Thursday, December 30, 2010

Do You Know An Amazingly Energized Woman?


We all have a friend or family member that seems to have it all together.  You know the one.   She has a job, an immaculate house, cooks healthy dinners every night, and loves craft time with the kiddos.  Every time you see her, you're in awe (and a little annoyed), wondering how it is possible to be so perfect.  Personally, I like to tell myself that she's not really as perfect as she seems.  She must have some flaw, right?  Well, now is not the time to look for her flaws.  Now is the time to toot her horn (or your own if you're the person all your friends are in awe of).  Centrum and Molly Shannon are currently searching for America's Most Amazingly Energized Woman.  Between now and January 3, 2011, you can nominate yourself or someone you love that is an example of an amazingly energized woman.
The makers of Centrum® multivitamins are celebrating women who live life and love to the fullest by staying healthy and energized, even during the busiest time of the year. Tell us her (your) secret on maintaining healthy energy levels so she can enjoy the great things the holiday season brings – including friends and family time, giving gifts, hosting parties, and so much more!
The form is short.  Submissions must be 300 words or less.  So, even if you're not the one full of energy, you should be able to find sufficient time to get the essay done.   A panel of judges will select five finalists.  The five finalists will then be voted on by the public to choose a winner (which is why I won't be entering).  The winner will receive a $3000 XPERIENCE DAYS gift certificate.   Each of the four runners up will receive a $400 XPERIENCE DAYS gift certificate.   So, check out the prizes, write an essay, and cross your fingers.  If one of my readers is selected as a finalist, please come back and let me know and I'll be sure to vote for you.  Good Luck!

Disclaimer:  I am a member of One2One Network and this post is part of a member project where I am eligible to win prizing.  I make no claims about Centrum as a product or it's effectiveness. 

Old Navy Coupon Giveaways

Every year around this time, stores have some amazing sales on their winter clothing.  Since Pumpkin and Peanut are fairly young, I can get away with buying clothes now in preparation for next year.   One of my favorite stores to shop for great deals on cute clothes is Old Navy.   Each week, a couple of blogs give away several coupons for $50 off a purchase of $100 or more.  This week, I found two that I'm entering. (If you find any others, I'd appreciate if you'd let me know.)   Here's hoping that I win, or if I don't, that one of my readers does!  Good Luck!

The Charmed Mom

Simply Being Mommy

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Wonderful Winter Sunset


While this might not be the best picture, I absolutely love it.  Even in the Winter, we have the most gorgeous sunsets.  Look at the branches on the trees.  All of the ice crystals make it look like the trees are decorated with Christmas lights.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Holiday Treats from Kroger & Chex - Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to guettel78!  Random.org selected #228 out of 297 entries for the Holiday Treats from Kroger & Chex - Giveaway.   Thanks to all who entered!



Monday, December 27, 2010

Starbucks Gift Card Winners

Unfortunately, I did not win the ComfySacks contest.  Sadly, I'm not surprised.  The best part about participating and losing is that I can guarantee that I won't waste my time on voting contests for a while.  It usually takes me several months before I forget how much I despise them and give another one a shot.   If I happen to mention on Twitter or Facebook that I'm thinking of entering another, please remind me of Comfy Sacks, Little Tikes Water Slide, or the CSNstores Creative Kids contests to stop me before I regret it.  :o)

Since I didn't win, I am not doubling the value of the gift card from $10 to $20.  However, since I do want to show my appreciation for your votes, I am doubling the number of winners.  Two winners will each receive a $10 Starbucks Gift Card.  Random.org selected comments #5 and #11 as my winners.  I have verified that both participants did "like" my photo.   Congratulations Guilly and AubreyLaine!  I will be contacting you shortly via email.

Also, since the contest is over and the votes have been counted, please feel free to "unlike" ComfySacks on facebook if you would like.  (I have no affiliation with ComfySacks and have never purchased their products, so I cannot recommend that you either use or avoid them based on experience.)

Thanks again for all your votes!


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Did you miss me?

After an amazing (but crazy) Christmas, I am back.

It might take me a while to catch up, especially with the kiddos home from school for the next week, but you will probably see me daily for at least a short post. 

Tomorrow I will draw and the post the winner for my Starbucks Gift Card Giveaway.

I'll see you then!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Carmex Lip Tints Winner & Coupon

I had 37 entries for the Carmex Lip Tints Giveaway.  Random.org chose #2 as the winner.


Congrats Charro M.  I will be contacting you via email shortly.  For those of you that didn't win, but want to check out the new Carmex Tints, be sure to check out this page for a coupon. 

Also, don't forget to enter my Kroger/Chex Giveaway here and my Starbucks Gift Card Giveaway here

Monday, December 13, 2010

Holiday Treats from Kroger & Chex - Giveaway

With the holidays fast approaching, our house is in a constant state of motion.  From practicing for the Christmas pageant to baking for guests, it feels like we are always busy.  This weekend, we were busy as usual, but it was a good kind.  We were writing out our candy-grams, getting teacher gifts put together, and getting the last of our goodies made for the holiday extravaganza that begins this week.

Wednesday, Peanut will be singing in her Christmas program.  It is expected that both sets of Grandparents will be in attendance as well as Auntie Em.  While it isn't a big crowd by any means, I still have hostess guilt that makes me feel like I have to have homemade goodies for our visitors to enjoy.   You may recall that we did most of our holiday baking over Thanksgiving weekend.  However, MyBlogSpark sent me Chex cereal and a Kroger gift card recently, and I couldn't let that go to waste.  As soon as I saw the recipe for Chex Muddy Buddies on the Rice Chex box, I knew I had to make it with the girls. 

9 cups Corn Chex, Rice Chex, Wheat Chex, or Chocolate Chex Cereal
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  1. Into a large bowl, measure cereal; set aside
  2. In 1-qt microwaveable bowl, microwave chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter uncovered on high 1 minute; stir.  Microwave about 30 seconds longer or until mixture can be stirred smooth.  Stir in vanilla.  Pour mixture over cereal, stirring until evenly coated.  Pour into 2 gallon resealable food storage plastic bag.
  3. Add powdered sugar.  Seal bag; shake until well coated.  Spread on waxed paper to cool.  Store in airtight container in refrigerator.

While this "in progress" picture doesn't do it any justice, I just have to say that the mix is delicious!  Hopefully it lasts until Wednesday.  If not, I'll be heading to Kroger to get more supplies.  Luckily, Chex is on sale at our Kroger until December 25th, so it won't cost me too much to replace it.  (Just an FYI - As soon as I saw this recipe I knew it looked familiar.  It is very similar to a mix we called "People Chow" that was made with Golden Grahams instead of Chex.)

In addition to this recipe Chex has oodles of others as well available on their website.  From Buffalo Chex Mix to Chex Pumpkin Pie Crunch, you're bound to find something you'd like to try.  They have sweet, salty, gluten-free, and 15 minute recipes on the site.

Who wants to win a great prize pack from Chex, Kroger, and MyBlogSpark?  The prize pack will include a Kroger gift card and some Chex to make your own recipes.

