Friday, December 30, 2011

Vitality

animation, ardor, audacity, bang, being,bloom, bounce, clout, continuity, drive, endurance, existence, exuberance, fervor, force, get-up-and-go, go, guts, intensity, life, liveliness, lustiness, pep, pizzazz, power, pulse, punch, robustness, snap, sparkle, spunk, stamina, starch, steam, strength, stuff, venturesomeness, verve, vigor, vim, vivaciousness, vivacity, zest, zing, zip

~~~~~~~~~~
Last year, my life-long friend (and fellow blogger at Faith of a Small Seed) challenged me to choose a word toward which I would strive for the next year.  I've never been "good" at New Year's Resolutions.  I think they're sort of silly.  This word idea, though, intrigued me.  After much MUCH thought and prayer, I settled on the word "vitality."  

I didn't know then what I do now.  Had I been able to look into the future, I'd have know that vitality was exactly EXACTLY what I needed to focus on in 2011.  I needed endurance.  I needed intensity.  I needed life.  I needed a little bit of punch here and there.  I couldn't have survived this year without vitality!  

If you've been around a while, you know more of my story than the newbies, but just in case you've forgotten, it's been a heck of a year over here!  

In January The Hubby started work on a second bachelor's degree.  That means he's working full time and going to school nearly full time.  He's super busy and we're both super tired!  This mama's needed a bit of pep to survive the long LONG days without any help!

In June Bugsy had a 13 hour skull surgery, the third in his 4 years of life (#6 overall on his surgery list).  If you've ever handed a child over for surgery, you can imagine the pain I felt for that entire 13 hours.  The plan was to take a rib graft from his own chest and use it to fill some gaps in his skull, but unfortunately (or fortunately?) he'd been under for too long by the time the surgeons got to that point in the surgery, and he now has three areas of titanium mesh holding together his million dollar noggin.  God is good, though, and Bugs is a NORMAL 4 year old boy!

In August I received a scary medical diagnosis that changed my life from here on out.  You'll be able to read more about that in February...you'll see.  There was a little bit of just "being" for a while, and then some power.  You see, I have learned that I have to take control of my health.  I'm doing that!

Late spring I decided I needed to regain some health, some bounce, some pizzazz, to my life!  I started on a journey toward wellness and can't believe how much better I'm feeling physically!  I've lost over 45 pounds, gone from a size 16 pants and XL shirt to a size 10 pants and M shirt!  I even have a few small shirts that fit just fine now!  I am eating well and exercising almost daily.  My body is so thankful!

The Hubby took 11 hours of classes this fall!  That mean mama and the kids operated as a single parent family Monday-Friday.  That was extremely stressful.  Kudos to all you parents who do it on a daily basis!  I can't imagine how difficult that must be!  We've decided that we're going to try not to do that again.  It was very difficult on all of us, and probably not great for my health.

I found Zumba!  My Zumba instructors ROCK!  

Although it's been a rough year around here, I've fought back.  I've survived, and I'd say I've shown a fair amount of vitality.  I wouldn't say I was awesome at it, but I gave it a good effort.  I have a long LONG way to go on the vitality front, but I've given myself a good start and am so ready to see where God will take my family in the next year!
~~~~~~~~~~~~

Do you make New Year's Resolutions?  Do you keep them or break them?  Are you like me, and think they're silly?  Are you just so ready to get on to next year you don't even care?

I'd LOVE to have you join me in choosing a word for next year!  Strive to embody that word.  Learn it.  Live it.  Tell me about it!

~~~~~

Happy New Year and God bless!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I know your secret. Motivated Moms review and giveaway.

I've been in your houses and they're all spotless.  I've walked in my stocking feet on your clean-enough-to-eat-off-of kitchen floors.  I've laid my coat on your freshly made bedroom-sanctuary beds.  Your kids' toys are all lined up neatly on the appropriate shelves.  Your carpets are vacuumed in perfect lines...

What's that?  I didn't just describe your house?  You have peanut butter smudges on your kitchen table and dog footprints on your back door, too?  Whew!  Thank you for telling me!

