Archives for December 2012

Thankful for the Blessings of 2012

Happy 2013!

As 2012 draws to a close, I just want to reflect for a moment on the many blessings God has bestowed upon my family this year.

This has been a roller coaster year for us – full of ups and downs. I am so thankful, though, that there were lots more ups than downs.

Several months ago, something happened with my husband’s job, and he ended up taking a huge pay cut. We went from living paycheck to paycheck, to barely being able to live. Yet somehow, the money we needed was always there.

There were times when I didn’t know where our next meal would come from, and on those days, food would appear on our front door step. I still can’t figure that one out.

All of our bills were paid, no services were ever shut off.

Someone at our church gave us money to fix both my husband’s car and our Expedition. (New brakes, new tires, the works.) There was no more getting in the car and just praying the brakes would work well enough to stop when we needed them to. We still don’t know who that angel was, but what a blessing bestowed on our family!

God more than supplied every single need we had.

I have been able to teach my children more about faith this year than I ever have before. God has been so good to us, and the kids have all seen that firsthand.

Oh, and hubby is back into a similar position that he was before everything happened, and his pay rate should be adjusted back accordingly soon. Praise the Lord!

I hope that 2012 was full of blessings for you and your family, and that 2013 will be full of even more love, family, and blessings for each of you. With our precious baby arriving sometime early this year, I am already looking forward to what God is going to do with our family.

Thank you for spending another year here with me at Blessed Beyond Words. I’ve got some big changes coming in the New Year, and I hope you’ll stick around and be a part of it.

Stay safe tonight as you celebrate. We’re off to our church’s revival, and I can’t wait to usher in the new year with some really great preaching.

See you in 2013!

Photo Credit: CrazyWebsite.com

What Pinterest is Doing to Motherhood

pinterest vs motherhood

As a mom, we want everything to be perfect. We want the perfect children, the perfect house, the perfect husband, the perfect life. And with just a few clicks of a mouse, we can “pin” all our dreams and desires onto a board in the hopes that someday we will turn those pins into reality.

I am blessed to have lots of mom friends, and I am so thankful for those friends. However, my heart is heavy because some of them are feeling guilty because they can’t achieve a pinterest-perfect life.

One mom has 4 children and had to opt for store bought cookies for her kids’ school Christmas parties. When she walked into each room, her guilt intensified at the site of reindeer pretzel cookies, snowman donuts, and other pinterest discovered goodies that covered the tables.

Another mom friend has 2 children and confessed that she was feeling guilty that she had to buy the cheap disposable diapers when all the “good moms” were going the cloth route.

What is going on here? When did snowman donuts, reindeer cookies, and making your own baby food become so much more important than teaching our children the things that really matter? We are teaching our children that it’s important to do things better than everyone else, to always have “the best,” and that stuff is more important than the intangible items. We are no longer helping form our children for God’s Army, but instead we are showing them how much control the world really has over us.

And, believe me, I am SO guilty of this. I can’t point fingers at anyone, because I have 3 fingers pointing right back at me.

In fact, let me just share with you my biggest flub up of 2012… My head hangs in shame as I share this with you…

When I was hanging up Christmas decorations this year, I went all out. Snowflakes hanging from the ceiling, tree trimmed in all it’s glory, icicles on the window, wrapping paper on all the pictures… I honestly about killed myself making Christmas “perfect” in our house.

My husband asked why I decided to go all out this year, and my response was, “I want to have the most pinterest-worthy house around.”

Hand – smack forehead.

I totally screwed up Christmas. Sure, I wanted the kids to love it, but I had so much more in mind. I wanted everyone to want to pin my Christmas decorations, mimic them, and drive tons more traffic to my blog.

It honestly didn’t even hit me until I read a status update on Facebook that said, “As mothers, the measures I believe we should judge ourselves on are actually simple: its not the size or “pinterest-worthiness” of their first birthday cake. It’s the amount of unconditional love and affection we give to our children, the values and confidence we instill in them, the quality of the time we spend with them, the examples we set for them in our actions as their role models…

That one quote cut me to the core. What have I been doing?! Since when does what other people (pinners) think of my home, my family, my blog mean more than what GOD thinks? Am I doing things for HIS glory, or for the glory of man?

