#Sponsored: Support UNICEF & Enter to Win! #Giveaway

sampleDisclaimer: This is a sponsored post on behalf of UNICEF Market. I received samples in order to facilitate my review. Opinions expressed are 100% my own.

win a unicef market gift certificate

I recently posted about UNICEF here on the blog, and how they have provided more than 6 decades of service for children and mothers. This is a cause that I can proudly stand behind, and one that I support wholeheartedly. Donating to UNICEF is an easy way to help keep this amazing cause going.

But now, there is a better, easier way to donate to UNICEF, and it’s by doing one of my very favorite things: SHOPPING! The UNICEF Market is now open, and you can quickly and easily support their talented artists as well has help UNICEF save and protect children.

The wonderful people behind the UNICEF Market contacted me and asked me to review their new website and spend $50 on their site. Happy to support this cause in any way that I can, I jumped on the chance, and then jumped on the site.

I was truly blown away!

There were so many amazing items! From earrings to furniture and totes to ponchos, they had everything I could even imagine. And every single item was so beautiful and handmade by the most incredible artists.

After browsing the site for what seemed like forever, I narrowed my choices down to two items:

(Please note: I also ordered several other items, but they are gifts for others, and went above the $50 gift card I received in order to do this review, so I will not be sharing them here.)

Knowing the items were shipping from overseas, I expected to have to wait awhile for them to arrive. Imagine my surprise when about a week after placing my order, the items were at my door!

The items were even more beautiful than pictured on the website. I wear the anchor earrings almost every single day now. They are the perfect size and weight and go with almost everything – casual or dressy.

I also use the elephant mug everyday. I’ve started drinking a special tea to help aid in weight loss, and the mug is the perfect size for what I need. Not to mention, it’s just so pretty to look at.

And while I cannot post about the other items I ordered here, I do want to tell you that I love every one of them as well. The UNICEF gift wrap is also a perfect touch so the recipients will know their item helped support saving children. It doesn’t get much better than that.

I am super impressed with the UNICEF Market, and I have already bookmarked several more items for Christmas and Anniversary presents. This may be my favorite new place to shop online, especially knowing my purchase can help make a difference in the lives of others.

The UNICEF Market has also graciously offered up another $50 Gift Certificate to one of my readers. Use the Rafflecopter gadget to enter below. Giveaway Ends April 14th at 12:00am. (Gift code will expire April 30th, so you must shop quickly.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you for supporting the UNICEF Market!

#Sponsored: #DrinkDripDrop & Keeping My Family Hydrated @DripDrop @SheSpeaks #Review

sampleDisclaimer: This is a sponsored post for DripDrop and SheSpeaks. I received samples in order to facilitate my review. Opinions expressed are 100% my own.

dripdrop keeps us hydrated

Keeping my family hydrated during cold and flu season is of the utmost importance to me. There are so many options out there. How do you know which one is right for you and your family? I want the best. I want what is going to get my kids hydrated again and back to playing in no time.

For this review, SheSpeaks and DripDrop sent me samples of DripDrop Hydration Powder along with a fantastic water bottle. They couldn’t have timed it better.

As you can see in the photo above, we recently had a real need for DripDrop Hydration Powder. My son Parker ended up with a severe toothache. It was so bad, I couldn’t get him to eat or drink anything. He laid around all day and just cried. (Of course it was a Saturday, and there were no dental offices open.) I was so worried about him getting dehydrated. He quickly became weak from not eating or drinking, and I had to do something.

The only option I had was to offer him a bottle of water with the DripDrop Hydration Powder. I had to get it to room temperature because his tooth was so sensitive, but once I did, it was a hit! He tried both the lemon and the berry flavors, and he couldn’t pick a favorite. He loved them both. (Honestly, I think he loved the fact that he was the only one that got to drink the “special” juice.) :) (Please note: I did put in a call to the doctor’s after hour line and made sure his pediatrician was alright with me giving him the DripDrop powder. She agreed that I had to get something in him and thought the DripDrop powder was a great way to go.)

What impresses me most about DripDrop is that it’s the first hydration solution developed by a Mayo Clinic trained physician to save lives. It delivers 2 – 3 times the electrolytes of sports drinks and 25% more than the pediatric drink options. It is patented and clinically proven to hydrate better than the other available options.

I also love that there are no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.

DripDrop is a product I can feel good about giving my entire family. The next time we have the flu cycle through our household, I can be prepared and have DripDrop on hand. (And with 10 people in our house, you can only imagine what a nightmare the flu is for all of us. It is usually a month long battle with everyone just passing it back and forth.)

I am so thankful for products like DripDrop that are made to help me keep my family safe and healthy when the worst strikes.

Let me encourage you to learn more about DripDrop in the following ways:

Also, please check out the following links for more really great info:

You can read about more moms’ experiences with DripDrop by searching the hashtag #DrinkDripDrop on your favorite social media channels.

Ready to stock up on DripDrop and keep your family hydrated when colds or the flu strike? Head to your local DVS, Walgreens, or HEB store and grab some right now!

#Sponsored: Beautiful New Colorful Glass Bottles from @EvenfloFeeding

sampleDisclaimer: This post is sponsored by Evenflo. I received a gift pack in order to facilitate my review. All thoughts and opinions are my own and have not been influenced in any way.

evenflo products

I am a huge fan of Evenflo products. You already know how much I love their breast pump as well as their newest exersaucer.

So, when I found out about the release of several new products, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on them and test them out. Evenflo sent me the fantastic Milk & Cookies gift pack pictured above. The items included the following:

  • New Tinted Glass Bottles
  • A Tilty TripleFlo Cup
  • Milk Storage Bags
  • Cookies from Momofuku Milk Bar in New York City

This was such a great gift pack. The cookies were amazing. They satisfied my sweet tooth, and tasted fantastic! And everything was packaged so beautifully.

Now, let me take a moment and tell you what I love about each of the Evenflo products I received.

