5 Ways to Prepare Your Home for a New Child

Many prospective parents know welcoming a child into their home will bring change, but they don’t realize their lives are going to do a total 180. It’s an amazingly wonderful change, but when you’re in the middle of it all the change can feel overwhelming. You have to start preparing yourself mentally, emotionally and physically before your family expands.

No matter how you expand your family, whether it be through natural birth, adoption, fostering or surrogacy, preparing your home ahead of time helps you ease into your new role as a parent. It’s so important organizations like SurrogateAlternatives.com provide their surrogate parents with guidance leading up to the delivery.

After having eight kids, we’ve learned a thing or two about getting our home ready for a new family member. Here are five pieces of advice I’d give any new parent.

Prioritize Based on Age
How you prepare depends on the age of the child. If you are having a baby there’s no need to baby-proof the house just yet since they won’t be crawling or walking for 9-12 months. However, if you’re adopting a two-year-old you’ll need to secure everything from top to bottom. Before fostering a tween or teen you’ll want to make sure they have some sort of private area they can make their own.

Divide and Conquer Your To-Do List
Now that you’ve prioritized the to-dos and come up with a list of chores that need to get done ASAP, it’s time to assign them. Taking a divide and conquer approach will help you get more done in less time. It also ensures no one will get burned out and exhausted.

Sit down with your significant other, and older kids if you have them, and go over the task list. Each person should pick chores they don’t mind doing. If there’s something no one wants to do you’ll need to find a fair way decide, like flipping a coin.

Organize Your Family
We have mastered the art of organizing a family. With a family as large as ours, you have to have tight organization or chaos will ensue. But even if it’s your first child, adding another person to the mix means there’s someone else to account for each and every day. There will be new responsibilities, commitments, appointments, etc.

How you stay organized will be unique to your family members and situation. However, the one essential is good communication. As long as you communicate frequently and clearly everyone will be on the same page and less stressed. Come up with a communication plan that highlights the various ways you’ll communicate information. For example:

  • ·  Designate cell phones as the primary contact method for emergencies.
  • ·  Put a daily calendar on the fridge with color-coded days that dictate which family member has something going on.
  • ·  Have a family touch-base once a week to keep everybody updated.

It’s also important to take time to communicate with each other leisurely. Family dinners are a great opportunity for everyone to talk with one another and simply discuss how their day was or what their plans are in the coming days.

Make Enough Space
Even a newborn needs space in your home – actually they need a lot of space. Newborns need to have a crib, a changing station or dresser with a changing table on top, hamper and toy chest among other things. You’ll need to really assess how much room will be needed to accommodate the new family member. It might mean rearranging a few of the rooms or converting a living space into a bedroom.

Let’s be honest – a family can always use a little extra space. That’s why you have to be really strategic with space when the family grows larger.

Stock Up on Supplies
The best time to stock up on supplies is before you have a child in tow (or another child). If you have the financial means and storage space buy everything you can in bulk. You’ll save money in most instances and avoid wasting more time than necessary shopping. Those precious hours can be used for sleep instead.

If you’re having a child you’ll want to overstock every essential baby supply. New parents of a newborn are some of the most fatigued people on the planet. Do what you can to avoid having to shop in the first few weeks.

Reasons to Play Puzzle Games With Your Children

Over the years, many parents have developed the notion that games are mindless and nothing more than a waste of time. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Some games, especially puzzle games, can be enormously beneficial for parents and children. These games channel the child to utilize their problem solving skills, while working to put all of the pieces in the correct location. As a parent, it is truly in your best interest to get your child involved in puzzles. Reasons for doing so will be examined in greater depth below.


Improves Problem Solving
Children and adults are required to solve problems each and every day. Problems must be solved at home, at school, and within the workplace. By solving puzzles frequently, the child will develop and hone their skills. Allowing the child to develop his or her skills at home with the use of puzzle games will help them develop their own personal techniques for making the best choice for any situation they face. This skill will prove to be very helpful later in life. So, it is a good idea to get your child involved in jigsaw puzzles online at a very young age.

Bonding And Teamwork Skills
As a busy parent, it is highly likely that you’ll find it difficult to take time out of your day to sit down and play with your child. Nonetheless, you will need to do so as much as possible! Bonding with your child is truly a necessity and will give you the ability to strengthen your relationship with your offspring. At the same time, solving puzzles with your child will help develop teamwork skills. Everyone needs to know how to work effectively in a team. By working puzzles with your child, you’ll bond and teach your child how to work in a team environment without becoming overzealous.


Builds Confidence
It is truly impossible to achieve anything in life without having any confidence. With a high level of confidence, you can achieve anything you set your mind to. This is why it is important to get your children interested in puzzle games as early as possible. Start with simple puzzles, which can be solved within a matter of minutes. As your child begins to solve the puzzles, they’ll feel great about this accomplishment and this will lead to a boost in self-esteem and confidence. As the puzzles grow in difficulty, the child’s confidence will swell.

With patience and persistence, your child will beam with confidence and they’ll be able to accomplish anything they set their mind to.

Create Unforgettable Moments
At the end of the day, puzzle games are just that. They’re games. Although they can be beneficial and practical, it is also important to have fun with your child. Use the opportunity to create lasting memories with your child. No matter how old your child becomes, he or she will always long for his father and mother. Use this playtime to strengthen that bond, while also developing memories, which will last for the rest of your life!

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: #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.


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.


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.


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!

#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.

best baby diapers

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:


And some of my favorite pictures from the meeting:





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. 🙂


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.


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.


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.


