Bulbs. Dig, Drop, Done. Presents Curbside Chaos $5,000 Yard Makeover Contest

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Bulbs. Dig, Drop, Done. for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

I love gardening and can't wait until the spring to start planting tomatoes and all the goodies we get to enjoy in the summer months! However, I've never had the pleasure of planting tulips, though they are one of my most favorite flowers. They are so beautiful and require little to get them blooming and beautiful. Taking a look at DigDropDone.com, I realized how much I had to learn about planting bulbs!

I learned the proper times to plant bulbs to give them time to process and eventually bloom in the spring. There are videos of three ladies offering "Bulb Inspiration" and I definitely identify the most with Juliana, the city gal who is all about fashion and style. She suggests brightening up the apartment by planting bulbs in flowerpots and placing them on the windowsill. Tulips are simple, yet their bright colors can definitely bring a more renewed feeling to any room. 

Speaking of bulb inspiration, Bulbs. Dig, Drop & Done is hosting a contest right now as part of an educational effort to excite women about the simple, natural beauty of planting bulbs! One lucky winner will receive a $5,000 yard makeover. In addition, the winner will receive a visit from Taniya Nayak. She'll give some great pointers on decorating the winner's yard and will give some tips on how to use flower bulbs as part of your beautiful new landscape. How do you enter? Just submit a photo of your yard at Curbside Chaos! Plus, for every share on Twitter about the contest, Bulbs. Dig, Drop & Done will donate $1 to Rebuild Together, a nonprofit agency dedicated to providing affordable homeownership and revitalizing communities.

What else can we find out from Curbside Chaos? Using the Garden Guru tool (located at the bottom left-hand side of the page), you can decide which bulbs are best for planting where you live! I absolutely love Hyacinths and found out that they should be planted in the Fall for blooming in March. The Guru also tells you exactly how to plant them for optimal growth and blooming.

I always thought bulb plants were difficult to grow, but they really are very easy to plant and grow! You don't have to be a gardening expert to grow bulbs and they can be planted in many different ways. You don't even have to have a yard to plant bulbs. My mom always had bulbs planted all around our home, inside and out. This is why I love plants so very much! 

visit www.digdropdone.com to learn more

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Safe Chemicals Art Contest For Children

From now until February 29th, you can submit your child(ren)'s art for a chance to win some fun art supplies! Let your child's imagination soar with a theme in mind: make your artwork describing what a healthy future for our families and environment means to them.

There will be 3 age groups judged: 5 and under, 6-12 and 13-18! So, get those kids painting, drawing and enjoying arts & crafts time. My kids love art time, so I can't wait to see what they come up with.

Just click HERE for all of the info on the event and how to submit! We'll be making our art tomorrow and submitting for the 5 and under age group.

Ohh, Baby Baby Giveaway Event Announcement : Still Accepting Bloggers

We just joined yet another fun giveaway event going on from April 1st-15th called Ohh, Baby Baby Giveaway Hop. It features all baby and maternity related prize packages. We love baby products and just couldn't resist. Each prize package will be worth at least $25. Right now there are 27 blogs signed up, so this has already become a big event!!

Here's all the info about the event:
Ohh, Baby, Baby Giveaway Hop sponsored by The Shopping Duck is taking signups now. This blog hop event will take place from April 1, 2012 to April 15, 2012. Come join the fun!

 Have a blog and want to participate? It's totally free if you write about the event OR you can pay a $5 paypal fee! It's up to you! Let me know if you are participating. Looks like so much fun! Can't wait!


Weekly Debate with the Danielles : Birth Control For Teenager Daughters?

Happenings of the Harper Household

It's that time of the week again! Time for a friendly Debate during "Friendly Debates with the Danielles". Danielle from Happenings of the Harper Household and Danielle from We Don't Have It All hold a weekly meme dedicated to providing fun and friendly debatable subjects. I always look forward to the new week's debate. Who knows what it will be.
Have a blog and want to participate? Click HERE for all of the information. You can link up with everyone and meet some other great bloggers, too. Don't have a blog? Leave a comment with your own opinions below. I love reading them!

Here's this week's topic:
Birth Control For Teenage Daughters: Yay or Nay? What do YOU say?

Who hasn't thought about this subject. Even before I had children, I have been very open about sex and sexuality even with my friends. Heck, one of my best friends wanted to become a sex therapist, so it's something we often talked about. I was a very sexually inquisitive teenager and had so many questions, but it was something my parents would NEVER talk about. To even think about it was taboo and, to my parents, a sin. How could I even consider having sex before marriage? 

Just like a typical teenager, I took matters into my own hands and began experimenting. Luckily, I was smart enough to use contraception and my best friend's mom got us birth control. Having been a teenager, I remember all too well the hormones that surge. For that reason I will always, always be upfront with my children about sex. Whenever they ask, I will tell them. 

I think my husband feels the exact same way. Being a juvenile prosecutor in our town, he's seen so many teenagers get pregnant just because they didn't have protection. We've both seen how important it is to have the sex talk and let the kids know they can come to us if they have questions. So, I would absolutely let my daughter get birth control and/or other types of contraception. I would even talk about an IUD, especially if she had periods and cramps like I did as a teenager.

With all of that said, we have boys, so unless I manage to have a little girl next time (crossing fingers!!:), we won't be talking about the pill. Rather, we'll be talking about respecting young ladies and using other types of protection.