Evenflo Milk Storage Bags

Made from highly durable military-grade material, these bags are made with 30% less material for a quicker freeze and thaw. I noticed a huge difference when it came time to thaw the milk for feeding. And with the uniquely shaped top, pouring into bottles is so much easier. These are definitely on my list for items all breastfeeding moms must have.

Tilty TripleFlo Cup

This cup is tilted to help make the transition from bottle to cup easier. I also love that the rubber stopper inside has several different flow speeds, making the transition that much easier. While Sawyer doesn’t quite understand the concept of the cup, I think this will be a great item to have on hand once he’s ready for the transition.

evenflo sippy cup

Evenflo Tinted & Vented Glass Bottles

These bottles are beautiful. Available in two different colors, teal and lavender, the bottles also have a gorgeous styling to them. Evenflo took a classic bottle and made it even classier. The bottles each come with a Proflow™ Integrated Venting Nipple. These special silicone nipples direct air bubbles into the bottle instead of into baby’s tummy. What makes these nipples even better is their one-piece design. There are no extra parts to clean or worry about losing.

While I love how beautiful these bottles are, there are a few things I would consider changing to improve them even more.

For starters, the bottles are *perfect* for breastfeeding babies. I had absolutely no issues at all getting the milk from the storage bag into the bottle. It’s almost like the storage bags were made just for these bottles. But, if I used formula at all, things got a little trickier. The opening of the bottle is very small, and it was difficult to get formula from the scoop or the travel container into the bottle without making a mess. I do wish the bottles had an opening that was just a little bigger for that reason.

The nipples collapse fairly quickly and fairly often, so I am constantly pulling the bottle out of Sawyers mouth to let the nipple fill back up with air. Sawyer doesn’t like when you take the bottle out of his mouth, so he gets frustrated. I’ve tried different stages of nipples, so I’m not sure what could be causing them to collapse like that each time. This is the only bottle we’ve used that has this problem, so I’m thinking it is unique to the special nipple. It doesn’t stop Sawyer from eating, though, and this is one of the few nipples/bottles he will take, so it’s not all bad.

The last thing is that one of the bottles broke really easily. Actually, it about scared me to death. I sterilized the bottle before the first use, but when I took it out of the water and put it on the counter to dry completely, it burst into a dozen pieces. Absolutely none of the other bottles did this, so I can’t figure out what happened. Because they are glass, you’ll just have to take extra precautions when taking them out of the heat.

evenflo tinted glass bottles

The bottles are available exclusively at Babies”R”Us and retail for $11.99 for a 3 pack of either the 4 or 8 ounce size. It’s a great value for great bottles. We use our bottles almost every day. Even though there are a few things I might change, I still really love these bottles and every other product Evenflo sent us.

I hope you’ll take a few minutes and learn more about these fantastic products by visiting the Evenflo Feeding website.

#Sponsored: Share Your Heart with @BuildABear and @MakeAWish #Giveaway

sampleDisclaimer: This post and the Facebook Giveaway are sponsored by Build a Bear. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

build-a-bear-giveaway
(Giveaway is being hosted on the Blessed Beyond Words Facebook page. Just like this Facebook post.)

My kids love Build-A-Bear Workshop.

Ok. Ok. We all do. On our first Valentine’s Day, my hubby bought both me and Ashley our own Build-A-Bear friends. We both still have them, even all these years later.

We still frequent Build-A-BearWorkshop as often as we can: birthdays, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and even “just because.” These cuddly friends are a fantastic way to share your heart with the ones you love.

And, now through March 31, 2015, you can also “Share Your Heart” and helping create special days for the children who need it most by making a donation to Make-A-Wish. Guests who visit their local Build-A-Bear store will have the opportunity to purchase a satin heart with a donation of $1 or more. When you make a donation, you will be asked to sign a Valentine greeting for a child in a local hospital.

Want to know the best part? 100% of the donations and proceeds from the satin hearts collected will go directly to benefit Make-A-Wish.

Last year, Build-A-Bear Workshop donated more than $440,000 to Make-A-Wish through their Share Your Heart partnership. With your help, we can make that number even bigger! You can help Build-A-Bear make more life-changing wishes come true. Every wish come true helps empower children with life-threatening medical conditions to fight harder against their illness. Your donation of $1 or more can make a true difference in the life of a child. Learn more by visiting www.buildabear.com/wish.

MakeAWish_Logo

February 13th is “#ValentinesForDogs” Day. Celebrate with @Milkbone

sampleDisclaimer: This post is brought to you by Milkbone. I received samples of their products in return for this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

zander and scout

My readers may or may not know that we recently adopted a new four-legged friend from our local animal shelter. Scout has quickly become one of the family, and we can’t imagine not having him here. He is so good with all of the kids, and he is always so well behaved.

A good dog like that deserves a special reward! So, I’m excited that Milkbone wants to give dogs their own Valentine’s Day, and they have declared February 13th “Valentine’s for Dogs” Day! It’s a special day where we can show our four legged favorites how much we love them.

The good folks at Milk-Bone, Pup-Peroni, Milo’s Kitchen, and Canine Carry Outs have made it easy for you this year with a doggie Valentine’s Day card. Get yours today. Just click here: [https://www.bigheartpetvalentines.com/]

I also want you to take a moment and check out this infographic. It’s  special Valentine’s Day survey of U.S. Dog Parents:

doggylove_infographic_15_national_640

So, tell me. How will YOU show your dog you love him/her this February 13th? For us, it’s easy. The kids are off school on Friday, so there will be someone here to show him extra love and attention all day long. If the weather’s nice, we’re also hoping to take a family hike and bring Scout along. He *loves* to be outside, so this will be perfect for him!

We’ll be celebrating our furry friend Scout this Valentine’s for Dogs Day with extra love and special treats courtesy of Milk-Bone, Pup-Peroni, Milo’s Kitchen, and Canine Carry Outs. And I’ll be sure to tag all of our pictures of the fun we have with #ValentinesforDogs. I hope you’ll head on over to [https://www.bigheartpetvalentines.com/], print out your cards, then tag YOUR pictures of fun with #ValentinesforDogs as well! Can’t wait to see what fun, creative ideas you come up with!

