Tuesday, May 25, 2010

5 Must-have Fashionable Pieces to Pack for Every Weekend Trip

Every once in a while Doc and I are able to convince the grandparents to come watch the kiddos so we can have a weekend away. In fact, we will be taking a short weekend trip in June that we are both looking forward to. While packing is never easy - there are several items that I know to take with me on every short trip to stay comfortable and fashionable.
  1. Nice Capris - Capris can be very casual or even semi-dressy depending on how they are paired and accessorized. Take a nice pair and be comfortable and prepared for whatever situation you might encounter.
  2. Cute Comfortable Shoes - A weekend away for me is a weekend to get out and about. I like to walk and see the sights. There is nothing less enjoyable and less fashionable then limping around because you wanted to wear strappy heels rather than something more appropriate for the situation.
  3. A Simple Summer Dress - Summer Dresses are light and comfortable. In addition, you can also accessorize them up or down. Sticking with something simple really allows you to create an outfit for any occasion.
  4. Fun accessories - If you have a simple summer dress or capris and a plain shirt, you can really dress up your outfit by bringing the right accessories. Accessories are great because they don't take up much space, but can really change your look in an instant!
  5. A cute shawl, or sweater - Summer nights can be gorgeous, but where we live they can also include a little bite in the air. I always make sure I have a nice shawl or sweater to wear to keep me warm without hiding the fashionable outfit I've put together.
In addition Twittermoms and Gap have provide me the following information and discounts to share with my readers:
More About Gap Outlet
Gap Outlet provides Accessible Style, Exceptional Value, and is much, much more than just a Factory Store.

More About Banana Republic Factory Store
Banana Republic Factory Store offers Banana Republic Style at brilliant prices.

Gap Outlet Offerings
Gap Outlet is offering a doorbuster sale with up to 40% off all adult items and 30% off all kids items from May 25-31, 2010! THEN, Gap Outlet extends the sale with up to 50% off select styles! Also, Gap Outlet is offering an exclusive coupon code to the TwitterMoms community for an additional 15% discount on all purchases, with a minimum spend of $75. This exclusive additional discount is available to all TwitterMoms friends and family from May 25 - June 7, 2010!

Banana Republic Factory Store Offerings
Banana Republic Factory Store is offering 40% off the ENTIRE STORE from Wednesday 5/26/10 – Monday 5/31/10 ONLY! In addition, Banana Republic Factory Store is offering an exclusive coupon code to the TwitterMoms community for an additional 15% discount on all purchases, with a minimum spend of $75. This exclusive additional discount is available to all TwitterMoms friends and family from May 25 through June 7, 2010, so hurry to your closest location today.

Get your coupons today at http://gap.twittermoms.com
I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Gap Outlet blogging program to be eligible to win a $20 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

Gap Twitter DiscountExclusive Gap Outlet and Banana Republic Factory Store Savings

Why I want an Inflatable Water Slide . . .

MomDot and Little Tikes are generously giving a Slam'n Curve slide to one lucky winner that tells them why they really want/deserve to win one for their kids. While I don't know that we deserve one more than anyone else, I can definitely show and tell you why we want one. After you read my entry, if you can think of a good reason you should win, then make sure you go here and enter for yourself. The submission period ends May 30th, so don't wait too long. Good luck!

So, Why do we deserve this prize?
Let's look at the reasons I can share.
At first, you might think "No way!"
My view is definitely beyond compare.

ow, I know what you're thinking. "Why not swim in the lake? It's big, wet and right outside your door."

Come a little bit closer and let's take a look at what lies beneath the view I adore.
Under the water, you'll find the usual things: rocks, sticks and the occasional fish.
Random objects, like keys and trash . . . but never a hidden treasure like you might wish.
Very sneaky and quick, slithery and sleek, a guest I don't really appreciate.
Eyes that are beady, a tongue that is fast - SNAKES are our Lake Erie swim date!

o, our girls LOVE the water and always ask to go in, but sadly the answer is "No Way!"
Lake Erie Snakes might be loved by some, but they aren't on MY list of pets to stay.
I do have a sprinkler that we love to run through, but sometimes I wish we had more.
Disappointed - the girls on a hot summer day, when they look at the lake through our door.
Everyone loves the water and loves to have fun - and this slide looks just perfect for that.
Thanks for reading our plea and considering our request to have safe water fun where
we're at.