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: Bringing up Baby: Costs & Habit Insights of the American Mom from zulily.com

sponsoredDisclaimer:This is a sponsored post on behalf of Zulily. They provided the information, but any opinions expressed are my own.

In celebration of moms this Mother’s Day, online retailer zulily.com is honoring new moms nationwide by taking a closer look at something they all can relate to –budgeting for all things baby!

Read on here for some of the survey insights they found regarding spending and saving habits when preparing for baby:

  • With annual childcare costs hovering around $6,000, it’s crucial to choose (and pay!) the right person to watch your kids. In our survey Julia Roberts was voted the top celeb moms would let babysit, but Kim Kardashian didn’t make the cut and was only selected by 3% of respondents.
  • Raising kids can get pretty pricey, so it’s no surprise a third of mothers surveyed said they’d compete in a monthly random dance battle (32%) in exchange for free baby gear, attire, etc.
  • Almost half of mothers surveyed (45%) said the most missed pre-mom indulgence is actually having a day off.
  • 33% of moms agreed that the most common squabble couples have regarding new parenting is about money.

With all the above stats, it’s no wonder moms everywhere are always on the lookout for smarter ways to spend on baby, and online retailer zulily is dedicated to helping their plight by serving up fresh, unexpected items for baby and the whole family, in fact, just in the last year customers have saved millions of dollars on baby gear items. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Savings on baby blankets: over $2.4M
  • Total savings on key items needed to set up a nursery: over $2.6M
  • Savings on all baby feeding supplies: over $4.5M

Be sure to check back on zulily.com or on their app every morning to discover new finds, especially on Mother’s Day (May 8th) for their Moms First event, to shop everything a new mama wouldn’t want to be without.

mothers_day_infographic - FINAL

*The study was conducted online using a Google Consumer Survey, which uses inferred demographic and location information to employ stratified sampling method by distributing the surveys based on the targeted audience to its publisher network and/or android smartphone users. The study consisted of 1000 respondents between April 4th and April 7th among women aged 25-54. The margin of error is +/-5 percentage points.
**Sales Data Methodology: The methodology used to report on the 2015-16 maternity and infant purchasing trends was created by reviewing more than 262,000 products, from April 2015 – April 2016. zulily has approximately 5 million active customers, as of Q4 2015.

#Spon: Partnering with @ParasolCo to Bring You the Best Diapers Around!

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.

best baby diapers

It’s true. As a mom of 8, I have lots of experience with diapers. I’ve tried them all. Honestly! Every single one of them. I’ve even tried cloth diapers. I know what works best for super sensitive bottoms, and I know what works best for crazy super-soakers. What I wanted was a diaper that would make me happy no matter what! I’m now down to just one baby in diapers. (Crazy, right? And no chance of any more in diapers, either, which is even crazier!) After all this time, I’ve been looking for that one diaper that I could fall in love with and use all the time. I wanted it to be safe and gentle on Sawyer’s sensitive skin, but I wanted it to hold up on the nights when he had a lot to drink during the day and needs some extra protection to get him through the night. And, truth be told, I wanted them to be cute.

It’s not so much to ask, is it? We spend most of our time outdoors during the Spring and Summer, and Sawyer prefers to be naked. If I’m going to have my baby running all over creation in his diaper, is it too much to ask that they be cute? I think not.

Earlier this month, I was introduced to Parasol Co. They wanted me to test out their new diapers on Sawyer and tell them what I thought.

cute baby diapers

Oh my goodness. Diapers that are gentle, strong, AND cute?! Who could say no?! So, they sent me a box of diapers and asked if I would mind doing a comparison with my current diaper and wipes brand(s).

Here’s the result of my comparison immediately after I received my package from Parasol Co.:

Immediately, I fell in love with these diapers. I started using them right away, and I never switched back. The same is true for the wipes. They are so soft, and feel more like a washcloth than a wipe. They work well on even the yuckiest messes, and my kids all love them!

Before I switched to Parasol Co. diapers, I had been faithful to one brand, but I had also recently grabbed a pack of “slip on”diapers because they were on sale one day. BIG MISTAKE. Those diapers caused a horrible allergic rash on Sawyers back, and even after I switched back to my regular diapers, I couldn’t get the rash to go away. TWO DAYS after using nothing but Parasol Co. diapers and wipes, there was a huge difference in his rash, and now it’s completely gone. I won’t claim that the Parasol Co. diapers healed him, but they sure did help, and I am eternally grateful! It shows me that their products are exactly what they claim they are: made with safe materials and eco-conscious practices. These are diapers you can trust. They are Hypoallergenic, Chlorine-free, Fragrance-free, Lotion-free, and Latex-free. See? Safe.

Maybe you’re worried about a monthly subscription service. Maybe you think it’s too expensive. Let me assure you, as one who has purchased diapers endlessly for the past 13 years straight, these diapers are not too expensive, and could even help you save money in the long run!

Think about it. For $85/month, you get an entire month’s worth of diapers and wipes. For one month, you don’t have to worry about a thing because everything is sent to you. (You decide if you want it sent every 3, 4, or 5 weeks.)

Now, think about how much you are currently spending on diapers and wipes. If I buy a pack of diapers every week at $10 – 12, that’s approximately $45-50/month. Plus wipes. (And wipes are not cheap, especially if you want wipes that work well!) So, we’re up to about $75-80/month between diapers and wipes. Hmmm… Now, factor in the gas it took you to get to the store, the energy you consumed taking your little one (or little ones, in my case!) into the store, and all the unnecessary things you bought at the store just because you had to stop for a diaper run.