If You Only Read One Book This Year, Make it This One {Affiliate Links Included}

affiliate**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. Thank you for supporting Blessed Beyond Words!***

I love reading. I’ve loved it since I was a little girl. If I could get my hands on a book, I would read it. I’d even sit with a flashlight under my covers, reading until late into the night.

As I got older, and life took over, it became much harder to find the time to read.

Since Sawyer was born in September, and he nurses all.the.time, I’m finding I have lots of time to read now. I’d almost forgotten how much I love it.

Because I’m usually nursing while I’m reading, I can’t sit and hold an actual book. Kindle books work great, though, because I can access them from my phone and read every chance I get.

A few months ago, I found out that the sister of one of my very dear friends from high school wrote a book. I had to read it, just because I knew Sally, and I had always admired her.

Little did I know, this book would blow away every other book I’ve ever read. Honestly. I couldn’t put it down.

The book is called “Kept.” And let me tell you, it “kept” my attention from the beginning to the very end. And I didn’t want it to end!

keptKept is not your typical Christian romance novel. There’s romance and relationships, yes. But this book is about so much more than that. It’s about one woman’s struggle with life, failed romances, awful men, and finding a Savior that can make her whole.

I don’t want to divulge too much, but if you’d like to read more about the story, check out Sally Bradley’s website.

Right now, the kindle edition of Kept is available on Amazon for just $4.99. That is a fantastic deal that you don’t want to miss!

There are few books that I consider “must reads,” but this is definitely one of them. I’ve told everyone I know to read this book, and I figured I’d better share it with my favorite blog readers as well. :)

If you read the book, I’d love to know what you think of it. Were you as mesmerized as I was? Did you find it hard to put it down?

#Sponsored: See How Much We LOVE #TheHappys

sampleDisclaimer: This post is part of a sponsored campaign with Cepia LLC and MomSelect. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

happys logo

With so many kids, I need toys that are going to keep my kids happy and entertained. Zhu Zhu pets are always a hit. So, when I heard about The Happy’s from Cepia – the makers of Zhu Zhu pets, I jumped at the chance to review them.

For this review, we received a sweet Lulu Happy, an interactive treat, and a yellow ball for her to chase.

Let me tell you, I cannot get Carly to leave this pet alone! I’m pretty sure it’s a good thing that we don’t have a real dog this size. Carly would drive it up a wall! :)

When Lulu is in the “ON” mode, she is seriously the most fun toy we have! I love the way that even my 3 year old can get her to do tricks for a Happy Treat. It’s awesome!

carly and her happy pet

When Lulu starts chasing her ball, the whole house erupts in laughter. The ball rolls all over the room, and there goes Lulu chasing after it… followed closely by anywhere from 1 – 5 children! I love the sounds of their laughter ringing through the house, and this is a sure fire way to make them all happy.

I guess that’s why these pets are called The Happy’s! :)

There are several things I love:

  • These are perfect for kids of multiple ages. My 2 year old loves it, and so does my 10 year old. Heck, *I* love it too! :)
  • The puppy is SO soft, and Carly has even taken it to bed with her. She just adores “her” puppy.
  • It really works. So many times, I buy toys because they say they do this or do that. This one really DOES tricks, and she really chases her ball all over my house.
  • My kids love it, and play with it all the time.

Normally when I do a review, I like to give some constructive criticism; something I wish I could change or add. But with this toy, I can’t think of a thing! I might say that if I had been the one purchasing it, I most likely would have purchased a dog that was a little more unisex. Lulu is *very* girly. BUT, at the same time, her name is Lulu – and that’s what we call our 8 year old, Lucy. We have since she was born. So, I guess I would say that if I were to buy another one of these toys, I would buy a more gender neutral one, and would just give Lulu to Lucy…. that’s if I can get Carly to give her up!

Overall, I am SUPER impressed with The Happy’s, and highly recommend you put these on your toy list for the holidays!

You can find The Happy’s on Amazon for a *very* reasonable price, and they’re even available with Prime Shipping, so you’ll have them in time for Christmas!

What are you waiting for? Check out The Happy’s fun, interactive website, and grab your kids their own Happy pet today!

#MC #Sponsored: My Proactiv+ Review

sampleDisclaimer: I participated in an Influencer Activation Program on behalf of Influence-Central for Proactiv+. I received samples of Proactiv+ to facilitate my review and a thank you item for participating.

my proactiv+ review

When I was a teenager, I would have a few breakouts here and there. Usually, the worst was on my forehead, so I could easily hide it with bangs. My Junior and Senior year, my skin was flawless. Never had to wear makeup. There was nothing to cover up.

Then, I became a mom. All those hormones made my skin crazy, and I started having breakouts all the time. It was awful. I tried everything: Dermatologists, skin care “experts”, every face wash and anti-acne product I could find on the shelves. Nothing made any difference, and I actually ended up with some scarring because of the treatment one “expert” gave me.

And then someone told me to try Proactiv. I did, and it worked – almost instantly! But, as the months and years flew by, and more kids were added to the family, my skin care regimen was put on the back burner.

For the past few years, my breakouts have returned, and the acne scars have become even more noticeable. I’ve had to gob on makeup to hide all of my flaws. I hate it, but I just couldn’t make it a priority.

So, when I had the chance to test out and review the Proactiv+ 3 Step System, I jumped at it! I remembered how well the original Proactiv had worked for me, and I just knew this would be the answer to my skin care problems!

Boy, oh boy, was I right!

First, take a second a watch this quick video:


Direct Link on YouTube

Now, take a look at this picture:

before and after proactiv+

HOLY COW, right?!

Those photos have NOT been doctored in any way. No filters, no anything. Those are straight from the phone on my camera. I just combined them together and added the dates.

By the way, did you notice those dates? ONE WEEK. One week to younger, healthier, more vibrant looking skin. While I do have eyeliner on in the second picture, that is the ONLY makeup I have on. I no longer have to spend 30+ minutes putting makeup on. A little bit of eyeliner, eyeshadow, and mascara, and I’m done in less than 5 minutes.

