Archives for July 2012

Mott’s Fruit Flavored Snacks Make Life a Little Sweeter #MyBlogSpark

It’s no secret that I love things that are sweet. Most of my children have inherited my love for sweets as well. But, while I love things that are sweet, I know I need to make better choices when it comes to what I eat. Not only will it help me stay on the right track, but it will also help me teach my children to make better choices for themselves.

That’s why I love Mott’s Fruit Flavored Snacks. These yummy little fruit snacks are a great option for snacking while on the go, or when I need something to munch on at home. They are made with real fruit and vegetable juices (pear, apple, and carrot juice concentrate), natural colors and flavors, and they taste absolutely wonderful. While they may not be made to replace fruits and vegetables in your daily diet, they are a much better alternative than that candy bar that’s sitting on your counter.

For this review, MyBlogSpark sent us 6 boxes of the Mott’s Fruit Flavored Snacks: 3 boxes of Berry and 3 boxes of Fruit.

I really like Mott’s Fruit Flavored Snacks, and my kids do too. They have a great taste, don’t leave a nasty after taste, and my kids can’t get enough of them. They’re the perfect snack to throw in my purse and have on hand while we’re out and about, or to keep in the cupboards at home for an anytime snack.

Give Mott’s Fruit Flavored Snacks a try in your home. I bet your kids will love them as much as mine do! Need a little more incentive? Click here for a coupon for 60 cents off a box of Mott’s Fruit Flavored Snacks.

I also want to encourage you to learn more about Mott’s Fruit Flavored Snacks. Interact with them in the following ways:

Disclosure:  The product, gift pack, information, and additional sample have all been provided by Mott’s® through MyBlogSpark.

Parker’s Very Happy 4th Birthday – I See Me! Book Review

I have had the opportunity to work with I See Me! Books in the past when I reviewed Baby’s 1st Birthday – God Loves Me! for Gage’s first birthday.

I recently had the opportunity to review another birthday book by I See Me! Books – and this one is all about Parker.

Parker will turn 4 this year, and anyone that is a mom to an almost 4 year old knows that at this age, it is all about ME. (Him – not me.) Parker loves hearing his name, talking about his day, and pretending that he is the next great Super Hero. So, when I had the opportunity to personalize a book for one of the kids, I knew Parker would love it.

I actually haven’t shown the book to Parker yet. I want to keep it as a surprise for his birthday. But, since that isn’t until October, I didn’t want you to have to wait for my review.

So, I’ll give you MY thoughts on this book.

I absolutely love everything about this book. The colors are bright and vibrant, the text is super easy to read, and the illustrations are adorable. It reminds me of a really cute scrapbook with all the colors and textures used in it. The cover of the book is a very sturdy hard cover, and the pages are also thick and sturdy. This book could last through many, many readings, and it could be something Parker could treasure for years to come.

One thing that makes me sad, though, is that Parker’s birthday is wrong throughout the entire book. 🙁 I wish I could go back and see if it was my mistake or I See Me!’s mistake when I placed the order. His birthday is October 10th, but the book has it listed as October 1st. I know Parker won’t be able to tell (this year) when he gets the book, but once he starts reading, it will be hard for him not to notice. Again, I don’t know if it was my mistake or theirs, but it’s really a bummer of a mistake. Of course, after 6 kids, it very well could be just another case of mommy brain.

Overall, I am SUPER impressed with the book, and if the birthday had been right, this would have been a book I would treasure forever. I love the little details all through the book – from putting Parker’s name on the birthday cake to the fact that the animals in the book make the story all about Parker. It really is a sweet little book and I would highly recommend it to any parent of a child between the ages of 1 and 8. You can find the boy’s version here on the I See Me! website, and the girl’s version can be found here.

Yes, it is a $30 investment – but it’s worth it. The book is beautiful, well put together, and could be something that could easily become a treasure keepsake.

Visit the I See Me! website for lots of personalized book options for your little one.

You can also connect with I See Me! in the following ways:

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book mentioned above from I See Me! Books in order to facilitate my review. Opinions expressed are 100% my own. I have not been compensated for this post in any other way.

SAVE with the San Antonio Vacation Experience!

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

One thing I would love to do is take a family vacation. But, with a family of 8 – soon to be 9 – finding ways to save money on hotels, theme parks, food, and everything else can feel nearly impossible.

