#Ad: #SuperWubble Bubble Ball #Review & #Giveaway

sampleDisclaimer: This is a sponsored post for Super Wubble Bubble Ball & NSI. All opinions are 100% my own and have not been influenced in any way.

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Right now is the perfect time for outdoor activities with the kids. The days are getting shorter, yes, but they are also getting cooler. We love spending as much time as possible outside as a family, and I am always looking for activities and things we can do outside.

When I was asked to do a review of the Super Wubble Bubble Ball, I jumped on it! THIS was perfect. What a great way to get my kids outside, moving, and having fun together. The boys were all very excited to receive the blue ball, and the girls didn’t care what color it was, they just wanted to play!

Jace begged me to let him blow up the Super Wubble Bubble Ball, so we read the instructions together, and I let him go for it.

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I think he went a little overboard. It’s hard to gauge what is 36″ or 30″, and so he just guessed. I think his estimate was a little off, but I really don’t think he cared. After it was blown up, they headed out to the yard to play.

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They had so much fun playing in the yard together. Before I knew it, all 7 of the younger kids were outside playing with the Super Wubble Bubble Ball. It did pop in the first half an hour of play, but I think that’s because it was filled too full. No worries, though! The Super Wubble Bubble Ball comes with patches, so they were right back to playing after a quick fix. (And we made sure to let some air out.)

We love the Super Wubble Bubble Ball. The kids can’t get enough of it! It’s the perfect outdoor toy to get kids moving, playing, and having fun!

Want to learn more about the Super Wubble Bubble Ball and their top secret Xpandium™ material that makes it up to four times stronger and more tear-resistant than the original Wubble Bubble Ball? Visit their website at http://wubbleball.com/ to learn more and purchase now!

If you’d like to try to win your own Super Wubble Bubble Ball, enter with the rafflecopter gadget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

#Ad: US Flag #3DCoinArt Set #Review & #Giveaway

sampleDisclaimer: This is a sponsored post for 3D Coin Art & NSI. All opinions are 100% my own and have not been influenced in any way.

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If there is one thing our home is never lacking, it’s spare change. Usually, it falls out of my husband’s pockets and ends up in the couch, although we do have a jar where it’s supposed to go.

I’m always looking for a fun, unique way for my kids to pass the time, and this 3D Coin Art set is perfect! My kids were thrilled to see that we got the US Flag Set, and they couldn’t wait to attack our spare change jar and start putting the coins into the flag.

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I loved watching them work together. And, while the spare change from our jar (and our couch!) didn’t quite fill up the set, they boys had so much fun working on this project. I do wish the flag held quarters, though, because we were left with lots of quarters after the boys were done. But, at the same time, it’s probably a good thing it doesn’t hold quarters, just because my kids and my husband would be much more likely to break into the flag to get the quarters out. 😉

We’ve decided we’re going to take our quarters to the bank and exchange them for pennies, dimes, and nickles so the boys can finish filling up the flag puzzle. They’re really excited about it, and I’d love for them to have something to display that they’re proud of.

Here’s how far they got:

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Look how proud they are!

We still have a long way to go, but we’ll get there! Zander, the older boy in this picture, has decided they’re not putting any stickers on the base until they’ve got it all filled in and can display it.

I love that this brought some of my kids together for a project. They’ve both had so much fun with it, and they can’t wait to finish it so they can display it. What a simple, easy project that anyone can do – whether they are just a kid or an avid coin collector.

If you’d like to purchase your own 3D Coin Art Set, head to http://www.3dcoinart.com/ right now! You can learn more about how the sets work and what sets are available.

Also, for a chance to win your own 3D Coin Art Set, use the rafflecopter gadget below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Managing Your Child’s Allergies

If your child suffers from allergies and sensitivities, you understand the challenges of everyday life. From planning outings and activities to preparing a simple meal, managing your child’s allergies isn’t always easy. Thankfully, there are ways to reduce the risk of reaction, without adding to your own stress. Keep reading to learn more!

Is Your Child Taking the Right Medications?
For some children, keeping antihistamines on hand is enough to address the occasional reaction. For others, especially children with seasonal allergies, daily medications are often necessary. For children with more severe and varied allergies, allergy shots, also known as immunotherapy, can reduce the risk of reaction and help children lead more active, normal lives. Talk to an allergist to see if your child is taking the right medications and in the right dosages. Also, since allergies can develop, worsen and disappear over time, regular appointments with an allergist are essential in keeping your child safe and healthy.

Eliminating Triggers
Once you or an allergist have identified your child’s triggers, eliminating them, at least in the home, is the easy part. For example, if you know your child reacts to wool and other itchy fabrics, you can make a point to buy only soft clothes for sensitive skin; or, if your child is allergic to cat dander, you can avoid contact with felines.

Identifying triggers, on the other hand, can get tricky. Kids are exposed to so many substances, it can be difficult to pin down the exact cause of a reaction. Short of allergy testing, you can watch for reactions like the following, then eliminate possible causes until the exact trigger is determined:

  • Hives or welts.
  • Skin that itches or burns.
  • Itchy, watery eyes.
  • Sneezing.
  • Swelling of the face, tongue or throat.
  • Wheezing or shortness of breath.

It’s important to note that, while sneezing, itching and other mild allergy symptoms are usually benign, swelling of the face, throat and tongue, as well as wheezing and shortness of breath and difficulty breathing, are signs of anaphylaxis, and should always be treated as an emergency.

Protecting Your Child at School
Reducing the risk of an allergic reaction while your child is at school or away from home is often challenging. For children with severe food allergies, for example, even secondhand contact with a trigger can be life-threatening. Thankfully, tips like the following can go a long way in keeping your child safe at school.

