “I’m sorry, son, but since you went home, we gave your spot in the tent to another little boy that wanted to stay the night but couldn’t because there was no room.”

With tears streaming down his face, Jace headed back to me. I’m pretty sure he’s learned his lesson, and I don’t think he’ll call home again. But, he’ll have to suffer the rest of the week at home. Maybe next year he’ll decide he’s big enough to sleep away from home and have all the fun that Zander is having right now…

Maybe.

What was your child’s first experience with sleep away camp like? Was it harder on you or them?

#Applegate Makes Summer Grilling Better!

There is nothing that I love more than grilling out on summer nights. The smell of hotdogs cooking on the grill is one of my favorite summer scents. 🙂 And no one makes hot dogs on the grill better than my hubby. He can make each of the kids happy by cooking their hotdogs long enough that all you see are a few grill marks, but he’ll cook mine until the outside is completely charred and the inside is busting with juicy flavor. Lately we’ve started grilling corn on the cob along with our hotdogs. We figured it was a better alternative than greasy potato chips or french fries. We all just love it! {And I love how much easier the clean up is!}

Oh my. I think we may need to grill out tonight. My mouth is watering just typing this post.

To help get you thinking about Summer Grilling, I’ve created a Pinterest board just for Summer Grilling. Check it out for recipes, tips, ideas, and more! And if you’ve got a Summer Grilling pinterest board, I’d love it if you’d share it in the comments section of this post.

While grilling out is awesome, there can be a drawback… Did you know that there are many companies out there that use antibiotics to help promote animal growth or to compensate for the effects of their animals being raised in unsanitary and overcrowded conditions? I don’t know about you, but I like to know exactly what’s in the products that I’m feeding my family, and finding out that the animals used to make our meat may have been given unnecessary antibiotics is enough to make me cringe!

That’s why I am so grateful for companies like Applegate. Applegate makes sure their animals are never given antibiotics, any kind of hormones, or any type of artificial growth stimulator. Their products are made by using only natural and organic ingredients. Also, all of their hotdogs, burgers, bacon, and deli meat are gluten and casein free. And their products don’t contain nitrates or nitrites – ever. They use the old fashioned method of sea salt and celery juice to preserve their products instead. I love that!

Another great feature that I love about Applegate? If you happen to see an ingredient listed in one of their products, and you’re not quite sure what it is, all you have to do is email Applegate, and they’ll tell you what it is.

They offer the type of products that I would be proud to serve to my family.

And now, Atlanta residents can rejoice! Applegate products are now available in our area. To find a store that carries Applegate products, visit the Applegate Farms Facebook Page and click on the “Product Locator.”

I also recommend that you become a fan of Applegate Farms on Facebook. Just click the like button below.

I’m so thankful there are companies out there like Applegate that take pride in the quality of their products. I am proud to support them and serve their products to my family. Check out the Applegate website to learn more about their company, their products, and to find a store near you!

Disclaimer: I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Applegate 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.

Enter Your Daughter to Become Little Miss Coppertone

Do you have a little girl between the ages of 2 and 8? Right now, you can head on over to the Coppertone Facebook page and enter her photo into the Little Miss Coppertone Contest. {Hurry! Entries are accepted until June 22nd, and there’s no purchase necessary to enter.}

Alison Sweeney will be a special guest judge, and she will lead the judging team in selecting the finalists. Then, on July 13th, America will vote to choose the next Little Miss Coppertone! The winner gets a dream family vacation, and will also be featured in a Coppertone print ad.

To enter the contest and for more information, check out the Coppertone Facebook page.

And while you’re there, why not take the fun new quiz Coppertone put up for us women? It’s a quick little quiz that will tell you exactly what type of Coppertone girl YOU are. I took the quiz, and here are my results:

Hurry on over to the Coppertone Facebook page, take the quiz, and enter your little girl into the contest!

Disclaimer: I was entered for a chance to win a gift card in exchange for this post.  No monetary exchange took place.

 

 

OxiClean Dishwashing Booster {Review}

Having as many kids as I do, my dishwasher gets run a minimum of 3 times a day. It gets pushed to the limits every day. My dishwasher is decent. It’s definitely not the most expensive dishwasher on the market, but it’s not the cheapest, either. We had to purchase it when we moved into our new house because the old dishwasher didn’t work at all. And, believe me, having any kind of dishwasher is better than having to wash my dishes by hand. I do wish we had gone for a nicer model, though – one with a stainless steel inside, because every time I make some kind of pasta dish, the inside of my dishwasher turns a new shade of orange.