Here's what you have to do to win (mandatory):

  1. Look at the Chex website and tell me which recipe you'd most like to try.
For additional entries you can also do the following. Be sure to leave a comment for each additional entry.
  1. Follow me on twitter (leave your twitter name)
  2. Like me on facebook (leave your initials)
  3. Follow me on Google Friend Connect (leave your username)
  4. Tweet about this giveaway. You may do this once daily. Be sure to include @rmgm #myblogspark and a link to this post (leave a link to your tweet)
Details:
  • Only open to US residents
  • Winner will be chosen using random.org
  • Giveaway ends 11:59pm ET on December 27, 2010
  • Include your email address in your comment if it is not available on your profile page. If an email address in not in the comment or on your profile page another winner will be chosen. I will not contact you through Twitter or Facebook.
  • Winner will have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen.
  • Prizes will be sent directly from the sponsor. I am not responsible for prizes that are lost or damaged during shipment. If you win a prize and do not receive it, please let me know.
*Disclaimer - The prize pack is provided by Chex and Kroger through MyBlogSpark. I received the same pack to facilitate my review and giveaway post. The recipe here came from the box of Rice Chex.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I want to win . . . How about you?

I know, I know.

I said I'd never enter one of these voting contests again.

I always work so hard and harass all my friends and family to vote for me, then end up disappointed when I lose.  This time, I mean it.  If I win this contest I will not enter another voting contest ever again (by ever I mean until I can't resist the prize and think my odds are better than zero).

So, here's my beg for votes.

If you wouldn't mind, would you please go to the Comfy Sacks Facebook Page and like it, then go to my picture (I'm contestant #5) and like that as well.



Just because I'm feeling generous (and really want to win), I'm offering another incentive as well.  I have a $10 Starbucks Gift Card that I'm giving away to one of you that likes the picture and leaves a comment here.  If I win, I'll double it.  So, please vote, then post here that you did (with your facebook initials so that I can verify).   Be sure to spread the word and ask your family and friends to vote as well.  Even if you don't want to tell them about this contest, you want them to vote.  Don't forget, if I win, the winner here wins even more.

Thanks so much! 

*Disclaimer - If I win the ComfySacks Contest I will win a Kids Mini Lounger.  I am providing the Starbucks giftcards myself.  There are no sponsors for this giveaway.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.  The ComfySacks contest is scheduled to end on 12/19/10 at midnight.  This giveaway will end at the same time.  Please include your email address in your comment if it is not visible in your profile.  Winner will be selected by random.org and contacted via email.  Winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email or another winner will be chosen.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Review - NBC's Community - Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas

I was recently contacted by One2One to participate in a project where I was able to get a sneak peek at this week's Community on NBC. In exchange, I was asked to give my honest review.  To give you a bit of background about myself, I have watched Community in the past and enjoyed it.  However it is not one of my "must-see" shows.  Now, before I give you my review, here's a bit about the episode:

When Abed (Danny Pudi) wakes up in stop-motion animation, he takes it as a sign that he and the group must re-discover the meaning of Christmas. Meanwhile, Jeff (Joel McHale) and Britta (Gillian Jacobs) become growingly concerned about Abed's mental health and enlist the help of Professor Duncan (John Oliver). The group undergoes hypnosis to explore Abed's winter wonderland and soon unravel the truth behind Abed’s madness. Chevy Chase, Yvette Nicole Brown, Donald Glover, and Ken Jeong also star.
To be completely honest, within the first few minutes I was bored and even a little confused.  I didn't really like the intro to the show.  I didn't enjoy or appreciate some of the inappropriate (in my opinion) humor. I didn't like that they described themselves as being in stop-motion.  Having watched the entire program I understand that the explanation was important to the plot.  Only Abed saw them in stop-motion which is why the group sought the help of Professor Duncan.   That being said, by the first commercial break I was hooked.   While I could have done without some of the sarcasm, I just love Shirley in the show.  I found myself laughing out loud during a couple of her lines.  In addition to the humor, I also appreciated the message.  As you may have read here, for me Christmas is about new and old traditions.  It is about family, friends, and opportunities.  The magic of Christmas is not in the gifts, it is in the experiences we all share.  I personally love the idea that no matter what you believe, Christmas can be a time when we all come together to create our own magic!

*Disclaimer - I reviewed this episode through One2One.  I did not receive any compensation in exchange for my review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

What do you want for Christmas?

"What do you want for Christmas?"

I might be completely alone in this, but it drives me crazy when people ask my kiddos what they want for Christmas, their birthday, or any other holiday or event.  Honestly, I think it drives other people crazy when my kids don't have an answer.   We don't ask the girls what they want as far as gifts are concerned.  We simply pay attention to things they do and say throughout the year.  We watch which section of toys they are drawn to when we are shopping for others.  (Though admittedly this might become more difficult as they get older.)  My reasons for this are two-fold.  First, I don't want them to think that holidays are all about the presents.  Second, I don't want them to be disappointed.

We live fairly far away from most of our family and friends.  The holidays  are pretty much the only time we have the opportunity to visit with great-grandparents and other extended family.   In addition, our extended family is rather large.  My dad is the oldest of 12 children.  All of whom are married and have kids.  Many of those kids are also married with kids.  This means that there are close to 100 people at the family Christmas party.  Grandma gets everyone a small present, but generally few other gifts are exchanged.  The holidays are simply a time to reconnect with those that have helped us to become what we are today.  They are an opportunity to learn what is going on in the lives of others.  The holidays are a time for relaxation, joy, connection, history, and tradition.

I have an amazing family.  My parents were always (and still are) kind, generous, thoughtful and fun.  I have some great memories from the holidays.  I remember our traditional night out at our favorite Mexican restaurant followed by a drive around looking at Christmas lights while carols played in the car.  I remember going with my dad to pick out the perfect Christmas tree at the farm.  I remember hanging lights with dad and baking and decorating cookies with mom and my sister.   I remember going to Christmas mass together.  I remember the feeling of being safe, secure and loved.  Do you know what I don't remember?  I don't remember a single specific present that I received.   However, I do remember something else.  I remember the feeling of disappointment with my gifts.  It wasn't that I didn't get what I wanted.  I did.  I got what was on my list.  I think with all the magic of the holidays though, I was expecting more.  I was expecting surprises.  I was expecting a perfect something that I hadn't even known I wanted.  I don't think I'm a greedy person.  I don't think that I was ever ungrateful or unappreciative.  It is just that the listed items weren't as exciting or glamorous as they looked on TV.  There wasn't any magic in the "things" I received.

Just the other day I had to rethink my stance on this issue when Peanut came home from school in tears.  They are apparently working on letter writing in school.  She said that she had to write a letter to Santa asking for at least two or three things.   She didn't know what to do since she doesn't make a list for Santa.  "What do I ask for?  I don't make a list, I like surprises." was mumbled through her tears.  (Whether she really likes surprises, or I have just ingrained that into the girls is an entirely different post.)  We talked through it and she did come up with a couple of small items she could write about.  It seemed to appease her for the moment.   After our conversation, I did decide to stick to my guns . . . for a while.  For me, the magic was never in the gifts.  It was always in the experiences.  Hopefully, by focusing on the experiences rather than the gifts we can keep the magic of Christmas alive for just a bit longer. 

General Mills & MyBlogSpark Family Fun Night Giveaway Winner

There were 71 entries for my Family Fun Night Giveaway sponsored by General Mills and MyBlogSpark.  Random.org selected lucky #13 which was:

13. Doodle741 said... Tweet! http://twitter.com/Doodle741/status/7971945660284928

Congrats Doodle741!  I will be contacting you via email shortly.