I'm going to tell you a little secret about me.  It might be your little secret, too.  Without moving from my seat here on the couch, I can see 9 pair of shoes, 2 pair of dirty pants, a dirty shirt, one dirty sock, half a dozen scraps of paper, a granola bar wrapper, 4 toy cars and a wooden train, 3 baskets of (folded) laundry, and...and...and...  It's true.  When you come to my house you won't see this kind of chaos.  It'll be clean..."company clean."  My kids' rooms will be picked up (but probably not vacuumed), the bathroom will be spotless, and the kitchen will be clean enough.  If I have time I'll actually mop the kitchen floor, but chances are I'll do a once-over with a Swiffer Wet and call it a day.  I'll load up all that laundry and plunk it on my bed, which you'll never see because it'll be in the one room in the house with a closed door.  You do NOT want to go in there!

Want to hear another secret?  I've had it in my head, for a LONG time, that I'm the only one that does this.  I've had it in my mind that the rest of you are perfect little housewives with perfect little clean houses.  Nothing is every out of place.  Nothing is ever left dirty in the kitchen sink.  Your kids are bathed every morning and they never ever forget to brush their teeth.  I've had it in my head that I'm pretty much the only slacker when it comes to the whole "caring for my home and family" thing. 

But guess what?  I'm not alone.  Nope.  I have a sneaking suspicion that one or two or a hundred of you are just like me.  Oh, sure, give me 30 minutes and I can throw together a "company clean" house that won't be an embarrassment.  Stop by unannounced, though, and I might just hug you at the door and send you packing!  I bet a few of you are just like me.  It's not the lack of know-how.  It's not the lack of want-to.  It's probably not even the lack of motivation.  It's more a lack of planning, for me anyway.  You see, when I go to bed at night I don't have a list made of what I'll do the next day.  When I wake up in the morning I don't have a plan before my feet hit the floor.  I should, though!

About a year and a half ago, I stumbled onto a website called Motivated Moms.  If I remember correctly, a friend on facebook mentioned that she is a "motivated mom" and had accomplished everything on the list that day.  I wanted to be motivated, too!  I looked up Motivated Moms and found a website claiming to have exactly what I already knew I needed: a mommy chore chart!  I ordered a calendar right away and set to work!

The Motivated Moms chore list is set up in kind of a weekly rotation.  There are daily tasks to do, but then each day of each week there are certain jobs to accomplish.  Some of them are things I'd never think of (rotate mattress?) and some of them seem so mundane you could never forget them (clip children's fingernails).  Sadly, those mundane tasks are the ones that seem to be most neglected around here!  The weeks come in a bit of a pattern, and before long you just know what to do.  "It's Tuesday!  I need to clean out my purse."  "It's Wednesday, I need to clip the kids' nails."  "It's Saturday, I need to water my plants."  How wonderful, though, to have that little box to tick off at each task!  The daily tasks are "no brainers" too.  Unfortunately, things like exercise and read my Bible are the things that get pushed to the back burner when life is hectic.  Not true, though, when I'm faithful about using my Motivated Mom chore list, because I have to tick off those boxes!

I admitted to you last December that I was kind of behind in turning my calendar pages.  I vowed to myself that I would do SO much better in 2011!  I told myself I didn't need a new calendar, I would just write the new year's dates over last year's and use the same calendar.  I told myself if that didn't work, I'd make up my own chart.  It would be easy.  But I didn't.  And I didn't.  You see, the beauty of the Motivated Moms chore list is that it's already made!  Someone has already tested it out.  Someone has already done all the planning!  All I have to do is turn the page!  I could do this myself, but I won't.  And my house will be messy.  And I won't be able to welcome you when you stop by unannounced, at least not without fear that you'll see my secret messes!

