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!

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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.

The Top Tips for a Parent-Surrogate Relationship

As can be imagined, most people do not ever imagine themselves having to establish a parent-surrogate relationship. The parent-surrogate relationship is not one that most people would ever think about, unless they find themselves in the middle of one. A parent-surrogate relationship is not something that is taught about at home or at school, and until recently has been rarely covered by the media, pop culture, or even in movies. The parent-surrogate relationship is unique and different to any other relationship, and is something that the vast majority of people are unaware of how to prepare for. If you have found yourself in a situation where you need to establish a parent-surrogate relationship, read on to hear our top tips.

Go To the Transfer
The transfer will be the ultimate bonding moment between parents and the surrogate. You will want to be involved in the pregnancy from the beginning, so every attempt to attend the transfer should definitely be made.

Be Involved
Your surrogate will want you to stay involved, so it’s important to ensure that you stay in contact with her. Remember that she is doing this in order to change your life, so it’s important that you let her know that she’s appreciated and valued.

Prioritize
It’s a good idea to set aside a specific time each week to meet with your surrogate, either in person, over the telephone or over Skype or FaceTime. A regularly designated time will work best, and choose a time that is convenient for everyone. Make sure that this takes a position of priority in your schedule.

Take an Interest
In order to form a good relationship with your surrogate, it’s important to take an interest in her life aside from the pregnancy. Asking about her family and hobbies will show her that you’re interested in her as a person.

Don’t Micro-Manage
Remember that your surrogate has been pregnant before and has undergone a rigorous screening process in order to become a surrogate. For this reason, it’s important not to sweat the small stuff – your surrogate won’t want to have to give a full account of everything she’s eaten every day! Unless you think you have valid reason to be worried, let her get on with her pregnancy.

Be Aware of Legalities
Although most surrogate situations don’t result in legal complications, it’s important that both you and your surrogate are aware of surrogate law and enlist the help of a legal service such as Ideal Legal Group in order to protect all of you.

Attend Appointments
You should make an effort to attend the big appointments with your surrogate, such as ultrasound appointments. If your surrogate allows, you may also wish to be present at the birth. Be aware that your surrogate has carried and will give birth to this baby, and even though it is biologically yours she will still feel a sense of love and connection to it.

Are you a parent who is using a surrogate mother? We’d love to hear all about it in the comments.

How Can You Tell if an Elderly Person is Being Mistreated by Care Professionals?

Many of us dread the day when our parents or grandparents need to go into a nursing home, or rely on a home help to care for them. It can be difficult to imagine them helpless and vulnerable, and even though most carers and nursing homes do a great job of helping seniors retain their quality of life as much as possible, and keeping them comfortable, you do of course hear the odd story about people who are actually abused in various ways by the people who are supposed to be caring for them.

These cases are extremely rare, just as cases of child abuse in schools are, however just as you have to be vigilant when it comes to your child, you also need to make sure you keep an eye on any elderly relatives with carers or in nursing homes, and take any signs that they might be being neglected or mistreated seriously.

What Kind of Thing Constitutes Elder Abuse?
There are laws in all 50 states against abusing vulnerable adults when they are in your care, and law firms like burkeharvey.com specialize in bringing these kinds of cases to court and making sure that, if guilty, the perpetrators see justice and the victims’ or their families get some kind of compensation. But what constitutes abuse?

Abuse of an elderly person can include neglecting them, physically or psychologically hurting or tormenting them, sexual abuse, and financial exploitation – for example stealing things from an elderly person or generally ‘ripping them off’. Some of these are easier to spot than others, as in the case of financial exploitation the elder in question may not actually know anything is wrong, or may be being conned very well and actually be happy to be giving money to the perpetrator.

Keep an Eye on Everything, and Take Everything Seriously
As people age, particularly when conditions like dementia or Alzheimer’s are involved, they can become easily confused, forgetful, or get strange ideas in their heads. This can make it easy to see them being distressed or believing someone is against them as part of their condition. However, never ignore their claims, no matter how ‘out of it’ their mental state is. Of course, don’t immediately accuse their nurse of stealing from them or hitting them if they say this is happening and they have dementia, but investigate a little before you write it off or report it. Are there any signs of injury? Is anything missing?