  • Communication. Be sure your child’s teachers, the school nurse and administrators are aware of your child’s situation. Ask about policies regarding allergies, and make sure everyone is up-to-date on your child’s medication and dosing instructions.
  • Planning. Prior to the school year, make sure your child has all the necessary prescriptions, including those for emergencies, like epinephrine or an asthma inhaler. If your child is old enough, make sure he or she knows the proper dosing procedures, and can administer emergency medications.
  • Paperwork. Some school’s require medication authorization forms, which need to be signed by parents, doctors, and school administrators. Ask your child’s principal about any additional paperwork, and make sure everything is signed and completed before the first day of school.
  • Education. Educating your child on allergies and the risk of reaction is often helpful. In simple terms, explain to your child what he or she must avoid in order to stay healthy. Make sure they know not to share food, and make sure they’re comfortable discussing their concerns with teachers and administrators.

Although childhood allergies can be dangerous, there are steps you can take in protecting your child, without added stress and anxiety. With the tips provided here, you can help avoid a reaction, whether your child is home or at school.

#Ad: Check out the @jfshome Spider-Man Collection #JFShome #Review #Giveaway

sampleDisclaimer: This is a sponsored post for Jay Franco & Sons. All opinions are 100% my own and have not been influenced in any way.

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It’s no secret that we love superheroes in our house. In fact, we love them so much, that each family member actually has their own superhero. One of those superheroes happens to be Spider-Man. We love Spider-Man! 🙂 Our son, Parker, was even named after Spider-Man, that’s how much we love him! (Peter Parker = Spider-Man. Our boys picked out his name, and we went with it!) So, when the opportunity arose to review the new Jay Franco & Sons Spider-Man collection, I jumped on it! I just knew Parker would be giddy when this box arrived in the mail.

I wasn’t wrong! 🙂 Parker couldn’t wait to get his hands on everything in the box, and the first thing he did was put the Marvel Spider-Man Zippy Sack on his bed. (Don’t worry! He had help!) Here’s why I love the Zippy Sack:

  • It’s super easy to put on the bed. We just put it right over his sheet, and it was ready to go! Less than 2 minutes from bag to bed. Love that!
  • Parker can make his own bed every morning. I hate fighting with my kids about making their beds. With the Zippy Sack, he gets out of bed, zips it closed, and his bed looks fantastic all day long. Bam!
  • It is super soft! I don’t have to worry about him getting to hot or cold or itchy during the night. The incredibly soft material keeps him comfortable all night long.

He also absolutely loves the Spider-Man Plush Snuggle Pillow Buddy. So much fun in one crazy little character. He’s perfect to snuggle with every night, he uses him as a pillow to watch movies in the living room, and he loves playing with him. Parker is a rough and tumble kind of kid, and the pillow buddy has held up to countless pillow fights already. 😉

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The last item we received is the Spider-Man Hooded Bath/Beach Poncho Towel. While Parker loves this, the baby won’t let him use it. It’s hysterical. For some reason, Sawyer has claimed this towel as his own, and he freaks out if Parker uses it. Parker totally understands, though, and he’s been good to share the towel with Sawyer without complaint. This towel is soft, dries quickly, and makes anyone who is wearing it feel like a superhero.

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If your kids love superheroes like we do, I encourage you to check out the Spider-Man collection from Jay Franco & Sons. You will not be disappointed! While I posted the links to the items on Amazon, you can also find them in your local Walmart store. Be sure to look the next time you go shopping, and stock up now for Christmas gifts your kids are sure to love.

I also want to encourage you to follow Jay Franco & Sons on Social Media. Here’s how:

Want the chance to win the Jay Franco Spider-Man Collection for yourself? (It’s valued at $75!) Enter through the easy-peasy Rafflecopter gadget below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

#Ad: #LetsPowerTheirDreams Together with @SheSpeaksUp, @Walmart, & @AussieHair

sampleDisclaimer: This is a sponsored post for SheSpeaks/P&G. All opinions expressed are 100% my own.

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Is your family as obsessed with the Olympic Games as my family is? Once the Opening Ceremony starts, our TV is set to absolutely nothing else besides Rio 2016. My family absolutely loves all the different sports, and we all love cheering on the USA! My kids are all at the ages where they start to want to think about what they want to do with their lives, and my son, Jace, has big dreams of making it to the Olympic Games one way or another. 🙂

A big way to support Team USA is to shop for Proctor & Gamble brand products at your local Walmart store. For this review, we received a sample of Aussie® 3 Minute Miracle Smooth Treatment. Oh. My. Goodness. This is one way I can easily support Team USA by buying this at Walmart.

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I also let my daughter try the Aussie® 3 Minute Miracle Smooth Treatment, and she loved it as much as I did. In fact, I think her exact words after using it were, “Wow! Look how amazing my hair looks now,” after she did her hair that day. It truly is amazing the difference after just one use. She was even able to leave her hair wavy, and there was no frizz, no static, just gorgeous waves all throughout her hair. One treatment each week, that’s all it takes, and you’ll instantly have gorgeous frizz-free hair thanks to a touch of Olive Oil and Australian Ginseng. It smells amazing, works fast, and lasts all week long.

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Now, let’s get back to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. One of our very favorite sports is beach volleyball. We love, love, love the sport of volleyball. My daughter, Ashley, has admired April Ross since London 2012, and she absolutely refuses to miss a match when April plays.

I also loved volleyball as a teenager, and I even played in high school. I passed on that love to Ashley, and I always hoped she’d go far with volleyball. Unfortunately, the school system in our county doesn’t have a volleyball team, and so Ashley could never pursue volleyball with the passion that she has. It’s never stopped her, though, and she’s found ways to continue playing the sport she loves. I just wish we could have done more to help her go farther. I’m so proud of her for never giving up, and I hope some day, she achieves every goal she’s set for herself.

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I can’t wait to see how Team USA does throughout the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, and you can bet, my whole family will be cheering them on from our living room. Not only that, but we will also be supporting Team USA by stocking up on Proctor & Gamble (P&G) products from Walmart. Products we use every day anyway, and now they’re helping to make a difference in the lives of the Olympians.

I’m also going to keep cheering my own children on and encouraging them to Power their Dreams. Who knows? Maybe one day, I might get to watch one of my own children or grandchildren in a future Olympic Games.

Do you and your family watch the Olympic Games? What’s your favorite sport? Tell me in the comments below!