How do you feel about having The Talk? Would you let your daughter get birth control?

Kelo-Cote Anti-Scarring Gel & Spray Review

Once upon a time, my skin was nice and smooth, free of scarring and having children was only a thought. Now, after an appendectomy and 2 emergency cesarean sections, I have my fair share of scarring. It's something I'm definitely self-conscious about and try to cover them as much as possible. I couldn't wait to put Kelo-cote Anti-Scarring Gel and Kelo-cote Spray.

About Kelo-cote Gel
Kelo-cote Gel self-dries to a waterproof membrane that acts like an extra layer of skin. Helps to soften, flatten and smooth the scar while maintaining the moisture balance and elasticity of the adjacent skin.

About Kelo-cote Spray
Specifically developed for painful, sensitive and widespread scars, especially those in hard to reach areas. Kelo-cote Spray's unique delivery system allows the lightweight self-drying silicone gel to be applied without rubbing or touching.

My Thoughts
For testing purposes, I used the Kelo-cote Gel and Spray on my belly button area, which is another place greatly scarred from my first pregnancy. Josiah, the 9lb baby stretched out my belly button, an area that was once pierced, and left scarring that was not only visible, but red tinted. I am especially self-conscious in the summertime when we go to the beach. My once flat stomach is now red, scarred and irritated looking.
See how red the area is around the top of my belly button?
I followed the directions for both and did not notice any immediate affects. I wasn't expecting it, though, because it should occur over time. It heals the skin from the inside out. The gel feels strange, leaving a coating on the skin to waterproof. I prefer the spray, which is less visible and doesn't feel as much like glue. Both are simple to use. I just keep them in the bathroom drawer and use twice a day, in the morning and then after taking a shower at night. Easy
And the results? Judge for yourself...
Although there is still scarring, it is so much less visible!!! The redness is gone and I think the scarring has also faded. I'm so excited! I'm going to keep using Kelo-cote with hopes that, by June, I'll be ready to strut my stuff in a bikini once again. So, yes, Kelo-Cote Anti-Scarring Gel and Spray do work and are totally worth a purchase. Available at under $40 each, they are also affordable.


Zaggora HotPants Review: Lose Weight Just By Wearing

Losing weight after having a baby, or two, can be frustrating and downright depressing. After having Josiah, I was about 20 pounds heavier for well over a year and no matter what I did, nothing changed. I had no idea where to turn or what to do. I saw a review opportunity for HotPants by Zaggora and jumped on the opportunity to receive a pair. Who wouldn't want to try out something that boasts being able to lose weight and inches just by wearing?!

About HotPants
HotPants give you more for less, using specially engineered technology to maximize your workout by increasing your perspiration by up to 80%. Get a 60 minute workout in only 20 minutes whist also reducing the visible appearance of cellulite. You can lose 2 jean sizes in 2 weeks! 

Zaggora is a new sports brand focused on offering high impact, technology enabled clothing.

My Thoughts
I couldn't wait to see what all the hype was about and immediately had to check out my HotPants when they arrived. The pants most closely resemble a wet suit material, thicker than most workout shorts and a bit tight. These HotPants, which are really like 80s biker shorts, work to reflect your body heat back to your body. This warms up layers of skin, including cellulite. So, when you are working out or even just going about your day, you can start to reduce your weight and inches around your waist and thighs. What all this fancy speak means is you will sweat like no tomorrow. For someone who already sweats like crazy, HotPants really bring the sweat out. They are honestly pretty comfortable and do a good job wicking the moisture away from the skin so you don't feel that icky rubbing feeling.

I don't necessarily need to lose weight, but the cellulite around my thighs and waist is definitely noticeable and  my thighs are oddly disproportionate to the rest of my body. After the two week trial period, I could definitely notice a difference. My skin seems smoother and I think my thighs do look smaller, especially when wearing my skinny jeans. I love it! What I love about HotPants is that I can wear them during the day while I am doing housework and taking care of the boys. Yes, it's like a workout in itself, so with HotPants, I'm getting even more of a workout! Who wouldn't like that?

I definitely recommend giving these a try if you are looking to lose weight. For those looking to lose a good deal of weight, you will probably have to use these along with a more consistent workout routine, but I think HotPants would be the perfect addition to a workout routine. Zaggora also offers other high impact workout clothing, including Capri Flares and Flares!

Purchase Zaggora HotPants for only $70.63 and start losing weight and inches in only 2 weeks!

2012 Family Goals & Resolutions

Skye from Real Mom Reviews recently posted her 2012 Personal Goals and it inspired me to write mine down, too. Perhaps it will help me stay with my goals and be more likely to complete them!

  1. Pay off my credit card
  2. Start saving money for our first trip to Disney World (Josiah is dying to go. He watches that travel planning DVD every week!)
  3. Make a Pinterest and Figure it out.
  4. Start using StumbleUpon.
  5. Sort out clothing and toys to donate. We have way too many.
  6. Get my daily deals site off the ground and running.
  7. Keep enough money in my account to purchase a back-up computer just in case this one dies on me unexpectedly.
  8. Get to 5,000 GFC Followers & 10,000 Likes/Follows on Facebook and Twitter
  9. Get Josiah sleeping in his own bed!!! 
  10. Move the blog over to Wordpress
  11. Make date nights with the hubs at least once a month without the kiddos!
  12. Get a gym membership and get in shape! I ask for one every Christmas/birthday and no one gets one for me. It's time to take matters into my own hands. 
I think that's about it! What are your Goals and Resolutions for 2012! Are you determined to stick with them this year? Hopefully we'll all have good luck completing all of our important goals!