I pretty much answered my own question right then and there, and it brought me under a deep conviction.

Am I saying pinterest is evil? No, not really. I’m sure I will still pin things that I like. Thanks to pinterest, I have found some really great recipes that my family enjoys, and I’ve saved money by making our own laundry soap, fabric softener, and other things. There IS good in Pinterest…. in moderation.

However, from now on, my relationship with my Savior comes first, followed by my relationship with my family. No longer will I worry or fret over how “pinterest-worthy” my decorations, my family, my blog, or anything else in my life might be. Instead, I want to know how God-worthy and God-honoring they are. I want my goal to be to please my Savoir, not anyone that might happen by my blog.

If I have to give up time with my husband or my children in order to complete a pinterest project, it will wait until I have “me” time… when the kids are in bed and hubby is working late. If it takes months for me to find that me time, then it will take me months to complete that pinterest project. End of story. No longer will my family compete for my attention because I have a board full of “Must Makes” that I just have to complete.

And if I find that I need to buy disposable diapers, cookies made by the grocery store bakery, or candles that I don’t get to cover in glitter and give as gifts, that’s ok to. I will not beat myself up for wanting to give the time to my family instead of screaming “Look what I did!” for all the pinterest-world to see.

I wrote this post as a reminder of myself of how much I am missing out on by worrying about what everyone else thinks. These are my convictions, and my feelings. I am not writing this to upset or anger anyone, just to maybe make you think a little bit. We are all entitled to our own opinions. If pinterest has helped you, be thankful for that. For me, it became too much and I need to back off and use it in a way that will not harm my family.

What are your thoughts on the pinterest movement? Is it helpful or harmful to motherhood in today’s world?

Celebrate the Holidays With Mike & Ike Merry Mix

 Mike and Ike Merry Mix

There are certain things in life that I consider the simple pleasures. Mike and Ike candies definitely fall into that category.

Now that the holidays are here, you can find Mike and Ike Merry Mix in your favorite store. You can also find the Mike and Ike Original Fruits and the Hot Tamales Theater Box Stocking Stuffers. They are certain to bring an extra big smile to the faces of your children Christmas morning.

In May of this year, Mike and Ike had a split. You may have noticed names crossed out on boxes. My kids sure did, and they are hoping Mike and Ike can make up and become good friends again. However, on these holiday packages, Mike and Ike have left the names untouched in honor of the holiday season. (Way to go, guys!)

Mike and Ike Merry Mix comes in a 14 ounce bag that’s perfect for sharing, setting out at parties, or munching on during your favorite Christmas movie. Merry Mix includes original flavors Cherry and Lime, plus it packs a “Holiday Punch.” (Which is my personal favorite!) The red, green, and blue colors are sure to make your season even more festive!

The Original Fruits and Hot Tamales Theater Box Stocking Stuffers come in 5 ounce boxes with holiday images of Snowmen or Fireplace scenes making them perfect for tucking into stockings that are hung with care.

We received an assortment of Mike and Ike and Hot Tamale products to review, and they have been quite a hit with my family. I love the Holiday Punch flavor in the Merry Mix, and the Original Fruits are always a favorite with my kids. They have all been asking for these as their stocking stuffers this year!

If you want to keep up to date on Mike and Ike’s Split, and everything else Mike and Ike related, take some time to visit them at the following places:

Disclaimer: I received a box of Mike and Ike goodies in exchange for my review and this post. Opinions expressed are 100% my own and have not been influenced in any way.

Check Out These Must Have Gifts from @TheSharperImage

This post brought to you by Sharper Image. All opinions are 100% mine.

I have been a fan of The Sharper Image for years. When I still lived at home with my parents, we would often travel by plane to vacation destinations. My favorite catalog available on the plane was always The Sharper Image catalog. I loved looking at all the neat gadgets they had available to make life easier.

Now, here we are, just days away from Christmas, and what better gift to give than a gift from The Sharper Image?!