*Just a note: When I decided to write this I went outside oddly "hoping" that I'd see some snakes to get pics of for this submission. "Fortunately" they were out in full force today . . . there were probably between 20 and 30 snakes swimming around the dock. :o(

Monday, May 24, 2010

National Foster Care Month

Did you know that May is National Foster Care Month? I actually had no idea until I received an email from Global Influence asking me and other bloggers to spread the word about this important issue. While I don't have a tremendous amount of experience with foster care and adoption, it is something that I've been curious about for quite a while. While teaching, I had a colleague who was a foster parent. We ate lunch together most days, so I was able to hear about her struggles and successes with the foster care system. Eventually, she was able to adopt two of the children that she had originally taken in as foster children. Her children were smart, talented, amazing children that deserved a life that was so much better than they had. While it is true that she is a generous person with a huge heart, talking to her and watching her eyes light up when she spoke of her children made me realize that she felt just as blessed as they did.

If you have ever considered becoming a foster parent or adopting, this is the month to take that first step to gather more information. Below you will find some information that Global Influence has given me to pass on to you.
Disclaimer: All information was provided by Global Influence. I did not receive any compensation for this post at the time of the posting, however an incentive may be provided at a later time.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Please VOTE . . .

I need your help! My girls are finalists in CSNstores Imagination Nation search for the most creative kid contest. I'm not sure how the judging actually works, but I do know that the person with the most votes will be guaranteed a spot in the top 5. I would really appreciate it if you would go here http://blog.csnstores.com/ and vote for #21. All you have to do is click the circle & the "vote" button! Thank you.

If my girls are fortunate enough to win, they would receive one of the following:
Grand Prize: A Full Year Of Free Toys (Value: $2,400), plus a Deer Run Loft Bedroom Set from Lea Industries (Value: $2,000) and Atmosphere’s Classic A4 Globe (Value: $100)
Second Place:

1. Kids’ Art Corner from ALEX Toys, including Easel Set and Monster Art Supply Center Set (Value: $400)
2. Little Tikes Racecar Bed (Value: $400)
Third Place:
Kids’ Theatre/Imagination Corner from Melissa & Doug, including a Deluxe Puppet Theatre and Select Puppets (Value: $200)

Peanut has recently been requesting a new bed, so we have our fingers crossed for the Deer Run Loft Bedroom set. :o)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Win It Wednesday - WINNERS

With only 19 entries in my Win It Wednesday post, your odds were pretty good of winning something. Random.org picked the following numbers:

#13 kristy . . . Lucy's Cookies
#7 Doodle741 . . . Akhassa Amala Foot Therapy
#9 Doodle741 . . . Lucy's Cookies
#2 hminnesota . . . Elizabeth Grant The Socializer Bright Lights and Late Nights
#8 Doodle741 . . . Earth Mama Angel Baby Pregnancy Pampering Kit
#19 Lynette . . . Canadian itunes GCs

I will be contacting the winners shortly. You will have 48 hours to respond with your mailing address. All prizes will be shipped on Monday via USPS.

Another CSN stores giveaway . . . at Parenting in Blue Jeans

Ever since CSN stores contacted me to host a giveaway, I've been searching them on google to see which other bloggers they've contacted. It has been a great way for me to find and support some other smaller blogs (as well as a chance to win some cool stuff). One of the blogs I've found that I just love is Parenting in Blue Jeans. Be sure to check it out . . . and now would be a great time since she's hosting a giveaway for a $40 CSN gift card! Good luck!

I wrote this post to gain 5 entries into the Parenting in Blue Jeans giveaway for a $40 CSN gift card.
That being said, you should definitely check out her site. Her random car sighting post is great!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Five Fun Family Vacation Activities (for Kids and Adults)

Summer is almost upon us! Can you believe it? It seems like it was just yesterday that I was crying as I dropped Peanut and Pumpkin off for their first days of school.