I honestly cannot get over the difference in my skin. I’ve been using it for over a month now, and my skin still looks just like it does in the picture above – on the right.

I love the changes Proactiv+ has brought. I am so much more confident now. And I love that people are noticing the changes in my skin. I used to have people tell me all the time that I don’t look my age. I always just assumed it was because of all the acne. But now? I know it’s because my skin looks great! I don’t have all those trouble spots that I had before, and even the acne scars I had are diminishing. I can’t stop smiling because of the changes Proactiv+ has made.

The easy 3 Step Program is so easy to use. Once in the morning, once and night, and I’m good to go!

The kit includes the following products:

  • Step 1-­ Skin Smoothing Exfoliator – You can feel it working as you rub it on.
  • Step 2-­ Pore Targeting Treatment – Makes my skin feel cool and smooth.
  • Step 3‐ Complexion perfecting Hydrator - This is my *favorite* product. I love the way it keeps my skin hydrated all day and all night. No rough dry patches, just perfectly clear, perfectly smooth skin.

I love how my skin looks and feels now, and I will definitely keep using the Proactiv+ 3 Step System. If you are having trouble with your skin, and you’ve tried everything out there, I want to encourage you to try Proactiv+. Learn more and purchase your kit on the Proactiv+ website.

Also be sure to connect with Proactiv+ on Facebook and on Twitter.

If you try out Proactiv+, I’d love to hear how it worked for you!

#Sponsored: Check Out the @EvenfloBaby #ExerSaucerExplorer {Our #Review}

sampleDisclaimer: This post is sponsored by Evenflo. I received a sample ExerSaucer as well as compensation for this post. However, thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are 100% my own and have not been influenced in any way.

exersaucer

As a mom of 8, I am always drawn to toys that are designed to meet the needs of children of different ages. I want them to be educational, good for different levels of learning, and FUN. So, when Evenflo approached me about trying out their new Exersaucer – World Explorer Triple Fun Plus+, (available at Babies R Us), I jumped at the chance to check it out. It sounded like it was right up my alley.

The ExerSaucer arrived quickly, and I couldn’t wait to set it up. My husband had promised me that he would put it together, but I was having none of that. This is my review, so *I* was going to do it. Alone.

And then I opened the box.

I wish I had taken a picture of all the “parts” all over my living room. I kept pulling pieces out of the box, and thinking to myself, “What have I gotten myself into?” It was definitely not a “snap-it-together and let’s go” project. It was a “read EVERY WORD of the instruction booklet and follow it to a t” project.

Stage 1 setup was easy. In just a few minutes, I had a very happy baby on my hands.

sawyer stage1

Sawyer loves the lights and sounds that come from the bar overhead. He can’t do them by himself yet, but there is always someone nearby that can help him out. The mat that he lays on is soft, so even tummy time is more fun. I love the bright colors and unique toys that are attached to the bar. We can trade them out, and the possibilities are endless. He definitely doesn’t get bored.

stage 1

Sawyer plays on his mat all the time. Not a day goes by that he doesn’t use it. I think we’re both huge fans of Stage 1 of the ExerSaucer.

Then, I went to work at putting together Stage 2.

This was far more complicated. It took me over an hour to have all the different parts assembled and ready for play time. It was a lot of work.

carly stage2

But, it was so worth it.

carly stage2

Carly absolutely loves it! And while she should technically be in Stage 3, she meets all the weight and height restrictions for Stage 2. And, I have to say, she absolutely LOVES bouncing in the ExerSaucer. I can’t get her out of it.

When I attempted to take the ExerSaucer apart and change it to Stage 3, I got extremely confused by the directions and had to wait for my husband to come home and help me figure it out. It took us another 20 minutes to get it to Stage 3, so I decided we would just put it back in Stage 2 and leave it there. Sawyer will be ready for Stage 2 very soon, and Carly actually preferred Stage 2, so it’s better for us to leave it there for awhile.

sawyer_stage1While putting the ExerSaucer is time consuming to put together, it really is a great product, and my kids love it.

Here are some of my favorite things about the ExerSaucer:

  • Great for different levels of learning and play.
  • Can be used for several years instead of needing to buy a new toy at every stage.
  • Lots of lights, sounds, and music to keep the kids entertained and happy.
  • The included electronic book is great for early learning! It includes 36 different sounds, 12 turning pages, and tells the story in English, French, Spanish, and Mandarin.
  • The mat for Stage 1 is soft and easy to clean by wiping it off.
  • The attached toys are fun, brightly colored, and easily removed to change to another stage or for a quick cleaning.
  • Incredibly durable. This toy will really last from stage to stage and can be passed down to any other children that come along.
  • Can be used with multiple children. It’s great for both my 3 month old AND my 22 month old.
  • On Stage 2, the height levels are easy to change, so I can quickly make it the right height for Sawyer (when he’s ready) or for Carly.
  • Made by Evenflo – a brand I trust and respect, and have used with all my kids.

Here are a few of the things that I would change, or didn’t really care for:

  • Assembly was time consuming and difficult. Do not plan to put this together quickly and easily. (Note: Don’t start this project at 9pm Christmas Eve to set it in front of the Christmas tree. Either leave it in the box, or put it together several days in advance.) I think it would be great if the ExerSaucer could come a little more assembled in the box. That, or I would definitely pay someone from the store to put it together – if that’s an option.
  • It uses a LOT of batteries. (3 AA and 7 AAA batteries, to be exact.) All those lights, sounds, and learning toys need to work, so you’re going to have to invest in lots of batteries. Luckily, they don’t seem to wear out quickly. We’ve been using the same batteries since I originally assembled it, and that’s been several weeks. And, we tend to stock up on batteries when they’re on sale, so we always have them on hand.
  • Switching from Stage 2 to Stage 3 is very confusing. My husband understood it better than I did – so maybe it’s a guy thing, but I’d like to be able to do it myself without his help.

So, as you can see, the good obviously outweighs the bad. And once you get past the original assembly, the ExerSaucer is a fantastic learning toy. I would definitely invest in it, I just wish I had known ahead of time and had been prepared for what I was getting into.

