#Sponsored: Make it an EPIC Holiday with @LeapFrog #LeapFrogMomSquad

sampleDisclaimer: As a member of the LeapFrog Mom Squad, I receive product in exchange for my honest review. While the products are given to me, the opinions expressed are my own.

epic leapfrog products

Have you started shopping for Christmas yet? Around here, we procrastinate and don’t even get started until probably the week before Christmas. We’re crazy, I know! But, I am constantly adding items to my online Wishlists all year long.

With 8 kids, I need toys that I know are worth the money I’m going to invest in them. That’s why I love LeapFrog products so much!

Our recent shipment from LeapFrog was full of really great items! You are definitely going to want to hear about these and put them on your kids’ wishlists.

LeapFrog Epic

leapfrog epic

First up is the LeapFrog Epic. This tablet is fantastic! There is just so much you can do with it. Because it’s an Android-based tablet, so there’s no need for LeapFrog cartridges anymore. Because I have so many kids, I am all about not needing extra “parts” to make something work. Everything my kids need to have fun is right on this tablet.

While the recommended ages for the tablet are 3 to 9 years old, I’ve caught all of my kids playing on the epic at one time or another. There have been many times when I’ve found my 4 year old showing my 11 year old how the tablet works and all the fun games and videos they can find on there.

epic kid

I love the look and feel of the epic as well. It’s thick and sturdy, and has a larger screen, but the fantastic case makes it easy for even the smallest hands to hold. My two year old has no trouble holding onto the epic and finding her favorite part – the videos!

It’s easy to use, grows with my kids, and is just so much fun! While it retails at $139.99, that price is more than fair, and is quite comparable with other tablets made for kids that don’t do near as much. It’s a great little tablet for the money, and one I know your kids will love!

LeapFrog Number Lovin’ Oven

number lovin' oven

Next up, we have the Number Lovin’ Oven. This is Carly’s absolute favorite toy. It’s the very first thing she plays with when she wakes up in the morning. In fact, she’ll get up and “cook” me an egg and a cupcake every morning for “breakfast.” It’s adorable! I think she loves the songs it sings the most. And, believe me, in no time, you will be singing “Put an Egg on it” too! :) Honestly, I sing that song every time I cook in my real oven now too! It’s one of those songs that sticks in your head.

This little oven comes with 16 pieces to play with including 2 cupcakes, 4 slices of deep dish pizza, an egg, and bread. The pizza and bread come apart to help little ones learn their numbers and how to share. (I love that!)

It really is a lot of fun to play with, and at just $24.99, it’s the perfect price too! It’s perfect for the 2 to 5 year old age range, and it will keep them happy and playing for hours on end. (At least it does in our house!)

Your little one will love serving you up breakfast, lunch, and dinner everyday, and they’ll do it with a smile on their face and a song on their lips. This is a must-add product for your preschooler’s wish list!

Scout’s Build & Discover Tool Set

Scout's build & discover tool set

Singing, laughing, counting, matching, measuring, and banging – that’s what you get with Scout’s Build & Discover Tool Set. And it is awesome!

Your child gets all the tools and items they need to build a completely interactive house for your favorite dog, Scout. Your child will count nails, measure the walls of the house, all while they sing along to the number song. While they are doing this, Scout is talking, singing, and cheering them on in their efforts!

This is a great little tool for helping your little one to learn their numbers and how to count. And it’s just a lot of fun! Gage has loved Scout since he was a baby, and so he immediately recognized the voice. He was thrilled to be able to make a little house for his favorite puppy!

The tool set is perfect for ages 2 – 5, and retails for just $19.99. That makes it the perfect gift to give to your favorite little boy, or donate a few to your local women’s shelter and give someone else a Merry Christmas. :)

I am just thrilled to be working with LeapFrog, and getting the chance to share these amazing products with you!

I’ll have more gift ideas and our Holiday Gift Guide coming soon! Be sure to check back.

#Sponsored: Mary’s Secret Ingredients – A Recipe for Success!

sampleDisclaimer: This is a sponsored post on behalf of Mary’s Secret Ingredients. I received a sample in order to facilitate my review. Opinions expressed are 100% my own.


Are there ever times when you need a few extra ideas in the kitchen? Or maybe you want to try something new, but you’re just not sure where to start?

Let me introduce you to Mary’s Secret Ingredients.

With Mary’s Secret Ingredients, you can quickly and easily become a pro in the kitchen, discovering fantastic new flavors and products that will make life easier, and make your food taste better!

There are two ways to purchase: Individual boxes (priced at just $25.95/box!), or order a one-year subscription and get 4 boxes shipped to your door throughout the year. At just over $100, the one year subscription is a great option to keep for yourself or give as a gift to that special cook in your life.

Want to know the best part? Mary’s Secret Ingredients has partnered with Feed the Children, so every time you buy a box, you’re helping feed someone in need. Love that!


For this review, I received the Fall box from Mary’s Secret Ingredients. I was pleasantly surprised by what I found inside!

The Ultragrain Blend All Purpose flour is already a favorite. It’s what I buy when I make my homemade chicken and dumplings or cookies from scratch. In fact, when I opened the box, Jace caught a glimpse of the flour and asked, “Oh, Mom! Does this mean we’re having dumplings for dinner?”

The POURfect Measuring Spoon Set is to die for! It’s funny, because I was really wishing I had one of these before I got the box. I ordered some cute measuring spoons several months ago, but while they look cute, that’s about all they do. They don’t measure accurately, and I got frustrated every time I tried to use them. Enter the POURfect measuring spoons, and I don’t have that problem anymore! I can quickly and accurately get just what I need – down to the DROP! (Which is 1/32 of a teaspoon, by the way.) 😉

The other items were new to me: Sarah’s Sea Salt, which is a Tuscan Sea Salt, and the Jenkins Jellies are both items I’d never heard of, but I can’t wait to try them out! I’ve got chicken breast thawing in the fridge for tonight. I think I’ll visit the recipe section of the Mary’s Secret Ingredient website and see what I can whip up for dinner. I’m not a fan of spicy foods or jellies, but my 12 year old, Zander sure is. I have a feeling his next Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich will have a bit of a “kick” to it. :)

Whether you are a seasoned cook or just starting out, I encourage you to check out Mary’s Secret Ingredients and order a box. If you avoid the kitchen at all costs, why not order a box for a friend? The winter box would make a fantastic Christmas gift! And, just by ordering a box, you can help feed a hungry child. What could be better than that? Mary’s Secret Ingredients is a gift that keeps on giving.

#Sponored: Watch the Be Cool Scooby-Doo Video & Enter to Win!

sponsoredDisclaimer: This is a sponsored post on behalf of Warner Bros. Information for the post was provided by Warner Bros, but any opinions expressed are my own.

There are few cartoons that stand the test of time. Scooby-Doo! is one of those classics that our kids can enjoy just like we did growing up.