Take a look at a few of my favorite items available this holiday season:

First, we have the Bluetooth Speaker. I love this little gadget. Because of where we live, we don't get any radio stations. (Unless we drive 1 – 2 hours south.) With the Bluetooth Speaker, I could listen to my favorite music that's stored on my iPhone any where I want to. It connects wirelessly, so there are no cords to get in the way. There's even hands free calling available so I can answer the phone quickly and easily.

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Next, we have the Sound Soother. As a mom of 6, you can imagine how much noise I hear in a day. Wouldn't it be wonderful to lie in bed and fall asleep to the sound of falling rain? So peaceful and calming. I can only dream about what that must be like! The Sound Soother has lots of great features like an extra large display,  continuous play, and an auto-off timer that you can set for 15, 30, 45, or 60 minutes. This would be such a great gift for a mom who just wants a relaxing night of sleep. 

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And lastly, we have the Back Massager. I'm pretty sure this would be a little taste of heaven for any mom. Being pregnant for a seventh time, my back hurts so badly some days that I can hardly walk. Imagine sitting in a chair and having a rolling massage any time I wanted. Yep. Sounds like heaven to me! The Back Massager also features a deep-kneeding shiatsu massage feature as well as a soothing heat feature that allows for a deeper, more relaxing massage.

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I'm sure you can see exactly why these three gifts from The Sharper Image have made it to my must-have list. What about you? Which of these three great items would you most like to have, and why?

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Parker’s Teeth: Before and After

I mentioned a few days ago that Parker, my 4 year old, would be having dental surgery this week. The surgery was on Thursday, and I am pleased to say that he did GREAT!

Parker doesn’t have any enamel on most of his teeth. So, even though we brush them twice a day and floss them, his little teeth have just been rotting away. It’s incredibly painful for him, as many of his nerves were exposed, so surgery was a must. (And for those that have asked, they aren’t certain yet if his adult teeth will be the same way yet or not.)

The bummer is that during surgery, they found more work that needed to be done. So, he will be going back on the 7th for a second surgery. But, they completely reworked his front 6 teeth, and he looks like a completely different kid!

Here, take a look:

parker teeth before

parker teeth after

And here’s the picture I shared on instagram right after his surgery:

Parker's smile before and after

The difference is uncanny, isn’t it? This will help him out so much. I can only imagine how much better it feels for him already!

He’s acted like a champ since he woke up from surgery. Never wanted any pain medicine, just kept telling me he was tough and didn’t need it. 🙂

I hate that he has to go through surgery again, but once we get all of his teeth fixed, I really think it’s going to help him so much.

Now, I’ve got Gage having his adenoids taken out and tubes put in next week, then Parker’s second surgery on January 7th… and then it’s going to be time for baby #7 to arrive! Things are about to get very, very crazy around here I think. 🙂

Torani Adds Flavor to Your Holidays!

If you are looking for a way to add some flavor to your holiday celebrations, look no further than Torani Syrups. These sweet syrups will add flavor to your favorite recipes, your coffee, or even your soda! With so many different flavor choices, you are certain to find at least one that will leave you smiling.

pumpkin pie syrupBefore I get to my review of Torani syrups, let me tell you a little about the company.

Since 1925, 3rd generation family-owned Torani has been crafting great tasting flavored syrups that coffeehouses use to make their flavored drinks taste so delicious. With over 120 flavors in Regular and Sugar Free varieties, Torani flavored syrups are perfect for flavored lattes, mochas, coffees, cocoas, Italian sodas, teas, lemonades, cocktails and smoothies. Coffeehouse professionals choose Torani flavors because they are expertly crafted and made with the highest quality ingredients, like natural flavors and pure cane sugar. The Sugar Free flavors have no calories and are sweetened with Splenda. Now, Torani flavored syrups are widely available at retail so you can easily create authentic coffeehouse quality drinks at home.

For my review, I was sent 2 bottles of Torani syrups: Hazelnut and Pumpkin Pie. The perfect flavors for the holidays!

The syrups were a hit at our Thanksgiving dinner. I watched as family members poured the syrups into their coffee, soda, and even sweet tea.  The bottle of the Hazelnut flavor was gone almost as soon as I opened it. I think it was the biggest hit. (I never got to try it… by the time I was ready to pour it into my drink, it was completely gone!)