And that's why I love the SAVE – San Antonio Vacation Experience website so much. You won't believe all the ways you can save! With one visit to their website, you can find exclusive deals, limited time offers, and discounts on some of San Antonio's best theme parks, museums, shopping, hotels and resorts, and so much more!

Let's take a moment to plan my dream vacation…

First, we'll need a place to stay. The Hilton Palacio del Rio has rates starting as low as $99/night. We could actually afford the 2 rooms we would need to fit our entire crew.

Next, we'll need to find some things to do. I've got to find enough to make everyone happy, and the SAVE website gives me tons of choices.

We'll start with a helicopter tour for my husband. With the SAVE website, Alamo Helicopter Tours are available for 10% off. That's a great deal.

Next, let's hit the Alamo IMAX theater Rivercenter and catch a movie. With free children's admission, I could really save a ton of money there.

I love museums, and I want to encourage the same love in my kids, so let's hit the San Antonio Children's Museum where we can save 20% on admission.

Next, let's head on over for some fun at the Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum, and we'll save $1 per ticket there.

Then, I HAVE to hit Sea World San Antonio – and thanks to the SAVE website, there are several different discounts I can take advantage of. I'd just have to pick the one that saves me the most money – whether it's taking $10 off each admission, or paying full price and coming back as often as we want. Either way, I've just saved a bunch of money by printing off these coupons.

Did you notice all the money I saved by planning my trip through their website? Those discounts add up fast, and the more money I can save, the more FUN we can afford to have.

The Limited Time Offers are a great way to help me save even more money for my family. I can plan our trip around the available offers, and make the most of every dollar we spend on our trip.

I'd encourage you to visit the SAVE – San Antonio Vacation Experience website and see how much your family could save on a trip to San Antonio.

Also be sure to follow @SAVEinSA on twitter for updates on deals, the latest limited time offers, and get lots of ideas to help plan your next family trip to San Antonio!

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Another Update Concerning My Health Issues

Recently I posted an update about why things have been so quiet around here. Since that post, so many more things have happened – and actually getting online to post about those things has been next to impossible.

Several weeks ago, I found a lump in my left breast. When I put up the last update post, the specialist had requested that I go that week to have a Mammogram done and see where we would go from there.

The day before I was scheduled to go in for the Mammogram, I got a phone call. Our local hospital’s head radiation doctor would not do a Mammogram on me because I am in my first trimester. The specialist I had seen that week then gave me two choices: 1. Wait until I’m in the second trimester and start the testing then, or 2. Get a second opinion. I spoke with my PCP, and she thought it was best not to wait. But, because she’s not the main doctor on my insurance cards, I had to wait until I saw my OBGYN and have him get the referral to another specialist.

More of that “waiting game” that I’m just not good at.

This past Monday morning, I met with the OBGYN. Things with the pregnancy are progressing well. The baby is growing right on track. But, the doctor was very concerned with how large the lump in my breast is, and he had his nurse call around to find a specialist that would take me in and do more testing, even with me being in the first trimester.

Interjecting to share a picture of my sweet little peanut that’s on the way:

I am so thankful that with all my health problems, this little jelly bean is doing just fine.

Back to the update – the nurse was able to find a specialist about 2 hours away from home that would get me in and do further testing. They scheduled the appointment for this past Thursday.

Luckily, hubby is on vacation this week, so he was able to go to the specialist with me again. We got down there and met with another doctor. It was a woman this time, and she was very kind and very concerned.

She did another ultrasound, and she actually SAW something this time!

She said that the lump shows every sign of being a clogged milk duct that was probably brought on by the pregnancy. She thinks that it will resolve itself and we won’t need to do anything else.

Of course, she gave me the speech that it “could still be cancerous” so she was willing to do a biopsy if I was really concerned. But, she personally didn’t think a biopsy was necessary, and after talking it over with her and with my husband, we decided not to do the biopsy.

I have a follow up appointment set for October – 3 months from now. The doctor is confident that it will resolve itself before then, but if not, we can figure out how to “help” it along or see if it might be something else.

So, at least there are answers. And at least I can rest easy. I’m just really hoping this doesn’t cause me to have trouble breastfeeding the new baby. I had to stop nursing Gage sooner than I wanted to because I stopped producing milk. (With every other child, I’ve always produced an abundance of milk.) I guess I’ll just pray that there won’t be any trouble this time around.

Hopefully this will start getting things back on track here on the blog. I appreciate your patience and support through all of this. I really do have the best readers. 🙂

Now that I’ve caught you up on me, what’s going on with YOU?