Speaking of messes, let me tell you a little about how amazing Motivated Moms is, at least for me.  I've already looked at the calendar for the first week of January, folks, and I'm scared.  That first Tuesday you know what I'm going to have to do?  Dust my bedroom.  Eek!  We've been down this road before.  It was the first job on the first day last time I did Motivated Moms.  And what did I have to do?  I had to clean my room so I could dust it!  (It was pretty protected from dust that first week, as everything had a pretty good cover of stuff.)  Guess what, folks? I'm going to have to do that again.  My room is definitely not dustable right now.  A couple days later I had to vacuum my kids' floors.  But guess what?  I had to clean their rooms so I could GET to the floors!  (They have room cleaning rules, now, and I won't have AS much trouble.)  I was washing a load of laundry EVERY day, unless there wasn't any to wash!  I was sweeping the kitchen and mopping the floors and and and...  And that first couple weeks was HARD!

But then something amazing happened.  I looked around one day and my house was clean CLEAN when I got up in the morning!  Sure, there were a couple toys here and there, but I was proud of my house!  That day when it came time for my chores, they took about 15 minutes and then I was done!  And the next day and the next day and the next day...15 minutes! 

People, it wasn't perfect.  I wouldn't have wanted you to come in with a white glove and inspect.  But it was clean enough that I would have been perfectly content to welcome any one of you into my home.  That's why I'm such a huge fan of Motivated Moms!  That's why I'm starting again, and this time at the end of the year I'll purchase another $8 calendar...because it's worth it!

I've got my 2012 calendar printed.  It's 3-hole punched and inserted into a binder.  There's already a pen in the binder pocket.  I am SO ready to get this Motivated party started!  I want you to join me.  TChore lists are just $8 from Motivated Moms, and you can choose which of several formats you prefer!  Who'll make a commitment to use a Motivated Moms calendar alongside me? 

(Want to commit, but don't have the $8 to purchase a calendar your self?  Enter below to win a Motivated Moms chore list!)



Friday, December 16, 2011

...speaking of potty training... (Potette Review and Giveaway)

If you've ever potty trained a toddler, you know that they're unpredictable.  Sometimes they refuse to use the potty for days, and then all of a sudden they have to go RIGHT. NOW.  Sometimes when they have to go, you're at home.  Sometimes you're at the grocery store.  Sometimes you're driving down the road in the middle of nowhere with no bathrooms for miles!

Kalencom has a great solution for the "I gotta go!" emergency.  I'd like to introduce you to the 2 in 1 Potette Plus, a portable trainer and potty seat, and its accessory, the disposable portable potty liner!



The Potette Plus is a really neat little folding potty seat.  It comes with a plastic carrying bag to make it portable!  The legs of the potty seat fold up into the seat, making it just a could inches high.  It can easily be thrown into the back seat of your car, into the diaper bag, even into a large purse!  The legs also fold out, so the Potette Plus can be used on top of a regular toilet, either at home or in a public restroom!

When we first received the Potette Plus, Stinky was super excited to sit on it.  What a fun new toy, and all for him!  Then, after a couple weeks, he accidentally peed in a different potty chair 3 times.  (Yes, I said accidentally.  It scared him!  He cried.)  He's been a little afraid to even try the potty for the last week or so, until yesterday, when he suddenly took an interest again, but to the big potty.

 While he was brushing his teeth on the toilet (doesn't everyone?) Bugsy had to go.  NOW.  You see, it's not just when they're potty training that they have to go immediately, but well into their preschool years.  So when Bugs had to go NOW, I pulled out the handy dandy Potette Plus!  (Ah, for another bathroom...)  The Potette Plus worked perfectly!  Bugsy's 4, so he doesn't have those super short toddler legs anymore, and it was a little harder for him to actually sit on the Potette Plus, but it worked great in a pinch!  Bugsy was a little unsure about using a baby potty, until I told him I wanted to take a picture of his pee.


The disposable potty liners have an absorbent padding in the bottom to catch the pee.  This would be great for traveling, as you wouldn't have to worry about finding a place to immediately dispose of the bag of urine! 


Just remove the bag, tie it up, and toss it in the trash can at your destination!  Easy as pie!