Recently, Mom Central and OxiClean sent me the OxiClean Dishwashing Booster to test out on my dishes.

The first time I used it, I did it with a full load of dishes. I just just made a huge pot of homemade mac and cheese, and the inside of the pot was a mess. Usually I will soak that kind of pot before I put it in the dishwasher. If I don’t, it either won’t come clean, or all the other dishes will end up foggy. But, I wanted to see exactly how well the OxiClean Dishwashing Booster would work, so I didn’t rinse off any of the dishes before I put them in the dishwasher. {GASP!} I didn’t know what to expect when I opened up the dishwasher.

Let’s just say that I was more than pleasantly surprised. Everything came out sparkling clean! Even my glassware that always looks foggy after a trip through the dishwasher came out crystal clear. MomCentral also sent me a serving tray to use and wash in the dishwasher, and it came out sparkling clean as well. Even with the great big pot of mac and cheese and all the other dirty dishes.

Recently OxiClean ran a dishwashing survey. Here are some of the results – with my thoughts added to them:

  • 69% of respondents either do not know what phosphates are (14%) or that they were banned from dishwashing detergents (55%) {Truth be told, I have no idea what phosphates are or that they were banned from dishwashing detergents!}
  • 49% feel frustrated because they don’t know what’s causing the spots on dishes {That would be ME! All I know is that I hate those darn spots!}
  • Top three things that consumers believe cause the spots/cloudy dishes are dishwashing detergent (50%), hard water (34%), dishwasher not working well (30%) {I just assumed those spots came from not having a rinse aide or the type of water.}
  • Over half (56%) have switched their detergent 2-5 times {Yep. That’s me! I’m always changing things up.}
  • 88% agree or strongly agree that it is embarrassing to serve on dishes that have spots or are cloudy {Amen, amen, amen!}
  • Almost 1 in 3 (32%) say their biggest kitchen challenge is achieving sparkly dishes; 30% say spots on dishes are their biggest kitchen complaint {I want sparkly dishes. I want to pull my dishes out of the dishwasher and not cringe when I go to put them in the cupboard. It’s much more fun to share things with others when they sparkle!}

Where do you fit in each of those statistics?

The OxiClean Dishwashing Booster is SO easy to use! With the first wash, you fill your rinse aid cup with the Booster, and add two squirts of the booster into the bottom of the dishwasher. Then you add your detergent to the cup as normal. After that, just fill the rinse aid cup with the Booster as needed, and no other rinse aid is required! {For tough films and stains, add two squirts of the booster into the bottom of the dishwasher again.} It really does make all the difference, and the OxiClean Dishwashing Booster will be the ONLY “rinse aid” product that I will purchase for my dishwasher from now on.

To learn more about OxiClean and their new Dishwashing Booster, visit the OxiClean website: www.oxiclean.com

You can also find OxiClean on Facebook.

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

New @Quaker Soft Baked Bars Provide Wholesome Nutrition!

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Quaker Oats. All opinions are 100% mine.

Know what gets me excited? When I find wholesome food that actually looks and tastes delicious. The NEW Quaker Soft Baked Bar is a great little snack that you can feel good eating. They fit right into my new diet plan for better eating.

These awesome little snack bars are made with real fruits and nuts that you can eat on the go. They're perfect to throw in your purse and enjoy a snack while you're out and about. Or, you can warm them up in the microwave and get a genuine bakery experience right in your own kitchen. Think about that the next time you go rummaging through your pantry for a quick breakfast snack. These are quick, easy, and taste like they just came fresh out of the oven when you warm them up.

The bars are available in two yummy flavors: Banana Nut Bread and Cinnamon Pecan Bread. My favorite flavor will probably be the Cinnamon Pecan Bread. There's something about the smell and taste of cinammon that I just love.

Take a look at how delicious the Cinnamon Pecan Bread looks:

QSBB Yum Image high res.jpg

Each bar contains:

  • Only 140 calories
  • 5 grams of Fiber
  • 6 grams of Protein
  • They are also an excellent source of 5 B-Vitamins.

If you are looking for a wholesome, delicious snack that won't destroy your diet, I would highly recommend you try the new Quaker Soft Baked Bars.