All For Love Sponsor #1: Lauren Nicole Gifts Jewelry Review

I am not one for wearing jewelry, mostly because I'm afraid I will lose it and I'm pretty picky about what I wear. The only pieces of jewelry I wear are the ones that hold some kind of sentimental value (my wedding ring, my grandmother's necklace, etc.). I also love personalized jewelry by Lauren Nicole Gifts!

About Lauren Nicole Gifts
Lauren Nicole Gifts (named after our niece) is a small family-owned business specializing in hand made custom artisan jewelry and monogrammed gifts. I design and hand makes each piece of jewelry to order. My husband, Brian, is active-duty military (Army) and helps out with cutting and forming the silver pieces that are used in the hand stamped jewelry designs. Currently, Lauren Nicole Gifts is an on-line business only so that the company can be moved every two years or so when Army orders are issued. The product line includes hand stamped personalized silver jewelry, mommy jewelry, wax seal jewelry, and many other unique designs. Our new Little Prints designs include footprint, hand print, fingerprint and child's artwork jewelry. Charms and pendants are made out of pure silver and chains are made of sterling silver. Many of my designs can be customized with names, initials, dates, or other meaningful words and phrases. Because I hand make everything to order I can usually change almost anything.

My Thoughts
I have a personalized bracelet with my sons' names imprinted on it and it's one of my favorites. I couldn't wait to review Lauren Nicole Gifts! I decided to get a necklace for my Mother-In-Law since her birthday was coming up, so I received the Solid Silver Personalized Mother's Circle of Love Necklace. The size I got (1-1/8'') allows for 32 lower case letters. I had enough room to include all 5 names of her grandchildren! In the center, there is room for birthstones, so I had her 3 children's birthstones along with her own added. The complete necklace is a tribute to her family, both children and grandchildren. She almost cried when she opened her present this weekend. She was so impressed with how nice it looked and couldn't wait to show it off. She is a nurse, which means she must be careful about the jewelry she wears and it must be very sturdy. She said this necklace would be perfect!
The necklace is absolutely beautiful and now I want one for myself. You can tell it was handmade with love and is of quality materials. It's something that will be in our family for many years to come. Lauren Nicole Gifts has a variety of fine jewelry for women, men and children. For this quality jewelry, the prices are great. The handmade necklace we received costs only $85.00.

Lauren Nicole Gifts is one of our All For Love Valentine's Day Giveaway Sponsors! What will they be giving away? A $75 Gift Credit! Thanks, Lauren Nicole Gifts!! 


2012 Valentine's Day Gift Guide & New Additions

I wanted to do something special this year for Valentine's Day, so please welcome Children Teaching Mama's 1st Annual Valentine's Day Gift Guide! Click HERE to take a look at all the fun gift suggestions for this Valentine's Day. Make your loved ones very happy with a gift basket from LUSH Cosmetics, a Vinturi wine aerator and much, much more! Nothing is priced over $60, so everything is very affordable, too.

For the month of February, I'll have the button to the Valetine's Gift Guide available on the left sidebar. You can click on it to visit the guide anytime. There may be more gifts added over the next week. In addition, one of my blog designers is working on a brand-new toolbar for the blog! It will feature a drop-down menu so you can link to all the important areas of the blog (giveaways, events, disclosures, etc.). We'll also be adding a new Giveaway area so you can more easily access all current giveaways!


Fun Summertime Blogging Event Savory Summer Blog Hop

Savory Summer

We just signed up for a very fun event beginning May 16th! It's called Savory Summer and is hosted by Measuring Flower and Graphonic.
What: Savory Summer
When: May 16th-30th
What: All participating bloggers must have a blog package worth at least $25 AND All items must be food related! It's a food giveaway blog hop!

There is no fee to join, too! This will be a great event, so if you are looking for something fun to do in May and want to increase your following at the same time, you need to sign up! Just click on the link above and it will take you to the info page where you can opt to sign up, too! Let me know if you are participating. :)

Transcend Clothing T-Shirt Giveaway

Our blogging friend over at A Whole Lotta Love is hosting a giveaway for Transcend Clothing and would love some extra entries! If you have a moment, please register. :) The winner will receive their choice of t-shirt.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway was posted for another blogger. No compensation was received at all.

My new favorite show - up all night

Posted by Virgil Burks

Ok guys have you seen the newest creation by executive producer Lorne Michaels? This show is genius. I have never really thought too much about Christina Applegate as a comedienne but in this show and this role she just shines. She is funny and relatable as she deals with the struggles of being a new mommy and a fabulous career woman. She has a hilarious boss, Ava, played by Mya Rudolph. Ava’s character is a self-centered Hollywood type who is Reagan’s boss as well as her best friend. The on screen comedic chemistry between Applegate and Rudolph is so apparent you just can’t help but laugh out loud. The show really hits home with me because it is such an accurate portrayal of the working American family. Both parents have jobs. Both parents want to spend as much time with their child and each other as possible. The writers really bring it all together with such funny and clever lines and with the fantastic delivery by this crew you just can’t go wrong! So next Wednesday set your http://www.expertsatellite.com/ to tune to NBC to check out Up All Night.