When They Have Their Faculties
Not all elderly people have dementia, and some may well have all their faculties. They may not, however, tell you that something is wrong with their treatment. If you are dealing with someone like this, take clues from their own demeanor and attitude. Do they seem unusually withdrawn or nervous? Are they talking about money more than usual?

If you spot any signs of elder abuse the first thing to do is arrange for alternative care and get the person out of that situation – even if only temporarily while you investigate further with management at the nursing home, or police.

#IC #Sponsored: #Backtobgosh Makes Back to School Fun! #BgoshJeanius

sampleDisclaimer: I participated in a Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for OshKosh B’Gosh. I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

Make sure you read this post all the way to the end for a coupon for 25% off your $30 purchase.

back to school with oshkosh

It’s that time of year again! Time for back to school!

With 5 kids in school, I am always on the hunt for great deals on back to school clothes. My absolute favorite place to shop is OshKosh B’Gosh. Their jeans are top of the line, last through dozens and dozens of washings, and even do great once they are passed down to the next kid in line. They use only the best materials and construction in their clothes, and all of their fun, unique designs and trendy fashions make my kids excited to show off their new clothes at school. Better confidence because of what they wear leads to better performance in the classroom. That’s absolutely true with my kids!

For this post, OshKosh B’Gosh sent me a gift card to head to my local store and stock up for the school year for my kids. The one that needed clothes the most was Parker, so I decided to spoil him a little bit.

back to school shopping

Alright, so maybe I spoiled him more than a little bit. 😉 He had a blast picking out all his new clothes. While I expected him to pick out t-shirts and active pants, he wanted dressier clothes: button up shirts, polos in fun colors, and more. I did get our must haves: jeans, denim shorts, and khaki shorts, plus a whole bunch of shirts he picked out for himself.

back to school shopping

We both loved all the gorgeous colors and fun designs they had available, and all at such a great prices! We had so much fun shopping for Parker. It’s not often I get to spend some one-on-one time with the kids, so this was a blessing!

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Did you know that right now, OshKosh B’gosh is running their “B’gosh Jeanius Campaign”? OshKosh B’gosh wants every child to have everything they need for school, whether it’s books or blue jeans. OshKosh B’gosh has partnered with K.I.D.S./ Fashion Delivers, Inc., and DonorsChoose.org, and customers get the opportunity to donate either a brand new pair of blue jeans or choose to make a cash donation to a student in need. Any denim donated from July 28th through September 15th of this year, will be delivered to local kids in need through K.I.D.S./Fashion Delivers, and all cash donations will be dispersed to locals through DonorsChoose.org. Want to know the best part? The Carters Charitable foundation will match all cash donations up to $50,000 and they’ll also match all denim donations with a new item of clothing. I think that’s awesome!! All you have to do is decide how you want to give kids a leg up, and either donate a pair of blue jeans or some cash at the register. (For more information, please visit www.oshkosh.com/bgoshjeanius.

back to school shopping

Need to know where your closest OshKosh B’gosh store is located? Check out the handy dandy Store Locator feature. It helped me find a great little shop I didn’t even know was near me. And we got to go to the ice cream store right next door. Win – Win!

back to school shopping

Not only does OshKosh B’gosh offer fantastic deals on their awesome clothes, they always go above and beyond and give their customers great discounts through coupons. This time is no different! See the coupon below to get 25% off your $30 purchase now through September 30th. (Some exclusions apply. Please read the fine print.)

OK_Fall15 Blogger Coupon

Thanks, OshKosh B’gosh for always offering such great clothes at a price I can afford. The only thing I’d love more is if you offered sizes up to 16 so I could buy clothes for all my kids in one place. :)

Readers, I want to encourage you to check out OshKosh B’gosh and learn more about them. Make them your first stop for Back to School Shopping this year, and be sure to follow them on all your favorite social media channels:

#Sponsored: Don’t Miss this Amazing Deal on #HPink! #HPMoms

sponsoredDisclaimer:This post is part of a sponsored campaign on behalf of HP through MomSelect.

HP Ink 3

Do you go through printer ink like I do? My goodness, I can’t keep up with the demands around here.