Thanks to everyone who entered and left comments on my blog.  Don't forget to enter for a Carmex Moisture Plus Lip Tints prize pack.  It ends on 12/13 (as of today there are only 5 entries).  Good luck!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Are your lips getting chapped? (Carmex Review & Giveaway)

I am not a lipstick girl.  In fact, I didn't even wear it on my wedding day.  For some reason, wearing lipstick makes me feel too noticeable.  I'm not really someone that enjoys being the center of attention . . . I actually prefer to blend in a bit.  So, when Carmex sent me their Moisture Plus Lip Tints to review I was a little concerned.   "How am I going to review a product that I wouldn't normally think to try on my own?"  After a little motivation and a day out with a friend, I can now post my thoughts and opinions.  Before I do though, I'll tell you about about this product.
The best of both worlds are coming together with real moisture meeting light, sheer color.  Perfect for any occasion and easy to apply - no mirror required!  Formulated with Vitamin E, Aloe, Shea butter, and SPF, Carmex Moisture Plus tinted lip balm gives you moisture, a hint of shine and color all in one sleek package.   (from the back of the package)
Carmex Moisture Plus Lip Tints are available in two colors, sheer pink and sheer peach.  Both colors have a slant tip, SPF 15, and Vitamin E and aloe moisturizing protection.  Personally, I prefer sheer peach because it is more the natural color of my lips, however neither color is too strong.  While I still prefer traditional Carmex in the jar or the original Moisture Plus, I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by the Tints.  The slender tube with the slant tip is definitely a plus.  It isn't large and bulky in your pocket or purse, and it is very easy to apply.  I also really like the looks of the tube.  It just looks a little "classier" than a standard lip balm tube.  I don't know if it is just my preconceived notions or not, but the Tints don't seem to last quite as long as the original product did on my lips and don't feel quite as smooth.   I will say that the Carmex Moisture Plus Lip Tints are great for date night (for me).  They give my lips a touch of color without making me feel like I stand out in the crowd.  I plan to stick to my normal Carmex products for regular use, but will definitely pull out the Tints for special occasions.

Want a chance to win some Carmex Moisture Plus Lip Tints of your own? (Winner will receive two Carmex Moisture Plus Lip Tints.)

Here's what you have to do to win (mandatory):

  1. Tell me which color of the Carmex Moisture Plus Lip Tints you'd like to try.  Please leave your email address in the comment if it is not visible in your profile.
For additional entries you can also do the following. Be sure to leave a comment for each additional entry.
  1. Follow Carmex on twitter (leave your twitter name)
  2. Follow me on twitter (leave your twitter name)
  3. Like Carmex on facebook (leave your initials)
  4. Like me on facebook (leave your initials)
  5. Follow me on Google Friend Connect (leave your username)
  6. Tweet about this giveaway. You may do this once daily. Be sure to include @rmgm @CarmexLipBalm  #carmex and a link to this post (leave a link to your tweet)
Details:
  • Only open to US residents
  • Winner will be chosen using random.org
  • Giveaway ends 11:59pm ET on December 13, 2010
  • Include your email address in your comment if it is not available on your profile page. If an email address in not in the comment or on your profile page another winner will be chosen. I will not contact you through Twitter or Facebook.
  • Winner will have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen.
  • I am not responsible for prizes that are lost or damaged during shipment. If you win a prize and do not receive it, please let me know.
*Disclaimer -  Other than receiving the product to facilitate my review, I did not receive any other compensation for this post.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Our Thanksgiving . . .

I am far from a perfect mother, but when my kids are home from school, I really do try  my best to give them some attention.  We play games together (but not pretend ones, because I'm really bad at those).  Sometimes we'll watch a movie together.  We'll even cook and clean together.  Over the holidays you will see periods of absence on my blog.   Those are times when I am traveling, visiting with family and friends, or playing with my kiddos.  While I do enjoy blogging, I enjoy living my life with my family even more.  As you know, I'm not a review blogger.  I do post reviews and giveaways when they come my way and I think they are something you might like, but I do not answer to anyone on this blog.  It is mine.  I post what I want, when I want.  Thanksgiving happened to be a time when I didn't want to take the time away from my kids to post.  We were having too much of an amazing weekend.  Here are a few highlights:

My kids didn't have school on Wednesday, but Doc did have to work.  Peanut, Pumpkin and I thought that would be a perfect opportunity to go Christmas shopping for Doc.  Originally, they wanted to get him a dog, but eventually decided that maybe he wouldn't appreciate that gift.   (I don't know if I've mentioned it in the past, but Doc is very anti-pet . . . it goes along with his neat freakishness)  Eventually, each girl was able to find something that he needed in a style that reflects their own personalities.   I think he'll get a chuckle out of what they finally selected

On Thanksgiving, we went for a nice family walk followed by lunch at that fancy schmancy restaurant I was telling you about.  After lunch we went to see Tangled (Thanks MyBlogSpark and General Mills).   Doc had never been to a movie with the girls, so it was definitely a fun experience.  He had never seen the kids snack pack before, and actually wanted one of his own.  :o)  Pumpkin is a girl that laughs out loud during movies.  I couldn't help but steal a glance and a smile at Doc each time she'd burst out laughing - too cute!  The only problem is that she is now having nightmares about the "mean girl" in the movie.  Ugh!  Have I sheltered them too much?

Friday, Saturday and Sunday were filled with Christmas preparations.  We decorated, baked, wrapped and even went to our local tree lighting ceremony.  We had such a great time!  I didn't even get upset when the kiddos spilled stuff all over the kitchen while helping bake cookies.  I don't think I can't count the number of times I said, "It is okay.  Baking cookies is messy." with a smile on my face and a broom, mop, rag, in my hands.   If I haven't mentioned it before, I am probably pretty low ranking when it comes to the list of moms with patience.  I'm also a bit of a control freak.  This weekend was so relaxing that I didn't even care that one of our teddy bear cookies had three heads while another looked more like an elephant.  I didn't make the kids decorate the cookies the way I would.  I didn't say a word (because I didn't mind) when they mixed the peppermint sprinkles with the chocolate chips, and nonpariels.   This was supposed to be a fun family weekend, and it was.  We might have just created a new Thanksgiving family tradition.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Take Time for a Family Fun Night (Giveaway)

As you may have read here, my family is doing something a little different for Thanksgiving.  Instead of making it a huge holiday celebration, we are making it the calm before the storm.   We are making it a time to be together and enjoy each others company.  We are going to relax, unwind, and take a break from life as we know it in order to appreciate the people we love - the people that see us at our worst and still love us.

Our time together will include dinner out, a movie, Christmas decorations, baking cookies, and a board game or two over the four days of our Thanksgiving break.   We'll probably read together and go for several walks if the weather allows.  What would you do if you had a couple days of unscheduled time to spend with your family?

If your family enjoys movies, then I highly recommend you check out your local stores for sales on General Mills cereals. 
Starting in November, you can receive a free movie ticket when you purchase two specially marked packages of Big G cereals including Honey Nut Cheerios® (17 oz.), Cinnamon Toast Crunch® (17 oz.), Lucky Charms® (16 oz.), Trix® (14.8 oz) and Reese’s Puffs® cereal (18 oz.).

After purchasing two participating cereals, visit generalmills.com/moviecash to enter the unique code found inside each box of cereal and print your free Movie Cash certificate (good for one admission of up to a $12 value at participating theatres). To find a participating theater in your area, log onto http://emoviecash.com/dis_locator/.
Right now, Kroger has several of their Big G cereals on sale for $1.49 when you buy 4.  If you combine that with printable $1 off 2 boxes of Big G cereals and coupons that you can load directly to your card,  then you can get 4 boxes of cereal and 2 movie tickets for $4 or less!   Cereal for dinner and a movie out with the family sounds like a fun, easy, and inexpensive way to reconnect.

So, who wants to win a Family Flick Night prize pack from General Mills and MyBlogSpark?  Your prize will include two boxes of cereal and four Movie Cash Certificates. 