Laughing Pizza At Georgia Aquarium February 4th

We love Laughing Pizza and the kids always dance around every time their music comes on PBS. Perhaps you've seen them, too. The adorable little girl with her parents, dancing, singing and getting those lyrics stuck in your head! They will be at the Georgia Theater for a once of a lifetime experience on February 4th at 10am! 
This is going to be so much fun!! All of the info from the press release is below. We'll be there! Let us know if you will be, too!! Hope to see you there!

Atlanta's family-favorite musical group, Laughing Pizza, invites families to the grand Oceans Ballroom at Georgia Aquarium for a one-time, VIP family film premiere Saturday, Feb. 4 at 11:00 a.m. The award-winning band and world’s largest aquarium are teaming up for the world premiere of Laughing Pizza: The Concert Movie as well as a live performance by Laughing Pizza after the screening.

Beginning at 11:00 a.m., guests will get the “red carpet treatment” with photographs, spectacular views into the world’s largest aquatic habitat, Ocean Voyager, as well as views into the charismatic beluga whale habitat from within the grand Oceans Ballroom. There will also be entertainment by Atlanta's own Circus Camp and more. The VIP screening of Laughing Pizza: The Concert Movie, will begin at 12:00 p.m. (The film has already won 5 out of 5 Doves from the Dove Foundation, and was endorsed by the Parents Television Council.) After the screening, Laughing Pizza will perform a few of their hits, and guests will have the opportunity to meet Billy, Lisa and Emily, up close and in person!

Laughing Pizza is a real family band that writes and performs all original pop-music for families. Their music videos can be seen every day in more than 18 million homes on PBS stations and TV On-Demand channels around the country. This mom, dad and daughter trio travel across the nation performing at theatres, museums, music  festivals, nightclubs, schools, and other venues – including the White House (with Miley Cyrus and The Jonas Brothers). Their live performances are energetic, interactive, dance-filled shows that get kids and parents up and moving, and they have a loyal following all across the country.

There are two ticket options for families to purchase: VIP Red Carpet Premiere tickets include admission to the film, live performance by Laughing Pizza, meet and greet with the band, and red carpet festivities. VIP Red Carpet Premiere tickets are $15 (Children under 1 years old are free). For an even more spectacular experience, guests can upgrade their tickets to the VIP Red Carpet Premiere Plus ticket, which includes admission to the premiere and its events, as well as admission to the Aquarium and the 3:30 p.m. showing of AT&T Dolphin Tales. VIP Red Carpet Premiere Plus tickets are $34.95 for adults and $28.95 for children. Children ages 1-3 years old need only a film pass, as they are admitted to the Aquarium for free.

For more information and to purchase tickets, CLICK HERE. The event is sponsored by Shumate and B-98.5FM. A portion of all proceeds will go to The Georgia Aquarium’s SEA Program.


Minted Valentine's Day Classroom Cards Are A Hit With Kids

As many of you know, my oldest, Josiah, started school this year at Pleasant Hills Montessori. He loves going to school and all that comes along with it. They go on field trips, do arts and crafts, have food day where they follow recipes to make fun snacks and much, much more. His favorites are the holiday celebrations. At Thanksgiving we had a feast that his class prepared and at Christmas they made all sorts of decorations. Now Valentine's Day is quickly approaching and he's getting so excited for the big celebration. Josiah picked out his very favorite classroom Valentine's cards on Minted.com this year and cannot wait to hand them out.

About Minted
Minted is a global community of independent graphic designers and an online store that prints and sells the best of their designs in the form of paper goods. Minted believes that great design lives and thrives in the hands of indie designers that people may not have access to through traditional retailers. Our goal is to use technology to allow our community to discover the work of great designers from all over the world. And at the same time, create a place where designers can get exposure and build their careers.

My Thoughts
When I was in school, Valentine's Day was always so much fun. The day before, we made our mailboxes out of shoe boxes, decorated them and prepared to give and receive Valentine's cards. Back then, the only cards available were cheaply made, thin pieces of paper that often ripped before getting them in the envelope. Nowadays, we have Minted.com, a place where all of your holiday cards can be found! Minted has a great variety of Valentine's Day Cards for everyone. The classroom Valentine's Day cards are so cute and creative, allowing children to find one that suits their own tastes and personalities. Josiah choose 15 of the Alien Valentines and 15 Robot Friends cards, each set retailing at only $16!

Minted allows you to completely customize and personalize cards the way you want them. There are several color options, fonts, sizes and more. Some, including Robot Friends, even feature pictures of the child. The cards we chose were flat (though you can pick folded cards as well) and there was even an option to decorate the back of the card for an additional fee. I was so impressed with the wide variety of options. For the more eco-conscious, Minted has an option for recycled paper at only $2 more, which is a great deal. This is what we choose and the quality was exceptional!

I had fun making the cards, but I know it will be nothing compared to Josiah's first time exchanging cards at school on Valentine's Day. I can't wait for him to tell me all about it. Take a look at the classroom Valentine's Day cards on Minted.com when you have a moment and let me know which one is your favorite!


Love To Travel? Free Alaska Travel Guide

Travel Alaska
Click HERE to receive a FREE Alaska Travel Guide! I would soo love to travel to Alaska or take an Alaskan Cruise. Sounds like heaven!