There are a couple of things I'd love to see improved with the Potettee Plus.  I'd love to see a higher "splash guard" for little boys.  Bugsy didn't have a problem, but he's been using the potty for quite some time and knows how to make sure his pee goes into the potty.  I anticipate Stinky having a bit of trouble with that at first.

The other thing I'd love to see is reusable potty liners!  I think it'd be GREAT if there were snap in liners that went into a washable bag!  That may not be the most convenient way to do it, but for cloth diapering mamas, it would be a nice improvement.  A PUL lined bag with a snap in liner would be great!

I really like the Potette Plus!  It's great for travel and for an extra potty seat around the house!  I love that it can be used on the floor or on the toilet!  It's really adaptable to your situation.  The Potette Plus is a great asset to our potty training line-up!

Oh, and after Stinky saw his big brother having a "go" on his Potette Plus, he needed off the toilet and onto "mine potty!" right now!


You can purchase your own Potette Plus from Kalencom (or several other fine retailers) for just $16 and liners for $5-$12!  It's a great deal for such a versatile potty!

Interested in winning your own potty seat?  Here's your chance!  Kalencom has offered to give a Potette Plus to one of my lucky readers!  Enter below using the easy Rafflecopter form! 


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Who is the author of your book?

My friend Sarah just posted this as (part of) her Facebook status:
 Logan says to me today "Who is the author of your book?" I replied with his name; then he says "who is the illustrator?"
So here I sit, stuck in thought.  You see, I got all tangled up right there in that first question, "Who is the author of your book?"
 Who is the author of your book? 
This is, unfortunately a question that doesn't cross my mind very often.  I mean, I have hundreds, maybe even thousands, of books in my house.  No exaggeration.  In fact, were it not for all those books, I would probably have room to put in a second bathroom.  That's not the kind of book I'm stuck in, though.  
I'm stuck in MY book.  MY story.  Stuck wondering who is really the author.  I want to say that God is my author.  I want to say that MY book is a biography.  You know, a book someone else is writing about me.  (A good one, too, with lots and lots of humor, great attitudes, tons of friendliness, and a taste of grace and mercy thrown in where it's needed.)  
The thing is, though, that I'm afraid my book's often a bit more of an autobiography.  You know, a book about me.  One I'm writing myself.  A lousy one, that no one will ever read.  A disappointing, sorry excuse for a story.
It's true, though.  I want to hand over the pen.  I want to let God write my story.  The WHOLE thing.  Oh, He's already written the introduction.  And I know he's already written the epilogue.  But all those chapters in between?  Well, we've been fighting over authorship for quite some time now.  Maybe forever.  But that's not what I want.  I want to just let go.  I want to just let God write the whole story.
The illustrator, though?  I think that's all me.  You see, I think it's okay if I do some of the fancy work.  Some of the handiwork.  In fact, I think God wants me to get down and dirty, to pull out the water colors and markers and chalk and make my story beautiful.  I'm pretty sure that's what He had in mind when he started writing my story.
Who is the author of YOUR book? 
Lord, I'm done fighting over who is going to write my story.  The pen is yours.  Take it.  Write my story.  I'll be here with my paints and markers, ready to make the pages beautiful and add my own little spin, but I'd like for you to take over the writing.  I'm sorry for all the times I've taken the pen from you.  I'm sorry for all the times I've tried to write my own chapters.  Thank you for always knowing what you've got in mind for the next page, though.  The next one, and every one after that, is yours.  Write away, Lord, write away!
  
 

Wordless Wednesday: "I tuuuute!"



Tuesday, December 13, 2011

It's time! WunderUnders Review and Giveaway

It's that time again, folks!  The stage is set, the players are all in their spots, the lights are low, and the curtain is ready to be drawn!  That's right...it's show time!  (Or in our house...POTTY TIME!)

Yep, it's true. 

Stinky is 21 months old.  Can you believe it, because I sure can't!  He's loud at home and doesn't speak in public.  He's goofy as can be.  He LOVES to dance and "sing."  He's got over 100 words now!  (I know, I made a spreadsheet.)  He likes black beans and animals (from a distance) and flushing the potty.  