Lucky for me, (and you!), HP is having an amazing deal on their printer ink right now. There hasn’t been a deal this good since 2012! You don’t want to miss out. It’s the perfect time to stock up and save, especially before the kids head back to school.

Now through August 1st, when you buy one cartridge of HP Ink, you get the second cartridge for 50% off! (Second cartridge must be equal or lesser value.) So, if you buy the color cartridge, you can get the black and white for half off. See how great this deal is?!

You can take advantage of this offer on the HP website, or at your favorite retailer like Staples, Office Depot, or Best Buy.

This is one deal that is just too good to pass up. But, you have to hurry. It all goes away after August 1st. Head to the website or your favorite store and stock up now.

3 Incredible Destinations for an Educational Family Holiday

Going on vacation gives the whole family a chance to have a break. You can spend the whole time lounging around by the pool or on the beach if you want. But for a lot of people, going on a trip is about more than relaxing. It’s also a chance to see the world and learn new things. If you have kids, it’s an excellent opportunity to expand their worldview and teach them about different cultures. If you want your children to be educated and open-minded, taking them on historical and cultural vacations will help them achieve it. There are so many incredible destinations around the world, but here are just a few you can enjoy as a family.

florence

Chris Yunker

Florence, Italy

Europe is full of fantastic cities and historical sites to visit. It can be difficult to know where to start. In fact, if you have plenty of time, it can be best to try and see as much as possible. But if you’re going to Italy, Florence is one of the best places you can see. A lot of people would be tempted to start with Rome, but Florence is the city to see. Its historical center is a beautiful place to explore. And there are endless architectural wonders to admire. Even the accommodation offered by Venere hotels is often in grand buildings that will wow you. This city is the birthplace of the Renaissance. You won’t run out of art, architecture and culture to experience.

eneas

Eneas de Troya

Mexico City, Mexico

If you want to learn about some history a little closer to home, Mexico is brimming with it. Although it might seem unlikely, Mexico City is one of the best places to go for history and culture. There are some significant sites in more rural locations, but even the city has plenty to see. A must-see site for any history lovers is the Templo Mayor. It’s a thirteenth-century Aztec Temple. But that isn’t all there is to do in Mexico’s capital city. For another fantastic building, visit the Catedral Metropolitana. Art lovers will enjoy the Diego Rivera Museum too, as well as Rivera’s murals in the Palacio Nacional.

holyland

Seetheholyland.net

Lost City of Petra, Jordan

The Middle East doesn’t necessarily have the best image for the average person. But history and culture lovers know that the region’s countries have rich cultures and histories. Jordan is one of the best places to go on an educational vacation. Visiting is generally safe. However, it’s advised you don’t go within a few kilometers of the Syrian border. If you visit Jordan, Petra is the one place you must see. The archaeological city may have been established as early as 312 BCE. It’s the most visited tourist attraction in the country, where you’ll find fascinating ruins. You can observe tombs, a theater, and the famous Al Khazneh, which was a treasury.

You can find hundreds of incredible locations that are perfect for an educational holiday. When you plan your trip, think of ways you can get the kids involved in the history and culture of your destination.

Everything You Need To Know About Taking Your Kids On Holiday

Taking your kids on holiday for the first time is an experience that you will never forget, for better or worse. Either it will play out like a family scrapbook of fun filled activities that you did together. Or, it will be a nightmare you try erase with your next family holiday. But, either way it is certain to be memorable. With that in mind, here on some tips on how to get the former experience rather than the latter.

Choose Where You Want To Go
Your first task is to do some research online and think about where you want to take your children on holiday. Many parents make the mistake of picking a destination they want to go to and then hoping their kids will just roll with it. Trust us, you will have a far more relaxing experience if you put your children first from the word go. If you like, ask them where they would like to go on vacation. Depending on their age, they may already have some ideas for their dream destination.

Pick The Family Activities
We have got two words for you that will make your holiday as easy as pie: AMUSEMENT PARKS. We have no idea why more families do not choose this option. Perhaps they do not realise the obvious advantage. of this vacation activity. First, if you have young children, chances are they will not be tall enough to go on some of the most thrilling rides. That means you are safe from being hurtled into the air, upside down at lightning speeds. Second, if you have older children, they will be big enough to on these rides by themselves. Third, almost every theme park we have ever been to had a part that catered specifically to adults. You will have a fun time no matter what.