All For Love Event Beginning February 1st & More

I'm so excited to announce the All For love Valentine's Day Event hosted by one of our favorite blogs, Real Mom Reviews! It officially begins on February 1st. We have 2 confirmed sponsors and I've decided to throw in my very own giveaway package, too. That means 3 winners!!! How exciting! Let's make this Valentine's Day fun and memorable with some exciting gifts and giveaways. 
Our sponsor write-ups will be posted during the next few days so you can learn all about them and be read for the big event!
Also, for Valentine's Day, we've put together a fun gift guide! These reviews and giveaways will begin on February 1st, too! 
We have a lot in store for our readers this February, so stay tuned!

Friendly Debates With The Danielles: Spanking: Yay or Nay?

Happenings of the Harper Household
Welcome to another week of Friendly Debates With The Danielles! This is the time of the week where they pick a subject and we debate each other (ehem, in a friendly manner, of course). Have a blog and want to participate? Just click here for all the rules and info. No blog? Then leave a comment below with your own opinion. We love reading them!

Okay, this week's controversial topic:
Spanking: Yay or Nay?
Yes, indeed, this is a controversial topic! As a child, I was always spanked when it came to punishment. There was no sending me to the corner or talking about my actions. I was to pick a belt, spanked with an open palm or worse. Nowadays, this would probably be considered abuse. Because of this, I vowed NEVER to spank or hit my own children. Never! 

So, here I am with two children and what do I say to spanking? I still think it's a horrible idea to spank a child. Have I spanked before. I have admittedly popped my oldest on the behind a few times when I don't know what else to do. I always hate myself afterwards and feel like a failed parent. In my own opinion, it has never worked. In fact, I think it showed him that anger and hitting was acceptable. Totally not my intentions. The few times I have spanked, it backfired. 

Believe me, I know sometimes we are at our wit's end and have know idea what else to do, but there are definitely other ways to handle situations. They aren't as easy as spanking and may not be effective immediately, but I think they have a better positive effect over time. 

Alternatives to Spanking

  • Walk away for a moment. In the heat of the moment, it's easy to lose your cool. Walk away, take some deep breaths before punishing. You'll be much more level-headed.
  • Use a calm, kind voice. Explain to the child why they are in trouble and why you are upset in words they can understand. When you do this instead of yelling, children are much more likely to listen and comprehend.
  • Try to stay positive. Instead of saying, "For the millionth time, go brush your teeth", say "Please go brush your teeth. If you do it right now, we can read a book before bedtime." It gives them incentive and something they can work toward.
  • Time Outs do work. Tell your child to go sit on his/her bed or somewhere quiet. They can reflect on the situation and also calm down themselves. This way they are also much more rational.
  • Be consistant. This one is probably the most difficult and most important. This is where I have issues. Be consistant in your punishment. You can't laugh and let it go one time and then punish the next time. It causes confusion and will only make the situation worse.
So, what's your opinion? To spank or not to spank? What form of punishment works for your family? 

Enter to win a $2,000 Kirkland's Gift Card

Click HERE to enter to win a $2,000 Kirkland's Gift Card!!


Email Subscriptions Pt. 2 for $300 Pamper Mom Giveaway




Custom Knits for Baby Personalized Baby Hat Review & Giveaway


Winners of Holiday Gift Guide Announced

 Here is a list of all the Holiday Gift Guide Giveaway winners! Most have been confirmed (and the others will be redrawn if no response within 48 hrs). Congrats to all the winners and a big thanks to all of our readers for making our Holiday Gift Guide Event a success!!

Build-A-Dream Playhouse - Anne P.

GlowCrazy Glow Glove- Robin Q.

Gyro Bowl- Sindy M.

Gourmet Gift Baskets Classic Holiday Gift Basket- Sherry S.

Levaqua Shower Head- Doris C.

Tonka Truck- Michelle D.

$100 Old Navy E-GC- Laura W.

Babar Christmas DVD- Yesi

Ambia Heater- Allison G.

Salon Grafix Dry Shampoo- Roseanne A.

Conair Hot Rollers- Latanya T.

Botanical Paperworks $25 GC & Calendar- Jessica S.

Inkoos- Alisha K.

Kidz-Med VeraTemp Thermometer- Regan S.


Buying Our First Home & Finding The Best Mortgage For Us

I've been renting houses and apartments for as long as I can remember. As a student and single woman, this was perfect for me, but now that we have a family, I knew it was time to start searching for a place to really call home. Moving every other year has become a hassle with 2 kids, so we wanted our own house. The most important thing is finding cheap mortgage deals.

It's not easy trying to figure out the details when purchasing your first house, but having a mortgage broker really helps! Just because you are on a budget doesn't mean you will have problems securing a mortgage and, once we had someone helping us, this became very clear. I know all of the details can be very stressful, which is why you shouldn't be afraid to get help from a broker. Plus, you will probably end up not only becoming more educated about the subject, but also save money.
 Once we decided our budget assessed what types of loans we could procure, we started searching for houses. This was the part I'd been waiting for and definitely the most fun. We found our dream cabin in the mountains and a few months later, the house was ours! It's so amazing to finally say we are homeowners! Buying a home is definitely a process, but once you own your own home and know you got the best deal on your mortgage, it's an amazing feeling.