Flushing the potty?  Yep.  It's a favorite game of his.  He's sneaky.  We watches for someone to inadvertently leave the door ever-so-slightly ajar, and then he pounces.  When I catch him, he tugs at the top of his pants and says, "Potty?"  I put him on the potty.  He fusses and whines and gets down.  Rinse.  Repeat.  

So, here's what I decided.  If your 21 month old can SAY potty, and knows that if he's by the potty he should pull down his pants, and warns you as soon as he has a poopy diaper, and cries if his diaper is even slightly soiled, he's probably ready.  Ready for what, you ask??

Ready for Big Boy Undies!

But then there's the problem of the mess.  And just because he THINKS he's ready for Big Boy Undies, and just because he LIKES Big Boy Undies, that doesn't mean that my carpets are really in the mood for the kind of deep cleaning that would be required, know what I mean?  So we're at that awkward stage of potty training.  You know, the place where Stinky likes to sit on the potty (sometimes) with or without clothes.  The place where Stinky likes to notify me just a smidge too late, "I poo."  The place where undies sound amazing (to mommy AND baby) but they're not so amazing in practice.  The place where you could really use something like 


You haven't heard of WunderUnders?  That's too bad.  WunderUnders are an essential potty training product that you won't believe you've lived without!  What are they?  They're adorable training underwear!


Danielle from WunderUnders understands that not only are no two children at the same point in the potty training process, but no two children are the exact same size or shape, either!  Danielle custom makes a variety of types of trainers, specifically to fit your child!  We tried out a Hybrid Trainer with Accident Inserts and Optional Side Snaps.  Since Stinky's still at the very beginning of training, but lets me know when he's pottied, he doesn't typically need a diaper-like absorbency for daytime anymore.  The accident inserts are perfect!  They leave his bum dry but let him feel the wetness.  We need the side snaps for now because, as you know, pulling icky undies up and down is not pleasant!  As Stinky gets better at this potty thing, though, He'll get to a point where we don't need snaps any more.  The trainer we have can easily be pulled up and down, but Danielle also makes snapless trainers that are perfect for the "almost there" stage!  (Don't worry, if you love the look of WunderUnders but don't want to have to deal with the snap in inserts, Danielle makes pocket and all-in-one trainers as well!)


Even though the trainers are specially made, though, that doesn't mean that you can't use the same trainers if you're training two kids at a time!  Danielle has two children herself, a boy and a girl.  They're different ages, different sizes, even different genders, but they can sometimes wear the same trainers!  Don't be afraid that just because they're custom made they won't fit your little one for a long time!

Danielle's son, 13 months, in Elephant Walk WunderUnders

 Danielle's daughter, 3 1/2, in the same pair of WunderUnders!

So, you want to know what I think of WunderUnders, right?

Here goes.  I LOVE that Danielle posts a measuring "how to" right on her facebook page!  Since the trainers are custom made, and everyone measures differently, it's important to know exactly what she's looking for when you send her your numbers. 

I LOVE that there are about 80 bajillion fabric choices!  You get to choose your own panel, side, and trim colors!  You can make your trainers as colorful or plain as you want them to be.  I actually told Danielle which middle panel fabric I wanted, and then a couple choices for the sides and trim, and gave her the freedom to create what would look best.  I LOVE what she ended up with!


The quality of the trainers is amazing.  Target could sell these.  I'm not even kidding here, people.  I wouldn't be surprised to one day walk into a department store and see WunderUnders hanging on a rack.  They look amazing.  The fabric feels like high quality fabric.  The stitching is perfect.  They're SO well made.  I am very impressed!  

They absorb!  I mentioned that they'll definitely hold one pee and I'm pretty sure he's gotten a couple in there once or twice before I've caught him.  They even hold up when he's playing, like, you know, a little boy!  I haven't tried our trainer for overnights, and I won't until he's getting close to nighttime trained, but WunderUnders has a nighttime insert as well!  I'm sure that, based on the absorbency we've found with out trainer, the overnights will be great as well!