Here's what you have to do to win (mandatory):

  1. Tell me your current favorite General Mills cereals that you are planning to purchase to get your movie cash.
For additional entries you can also do the following. Be sure to leave a comment for each additional entry.
  1. Follow me on twitter (leave your twitter name)
  2. Like me on facebook (leave your initials)
  3. Follow me on Google Friend Connect (leave your username)
  4. Tweet about this giveaway. You may do this once daily. Be sure to include @rmgm #myblogspark and a link to this post (leave a link to your tweet)
Details:
  • Only open to US residents
  • Winner will be chosen using random.org
  • Giveaway ends 11:59pm ET on December 6, 2010
  • Include your email address in your comment if it is not available on your profile page. If an email address in not in the comment or on your profile page another winner will be chosen. I will not contact you through Twitter or Facebook.
  • Winner will have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen.
  • Prizes will be sent directly from the sponsor. I am not responsible for prizes that are lost or damaged during shipment. If you win a prize and do not receive it, please let me know.
Disclaimer:  I was sent a Family Flick Night prize pack from General Mills and MyBlogSpark to post about this program.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Our Thanksgiving Plans

Thanksgiving is the beginning of the holiday rush.  The eating, traveling, visiting, laughing, playing, partying, fighting, cooking, rush.  Most years we travel - between 2 and 4 hours - in one direction or another to visit with family.  This year we are doing something different.  We are staying home.  No one is coming.  The four of us are going to a late lunch at a fancy schmancy restaurant that hosts a Thanksgiving buffet.  We are following it up with a family movie.  (We'll probably go see Tangled.)  The rest of the weekend will be spent putting up our Christmas decorations and starting our holiday baking and cards.  Right now, to me, it sounds a bit like heaven.   It isn't that I don't enjoy seeing family and friends.  I do!  It is just that our life has been so busy lately that it feels like we haven't had time to be a family.   Between school, ballet, soccer, work, birthdays, concerts and programs, we are over scheduled.   I am thankful that we are able to participate in all those activities.  I am thankful that we have friends and family that we love (and love us).  I am thankful for so much about my life.  It is just that I want to have the time to truly appreciate the minutiae of it.

Even if you're not ready to cancel your Thanksgiving plans, I really think that now is the time to slow down and make sure that you are enjoying your spouse, your children, and your life.  Take a day out to just be a family without worrying about all the other things going on around you.   Eat cereal for dinner and play board games when you would normally be doing the dishes.  Let your kids help you pick out the menu for a night.  Shop together, cook together, and clean up together - not worrying if there is still a piece of cheese stuck to the plate.   Turn off the phone.  Turn off the computer.  Remember what it is like to be with those that you love.  Remember why it is that you love them.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Are you thoughtful? - Try to win $500 from itsThoughtful

Have you heard of Its Thoughtful?
itsThoughtful is a vibrant social shopping community focused on gift shopping. Its a forum for people to share and discover the most popular, creative, thoughtful, unusual, funny, unique (we can add more adjectives but you get the idea) gift ideas in the world.
Right now, if you sign up for the site, you can submit ideas for thoughtful gifts.  If your idea is voted to be the best idea, you can win a $500 Amazon gift card.  I've got my thinking cap on and am trying to come up with some thoughtful gifts of my own.  You might want to give it a shot too!

Even if you don't have any thoughtful gift ideas to share, you might want to check out the site to see if you can borrow some ideas from others.  Everyone definitely appreciates a thoughtful gift more than a thoughtless one.   Personally, I love how you can search by occasion or recipient and even sort by price.  I haven't used the site to pick out gifts yet, but I will definitely check it out when I'm stuck on a gift idea.

*Disclaimer - Information about the site came from the site itself.  If 15 people sign up using my link, I am eligible to possibly win a $25 Amazon Gift card.  I haven't used the site yet, but do like the idea of it.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Carmex Coupon (and a Giveaway Announcement)

For everyone that entered my Carmex Giveaway, but unfortunately didn't win, I have some good news.  If you still want to try the new Carmex Cream and/or Lotion, you can get a coupon for $2 off here (WSL).  Also, I will be hosting another giveaway from Carmex next week.   This time it will be for one of their lip products.  My lips are already getting chapped, so you'll definitely want to be on the lookout for this giveaway.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Norah Jones - Featuring

The new Norah Jones CD, ...Featuring, is being released today, November 16, 2010.  Norah Jones is one of my favorite artists, so I am extremely grateful to One2One for providing me with an advance copy to listen to and review.   Before I get into my review, I'll give you a little taste of some of the songs as they are described in the trailer for this new CD.



In this little tidbit from Norah Jones's YouTube Channel, you can hear what I love most about this CD - it has tremendous variety.  From Outkast to Dolly Parton, Norah sings with artists from just about every genre of music.  While I can't say that I loved all the songs, I can say that a few of them are pretty high up on my current list of favorites.  I think I could listen to Norah and Willie Nelson crooning Baby It's Cold Outside for the rest of the winter.  Each time it plays, I want to curl up in front of the fireplace with Doc and a mug of coffee and Irish cream.  It is just that relaxing.   If you're looking for a good CD, with a bit of everything, then I definitely recommend you check out ...Featuring on Amazon.    While you're there, take a minute to preview each of the songs and see what you think. 

*Disclaimer - One2One provided me with a copy of the CD for review purposes.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

CardsDirect Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to bmom76 for winning the CardsDirect Giveaway! Thanks to all who entered.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Life You've Imagined by Kristina Riggle - Giveaway

I was looking through some of my previously read books and noticed that I still have my copy of The Life You've Imagined by Kristina Riggle.  The copy I have isn't in the greatest condition, but all the pages are still there.

From the Harper Collins website:
Is the life you're living all you imagined?
Have you ever asked yourself, "What if??" Here, four women face the decisions of their lifetimes in this stirring and unforgettable novel of love, loss, friendship, and family.
Anna Geneva, a Chicago attorney coping with the death of a cherished friend, returns to her "speck on the map" hometown of Haven to finally come to terms with her mother, the man she left behind, and the road she did not take.
Cami Drayton, Anna's dearest friend from high school, is coming home too, forced by circumstance to move in with her alcoholic father . . . and to confront a dark family secret.
Maeve, Anna's mother, never left Haven, firmly rooted there by her sadness over her abandonment by the husband she desperately loved and the hope that someday he will return to her.
And Amy Rickart—thin, beautiful, and striving for perfection—faces a future with the perfect man . . . but is haunted by the memory of what she used to be.
Kristina Riggle's The Life You've Imagined takes a provocative look at the choices we make—and the courage we must have to change.
The author took the book on a different path then I expected, but I do have to admit that it was an easy enjoyable read.   If you would like me to send you my copy, just let me know by leaving a comment here with your email address if it is not available in your profile. 

The Holidays are Coming! - Fitness Friday is Back

Yeah, I know, it has been a while since I've updated anything about my fitness. Please don't yell at me though (that is actually why I quit doing my Wii Fit . . . I didn't like the way it "talked" to me when I missed too many days). Well, I've reached my breaking point again. The point where I have to adjust the waist of my pants when I sit so that it is either above or below my stomach or I'm just not comfortable. I am pleased to say that I am not back where I was when I first did the Power 90 program. So, that's something, right?

If you're the devil on my shoulder, I know what you're thinking. "Why start now, right before the holidays? It will be hard to be good with all the comfort food and baked goods that people will be serving. How will you get through the holidays with family without a drink or two? Why don't you just wait for a new start to the new year?" I've been thinking all those things myself. However, my thought is this - If I can just be good and aware of my decisions during the holidays then I hope not to gain weight. If I lose some, even better! Don't you worry, I will be tasting a bite or two of my faves, and indulging in a drink or two as well (I'm not crazy!).