Now, you can watch your favorite team together again in an all new show: Be Cool Scooby-Doo! It’s coming to Cartoon Network in the US!

While one of our favorite cartoons continues to provide entertainment for the whole family, the way our kids watch cartoons is certainly not the same as it was “way back when…”

Now, they can watch videos, play games, and even download printable activities on ScoobyDoo.com!

The Warner Bros Youtube Channel makes it easy for our kids to watch their favorite mystery squad – on-demand, and from any device.

Want to know the best part? Scooby-Doo! is giving away a $100 Amazon gift card. That makes this a great time to check it all out.

Take a minute to watch the video.

Now, enter for your chance to win today!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks to Warner Bros for this fantastic new show – and for the amazing giveaway!

#Sponsored: Check Out the New Quick Cups Video & Enter to Win!

sponsoredDisclaimer: This is a sponsored post on behalf of Spin Master Games. Information for the post was provided by Spin Master, but any opinions expressed are my own.

Take a minute to check out the fantastic new Quick Cups video from Spin Master. Then, be sure to scroll down and enter the giveaway to win one of three grand games packages. (Packages include Fibber, Mustache Smash, Boom Boom Balloon, Shark Mania, Rapidoodle, and Quick Cups and are valued at $125 each.) Also – there are 10 amazing Runner Up prizes of the Quick Cups Board Game!

Haven’t heard of Quick Cups? It’s this great game where kids can outperform their parents IF they have a quicker eye and hands. It’s a game that everyone will love to play, and ANYONE can be the winner!

Here, take a look at the video:

Now, enter the giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck to all who enter!

Also, be sure to thank Spin Master by checking out the Spin Master Games website and the Spin Master YouTube Channel. Because of them, I can bring you these fantastic giveaways!

When You Tell God No

proverbs 3:5-6

Several years ago, my husband was on fire for the Lord. He had a fire burning within him that I had never seen before. He was always doing something with the church. Always at revivals. Always at meetings. I’ll admit, I was jealous. I wanted in on it. But, I was always stuck at home with 5 or 6 kids, needing so desperately to be fed, but not getting anything.

The next year, my husband started feeling like the Lord was calling him (us!) to the mission field. He approached a trusted man of God about it, and was told that God generally calls men to preach before he calls them as missionaries. My husband felt discouraged and figured, “Well, God must not be calling me to be a missionary.” I wanted to help. I wanted to be there for him. So, I went on a mission. I decided it was time for me to get my life on track. If God was calling my husband to be a missionary, I didn’t want to miss that call. I wanted to love him and support him right through it. I started focusing on my own relationship with Christ. I studied my Bible daily – for hours. I prayed every chance I got. I wanted to get as close as I possibly could so that I could be there for my husband as a missionary’s wife – or in whatever capacity Christ wanted.

But nothing ever came of it. We missed our chance to go off and serve the Lord because we didn’t know how. We didn’t know what steps we were required to take next. We knew what we were supposed to do, but we had no idea how to do it.

We both felt the Lord telling us to leave our church. Not because we were angry at the church, but because it wasn’t where He wanted us to be. We both knew it. We had even discussed it at length.

But, we told God no. We didn’t want to leave our church. We had been at that church since the Sunday after we moved down to Georgia. All of our friends were there. Our family was there. It was all that we knew. We made every excuse in the book to stay. “It will hurt so-and-so’s feelings if we leave.” “Our kids are doing so well in church, and they love going. We don’t want to risk them hating a new church.” “How will we ever find a church that can replace what we’ve found here?”

It was all true. We really did love our church. In the 8 years we were there, I got saved and baptized, and 4 of our children were saved and baptized as well. I would watch as Christ would move in the hearts of my children. Many tears were shed on the altar as we would all bring our burdens to the Lord and leave them there.

But, one thing was happening during this time that I couldn’t fix, no matter how many tears I cried, or how many times I went to the altar. For 3 years, I watched my husband slowly pull himself farther and farther away from God and our church. And the entire time, I knew it was because we weren’t where God wanted us to be. Yet, I stayed. I continued to tell God no.

My husband became discouraged. He has a job that requires him to work on Sunday mornings, so he is rarely at church during the morning worship service. Before, he would always make sure to get off on Sunday evenings and Wednesday nights to still be at church. But, more and more, through the years, he would stop doing that. Instead, he would find just “one more thing” that would keep him busy enough that he would be too late for church.

It tore my heart to pieces. All I wanted was to be in church with my husband sitting beside me, but church was the last place he wanted to be.

So, I approached him about it. The first few times I asked, he gave me excuses: things were really busy at work, he had too much to do, etc., etc.

But, recently, I approached him in a different way. I asked him what he needed to get back to the Lord. I was already praying, but I knew he needed more from me. I wanted to make sure I gave it to him. We talked, we cried, and we both realized we already had the answer: God was calling us to move on. To trust HIM to lead us to a new church, one that He had picked out just for us. All those months, Gene didn’t want to say anything to me, because He had seen how close I had drawn to the Lord, and He was afraid by asking me to leave the church, he would ruin that. If only he had known I was already feeling the same way. Why hadn’t we talked sooner?

The next night, we sat the kids down, and told them that we felt like the Lord was leading us to find a new church. Some of the kids were totally on board with it, but one of the kids was completely against it. He started crying and begged us to change our minds. He didn’t want to leave his friends. He told us he would hate any new church he tried, just so we would change our minds and go back to “our” church.

That next Sunday night, we tried a new church. We spoke with the pastor and found out just how missions-minded their church was. In a church with 95 members, their Faith Promise giving was $46,000 for the year. Did you catch that? On top of regular tithes and offerings, this church had promised $46,000 to missionaries. Amazing.

The first service went really well. It was different than what we had become used to for the past 8 years, but not different in a bad way. Just different. Plus, the people were kind and welcoming, and there were lots and lots of kids.

We went back that Wednesday night, and the kids all went off to their own classes. After the service that night, Jace, (the one who had been so against us even trying a new church), came up to Gene and I and said, “I’m so sorry I didn’t trust you or God. I really like it here. If this is where God wants us to be, I’m OK with it.”

Isn’t it nice to know that even the hardest hearts can be changed?

Before Gene and I committed to anything, we wanted to come to a few more services. I needed to try a Sunday morning without my husband there and make sure I could handle it.

The pastor and his wife came even came over one day to hear our testimonies and tell us more about what they believe as a church.

After every service, and almost every night since we had started attending the new church, Gene and I would talk, and it wasn’t long before we both felt that was exactly where God was leading us.

This past Sunday night, Gene and I, along with 7 of our kids, joined Shining Light Baptist Church.

new church

(Pictured left to right: Angie, Carly, Gage, Zander, Gene, Sawyer, Jace, Lucy, Parker, and Pastor Tim Mason.)