When summer arrives, there is one thing that almost all of us think about . . . VACATION. While vacations are meant to be a time to relax and have fun, that isn't always the case. We've had some amazing vacations as well as some horrible ones in our past. This year we're hoping for only good . . . and here are five activities that we think will make for a fun vacation for the kiddos as well as the adults in our group.
  1. Amusement Parks - We are fortunate to live close to an amazing amusement park. Oddly, as close as it is, we hadn't visited in years until at the end of last season. We took the girls last year and were shocked at all the fun things there were to do for kids and adults. Many amusement parks have specific areas that cater to either a younger or older crowd. We were able to take the kids on rides as well as to enjoy some for "taller" guests. While we didn't get a chance to see any of the shows, there were plenty of those as well. This year we actually have season passes and will be able to go whenever we want.
  2. Museums - Museums aren't what they used to be (or at least they aren't what I used to think of them as). There are now plenty of hands on museums that kids and adults can go to and enjoy. These museums are great places to go and learn as you play. We've been to several, including the Duke Energy Children's Museum and we all loved it!
  3. History - As a child, we often took trips "up north". (For those of you not from Michigan, "up north" refers to any place in Michigan that happens to be north of where you live where you can engage in fun outdoor activities at a nearby lake.) One of our favorite places to go was Mackinac Island. I remember watching the history re-enactments at Fort Mackinac and touring the old buildings. It always amazed me to see the differences in how we live now and how people used to live. No matter where you live, your town or a neighboring one must have some history to it.
  4. Water - It is summer time! Nothing is more fun on a hot summer day, then getting wet. Whether it is a trip to a small day water park, an overnight water park resort, or even a local lake, it will be fun. Just be sure to practice good water safety!
  5. Picnics at a Park - To this day, I still love a good picnic. You can almost always find a great park with good walking trails or a playground. For a nice relaxing and inexpensive vacation you can pack a lunch (or buy one . . . I love to eat Fried Chicken on a picnic.) and set out on a park adventure. While at the park you can have a bird or wildflower scavenger hunt. Some parks rent canoes or bicycles. Parks are a great family vacation where you can sit back, relax, and enjoy nature and each other!
For other ideas from blogger like me, be sure to check out http://travel.twittermoms.com/. You never know when someone might have an idea that fits you and your family just perfectly!

Thanks to Twittermoms and Williamsburg VA for their inspiration to write this post. I haven't been to Williamsburg yet, but after checking out their site I think I might just have to give it a try.

About Williamsburg Tourism (from Twittermoms)
The Williamsburg area – Williamsburg, Jamestown and Yorktown, VA – is one of America’s favorite family destinations, with adventure around every corner. Experience more than 400 years of American history and culture brought vividly to life at hands-on historical sites and world-class museums; share thrills and entertainment at exhilarating theme parks; discover unique finds and bargains, and enjoy outdoor activities in scenic parks, byways, nature trails and waterways. Whether it’s traveling backing to the 17th and 18th centuries, or forward into the 21st, the Williamsburg area offers vacation fun for all ages. http://www.VisitWilliamsburg.com

I wrote this blog post while participating in the Williamsburg Tourism and TwitterMoms blogging program for a chance to get a $50 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

Fun Family Vacation Activities
Visit Williamsburg

Monday, May 17, 2010

Happy Birthday Peanut!

Six years ago today I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. That baby girl is now a gorgeous little girl with a heart of gold and a smile to light up a room. Thank you for all you have given to me. Thank you for all that you are. You have changed my life for the better. Happy Birthday Peanut!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Thank You Mom!

When I think of the month of May, the first thing that comes to my mind is Mother's Day. This wasn't always the case. Before having children I always remembered Mother's Day, but it just didn't have the same meaning to me that it does now. My first child, Peanut, was born in May. In fact, we are happy to celebrate her 6th birthday tomorrow. Since the day of her arrival, my life has changed dramatically. My priorities shifted and life has taken on new meaning. I now have an even greater appreciation for my mom and all that she has done. As a way to say "Thank You!", I have written a short essay about my mom and am planning to enter it in the Thank You, Mom Contest sponsored by P&G. If you have a great mom that you'd like to honor, then you should go to http://bit.ly/PGtymO2O and enter an essay too. They are choosing 15 winners per month for 7 months. That means you have 105 chances to win! Good luck!