When we got home from our celebration that night, I decided to try the Pumpkin Pie syrup in a drink recipe for me and my husband.

My husband and I both decided we would try the Mayan Pumpkin Cocoa. I didn’t have the Torani chocolate sauce, so I had to improvise, but this was still so good. It had just the right amount of pumpkin to chocolate ratio, and I truly believe it would have been even better if I had the Torani chocolate sauce. (I’ve added that to my shopping list for Christmas dinner!) I will probably end up getting both the regular chocolate sauce as well as the dark chocolate. I just love dark chocolate, and I think it would give the cocoa an even better flavor.

I am really impressed with the quality and flavor of the Torani syrups, and I will definitely be purchasing more for my Christmas and New Years celebrations. I’m excited that our local grocery store carries quite a few flavors, so I can really stock up! Plus, if my store doesn’t have exactly what I’m looking for, the Torani website allows me to buy products from them directly, or locate another store that might have what I’m looking for.

Flavor up your holidays this year with a bottle of Torani syrups. I promise your drink creations (and even food recipes!) will be the hit of the party. Check out the recipe page and start creating now!

Disclaimer: I am participating in a She Speaks blog tour for Torani. I received 2 large bottles of Torani syrups in order to facilitate my review. Opinions expressed are 100% my own and have not been influenced in any way.

How to Make a Christmas Wreath (Tutorial)

 

You won’t believe how super easy (or cheap!) it is to make this wreath! Let’s get started, and we’ll fancy up your door this Christmas season.

Materials Needed
Christmas Bow (see my “How to Make a Large Bow” post.)
Wreath (I got mine from Walmart for $2.50. It’s 20 inches.)
Ornaments of different sizes/colors.
Large Ornament, Wooden Letter, Decoration, etc.
Hot Glue Gun
Florist Wire

 

Instructions

Step 1. First, you need your wreath. Mine was as flat as flat could be, so I had to spend some time “floofing” it into shape.

 

Step 2. Decide where you would like the bow to sit on the wreath.

 

Step 3. Fold a large piece of Florist Wire in half and use it to attach the bow to the wreath. (Be sure to twist the wire as tightly as you can. I use tweezers/wire cutters to do this.) Then, tuck any extra wire up into the wreath so you can’t see it.

 

 

Step 4. Decide where you want the large ornament/decoration/etc. to go, and flatten the branches around it as needed. Use LOTS of hotglue to glue it into place. (Especially if you’ll be putting the wreath on a door. If your house is like mine, the door will get opened – and slammed – about a thousand times a day.)

 

Step 5. Tuck the tails of the bow in the branches, leaving room to still glue on ornaments.

 

 

Step 6. Use lots of hotglue on each ornament and strategically place them all around the wreath.

 

Ta da! You have a beautiful wreath perfect for decorating your door, or giving as a gift this Christmas season! Just grab a wreath hanger from your favorite store, and hang your beautiful creation on your door… or wall. 🙂

Here’s what’s hanging on my door this year:

I would love to hear how your wreath turns out if you use this tutorial!

How to Make a Large Bow (Tutorial)

I will start out this post by warning you that this post will be loaded with pictures, so it may take some time to load. But, I want to give you step-by-step instructions to make it even easier for you.

Ok! Let’s get started! The instructions will be posted above each picture.

Materials Needed:

Large Roll of Wired Ribbon (I used 2″ x 75′. This will make quite a few bows.)
Florist Wire (Silver is best, all my Walmart had was green.)
Wire Cutters (optional. Mine are also tweezers, and I use them to twist the wire tighter around the ribbon.)

Instructions:

1. Decide how long you want the “tail” of your bow. (I always tend to make mine longer than I should – it’s easier to cut off more at the end than it is to start all over because it’s too short.)

 

 

2. Make your first loop. (This will determine how big your bow is. The larger the loop, the larger the bow.) Pinch the ribbon together at the end of the loop.