#Sponsored: #TastingGrace: A Mentoring in the Kitchen Bible Study

sampleDisclaimer: I received a copy of the Tasting Grace book in order to facilitate my review. All opinions expressed are 100% my own.
Tasting Grace
If you are a regular reader around here, you are probably aware that I am not a whiz in the kitchen. In fact, while I have several recipes here on the blog, that’s not what this blog is about. And, it’s for good reason.

Growing up, my mom worked. A lot. And she traveled. A lot. While I did spend time with several women who did know how to cook and were amazing homemakers, I never really learned how to work in the kitchen. I knew how to order from a menu, and I knew what my favorite dishes were at every restaurant we frequented. Meals around the table at our house were basically non-existent, though I do recall a few… many after Daddy became sick and mom spent more time at home.

I will never forget my Home Ec class my junior year. Our assignment was to make biscuits. Easy, right? HA. My biscuits turned out like hockey pucks, and they were inedible. Not only did I get a “D” on the assignment, but the teacher also felt the need to tell me that I would never be able to make biscuits, and that I should just learn the proper way to order from a menu like my mom did. OUCH. From that moment on, I didn’t even want to try in the kitchen. I didn’t care.

After I had my daughter, Ashley, I learned how to make the basics: mac ‘n cheese, grilled cheese, ramen… we could survive. And, then I got married. And started having kids. LOTS of kids. Over the years, my ability in the kitchen has grown, but I have never felt like I knew what I was doing.

Then I met Leah Adams. Y’all. I wish you could meet this woman in real life. What a heart she has for Jesus!

Leah started her Tasting Grace ministry, and Ashley and I attended one of her sessions. Wow, wow, wow! We made chicken and dumplings and pound cake, and she also taught us the proper way to make biscuits. While the food cooked, and after we had cleaned up, Leah held a short Bible study. What an amazing opportunity for Ashley and I to spend the afternoon together, to learn how to make a meal our family would enjoy, AND hear the word of God surrounded by new friends. It was truly one of the best days of my life, and it’s something I will never forget.

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Several weeks later, Carly and I made biscuits together. They came out golden and flaky. Absolutely perfect, and a far cry from my Home Ec class all those years ago. Before Tasting Grace, I never would have had the confidence to even try to make biscuits again. Because of Leah and her ministry, I am so much more confident in the kitchen, and now I want to learn to make all the things!

So, when I found out Leah would be releasing a book called Tasting Grace, and that it would be a Bible Study, I knew it was something I had to share on my blog.

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You all know how I feel about Titus 2 women, and I believe Leah and her ministry are the perfect example of ways older women can mentor and teach the younger women. I know there are many women in my generation and younger who don’t know how to do anything in the kitchen, and it’s because there wasn’t someone there to teach us. I am in no way tearing down my mother for not being home, she did what she did to take care of us. I just wish I had been a little more experienced before I got married and started a family of my own.

I highly recommend that every woman on earth have a copy of Tasting Grace in her kitchen. Whether you are an older woman who has a desire to mentor the younger women, or you are a younger woman who wants to learn and grow spiritually and in the kitchen, this book is just right for you! Maybe you’re like me – somewhere right in the middle, who has a desire to teach her own children and younger women around her how to live for Jesus and how to make a meal their family will love, but you still feel like you have so much to learn. This book is excellent for us as well! I promise you will love Leah’s book as much as I do. It will touch your heart and have you excited to be in the kitchen. And just wait until you see all the wonderful things you can make!

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Tasting Grace is now available for purchase on Amazon for just $14.99. It is truly worth every penny, because it may just change your life – or the life of someone you love!

I also want to encourage you to learn more about Leah Adams and all of her ministries and books. She is a wonderful woman who is sold out for Jesus, and I just know you’ll want to know all about her. Learn more about her on her website, www.leahadams.org. You can also learn more about Tasting Grace the book by visiting the publisher’s website: tastinggrace.warnerpress.org.

#Sponsored: My #Video #Review of the #Havahart Wireless Dog Fence


sampleDisclaimer: I received a sample of the Havahart Wireless Dog Fence System in order to facilitate my review. Opinions expressed are 100% my own and have not been influenced in any way.

I decided to do a video review this time around. Check out my video and see my thoughts on the Havahart Wireless Dog Fence. (Note to self: Video reviews are hard enough, and I even thought video reviews with kids were hard – but, add a dog in there, and you never know what you’ll get! I should have made an outtake video, because Scout made this an unforgettable experience!)

Enjoy the video!

Have you tried the Havahart Wireless Fence? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks to Havahart Wireless for a GREAT experience. I am totally impressed and will recommend this wireless fence system to anyone who asks.

#Spon: @ParasolCo and MOPs Help Welcome New Babies into the World

sampleDisclaimer: I received a sample of Parasol Diapers in order to facilitate my review. Opinions expressed are 100% my own and have not been influenced in any way.

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I don’t know if I’ve talked about it on here much or not, but I am blessed to be a co-leader of my local MOPs group. (Mothers of Preschoolers) I absolutely love my position, and I’m even more blessed to have the most amazing co-leader ever.

At MOPs, we love to serve. We are all about community, and helping new moms (and seasoned moms) find friends, find Jesus, and feel loved. (And, we give them time off without kids and a hot meal! Win-win for all of us!)

One way that we find new moms is through “diaper packets.” Every year, for as many years as I can remember, we put together little diaper packets to take to the hospital and give to the new mamas. We’ve always just grabbed a bunch of diapers at the store and used those, but this year, we did something different. Because I’ve worked with Parasol Co. in the past, and loved their diapers so much, I asked them if they would like to be a part of our diaper packets. It’s a great way to get the word out about them, give moms an amazingly wonderful diaper to try, AND spread the word about MOPs.

Parasol Co. agreed, and sent me boxes and boxes of diaper packs filled with samples of their diapers and wipes. They were AWESOME. These moms at the hospital are getting spoiled! 🙂

So, at our last meeting, we dropped in some information about MOPs, tied the packs together with a bow, added our label to the front, and they were ready to deliver to the hospital!

Here’s the finished product:

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And some of my favorite pictures from the meeting:

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As you can see, we had a GREAT time! And the diaper kits were a hit with ALL of our mamas! 🙂 I dropped a few boxes off at the hospital, and they’ll call me when they need more. I’m praying for good things for our MOPs group AND for Parasol for their participation in this.