I would call this toy an investment – it’s not a toy that your child will quickly grow out of. It will grow with them, and it will last for years to come. Rather than buying several different toys (that can be expensive), you invest one time in a toy that you’ll get tons of use out of.

Right now you can get a great deal on the ExerSaucer at Babies R Us! With this downloadable in-store coupon, you can save 20% from December 5 – 24, 2014. That’s a great deal on a great product! (Just find the product on page 18, scroll over the image, and a box will pop up that will allow you to download the coupon.)

Hurry on over, download your coupon, and grab your Evenflo ExerSaucer today!

#MC #Sponsored: What’s Your #RedKettleReason for Giving this Year?

sponsored
Disclaimer: I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for The Salvation Army. I received a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

red kettle reason

The holidays are here, and you have probably already noticed that the Red Kettles are back out. Those special kettles belong to The Salvation Army, and they go to help those in your community that need it most.

The Salvation Army is a faith-based ministry that has been in America for over 130 years. They are set up to meet human needs in His name without discrimination. In fact, last year, The Salvation Army’s 3,600 officers, 59,000 employees, and 3.4 million volunteers served almost 30 million Americans in need. If you add that up, it comes to about one person, every second, every day. That’s amazing!

And their money really goes where it says. The Better Business Bureau set a guideline of 65% of every dollar spent going toward support, yet The Salvation Army blows that out of the water. They spend nearly 82 cents of every dollar donated to support community service programs.

The best part? All donations remain in the community where they originate. So, if you give in your community, it goes to help someone in your community. I love that!

This year, to celebrate the 124th National Red Kettle campaign, The Salvation Army is encouraging you to share YOUR reasons for giving by using the hashtag #RedKettleReason. When you post using that hashtag, you can view other posts focused on giving. You can also check out RedKettleReason.org to learn why the rest of America is giving.

Now, I want to share our #RedKettleReason with you.

As a mom of 8, there have been times when my family has needed help. Somehow, this help has always been provided, though most of the time, we never even know who our “helpers” are. An anonymous card will show up in the mail with just enough money to pull us though the week. Bags of groceries mysteriously appear on our doorstep, just when we need them most.

Because of how much others have helped us out, it is so important to me to teach my children how to give back. So, every year in December, when my husband gets his bonus, we sit down as a family and decide how we want to give back. We budget some of his bonus to go toward helping others in need. It gets the kids excited about the thought of giving to others, and allows them the chance to help someone else just like they have been helped.

My kids don’t have the best of everything. They don’t get new ipads, fancy clothes, or the most expensive gadgets available. But they are loved, and they have all of their needs supplied. By giving back to organizations like The Salvation Army, I’m trying to instill a spirit of giving in each of my kids. That way, they’ll grow up thinking of others during the holiday season instead of the “gimme, gimme, gimme” attitude that seems to run rampant. And you can bet, every time we pass a Red Kettle this holiday season, our spare change (and then some) will be given to help someone in need.

I want to encourage you to share your own #RedKettleReason and consider donating to The Salvation Army. You’ll spread a little holiday cheer, and you will make the difference in the life of someone who needs it.

Please connect with The Salvation Army in the following ways:

Please share your #RedKettleReason and let us know why you’re giving this year!

christmas tree

#MC #Sponsored: Give Back with CaringBridge & Make a Difference

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Disclaimer: I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for CaringBridge. I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

caringbridge

‘Tis the Season for giving back. What better way to do that, than by donating to CaringBridge?

CaringBridge has kicked off their WonderFull themed year-end giving campaign, and they want you to help them raise $1.2 million. Because they are a non-profit, CaringBridge relies on donations to help those facing health journeys the ability to gather up support. Did you know that nearly 95% of all funding comes from people who use CaringBridge? The WonderFull themed campaign features match contributions from 3 incredibly generous donors ranging from 10,000 to 25,000.

This holiday season, as you gather together and decide which non-profit you want to donate to, please consider making a tax-deductible donation so that families can always get the support they need.

Please visit https://www.caringbridge.org/give to find out how you can donate and make a difference in someone’s life today.

#MC #Sponsored: @Charmin Lets You #TweetFromTheSeat with Confidence this Holiday Season

sampleDisclaimer: I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Charmin. I received product samples and a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

charmin

The holidays are here. Can you even believe it? Where did this year go?

With the holidays, my already crazy household becomes even crazier. Dinners and Get-togethers with friends and family means one thing: Our toilet is going to get even more use than it already does with ten people in the house!

The last thing I want to have to worry about is a clogged toilet. Imagine: 35 people in the house, and the toilet clogs. A fun family gathering instantly becomes my worst nightmare. I don’t even want to think about the chaos that would ensure from that point on.

That’s why I am so glad I don’t have to worry about that! Charmin has partnered with Roto-Rooter to make their toilet tissue flushably safe and allowing you to #TweetfromtheSeat without worry about a clogged toilet. I can have 35 people over and my toilet tissue and the porcelain throne can both stand up to the challenge.

Before I get too much farther into the post, please take a moment and watch this short video I made:

Direct Link to Video

Did you catch that? This mom of 8 doesn’t have to worry because of the clog-free guarantee from Charmin.

You can only get the clog-free and septic-safe guarantee from Charmin toilet tissue, and Roto-Rooter, (America’s largest provider of plumbing and drain services), has given Charmin their stamp of approval. Roto-Rooter plumbers recommend Charmin more than any other brand, and Charmin is also used by plumbers themselves more than any other brand. If, by chance, something does happen and your toilet clogs, you can get your money back! You can learn more on the Charmin website.

Because Charmin has been around more than 70 years, it’s the brand I trust most, especially in my crazy household! The Ultra Soft is a favorite with the ladies of the house, while the men prefer the Ultra Strong. (It’s a good thing we have two bathrooms in the house! It keeps everybody happy!) And it really make this mom happy, because no matter which we prefer – Soft or Strong – we can still use up to 4 times less Charmin than we do with any other brand. That means fewer trips to purchase toilet tissue, and less fear of being stuck with an empty roll!