Yes, we have 8 kids. And, yes, only 7 of them are pictured with us here. Our oldest daughter is 18. Gene and I both feel she is old enough to make her own decisions in the Lord. We had to do something VERY hard, and let her decide where she would go to church. If the Lord is not moving her on, we don’t want to force her. We are praying every day that she will seek only HIS will, and that she will do whatever is right for her in HIS eyes.

I am praying that the Lord will really use us in this new church. We are excited about serving in whatever way possible. I’m praying the Lord will send Gene a man who will truly encourage him in the things of the Lord, who will become his friend and uplift him in prayer. I want nothing more than to see my husband have that fire burning within him again. I know he wants it to, and I’m praying with everything I have that he finds it here, not because of the people, but because of the Spirit. I’m also praying the Lord will send me ladies that I can draw close to, that I can minister to and to learn from. I’m praying that my kids will find Jesus here. That the ones who are saved will cultivate a real relationship with Him, and that the ones who are not saved will discover the love of our Savior and invite Him into their hearts. God can do mighty things, and I’m trusting Him to do just that.

psalm 91:1-4

Sometimes, the Lord calls us to do hard things. Sometimes, we tell him no, and we suffer because of it. Yes, our kind and loving Father still blesses us from time to time. But just imagine the blessings He will give us when we are willing to follow Him, no matter how hard it may be.

Step out on faith. Trust Him to guide your steps. He has your best interest at heart. You just have to let Him lead. And stop telling Him no.

#Sponsored: @OneSightOrg wants to #HelpTheWorldSee with Your Help! @SheSpeaksUp

sponsoredDisclaimer: This is a sponsored post on behalf of OneSight through SheSpeaks. Any opinions expressed are my own.


I got my first pair of glasses in 3rd grade. At first, I just needed reading glasses. But, over the next year, my eye sight got so bad, I had to wear them all the time.

I was so embarrassed. I hated my glasses, and I didn’t want to have to wear my glasses. I talked my parents into buying me contacts, but I hated them too. So, for over a year, I pretended to put my contacts in every day, and I struggled to see.

When my parents finally caught on, the immediately took me to the eye doctor to see if I had done any damage to my eyes. It turned out, I had. By not wearing my glasses, and straining so hard to see for so long, I had messed up my eyes so badly that I had to go through a year of eye therapy to help retrain my eyes to see.

I had access to glasses, and I made the choice not to wear them for selfish reasons. I look back on it now, and I wish I could go back in time to smack myself. What was I thinking?!

So, when I heard about OneSight and the amazing work they are doing to eradicate the global vision care crisis, I wanted in!


OneSight wants to bring sight to the world, but they need your help! Here’s what you can do:

  • Share a Photo – Snap a picture of yourself or your family using your hands as glasses. Use the hashtag #HelpTheWorldSee and help bring attention to OneSight’s mission to bring sight to the world. (Use my picture with Jace above as a reference!)
  • Donate – There are over 1 billion people without access to vision care. By donating just $1 to the cause will help! Donate quickly and easily at OneSight.org/donate.

Please take a moment to learn more about OneSight and the fantastic things they’re doing:

I can’t wait to see your pictures floating around social media! Get your handglasses on and start shooting! :)

Teaching Your Kids the Importance of Eco-Friendly Choices


Seventy-five percent of millennials believe that human activity is responsible for climate change, according to MSNBC. And even more compelling, NASA reports that 97 percent of climate scientists believe that human activity is responsible for the gradual warming of our planet. With these facts come the desire to affect change to create a more sustainable future. Just as our choices past have brought us to this precipice, our choices going forward can change this.

Reducing Our Carbon Footprint
One of the first things you can do when looking to reduce your carbon footprint is to look into a fuel efficient vehicle. You likely travel on a daily basis, and buying a fuel efficient vehicle can help you reduce the stress you place on the environment. You have plenty of choices when looking to go green, from the Volkswagen Gold and the Hyundai Sonata Eco to the Honda Fit, and with some research you can find a car that fits your lifestyle and is easy on the environment. Additionally, you can check out sites like Nature.org to get your whole family learning about their carbon footprint, get your teens prepped to earn those learner’s permits at Driving-Tests.org, and be on the way to setting up the next generation to make sustainable choices.

In Your Home
We get it, sometimes life gets ahead of you and you just don’t have time for extra dishes, so you reach into your paperware supply. There’s nothing wrong with living a fast paced life but now, you can also help the environment and use palm leaf plates instead of paper. Palm leaf plates are durable, biodegradable and a beautiful alternative to the traditional plastic or paper plates.

Making this simple change can help reduce the amount of waste we create, reduce the amount of trees we chop down and have the added benefit of being elegantly designed. You can also ditch the paper towels for cloth napkins for an added boost of eco consciousness glory.

Get the Stats Wherever You are
If you are like most Americans, then you are on the go most of the time, traveling to work, taking the kids to school, practices, lessons and visiting with friends. Tzoa, is a wearable enviro-tracker that can help you be aware of the air quality in the spaces you inhabit. Using this device you can not only know when hazardous particles are in the air, but you can have the data to change it.

Another ingenious gadget is Automatic, a device that you plug into your car to get up to date reads on mileage, gas usage, performance and engine health. With this device you can consistently be aware of how your car is doing and how you can continue to be as conscious of the environment as possible.

So whether you’re considering getting a new car or just becoming more conscious in your home, there are many products that can help you achieve greater awareness for the world we live in. You can rest easy knowing you are doing your part to create a more sustainable future.

#Sponsored: #FabFitFun – One Box, Endless Joy!

sampleDisclaimer: This is a sponsored post on behalf of FabFitFun. Opinions expressed are 100% my own.

fabfitfun fall box

Have you heard of FabFitFun?

I hadn’t either – until they sent me their new Fall Box for review.

Oh my goodness. This box full of goodies is absolutely amazing! Now, I’m hooked, and I can’t wait to see what’s in their next box. If it’s half as good as this box, it’ll be one worth having.

Here, take a look at the goodies I found inside my box:

whats inside the fabfitfun fall box

See what I mean? Amazing!

In case you can’t see everything that’s inside my FabFitFun Fall Box, here’s a list:

  • Gold Radiance Luxury Facial Mask with Collagen & Rosa Damascena Flower Oil (Value $65)
  • Strength Tubing & Strength Tubing DVD for Total Toning (Value $33)
  • Tribe Alive Bracelet (So sparkly & pretty!) (Value $49)
  • Manna Liplocked Priming Gloss Stain (Value $24)
  • Doctor D. Schwab Flawless Skin Fluid (Best moisturizer I have *ever* used. Hands down!) (Value $39)
  • HISY Battery Pack (This has saved my sanity more than once, and I just got it!) (Value $24.99)
  • FabFitFun x Tappan Collective Umbrella (Not pictured, because it’s in my van. I’ve used it every day for over a week now.) (Value $32)
  • Gift Card by Jeweler’s Wife (Value $15)
  • Gift Card by Picture It on Canvas (Value $75)
  • Purple Purse Charm
  • Sample of 3D White Brilliance 2-Step System by Crest

Did you catch the value of that box? $357! And you can get it all for just $49.99, and then get 3 more boxes throughout the year for the same price. (Shipping is free!)