HUGE thanks to Parasol Co. for their overwhelming generosity. Folks, THIS is a company I want to stand behind and promote! They are so giving, so kind, and have a heart for MOMs! Isn’t that what we as moms want? A company who loves us as much as we love our products?!

Remember. You can still get $20 off your first box by using code BLESSED16. You are going to *love* these diapers! Hurry on over to the Parasol Co. website, and use code BLESSED16 on your first box. You’ll thank me later. 🙂

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#Spon: My #Review of #Focus Shampoo & Conditioner


sampleDisclaimer: I received a sample of the Focus Rejuvenating Shampoo and Conditioner at a deeply discounted price in order to facilitate my review. Opinions expressed are completely my own.
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After 8 pregnancies and a hysterectomy, my hair has been through a tremendous amount of stress. It’s always been thin. That’s just what I was born with. During pregnancy, it would get thicker and fuller, longer and stronger. And then, as soon as those pregnancy hormones were gone, all the extra hair that had come in would fall out. Imagine this 8 times over. My hair is really thin now. And then I had my hysterectomy, and it got even worse. My hair started falling out in clumps. I would take a shower and just get out and cry. I could hardly stand to look in the mirror because the front of my hair is thinning so badly.

So, it’s no wonder why I was excited to try out the Focus Rejuvenating Shampoo and Conditioner!

I’ve been using it for a little over a week now, and I’m already starting to see some change!

I have little wispy hairs where new hair is starting to grow. (How exciting!!)

My hair doesn’t look as thin. I can pull it back in a headband without wanting to cry. (That’s great, right?!)

My hair no longer comes out in clumps, and my hairbrush is no longer full of hair each time I brush my hair.

My hair is no longer the reason the shower drain is always clogged.

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There are a few drawbacks, and I need to share those with you.

The shampoo smells VERY medicine-y. It’s a very strong smell, and it took me about 4 days before I could stand the smell. After those 4 days, I hardly even noticed the smell, though.

The conditioner doesn’t smell badly at all. In fact, I really like the smell of the conditioner. However, the conditioner doesn’t really “condition” my hair, though. Because I have very long, thin, stringy, naturally curly hair, my hair tangles VERY easily. This conditioner does nothing to help with the tangles, so I was still pulling out a ton of hair with each brushing. I started mixing the conditioner with my regular every day conditioner, though, and that made a world of difference. Of course, now I’m spending twice the money because I still have to buy my regular conditioner too…

Overall, I do like the shampoo. I would probably buy the shampoo by itself again. The conditioner isn’t my favorite, and I think the only thing it’s doing is counter-acting the smell of the shampoo.

I am thankful that I am no longer losing clumps of hair, so for me, it’s worth the price to buy both the shampoo and conditioner if I can’t get them separately.

#Spon: My Final Weigh In on the @Medifast Plan

sampleDisclaimer: I received a sample of the Medifast products in order to facilitate my review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Medifast products and the Medifast program are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or illness.

Today marks my final weigh in on the Medifast Program. My goal was to break 160 pounds and be back in the 150s. Before I get to my weigh in, though, let me tell you about this past week.

This week has been one of the most stressful weeks of my life. My oldest daughter graduated High School on Friday night, we had a party for her on Saturday, Sunday we had TWO church services (one with food – and dessert!) to celebrate her, and then Monday was Memorial Day. Boy, did I ever pick the **wrong** week to have as my last week on the Medifast plan.

I was sure I was setting myself up for failure. It was a lot of eating on the go, and a *lot* of temptation. Luckily, I had planned it all just right, and I always had a Medifast meal I could take with me. (I also had a few “lean and green” meals to take a long too.)

Remember – my last weigh in was 162. I only had to lose a little bit in order to break 160.

Check out what I saw when I hopped on the scale this morning:

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I DID IT!!!

I didn’t do it by much, but I still met my goal! I broke 160 and am back in the 150s. I’m just 10 pounds away from my final goal.

Take a look at my starting weight and my ending weight on this journey:

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There’s one other thing I want you to see. Take a look at my picture from day one next to today’s photo:

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Ignore the sweaty post-workout hair, the fact that I have no makeup on, and how terrible I look, but look closely – especially at the hip area. I lost 5 inches *just in my hips!* Yes, I’ve been working out in addition to the Medifast program, but when you commit to eating right AND exercising, the results are obvious! After birthing 8 kids, I’ve always hated my thighs, but now? Man, I’m just giddy! My muscles are toning up nicely, but I’m not done. I’m committing to reaching my goals both on the scale and off.

Thank you, Medifast, for helping me reach this first goal! I am excited to see how much further I can go, but you gave me the very best start.

Have you enjoyed watching my results each week on the Medifast progam? Remember: If you use the code Blessed25 on the Medifast website, you will receive $25 off your order of $250 or more, as well as free shipping! It’s a great way to get you started on your own journey.

Also, be sure to follow Medifast every way you can in order to learn more about them:

Check Out PromosPro.com for All Sorts of Discounts!

I love, love, love a bargain! And, when I find a great site full of coupons and discounts, I want to share it with my readers. We all love saving money, right?

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Head on over and check out PromosPro.com. They have coupon codes for almost anything you can think of! As a mom of 8, my favorite category is the Baby and Kids section. I was able to find a bunch of really great coupon codes for the Disney Store, and I was able to get a head start on birthday season shopping! Their graphic t-shirts are our favorites, and thanks to PromosPro, I was able to get them for Buy 1, Get 1 at 50% off! Cute shirts with fun designs, and what a great deal! I think I’ll have to go back and get some more shopping done.

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But, don’t just think you’ll only be able to save on baby and kid items. No way! Father’s Day is just around the corner, and PromosPro.com is a great place to start your shopping with deals up to 50% off! There are also great deals for anyone on your list. Around here, it’s about to be birthday season – the kids’ birthdays fall one right after another, and sometimes it’s really hard to keep up with it all – or keep on budget! Sites like PromosPro really help. I’m able to find fun, unique gifts for everyone I need, all at prices I can actually afford! I love that even though I’ve heard of most of the stores on PromosPro, many of them I haven’t heard of. It gives me the chance to find new items and shops I may not have otherwise ever tried.