I hope you’ll take some time to connect with Charmin by social media:

I am so thankful this holiday season that my toilet is the last thing I have to worry about. I plan to relax and just enjoy this holiday season, and #TweetfromtheSeat with confidence! :) I hope you’ll do the same!

#Sponsored: Save Money With Food Lion’s #CouponHub {#Giveaway}

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Disclaimer: This post and the giveaway are sponsored by Food Lion.

food lion logo

The holidays are just around the corner. If you’re anything like me, you’re already stressing about all the grocery shopping you’ll have to do. Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas Eve dinner, Christmas breakfast, Christmas dinner – and then there are all the church fellowships and family get-togethers. I spend most of November and December either in the grocery store or in my kitchen.

But, that’s ok! Food Lion is making things easier on all of us this year! Right now, you can head to their Coupon Hub and download lots of coupons for lots of goodies you’ll need to stock up on this holiday season. You have the choice to download the coupons right to your MVP card, or you can print them at home.

To make the holidays even easier on you, Food Lion is allowing me to give TWO $50 Food Lion Gift Cards away to my readers! That can make a huge dent in your holiday grocery shopping.

Here’s how to enter:

You *must* visit the Food Lion Coupon Hub and download one coupon. Then, tweet and let us know which coupon you downloaded. Your tweet *must* contain the hashtag #CouponHub in order to count. After that, just leave a link to your tweet in the rafflecopter gadget below. You can do this once a day for more entries in the giveaway, and you can also do the rest of the rafflecopter options for as few or as many entries in the giveaway as you’d like.

Ready? Set? ENTER!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

#Sponsored: #SeeMuchMore – Keeping Your Family Healthy with a VSP Vision Care Plan #Giveaway

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Disclaimer: I will receive a pair of sunglesses in return for my post. Opinions expressed are 100% my own. Information provided by VSP.

VSP logoEye exams are important for everyone in your family – from babies to adults, and everyone in between.

Did you know that annual eye exams are important to your overall health? They allow eye doctors to detect early signs of chronic health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, among others.

The kids have been back to school for awhile now, but we can’t forget that getting them an annual comprehensive eye exam can help them learn and experience life to the fullest. Have you made their yearly eye exam yet?

It is important that parents should take their children to the eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam starting as young as six months old, then again at three years old, before kindergarten and every year after that. Because 80 percent of what we learn is through our eyes, an eye exam is essential for your back-to-school “to do” list.

In-school screenings do not provide the same level of detection as comprehensive eye exams. Even the screening the doctors office does at their yearly well care visit isn’t enough to get your child through another year.

Do you know the common signs of vision problems? The can include squinting, head tilting, avoiding “close work,” trouble focusing, continuous rubbing of eyes and headaches.

1 in 4 children has an undetected vision condition that can negatively impact learning. Don’t let your child become another statistic!

But, eye exams, glasses, and contacts can be expensive.

That’s why I want to share with you the benefits of enrolling in vision insurance. With VSP Vision Care, you can:

  • Keep your eyes healthy with highly credentialed doctors who provide the most thorough exams
  • Save money – the average VSP member saves approximately $320 each year with vision insurance!
  • Get access to great eyewear – more than two dozen brands and hundreds of styles to choose from!
  • Enable your family to experience life to the fullest

Please take a moment and check out the following resources:

Our eyes should be one of our top priorities. Please take a few moments to educate yourself on the facts, and learn more about enrolling in a vision insurance program today.

Want to win a pair of Designer Sunglasses worth over $100? Enter using the Rafflecopter gadget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

#MC #Sponsored: The Hunger Games: #Mockingjay – Part 1 {My In-Home Party}

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Disclaimer: I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Lions Gate. I received a book, products, and a promotional item to thank me for participating.

mockingjay logo

On November 21st, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 will open in theaters. I know quite a few people that are so excited about the movie’s release and can’t wait for the 21st to get here. (I’m definitely one of those people – and so are my best friend, my teenage daughter, and many of her friends.)

Here, take a look at the trailer, and you’ll see why we are so excited:


Direct Link to Video

To help build excitement for the movie, I was asked to host a book club/trailer viewing party in my home. Each of my 5 friends received a copy of Mockingjay, and we met this past Monday night to discuss the book and watch the trailer for the upcoming movie. I made a great big batch of chili cheese dip, stocked up on chips, soda, and sweets, and we made a fun night of it.

mockingjay party pictures

I came up with some discussion questions, and we all shared our thoughts. While the book is geared toward younger readers, (I was actually surprised to hear this – and even more surprised that you can only find the books in the Young Adult section of our local library), we all seemed to agree that it resonates with each one of us – no matter what our age. Maybe it’s that we wish we had the strength and courage Katniss had while we were in high school – maybe it would have made those years easier on us. Or, maybe we wish we had her courage now. Being a mom is tough. You have to be brave and do things that are way outside your comfort zone. Granted, we’re probably not fighting in a war or trying to save our district from certain destruction, but we do have challenges that we face every day. A little Katniss in us wouldn’t hurt!

hungergames party

After we took our time discussing the book – and the trilogy, I was able to connect the TV to the internet and share the trailer with them. (I figured that would be way more dramatic than just showing it on my computer screen.)

The one thing a couple of my party guests said was that they wished they had made Book 2 (Catching Fire) into a 2 part movie, but they are excited to see where they end Mockingjay – Part 1 and begin Part 2. And we are all hoping we don’t have to wait too long for Part 2 to be released in theaters, because we all have a feeling we’re going to love the movie and just want more!

Thank you, Influence Central and Lionsgate for allowing me to host this party and build up excitement for the release of the new movie. We had a blast, and now that we’ve all read Mockingjay again, we are definitely excited and ready to see the new film!

Have you read The Hunger Games trilogy? Have you seen the movies? Are you excited about the upcoming movie? I’d love to hear your thoughts about Mockingjay, or any of The Hunger Games books or movies.

mockingjay book club

Quick & Easy #Halloween Decoration (DIY Project)

I love Halloween.

Let me be more specific. I love certain aspects of Halloween.