Which flavor will you try first?

Visit Sponsor's Site

@Sears and @SearsCares Made it Right!

On May 30th, I posted that my electric stovetop shattered and that I was hoping and praying it was covered under warranty. After a phone call assuring me it would be covered under warranty, a service tech came out to the house and informed me that it was not covered under warranty, and that it would cost nearly $400 to fix. {That’s $100 more than the money we paid out for the warranty.} To put it mildly, I was upset. So, I put up a post warning my readers to ALWAYS check their warranties before shelling money out for them. I tweeted and let Sears know how disappointed I was, and members of my tribes on Triberr started tweeting links to my post.

Within hours, I received a phone call from the Sears Executive Offices. Stephanie was amazing. She found out the entire story and informed me that they would exchange my cracked, unusable range for a brand new one. Since the model we had was discontinued or on backorder or something, they let my husband and I go online and find another model of equal value. We selected a Maytag convection over very similar to the Kenmore we originally purchased.

It took a few days, but I then received a phone call from our local Sears store letting me know that they would be delivering the new stove today – June 6th. I was a little skeptical, so I held my tongue and didn’t say anything. I wanted to be sure it was really going to happen.

Well, guess what?! It happened!!

Look at my brand new electric range:

Thank you, Sears for making this right. It has not gone unnoticed, and I will continue to be a loyal customer. I appreciate your willingness to fix this in such a professional way. I truly appreciate it.

How I Lost 40 Pounds in 6 Months

Before I get too far into this post, let me just say 2 things:

  1. I am not a doctor and do not profess to be a medical professional of any kind. Before beginning any diet or exercise program, please speak with your primary care physician about what is right for you.
  2. I cannot promise this will work for you. I wish I could. Unfortunately, every person is different, and what may work for one may not work for another.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to the post!

First, we’ll back up about 7 – 8 months. I was at my heaviest weight. I was miserable. In fact, I was dealing with a lot of chronic pain. I was in and out of my doctor’s office trying to figure out what steps to take next.

I wasn’t eating right. I was completely addicted to soda… Pepsi to be more specific. It was like my own version of alcoholism. I would drink a minimum of 16 cans of Pepsi PER DAY. I was depressed, and it was all because I was feeling fat and ugly.

People would say things like, “Oh, you look good for having 6 kids.” I HATED hearing that. I knew they were lying. I didn’t look good, and I certainly didn’t feel “good.” {I know that’s not proper grammar, but you get what I mean.}

In December, the wonderful people at DietBet contacted me and asked me if I would compete against several other mom bloggers for the chance at a $5,000 pot, and we would have to give some of that money to charity.

That was exactly the kick in the pants I needed. I am an incredibly competitive person, and knowing that I could play for a charity like St. Jude and have the opportunity to give them up to $5,000, well, let’s just say that I was all in.

The competition started in early January. I weighed in at a ghastly 213 pounds. I hadn’t been on a scale in months, and I had no idea that it had gotten so out of control. In that first DietBet challenge, I lost 17 pounds. I smashed the competition, {although according to DietBet rules, we all “won”}, and I gave all my winnings to St. Jude’s.

Now, here we are in June. It’s been 6 months since I started that first DietBet challenge, and I am down 40 pounds.

Take a look at my before and after shots: {Click the picture to see it larger.}

40 pounds in 6 months
Pretty dramatic difference, isn’t it? I can’t believe the difference in my face and upper body. And my BUTT. Oh my gosh. Every time I have gotten pregnant, I have carried my kids in my butt and hips. My butt was huge. I was in a size 16 pants in January. Now, I can squeeze my behind into any pair of size 10s, and most size 8s. I’ve come a long way.

But I still have a long way to go. My goal is to lose another 40 pounds or so and get down to 130 – 135 pounds. THEN I want people to tell me that I look good for having 6 kids. I might actually start to believe them.

I have people asking me every day what I’ve been doing to lose the weight. So, I thought I’d share my tips with you. I hope they help encourage you get on a path to healthier living.