I decided to start this program this week, so I'm officially on Day 5. Here are the changes I've made:
  • Water Only 
  • Making smarter choices - Okay, I'm not perfect and my family (as much as I love them) doesn't help.  I will eat pizza - though not as many slices.  I will not finish the leftovers on Peanut and Pumpkin's plates (Curses to whomever it was that brainwashed me with the importance of the clean plate club and eating all my food because there are starving children elsewhere!)
  • Exercise - Here's the deal:  I don't really like to exercise.  I like to play sports.  I like team activities.  I have a short attention span.  I get bored really easily.  I live in a small town with very little opportunity for organized physical fitness.  Knowing all that information about myself, I will exercise.  I will put it on my schedule.  In fact, so far I have been doing Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred.  In 30 days, I'll let you know what I think.
So, wish me luck!  If you'd like to join me on my journey to get in better shape and make healthier decisions, let me know.  I definitely do better work when someone is holding me accountable.

Jingle Bells Are Ringing . . . Can You Hear Them?

It is November!

I am typing that more for my own benefit than anyone else's.

How has time passed by so quickly this year?

I had such great intentions for the year.  With Peanut in school all day every day, and Pumpkin in school for 2.5 hours every day, I was going to have so much time to get things done.   Where did my time go?

I planned to get family pictures taken.  I planned to send out my Christmas cards before Christmas this year.  (Actually sending them out at all would be make me a step ahead from last year.  Oops!)  I even had the cards picked out.  Well, my cards might not arrive as early as I'd hoped, nor have the pictures I'd imagined, but it will get done.   Thankfully, the quality of Shutterfly's cards means that they'll look good even if they aren't "perfect".

In the past I have ordered at least one photobook from Shutterfly every year.  I have also ordered calendars as holiday gifts for grandparents.  I have even ordered Thank you cards.  (I love to create thank you cards with images of the girls on them.  Inside I type a standard thank you greeting leaving a blank space for the girls to fill in the item they received.  I also leave plenty of space for them to add their own note of appreciation or a drawing of them using the gift.)   Each time I place an order, I always ended up being more than happy with the results.  While I haven't ordered Christmas Cards in the past, based on all my other experiences I have to believe that they would be amazing!  From cards with one photo to an entire collage, the selection is extensive.   Now, if only I could find a nice picture . . .

*Disclaimer - I wrote this post as part of a Shutterfly promotion to receive 50 free cards.  You can also apply to participate by going here.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thankful Thursday - A Gorgeous Fall Sunset





While I absolutely adore the sunsets in the summer, nothing can compare to the amazing colors we see after a fall sunset. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

(Never) Wordless Wednesday - The Final Temptation

Over the past month we have celebrated the birthdays of my niece, my dad, my sister and Pumpkin.  Between that and all the Halloween goodies, treats have been calling my name, just asking me to eat them.  This past weekend we gave all our Halloween candy to our neighbors.  This lone cupcake is my final temptation in the house. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Carmex Review & Giveaway - WINNER


Out of 56 entries, random.org selected comment #4 as the winner of the Carmex Giveaway. The winner has been contacted. Thanks to all that entered!

Also, I know that I promised you a final product review at this point, but I really don't have anything to add to my previous review.  Silly me, thinking that the weather would get colder as we progressed into November.  It is in the 60's today, so suffice it to say, my furnace hasn't been doing much heating (and drying the air) lately.  I promise to update if/when I have more info to share though.  :o)

Monday, November 8, 2010

With a card sent here and a card sent there . . .

Here a card.  There a card.  Everywhere a card, card. :o)

Beginning in late October, my to do list is filled with purchasing, writing, and mailing out cards.  Between Pumpkin's birthday and the traditional Thanksgiving and Christmas Holidays, we fly through stamps at our house in November and December.   From invitations and holiday greetings to the thank you cards that follow them up, we are always looking for new, fun, and creative products that might catch the eyes (and hearts) of our family and friends.

We couldn't possibly be the only people in this situation, right?   Some of my readers have to be in need of cards too, right?  If you are, then it might just be your lucky day.  Global Influence approached me on behalf of CardsDirect to get the word out about all the products they carry as well as to host a giveaway for a code to be redeemed for 25 cards (up to a $50 value) from CardsDirect. 


CardsDirect offers the very best in personalized greeting cards for business or personal use. Over 2,000 card designs are available in categories that include holiday cards, birthday cards, thank you cards, photo cards, baby shower invitations, birth announcements and many more! With free personalization and custom imprinted verse, CardsDirect offers an easy online ordering process and top quality cards with the best selection, customer service and pricing found anywhere.
While I haven't used CardsDirect yet, it looks like it is a great site for personal use as well as for a business owner.  While looking through the Christmas Cards, I was surprised at the selection.  There are several cards that allow you to put your company name on the front of the card as well as personalize the inside.   In the Holiday Cards, you can find Thanksgiving, Hanukkah,  New Year, and even Earth Day Cards.  I might not have a specific need for those cards, however some businesses might find that Thanksgiving is a better time to thank their customers for their loyalty.   While browsing the Baby Announcements, I thought back to when Peanut and Pumpkin were first born.  Why didn't I send some adorable announcements like those?  Honestly though, I spent most of my time browsing the Photo Cards.   With so many to choose from, how am I supposed to decide which one I really want?

I may not know what I'm going to order yet, but you shouldn't be concerned about that.  You need to be thinking about what you want to order.  If you want to win a code for 25 cards (up to $50), here's what you need to do.

Mandatory:
  • Browse the CardsDirect site and leave a comment here telling me which card you'd choose if you won. Be sure to leave your email address in your comment if it isn't visible on your profile.
For additional entries you can also do the following. Be sure to leave a comment for each additional entry.
  • Follow CardsDirect on twitter (leave your twitter name)
  • Follow me on twitter (leave your twitter name)
  • Like CardsDirect on facebook (leave your initials)
  • Like me on facebook (leave your initials)
  • Follow me on Google Friend Connect (leave your username)
  • Tweet about this giveaway. You may do this once daily. Be sure to include @rmgm and @CardsDirect as well as a link to this post (leave a link to your tweet)
Details:
  • Only open to US residents
  • Winner will be chosen using random.org
  • Giveaway ends 11:59pm ET on November 15, 2010
  • Include your email address in your comment if it is not available on your profile page. If an email address in not in the comment or on your profile page another winner will be chosen.
  • Winner will have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen.
Disclaimer:  I will be receiving some cards in exchange for hosting this giveaway.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.  Quoted information came from CardsDirect via GlobalInfluence.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Winner - Operation Purple Giveaway

Random.org selected ABW as my winner in the Operation Purple Giveaway.   The winner notification email has been sent out.  Congrats ABW! 

Always on the lookout for new blogs

As a frequent blog hopper, I'm always on the lookout for new ones (whether they are new in general or just new to me) with good content.  Thanks to my dear friend at Monkey Mayhem! I was introduced to the blog Sensible Cents, which hosts great giveaways and seemingly honest reviews.    In fact, right now she is hosting three amazing giveaways for Bubble Talk, a Rubik's Slide, and HINT Water.    For an extra chance to win, I'm telling you about them.  Just in case random.org doesn't pick me as the lucky winner, I'd love for it to be one of my readers.  Good luck!

Happy Birthday Pumpkin!

Five years ago this morning I gave birth to my Pumpkin . . . my Halloween baby that has been full of a few tricks, but mostly treats.  :o)  With beautiful brown eyes and a smile that reaches all the way to her soul, I thank God every day for giving this precious gift to me.   Happy Birthday Pumpkin!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Nobody Reads My Blog . . .

Too funny!

I was browsing slickdeals today (like most mornings) and came across their daily giveaway. I had to laugh when I clicked on the link and saw that Tanga was selling these shirts.