I don’t love skeletons. Or zombies. Or blood. Or guts. Or demons. Or any such aspect of Halloween.

I do, however, love candy and pumpkins, caramel apples, and cutesy stuff.

So, when it comes to Halloween decor, I tend to go with a more “Fall” feel than Halloween per say.

There is this one exception, though…. and that’s Footprint Ghosts. I find them absolutely adorable, and I love watching how the kids’ feet grow from year to year.

Here was this year’s project:

11x14 sample footprint ghosts

Isn’t that adorable? Those are Gage, Carly, and Sawyer’s feet.

And here is Carly’s board from last year:

8x10 sample footprint ghosts

Want to make one yourself? It’s super easy, and you may already have everything on hand!

Here’s what you’ll need:

items needed for footprint ghosts

Supplies Needed:

  • 11×14 (or 8×10) canvas board painted black
  • White acrylic paint
  • Black acrylic paint
  • Orange puffy paint
  • Paint brushes (one for painting baby’s feet, one for smaller detail)
  • White ribbon (or lace – whatever your preference)
  • Glue (I use E600, because I hang mine on my front door and want it to be weatherproof. You can also use hot glue.)

Directions

  • Paint baby’s foot (or feet, depending on the size of your board and the size of your child’s foot) and make foot prints on the canvas board you’ve already painted black. Remember that the toes will be the bottom of the ghost, and place the footprints strategically on the board to make it look like the ghosts are “floating.” Allow to dry.
  • Using the small detail brush, paint circles for the ghosts’ eyes and mouth. (If you look closely, you’ll see that I even added eyelashes to Carly’s ghost in last year’s project.) Let dry.
  • Using the orange puffy paint, hand write the words “Trick or Treat” and “Smell my Feet.” Allow to dry.
  • Now, all that’s left is how you’ll hang it. For last year’s project, (the 8×10 canvas), I simply used a piece of white satin ribbon approximately 6 inches long. Just glue the ribbon to the back of the board, and allow to dry. For this year’s project, I wanted something more. I glued strips of lace on each side of the board, and then used a long strip of lace (approximately 12 inches) to hang it. For both projects, I used E6000 glue, but you can also use hot glue if these will be displayed inside.

Once everything is dry, simply hang to display and enjoy!

I did make sure to write each child’s name and age on the back of the boards so that I can immediately remember the details from that year’s pictures.

If you make one, I’d love for you to share it!

Happy Halloween!

#MC #Sponsored: #BabyMantra Makes Bath Time Better {@BabyMantra Review}

sampleDisclaimer: I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Baby Mantra. I received product samples to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for participating.

baby mantra products

As you all know, I recently gave birth to a precious baby boy. With my last baby, I decided to switch to more natural products – more organic foods, “green” cleaning products, and pure and natural bath products.

When I heard about Baby Mantra products, I got excited, and definitely wanted to give them a try.

sawyer_babymantra

Sawyer does *not* like bath time. At all. As you can clearly see. Because of that, I have to make bath time as quick and easy as possible, so we can get to his favorite part – the lotion rub he gets after his bath.

carly_babymantra

Since I have to be so fast with bath time, it’s important to me that the products be all natural, and come off completely and easily. I don’t want the products to sting his eyes when I pour the cup of water over his head to rinse him off.

I am SO impressed with the Baby Mantra Newborn Shampoo + Body Wash with coconut and olive oil. This washes off better than most other products I’ve tried. I also use it as a shampoo for Carly, and I love how easily I can brush her little curls after her bath. She might not have much hair, but that puff of curls she has on the back of her head gets easily tangled and it can hurt her tender head when I comb through her hair. The coconut oil makes the comb glide through her hair.

I also received the following items for review, and want to share my thoughts on each product:

  • Baby Mantra 3-in-1 Bubble Bath, Shampoo, and Wash – I love, love, love everything about this product! I love the smell, I love that it makes tons and tons of bubbles with just a few drops, and I love the fact that it’s perfect for kids with sensitive skin. This is the only product I will use on Gage, and I can’t believe the difference in his skin. It’s not nearly as rough and bumpy as it has been, but it’s soft and smooth. I can’t think of one thing I would change about this product. It really is fantastic.
  • Baby Mantra Detangling Conditioner with Coconut and Lavender Oil – This conditioner works great on Lucy’s thick hair. I’ve had to use conditioner on her hair since she was very little, and finding an all natural conditioner that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg can be difficult. That’s why I love this conditioner so much. It’s gentle, but it works great at getting the tangles out.
  • Baby Mantra Calming Lotion with Shea Butter and Lavender Oil – This is Sawyer’s favorite part of the bath time routine… getting a gentle rub with a lotion that smell good. The lotion keeps Sawyer’s skin so soft from bath to bath. It smells so good, and I swear that it helps my husband sleep at night. ;) (Sawyer sleeps between us, and I think breathing the smell of that lotion makes him sleep better.)
  • Baby Mantra Calming Massage Oil with Apricot and Avocado Oil – This. Smells. AMAZING. Absolutely amazing. I’ve only used it a couple of times, mostly because I forget about it and remember after I’ve already put the lotion on him. But the few times I have used it, we absolutely love it. I can’t say that it helps him sleep, because he is not a good night time sleeper, but it does immediately calm him down after getting out of the water. And did I mention that it smells absolutely amazing?!

gage_babymantraThere’s quite a unique story behind Baby Mantra products. Baby Mantra was created by two sisters that wanted to provide safe and ecologically sound skincare with the world. All of their skincare products are certified natural, cruelty-free and gluten free. The brand offers products that are environmentally conscious from ingredients to their packaging, and are all inspired by all-natural home-based remedies. Each product is made in the US.

Please take a moment to learn more about the natural ingredients Baby Mantra uses in their skincare line. You can find full details about every ingredient in their product by clicking here: Baby Mantra Ingredients. It’s wonderful using products where I don’t have to worry about if my children with sensitive skin will have a reaction or if I’m using products with ingredients that contain products that could harm my child or our environment. Baby Mantra has taken the worry out of bath time.