Jockey Tech Terry Sports Bra & Purex Crystals Review & Giveaway

I don't consider myself an expert on many things, but after washing clothes thousands of times, I definitely think I qualify as an expert clothes washer, dryer and folder! I love trying out new detergents and softeners and can't wait to sniff the newly dried clothes when they come out of the dryer. Its something I've done since I was a child. The smell and feel of warm, clean clothes  is absolutely the best! This is why I love being a Purex Insider! We get to try out new products and it makes washing clothes a little more exciting.
This time we received Tropical Splash Purex Crystals to review as well as a Jockey Tech Terry Performance Bra! How do Purex Crystals Fabric Softener work? You simply add them to your washing machine with dirty clothes to make them extra fresh and soften them. The great thing about Purex Crystals is that they do NOT contain any oils, which most fabric softeners do! This means you can use Purex Crystals on clothing you previously could not use fabric softeners on, including sports bras, of course. You see, the oils contained in fabric softeners destroy the wicking capabilities of sports bras, but not Purex Crystals.

So, what did I think? The Tropical Splash Purex Crystals smell absolutely delicious! Mixing that with my Purex liquid detergent made the wash come out smelling great and very soft. Also, I noticed that when I use the Purex Crystals, the clothing never has that oily feeling it can sometimes get when other softeners are used. When I don't use Purex Crystals, my clothes only smell faintly clean, but with them, it's like an extra boost of freshness that lasts long into the day. I can still smell the scent at the end of the day, which is something I love!
 The Jockey Sports Bra is so soft and is perfect for working out and, as I've found, cleaning house! Want a 20% off coupon for your next sports bra purchase? Just click the link!

Holiday Gift Guide: Personal Creations Review & $50 GC Giveaway

When it comes to purchases, I have a few addictions, including clothing, holiday decorations and anything personalized. Personal Creations is one of my very favorite online retailers for personalized gifts for just about any occasion. We worked with them on a review last Easter and we loved them so much that we begged for another review this holiday season.

About Personal Creations

Josiah's Shirt
When giving a gift, there's nothing like a gift that says, "You're one of a kind!" For over 10 years, Personal Creations has been helping create lasting memories with perfect, personalized gifts for all of life's special occasions.Whether for birthdays, anniversaries, baby showers - or every special event in between - a personalized gift always delivers the brightest smiles.
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My Thoughts

I had the hardest time picking out something to review from Personal Creations for the holidays because they have so many great personalized items and Christmas Baby Gifts. I ended up picking the Rudolph Characters- oddler and Youth Long Sleeve T-Shirt for Josiah and Liam. For Liam, I got the Rudolph shirt, which has a picture of the reindeer and says "Liam, Santa's Lil Helper". Josiah picked out Bumble the Abominable Snowman shirt, which reads "Give Josiah All Your Presents". They were beyond excited to receive these shirts and couldn't wait to wear them.
Liam wearing his shirt!

Holiday Gift Guide: French Toast & Friends Board Game Review & Giveaway

Now that Josiah is a little older, he loves playing board games. He's still learning patience and sharing, which is why I love the French Toast & Friends: French Toast Forgets His Lunch Board Game we received for review. Josiah loves helping pack his lunchbox now that he goes to school, so he couldn't wait to give this game a try.

About the Game (from website)

Oh no! French Toast™ forgot his lunch! Can you help him? Travel around the game board to collect food pieces and be the first to deliver a full lunch box to French Toast™. You're such a good friend.

French Toast and Friends™
French Toast Forgets His Lunch Board Game teaches your children all about sharing and friendship all while having fun!
Manufactured by The Haywire Group.
Ages 3+

My Thoughts
The main problem we've had with some board games are that they involve reading. We aren't quite at that level just yet and that can be frustrating for a preschooler, but not with the French Toast & Friends game! No reading is necessary for youngsters, it's fun, and teaches valuable lessons. From the moment we opened the game, Josiah was excited. The colors pop, the characters are so cute and there are many pieces with which to play. 


Valentine's Date Night $300 Cash Giveaway Event Begins Tonight #VALENTINESCASH

Hi all! I just wanted to let you know an awesome cash event begins tonight! The Valentine's Date Night $300 Cash Giveaway begins at Midnight EST Tonight and will end at 11:59pm EST on February 7th! One lucky winner will receive $300 via PayPal to make this Valentine's Day amazing and memorable.


Picking All The Holiday Gift Guide Winners Tonight

Okay all! I have to apologize for the delay in choosing winners from the Holiday Gift Guide. I waited since I still have several still to post, but the waiting has come to an end. I will be picking winners and emailing tonight, so check your email!! All winners will be announced this weekend. Some winners have already been chosen for the $50 GameStop Giveaway, Finish and Mertado. Those, too, will be announced this weekend. :) Good luck to all!

Myself Belts For Toddlers, Teens & Adults Review & Giveaway

My 4 year-old is tall and skinny, just like his Papa. This causes a huge problem with his pants because the ones that fit his waist are too short, but the pants at the right length are much too big around the waist. For this reason, he always has to wear a belt. When he's at home, this works out perfectly because I can help him take off the belt when having to use the restroom, but while he's at school, he's much too shy to ask the teachers for help. Of course, he wants to be a big boy and do things himself, right? For this reason, I started searching for our options on Google and came across Myself Belts.

About Myself Belts
Myself Belts help ease frustration and dependence by allowing wearers to dress and undress themselves without assistance from others. Unlike traditional belts with buckles that require both hands for fastening, Myself Belts are Velcro belts that use a patented design that allows wearers to fasten their one hand belt using a simple three-step Snap, slide and secure process. Our kids belts are perfect for potty training toddlers, preschoolers and juniors alike. In addition, Myself Belts has a line of adult and teen belts that are perfect for those with hand dexterity difficulties and special needs.