If you’ve been on the fence about trying out FabFitFun, let me encourage you to make the leap! It is SO worth it.

I can’t wait to see what’s coming out next time, but don’t you wait either. Jump on board and grab the Fall Box of goodies now!


Handwritten Thank You Notes for the Win

There are many demands made of new mothers. We won’t go through all of them here (as you are likely living them and know all about them). But one of the Musts that can often fall through the cracks, or be performed poorly, is the old-fashioned thank-you note. Thank you notes are a part of your life soon after your child is born, or maybe even before. It’s this way because there are so many gifts and acts of service which find their way into your life. Etiquette calls for a thank you for each one, and you no doubt want to do the same.

It’s easy to go the easy way and just get a bunch of stock cards, then sign them and send them off. But that’s not the way you know you should go. Handwritten notes might seem a little old-fashioned, especially in the days of social media blasts and text messages. But there’s nothing like a handwritten note to deliver genuine gratitude, all contained in your words and in the unique lines and loops of your personal handwriting.

uniball pens

Uni-ball is the maker of some of finest, smoothest writing pens on the market. They’ve been doing it for years, and they’re hoping to reclaim handwriting for a new generation, one that sometimes seems to do without it. Keyboard typing, T9, voice to text, and many other ways threaten to relegate handwriting to the past. Take it back with your next thank you project. It may seem a little daunting to tackle a pile of cards, but writing out a heartfelt sentence or two can be a pleasure all its own. And it’s one which will deliver real happiness and satisfaction to the person who receives it. In a world of automated communications, genuine feeling stands out like a diamond in the rough. So try it out with your thank you notes next time. To learn more about uni-ball pens, click here.

How To Enjoy A Family Vacation Without Being Stuck In A Hotel

A family vacation can be the most wonderful time, however it can have it’s setbacks!. For instance, taking small babies for several nights not only requires a substantial amount of luggage but so much more preparation too. You need to organize special accommodation to make sure you have a safe cot for the little one. And it needs to be big enough to sleep all of us!

I’ve found that hotels and young children just don’t mix. They never have all the helpful facilities that I could do with, like a diaper pail! And a hotel room rarely has an opening window to get rid of the smell of four kids either. If there is a fridge, there is never enough space to store the formula. It can take an age to get room service to provide boiling water to make it up in the first place. And how are you supposed to sterilize everything?

For my family, a self-catering vacation is the way to go. Don’t get me wrong. I love to head out to a nice restaurant, and my kids behave beautifully. But having all the comforts of home, like a kettle, drinking water, a fridge, and some extra space is what we need. I’ve been checking out some destinations for our next big family vacation overseas. For me, the accommodation is everything.

When you think about France, you probably conjure up visions of the Eiffel Tower and the city of Paris. For me, I envision those beautiful Chateaux, quaint cottages, and luxury villas. I’m thinking about something self-contained and fun, but out in the country where I can get some peace and quiet. The South of France is famed for its gorgeous climate. Something with a pool and plenty of space is on my vacation shopping list this year.

The kids will probably be excited about the plane ride. Having small kids on a plane isn’t nearly as troublesome as some people think. Nowadays there is plenty of entertainment for them. They’re quite good at sleeping on journeys too. For those of you with babies, you’ll be pleased to know that airlines are much better at looking after you these days. There is space for nappy changing, and you are usually sat at the front so baby won’t disturb other passengers.

At the airport, we will probably hire a family car to drive down to the villa. European driving is a bit different to home, but I think I’ll be giving it a go. With a car, we can travel anywhere in the country we like. We could head down to Biarritz for the beach, or into the center of Paris for some French culture and tourism. The kids have already been whispering about Disneyland, but we’ll have to see.

kids jump in pool

The pic is from Flickr.com

I can just envision it now. I’m lounging by the pool while the kids are playing noisily. I can gaze out at the most incredible landscapes, and even enjoy some French cuisine. Best of all, I have everything I need to look after four kids just inside the door. What could be more perfect?

#IC #Sponsored: Insomnia Nation – My Results of Getting More Sleep

sponsoredDisclaimer:I participated in an Ambassador program on behalf of Influence Central for Pernix Therapeutics. I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

In my last post about the Insomnia Nation, I shared with you that I would be implementing some Shut Eye Strategies to help me get more sleep. These strategies included signing off from social media at least an hour before bedtime. (I have to admit, I thought that would be incredibly difficult, but it really wasn’t! I took my phone into my bedroom, plugged it in beside my bed, then went back out to the living room and spent the evenings talking with my hubby. It was actually really a blessing to get to spend some quiet, one-on-one time with my honey after all the kids were in bed!)

I wanted to use this post to share my results with you, and I figured I would show you the difference in the nights when I used the Shut Eye Strategies verses one of the nights I didn’t:

Sleep Patterns

Look at that difference! It took me less than 10 minutes to fall asleep each night that I implemented the Shut Eye Strategies, and I was hardly awake at all during the night. Even though it wasn’t always long sleep, it was still good sleep.

Now, look at the one on the very right. That’s just one night that I didn’t implement the Shut Eye Strategies. (And it’s not even the worst night!) It took me 12 minutes to fall asleep, then I had trouble staying asleep. I tossed and turned most of the night, and even woke up for quite awhile during the night.

It’s obvious to me that by shutting off the electronics and social media at least an hour before bed really works! I can’t believe how well it helped me sleep.

While I am thrilled that these strategies worked so well for me, I understand there are some people they may need a little extra help. And that’s OK! That’s why we have doctors and really great medicines that can help us when we’ve tried everything else. There are treatment options available for those with insomnia who have trouble staying asleep. SILENOR® works differently than most sleep medications. Most work on the sleep-promoting system which helps patients fall asleep. SILENOR® works with the wake-promoting mechanism of your body’s own sleep-wake cycle. It helps you stay asleep throughout the night and early morning.  The best part is, SILENOR® can be used regularly and it’s not associated with any risk of abuse or physical dependence.

If you are having trouble staying asleep through the night, talk to your doctor today about your routine, lifestyle, and symptoms. They will be able to help determine the best option for getting a full night sleep more regularly.

Please take a moment to visit Wanttosleepmore.com to learn more about how to achieve a full, uninterrupted night’s sleep.