Why I Can’t Go See Spiderman (And I Really, Really Want To)

As the mom of 4 boys, and most likely a 5th little boy on the way, it should come as no surprise that I love Superheroes. The craze started when my boys were 1 and 2. For Halloween that year, we dressed as a Superhero family. Hubby bought an authentic Batman costume from a costume rental place, Ashley was Supergirl, Zander was Superman, Jace was Batman, and I made my own SuperMom costume – complete with tiara and magic wand. 🙂 Here… I have a picture I can share:

Halloween 2005
So funny, right? It’s obvious the obsession runs deep.

Spiderman is my absolute favorite of the superheroes. Our 3rd son Parker got his name from Peter Parker. Yep, I’m a little off kilter, I know, but I really like Superheroes. 🙂

And that’s why I’m so bummed that I can’t go see Spiderman right now.

Why can’t I?

Because of another movie that is playing in the theaters right now called Magic Mike.

What does Magic Mike have to do with Spiderman?

A LOT.

Let’s say my best friend decided to take me to see Spiderman for my birthday. No big deal, right?

Well, what would you think if you saw two women standing in line for popcorn and Twizzlers? What movie would you guess those two women would be there to see? I’m thinking that Spiderman would be the last movie that would cross your mind.

Even if you knew me and you knew how I felt about the movie Magic Mike, you might still question what I was doing at the theater. Then, you might start to doubt that my convictions are a strong as I say they are.

The same would be true if I went to see Spiderman with my husband. What if I got up during the movie and used the restroom? Someone might see me walking into the restroom, not knowing that I was there with my husband, and just assume that I was seeing a movie that I shouldn’t see. Again – there goes everything I’ve said right out the window.

The Bible clearly says, “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” (I Thess. 5:22)

With Magic Mike playing in the theater, I cannot abstain from any appearance of evil if I walk into the theater. It would take one person I know seeing me there and jumping to the conclusion that I was there to see something I shouldn’t.

In 30 seconds, my entire testimony could be ruined, and I wouldn’t even know it. I cannot risk it. I will not go see Spiderman until Magic Mike has left the theater.

So, why am I so against Magic Mike?

For oh so many reasons.

  • It is pornography. Ps 101:3 says, “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes.” There really needs to be no more explanation. I think the Bible clearly says it all. But, I will add this: What if the media put out a movie about female strippers, and all the husbands wanted to go see it? We women would be up in flames! Why on earth is it ok for US to go see a movie about male strippers? 2 words: IT’S NOT.
  • It is of the world. 1 John 2:15 – 17 says, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”  And what else does the Bible say about being in this world? Romans 12:2 says, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Just because the world says something is ok does not make it ok. We are to stand out. To be different. To go against the flow.
  • It is adultery. Matthew 5:28 says, “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” Now, I understand that verse is written to a man, but ladies, that does not exclude us. If we enter a theater to lust after a man, we are committing adultery.
  • It is sin. Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” The things that Magic Mike would cause us to think about are in no way described in that verse. We must take care to put things into our minds that are healthy and pleasing to the Lord. Why? Because of 1 Peter 5:8 – “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” Satan wants to devour you. He wants to destroy your marriage, your relationship with Christ, and your entire life. Do not allow him to have that power!

I know this post will not gain me any popularity points. And I may lose some friends and readers because of this. But, that’s all right. A true friend would not see this post as judgement, but instead as instruction. (Need verses on instruction? The book of Proverbs is full of them!) And if you want to read another post about the dangers and pitfalls of Magic Mike and 50 Shades of Grey, I highly recommend this post by Melissa Jenna.

By putting up this post, I am not declaring that I am perfect. I will be the first to tell you that I fail my Jesus daily and that I am in a constant state of repentance. And God is faithful to forgive us – no matter what we have done. My life before Christ was anything but “good.” But now that I have found Him, and I know Him as my Savior, I want to do what pleases Him. And I want to encourage other women to please Him as well.

If you have failed Him, it’s ok. He still loves you. Repent, turn from your sin, and let Him have control of your life.

Romans 5:20b says, “But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:”

We will all make mistakes, but grace abounds, and God loves His children.

Edited to add: As I was preparing this post, my husband called me on his way to work to tell me that a local little theater is no longer showing Magic Mike and is showing Spiderman. Looks like a date night may just well be in our future. 🙂

Have a Big Honkin’ Summer with Target

I love summer. The kids are off school, we can play outside, and there’s no rush to get into bed for the school the next day.