  • I’ve focused on Spiritual growth. I realize that I can do nothing on my own. But, through Christ, I can do anything. {Philippians 4:13} Early in January, I discovered Job 23:12b that says, “I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.” I made that my life verse for this weight loss challenge. Whenever I want something sweet, I remind myself of those words, and I pick up my Bible. I know it sounds crazy, but it has truly worked for me. I have made my Spiritual life and my relationship with Jesus my top priority, and I have benefited in so many ways because of it.
  • I’ve reduced portion sizes. Drastically. I still eat exactly what my family eats, but I put my servings on a kid-sized plate instead of a large plate. And when I’ve eaten what’s on my plate, that’s it. No seconds.
  • I opt for Fat-Free, Low-Fat, and Reduced calorie as often as I can. We have one shelf in our pantry dedicated to my snacks and such. The kids know those items are off limits to them. Any time I buy salad dressing, it’s fat free. I also only use fat-free Feta cheese on salads.
  • I eat every 2 – 3 hours during the day.It starts with breakfast at 8, snack at 10, lunch at noon, snack at 3, and dinner at 6. My portions are small, yes, but this absolutely keeps me from getting hungry at all during the day. Some of my favorite snacks include:
    • Fruit Nuggets – these are found in the Fruit Snacks section. They contain 0g of fat and only 50 calories per pack. LOVE them.
    • Snackwell’s Devil’s Food Cookie Cakes – This is how I get my chocolate fix. Each cookie only has 50 calories and NO fat.
    • Fat Free Fig Newtons – In two cookies, there are only 90 calories and no fat. {Note: Nabisco has large packs that you can toss in your purse, but the two cookies in those packs contain 200 calories. I buy the tray of cookies and just toss Ziploc baggies that contain 2 cookies in my purse.}
    • Orville Redenbacher’s Smart Pop – I honestly can’t finish an entire serving myself. But, one serving only contains 100 calories and only 2g of fat.
    • Snack Pack Chocolate Fat Free Pudding – Another chocolate fix. Only 90 calories and zero fat.
    • Fruit – Berries, Bananas, Oranges. Sometimes I even get creative and mix several fruits in a blender with ice and little Truvia to sweeten it, and make a smoothie. Mmmm.
  • I completely gave up soda. As you can imagine, this was quite a challenge for me. But I honestly believe it was the BEST decision I ever could have made. Now, the ONLY thing I will drink is water. I will not even allow myself a sip of soda or Sweet Tea {another weakness!}, because I know it would take nothing for me to fall back into old habits.
  • I Exercise Daily. I started slowly. After all, until January, the most exercise I got was going to the grocery store with all 6 kids. I have a treadmill, and when I first started, my goal was to burn 200 calories per day. I started by walking at 2.5 MPH, and then slowly increased that number weekly. My March, I was burning 300 calories/day, and now I burn 400 calories on the treadmill everyday. Toward the end of April, I started using the Total Gym as well. Now I do 400 calories on the treadmill {which takes about an hour}, and then I do 30 – 45 minutes on the Total Gym.  I also park my car farther away at the store, and force myself to walk that extra bit as often as I can. Just getting up and moving will make a huge difference. You don’t have to walk fast. My treadmill only goes up to 4 MPH, but I have literally walked my butt off the past 6 months. And, to answer any questions, YES. I exercise 7 days a week. I won’t allow myself to take a day of rest, because I’ll want to rest all the time.

It takes a complete lifestyle change in order to lose weight and get healthy. You have to be willing to give up some of your favorite things. Am I saying that you have to give them up forever? Of course not. But isn’t it worth it to give it up for a short time so that you can become the person that you want to be?

I also want to mention that since January when I made this lifestyle change, I have not had one single pain that I was dealing with last year. I feel about a million times better than I have in years. For me, these changes were life-changing and possibly life-saving.

For the past few days, I have been learning about another lifestyle transformation program, and I am prayerfully considering trying it out and seeing how it works for me at getting those last 40 pounds off. Depending on how the program works for me, hopefully I will be sharing more about it with you all soon.

However, until that happens, I will continue on the path I laid out above. I will work hard, eat right, and praise Jesus for every pound that comes off.

If you have any questions or just want to talk about weight loss, I hope you’ll leave a comment on this post.

My Results in the @DietBet Challenge

On Saturday, the DietBet Challenge that I started in May ended.

Truth be told, I was terrified that I wouldn’t do well in the challenge at all. Stress has been a killer the past few weeks, and then with VBS last week, it took a toll on my diet. {Our church feeds everyone Sunday night – Friday night for dinner. TONS of food, and more dessert than should ever be allowed to sit on one counter at any given time.} BUT, I stayed strong. {Several nights I brought my own dessert: Fat free Snackwells or Fat Free Fig Newtons. Definitely not what I wanted, but every little bit helps.}

I started the challenge at 183.8. That put me at about 30 pounds less than I was when I started dieting and exercising in January.