My Thoughts
I couldn't wait to get Josiah's belt. I let him choose his own and, of course, he picked the Tool Belt themed belt with tools pictured all around it. He loves building things and pretending to built, so this was perfect for him. The belts come in sizes XS (fits 2 yr olds) up to a size 11/12, so they have a variety of sizes available. We decided on the size Large, which fits like a 5T. It ended up fitting him perfectly!
Josiah was so excited to see the new belt and wear it to school. I helped him loop the belt around his jeans, snapped the belt into place and showed him how easily the velcro held the belt in place. He is a very active boy and his class spends a good amount of time on the playground, so I was worried the belt would give at some point and his pants would try to escape, but he had no issues at all! The belt stayed perfectly in place and so did his jeans. The velcro is strong enough to keep the belt secure, but not so strong that kids can't pull it open.


Tea Collection Review & $50 Gift Credit Giveaway

I have mentioned in the past my incredible addiction that cannot be controlled... boutique clothing. I love fashionable clothing for babies and children. I really can't get enough! One of my very favorite clothing companies is Tea Collection. They have the cutest clothing for babies, children and women. What more could I really ask for? Plus, they are running their semi-annual sale, so you can receive up to 60% off!

About Tea (from website)
We design distinctive fashion collections inspired by the beauty we discover in our travels around the world. From the iconic art and architecture of Barcelona to the graphic boldness of Brazilian street graffiti, we interpret our discoveries into beautiful, dynamic styles for children, ages 0-12. We launched our women's collection in the fall of 2010 in that same spirit—easy-going, culturally-connected styles designed to fit your life.

Everything we create—our products, images, words and ideas—is inspired by going there and being here. And by our passion for exploring different cultures. We are awed by the unique beauty and diversity of people around the world. As we celebrate and share our discoveries, it reminds us how small the world is and how alike we all are.

My Thoughts
I was so excited to receive several different pieces of clothing for the boys. I have to admit their winter wardrobe was lacking greatly in the fashion department, so this was the stylish boost they needed.  One of my favorite things Liam received are the Ticking Stripe Pants. They are absolutely adorable and can be dressy or comfy play pants, too. He also received the Aztec Eagle Shirt and the Happy Hoodie in Cinnabar. Believe me, we have been putting these clothes to good use and, as of now, they are holding up perfectly. My boys believe in playing hard outside, in the dirt and in the creek, so this is not something I can say of most clothes!

Josiah received 3 pieces of clothing, too. He loves getting new clothes, so I knew he'd be excited! He couldn't wait to try on his Sporty Pants, which were just as soft as Liam's new pants. They even have knee pads to protect them during play, which is awesome. At his school, he spends a great deal of time outside and often comes home with dirt and grime. These have held up for months now and they are lined in a red knit, which makes these perfect for the colder months. He received the Caballo De Policia shirt with a horse on the front and horseshoe on the back, which totally made his day. He loves pretending to be a cowboy! Lastly, he received the Ernesto Striped Tee, which is my favorite. I love him in stripes. Plus, this cotton tee is so incredibly soft.

Children Teaching Mama Is Going Poo-Free (Shampoo, That Is!)

When I first started blogging over 2 years ago now, I read a post about going poo-free and was absolutely amazed. I'd thought about doing it, but got side-tracked. Now, I think, is the time! What exactly does this mean? Well, shampoos are not necessary for cleaning your hair thoroughly and they often include ingredients that damage your hair each time you wash, which really just defeats the purpose.

Why Go Poo-Free?

  • You wouldn't think to use detergent to wash your hair, but they are basically the same thing and often contain similar ingredients. They can be harsh, especially those containing sulphates.
  • Shampoos often contain SLS and SLFS (sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate). These are skin and eye irrantants, so why would we want to willingly put these on our body? Not only can SLS and SLFS strip your hair of the natural oils and damage it beyond repair, these ingredients have been suggested to harm children's eye-sight. 
  • Better for the environment! You buy less and less waste is created. Plus, less toxins are released.
  • You can save so much money.

My Thoughts

Mama Chocolate recently blogged about going Poo-Free and I've decided to tag along. Since last year, I have decreased washing my hair to only 2x a week to help save money and water. I haven't noticed anything different accept that my hair is shinier, healthier. We've made our own soaps before with castille soap and even tried this as shampoo, but our hair was left tangled and rough feeling. So, this time we are going all out. I may try some shampoo recipes I've found, but here's how you go poo-free...

How To Wash Hair Without Shampoo

The easiest way to go no-poo is to use baking soda and apple cider vinegar. The baking soda is great for oily hair and helps get out the dirt and grime as well. It also works as a deodorizer and polisher. Mix it with 1-2 cups of water. Some people just put a bit of baking soda in their hand and mix with water while in the shower before applying to hair. Just try a few different methods and see which works for you. Afterwards, use the apple cider vinegar (1 tablespoon per cup of water). You don't have to use the vinegar after every wash. Again, it's personal preference! Apple cider vinegar has many great properties from being an antiseptic to helping increase circulation. I've even used it for heartburn. We always have apple cider vinegar around.

You may think the apple cider smells so strongly that your hair will stink after this, but it really doesn't! Instead,  your hair just comes out smelling clean. I love the smell of clean, like when using Charlie's Soap to clean clothes. It's a wonderful, natural scent.