Other family activities you may want to look into would be sporting events or simply head to your nearest information point. They will be able to tell you about the family activities specific to the area where you are staying. If you are staying on the coast, we would recommend looking at boat hire to get an entirely new perspective of the location.

Book In Advance
You should always try to book your holiday in advance, preferably as early as possible. If you can do this, you may find some excellent deals that will mean you have more to spend on other aspects of your vacation. You should never leave booking a holiday with children to the last minute. This can lead to disaster and long waits in hotel lobbies that may cause your children to become disruptive.

Take A Shopping Trip
Finally, before you leave on holiday take a fun shopping trip with your family. For you this will be to get the necessities for travelling. For instance, you should make sure you have a good supply on suntan lotion if you are going somewhere tropical. For your kids, it will be a chance for them to try new clothes and to get them excited about going away.

family vacation

Pic Link

#IC #Sponsored: Insomnia Nation – Let’s Get Some 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.

Yaaaaawwwwwn. As I type this, I’m struggling to keep my eyes open. Why, you ask? Because, once again, I didn’t get a full night’s sleep.

I struggle with sleep every night. Sawyer still gets up several times a night, but even on the rare occasion he *does* sleep all night, I’m still up all night long, tossing and turning, worrying about all the things I’m behind on, all the stuff I need to do around the house, all the things the kids have going on, finances, my weight, whether I exercise enough, friendships… it’s one thing after another. I’d give just about anything to fall asleep quickly and get a full night’s sleep.

Insomnia is a big deal. Did you know nearly 4 million Americans suffer from insomnia? While some people have trouble falling asleep, (myself included!), more than half of Americans struggle with being able to stay asleep through the night. (I struggle there too!)

Take a moment and look at this infographic:
insomnia infographic
(You can click on the infographic or click here to see it in a full size, printable PDF.)

Take a look at those statistics! Only 12% are actually diagnosed by a doctor? Why aren’t more of us talking to our doctor about our sleepless nights? And is sleeplessness really glamorized? Not in my world! 😉 I’d feel way more glamorous if I could actually get a full night’s rest. Yet nearly 3/4ths of Americans, (72%!) are missing out on almost 3 weeks of sleep every year! (That breaks down to 470 hours. YIKES!)

Did you know that getting a full night of sleep can actually empower you? It helps our memory, our immune system function, and other vital functions that keep our bodies going every day.

So, what are we to do? Is there any good news for those of us who struggle with sleep?

Yes! There really is good news! There are effective treatment options available for those of us who suffer with insomnia. The first thing you need to do is have a conversation with your doctor about your restless nights. Be sure to discuss your lifestyle, routine, and all the symptoms you are having. You doctor is always the best place to start.

You can also learn more about getting a full night’s sleep by visiting wanttosleepmore.com.

Do you struggle with getting to sleep or staying asleep every night? Do you follow a bedtime routine for yourself, or is every night just chaos? I want to hear from you!

Mexico: An Amazing Vacation Destination – Even with Kids!

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Have you ever traveled to Mexico for a vacation? I have been several times, and I just love it! In Mexico, you can find some of the most beautiful beaches , taste great food, and experience true culture unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.

What if you’re traveling with kids? Do you think that’s going to make it much more difficult?

Absolutely not! Traveling with kids to Mexico can be fun!

mexico_01

Here are a few must-visit sites in Cancun, Mexico that are kid friendly:

1. Captain Hook Pirate Dinner Cruise – This looks amazing!! We are Captain Hook/Peter Pan fans around here, and while we haven’t had the opportunity to try this dinner cruise yet, it would definitely be number one on our list. Check it out. There’s even a coupon code on there if you book early.

2. Dolphin Discovery – Take a beautiful boat ride, and then choose which type of swim you want to do with the dolphins. Packages range from giving them a hug to getting pushed around on a boogie board by them. Whatever you decide, you’re sure to make lasting memories for your whole family. Call 1-866-393-5158 to book your reservation.

3. Interactive Aquarium – This aquarium is rather small, and can be done in less than an hour, but the memories you make will last a lifetime. There’s no charge to touch the manta rays or the gorgeous sea turtles, but there’s also a gift shop where you can purchase mementos of your time there. It’s located inside the La Isla Shopping Village. Call 998-883-0411 for more information.