See? You’re already saving money, and you’re getting super cute diapers that are SAFE and work well! (The only issue I have had with the diapers was one night when Sawyer slept for 14 hours straight and woke up soaked. But, the fact that he slept 14 hours was a fine trade off for one morning of washing the sheets. Totally worth it!)

Want me to give you an even better incentive to try Parasol Co.? If you head to the Parasol Co. website, and use the code Blessed16 when you order your first box, you’ll receive $20 off that box! This is it, folks! It’s what you’ve been waiting for! We all love a discount, and this is a great way to try out these amazing diapers for a fraction of the cost.

parasol discount code blessed16

Now, tell me those aren’t the cutest diapers you’ve ever seen?! They have 3 great patterns to choose from, so pick your favorite, and order now!

I love everything about the Parasol Company, and I am so excited to partner with them. I can’t wait to see what other products they come up with. I know it will be great, and I hope I get to share more with you again soon!

Take a chance and try Parasol Co. diapers on your little one today! If you do, please be sure to let me know.

#IC #Ad: #FamilyTravel? #FamilyAdventure? The @GBChildUsa #gbPockit Stroller Makes it Better! #gbFuturePerfect

sponsored Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by @GBChildUsa as part of a Blog Blast Activation for Influence Central.

The weather is finally getting nice, and that means it’s time to start thinking about your next Family Adventure! When you have a little one, you have to take time to decide what is going to be the easiest way to get them around. You want them to be comfortable, but you also need to be comfortable too! You need something light, portable, but sturdy. That’s why I want to introduce you to the gb Pockit stroller available at Babies ‘R’ Us. It’s perfect for little ones from 6 months up to 55 pounds, and comes in 6 gorgeous colors. It’s the world’s smallest folding stroller at 12″ x 7″ x 14″, making it lightweight, but still easy to use!

One easy way to learn more about this amazing little stroller is to check out the #gbPockit Twitter Party. Here’s everything you need to know:

  • Date: Thursday, April 28, 2016
  • Time: 1 – 2 PM ET
  • Moderators: @MomCentral
  • Brand Participants: @GBChildUSA
  • Party hashtags: #gbPockit
  • Prizes: 2 pre-party winners and 6 party winners will receive $50 Amex gift cards and 1 grand prize winner will receive the gb Pockit Stroller
  • Party Focus: We’ll be chatting about family adventures, whether a jet-setting vacation or a weekend getaway, the gb Pockit gives on-the-go Moms a portable stroller, ideal for all of our family travels.

Check out the link above to get all the details, and I hope to see you at the #gbPockkit twitter party next week!



#Spon: #SickJustGotReal – Beat Cold & Flu Season with Pfizer Pediatric Products @Target #Giveaway

sampleDisclaimer: The Pfizer Pediatric Platform products, information, and additional gift pack have been provided by Pfizer Consumer Healthcare. All thoughts and reviews are my own.


Cold and flu season in our house is a nightmare. With 8 kids, they pass germs like crazy! Playdates, school, birthday parties, church activities, even trips to the park and the grocery store expose the kids to more germs than I even want to think about. So, naturally, someone ends up sick. Then, just as one gets better, two more get sick. It’s a viscous cycle that we can’t ever seem to beat.

Thankfully, we can stock up on Pfizer Pediatric products at Target when Sick Gets Real in our house. They help us be prepared for fevers, coughs, and colds that come our way and want to linger in my kids.


If Sick just got real.™ for your family, there are so many different solutions to help tackle the worst of symptoms, like Children’s Advil®, Children’s Robitussin®, and/or Children’s Dimetapp®:

  • Infants’ and Children’s Advil® provide unsurpassed fever and pain relief(1) , and contain ibuprofen, the medicine pediatricians use most for their own kids’ fevers(2) (for ages 6 months -11 years)
  • Children’s Robitussin® provides soothing action and cough control with some formulations lasting up to 8 hours (for ages 6-12 years)
  • Children’s Dimetapp® provides great-tasting cold-fighting power and is the #1 pharmacist recommended brand for children’s cough & cold symptoms(3) (for ages 6+)

*It is important to remember to always read and keep the cartons for complete warnings and dosing information on Pfizer Pediatric Platform products and to use as directed

Please take a few moments to check out the following links and learn more about the Pfizer Pediatric Platform products to help your little ones when Sick Gets Real at your house:

There’s no way around it. Kids get sick. It just happens, no matter how hard you try to prevent it. While there’s no way to keep the sickness from coming on, you can make your little ones more comfortable. So, if Sick Just Got Real at your house, head to Target and stock up on the Pfizer products listed above.


To help you stock up on all the things you need to keep your little ones comfortable this cold season, I’m giving away a Pfizer Pediatric Platform package to one lucky reader! Here’s what you’ll get:


  • A product bundle including each of the Pfizer Pediatric Platform products (Children’s Advil®, Children’s Robitussin®, Children’s Dimetapp®)
  • A $50 Target gift card to purchase additional Pfizer Pediatric Platform products at Target to get your family through cough, cold, and flu season

Want to win? Enter using the Rafflecopter Gadget below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Giveaway will end at midnight Thursday, 4/21. I will select and contact the winner that same day. You MUST claim your prize that day so that I can get your information over to the sponsor.