 

 

3. Make your second loop on the opposite side. Continue pinching the ribbon together in the middle.

 

 

4. Continue until you have as many loops as you’d like. (For this bow, I wanted 8 loops.)

 

 

5. Cut a long piece of wire, and then fold it in half for extra stability.

 

 

6. Wrap the wire around the area you’ve been pinching all this time. (Use wire cutters/tweezers to get the wire twisted as tightly as possible.) Do NOT cut the excess wire. You’ll need it in a minute.

 

 

7. To form the little center loop, use ribbon from the side of the ribbon you haven’t cut yet and make a small loop.

 

8. Use the extra wire that’s still on the bow and wrap it through the smaller loop to secure the loop to the rest of the bow.

 

 

 

9.  Secure with extra wire. (Optional: I do this if I know I will be putting the bow somewhere that it will be taking a lot of abuse – on an outdoor wreath, on a package, etc.)

 

 

10. “Floof” the loops and shape them exactly how you want them.

 

 

11. Cut the second tail from the roll of ribbon at the same length as the first tail. Then, cut each tail at an angle as shown below to make an upside down V shape. Repeat for each side. (To ensure they are exactly the same, you can put both tails together and cut at the same time.)

 

 

Tada! You have a finished bow!

 

These bows can be used on just about anything… gifts, wreaths, doors, you name it. Tomorrow I’ll share a fun wreath project that needs a pretty bow like this.

You can easily make a bow in under 5 minutes. Now all my friends know my secret, and they know why I have so many bows all over my living room. 🙂

I’d love to see your finished bows if you use this tutorial!

@MilkUnleashed: The Benefits of Shelf Safe Milk

My kids love milk, but it’s just not an on-the-go option for them. Where we live, we have to drive in order to get anywhere. (The dentist is an hour and a half away. The nearest mall is over 2 hours away. You get the idea.) When we do take a trip, I don’t want them drinking sugary drinks like soda or juice. And since it takes so long to drive to the dentist, I’d like to keep our trips down there to a minimum. 😉

Luckily, there’s another option! Shelf safe milk is real milk. It contains the same proteins and nutrient that refrigerated milk does. There are no additives or preservatives. And the best part? It doesn’t need refrigerated until after you open it! That means you can take your milk on the go with you and enjoy it anytime, anywhere. And since you can get regular or flavored shelf safe milk, you’re sure to make everyone in the family happy – even the pickiest drinker. (Like me!) I must confess, I don’t like milk. (Gasp.) But with the flavored shelf-safe milk, I love the smooth, creamy taste, and I can get the calcium and vitamins that I (and my growing baby!) need.

If I know we have a long drive ahead of us, I’ll throw a couple of shelf safe milk single-serve packages in the freezer the night before. The next morning, I’ll stick them in the diaper bag, and the kids can have milk whenever they’d like. Shelf safe milk is perfect for today’s on the go family.

Shelf safe milk goes through ultra pasteurization and the special Tetra Pak eco-friendly cartons keep milk safe for drinking whenever it’s most convenient. It’s a very safe process, and all it does is adds a convenience factor to the milk that you already love so much.

Take a moment to watch this video and learn more:

Link to video: http://youtu.be/xSn-DnnYP3g

Because I have such a large family, I like to buy in bulk whenever I can. Shelf safe milk is perfect for buying in bulk. I can store it in the pantry, the basement, or the garage, and we’ll have it when we need it. It doesn’t expire nearly as quickly as refrigerated milk, so I can really stock up. (And I use it for cooking too! The single serving packages are usually just the right amount for whatever I’m making.

The uses for shelf safe milk are endless, and it has become a convenient staple in my house and for my family.

To learn more about shelf safe milk, visit the following links:

Disclaimer: This blog post is part of a paid SocialMoms and Milk Unleashed blogging program. The opinions and ideas expressed here are my own. To read more posts on this topic, click here.

It’s Official… Recurrent Ear Infections Means Tubes!

It looks like my little boy will soon be undergoing yet another surgery. This one is far less complicated, and much more common than his last surgery, though, so I’m trying not to stress out about it too much.

Gage gets ear infections all the time. About 3 weeks ago, we were at the doctor’s office, and she said that if he gets another ear infection in the next month, we may need to consider having tubes put in his ears.