Full SILENOR® ISI: SILENOR® is a prescription sleep medicine that is used to treat people with insomnia who have trouble staying asleep. Call your doctor if your insomnia worsens or is not better within 7 to 10 days. This may mean that there is another condition causing your sleep problem. Be sure that you are able to devote 7 to 8 hours to sleep before being active again. SILENOR® should be taken within 30 minutes of bedtime. Do not take with alcohol or with other medicines that can make you sleepy. If you are on a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) or have taken a MAOI within the past two weeks, you should not take SILENOR®. You should not take SILENOR® if you have an eye problem called narrow angle glaucoma that is not being treated, if you have severe urinary retention, or if you are allergic to any of the ingredients in SILENOR®. You should not drive or operate machinery at night after taking SILENOR®. Until you know how you will react to SILENOR®, you should be careful in performing such activities during the day following taking SILENOR®. Before you take SILENOR®, tell your doctor if you have a history of depression, mental illness or suicidal thoughts. You should call your doctor right away if after taking SILENOR® you walk, drive, eat or engage in other activities while asleep. Drowsiness is the most common adverse event observed in clinical trials. For more information, please see the complete Prescribing Information, including the Medication Guide, at https://www.silenor.com/Content/pdf/prescribing-information.pdf. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Are You Down with Down?

When you go shopping for a winter coat, you’ll soon find that you are faced with an often-intimidating number of choices.  Many people gravitate toward down-filled jackets, but have you ever wondered why?  Is down right for you?  Let’s take a look at the appeal of down jackets, whether they are suited to your needs, and how to shop for a good one.

Basically, down jackets have been insulated with the soft under feathers of a duck or goose, or a combination of the two. The result is a very warm jacket that keeps the wearer very warm.  Goose down is generally considered to be the warmest and lightest, but it’s also the most expensive.  Duck down jackets are also warm and light, with a more affordable price tag.
Real-deal down vs. synthetic fibres
There are several reasons why down jackets are preferred over those stuffed with synthetic fibres, but down isn’t without its downsides, too.  First, down jackets are very light (they are stuffed with feathers, after all!) when compared to a synthetic version.  However, because a large number of feathers is necessary to fill the average jacket, down jackets can seem bulkier to wear than those filled with synthetic materials.

Also, because down jackets keep you very warm, they may not be suitable if you are going to be wearing the jacket while doing active outdoor activities such as skiing. You may find that you get overheated. A synthetic fibre jacket will be more breathable in these cases.

Another thing to consider when purchasing a down jacket is that they usually aren’t waterproof.  If you live in an area that gets lots of snow and rain, you may find that your jacket gets damp.  If that happens, the jacket will lose its ability to keep you warm.

Whether it’s winter jackets for men or winter jackets for women, it’s important to weigh all of these factors before deciding to choose a down-filled jacket.  If you are typically cold person who wants a jacket that will provide maximum warmth and you don’t live in a rainy climate, a down-filled jacket can be a good choice.  They are warm, light and cozy.  On the other hand, if you tend to be warmer, if you want to wear the jacket during outdoor active pursuits, or if you expect to have to ensure lots of rain and/or heavy wet snow, a down-filled jacket may not be the best choice.  If you do choose a down jacket, find one that fits well and is in a flattering shape.

It’s best to opt for a smaller size than you think you need, so the garment fits close to the body and provides maximum freedom of movement and warmth.

How to Create a Beautiful Kitchen Outdoors

Ahhh, let’s hear it for the great outdoors! There is nothing like it–and when it comes to entertaining, it’s especially rewarding to host an outdoor soiree. Any gathering of friends, family and colleagues, where there’s plenty of room to move about and great eats and drinks is somehow always more enjoyable and rewarding when it takes place outside. If this were not true, there wouldn’t be so many outdoor eating areas for diners at restaurants everywhere.

Nothing Really New About it
While cooking dinner underneath a canopy of stars and moonlight is nothing new–it can be traced back to the discovery of fire. It was actually a functional divergence to engineer new, modern methods of bringing the process of cooking under a roof and into the house to change the game. So not cooking outside, at one point in time, was a brand new innovation, and surely a most welcome respite, delivering a new level of convenience for the one doing the meal preparation and cooking.

Back Into the Yard, and Onto the Patio
weber grillThe cooking of mostly “main course” meat (also known as grilling,) on backyard barbeques became a particularly popular pastime during the 1950s, with a major wave of post-WWII families migrating from the city and farm into the suburbs. The origin of the first grills to resemble what we think of today began in the mind of a metal worker employed by Weber Bros. Metal Spinning Co, maker of harbor buoys. By applying certain modifications to a buoy, he produced the first Weber grill, the game changing cook-piece template for what would become modern grilling that we have today.

Today’s Lifestyle Entertaining
The list of reasons for today’s grand proliferation in adding outdoor kitchens would be vast, however it seems to only be an offshoot from a fascination families seem to have with moving just as much of their living space to the out of doors as possible. So, the fanciest of grills and smokers are being one-upped by the encroaching rivalry of full kitchens designed for backyard living, replete with every single modern appliance to ever grace a dream kitchen on the inside of any home. And because there are other living spaces being located behind the main house, There are both furniture and construction practices that offer a myriad of options for the outdoor home expansion.

Design Basics for Outside Practicality
At the heart of any viable plan for an outdoor kitchen must be two elements: durability and function. In a move to meet the growing demand for hearty outdoor appliances, the leading manufactures now offer a wealth of options, purposes and convenience geared to withstanding the elements suitably. As many of these appliances are built-in, they’ve got to hold up to a full range of weather conditions and all possible extremes in temperature.

Creating Built-in Kitchen Ambiance Outside
Most well designed backyard kitchens feature all of the amenities of their interior counterparts, with bars, kitchen islands, cabinets and countertops, dining spaces, unique flooring, half-walls that distinguish the area, pits and even special pizza ovens. Oh, and the time-honored grill is a significant feature of them all. Some of these kitchens are designed to accommodate more than one chef in the kitchen at a time, with purposeful configurations of all equipment. Full sized and deep stainless sinks with running hot and cold water factor prominently in the complete outdoor kitchen. You’ll find refrigerators, ranges, grills and more that run on electricity, but there are just as many appliances for cooking, fueled by gas and liquid propane. The installation of both requires special permits and professional installation to code. Decide beforehand, your fuel preference, or if you’ll want both, and hire a professional to run the pipes and wiring underground.

All the Modern Conveniences Outside
In general, it’s best to begin your outside kitchen plan by first deciding on exactly which appliances you are going to want. You might choose a fully integrated range, or perhaps a wall oven or two, set in a brick structure, with a full scope range top elsewhere. Some homes install the new separately-available range top components, with extras like smaller grills, two burner gas grates, deep fryers and more. Countertops are chosen from materials most impervious to year-round external elements, and stain and acid-proof sealed concrete, bricks and tiles are popular choices. Smokers with rotisseries are wonderful for cooking that Thanksgiving turkey! Pizza ovens are a lot of fun and quite versatile for slow-roasting larger items. Warming drawers are very handy components for outside entertaining.