1 Among OTC pain relievers.

2 Based on a survey of doctors.

3 Source: 2015-16 Pharmacy Times and U.S. News & World Report.

#Spon: Our Sip & Seek Adventures with @EvenfloBaby

sampleDisclaimer: This post is sponsored by Evenflo. I received samples of the products in order to facilitate my review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Sip N Seek Adventure Pack

Sawyer loves to explore. That child is always running, climbing, and exploring everything he can find. He never stops. Ok, maybe twice a day: once at nap time, and then again at bed time. But, every other minute of the day, he’s trying to find something new that he can get into. It’s no wonder he’s my best sleeper, simply because he’s the most active baby I have ever had. Needless to say, the boy keeps me on my toes!

sip n seek climber

So, when Evenflo contacted me and asked me to take part in their Sip N Seek Adventure program, I *knew* Sawyer and I were the perfect fit! We were supposed to take a day to go on an adventure. Evenflo provided me with the awesome pack you see pictured above. There were more than enough snacks and cups to get us through the day, as well as some extra goodies that made our adventure even more special.

sip n seek group shot

We started our day at the local Misty Mountain Railroad. None of my kids or I had ever been to this fun little museum before. It was incredible! I can’t imagine the hours someone put in to making that museum come to life. The kids spent so much time taking everything in. And I wasn’t surprised when the very first thing Gage pointed out was Superman on top of one of the buildings.

sip n seek superman

After spending some time with the owner of the museum, and learning all about the different sections they had set up, how much work had gone into it, and being shown all of the little hidden treasures, (like Superman), hidden throughout the display, we knew our adventure was far from over! My friend had come along on our adventure, and she invited us back to her home for awhile. But, her home isn’t like most homes. She lives on a farm. Complete with animals, and all sorts of stuff for Sawyer to climb on and explore.

sip n seek farm

We met a cow, climbed on everything we could find, fed the bunnies, pet the goats. My goodness, what fun we had! And, through it all, Evenflo was there to keep him hydrated and happy with their Sip N Seek Cups!

sip n seek cups

Evenflo sent us an awesome Astronaut themed Sip N Seek Cup with their new Triple-Flo stoppers in their insulated cups. It keeps Sawyer’s drinks cool, without fear of it spoiling while we’re out and about. Other designs available include Mermaids, Unicorns, and Dinosaurs, each one sure to make your little one smile!

Evenflo’s new TripleFlo Sip & Seek Cups are now available at Babies ‘R’ Us, Meijer, and HEB, and retail for $4.99 each. You can also purchase 2 packs for $9.99 at Amazon.com, Walmart.com, and Target.com.

If your little one is always on the go, and you need a cup that can keep up with him (or her!), I highly recommend the products from the Evenflo feeding line. We are super impressed, and these are now the only cups Sawyer will use!

Thank you, Evenflo, for making high quality, BPA-free products that I want to give my baby.

#Spon: #FlyBy Presents the #UndertheSea Bible for Kids

sampleDisclaimer: This post is sponsored by FlyBy Promotions and Zonderkidz. I received a copy of the Under the Sea Bible in order to facilitate my review. Any opinions expressed are 100% my own and have not been influenced in any way.

under the sea

In our house, we are always trying to find ways to encourage our children to read their Bible. Typically, this isn’t a problem, but when it comes to our younger children, it can be more difficult.

Thankfully, we received a copy of the Under the Sea Bible. The timing could not have been more perfect! Our 7 year old son, Parker, is constantly asking questions and wanting to know more about accepting Christ as his Savior. His little heart is so open and so willing. Not only that, but his class recently took a trip to a local Aquarium. His class has been studying things “Under the Sea” for weeks now, in order to prepare for their trip. So, when a Bible, whose cover was decorated with beautiful, sparkly, creatures from under the sea – well, let’s just say – Parker called dibs!

reading the Bible

While I wish the Under the Sea Bible was available in other versions, (namely the KJV with the words of Jesus in red), I still believe this is an excellent resource for Parker. The inserts inside the Bible are full of color, and more importantly, full of information to help him understand what the Bible tells us. It’s opened the door to lots of questions. Even more than all of that, though, I love that I will just randomly find Parker sitting and reading this Bible all over the house.

The Under the Sea Holy Bible, NIrV would make a fantastic gift for any child aged 6 – 10. The beautiful underwater creatures sparkle on the outside cover and bring the interior of this Bible to life. The inserts inside the Bible cover themes of God’s love and care for all of us, and also give a clear representation of the gospel.

You can learn more about the Bible by clicking either of the links above. The Bible is now available for purchase at these major retailers:

You can also learn more about Zonderkidz products by following them on social media:

Thank you, Zonderkidz for producing a Bible that has my child wanting to read, wanting to learn more, and asking the questions he needs to learn in order to give his heart to Christ. We love this Bible, and we are sure you will too!

Moms, Let’s Get REAL.

I used the following post as a devotional for my monthly MOPs group this month. (Mothers of Preschoolers) It went over so well, and so many moms approached me afterward, I felt it needed to be shared here. I hope this post touches you and helps you realize you are loved, no matter who you really are.

Let's Get Real

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to attend the Casting Crowns concert with one of my very best friends. After we left the concert, and had some ice cream, we got into some pretty deep discussion. Since then, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this topic. I think this is something all moms need to hear, I’m just praying I can bring it across in a way that points to Jesus.

Tonight, I want us to get real. I mean really really real. Like, spill-our-guts-and-show-the-world-who-we-really-are real.

I start thinking about what Mark Hall said at the concert that night when he said, “As Christians, we feel this overwhelming need to always look good so that we can make Jesus look good.”

Whoa. That hit me like a ton of bricks. I am SO guilty. I feel this need, and it is absolutely overwhelming, to make sure *I* always look good, and therefore Jesus will always look good.

Why do we do that? Why can’t we just be real? As a mom of 8, I often feel like everyone is looking at me. Scrutinizing every move I make, and just waiting for me to fail. And so, I try, with all my might, to NOT fail. To give this perfect appearance of a perfect life all the time.