4. Crococun – This is at the top of my hubby’s to-do list! Located just 19 miles from downtown Cancun, this interactive conservation zoo began as a crocodile breeding farm. After Hurricane Gilberto destroyed it in 1988, it’s now changed from breeding crocs to protecting and promoting them. You can hold a baby crocodile and even stroll through an area where 50 crocs (or so!) roam free. Awesome! Call 998-850-3719 to learn more and book your trip.

5. Xcaret – This park, (pronounced “Sh-car-ret”), is filled with things to do the whole family will love! A butterfly pavilion, flamingos, spider monkeys, even swim with dolphins or just relax on a beautiful beach! They are always hosting annual events and festivities, so be sure to call and ask what’s happening during your trip. You can learn more by calling 800-212-8951-1-8881.

mexico_03

Whatever your interests, whether it’s dolphins, ancient ruins, or just lounging on the beach, there’s always something your whole family can do in Mexico!

Have you traveled to Mexico with your family? What were your must-do activities?

**Pictures provided by Flickr. Click on the picture to see the original.

Guest Post: Dads: Fitting the Perfect Nursery Blind

Considering all of the safety issues that have been reported in relation to blinds over recent years, it should come as no surprise to read that dads up and down the country are fretting about whether or not they have installed their little one’s nursery blind accordingly. If you fall into this category, or are about to anytime soon, it’s time to read on.

Of course, it’s not all about safety. While this will be the biggest factor plaguing most parents’ minds, we should also point out that a correctly installing your blinds can affect a whole host of other issues including sleep.

In fact, let’s start this guide on a sleep-related note. This isn’t necessarily a piece of installation advice, but more on the type of product you should be selecting. If you haven’t yet purchased your blind for your newborn, you need to be making sure that it falls in the blackout category. Anything less will rob you of precious hours of sleep and as any new parent will tell you, this is the last thing you need.

curtains

Something else that will aid with that elusive shut-eye is just where you install the blind. Most products will give you the opportunity for a recess or exact fitting and when it comes to blocking out the maximum amount of natural light, the recess option is by far and away the most advisable. This hangs on the recess, covering slightly more than the window opening. In contrast, an exact fitting fits inside the recess and on these occasions it’s hard to block out every speck of natural light.

Now we’ve dealt with the sleep issues, let’s move onto safety. If you haven’t purchased a cordless blind, it’s time to sit up and listen. Firstly, make sure that you use every component that arrives with your blind. This includes the cleat which even though it may look quite basic, it can in fact be a lifesaving part at the same time. In simple terms, it allows your cord to wrap around the cleat and prevent any dangling strings. This immediately quashes the risk of accidents – although make sure that the cleat is installed high enough so it’s out of the way of reaching hands.

The last installation tip also revolves safety, but around one of the lesser-known devices. The cord stop is essentially a knot that is positioned on the cord, to prevent excess unraveling. Again, it’s all about minimizing the amount of cord that does dangle from the blind to ultimately reduce those risks. By making sure that this knot is positioned correctly, you can do exactly that.

As you can see, the installation process for a nursery blind is hardly extensive. We’ve covered the most important tips here and if you can get these right, you will have immediately installed a blind that’s both safe and can promote maximum sleep. These days, blinds are made-to-measure anyway, so there’s no cutting down to size or anything else along those lines – just make sure you get the basics right and your little one’s room will be ready in no time.

Guest Post: The Benefits Offered by Day Camp

daycamp

Day camps, summer camps and other such camps are sometimes controversial. For many parents, they are an absolute God’s sent, because it means their children can go somewhere to enjoy themselves while they can continue to work. Others, however, feel that sending children to day camp is shirting responsibilities. After all, if you don’t have the time to look after your children, you shouldn’t have had them. However, the reality is that day camps actually offer children a whole lot of benefits, and it is a parent’s responsibility to provide them with these things. So what are some of the benefits that you could experience if you send your children to the best day camps Rockland County has to offer?