Adding Ambiance
The general layout begins with the installation of flooring, again, from weather-hearty materials. This floor serves to connect the home itself to the outdoor kitchen. A dedicated outdoor bar can either be a fixture of the kitchen, or set apart. There are numerous sizes and types of beverage centers, ice makers, wine coolers and keg refrigerators from which to choose. Outdoor refrigerators are now available with all of the functionality, advanced technology and options of the best indoor models. And refrigerated drawers add even more convenience. And don’t forget to include a viably-housed wide screen TV, along with a good system for docking your devices to play music. Good speakers can be purchased for a decent price, and will make all the difference. Cabinets and other forms of secure storage can protect any associated items, like gaming equipment, pots, pans, eating utensils, drink ware, plates and of course, your famous apron. With all of this kitchen capability, still, a fire pit offers the ideal place to gather later on, and year-round. It’s always a cozy, fun way to roast hot dogs, or try out some new s’mores recipes.

The type of lighting you include in the design, as well as the positioning of it will play a major role in creating the perfect ambiance. Give yourself lots of options, with dimmers, too. Imagine the degree of lighting you might need for executing precision moves with a sharp knife, for instance, when cooking outside on a moonless night, a good while after the sun has set. Best to err on the “too much” side here. Then, you can always use the dimmer switch.

My Top Tips For Getting Out Of The Door For The School Run On Time

My children are my whole world; I have never been happier than I am now that I have little ones to look after. However, as I’m sure you will agree if you are a mummy yourself, parenting isn’t the easiest job. In fact, it’s one of the hardest.

Obviously, being a parent is more than worth the time and effort that you put into it, but that doesn’t make it any easier. For me, one area that I used to struggle with was the dreaded school run. No matter what I did, I just couldn’t seem to get out of the door on time.


Photo source

To combat this, I decided to mix things up a bit, and work out a way to ensure that I would get out of the door on time, every day. In case you are also struggling with this, I thought that I would share my top tips for school run success with you, here:

Shower the night before
Instead of trying to squeeze a shower into the morning, along with everything else, shower the night before. This is especially important if you plan on washing your hair, as this can shave valuable minutes off of the time it takes to get ready.

If you do have to shower in the morning, set your alarm for 10 minutes earlier than you normally would do.

Lay out clothes the night before
To make the morning rush a little easier, lay out yours’ and your kids’ clothes before going to bed. That way, when you get up, you don’t need to stress about working out what everyone is going to be wearing.

Perfect doing your hair and makeup in five minutes
Yes, when it comes to the school run, our aim is to get out the door on time. However, if you are anything like me, you won’t feel comfortable leaving the house unless you look at least half presentable.

The key to this is learning to do your hair and makeup in the record time of five minutes. It might sound impossible, but it’s not. If your hair is hard to manage, when you next go to the hairdressers, ask your stylist to give you an easy-to-do hairstyle. Explain that you want something that just needs to be quickly brushed to look good.

Wear a watch


Image link

This is a tip that a friend mentioned to me, as she found wearing a watch incredibly useful. When you are rushing to get out the door, it’s all about how much time you have. If you aren’t wearing a watch, you have to keep checking your phone for the time, and often, this leads to you getting distracted.

Plus, as I mentioned above, even when I leave the house for the school run, I like to look presentable. I find that when I am sporting a stylish watch, I feel a lot more put together.

If you don’t already have a watch, consider investing in one. Trust me, when it comes to the school run, a watch is a godsend. Have a look at the Shinola watches for women, to get an idea of the type of watch design that you would like.

Make breakfast easy
The most difficult part of getting the kids ready for school is often breakfast, especially when they can’t decide what they want. To make getting them fed and watered in time less stressful, look for easy breakfast options.

Things like fresh fruit smoothies, porridge, and bacon sandwiches are all easy options, as they can be eaten quickly. I find that for some reason, it always takes my little ones a lot longer to eat cereal, than other breakfast foods.

Being a mum isn’t easy, but there are things that you can do to make life simpler for yourself. If you want to make the school run a little less stressful, all you need to do is follow my tips and advice, above.

#Sponsored: How to Save Money During Back to School Shopping #Zulily #BTS

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

As a mom of 8, with 5 kids in school this year, I need all the money saving tips I can get! That’s just one reason why I love zulily. So, when they asked me to share some fabulous money-saving tips from Shawn Anderson, the zulily kids fashion expert, I just had to jump on it! Ok, are you ready? Here are some fantastic tips to help you save money this Back to School Season.

How To Save During Back to School Shopping

To prepare your kids to head back into the classroom, zulily kids fashion expert Shawn Anderson recommends:

  • Plan in advance: Don’t wait until the last minute to start your back to school preparation. Avoid the stress of last-minute shopping by getting started now and finish before all the good deals are gone.
  • Get organized: Pull together a back to school checklist so you don’t forget any of the necessities.
  • Shop online: Sites like zulily.com offer parents a wide variety of back to school essentials for kids, including clothes, shoes, accessories, supplies and toys, at incredible prices. You can find everything your kid needs (and more!) and save money at the same time.
  • Stockpile your favorite items at a discount: When you find something your child loves and needs each year for school at a great price, be sure to buy a few extra. Take advantage of these deals for years to come!
  • Check in with the kids: It is never a good feeling to buy your child new clothes and school supplies, only to find out that their favorite color or cartoon character has changed. Involve your kids in the shopping process so you make sure you’re buying items they like and want to use.

Back to School with Zulily

Why you should download the Zulily App Today:

Using the zulily app is like opening a hand-held treasure chest every day. You never know what you’ll uncover but you know you’re bound to find something great.

Shop back to school for your kids on any mobile device to save money and discover the items you need and want – even when you’re on the go.

zulily App Highlights:

  • Educational Tutorial – after first installing, users are displayed a brief, informative tutorial on how to use the new application.
  • “New Today” Event Accessibility – a clear, easily accessible layout displays a customer’s personalized list of “New Today” events directly through the application.
  • Personalization zulily has built upon its proprietary personalization technology to create a completely individualized homepage view, from top to bottom. The app learns customer’s preferences and then features the most relevant sales events and information front and center for quick, meaningful shopping.
  • Daily Refreshment of New Events – the shopping platform refreshes every morning at 6 a.m. for customers to shop newly curated events.
  • “Bookmarked” Favorites – while browsing zulily’s events, customers have the ability to select favorites and “bookmark” for easy access.  A “bookmark” ribbon will be displayed on the watch application and instantly synced with the “New Today” tab on the existing iPhone application. This feature allows shoppers to easily customize events to shop at a later time on the iPhone app.

I hope these tips help you with your back to school shopping. I know it can be a stressful time, but zulily makes it easier, I promise! If your kiddos have already started back to school, it’s not to late to stock up for new fall fashions, Christmas gifts, or even just something to brighten your child’s day. Don’t miss out on your last chance to save on Back to School Favorites! Head on over to Zulily and start shopping now!