Oh, what a fake I am. I am not perfect. Nor, should I ever pretend to be, because I am so far from perfect, it’s ridiculous. I have done things that would make you gasp in disbelief and cause you to think little of me. It’s true. I have a past so tattered, that I would do anything to hide it from all of you.

Let me tell you a little secret, and please don’t think less of me because I say this, I just want to be real – to be honest, and to tell it like it is.

The first time I attended my local MOPs group, about 8 years ago, I felt oddly out of place. It was like everyone in the room was so much better than me. Everyone was gorgeous, put together, and so outgoing. There I was, like a bump on a log — a frumpy, overweight, stressed out, exhausted mom of 4, pregnant with her 5th. I had to be better. I had to do better. I had to fit in with everyone around me. (Let me just interject here, if this is how you feel about coming to MOPs, please know that is the exact opposite of what we want you to feel! We want you to walk into MOPs, just as you are, even if it means you show up in your pajamas, and know that you are loved regardless of how much money you have, how stressed out you are, or how long it’s been since you got to take a shower that lasted longer than 3 minutes.)

Back to what I was saying. I felt so out of place, like I could never fit in with these gorgeous ladies. So, I put on a mask. Every time I walked into MOPs, I made sure my makeup was perfect, every hair in place, even made sure my legs were shaved and my eye brows were plucked. I’ve done this for years. Why? Because that’s what I thought I needed to do to give off the appearance of being a good Christian mom that would always make Jesus look good. I had to give off that “perfect life” vibe.

But, you know what? Here’s the thing. It’s not my job to make Jesus look good. He IS good. He radiates good. And if I’m trying to show HIS good by lying? Well, that ain’t doin’ nobody no good! (My high school English teacher is wagging her finger at me right now!) But, it’s true. How can I radiate the love of Christ, if I’m not willing to be REAL and let Him use me in whatever way he chooses?

I have been told that I give off a vibe that I am very difficult to approach, a holier-than-thou vibe, if you will. You have no idea how much hearing this hurts my heart, but it is very much my own fault. It’s all due to the fact that I feel the need to give off that “perfect” appearance. Instead of perfect, though, I am making myself appear stand-offish, and completely unapproachable. Oh, how I hate it! (I have also been told – by the same friend that was willing to give me the brutal truth – that once you get to know me, you see how far off the initial appearance is, but I fear that many people won’t take the time to get to know me simply because of that initial vibe. It hurts my heart so badly to think of all the friendships I may have missed out on because of my overwhelming desire to be look perfect.)

So, my sweet friends, let me confess to you how real I am, and how perfect I am not:

– I yell. A lot. And loud. There are times when my kids make me so angry, I will literally turn into She-Hulk and can only grunt commands. “GO!” “EAT!” “CLEAN!” “QUIIIIEEEETTTT!!!!” Seriously, it’s not pretty.

– I am not Super Mom. I cannot do it all, even if my Facebook posts show otherwise. I am simply a stressed out mama who needs a super God to get me though my day. Every day.

– I am not patient. Sometimes, I’m certain God gave me children to teach me patience. And He gave me so many kids because I need a LOT MORE practice in patience than most women.

– Laundry is my nemesis. I have 15 (yes, 15) tubs of clothes stacked on my back porch. They are not clean and sorted by season. Oh no. They are dirty clothes from before our move. IN NOVEMBER. I still haven’t touched them. And at this point, I’m thinking I should just burn them so that I can have the 15 storage tubs for other junk.

– Every day is not perfect. Facebook is only one part of my life. There is so much more that goes on behind the scenes that no one even knows about. I fight with my husband, who is wonderful, but still a man. I can barely make ends meet with one income and 10 people in our household. Some days, I don’t know where dinner that night is coming from. Sometimes, I don’t want to be a mom. I want a day off to myself, and I want to SLEEP.

After I had written out this devotional before my meeting, I started to get ready for church. Standing in front of the mirror, I had had enough with my bangs. They were too long and too straggly, and they needed a change. So, I grabbed the scissors and…. oh, shoot! Too short. Oh my gosh. Way too short. So much for the perfect representation of my non-existent perfect life. I sure took care of that, didn’t I? I guess I really needed to keep it real. As I’m standing in the bathroom, tears streaming down my face, my 11 year old puts an arm around my shoulders and says, “It’s not so bad! Look! Now we have the same hairdo!” Just what I always wanted… the same hairdo as my 11 year old… SON. Sigh. I’m just keepin’ it real here, ladies. Really real.

I could go on for hours, there is just so much more I could share. But, I think you get the point. I’m a frazzled, crazy mom, who hates laundry, her hair, and can turn into She-Hulk on a whim. And I am definitely not holier than you!

Before I close, though, I want to leave you with this verse:  Ephesians 2:10 – “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

Do you get that? We are his workmanship – created in Christ Jesus. God made me this way. God made you that way. He knew I was going to be a mess, and yet He loves me anyway. Even when I yell. Even when I have a bad day. He’s still there, still loving me, still wanting me to serve Him in whatever capacity I can. He wants us to walk in good works, but it doesn’t mean we have to do it perfectly every moment of every day. In fact, we don’t have to do it perfectly at all!

So, ladies, can we make a pact with each other? Can we promise to just be real from here on out? Really real?

Let’s just do our best, and if we have a bad day, don’t hide it. Embrace it, and discover what the Lord is trying to teach you through it. Your bad day might be a blessing to another mom who is trying to hold it together when it seems like her whole world is falling apart.