I just love amusing shirts . . . even if they are only to amuse me. :o)

They have several others that crack me up too.  You should check out the second chance deals if you want a little chuckle on this Tuesday morning (and your sense of humor is similar to mine).

*Disclaimer - I did not receive any compensation for this post.  While the linked image came from Tanga, all thoughts and opinions are my own.  I have never purchased shirts from Tanga, I just like to browse them.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Equip Them Well. Protect Your Kids from MRSA

I'm sure most of you have heard of MRSA. If you're like me though, you were only aware of Healthcare-Associated (HA-MRSA). This is the type that occurs in hospitals and nursing homes. According to the site StopMRSAnow.org, there is a second type known as Community-Associated (CA-MRSA). This type of MRSA is spread in schools, gyms, homes, and locker rooms.
(from the site) Skin infections like MRSA, which spread through skin to skin contact as well as contact with equipment and shared items, are the cause of 56 percent of all outbreaks of infectious diseases in competitive sports in the U.S. But, by following a few simple steps, you can help prevent the spread of MRSA.

The Stop MRSA Now Coalition, in partnership with The Clorox Company and SwapMeSports.com, has teamed up with Grant Hill to launch Equip them Well, a program to help teach families and sports teams about practical MRSA prevention steps, such as washing hands and disinfecting equipment with a bleach solution.
I was really surprised when I heard about this and just had to share it with my readers.  With so much shared sports equipment, especially for younger kids, this is something that I am happy to be more aware of.  Perhaps it is worth the extra cost to make sure my kids have their own equipment.  Also, I'll be sure to clean and donate my used equipment once the girls outgrow it so that other kids can have their own as well.  For more information, be sure to check out the StopMRSANow site and watch the short video below.
 



*Disclaimer - Information for this post came from One2One and StopMRSANow.  As a One2One member, I am eligible for prizes by sharing this information.

Hello My Name is Hope

I recently received an email from MomSelect, inviting me to participate in a program designed to spread the word about the "Hello My Name is Hope" campaign.

The "Hello My Name is Hope" campaign, presented by Quill.com, is designed to boost breast cancer awareness. In order to accomplish this, Quill.com is inviting all Facebook users to post and personalize virtual "Hello My Name is Hope" stickers on their profiles to honor both survivors and victims of the disease. The familiar "Hello My Name Is" stickers take on new meaning with personalized messages of hope and support shared across the Facebook community. For every sticker shared, Quill.com will donate $2 - up to $20,000 - to City of Hope, a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center dedicated to research, treatment and education.

With my crazy busy week, I almost ran out of time to post this since it ends on October 31. If you get a chance, head over to http://www.facebook.com/quill today and create your sticker.

*Disclaimer - By posting this information I am eligible to win a prize from MomSelect.  Information for this post came from MomSelect.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Carmex Review & Giveaway


Just this morning, Pumpkin was complaining that the back of her knee hurt.  This is a frequent complaint of hers, as she has very dry skin.  Since I was just thinking about writing my review of the new Carmex Healing Lotions and Creams, they were sitting nearby.  (I don't use new products directly on her skin until she's been exposed to them through contact with me first.  She has fairly sensitive skin and has exhibited some allergic reactions in the past.  Since I've been using these products for about two weeks now, I figured she would be fine to use it as well.)  I grabbed the Carmex Healing Cream, put a dollop on her leg and rubbed it in.  

Pumpkin - "Mmmmm!"
Me - "Does that feel good?"
Pumpkin - "It smells good!"

My thoughts exactly!   I can't tell you how much I love the smell of these new Carmex products.  They smell very similar to the original jar (so if you don't like the original smell, you might not like this).  It is a warm smell that reminds me of the beach for some reason.  It is part coconut, part cookie, part something I can't quite put my finger (or nose) on.   The smell is good - strong but not overwhelming.  However, when I get in the shower the next day, I can smell it all over again.   Mmmmmmm!

While the smell of a lotion is important to me, it is definitely not the most important quality of the product.  Like Pumpkin, I also have very dry skin during the winter months. Having children has made it worse, since I now find myself washing my hands 2-3x as often as I used to.   While this product hasn't faced the ultimate winter test yet, I have to say that so far I really like it.   I use it daily on my legs, arms and abs (They say that having moisturized abs make your stomach look tighter).  I definitely feel moisturized, but without feeling greasy or slimy.  The lotion absorbs into my skin and doesn't make me feel like I need to wash my hands after applying it.  I'm definitely curious to see if it can keep my hands from cracking as the weather gets even colder and drier. 

So far, if someone were to ask me if I would recommend the new Carmex Healing Lotion and/or Cream, I would not hesitate to say "Yes!"  After two weeks, I can't think of a negative comment to share, and trust me, I've tried.  When I post a review, I always like to give both sides so that people know that I am being honest and open about my entire opinion.  The fact that Carmex specifically asked for honest feedback detailing what we liked and what we didn't like makes me like the company even more. 

Would you like to try the new Carmex Healing Lotion and Cream for yourself?

As I mentioned here, Carmex has given me the opportunity to host a giveaway for the exact same product kit that I received to facilitate this review (ARV $52.32).


Here's what you have to do to win (mandatory):
  1. Tell me your current favorite Carmex Product or the product you'd most like to try (if you aren't currently a Carmex user). Be sure to leave your email address in your comment if it isn't visible on your profile.
For additional entries you can also do the following. Be sure to leave a comment for each additional entry.
  1. Follow Carmex on twitter (leave your twitter name)
  2. Follow me on twitter (leave your twitter name)
  3. Like Carmex on facebook (leave your initials)
  4. Like me on facebook (leave your initials)
  5. Follow me on Google Friend Connect (leave your username)
  6. Tweet about this giveaway. You may do this once daily. Be sure to include @rmgm @CarmexLipBalm  #carmex and a link to this post (leave a link to your tweet)
Details:
  • Only open to US residents
  • Winner will be chosen using random.org
  • Giveaway ends 11:59pm ET on November 8, 2010
  • Include your email address in your comment if it is not available on your profile page. If an email address in not in the comment or on your profile page another winner will be chosen. I will not contact you through Twitter or Facebook.
  • Winner will have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen.
  • Prizes will be sent directly from the sponsor. I am not responsible for prizes that are lost or damaged during shipment. If you win a prize and do not receive it, please let me know.
Even if you don't win.  You can try the new cream or lotion for $5.99 (or less if you catch it on sale).  It is available at Walgreens stores, walgreens.com and drugstore.com.
    *Disclaimer -  Other than receiving the product to facilitate my review, I did not receive any other compensation for this post.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

    Friday, October 22, 2010

    Treasure Your Chest - Breast Cancer Awareness Month

    I recently posted on facebook, "I like it on the floor of my closet." (Actually, I like it on the kitchen counter, but Doc doesn't, so we compromise with the floor of my closet.)

    The replies came quickly, "What?!"

    It didn't take long before everyone was posting where they like it. If you were wondering what "it" is, you weren't alone.

    This year, for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, people were asked to post where they like to keep their handbag as their facebook status. (You know how Doc is about clutter, so he definitely doesn't like it on the counter.) Last year people posted the color of the bra that they were wearing. Regardless of how we get the word out and draw attention to the importance of early detection, it is important to do.

    When I recently received an email from MomSelect asking if I wanted to share the following video with my readers, I didn't hesitate at all. If it brings awareness to even one more person, then I can rest easy knowing I've made a difference.




    *Disclaimer - The video link was provided by MomSelect. Of all bloggers to embed the video on their site, one will win a year's supply of Orbit gum.