5 No-Bake Recipes that will Blow You Away!

no bake recipes

While temperatures rise this summer, why would you want to be toiling away in front of the oven?

Here are 5 simple recipes that will make the perfect ending to your summer meal. Refreshing, satiating, replenishing, absolutely scrumptious desserts.

  1. Sweet and salty crispy treats: In a saucepan, melt 1/2stick of butter on a low heat. Add one 10 ounce bag of marshmallows and stir until there are no lumps. Take pretzel sticks and break them up into small pieces and some crisp rice cereal or granola of any kind and stir it in. Press it down into a lightly greased pan and let it set in the fridge or outside. After which you can cut them into bars and enjoy them at any time!
  2. No bake Oreo cheesecake: Take about 10-15 Oreo cookies and blitz them in the food processor. Lay out the crumbs on a lightly greased pan and let it set in the fridge. In a bowl mix 2 parts cream cheese with 3 parts whipped cream and combine with condensed milk (put in as much according to how sweet you want it). Pour this mixture over the laid out crumbs and then top with the remaining crumbs and some powdered sugar. Place in fridge overnight and it is ready to serve!
  3. Fluffy strawberry mousse: In a food processor, combine chopped up strawberries and 1 tablespoon sugar and process until it’s a smooth mixture. Then, take a bowl of water (about 5 tbsp), sprinkle it with gelatin and leave it aside for about 6 minutes. Take 5 tbsp of sugar, 6tbsp of water and a pinch of salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil until the sugar dissolves. Add egg whites to the gelatin mixture and by using a mixer at a high speed beat until foamy. Little by little add 1 tbsp sugar until soft peaks form. Then slowly pour the hot sugar syrup into the egg white mixture and beat slowly at first and then rapidly until stiff peaks form. Beat in vanilla essence and mix in whipped cream and strawberry mixture and gently fold 1/4th of an egg white. Top with a little more of the strawberry mixture. Let it set in the fridge for 2 hours.
  4. Peppermint-choco cookies: In a food processor, blitz 1 cup sugar, 1 tbsp butter, 2 tbsp light corn syrup, 1 tbsp milk and ½ a tsp of peppermint extract until you’re left with a smooth mixture. Take some chocolate cookies and spread this mixture onto them. You can even crush up candy canes to top it off. Make sure to chill properly until it is set.
  5. Apple-Oatmeal Cookies: Melt 1/2 stick butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat; stir in 1/2 cup each sugar and grated peeled apple, and 1/4 teaspoon each ground cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla extract. Simmer 1 minute, and then stir in 1 1/2 cups rolled oats. Scoop the mixture by heaping tablespoonfuls and sprinkle each with sea salt; flatten into rounds and chill until set. In a saucepan, melt ½ stick butter over medium heat. Take an apple, peel it and grate it. Pour the grated mixture into the saucepan and stir in ½ cup sugar and 1/4th tsp of ground cinnamon, vanilla extract and grate a little nutmeg. Simmer for about 2 minutes and then stir in about half a cup of oats. Sprinkle a little sea-salt over the mixture and flatten into rounds. Chill in fridge until they are set and ready to serve!

With these wonderful no-bake recipes, you will be the talk of the next dinner party. Your dish is only as good as the ingredients you use, so make sure you get good quality ingredients that aren’t too heavy on the pocket. Stores like Target offer great deals on these ingredients mentioned in the recipes. Do what I did, and use target coupons from here to avail an even greater discount, allowing you to make sweet treats whenever you want!

Lose Weight Without Spending One Extra Penny

cheap weightloss

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

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

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

My youngest baby was born on September 9th, 2014. I was back up to 215 pounds. It was just one pound under my highest documented weight. I was sick. 3 years ago, I had worked so hard to lose 40 pounds. Granted, I have had 2 babies since that post was put up, but each time I started a pregnancy, I started with the best intentions and then ended up about 215 pounds after giving birth.
Now that I know there will be no more babies, I have been more determined than ever to lose the weight and keep it off. But, I had 2 major problems:
  • My gym closed down. No more “New You Fitness.” No more 24 hour opportunities to go work out.
  • We were broke. With 2 more babies, and 6 other growing kids, we have a total of 10 mouths to feed. That makes for a large grocery bill every month – plus diapers, wipes, clothes, and every other expense that comes with having a large family.

I wanted to lose weight, but I had to do it completely on my own. I couldn’t afford Shakeology, It Works!, or any other “magic” potion I could buy.

That’s where sheer determination kicked in.

In March of 2015, I had to stop nursing Sawyer, so I could totally focus on weight loss. I was down to 201.8 pounds. Still over 200, and I hated everything about my appearance.

Here’s what I did to help lose weight:

  1. Cut portion sizes. Tremendously. I stopped using a regular dinner plate, and I switched back to only using a salad plate for my dinner. And absolutely NO SECONDS. Once I finished what was on my plate, that was it.
    plate sizes
  2. I increased my exercise. I started walking again, and made sure I walked at least 30 minutes every single day. Some days I walk on the wii fit, other days it’s the treadmill, but I try to walk outside as much as I possibly can. If I have the opportunity to walk more than 30 minutes, I take it. There have been many, many times, (on my husband’s days off!), that I will walk 5 – 7 miles in the morning. Those are the days I feel the best.
  3. I invested in a Fitbit One. There are several reasons why I love the One.:
    – I had the Flex first, but it doesn’t count your steps unless your arm is swinging. That doesn’t help me when many of my steps come while pushing 3 kids in a shopping cart through the grocery store. The One clips to my pants, or I can drop it in my pocket or even in my bra if I’m in a dress for church. Way more options!
    – I started participating in Fitbit Challenges. I am a super competitive person, and the challenges force me to meet my step goal for the day, and sometimes even cream the competition!
    – The One is a great motivator to take more steps and meet my walking goals for the day. The more walking I do, the more weight I lose!
  4. I stopped drinking so much water. Now, this one usually stumps people. They push drinking gallons of water every day to help you lose weight. However, I have discovered that my body actually retains water. If I drink to much of it, I can’t lose weight. I drink enough to keep from getting thirsty, but I’m no longer drinking it by the gallon. (This may be something you want to talk to your doctor about first!) And, yes, in case you’re wondering, I still only drink water, I just don’t drink a lot of it anymore. Still no soda, no sweet tea, just water with lemon in it.
  5. I will NOT eat after 7pm. This can be difficult, because I feel like family dinners are so important, and my husband doesn’t usually get home until late. So, the kids and I will eat dinner together, and then I will sit down at the table with hubby while he eats, and just talk to him about his day. It’s really, really hard to keep from eating all over again with him, but I won’t. I’m not active at night, so I don’t want to put calories into my body that are just going to sit there.
  6. I revamped my life in Christ. I truly believe that in order to become a new person on the outside, you have to become one on the inside. You must first be someone so truly devoted to your Savior that you become “hungry” for Him instead of the junk hiding in your pantry. I recently started a 4 week weight loss/spiritual growth study called #GodBeforeGoodies. It’s designed to grow your life in Christ while helping you shrink your body. 😉 If the group goes well, I’ll be sharing the study here on the blog. I truly believe that if we want to lose weight, it has to be a total life change. But, that life change must first start in your heart. It has worked for me!