The Benefits of Day Camp

There are five very clear benefits of sending a child to day camp. These are:

  1. Children learn independence skills while staying in an environment that is both safe and controlled. By spending a full day away from their parents, a child starts to move on the road towards independence. Independence is a vital skill to have. Children are in a new environment and they will be given the opportunity to learn various independence skills.This includes meeting other people, looking after belongings, cooperating in a team, testing out new things and more. They will learn what it means to be responsible for themselves and for others.
  2. Children can learn to make new friends outside of their standard environment. At day camp, different children will attend the different days and these are children that may not be in their direct school or home address community. The friendships built at day camp can last a lifetime! Not just that, however, but building friendships also builds life skills. It teaches them to make independent decisions as well as how to interact with other people.
  3. Children are encouraged to be physically active. Too many children in this country are overweight or obese and one of the main reasons for this is that they are not given sufficient opportunities to be physically active. All day camps offer various physical activities and sports. This also means children are given the opportunity to test new types of skills and sports that they may otherwise not have been able to try.
  4. Children will have greater self-esteem and confidence. Because children are encouraged to make fully independent choices every day, they can take their new skills and knowledge home and talk about what they have learned. The sense of pride they will have about their own achievements is a great way for them to become more confident young people.Naturally, it is vital that parents encourages this and give positive feedback to their children, acknowledging their various accomplishments.
  5. Children will get to learn through play. Day camps look to children as an environment in which they can play. In reality, however, they will also be equipped with various learning opportunities without even realizing it.

#Sponsored: Enter to Win $5,000 from @theduckbrand and @kidsinneed

ducktapecontest

Love Cupcakes? Have a creative way to use them in a new design for Duck Tape? If so, you could win $5,000!

To learn more, and to get started, visit duckbrand.com/kidsinneed today.

While you’re at it, be sure to follow them on Social Media too!

#Sponsored: #Giveaway @Walmart and @Pampers Team Up to Support Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals

sampleDisclaimer: The Walmart gift cards and information have been provided by P&G. Any opinions expressed are 100% my own.

support cmnh

Right now, you can make a difference in the life of a child, just by purchasing items you already use from the store you already visit.

Walmart believes that every child deserves the chance at a better life, so they’ve teamed up with other favorite brands, (like Pampers), to donate $200,000 in the month of June to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. In addition to that, when you purchase products like Pampers Swaddlers at your local Walmart store, a portion of the proceeds will go to the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals provide treatment and hope to millions of sick kids. In fact, one in every ten kids in North America are treated by Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals each year. It doesn’t matter if it’s a common childhood affliction such as asthma or a broken bone, or a bigger challenge like birth defects or cancer, Children’s Miracle Network provides treatment for it all.

You can learn more about the partnership and even make your own donation by visiting this link: Walmart.com/cmnh.

Take a moment and look at this infographic to understand why they need your support:

infographic(To view the infographic as a full size PDF, just click on the image.)

They do so much good for so many children. They deserve our support!

I want to share the story of Will, a sweet little boy at the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital. At just 6 years old, Will is battling Stage 3 Liver Cancer (Hepatoblastoma). Here’s his story:

2014 IA Champion-Will (b, in hospital)

Dozens of vacuum cleaners line the walls of Will’s home, and he’ll impress you by rattling off the make and model of each one. But his unlikely passion for the household appliance is less surprising than the fact that he beat a grim diagnosis with a 5 percent survival rate.

Will was only 2 years old when a large mass was discovered on his liver, triggering several rounds of intense chemotherapy and the removal of 75 percent of the organ. It was a happy day when doctors declared he was in remission, but Will is still facing aftereffects — both physical and emotional — of the disease.

Medications caused numbness in Will’s hands, legs and feet, forcing him to relearn how to walk. He also had to overcome fears that everyone he encountered would inflict pain. With the love and support of his family, Will is tackling one obstacle at a time. He looks forward to a bright future that, hopefully, includes running his own vacuum shop one day.

CMN Hospitals funds helped cover Will’s pharmacy bills and also paid for a pediatric hematology oncology research laboratory that will benefit kids like him for many years to come.

What a sweet spirit that little boy has! And you can help kids just like Will by purchasing items like Pampers Swaddlers at your local Walmart store, or by clicking here to make a donation.