My favorite place to get the items we need to make the most of our summer is Target. From toys to games, craft supplies to food, Target has everything we need to have a “Big Honkin’ Summer.”

For this post, Target sent us a great big goodie box full of items perfect for summer fun. The box contained the following items:

  • Lemonade Stand Sign
  • Lemonade Stand Banner
  • Lemonade Stand Money Box
  • Lemonade Stand Juice Container
  • Lemonade Stand Ice Bucket
  • Giant Badminton Set
  • Toy Golf Club with Balls
  • Kid Made Modern Board Book Kit
  • Kid Made Modern Printed Tape Set

We have had SO much fun with the items in this package this summer!

The thing we cannot get enough of is the Giant Badminton Set. We can easily spend hours outside playing Badminton with each other. It’s such a great way to pass the time.

Lucy’s favorite item was the Lemonade Stand set up. She LOVES setting up the stand and “selling” lemonade to her brothers:

Parker’s favorite part is the golf set. It’s a hoot to watch him try to hit that teeny tiny ball with all his might:

Zander loved making his very own book. He made sure every detail was just perfect before he showed it off to me:

Ashley and I worked together to create a duct tape purse. That was the most fun I have had in a long time! It turned out great, and Lucy just loves it. She can’t wait to show it off at church this weekend!

Target works hard to make sure you can make every day moments more memorable.

If you head to your local Target store, you’ll find giant beach balls, sand buckets, and sunglasses that will help direct you to all the colorful summer merchandise Target has to offer.

Can get to the store? Check out the Target’s kids catalog where you can find all of these products and more for summer:

  • Kid Made Modern Printed Tape Set – $6.99
  • Kid Made Modern Board Book Kit  – $14.99
  • Toy Golf Club with Ball Set – $2.99
  • Giant Badminton Set – $7.99
  • Lemonade Stand Banner – $2.00
  • Lemonade Stand Money Box – $3.00
  • Lemonade Stand Sign – $4.00
  • Lemonade Stand Juice Container – $6.00
  • Lemonade Stand Ice Bucket – $6.00

Also be sure to check out the Target Facebook Page for lots of fun. Be sure to check out the “Summer-izer” app that will let you and your kids add “Big Honkin’ Summer” icons to pictures. Then, you can share those pictures online or you can send them to be printed at a local Target Photo Center.

Thank you, Target, for going above and beyond to make summer so much fun for my family. I love the time we can spend together playing and creating with these items.

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

The Essential Gluten-Free Grocery Guide {Book Review}

I often talk on here about how I purchase a lot of gluten free products. My son Jace thrives on a gluten free diet, and so I do my best to keep his gluten intake to a minimum.

And I need all the help in the world to make that happen.

That’s why I am SO thankful for the The Essential Gluten-Free Grocery Guide by Triumph Dining Gluten-Free Publishing.

This book tells you everything you need to know about purchasing gluten free products. The symbols beside each product listed are easy to understand, and the lists in the book are easy to follow and make it simple to find exactly what products you need.

The guide covers more than 44,000 products and helps eliminate so many of the challenges that come with gluten free shopping. It also has several pages of tips to help with grocery shopping such as picking a grocery store, pitfalls to avoid, and more. It also explains labels on products, how to use the product list in the guide, defines the symbols listed in the book, and explains some of the limitations of the guide.

This is by far the most comprehensive, easy to follow, absolute best guide I have found to help aid with gluten free shopping. I am so impressed with how detailed and full of information this book really is.

If you are living gluten free, if you are trying to start, or even if you are just thinking about trying more gluten free items, I highly recommend this book. I keep my copy inside my reusable bags so that I have it every time I enter the grocery store. I have my favorite items circled, and I’ve written the aisle number beside my favorite items. It has cut my shopping time in half. I love it!

Hurry on over to Amazon and grab your copy of The Essential Gluten-Free Grocery Guide today in paperback or for your Kindle. (The Kindle copy is just $9.99 right now!)

It is an excellent value, and a must have book for any GF family.

Disclaimer: I am participating in a blog tour with Parent Reviewers. I received a copy of the book in order to facilitate my review. Opinions expressed are 100% my own and have not been influenced in any way.

“Isabella and Her Polka Dot Umbrella” {Childrens Book Review}

One of my favorite things to do is read with my kids. My daughter Lucy loves when she and I get to sit down and read together. So, when I was asked to review “Isabella and Her Polka Dot Umbrella,” I jumped at the chance.