    Thursday, October 21, 2010

    CSNStores - Faster than Expected

    Thanks to a general lack of posting by my readers (are you out there?), a new cup is sitting on the coaster on my end tables.  As you may recall, I posted here, asking if you would rather see a review or giveaway for a gift card from CSNStores.  Since only two people responded that they'd like me to host a giveaway, I was greedy and ordered a couple somethings for myself.  The first thing I ordered was this adorable water cooler replica cup.  Actually, to be more accurate, it was the second thing I ordered.  At only $5.99 it was my filler item.  While I don't know if I would actually pay $5.99 for it regularly (I'm generally very frugal - aka - cheap). I do love it (even after last week's horrible performance by the Buckeyes)!  The fact that it looks like a water cooler is very endearing.  I also like that it is actually composed of two pieces.  While I haven't tried it yet, the outer part looks like it might fit nicely on a can of soda as an impromptu koozie.  I'll have to let you know how that goes after I finally get some canned beverages in the house.


    The primary item in my purchase was this Aviva Youth Life Jacket.  At 28.95, it was actually cheaper than I could find it at any other reputable online store.  While both Peanut and Pumpkin have life jackets, they are getting a tad snug, so I've been on the lookout for a good deal on a new one for them for a while now.   I have to say that so far, I am impressed with the quality and color on this life jacket.  As you can see, it is very bright.  I'm a big fan of bright when it comes to life jackets for my kids.  Fashionable or not, I'll definitely be able to see them in the water and know that they are safe.  Made of Neoprene, I have confidence in its ability to keep my kids afloat.  Overall, the jacket feels lightweight, but durable.  I'm looking forward to the summer so we can try it out in the lake.


    Now, as for CSNstores, I couldn't be any happier.  I placed my order on October 11, 2010 and selected ground shipping.  (It was free for the items I purchased.)  My initial order confirmation indicated that the order should ship by the 15th and be delivered by the 25th.   I was content with that.  However, the next day, I received shipping confirmation for both items.   They were in my grubby little hands by the 14th . . . even before I expected them to ship!  Now that is impressive (at least to me).

    Here's hoping you have similar experiences when you shop at CSNstores as well.  

    *Disclaimer - I received a gift card to purchase items of my choice from csnstores.com to facilitate this review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.  Others may have different experiences.

    Wednesday, October 20, 2010

    Christmas is Coming . . .maybe Kellogg's can help.

    As you probably know if you've read many of my personal posts or my info on my About tab, I am a stay-at-home mom.   I obviously don't make any money on my blog since very few of my posts are sponsored, and those that are, often result in one of you getting a prize, but not necessarily me.   The only money I have, comes from an occasional survey or focus group and prize winnings from contests and sweepstakes.  Each year around this time, I begin frantically trying to find more time to enter contests, especially those for gift cards and cash.  Doc pays for the majority of the gifts, but I like to find a way to buy something for him that doesn't involve him spending his own money.  Here's where Kellogg's comes in . . .

    The Blogher Mom's Breakfast Club and Kellogg's are giving away 25 $100 Visa gift cards each week until November 1, 2010.   Twenty-five separate blogs are each hosting a giveaway each week.  All you have to do to win is comment and cross your fingers that you are randomly chosen to win a prize.  Here are the bloggers for this week:


    The main blogher web page also indicates that Jenny on the Spot is hosting one, but I couldn't find hers.  Please let me know if you find it and I'll be happy to update this post.  Good luck!

    Tuesday, October 19, 2010

    Operation Purple - Giveaway

    Having had family in the military, I know what it is like when someone you love is deployed. You experience periods of adjustment when they leave. You experience periods of adjustment when they return. It can be a difficult time for everyone involved, especially a spouse and children.

    The National Military Family Association is an organization with the mission "To fight for benefits and programs that strengthen and protect uniformed services families and reflect the Nation’s respect for their Service." As part of this mission, they organize a program known as Operation Purple. Operation Purple Summer Camps are "free summer camps for military children whose parents are currently deployed. The program is the only camp program in existence that brings together kids from all military branches and provides them with tools to deal with war-related stress."  You might be wondering how these camps are free.  Corporate and individual donations make these camps possible.   You can find out how to donate on the site if you choose.   However, if you don't want to or are unable to donate, you can help by spreading the word so that others that might learn about this program as well. 

    While I don't have any personal experience with this program, knowing how difficult transitions are for children, it really does seem like a great idea.   In fact, I had never heard of this program until I entered a contest that was designed to spread the word.  Now, as a way to give back a little and continue to spread the word, I am hosting a giveaway for a portion of the prize that I won. 



    I am giving away the Operation Purple backpack, hat, water bottle, shirt, and wrist band shown above. 

    Here's what you have to do to win:
    • Spread the word about operation purple and post a link here in the comments.   You can tweet, facebook, and/or blog (for up to 3 entries).  If you tweet, please use the hashtag #operationpurple.  Also, please include the link to http://www.militaryfamily.org/  
    Optional Entries:
    • Follow me on twitter.  Post your user name here.
    • Fan me on facebook.  Post your initials here.
    • Follow my blog on GFC (sidebar).  Post your username here.
    • Tweet about this giveaway and post a link here.  (Can be done once daily)
    Details:
    • Only open to US residents
    • Winner will be chosen using random.org
    • Giveaway ends 11:59pm ET on November 2, 2010
    • Include your email address in your comment if it is not available on your profile page.  If an email address in not in the comment or on your profile page another winner will be chosen.  
    • Winner will have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen.
    • Prize will be sent directly from me.  I am not responsible for prizes that are lost or damaged during shipment.  If you win a prize and do not receive it, please let me know.
    *Disclaimer - No one is sponsoring this giveaway.  I was not asked to post information nor host the giveaway.  Information for this post came from the National Military Family Association website as well as the Operation Purple website.  All opinions are my own.

    Friday, October 15, 2010

    LeapFrog Learning Systems - Tag.Give.Read & DonorsChoose.org

    Those of you that know me, know that I love (almost) all LeapFrog products. My first choice for my kids is that they play with non-electronic toys. I like blocks, creative play, paper and crayons - you know, the "when I was a kid" toys. However, if they are going to play with electronics and toys that interact with them, then they must be toys in which I can find some educational value. When the girls were little, I got them Tag Readers. They loved them. They liked being independent enough to read by themselves. They enjoyed the games that were built into the stories. I liked that the games tested their reading comprehension and taught them new words. It was a win-win situation. As they got a little older I got the girls a Leapster. While I was not as satisfied with that product overall (Grainy images, a lack of quality games that fit our needs, and a difficult interaction with customer service left me a bit jaded), I do think that for us it was better than a Nintendo DS. In addition, a recent brief encounter with the new Explorer has me optimistic that LeapFrog might be on the right track again with this new product.

    In addition to liking LeapFrog products, I also appreciate a company that tries to give back to the community. It is great to manufacture products that can help our children succeed in the classroom, but what good is it if the products can't find their way into the hands of the children that need them most. According to LeapFrog.com
    "Last year LeapFrog donated $1.5 million in Tag School Reading Systems and books to the classrooms of more than 10,000 U.S. Kindergartners. By the end of the school year, 99% of the teachers in the program said they would recommend Tag to other teachers and to parents, because their students became more enthusiastic readers and exhibited improved reading skills after working with Tag systems."
    While that is a step in the right direction, LeapFrog is doing even more.  Through the Tag.Give.Read program and DonorsChoose.org, they will match donations dollar for dollar up to $100,000 to get Tag Readers into the classrooms of teachers that want them.  (Not to sound like an ingrate, but I'd personally like to see them give a bit more, perhaps even to programs on donorschoose.org that aren't promoting their specific products.  In fact, they may already do this.  I haven't done any additional research into LeapFrog  to see what their entire donation portfolio consists of.)