Well, this past Friday night, Gage started running a low-grade fever. I prayed it was just the crud that everyone seems to have right now, but in my heart I knew better.

By 3 am, he had a raging fever of 104.

I tried all day to get his fever down: cool rags, Tylenol/Motrin cocktail, etc., but nothing worked. At 5pm Saturday night, I decided it was time to take a trip to the ER.

After a 3 hour wait, and their failed attempts to get his fever down, the doctor finally came in. Sure enough, another double ear infection. The doctor decided our best option was to give him a shot of antibiotics, and send him home.

The next day, his fever finally broke, and he started acting better. But it wasn’t until yesterday that he was finally back to his old self, playing and goofing around like the crazy kid he usually is.

This morning, I had a follow up appointment with his pediatrician. She checked his ears, and they are still severely infected. The shot he got most likely helped his fever, but it didn’t do a thing for his poor ears. So, he’s on another round of antibiotics, and we’ll meet with the Pediatric ENT next Wednesday. I’m guessing we’ll set a surgery date then.

It breaks my heart to see him in constant pain. I know the tubes will help. My oldest daughter went through the exact same thing when she was about Gage’s age. Only then, doctors didn’t want to put tubes in kids’ ears. She’s now 15, and she still has trouble with her ears. I don’t want Gage to go through that. And I’m afraid that if we don’t get the tubes soon, he will have an absolutely miserable winter. I think it’s best to just get it over and done with now – especially before Carly makes her appearance. It’s just the thought of another surgery for my baby that has me worried….

Any parents out there had experience with tubes? What do I need to know before and after surgery? I’d love any tips or advice you can give!

Rockin’ Rider Pony Review (Tek Nek Toys)

Recently, I received the Rockin’ Rider Brown Pony from Tek Nek toys to review. My original intent was to have Gage review the product, and I would tell you how much he loves it and just can’t get enough of it. Unfortunately, that’s just not how things worked out.

Let me explain…

When the package arrived, I saw the instructions for putting the pony together on the outside of the box. I got a little nervous,  because the instructions looked pretty complex. But, once I opened the box, I quickly realize that I just needed to screw the bottom part on, and we were good to go. I was actually quite proud of myself for not even needing to ask my husband to help me. 🙂

When I first got the adorable Brown Pony put together, Gage was thrilled. He wouldn’t get on the pony and ride, but he would pet him and rock him. It was so sweet.

And then I pushed the button on the Brown Pony’s ear to show Gage how it would move its mouth and sing.

That was the end of it. For some reason, this terrified Gage. (Of course, I shouldn’t be surprised, after all, this child is also afraid of his pajamas.) Sigh.

I ended up taking the batteries out, and that has helped some. Gage will still pet and rock the pony, but I absolutely cannot get him to ride on it.

Parker, though, absolutely loves the Rockin’ Rider pony, and I can’t keep him off of it. So, I quickly decided he would be the one to do the review for this little pony.

Isn’t that the cutest thing you’ve ever seen? Parker just loves his Rockin’ Rider pony, and he plays with him all the time. It is really the sweetest thing. And Parker doesn’t even seem to mind that the pony’s mouth doesn’t move anymore and he doesn’t sing. He’s content just to ride him and sing the song himself.

After having the Rockin’ Rider Brown Pony in our house, I would highly recommend him to any family that wants to find a classic, timeless Christmas gift for their child. He is made with the highest quality materials, he is safe and sturdy, and he is certain to bring a smile to any child that might be lucky enough to ride on him.

If you are looking to purchase the Rockin’ Rider Pony for your child, you can click this link to find out where to purchase him: Click Here. I’ll also let you know that he is available on Amazon for just $39.99 with free Super Saver shipping. It’s a great deal on a fabulous toy!

I also want to encourage you to follow Rockin’ Rider on Facebook. You will get the inside scoop on all things Rockin’ Rider. 🙂

Be sure to check out the Tek Nek website for more great products available for your kids this holiday season.

Disclaimer: I received a Rockin’ Rider Pony from Tek Nek Toys in order to facilitate my review. Opinions expressed are 100% my own and have not been influenced in any way. I was in no other way compensated for this post.