To help encourage you to head to Walmart and stock up on items like Pampers Swaddlers, P&G wants to give one of my readers the chance to win a $25 Walmart Gift Card. To enter, use the Rafflecopter Gadget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway ends July 15th at 12:00am.

Guest Post: How To Select the Right Hair Clinic

As most men begin to age, they will start to notice various changes to their body some good and some bad. One of the most common problems men face is the loss of their hair. Losing one’s hair can bring on a plethora of different emotions. There are a number of different ways to regain the lost hair you have and in order to get the right method chosen, you will have to do some research. The first thing you need to consider when trying to get this process done is which hair clinic you will use. Here are some tips on how to choose the right hair clinic Vancouver.

How Well Do They Know Their Industry?
The first thing to consider when trying to find the right hair clinic is the knowledge they have regarding their industry and the hair restoration methods they offer. For most Canadian men going in for this procedure, getting some sound advice will be needed. In order to get this advice, you will have to find a reputable and knowledgeable hair clinic in your area. The more you are able to find out about the clinics in your area, the easier you will find it to get the right results.

Getting a Consultation
The next thing you need to consider when trying to find the right hair clinic is to getting a few consultations scheduled. By going in for consultations in a few of the hair clinics in the area, you will be able to get the information you are looking for. These face to face meetings will allow you to figure out what each of the companies has to offer you and whether or not it is in line with what you need.

How Long Will It Take To Get The Procedures Done?
Another important thing you have to think about when trying to find the right hair clinic is the length of time you have to wait to get your procedure done. The longer you have to wait to get the procedures you need, the more of an inconvenience it will become. By calling around to the various clinics in your area, you will be able to find out who can get you in the fastest and get your procedures done. The time and effort you spend calling around will be well worth it in the end.

When choosing to use HairFree Laser Skin Clinics, you will be able to get the procedures you need done the right way. Be sure to call them or go to their website for more information on what they can provide you with.

#Sponsored: Join the P&G #SecondSkincare Twitter Party on 6/18!

Yesterday, I told you all about my love for P&G’s Free & Gentle products, and how they are our #SecondSkincare.

Today, I want to make sure you know all about the #SecondSkincare Twitter party that’s happening TOMORROW – Thursday, June 18th from 1 – 2pm ET.

Here are the need to know details:

Date: Thursday, June 18th 2015

Time: 1:00 – 2:00 PM ET

Moderator: @MomCentral

Brand Participants: @Tide @Downy @BounceFresh

Party Hashtag: #SecondSkincare

Prizes: 2 pre-party winners and 6 party winners will receive a $50 gift code

Did you catch that there are even pre-party prizes you can win? To find out the full scoop, check out this post by Mom Central: http://bit.ly/1d17ugg

I’ll be there, and I hope to see you there too!

proctor and gamble free and gentle products

#IC #AD: P&G Free & Gentle, It’s Your #SecondSkincare

sampleDisclaimer: I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for P&G. I received product samples to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation. All opinions and reviews are my own.

proctor and gamble free and gentle products

With 10 people in our home, I do a lot of laundry. There are times when I feel like I’m doing laundry all day long! In fact, as I’m typing this post, I’ve got a load in the wash, a load in the dryer, and two baskets sitting in front of me that need folded and put away. Yep. With all these kids, my life usually revolves around laundry.

That being said, when it comes to laundry time in our house, I need products that work for the entire family. I need something that can take care of tough stains, but also be gentle enough for the several little ones I have that have incredibly sensitive skin.

That’s why I love P&G’s line of Free & Gentle products. The Tide Pods are perfect for getting even the dirtiest clothes clean. My kids can make some serious messes! But take a look at the before and after of this shirt:

before wash
All I did was throw the shirt in the wash with a Free & Gentle Tide Pod:

tide pod in wash
Filled the softener cup with Downy Free & Gentle:

downy free and gentle
Washed, and then dried it all with a Bounce Free & Gentle Dryer Sheet:

bounce dryer sheet
And it came out beautifully!

after wash with tide

No more stains! It’s clean, fresh, and ready to take on my 4 year old again!

I love that one line of detergents takes care of all our laundry needs. And, in the long run, it saves us money. I don’t have to buy several different types of detergents for the family’s needs, and I’m not constantly needing to buy new clothes because the stains won’t come out.