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No matter what you need, or your budget, you’re sure to find some of the best deals on PromosPro.com. Check it out, do some shopping, and let me know what you think!

#Ad: Challenge Accepted: The ‪#‎chickfilamomsDIY‬ Salad Container Upcycle

Disclaimer: I received a coupon from Chick-fil-A in order to facilitate this challenge. Any opinions expressed are completely my own.

I love a good challenge, and when it comes from one of my favorite restaurants, I’m all for it!

Chick-fil-A sent me a gift card to try their new Spicy Southwest Salad, and our challenge was to take the container and upcycle it in a creative way.

Now, here’s what I love most about Chick-fil-A: I don’t like spicy anything. At all. So, the wonderful folks at my local Chick-fil-A made sure my salad wasn’t spicy, but I still got a little of the Southwest kick. I just adore my local Chick-fil-A. 🙂

After I enjoyed my salad, (which was super yummy, by the way!), I brought home the container, washed it out, and thought for days about how I would upcycle it.

I browsed the Chick-fil-A Mom’s Panel, and so many of them came up with some amazing ideas! (Seriously, you need to search using the hashtag in this post if you haven’t already! You’ll even find one mom who turned her salad container into a night light for her kids! Amazing!!)

I wanted to do something different, and I wanted to go out of the box. Then, I thought about a project I had done recently: Our Family Prayer Box. It’s a shadow box that we place our answered prayers in. On one side of the heart is the request, and on the other side is the date it was answered. I love it, and it hangs on my wall where everyone can see it as soon as they walk in our door.

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The reason I made the prayer box is to show my kids that God answers prayer. Sometimes, we like the answer. But, sometimes, the answer isn’t what we were hoping for. But, through the PrayerBox, I’m teaching them that God is always faithful and He hears our prayers. We just have to trust that His way is perfect, even when it’s not what we were expecting – or wanting.

So, I got to thinking: How can I further my children’s OWN relationship with the Lord? I want them to have quality prayer time with Him, and they will each have their own requests. So, what if I gave them each their OWN prayer box? For this post, Lucy and I made one together, but all of the kids and I will be making their own boxes, just because I love the thought behind this.

Here’s how Lucy’s prayer box turned out:

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Isn’t it pretty? And it was so easy to make! The hardest part was cutting the slot to put the rose petals (answered prayers) into, and I’m afraid it isn’t very straight. Whoops! I’m sure you all could do a better job than me!

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Then, I let Lucy pick the colors of vinyl she wanted to use, I cut out the year and the words “answered prayer,” and I let her put it all together. She picked the ribbon, and the 4 little “breathing holes” were perfect for lacing the ribbon through. Each of the kids will get to decorate their prayer box however they want. (Gage has already requested Superhero stickers for his box.) I’m excited to see how they all turn out.

She absolutely LOVES the way it turned out, and she can’t wait to write all of her requests out and start watching God answer them. Each year, we’ll change the color of rose petals, and that way we’ll know exactly when we asked the request and when God answered.

This is such a fun, easy project, and it’s a great way to encourage your child in their relationship with Jesus. Let them make a prayer box, and watch His answers start rolling in!

When God Made Me A Girl…

Please note: Comments have been disabled for this post.

This post comes from my heart. In light of everything going on in the world today, I can’t help but think: If I had not been born into a godly home, and if I had been born in today’s times when children are told they can be anything they want to be – even the opposite gender – I may have made some very different choices and missed out on many blessings. This post is not written in anger or to hurt anyone. It’s just something I need to say.

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When God Made Me a Girl…

He knew exactly what He was doing. Jeremiah 1:5 says, “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee;” Did you catch that? Before I was even a twinkle in my mother’s eye, God already knew all about me.

Growing up, I was a tomboy. I loved dirt. I loved sports. I could beat up any boy who looked at me cross-eyed. I had no time for nail polish, lipstick, and frilly dresses like the other girls. I wanted to be outside, riding bikes over dirt ramps, crashing into things, and joking around with the boys I called my friends.

As a teenager, most of my friends were guys. Girls were catty and mean, so I avoided them and just hung out with the guys. We played basketball, card games, and always had a good time.

That was my life. There were many times I wished I could have just been born a boy. Boys had it so much easier. (In my mind. They may not have!) Guys could get mad and get over it a few minutes later. Girls could hold grudges for years. In fact, I’m sure there are still a few girls that won’t talk to me because I didn’t wear the right shoes that one day in 9th grade.

I grew up going to a Christian school where girls were required to be in dresses to our knees every.single.day. No pants. Only skirts. (And the occasional pair of culottes.) Oh, how I hated it. You couldn’t ride bikes (well) in a skirt. I always had shorts on underneath my skirts, because I was not going to let a stupid skirt slow me down. I wanted to be able to climb and play like all the boys no matter what I was wearing.

I hated being a girl most days growing up. Absolutely hated it. If I could have changed it, I would have.

So, did God make a mistake? Should I have been a boy? Life would have been easier, sure, but it definitely wouldn’t have been the same.

Growing up, I would often mention to my dad that I wished I was a boy. He knew it, and he knew why. But, instead of encouraging me to be something that I was not created to be, he would tell me this verse over and over: Psalm 139:14 – “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made:” He would remind me all the time that I was made exactly the way God wanted me to be, and that God had a purpose to fulfill in me one day.

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Maybe God taught me to fight like a guy and not hold a grudge because He knew it would help in my marriage one day. Gene and I rarely fight anyway, but when we do, the fights don’t last for days. Usually, they only last a few minutes. We speak our mind and the fighting is done. It’s probably why we’re still married today!

Maybe the reason God allowed me to be a girl who liked dirt and sports and being outside was because He knew that one day I would be the mother of 5 boys. I cannot be intimidated by dirt, must love sports, and I have to be able to deal with unidentifiable smells at any given moment.