Disclaimer: This post was written to promote the contest for P&G and One2One Network. In exchange for writing this post I am being given a chance to win a gift card.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Ten Tips for Being Fashionable on a Budget

Fashionable and Budget - Can those two words be used in the same sentence? Why, of course they can! There are plenty of ways for moms to stay fashionable without emptying your bank account and still saving money for the kiddos college fund. Thanks to TwitterMoms, you can find out how other moms just like you manage it. Here are a few of my ideas.
  1. Retailmenot. If you are shopping online, be sure to check out coupon sites like retailmenot. They offer coupon codes for almost any online store to save you money on your purchases.
  2. Cashback. Another tip if you're shopping online is to use a cashback site. Bing and ebates are my favorites, but there are several others as well. If you would rather get cashback for your kiddos you can use a site like upromise to save for their education.
  3. Sign up for newsletters. I know that they can really clutter your inbox, but retail stores reward people with cluttered inboxes. I get printable and online coupons in my email every day from some great stores. (GapOutlet and TwitterMoms are even offering you some coupons here.)
  4. Shop off season. While it is great to be at the peak of the fashion trend, it is much more affordable to be in the mainstream. Buy clothes at the end of the season for the following year to save LOADS of money. Just this past year I bought jeans for the girls for Old Navy for about $2 a pair!
  5. Clothes Swap. If you're fashionable, you probably have fashionable friends. Just think of a clothing swap as a chance to double your wardrobe. You might be tired of some of your most fashionable articles, but your friends out. Let them wear it for a while as you wear theirs.
  6. Outlets. Outlet stores have great clothes at great prices year round. Sometimes the clothing is "irregular", sometimes it is from last season, but it is almost always a great deal. Personally, I can't tell an "irregular" pair of jeans from the full-priced ones.
  7. Ebay. Maybe you live in a small town or work during prime shopping hours. If you can't get to the stores when they're having their best sales, you can bet someone else is. More often than not, at least one of those people will sell you some of their great finds at a profit for them and a deal for you.
  8. Consignment shops. Many cities now have "high end" consignment shops that only accept clothing from specific brands. Check them out. You never know what you might find.
  9. Check out area fashion design schools. Sometimes a local school will offer courses in fashion design, sewing, etc. Ask the teachers who the top students are and hire them to create a great look for a great price. They are happy for the experience and some extra spending money.
  10. Accessorize. If you can't afford all the greatest fashion items, then buy simple and accessorize. With the right accessories you can make the same white shirt into 5 or more great outfits.
I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Gap Outlet blogging program to be eligible to win a $20 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

Gap Twitter Discount
Exclusive Gap Outlet and Banana Republic Factory Store Savings

10 Creative and Affordable Vacation Ideas

I LOVE a good vacation! In fact, I'm currently working to plan a fun vacation for just Doc and I sometime in June. That is why I jumped at the opportunity to write a post about my top ten creative and affordable vacation ideas when I saw that TwitterMoms was offering a $30 Target gift card to 50 bloggers that shared their ideas. (You can find other travel tips from TwitterMoms here.)