    The best thing about the Tag.Give.Read program for me is that it introduced me to DonorsChoose.org.  Why haven't I heard of this site before?  From the website -
    "Here's how it works: public school teachers from every corner of America post classroom project requests on DonorsChoose.org. Requests range from pencils for a poetry writing unit, to violins for a school recital, to microscope slides for a biology class.
    Then, you can browse project requests and give any amount to the one that inspires you. Once a project reaches its funding goal, we deliver the materials to the school.
    You'll get photos of your project taking place, a thank-you letter from the teacher, and a cost report showing how each dollar was spent. If you give over $100, you'll also receive hand-written thank-you letters from the students.
    At DonorsChoose.org, you can give as little as $1 and get the same level of choice, transparency, and feedback that is traditionally reserved for someone who gives millions. We call it citizen philanthropy."
    The former teacher in me just LOVES this idea.  I've actually been browsing the site for the past couple of days trying to find a specific science project that I'd like to donate to.

    *Disclaimer - I was initially inspired to write this post in order to get extra entries into a giveaway hosted by Life in a House of Blues.  However, after a bit of browsing, I would have written it anyway.  Information came from leapfrog.com and donorschoose.org.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

    Thursday, October 14, 2010

    Momma Needs a New Pair of Shoes

    I don't know about you, but I could always use a new pair of shoes.  I entered for some cute ones at Just Another Review Blog.  Check it out for your chance to win as well.  Hurry though, the winner is selected tomorrow!

    What is your worst table manners mishap?

    I don't know about the rest of you, but table manners mishaps abound in our house.  Our worst mishap was probably one Thanksgiving at my in-laws when someone unknowingly gave Pumpkin baked beans.  Pumpkin hates baked beans.  Now, Pumpkin and Peanut are both good at trying new things and even washing down food with a quick drink of water.   That wasn't always the case.    She took a taste, then immediately gagged all over her plate to the shock of the entire family.  It was pretty disgusting.

    To be honest, I have no one to blame but myself for most of our mishaps.  (I don't even know how to properly set a table.)  My girls are exceptional with "please" and "thank you", but they are really messy.  Even at 4 and 6, I think half of their food ends up on the floor after every meal.  They don't throw their food (which is surprising since Doc loves to show off his ability to toss grapes, popcorn, etc into the air and catch it with his mouth), but they still have a hard time getting it in their mouths.  Maybe it all started when I used to take pictures of the girls all messy after a meal as babies.

    Isn't a spaghetti covered face (and socks) just adorable though?!

    Maybe I started letting them feed themselves (and each other) too early?

    Regardless of the cause, we need help with our table manners, which is why I'll be at the Barber Foods Table Manners Twitter Party tonight from 7:30-9:00pm ET.  If you have time, you should join us.  There are even some great prizes you could win!

    Barber Foods

    *Disclaimer - I am receiving extra entries into the prize pool for posting this information.

    Coming Soon - Carmex Review and Giveaway

    In an email that I recently received from Carmex, I saw that they were looking for bloggers that love their products to apply to be part of their Carmex Blog Squad.  Without high hopes (I'm obviously not one of the most popular bloggers out there), I applied.  Well, what do you know . . . . they picked me!  :o)

    Yesterday in the mail I received a fun Carmex kit (ARV $52.32).

    It is loaded with all sorts of goodies. There are the obvious lip products that I know and love so well. However, there are also two new products - Healing Lotion and Healing Cream.


    It is my job over the next few weeks to try them out and let you all know what I think of them.  Fortunately (or not) with the weather getting cold, my hands are already getting dry, so it should definitely be a good test for these products. 

    In about two(ish) weeks, I'll post my initial review and offer you all the opportunity to get your entries in to win a kit of your very own.  Then, when the giveaway ends and I announce the winner, I'll give you a review update - just in case my opinions have changed since the initial review.





    Be on the lookout for the post so you don't miss your chance.  The best ways to stay in-the-know about what is going on here at MomOnTheEdge is to follow me on twitter, fan me on facebook, and follow me on google friend connect (on the sidebar).

    *Disclaimer - Carmex sent me this kit in order to facilitate my honest review of their new product.  All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

    Wednesday, October 13, 2010

    Wordless Wednesday - Missing the Sunny Summer Days

    I was looking through some of my pictures and ran across this image of the girls on their first jet ski rides.  With the weather being gorgeous (but the water being cold), I'm missing the sunny summer days.

    Tuesday, October 12, 2010

    Seriously? Only 2 Comments?

    I know that my blog isn't the most popular (or probably even in the top 1,000), but I have to say that I'm a little sad that I only got 2 comments on my CSNstores post asking if I should do a review or giveaway.  Oh well. On the upside, I placed my order for products to review.  Within the next couple of weeks you will see my review of CSNstores and the products I've ordered.

    Thursday, October 7, 2010

    Cold & Flu Season 2010

    I am a four seasons girl.  I love playing in puddles, watching flowers bloom, and planting my garden in the spring.  I love to swim, eat fresh veggies, and catch fireflies in the summer.  Fall brings the crunching of leaves, watching football, and the comfort of my favorite sweater.  Winter means ice skating and sledding followed by hot cocoa next to a warm fire.   The one season I could definitely do without, is cold and flu season. 

    As soon as the girls head back to school in the fall, I know that cold and flu season is right around the corner.  It starts with a tiny sniffle or a scratchy throat . . . and works its way around everyone in the school (and my house!)  We do what we can to avoid the sniffles and coughs, though so far they seem almost unavoidable.  We have been able to avoid the flu so far though.  (Where's some wood? . . . knock, knock, knock).

    Here's what we have done, and will continue to do (until it stops working for us):
    • Wash our hands - I am pretty diligent about requiring the girls to wash their hands before eating, after sneezing, or whenever we come in from being out and about around other people.  
    • Cough and Sneeze into our elbows - It is as simple as it sounds.  By not catching sneezes and coughs with our hands we are less likely to spread them to others. 
    • Keep your hands off your face - Your face has too many mucous membranes.  We try to avoid giving the germs on our hands direct access to the rest of our bodies.
    • Eat right and exercise - By making healthy choices and keeping our bodies in the best possible condition we like to think that we are at an advantage to fight off the germs that find their way in.
    • Flu vaccination - While I don't like getting colds, I hate having the stomach flu.  By getting the flu vaccine every year (when we are healthy), we feel like we are just a bit more likely to avoid it.
    In fact, according to the CDC:
    • Everyone 6 months of age and older is recommended to be vaccinated against the flu.
    • The flu vaccine provides protection that lasts through the flu season.
    • The flu vaccine is updated each season to protect against the three flu viruses that research indicates will cause the most illness.
    • You need to get the 2010-11 seasonal flu vaccine even if you got the 2009 H1N1 flu vaccine last season.
    • If you or your kids do not like shots, the flu vaccine is also available in mist form. For more information on this, ask your doctor or visit www.cdc.gov/flu.
    No matter what you do to stay healthy during this cold and flu season, I hope it works for you and your family.  If you have any remedies or tips that you swear by, I'd love to hear them.  I'm always ready to research a new idea that might keep my own family healthier as well.

    *Disclaimer - I wrote this blog post while participating in a TwitterMoms blogging program for which I may receive a small thank you (valued at less than $20).” For more information on how you can participate, click here.  Information from this post came from TwitterMoms and the CDC.  Any information on this post that was not directly from TwitterMoms or the CDC is my own opinion.  I am not a doctor nor a scientist and therefore you should not take it as fact.