The little girl in the story reminds me so much of my Lucy. Isabella is a very busy little girl, who has a hard time going to sleep at night. Her parents try everything they can to wear her out during the day: they buy her a trampoline, take her to gymnastics class, anything they can think of. Then, one rainy day, Isabella’s mom gives her a polka dot umbrella and sends her outside (along with their dog Elvis). The adventures that they have because of this umbrella bring her lots of joy and her imagination runs wild.

Lucy loved reading the story of Elvis, Isabella, and her polka dot umbrella. I am quite certain that if I gave Lucy a polka dot umbrella we would get the same results that Isabella’s parents did. 🙂

The graphics and colors in the book are amazing. The detail in the artwork is just beautiful, and every single page is frame worthy.

Lucy and I both give this book 2 thumbs up. We loved the story, we loved the pictures, and we loved spending time together reading it. It’s not too long, making it the perfect bedtime story, or it can be used as a tool to spark a conversation with your little ones. For example, you could ask your child, “What would you do with the umbrella?” or “Could you pretend an umbrella was your airplane?” or other questions.

I highly recommend this book to any family that loves to read together. Right now, you can purchase “Isabella and Her Polka Dot Umbrella” on Amazon for just $12.95. (And it’s eligible for free Super Saver Shipping!) It’s an excellent value, and would make the perfect addition to your home library.

Disclaimer: I am participating in a blog tour with Parent Reviewers on behalf of the author Carla Forrest. I received a copy of the book in order to facilitate my review. Opinions expressed are 100% my own and have not been influenced in any way.

An Announcement, an Update, and an Apology

This is going to be one loaded post!

You may have noticed that things have slowed WAY down here on Blessed Beyond Words… and there’s a reason for that.

Several weeks ago, we found out that baby #7 is on the way. It was absolutely not expected, but I’m so excited and so thankful. Next Monday – July 9th – I will go for my first ultrasound to determine my due date and check on the baby. I can’t wait. I’m pretty sure the baby will be due sometime in February, just a few weeks before Gage’s 2nd birthday. It still seems like forever away, but I’m sure it will be here before I can even blink.

As you can imagine, summertime with 6 kids is pretty chaotic. Add to that a pregnancy and a job, and I am feeling like I can’t even catch my breath. So, my blog is suffering – sitting on the sidelines and I can’t seem to post nearly as often as I’d like. I have a pile of reviews just sitting here waiting on me, and I promise to get to them soon. I hate leaving my readers hanging.

I was hoping to catch up after the kids got back from camp, but early last week, I discovered a lump in my left breast. I called the doctor that I work for and asked her if she would check it out to make sure I wasn’t just being paranoid. She agreed that there is a lump and called my OB. Because I’m pregnant, my OB decided that I needed to go straight to a breast specialist. At first I was told that it would be the 18th of July before I could get in with the specialist. The doctor I work for called me later that day, and when I mentioned I would have to wait until the 18th, she made some calls and got me in much sooner.

The specialist wanted me to have an ultrasound of the area done before I came into see him. So, Friday morning, I went in and had that done. (I took last week off to just spend time with family. I don’t do well when it comes to the “waiting game,” so I figured it was best to distract myself with them.)

Yesterday morning, I met with the specialist. What an amazing doctor. My poor husband has been a mess for the past week. Normally he is the calm, level-headed one, but apparently that’s not true when the problem is with me. After meeting with the specialist yesterday, hubby is doing much better. The doctor really put his mind at ease that we are going to figure out what is going on – and how to fix it – all without hurting the baby.

The ultrasound didn’t really reveal anything… which is good. It’s not a cyst, because that would have shown up clearly on the ultrasound. But, there is definitely a lump there, and the doctor just isn’t 100% sure what it is. The next step he wants to take is with a mammogram. So, Thursday afternoon, I’ll head to the hospital again and they’ll do the mammogram then. He’ll call me with the results, and they will either do a biopsy at my next appointment (if something shows up on the mammogram), or he’ll check it again to see if it has grown or changed in any way (if the mammogram appears clear).

So, more of the waiting game. But, I’m going to try to keep myself busy and I’m going to do my very, very best to get caught back up with everything! I sure miss talking to my readers.

I hope that you’ll stick around and keep checking back in. I’ve got lots of great products to share with you, and I don’t want you to miss a thing!

Thanks for being such loyal friends and readers. I can’t tell you what you mean to me!