Vacation means different things to different people. For me, it is just an escape from the usual. Perhaps that is what allows me to create an affordable vacation without too much difficulty. Here are my top 10 tips:
  1. Vacations don't have to be far away. Look around your town or neighboring ones and hit the local tourist traps. Just think of all the money you'll save on gas and other travel expenses.
  2. Sign up for deal alerts and/or newsletters. I like an empty email box as much as the next person, but there are often great deals to be found on travel, hotels, and more. Sign up for the newsletters letting you know when those deals pop-up.
  3. Visit family and friends. My sister's husband used to be in the military. Our favorite vacation spot was always where they were stationed. We got to see some great sites and didn't have to pay for a hotel.
  4. Travel at "off" times. If you don't travel during peak vacation season you can rent a house for a week at a price that is comparable to what you'd pay for a day during peak season.
  5. Take your own food. Prices for food in tourist areas can be absolutely ridiculous. If you are staying in a hotel with a kitchen, cook some of your own meals. Also, be sure to take snacks along for the ride.
  6. Don't over plan. It is tempting to try to visit every park and attraction in an area when you travel, but it can be expensive and exhausting. Pick the places you most want to visit and take your time to explore them in depth.
  7. Skimp on souvenirs. You don't really need to spend that much money to remember your trip. Instead, take plenty of pictures and create a scrapbook as a family. If you do need to have souvenirs, then give each child a set amount of money to spend as they want. When it is gone, it is gone!
  8. Do your research. Before traveling, make sure you know where you're going and how you will get there. While getting lost can be an adventure, it also can be a valuable waste of money.
  9. Ask the locals. If you are traveling a decent distance from home, see if you can find some local people to give you input. They might know of a great hole-in-the-wall restaurant with amazing food and a reasonable price. They are also likely to know which tourist traps should be avoided.
  10. Play darts. When you can't decide where to go, take a map and toss a dart. (If you want to stay local, use a map of your state.) Set a budget, then spend time as a family researching the location and what you want to do there. Not only are you likely to discover an unlikely vacation spot, but you're also likely to create some great family memories - and isn't that what vacations are really about.
I wrote this blog post while participating in the Toyota Sienna and TwitterMoms blogging program for a chance to get a $30 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here

Affordable Vacation Ideas
Toyota Sienna

Monday, May 10, 2010

When will it end?

Surprise . . . my kids are sick AGAIN! I know that the girls are only 4 and 5 (almost 6!), but this has to have been the worst cold and flu season ever. At least one of them has been sick for most of the past 6 months. This past weekend was probably the worst of it with all four of us sick. To top it all off, we were in a car for 8+ hours on Friday and Sunday. We all slept in one hotel room on Friday and Saturday. (Note: I use the word "slept" loosely since it is nearly impossible to sleep with three other people snoring, coughing and sniffing all night.) While I'm happy that the weekend is over, I'll be even happier when cold and flu season is over as well!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Planning a Fancy Nancy Tea Party

I don't know how many of you have girls, but if you do, then you know how fun a tea party can be. The girls and I have had pizza and tea parties, tea parties for their stuffed animals, and picnic tea parties. Now, thanks to Twittermoms and Harper Collins, I am in the planning stages for a Fancy Nancy Tea and Poetry Party. Included below are some of the ideas I currently have. Whether you are a novice or expert at tea parties, I'd love your input as well. (Also, be sure to check out Twittermoms Reading Page for more information about Fancy Nancy books and planning a tea party.)
  1. Rhyming Name Cards - Even if the names are "Seuss" silly, each child will have a place setting with their name and a rhyme - perhaps Smiley Riley, or Silly Jilly. The girls can decorate their name cards with stickers and glitter to be as fancy as they'd like.
  2. Rhyming Recipes - When we have a tea party, the girls like to be included in the cooking as well. With fancy aprons, the girls can put together some rhyming recipes like the ones found here. If it is for a younger crowd, the girls can just help make the cookies using the Sassafras Kids Fairy Princess Cookie kit. (*Note - I do not have Ruth's Rhyming Recipe Book. It just looks like it might be an interesting buy. I have purchased the Sassafras Kids Fairly Princess Cookie kit before and the girls absolutely LOVE it. I highly recommend it if you are able to find it on sale.)
  3. Dress Up - All guests should wear their Fancy Nancy best attire and accessories. We will have princess tiaras for each guest as well.
  4. Reading - While waiting for the cookies to bake (before we can decorate our princess cookies with sparkles and beads), we can read our Fancy Nancy book.
  5. Piggy Paint - If all the moms approve, perhaps we'll even make time to paint our nails with Piggy Paint. (We LOVE this stuff!) With colors like "Forever Fancy" and "Tea Party for Two" it would fit in perfectly.
Fancy Nancy Poetry Party Ideas
Fancy Nancy Books

I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms blogging program to be eligible to get a Fancy Nancy prize pack. For more information on how you can participate, click here.