Before I show you the video of my final weigh-in, let me apologize. This was taped around 8am on Saturday morning. I had been up since 5am and exercising since 6am. I wanted to get that weigh-in done and over with, so that means you get to see me at my worst. Sorry about that!

Ok, that being said, here’s my final weigh-in for this challenge:

I was totally stoked! I dropped 10 pounds in those 28 days! Even with all the odds stacked against me, I was still able to lose more weight. And, because I dropped to 173.6, that means I have officially lost 40 pounds since January. Yahoo!

Take a look at what just 10 pounds can do to a person:

By the way, the jeans that I’m wearing in the After pictures? Those are a size 8! They were my “goal” pants for a very long time. I held onto them for years, just hoping I could squeeze my big butt back into them someday. The last time I wore those jeans was in December 2005 for our family pictures. I got pregnant with Lucy right after that, and I haven’t been able to get back into them since then.

Until now! Now, I have a new goal. I would love to get myself back into a size 4 – which is still bigger than I was when I married my husband and size 0 hung off me. I started in January as a size 16, and I’ve made it to an 8/10. I am really excited, and I KNOW I can do even better.

As far as the results of the challenge, I had 3 people that never sent me their final weights. 🙁 I went ahead and ended the game, though, because everyone was getting anxious to find out who won.

Here are the results from those of us who weighed in:

  • Amy – Stayed the same.
  • Teri – Dropped 2.6 pounds
  • Tara – Dropped 4.4 pounds
  • Suzi – Dropped 9.08 pounds
  • Angie – Dropped 10.2 pounds

Not too shabby, ladies! Great job!

According to the DietBet rules, Suzi & I are the winners. Therefore, I am giving her the $50 Amazon Gift card that was up for grabs.

I have had SO many people ask me how I’ve lost the weight and what I’ve been doing to keep the weight off that tomorrow I will be putting up a special post to answer a lot of the questions I’ve been asked. If you have a question that you’d like me to answer, please add it as a comment to this post. I hope my hard work and effort will encourage you and motivate you to meet your own weight loss goals.

I still have a long way to go…. about another 40 pounds…. but I KNOW I can do it. I want to encourage you to reach your own goals.

I do have to say, though, that 40 pounds makes an amazing difference. I feel better than I have in years!

Planning a Family Vacation? Check Out Newport Beach!

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Newport Beach. All opinions are 100% mine.

Summer is finally here, and you know what that means! Time for family vacations.

If you are heading to the west coast this summer, I want to encourage you to check out Newport Beach.

If you check out the Newport Beach website, you'll be amazed at all the things you can do right from your computer: Book a hotel room, find out information about the city, discover what restaurants are around town, and so much more.

After spending some time looking at the "Things to do" section of the website, I'm just in awe. There are so many options available to everyone – no matter what size family you have. There are spas, beaches, events, even kid camps you can send the kids to. There are actually hundreds of different kid camps available, and there's quite an eclectic selection. There are sailing camps, surfing camps, even Star Wars and Harry Potter camps for kids. My son Zander would love the science or art camps. Jace would be all over the Extreme Sports camp. And my oldest daughter Ashley would absolutely love to be a part of the Beach Volleyball Camp. There's absolutely something for everyone, and your kids definitely would not be bored with a trip to Newport Beach.

Right now, the Hyatt Regency Newport Beach hotel has an awesome promotion for families. If you buy one room at full price, you get a connecting room for kids 18 and under at 50% off. {That's such a great deal, and it's perfect for large families like mine!} The Hyatt Regency Newport Beach is a resort-style baysde destination. It is set on 26 acres of land, and they offer shuffleboard, ping pong, a 9-hole, par-3 golf cours, and 3 pools and whirlpools. You may never want to leave your hotel! To take advantage of this special offer, call 800-233-1234 and mention the Family Plan.

Still need a little more encouragement? Check out this fun video:

My kids would love to visit all the different beaches and parks around Newport Beach. I would love to go whale watching. Sounds like so much fun!

If you are in need a vacation, take some time to research Newport Beach by visiting the Newport Beach website and see if it would be a good fit for your family.

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