Always remember, YOU are fearfully and wonderfully made!

fearfully and wonderfully made

#Spon: Let Them Be #JustAKid with @POWERADE & @Walmart

sampleDisclaimer: This is a sponsored post for POWERADE through SheSpeaks. Any opinions expressed are 100% my own and have not been influenced in any way.


Earlier this year, I signed my 11 year old son up for baseball. Now that the weather is nicer, it’s time for practice, and soon, we’ll be at all of his games. My life is now consumed with baseball – and that’s OK, because I love watching my little athlete play his heart out for a game he loves.

As mom, it’s my job to make sure all of my athletes reach their full potential. One of the ways I can help most is making sure Jace has everything he needs to play his best: the right equipment, a well-balanced pregame meal, on-time arrival to practice and games, and, most importantly, making sure he is properly hydrated.


Jace has never played baseball before, and while he is off to a great start, he is very tough on himself. I find myself constantly reminding him that as long as he’s doing his best and having fun, that’s all that matters. Yes, they are all athletes, but they aren’t professionals, and no one expects them to be!

That’s why I love the POWERADE “Just a Kid” Campaign! No matter what you achieve in your life, there’s one thing you have to remember: you start in the same place as everyone else, a kid full of big dreams and oodles of potential. At the end of the day, we’re all “Just a Kid” from somewhere. Isn’t that fantastic?

POWERADE believe that our everyday athletes can realize their full potential and maybe one day go on to be one of the athletes they look up to. Whether playing t-ball or the pros, every athlete in every league has a story waiting to be told.


Now through April 4, 2016 (or until supplies last), you can get a free custom POWERADE sports bottle! Just head to Walmart, stock up on POWERADE for your athletes, and when you purchase two (2) 20 ounce 8-packs of POWERADE products, you can click this link and get your free personalized bottle.

You can also represent your “somewhere” with custom “Just a Kid” apparel that features where you’re from here. All net proceeds from the sale of “Just a Kid” apparel goes to the Boys & Girls Club of America.


I am excited about this season of baseball, and watching Jace grow and improve as the season goes on. I will cheer him on, encourage him when he gets down, and always, always, always remind him that he is #JustAKid and we all have to start somewhere!

Thanks, POWERADE for your attitude toward our young athletes, for helping them stay hydrated, and for encouraging them the reach their full potential!

A Christian Mom’s Opinion of Fuller House

a christian mom's opinion of fuller house

I have to admit, I was a little giddy when I found out “Fuller House” was going to be a reality.

I grew up with Full House, and because I was the same age as “DJ” on the show, I always had a special connection with the issues she faced.

My family watches Full House on television every evening. My kids can name every character on the show, and they can still relate to the issues brought up in each episode. Sure, some episodes are goofy, and my kids cannot get past some of the clothes they wore, but for the most part, they love Full House and we all look forward to watching it together.

I’ve also followed Candace Cameron Bure through the years. As a professing Christian, I was proud of many of the stands she took on moral issues. It was nice to see that someone in the spotlight could still shine a little light for Jesus.

And then she did Dancing with the Stars. I was crushed. The racy outfits, dancing seductively with a man she wasn’t married too… just so much I disagreed with. So, I “unliked” her page on Facebook, and let it go. (Thank you, Elsa.)

Then, talk of Fuller House started. The middle school girl in me got all giddy. Maybe a little too giddy, because I didn’t bother to do ANY research on the show. (Where’s the hand to the forehead emoticon?) Not having Netflix, I hurried up and subscribed, just so I could tune into the show.

I assumed it would be just like Full House. I assumed I could watch it with my kids. I assumed it would be the next family show we would all love watching.

I assumed wrong. VERY WRONG.

Without any research on the show, my family sat down the night of the big premier, and set in to binge on the entire season that night. Minutes into the show, I had a feeling our plans were going to change.

We sat and watched the entire first episode as a family. I am still so ashamed of that. (Please note: this is proof that Christians are not perfect. I let MY desire to watch the show stand in the way of what I KNEW was right. And even worse, I subjected my children to it, because I wanted SO BADLY for us to love it.)


Really. Sometimes, I do dumb things. Really dumb things. Like subject my husband and my pre-teen boys to “Stephanie Tanner’s” breasts hanging out of her dress through most of the episode. Sigh.

As we were watching the show, and they revealed the red dress Stephanie was going to wear to the party, I kept thinking, “There’s no way she’s really going to wear that. DJ will make her change!”

I was convinced that Candace Cameron Bure – NOT DJ Tanner – would step up and say, “No way. Not on my show. This isn’t going to happen.” Like she had a little bit of that Jesus in her, and she would make it all ok. But she never did. Stephanie wore the dress, and I sat there and let it be shown on my television.

We finished the first episode, and then we sat there in dumbfounded silence. Had I researched the show, I would have known that the show was NOT going to be kid friendly.

(Note: I read an article that the creators made the show for the adults who had grown up with Full House. Like, when we grew up, we all left our morals on the cutting room floor? Is that really what they think of today’s world? But, with the amount of “Conservative Christians” that thought Fuller House was great, I’m guessing those creators are correct.)

We turned the TV off and found other things to do that night. No mention of the show was made again…

Until the next day. All night, I had tossed and turned, begging God to forgive me for allowing that show into my home. Thanking Him that my stupidity only lasted one episode (and that was with not even knowing what any other episodes held!).  When we got up the next morning, the very first thing I did was apologize to my husband. Over and over, I apologized for subjecting him to that. He kissed my forehead and told me he was just as wrong for not turning it off either. I’m thankful that he admits his faults and loves me through mine.