But, even more than that, I love that I can use these products as a form of a “Second Skincare” for Gage and Sawyer. Because P&G Free & Gentle products are hypoallergenic, dye and perfume free, they keep Gage and Sawyer from breaking out in rashes or being itchy all day. Because they come in brands like Tide, Downy, and Bounce, I can trust them to be the best for my large family.

I know we’re not alone in our sensitive skin woes, either. Did you know that nearly half of all US adults say they have sensitive skin? When we think of sensitive skin, we’re always careful about the types of facial and body care products we buy, but the clothes that we put on, our “second skin,” are every bit as important.

I recently discovered that 87% of the people that use free detergent use scented fabric softener and/or dryer sheets. Those product undo everything the free detergent has done to help their second skin. If you want to keep your skin looking and feeling its best, it’s important to follow a completely dye and perfume free laundry regimen to clean, protect, and enhance your second skin.

The good news is that the P&G Free & Gentle regimen offers dye and perfume free products throughout. Every product is hypoallergenic and gentle on skin. All of the Free & Gentle products are dermatologist recommended.

The line of Free & Gentle products consists of the following:

  • Tide Free & Gentle Detergent / Tide Stain Release Free In-Wash Booster – it’s as mild on skin as the leading free detergent, but it cleans better and removes more residue from stains on clothing. (Need proof? See my pictures above!)
  • Downy Free & Gentle Fabric Softener – Also mild on skin, this provides outstanding comfort and freshness through its softening formula.
  • Bounce Free & Gentle Dry Sheets – These sheets maintain a mild formula but also provide freshness, softness, and static control. (Bonus: The even repel pet hair!)

If you, or someone in your family has sensitive skin, I encourage you to consider changing your laundry routine. It has made a huge difference around here for us!

To learn more about any of these products, I encourage you to check out the brands on social media:

Have you tried the P&G line of Free & Gentle Products? I’d love to hear about your experience!

#IC #Ad: First Response Makes Detecting Pregnancy Even Easier

sampleDisclaimer: I participated in a Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for First Response. I received product samples as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

first response

As a mom of 8, I have taken more pregnancy tests than I can even count. When I discovered the First Response Early Result Pregnancy Test, I stopped buying all the other brands.

First Response could tell me before I had even missed my period if a baby was on the way. I loved knowing that, and they quickly became my brand of choice for all subsequent pregnancies.

I’ll never forget the first pregnancy test I ever took. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, and I was certain I was doing it wrong. I must have read the box a thousand times, and I was still so sure that I was wrong. And the test was so much more complicated than the tests they’ve come out with in the past 10 years. It was an experience I will never forget, that’s for sure.

Pregnancy tests themselves have changed in so many different ways over the years. There are analog tests, digital tests, and now you can find out without having to wait until your missed period. It’s downright amazing!

First Response is keeping up with these changes, and they have made their Early Result Pregnancy Test even better! Their new Comfort Sure Design makes using the test so much simpler. With a longer handle, a tip that’s 50% wider, and a cutting-edge curved design that fits naturally into your hand, the test is easy to use and completely fool proof. (Even if you’re like me and decide to test in the middle of the night, because you just can’t stand to wait until morning to find out!) The Early Result Pregnancy Test can detect pregnancy as early as 6 days before your missed period. It is approved by the FDA, and it gives you easy to read results in just 3 minutes. (Two pinks lines means a baby’s on the way!) With 99% accuracy from the day of the expected period, you can trust the result you get. The First Response Early Result Pregnancy Test is available at all major drugstores, mass markets, and grocery stores. They range in price from $8.99 to $15.99. And I can promise, they are worth every penny, just for the chance to be able to know just a little bit sooner.

Through every single one of my pregnancies and/or missed periods, I’ve always trusted First Response to tell me if a baby was on the way. When we were actively trying to conceive, First Response was there to give me the news – good or “not this time” – every time. They were the brand I trusted most to be accurate as well as tell me sooner.

If you are trying to conceive, and are trying to decide which pregnancy test to buy, please let me recommend First Response. It’s the only brand I trusted with each of my pregnancies, and the one I would encourage you to try.

Have you tried the newly redesigned First Response Early Result Pregnancy Test? What are your thoughts?