Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Curl up with a book, win a nook . . .

Anya Bast and Lauren Dane are working together to give away several books and even a Nook! I'd love to win one and I'm sure many of you would too. If you'd like to give it a shot head over to http://www.anyabast.com/2009/12/21/curl-up-with-a-book-and-a-nook/ , read the rules and post a comment. Good Luck!

Monday, December 14, 2009

My happiness . . .

As a mom, I would be lying if I said that my kids brought me joy all the time. In fact, there are times when they make life pretty darn difficult. However, even with all the added stress they sometimes bring to my life, they also bring me the greatest joy I've ever experienced. From the time they were born, my girls have given me something to live for, aspire to, and smile about. Their genuine smiles and laughter are absolutely contagious. The sincerity with which they appreciate the smallest things is uplifting. When I am smart enough to remind myself to pay attention to these amazing little people, my life is so much better.

Here are a few just a few examples of how my girls can make me so happy:
  1. Pumpkin needed turkey shaped cookies for school. Being a non-creative, non-artistic mom, I had every intention of going to the store and buying turkey cut-out cookies. Do you know that not one store within 30 miles of my home makes turkey cut-out cookies? I ended up having to try to make cookies that looked like turkeys and the picture at the top of this post is the end result. My sweet 4 year old woke up the next morning, saw the cookies and said, "They don't look like turkeys, but I love them mom! Thank you." and gave me a big hug and kiss.
  2. Peanut, my oldest daughter is 5 going on 16. She has somehow learned the fine art of the eyeroll and the sigh, but still knows how to make my day. She loves to learn and gets so excited about the tiniest things. She asks amazing questions and appreciates you taking time to give her answers. She's my ulta-observant child and will want to stop the car if she sees a rainbow to get out and just stare at it. She loves the simple joys of planting a garden and jumping in leaves. She truly appreciates the joy of nature.
This post was inspired by a contest posted here:
http://www.iambarkingmad.com/spotted_dick_and_other_mu/2009/12/barking-mads-crazy-christmas-300-target-giftcard-giveaway-.html What an amazing and inspirational idea, especially around the holidays. It is great to be able to focus on the good, rather than the bad in life. Thanks so much for the giveaway and the positive thoughts you are spreading by this contest.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

What does your child pick up from classmates?

Why is it that my kids only seem to pick up the bad habits of other children? First, let me tell you that I am well aware that my munchkins are not perfect. They have plenty of faults, but they also have some AMAZING characteristics. I'm sure that the other kids in Peanut's kindergarten class have wonderful characteristics too, but for some reason she only comes home with their bad habits. My daughter never used to roll her eyes . . . now it is an almost daily occurrence. At the beginning of the year she came home telling me about how another student in her class threw away his sandwich and just ate his snacks and dessert every day. "Can you believe it, mommy? Doesn't he know he has to eat his real food first?" was her response. When her grandparents would offer her a snack or dessert, she would politely say, "Thank you, I'll save this for after I eat my real food." I had her trained so well! This week, I've discovered that she's now throwing out her sandwich as well. Her first taste of independence and she isn't making good choices . . . What should I do?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Giving Back for the Holidays

While I should be more aware of the needs of others all year round (This might make a good New Years Resolution!), the Holidays always bring me a quick reminder. From the ringing bells of the Salvation army to the requests that come home from school for canned food, they make it easy to give during the holidays. In fact companies in general also seem to be much more generous during the holidays and often give you the opportunity to help. For example, on Facebook, several companies donated money to ToysForTots, or other charities for each of their new fans. There are companies that will match your donations or give a donation for each product that you purchase. One of these companies is Robeez. They are doing a "Season of Giving" promotion where they will donate a pair of soft-soled Robeez to KIDS (Kids in Distressed Situations) for each pair of soft-soled shoes that you buy through December 23rd. If you haven't shopped Robeez before, you really should take a look. I have LOVED them for my girls. Not only are they adorable, but they also have earned the Seal of Acceptance from the American Podiatric Medical Association. I love that they even have Holiday boots for the colder weather. My favorite pair of Robeez are the ones found here. They are so adorable and would match just about any outfit you might put your little girl in.

So, what are you doing to give back for the holidays? Personally, I have donated blood and purchased lots of extra toys for ToysForTots. (I love finding good deals and can't pass them up, so knowing I can give them to a good cause gives me a reason not to.) At the end of the season when coats go on sale I always buy extras for Coats for Kids for the following season. If I happen to be carrying cash (a rare event) I will donate to the Salvation Army. In addition, with all the new toys that will be finding their way into our home this season (thanks Grandma & Grandpa - nothing too big please!), we find this the perfect time for the girls to go through their things and find items to donate as well.

*This post was inpired by Twittermoms and Robeez - who are not only giving to those in need, but also to mom bloggers. If I happen to be one of the first 50 bloggers to post I will receive a free pair of Robeez. If not, I may be lucky enough to win a Stride Rite GC or the Robeez Spring Collection.

Monday, December 7, 2009

My Most Surprising Gift

I just love twitter moms. As a new blogger, I love that they give me ideas to jumpstart some of my posts. There are days when I could write for hours and other days that I feel like writing, but don't really have any major inspiration. Today, they are giving a $100 target gift card to 10 of their bloggers that post about the most surprising gift they have ever received. So, feeling inspired, here is my post . . .

At the age of 18 I was blessed to meet the most amazing man. We began dating during my first and his second year of college. Throughout our relationship he has constantly surprised me with his thoughtfulness and generosity. The most memorable gift I can remember occurred early in our relationship - in fact, I can't quite remember the occasion. He simply told me that we were going on a trip and that he would do the packing for me. I fell asleep in the car, as I always do for long car rides (at least before I had kiddos) and woke to find myself in Traverse City, MI. I love Traverse City and always have. It has amazing memories from my childhood. We even stayed at the hotel I used to stay at as a child. It was a wonderful surprise that meant so much to me. The detailed planning showed me just how much he cares and what a great listener he actually was.