I spoke with a friend of mine who made it through the whole season. The things she told me made me SO glad we had shut it off and not gone on to another episode. Sex, drinking, vulgarity… I just don’t understand it. Then, I read this article that made me even more glad we didn’t continue watching. (Warning: If you are a follower of Jesus, that link will make you sad, sick, and angry. And if it does not, there’s something wrong.)

I expected so much more from the show. I expected it to be loved by my kids as much as Full House is. I never expected to be shocked and horrified by what I saw.

I think my biggest disappointment lies in Candace Cameron Bure, though. Secretly, I wonder what her brother thinks about her new show. With her “high moral standards” and her “love for Jesus,” I never, ever expected her to take part in something like this. Yes, we are all human. And, yes, we all do dumb things. (See above – and I’m certain I have many more stories I could share…) BUT, as a professing Christian in the media and all over social network outlets, I think she should be held to an even higher standard. Her role on Fuller House has set Christian women back a thousand paces. It is NOT OK to live a double standard. (Read James 3 if you need further explanation.)

The good news is, my hope is NOT in Candace Cameron Bure. My hope is in JESUS. He is the only one Who ever lived a perfect life. So, while people let us down, and while family shows are now becoming a thing of the past, I am thankful I can still trust in Jesus. And I am so thankful that He loves me… even when I do dumb things.

What are your thoughts on Fuller House? Were you as disappointed as I was?

#Sponsored: Show Us Your Smile Contest for Children’s Dental Hygiene Month

sampleDisclaimer: This post is sponsored by Great Expressions Dental Centers. Any opinions expressed are 100% my own and have not been influenced in any way.


As a mom of so many kids, lots of lost teeth, and many (many) trips to the dentist, I understand the importance of good dental hygiene! I stress it all the time with my kids.

To encourage children everywhere to participate in good oral hygiene practices, Great Expressions Dental Centers (GEDC) is launching their “Show Us Your Smile” facebook contest this month.

To enter the contest, parents get the chance to submit a photo of their child’s smile for a chance to win a free bike and a movie bundle. Winners will be selected once a week throughout the month of February.

Visit the Great Expressions Dental Centers Facebook Page to submit your entry today!

Remember – the contest runs all month, but once February is gone, so is your chance to win! Head on over and submit your child’s entry today!

#AD: Keeping Our #GameDayTraditions FUN! @SheSpeaksUp @ProcterGamble @Walmart

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


Game Day in our house means lots of preparation! I’ve got so much to do! There’s the food to prepare… the house to get clean… every little detail must be taken care of… Even down to what toilet paper I’m going to make sure is available for my guests! (I don’t want someone coming over, using my bathroom, and then going home to tell their spouse, “Ugh. That toilet paper was like sandpaper!” No thank you! Only best for my guests! They deserve the ultra strong, yet squeezably soft goodness that only Charmin can provide.) Luckily, I can head to Walmart and grab everything I need to make our traditions for Game Day perfect.


Set up is crucial. Spray some Febreze to get the furniture smelling fresh and clean. Then, I need everything laid out just right so my guests can get to it easily. I need the right paper towels to handle clean ups, because with the crew we host on game day, there are sure to be a few spills! Bounty helps me get the counters clean after I’ve slaved in the kitchen all day, and then Bounty paper towels are perfect for clean up during and after the party!


And then there’s the food. Oh my goodness, the food! Meatballs, sandwiches, chili cheese dip and chips, bread, pasta, desserts galore. I don’t do anything small. I have to make sure there’s plenty of food for everyone, and that there’s no chance of anyone leaving my house hungry!


And while I’m going out of my mind, trying so hard to make everything just right, I remember the most important tradition I have when it comes to game day: the people I share game day with.

Even though I have ten people living in my house – and we can make any occasion a party! – when we add family and friends to the mix, it’s always something to remember!

Once the game is over, and everyone has left, that’s when I’m thankful I stocked up at Walmart! It’s time for the real clean up! I find dip under the couch. Stains on *everyone’s* clothes. And the bathroom usually looks like a tornado ran through it. (Did you notice all those kids in the picture above?!) Luckily, I’ve got Bounty to help with the clean up of the house, and Tide to help make laundry easier.

After every game day happening, all I want to do is sleep for a week, but I’m always thankful that I’ve had the fun with family and friends. They make every moment of preparation, frustration, and clean up worth it. It doesn’t even matter who wins the game!

Companies like Walmart and P&G make Game Day even easier. I’m thankful for quality products that make everyone happy, at a price that makes my wallet happy!

Want to read about other bloggers and their #GameDayTraditions? Here are the links that will help you do just that:

Now, tell me about Game Day at your house. Do you have any traditions you follow? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!

Moving From the City to the Suburbs

If you grew up in the heart of a big city or live in one now, you enjoy many benefits of city life — easy access to public transportation, extensive shopping and social activities, vibrant art and culture. But you might be like many who wonder if raising a family in a large city is a good idea. Many parents and parents to-be worry about the quality of schools, frequency of crime and lack of safe spaces for kids to play. You’ll drive more if you live outside the city, but there are some distinct advantages to ditching your city digs and taking up residence in the suburbs.

In the city, an apartment or flat costs more. You pay a premium for sidewalks, cafes and theaters, as well as the shorter commute. But you money simply goes further in the suburbs. In Seattle for example, a one-bedroom apartment might cost $1,500 in a moderately priced city neighborhood, but in a suburb a mile away, the same apartment might be $900.