So, why did I have to suffer all of those years wearing those awful skirts? I’m guessing it’s because God also knew I would be a mother to 3 amazing girls, all of whom love to wear dresses, paint their nails, and are just as girly as girly can be. He knew that one day, I would have to teach each of them to be modest, at whatever cost, and show them the ways a girl behaves.

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Years ago, when I was struggling and in so much pain, I had no idea that one day God’s purpose for my life would be fulfilled – or how it would be fulfilled. I certainly didn’t know it would mean being a mom of 8, surrounded by many different situations that both my boys AND my girls are dealing with, and that my life as a young person had set me up to handle it all.

When God Made Me a Girl… I didn’t like it. I didn’t understand it. But I am oh so very thankful He did because of the life I have now.

If you, or your child, is dealing with a similar situation, and they feel like they don’t belong, please don’t try to go above God’s head and change something that isn’t meant to be. Instead, encourage them to embrace the person God created them to be. To try and achieve whatever they want to do, but to do it as the person they are – not the person they wish they could be instead. Life is HARD. I get that. But changing who you are on the outside does NOT change who God created you to be. You are still that person, you are just trying to hide it. I get that. I wished many times I could have hidden the fact that I was a girl and that I really could have been “just one of the guys.”

I want you to know that you are loved. God loves you SO much – as confused as you may be, as hurt as you may be, as unloved as you may feel. Turn to Him. Let Him lead. I promise, His ways are perfect. We just have to be willing to sit back and hold on as the ride goes around.

If you don’t know God, and if you don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus, can I introduce you to Him? He wants to get to know you. ALL of you – just like you are. Contact me today, and we can talk. I think you’d like Him. I already know He loves you. 🙂 May you find the peace that only Jesus can give. Not peace from changing everything about you, but true peace that overwhelms you from the inside out.

#Spon: My Week 3 Do-Over on the @Medifast Plan

sampleDisclaimer: I received a sample of the Medifast products in order to facilitate my review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Medifast products and the Medifast program are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or illness.

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Remember last week? How I failed on the Medifast program because I let life get in the way? I didn’t even weigh in last week, because I didn’t want to know how much weight I had gained back. (I had eaten REALLY badly!)

I am happy to report that I am now back on track!

The last time I weighed in, I was at 162 pounds. Today, the scale read 161.4. That’s great! That means I lost whatever I had put on in the previous week as well as a little extra! I’m quite happy with that. My goal in this challenge was to break 160 before my 4 weeks are up. I’m back on track to do just that, and I’m hoping I have good news to report after I finish out this next week.

I’m doing much better on the Medifast journey if I make a shake to drink on the way somewhere. If we’re heading out to a function, I drink a shake on the way and bring one of my other meals to eat while I’m there. It keeps me from filling up on junk, and that’s where I need the most help!

How are you doing on your journey? Are you finding tools to help you succeed? Have you decided to try the Medifast program? It’s a great option if you need all the help you can get staying on track. Their guidelines are easy to follow, the meals are easy to prepare, and the shakes are really really good! 🙂

One more week to go, and I can’t wait to see my final results! I’m anxious to see how many inches I’ve lost and if I can make my goal and get back into the 150s. Think I can do it?

Want to join me on this journey? Remember: If you use the code Blessed25 on the Medifast website, you will receive $25 off your order of $250 or more, as well as free shipping! It’s a great way to get you started on your own journey.

I would LOVE to have you join me on this journey! Please check back to see my results each week. You can also track my results on Instagram and Facebook, so be sure to follow me there.

Also, be sure to follow Medifast every way you can in order to learn more about them:

#Spon: PinPix #BulletinBoard Keeps Me Organized and Looking Great


sampleDisclaimer: I received a sample of the PinPix Bulletin Board at a discounted price in order to facilitate my review. Opinions expressed are 100% my own and have not been influenced in any way.
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When we moved into our new house last fall, it came with a small work shed in the yard. I quickly took over that shed and turned it into my craft space. I do everything in there from design work to paint and even make wreaths and cut vinyl. I’m not kidding – I do everything. While the peg board on the wall is great for hanging things, I still needed a bulletin board so I could keep myself organized. Sometimes I just need to tack something up in a safe place for a few minutes, and the PinPix bulletin board is perfect!

BUT, I also needed a bulletin board that I could take with me on my Simply Said parties. I needed a way to showcase that month’s specials, attach a calendar for scheduling future parties, and even showcase a few of my favorite designs. This bulletin board achieves all that and more! My clients absolutely love this board, and they can’t stop talking about it whenever I bring it along.

Overall, I am very impressed with this board! The size is perfect, the metal frame is sturdy and sleek. The design is modern and fun. And the board itself doesn’t flake, peel, or crack no matter how much I use (and reuse) it. I absolutely love this board and plan to purchase several more. I’d like to put one in my girls’ room, one in the boys’ room, and one in the living room to keep the entire family organized all year long. (This would make finding those Field Trip forms SO much easier!)

I would highly recommend this board to anyone who asked. It is a gorgeous board, and it is made to last. I’m looking forward to make more years of using my PinPix board in lots of different ways.

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(Ignore my messy craft space! Such is the life of a crafter!)

#Spon: Week 3 on @Medifast: That Time I Failed… Miserably

sampleDisclaimer: I received a sample of the Medifast products in order to facilitate my review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Medifast products and the Medifast program are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or illness.

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It’s time to come clean. I am so embarrassed to admit this, but because I only believe in full disclosure here on my blog, and providing you honest reviews from my heart, I must confess…

I failed miserably this week.

Here are the excuses:

  • May is a tough month. Especially this year with my oldest daughter graduating high school. Picnics, birthday parties, end of school year parties, award ceremonies, wedding showers, house warming parties, baseball games, fellowships, going away parties. I have ONE DAY this month where I don’t have anything written in on my calendar. Really tough month.
  • I’ve had to eat on-the-go way more than normal this past week, and it’s so much easier to make the wrong choice than the right one.

Because things are so crazy, and I’ve been in a hurry, I haven’t taken the time to make the right choices. Instead, I’ve opted to just eat the food that was made available to me. Or, I’ve ridden through the drive thru for something quick between one appointment to the next.