I have people tell me all the time that if I just “drink these shakes” or “try this crazy wrap thing,” but they don’t understand that I cannot afford to spend any extra money. Yes, it might be a great value for some, but $150 for a month of shakes is a lot of money when you have 9 other mouths to feed besides your own. I need to be able to lose weight without spending a dime – and I’ve done just that! I still eat exactly what my family eats, I just eat smaller portions. I haven’t drastically changed my diet and started adding in expensive organic food. I just don’t snack like I used to, I eat way smaller portions at meals, and I don’t eat at night.

I’m not at my goal – yet, but yesterday, I actually got into my goal dress! This dress has been hanging in my closet for 13 years. The last time I wore it was on our honeymoon in 2002! For 13 years, I have hung onto this dress, praying I would make it back into this dress someday. It took me a long, long time, but after 7 babies, a hysterectomy, and lots of ups and downs, I finally got back into this dress:

goal dress

I still have 20 pounds to go, but I KNOW I can do it! I just have to keep the same determination I’ve had for the past 6 months.

Before I close, I want to say one more thing: If you ARE a fan of Shakeology, It Works!, Plexus, or whatever else is on the market, and it has worked for you, THAT’S GREAT! Keep it up! I’m just saying that I can’t afford it, and I have to do something that won’t cost me any money. If you CAN afford it, more power to you! You rock it.

I hope these tips help you. If you have more tips you’d like to share here, I’d love to hear them!

#Sponsored: Check out the DC Kids Super Hero Creator

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

It’s no secret that we love super heroes in our house. So, when I found out about the DC Kids Super Hero Creator, I had to try it out! Oh my goodness! My kids all love it! I have to admit, I did too! I loved it so much, in fact, that I had to create my own Super Hero!

superhero image

Also be sure to check out some of the amazing new videos from Warner Bros, including all your favorites like Scooby Doo and Batman Unlimited.

There will be lots more updates over the next year, so be sure to subscribe to all of their channels!
DCKids Channel
WBKids Channel

If you try out the DC Kids Super Hero Creator, I’d love to know what you think! Also, be sure to enter the giveaway below for your chance to win an amazing toy gift basket!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

International Travel With Kids: Good Times for Everyone

traveling internationally

Planning an overseas family vacation this coming year? Or, considering a family move outside the country? Whether it’s a vacation, an expatriate assignment or a permanent move, there’s some tried-and-true things you should be thinking about if your international adventure includes bringing kids. With the right considerations, you’ll make memories for you and your children that you’ll talk about for years to come.

Get Your Passports In Order
It might seem logical that your passport need only be valid until the day of your planned return home but don’t risk getting stuck in country. There’s all kinds of reason’s your trip might be delayed – from weather and closures, civil unrest or in-country transportation issues. Make sure your whole family’s passports are good for a minimum of three months past your expected return date, longer is even better.

Defeat Jet-Lag on Day One
It’s tempting to want to crash as soon as your reach your hotel at your final destination but you’ll make the most of your trip when you fight the jet-lag fatigue and stay moving once you arrive. Research fun kid activities in advance so you know what’s in close range of your accommodations. This might include outdoor parks, interactive children’s museums, hikes or public swimming areas. Also research when culturally-appropriate meal times are so you can get your kiddos on an eating schedule that matches when restaurants are serving. Keep snacks packed nearby to fight off the munchies.

A Stressed-Out Parent Does Not Make Calm Children
Every parent understands this but when you are travelling abroad, it’s especially important. If you are renting a car and planning to drive, understanding local driving laws and road culture is a must. This is especially important in countries like the UK where driving rules are different than in many parts of the world. Another tip: Stay busy but not too busy. Packing every day from end to end will not only frustrate you when something doesn’t go as planned, but also, your rush and tension will wreck havoc on your kids as well. On the other hand, not having enough to do might leave you and the kids bored which can lead to whining and sibling bickering. Best to have a few planned activities each day but to keep a back-up list that you can pull out and pick from should a flexible change of plan dictate. Better yet, let kids help design their day. Enthusiastic kids make for happier parents.

Give Older Kids Opportunity
In each new phase or day of your trip, create a flexible daily budget they can spend on whatever they like. Ahead of the trip, buy conversational language books and make a game or a contest out of memorizing new words. Elementary and middle-grade kids can make their own bingo-style boards ahead of time that they can use to spot the new words on street signs and billboards. Each day, a different child can pick the restaurants you’ll go to. Teach them how to ask for options from a concierge, read printed guides or maps, or talk to locals about recommendations. Last, find places and ways for them to interact with other kids. Children are far more open, naturally curious and tolerant than many adults. Let them be your ambassador.

Travelling with kids can be a wonderful experience that creates a family bond like nothing else. The more you engage your children in the experience and the more you remain flexible and open to letting each day unfold inside the umbrella of some foundational planning, the more likely you’ll enjoy a trip that none of you will ever forget.

Things to Consider When Buying Porcelain Figurines in Windsor

The best way for a person to alleviate the stress that they have in their daily lives is by finding a hobby to participate in. For most people, collecting a particular item is a great way for a person to pass the time. There are so many things that can be collected and among the most popular are porcelain figurines. These figurines can come in all shapes and sized. Whether it is children or an angel figurine, finding the right things to add to a collection can be thrilling for most people. Here are a few things to consider when trying to find the right porcelain figurines.

Is There a Theme With Your Collection?
One of the first things to think about when trying to buy the right porcelain figurines is whether or not you have a theme with your collection. Some people collect only one time of figurine due to the simplicity it brings during the shopping process. Once you have figure out whether or not there is a theme, you will be able to get the right figurines chosen without having to deal with a lot of uncertainty during the process.

Do You Have a Budget Worked out?
The next thing to think about when trying to find the right figurines is whether or not you have a budget worked out. Most people are surprised to learn just how expensive some of the figurines on the market can be. The best way to avoid getting yourself in a financial bind is by having a set amount of money worked out before you being the shopping process. Neglecting to have a working budget for your shopping trip can really lead to disastrous consequences in the end.

Researching the Market
When trying to make the right porcelain figurine purchases, you will also need to make sure that you research the market to see what is valuable and what is no. By making an effort to find out what is lucrative in regards to the figurines, you will be able to make the right strategic purchases. Usually, you will be able to find a lot of information online about the collectibles you are interested in. By building a collection based on research, you may be able to turn your hobby into a lucrative investment that is worth a lot of money.

At Isabelle’s Dreams, you will be able to find a wide selection of figurines to choose from. The staff there will be able to help you choose the right figurines for the needs that you have.