What are your five tips & tricks for getting your kids to bed on time and getting them to stay in bed?

Twittermoms is back again with another great opportunity to share great information and win prizes in the process. The prize they are giving away is a St Eve cozy. You can also go to http://www.dramau.net/ and try to win one there by submitting a story. Today their question is "How to you get your kids to go to bed and stay there?" I don't know if I've been very lucky or if my tips will work for everyone, but I've never had a problem with getting my little munchkins to go to bed and stay there (not including trying to get them to sleep through the night when they were babies). Here's what we do:

  1. Routine - We have a pretty strict bedtime routine. It really doesn't vary at all from night to night. The entire routine takes about 1/2 hour and includes going potty, brushing teeth, bath, pjs, stories, and prayers. We've been doing pretty much the same routine since my oldest was about 9 months old. She's now 5.
  2. Mommy/Daddy Time - As the girls have gotten older they spend more time away from home at ballet, preschool, kindergarten, etc. As a result they don't get as much one on one time. We try to make sure each girls gets ample time with one or both of us during the day/evening so that they aren't tempted to want to stay up all night to tell us about their days.
  3. Questions - After prayers, before I put the girls to bed for the night I sit with them for a minute and just talk. This is their opportunity to ask me any last minute questions they might have about what happened today or what is likely to happen tomorrow. This seems to put their minds at ease and prevent any late night questions.
  4. Midnight Kisses (and water) - The girls always want "one last drink" and "one last kiss" before I put them to bed. Since I don't want them getting up in the middle of the night to go potty I rarely give them water, but always promise to come in and open the door, give them a kiss and leave water on their night stand before I go to bed. Knowing that I'll be back and that they'll have the opportunity for water if they are still thirsty in the middle of the night seems to make them feel better. While I don't think they ever drink the water, I always take it in and give them their promised kisses. In the morning they know that I kept my promise because the door is open and they have their water.
  5. My last tip is that we try to do calming things at night before bed. On occasion my husband (the fun one) will get them all fired up with a game of chase, hide-n-seek, or something similar, but for the most part we try to use the evening for stories, board games and basic family time. It really seems to help calm them and ready them for their nighttime routine.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Fun Crafts I don't want to forget

I am a current subscriber to Parenting, FamilyFun, and several other parenting magazines. (All subscriptions were obtained for free from some promotion or another.) As a result I am always finding cute ideas for fun crafty things to do with the kiddos. Unfortunately I can never find them when I want to do them. Since this is my blog I am going to post two of those "recipes" here now so that when I want to find them later I can. Christmas break is coming soon and I'm sure I'll need some ideas for things to do to keep the munchkins busy. So, here are two I've found recently (not that I found them in the mags recently, but I've found the little pieces of paper that I saved from the mags in random drawers recently). Unfortunately I can't give credit to anyone in particular for these since I have no idea where they came from.

Kool Aid Playdough
1 c flour
1 T veg oil
1 pck unsweetened Kool Aid
1/4 c salt
2 T cream of tartar
1 c water

Mix flour, salt, cream of tartar and Kool Aid in a medium saucepan. Add water and oil. Stir over med-low heat 3-5 minutes. When mixture forms a ball in pan, remove. Kneed until smooth. Put in a plastic sealed bag. Enjoy.

Crayon Craft
Heat oven to 300
Place foil liners in muffin tin
Fill each liner with crayon pieces
Bake until just melted 5-8 min (don't let wax bubble)
Let cool until wax is soft but not liquidy 5-10 min
Remove foil liners and peal out wax
Press cookie cutter into wax (hearts, clovers, wreaths, etc)
Push out shape
Poke skewer through shape and leave it in until wax hardens
Remove skewer and thread ribbon through the hole to make a necklace

Just to simplify I'll probably add to this post if I find any of the other craft recipes I've been saving for a rainy day.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Sam's Club is Giving Money Away for the Holidays!

It seems that money is tight for just about everyone I know around the holidays. As a SAHM, I try to find fun an unique ways to give gifts that help save our family money. The girls love crafts, so I have them make gifts for people that I know will treasure them. For others, I find amazing deals by using coupon codes from retailmenot.com and following the hot deals section of fatwallet.com and slickdeals.net. I also am sure to check bing, ebates, upromise, and now boxtops for cash back for me or my girls' school. Another method I've recently discovered are blogs. Who knew that bloggers could get and give away so much?! In fact, I have noticed an abundance of Sam's Club giveaways on many of the mommy blogs I follow. It works out perfectly since I happen to LOVE Sam's Club. (I know, I know - Most of you are already aware of my disdain for Walmart. I know they are the same company, but for some reason the people at Sam's club have treated me 1000x nicer than they ever have at Walmart.) So, I've been entering these blog contest for Sam's Club GCs, hoping to get some money to buy Doc something nice for the holidays (Shhhh - Don't tell him!). As a favor to my few loyal readers (and as a way to get some bonus entries for myself), I'm going to keep a list of these contests with links so that you can enter and hopefully win too. Maybe you'll even buy me something nice with your GC as a "thank you". ;o) So, here they are . . . Good Luck!

She currently has 4 giveaways going on right now for GC from $25 - $75. Keep checking back because she may add more!

She also has had several amazing giveaways running at any time.

I think she adds a new giveaway just about daily!

I highly recommend you subscribe to the three blogs listed above to stay up-to-date. I'll let you know if I find more.

Found another http://outnumbered3-1.blogspot.com/search/label/Giveaways