Other alternatives:
There are also other herbs and ingredients you can add to your own poo recipe for different types of hair, including honey, lemon, rosemary leaves, etc. We'll be experimenting with several of these, including trying to make our own "Shampoothies". Those posts will be coming soon!!

Are you poo-free? Have you considered going poo-free?


Are You Blacked-Out? SOPA & PIPA Issues Expressed

I have to admit, my recent illness has kept me away from the news lately and I didn't even know anything about a Blackout until I signed onto Google this morning. I'm usually on top of these things, but found myself searching around for all the info. So, for all of you who feel the same way and are stumped at all the Blackouts this Wednesday, here's some info!

About the Blackout: SOPA & PIPA Revealed

SOPA is the "Stop Online Piracy Act" and PIPA is the "Protect IP Address" wherein IP means "Intellectual Property". Both are billed to stop website infringement by foreign websites. However, when reading the fine details, there are other issues that infringe upon our own writes as website owners, bloggers and businesses. The one thing we don't want is for our free internet speech to be threatened. Many of us believe that if this material is passed, it will not only fail to stop website infringement, but also blacklist many foreign websites that should not be blocked. Our websites, blogs, businesses will be policed and it opens the gateway to further restrictions in the future.

For more info about the Blackout, SOPA and PIPA, go to Wikipedia.

My Thoughts
This is one of those times where I feel like a small fish in a big pond, but it seems all fish will be affected by these two bills. This is a time when I believe we should stand together to protect our own rights as writers, journalists and seekers of knowledge. Read and judge for yourself!
I still feel like I need to read more, but whenever I hear anything about revoking our privileges to view certain websites, for information to be prohibited, I can't help but wonder if history could repeat itself.

Any thoughts or comments?

This Mama's Wake-Up Call

I have to apologize for being MIA for several days lately. The new year has turned out to be quite a challenge for us so far! Just when things were starting to fall back into place, I ended up in the hospital this weekend. I'm 31 years, am pretty active with my family, and think I am somewhat healthy... or thought I was until this past weekend. I woke up Saturday morning with chest pains, numbness and nausea. I felt awful. After convincing my husband I couldn't take it anymore, he huddled us into the car and headed the hospital.

I've forgotten how well the nurses and doctors take care of you and felt so relieved to get some fluids and medicine. Unfortunately, the chest pains were not resolving at all, so I had to stay overnight for observation. Talk about the longest night ever! All I wanted to do was sleep through the pain, but it was pretty much impossible. Fortunately, all the EKGs and tests came back somewhat normal, with only low blood pressure and low Potassium issues. I can deal with that, I thought.

Well, today is Wednesday and I am still recovering. With 2 boys to take care of during the day, this has proven to be quite a fete and, by the end of the day, I am completely exhausted. Please forgive the lack of posts and I promise the posts will pick up in the very near future, as well as reviews/giveaways! Also, my wake-up call has been to improve my lifestyle and get back to my natural parenting/living roots. Expect many posts about natural living, as well as cloth diaper reviews/giveaways in the future, too! It's time for this Mama (and blog) to get back on track!


Walgreens Dispute With Express Scripts & Special January Promotion

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Walgreens for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

When I was pregnant, I went into early labor and was forced to go to the emergency room. After hours of being monitored, I was given a prescription and sent on my way. At 1am in the morning, there aren't many pharmacies open in the area. In fact, there is only one in our neighborhood: Walgreens. I have been a customer for years and the fact that they continue to advocate for their customers and help make medications more affordable just makes me want to support them even more. Those of us who fill prescriptions regularly know just how expensive medications cost and we often join prescription savings clubs, such as Express Scripts.

If you are also a customer and use Express Scripts, you may be affected negatively by the high prices of prescriptions, as their benefits have continued to decrease and cause issues for many current loyal Walgreens customers. Express Scripts serves as a middleman between the healthcare service, employers and health plans who pay for the medications. They negotiate for lower prices for the consumer by buying prescriptions through their home delivery program and at retail pharmacies. Walgreens and Express Script worked together for many years and provided excellent service and prices for their customers, but their three-year contract came to an end at the end of the 2011.

Despite Walgreens' attempts to renegotiate a contract, Express Scripts has refused all offers, so Walgreens is no longer part of their pharmacy network. This is quite unfortunate, as Express Scripts is pulling away from local pharmacies and focusing more on their online prescription delivery program. This means many loyal Walgreens customers are not only being forced to leave, but many have to drive out of their way to a pharmacy that accepts Express Scripts.

As a Walgreens customer, I can't imagine being forced to go elsewhere, especially if having to drive out of my way. Not only are their prices competitive, but the customer service is impeccable. I'm sure many other costumers who are affected by Express Scripts feel this way, too. Walgreens has done it's part to ease the burden of those affected by offering a special discount for their Walgreens Prescription Savings Club. During this January promotion, you can join for only $5 (or $10 for the entire family). This membership includes significant savings on over 8,000 brand name and generic medicines. This special price is really amazing and you save $15 for an individual membership and $25 for a family membership! In addition to saving on prescriptions, you will receive discounts on flu shots, pet prescriptions, nebulizers and diabetic supplies. You also receive bonuses when you purchase Walgreens brand products and photo services.

Walgreens really cares about their customers which is why I continue to support them! Be sure to follow Walgreens on Twitter and Walgreens on Facebook to keep up with news, deals and more!

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