Now, I’m feeling it. I’m back to being sluggish and feeling miserable all the time. When you eat poorly, you feel poorly. And, I know that. Especially after 2 good weeks of making the right choices!

I didn’t even weigh in today. I don’t want to know what I’ve done to my progress. I am just so disappointed in myself. BUT, like the sign above says, failure is a part of life. It’s how I react to my failure that will determine my success. If I just stop here and continue eating the way I have this past week, I haven’t learned anything. It’s time to buckle down and force myself to truly succeed! If I don’t, I’m never going to reach my goals, and I’m only going to get back on that downhill slope of weight gain and feeling miserable.

I know I can do it. It’s not going to be easy. Not at all. But it’s going to be worth it! When I reach my goals and can fit in that dress that’s hanging in my closet, it will be SO worth it.

So, I failed this week. I’m disappointed in myself. But, I’m going to pick myself up, brush off the dirt, and give it another try.

Stick with me, and help encourage me along the way, will you? Have you ever failed at a change you were trying to make in your life? I’d love to hear about it!

Want to join me on this journey? Remember: If you use the code Blessed25 on the Medifast website, you will receive $25 off your order of $250 or more, as well as free shipping! It’s a great way to get you started on your own journey.

I would LOVE to have you join me on this journey! Please check back to see my results each week. You can also track my results on Instagram and Facebook, so be sure to follow me there.

Also, be sure to follow Medifast every way you can in order to learn more about them:

#Spon: Week 2 on @Medifast: Tools to Help You Succeed!

sampleDisclaimer: I received a sample of the Medifast products in order to facilitate my review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Medifast products and the Medifast program are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or illness.

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I’ve been on the Medifast program for 2 weeks now, and it is still going great! This week, the pounds didn’t fall off as easily as I hoped, since I weighed in a 162, but I can feel a difference in the way my clothes fit and how I feel. (The exact opposite of last week!)

Last night for church, I was able to get into a size small skirt and sweater set – that I took out of my daughter’s closet. It’s such a great feeling to see the fruits of my labor. It makes it all feel worth it!

Not only that, but the very best part was having my (almost) 13 year old son hug me and say, “You look pretty, Mom.” He didn’t say it because he wanted something or had ulterior motives, he just hugged me and said it. It about sent me to the floor! What a great thing to hear!

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I still have my favorite foods: the Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars and the vanilla shakes – to name a few. 🙂 And I’m starting to do really well with making Lean & Green meals that my kids all love and are excited to try. (Note: I made one meal the other night, and Lucy loved it so much, she went back for seconds – and she’s my pickiest kid!!)

Today, I want to share with you some tools Medifast offers to help you on your journey. Not only does the meal plan come with a food journal – which is great for keeping you on track with your eating, but you can also download the MyWellness App. This app has become my best friend over the past 2 weeks. Not only can I log my calorie intake, but I can also log my water intake, calories burned, weight, measurements, and even sleep duration. I can pair it with my fitbit and it helps keep me on track with everything!

You can also create an account on the Medifast website and do all the same things. It’s all about what’s more convenient for you. (I prefer to have the one-touch access the app gives me on my phone. Then, it’s always with me, and I can quickly and easily input data into it. It takes just a few seconds to put in the data, and I immediately have it recorded so I can look back on how far I’ve come!

8 pounds in 2 weeks is great. Yes, the weight is much easier to put on than it is to take off, but it’s coming off. And by the end of these 30 days, I have a feeling there’s going to be more than just a change in my diet, I’m looking forward to a total lifestyle change.

I can do this!!

Want to join me on this journey? Remember: If you use the code Blessed25 on the Medifast website, you will receive $25 off your order of $250 or more, as well as free shipping! It’s a great way to get you started on your own journey.

I would LOVE to have you join me on this journey! Please check back to see my results each week. You can also track my results on Instagram and Facebook, so be sure to follow me there.

Also, be sure to follow Medifast every way you can in order to learn more about them:

#Spon: #FairRepair Study from @RepairPal Proves Women Pay More for Auto Repair — But You Don’t Have To!

Women watch out!
Despite living in an age where female CEOs can make more than their male counterparts and female soldiers can enter combat, some believe that the car industry is still very much “a man’s world.”
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been advised to take a man with me when visiting auto repair shops or car dealerships — and I know I’m not alone. Women getting worked over or even ripped off seems to be a common concern in the automotive industry.
For example, there was the time my husband asked me to get the oil changed in our passenger van. No big deal, right? Well, I drove the van to the place where I usually got it done, and the guy informed me they could no longer change the oil in my van because it was “too heavy” for their lift. (Although there was a very large truck already on the lift behind him. It looked every bit as big as my van.) So, I left and decided to go to a little “mom and pop” auto repair shop. The huge sign outside said “Oil Change: $39.95.” Great! I figured it would probably be a little more, but when they showed me the total, I wanted to cry: $109.95. The invoice was full of things I never asked for, and charges that I didn’t understand. I have no doubt they ripped me off, and most likely because I’m a woman and they thought they could get away with it. Now, I warn everyone I can about that shop, and refuse to set foot back in such an unprofessional place of business.
I recently partnered with RepairPal (the auto repair estimator site) to share with you some of the data behind this very real issue. They released their RepairPal Institute Gender Bias Study, which found that uncertified shops routinely charge women more than men for auto repairs—sometimes by as much as 73%. (See my story above! It happens!)
>> Nationwide, women are overcharged by an average of 8% compared to men.
>> In big cities like LA, San Francisco and New York, women are overcharged by a whopping average of 66%.
>> In smaller cities, women are overcharged by a lower amount (average of around 3%), but it’s still significant. (We are definitely a smaller city, and I’m sad that I was overcharged so much.)
>> The greater New York area is the worst, with women overcharged by an average of 73%.
The most likely scenario is that shops are taking advantage of what they believe to be a general lack of automotive knowledge among women. It’s stereotypical and unfair, to say the least.
Luckily, RepairPal has given us some helpful strategies to help women get a fair price and avoid falling into the overpriced trap set by uncertified shops:
*  STRATEGY #1:  GET A VISUAL
A picture is worth 1,000 words, so ask your technicians to show you the problem area on your car or give you before-and-after photos as a great way to educate yourself.
*  STRATEGY #2:  USE AN ESTIMATOR
After getting the problem professionally diagnosed, use an online estimator tool like the RepairPal Estimator to get an accurate idea of what a fair price should be.
FairRepairEstimator
*  STRATEGY #3:  THE MANUAL IS YOUR FRIEND
Blow the dust off your owner’s manual and start to familiarize yourself with it. Understanding what warning lights correspond with what systems puts you at an automatic advantage. (If your battery light is on and the mechanic starts talking about motor oil, you’ll know something’s fishy.)
For even more tips on how to make sure you’re getting a fair price and using a trusted, certified mechanic, please visit http://www.repairpal.com. They have information about why you should choose certified repair shops and where to find one in your area.
I’d love to hear if you’ve ever visited an auto repair shop and got overcharged or if you’ve been to a RepairPal shop and was impressed by the fair price! Tell me what you’ve experienced in the comments below. 