Baby Mantra products are available at the following locations:

I also want to encourage you to interact with the Baby Mantra brand in the following ways:

 

I’m really impressed with Baby Mantra products, and will continue to use them on my children. I’m thankful that someone took the initiative to make great products that are safe for my babies and safe for our world.

#MC #Sponsored: It’s @Huggies Little Snugglers for My Squishy Newborn

sampleDisclaimer: I participated in an Influencer Activation Program on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Huggies & Target. I received samples for this review and a promotional item to thank me for participating.

newborn baby

As some of you know, on September 9th, we welcomed our 8th little blessing into the world.

Sawyer came into the world like a champ after just a few hours of being on pitocin. He was healthy, with 10 tiny fingers, 10 tiny toes, and the sweetest little cheeks I’ve ever seen.

huggies little snugglers

A few weeks before Sawyer was born, hubby and I had to take a trip down to Atlanta with Gage. Of course, one of our first stops after Gage’s appointment had to be Target. I love any opportunity I have to go into Target, and I wanted to make sure we had stocked up on Huggies Little Snugglers Diapers for our impending bundle of joy.

We hadn’t been in this Target for quite some time, and I couldn’t remember exactly where the Huggies Little Snugglers Diapers were located in the store. Naturally, I headed to the baby department, but wouldn’t you know it? There wasn’t a single pack or box of diapers to be found in the entire baby department. I did, however, find lots of cute little items that I would have added to our Target Baby Registry – if we had had one this time around. Target has my favorite items for new babies from cribs to toys, and blankets to clothes. I could have spent all day shopping for our new little guy, but I was on a mission. I needed Huggies Little Snugglers diapers. We finally found the diapers in between the grocery side of the store and the retail side, near the pharmacy. It seemed like an odd place for diapers to me, but I guess it was their way of putting the diapers where people could get them if they were just coming in for groceries. I still think I’d put a smaller selection over in the baby department, though, just because that’s the first place most people think to go to get diapers. But, once we found them, we found exactly what we needed and we were able to score a fantastic supply of Huggies Little Snugglers for Sawyer.

And I’m so glad we did!

new baby in huggies

The day Sawyer was born, the nurses got him all cleaned up and handed him back to me. But, I noticed something was wrong. He wasn’t wearing a Huggies Little Snugglers diaper. I am incredibly picky about what newborn diapers I put on my baby, and I really prefer Huggies over anything else at this stage. There are several reasons why:

  • The umbilical cord cut-out that is on each diaper. No folding down diapers around those precious little belly buttons that still have the cord on them.
  • The new GentleAbsorb* liner adds a soft, cushiony layer of protection with hundreds of tiny absorbent pillows. It draws the mess and wetness away from delicate newborn skin.
  • These diapers are cottony-soft inside and out, so I know Sawyer is comfy day and night.
  • The wetness indicator helps me keep a fast eye on when he needs changed, and how often I need to change him… which is crucial those first few days.
  • The flexible, pocketed back waistband helps keep the mess contained in the diaper. No newborn blow-outs for us!
  • The unique, stretchy SnufFit* Waistband provides a gentle, secure fit, keeping Sawyer happy and making Mommy happy too!

I will have you know, I sent hubby home that afternoon and made him come back with a pack of Huggies Little Snugglers for our little guy to use while he was in the hospital.

New Huggies Little Snugglers Diapers are available in grocery stores and mass retailers nationwide. They are available in 5 sizes – Preemie (up to 6 pounds) through size 3 (16 – 28 pounds), and have a suggested retail price of $11.99 for a Jumbo Pack and $22.99 for a Big Pack. (Remember that diaper count varies based on diaper size.)

sawyer in huggies

I also want to make sure you’re aware of the Huggies Sweeps that gives you the chance to win free diapers for a year just by registering your Wish! What wish would you register for? Have a special family member that you wish could be present for the birth? Need a new crib? Maybe you want one last night on the town before the new baby makes his appearance? Personally, I want a nursery makeover. With 5 boys in one room, I could use some help getting things arranged and decorated in a way that spans the ages newborn to 11. (We’re thinking a pirate theme!)

Head on over to the Huggies website and register your wish. Then, head to your local Target store, start your baby registry, and be sure to add lots of Huggies Little Snugglers!

#Sponsored: The @LeapFrog #LeapTV System is HERE! Go Pre-Order Now!

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Disclaimer: This post is part of a sponsored campaign with LeapFrog and MomSelect. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

leaptv

It’s here! It’s here! The big day has finally arrived! The LeapFrog LeapTV Gaming Console is finally available for pre-sale! I am so excited!

So, what are you waiting for? Head on over to the LeapFrog website and order your LeapTV Gaming Console today!

Still have no idea what I’m talking about? Well, I’ve been giving you little teasers for the past couple of weeks. You can read them here and here.

Now, I want to leave you with one last video to encourage you to consider the LeapTV System for your family. It’s a chance to get your kids to move their minds and their bodies. Here, take a look:

Direct Link to Video on YouTube

Looks like fun to me!! Head on over NOW and reserve your very own LeapFrog LeapTV System today!

Don’t Forget to Connect with LeapFrog

#Sponsored: Don’t Forget! @LeapFrog #LeapTV System is Almost Ready for PreOrder!

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Disclaimer: This post is part of a sponsored campaign with LeapFrog and MomSelect. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

leaptv

Remember last week when I mentioned that the LeapTV System is about to be released for Pre-Sale? I just want to remind you that the big day is almost here!

The LeapTV system will be available for pre-order on September 2, 2014.  On that day, you can head to the LeapFrog website, and order your very own LeapTV Gaming Console. It’s as easy as that! It’s created for kids ages 3 – 8 years, and it’s educational and downright FUN!

You saw the video last week. Now, here’s a new video to let you in on more information about the LeapTV system:


Direct Link to Video on YouTube

SO exciting! Your kids are going to love this! I certainly know mine will. It looks like such a fun, easy way to get my kids learning while playing. I’m all for that!

Remember, the big day is September 2nd. Be ready to order your own LeapTV Gaming Console then!

Don’t Forget to Connect with LeapFrog