Less Noise & Less Pollution
Suburbs have the benefit of less crowding and more green space. When people aren’t packed in like sardines, crime is also less frequent. You can check out crime rates of an area before you move to see what your new neighborhood might be like. With less people and less industry comes better air quality too. See where your current city ranks in terms of pollution according to the American Lung Association. Less noise and pollution can lead to less stress and a higher quality of life.

Better Schools
City schools often don’t compare to their suburban counterparts. Part of the reason for this is the lack of tax base to support the school districts financially. Lower incomes correlate to school bonds and measures not being funded. So families choose the  suburbs to help ensure their children get a better education, even though doing so often means paying higher property taxes. Last, homes and apartments in good school districts hold their value which is important even if you don’t have kids. Look up schools ahead of time and compare. Global report card even allows you to compare any town or suburb to locales outside the U.S.

More Kids
While there are plenty of children who live in the city, parents usually find more convenient access to child care centers, parks and recreation facilities in the suburbs.

If you are considering a move to the suburbs, rent first, or rent permanently. The benefits of renting include flexibility to move should the commute turn out to be too long or the neighborhood doesn’t meet your needs. Renting may be a great permanent option for your family. It also might be a place to stay while you look for a larger place or house. Check out some of the hottest suburbs in the country for renters. Many of the suburbs on this list are among the safest places in their broader metro area. In some cases the rents might be higher too, but the benefits might be worth the premium.

#Sponsored: Another @PhotoPad_VG #Giveaway! ($25 OR $100 Amazon GC – Your Choice!)

sampleDisclaimer: This post is sponsored by PhotoPad. Any opinions expressed are 100% my own and have not been influenced in any way.


Last month, I ran a contest for a $100 Amazon Gift Card, and I have to say, I’m a little baffled. There wasn’t one entry on that giveaway post! That’s just crazy!

So, I approached the owner of photoPAD, and we talked. We want to give you another chance to win! I’ll get to the giveaway in a minute. 🙂

While I kind of kept a business focus on my last post, I want you to see how great this can be for sharing family photos with those you love most!

Take a look at my family PAD:

Isn’t it cute? And it only took a few minutes to make. Now, I can share my PAD with family and friends on Facebook, twitter, or through email at the click of a button!

It’s like digital scrapbooking without all the headache, expense, and frustration. It’s so easy to create a PAD!

Just in case you’ve forgotten, here are the steps to create your own PAD:

  • First, head to the PhotoPad website.
  • In the top right corner, click on “Start Exploring.”
  • Click on “Join Today.” (Takes 30 seconds to join. SO easy!!)
  • Click on the Plus (+) sign at the top left of the page to create a new pad.
  • Follow the steps to Describe your Pad and get to work using the tools on the right!
  • Now, add pictures and create pages to complete your Pad.

Be sure to save your work at the end, and then you can share your pad by finding the link and sharing through social media. To find the link to your Pad, go to the home page, then click the funnel icon. Just click on “My Pads” and there you have it! SO easy!

I really want to encourage you to try out the new photoPAD for yourself. I think you’re going to love it!

And, to reward you, we’re holding another giveaway. You can win a $25 Amazon Gift Card OR a $100 Amazon Gift Card – your choice. Here’s how it will work:

  • 1. To enter for a $25 Amazon Gift Card, visit the PhotoPad Business Facebook Page. (Because we can’t ask you to “like” the page, according to Facebook rules, we sure would appreciate a “like” if you “like” what you see!)
  • 2. Want to increase your prize to a $100 Amazon Gift Card? Simply create your own Pad, with at least 2 slides, using the PhotoPad creator. (Follow the steps above.)
  • 3. Leave a comment on this post and tell me you did the above. If you created a pad, please leave a link to your PAD in your comment.(You MUST leave a link to your pad in order to win the $100 prize.)

Contest will end Sunday, January 17th at 11:59pm, and winner will be announced and contacted on January 18th.

Winner has been selected…. thanks to all who entered!


#Sponsored: LeapTV – Educational Fun to Get Your Kids Moving! #Giveaway #LeapFrogMomSquad

sampleDisclaimer: This review and giveaway is made possible through my relationship with LeapFrog and the LeapFrog Mom Squad. Opinions expressed are 100% my own.

leaptv giveaway

Have you heard of LeapTV?

It’s this fantastic little gaming system that gets your little ones up and moving and *learning* all at the same time. My kids love it, and they just can’t get enough of it.

We’ve had our LeapTV for awhile now, and it definitely hasn’t gotten “old.” The kids still ask to play with it all the time, and I’m happy to comply when I know they’re going to be learning while they play. My favorite part is that ALL of my kids love it – from Carly (almost 3) all the way up to Zander and Jace (who are 12 and 11). The bigger ones help the little ones, and a fun time is had by all.


There are so many games to choose from, and something to make everyone happy. From Blaze to Frozen, Paw Patrol to Sophia the First, all of our favorite characters are part of the kids favorite games. It’s a win-win for everyone!


LeapFrog has been one of my favorite companies to work with, and product like the LeapTV are why! In their kindness, they sent me 2 LeapTV systems, so I’m sharing one with you! That’s right! You get the chance to win your very own LeapTV system and a Letter Factory Adventure game to go with it! How lucky are you?!

What if you don’t win? That’s OK! The LeapTV system is now retailing for just $59.99. That’s a fantastic price for a great product, and it’s worth every penny! No excuses. Now you can use up those gift cards you got for Christmas and make the kids happy. (Which, in turn, will make YOU happy!)

Use the Rafflecopter Gadget below to enter the giveaway. The contest will end January 19th at 11:59pm.

a Rafflecopter giveaway