#Sponsored: #AngelCraft Vinyl 6″x12″ Permanent Adhesive Vinyl Sheets


sampleDisclaimer: I received a sample of this product at a heavily discounted price from Angel Craft Vinyl in order to facilitate my review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Recently, I posted about Angel Craft Vinyl 12″x12″ sheets and how much I love them. Shortly after that, Angel Craft asked me if I would test out their Angel Craft 6″x12″ Permanent Adhesive Vinyl Sheets and see if I liked them as much as I did the larger size.

Can I be honest?

I think I like them even more! 🙂

This weekend, I am hosting a Make & Take/Simply Said party. That being said, I need to have 20 Make & Take projects cut out and ready to go. We will be making 6″x6″ tiles with an inspirational design on them. Easy, right? BUT, I have to come up with 20 designs, cut them out, and get them ready for the ladies to make at the party.

These 6″x12″ sheets just made my life SOOOOOO much easier! Now, instead of printing one design at a time, I can print FOUR! That’s going to make life so much better around here.

So, I gathered all of my materials, and started cutting.

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The first cut didn’t go so well. Next time, I won’t pick 2 of my favorite colors to cut on! Sigh. I picked 2 new colors and changed my settings and tried again.

Finally, I got a beautiful, clean cut, weeded it, and I’m ready to put it on my tile! 🙂

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I put the vinyl onto transfer paper, and I *love* how easily the vinyl sticks to the transfer paper and not the back of the vinyl sheet. (I have had SO many issues with this and other vinyl brands!)

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Ready to see the final product? It looks so great!!

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Didn’t that turn out pretty? I just love it!

Thanks, Angel Craft for supplying me with beautiful vinyl that will help me create the perfect designs!

If you are looking for high quality vinyl at an affordable price. Let me once again suggest Angel Craft Vinyl. You won’t be disappointed!

#Spon: Week 1 on @Medifast: Curbing the Cravings

sampleDisclaimer: I received a sample of the Medifast products in order to facilitate my review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Medifast products and the Medifast program are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or illness.

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So, here I am. One week into the Medifast program. As you can tell by the pictures above, it doesn’t look like there’s much outward change yet.

But, boy, oh boy, has there been a change on the scale!

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Check that out! Down 6 pounds in just one week! That is fantastic!

And, take a look at my wii fit graph:

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I went from way up in the “Overweight” section last week to back down in the “Normal” section this week! (I shouldn’t have done the body test yesterday. It was at a different time of day than I normally exercise, so it was off a bit. But if you take yesterday’s weight out, I’ve gone straight down significantly!

It’s been difficult adjusting to the Medifast program, but only because I’m eating way more than I feel like I should! The program requires 4 Medifast meals per day as well as 2 Lean & Green meals. That means I’m eating 6 times a day! I’ve stuck with it, though, and it’s paying off!

I’ve made it one week without sweet tea, soda, ice cream, or junk, and my body is trying to adjust. Sometimes it’s hard to curb those cravings! (Especially when your church has a Sunday afternoon social and everyone brings their favorite foods and desserts. Passing that up was HARD. REALLY HARD.) But, I know that if I want to get down to a healthy weight/BMI for my frame, I need to give it up. In time, it won’t be so hard to pass up, but right now – I’m having lots of cravings!

Luckily, the Medifast meals help! The chocolate pudding is just what I need when I’m craving ice cream. The Chocolate Peanut Butter bar is my favorite on-the-go meal, and it’s what I’ve been taking to baseball games to keep myself from buying out the concession stand. And the shakes are awesome. I can’t decide if I like the Strawberry or Vanilla shakes better, but they are all so good!

I’m hoping that since I’ve made it through a week of fighting my cravings that it will get easier. I’m sure it will, my body just needs to adjust to eating these foods that are good for me.

Let’s take a minute and talk about the Lean & Green Meals, shall we?

One feature I love is that Medifast offers Flavors of Home for the nights when you’re family isn’t eating so “lean and green” or you need something fast. And those really are great for the nights when my family wants to order pizza or grab something quick and easy. I love them.

But, the point of all of this is to bring a healthier lifestyle to my whole family. But, I have to admit, eating healthy is NOT my strong point. I grew up always eating out, and it was rarely healthy. So, I had to do some searching, but I found this link that gives me 34 great recipes that I can use as my lean and green meals AND I can adjust them to feed my whole family. Win/Win, right? It’s going to be a long, slow process with the family, but eventually I’ll get the junk out of their systems, and they’ll only want the good stuff!

I’m excited about how well this first week has gone, and I can’t wait to see what next week brings! 🙂

Remember:

If you use the code Blessed25 on the Medifast website, you will receive $25 off your order of $250 or more, as well as free shipping! It’s a great way to get you started on your own journey.

Be sure to Enter My Giveaway for Medifast Brownies. (YUM!)

I would LOVE to have you join me on this journey! Please check back to see my results each week. You can also track my results on Instagram and Facebook, so be sure to follow me there.

Also, be sure to follow Medifast every way you can in order to learn more about them:

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