The fit is, overall, fantastic.  I really like that the hybrid trainer isn't tight around Stinky's thighs.  I love that it sits just below Stinky's pudgy toddler belly.  It has never left a red mark anywhere on Stinky's little body!  The only problem I have with fit is that I didn't measure well.  I'm a measuring newbie, and I measured Stinky's rise just a tad shorter than it actually is.  While the trainer covers him completely, it's just a little short, and when he has a particularly messy poo, it doesn't hold well.  That's not a trainer issue AT ALL, though.  That's totally a mommy error!


I LOVE the snap in liner of the WunderUnders hybrid trainers!  I love that it isn't a "single use" trainer.  Since early potty trainers tend to potty a LOT and need to be changed very frequently, it's great to see a trainer that adapts to that need!  It would be a great idea to have 3 or 4 of the covers and 15 or 20 of the inserts!  I know that may sound a little excessive, but I have potty trained 2 others (of my own) and know that the tiniest tinkle deserves immediate response in the eyes of a potty training toddler!

Did I mention they're cute as can be??

The only (tiny) issue I have with WunderUnders is that the elastic trim is a little pilly after about 6 or 7 washes.  I have a feeling that is a common problem with these soft elastic trims that some diapers have.  I will GLADLY trade the soft trim for a little pilling any day, though!  There is no scratching.  There are no rough spots to irritate Stinky's legs or waist.  It's worth the slight pilling to have a soft trainer!

Would I recommend the WunderUnders trainers?  ABSOLUTELY!  I love the quality, the options, the fit...I love WunderUnders!


You can find WunderUnders on Facebook.  Danielle has created a great page with links to her pricing lists, her fabric choices, her sizing guide, and more!  

Danielle has also very generously offered to give one of you a free pocket trainer of your very own!  (Enter below on the easy Rafflecopter form.  Contest will end and a winner will be drawn 12/21/11 at 11:59pm EST.)



a Rafflecopter giveaway I received this item at no cost to me in order to facilitate a review. I was not compensated in any other way. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Our "Advent Calendar"

You should probably know that I'm not great at doing the "traditional" stuff.  You know, like hanging stockings (I know, I know, it's important but we have a small house and I just don't always bother), or making a countdown "chain" (thank you, Sunday school, for helping Little Lou to make one!), or filling an awesome Advent Calendar (like my aunts do).  I am working hard to create some traditions for my kids, though!  You know, things like putting up the Christmas tree after they've already gone to bed at night so they wake up to a great Christmas surprise, baking a "Happy birthday Jesus" cake and feasting on cake for breakfast Christmas morning, and my favorite of all...the Christmas book countdown!

It's our Advent Calendar, of sorts.  I probably should have shared it with you a week ago in case you wanted to get in on the fun.  Sorry!  I can't tell you where I got the idea, but it was from another blog last year.  If it was you, fess up and I'll tag you!  So here's the deal:

When my kids wake up on December 1, they find not only an undecorated lit Christmas tree, but they see 24 packages under the tree!  Twenty four small rectangles.  Twenty four December surprises.


For the month of December, the kids take turns picking one package each night. 


They're all books.  They know that now.  They aren't all Christmas books.  Some of them are Christian Christmas books.  Some are secular Christmas books.  Some are just about winter.  Some qualify simply because they have a picture or two of snow!  The one that picks the book that night gets to open it.


The "picker" gets to sit on Mommy's lap while we read the book.  (Unless, of course, the picker is Little Lou.  She typically elects to read the book to her brothers.)


And there you have it!  Our super simple Advent Calendar tradition!  It's a lot of work for Mommy, digging through all the books to find the right ones, wrapping 24 books, and mediating who gets to pick when, but it's so worth it to see them open the books and sit with them each night to read the stories.  They're learning about Jesus and the real reason for Christmas, and they're also learning a little bit about the "secular" Christmas story.  I LOVE this tradition!

**As a side note, Little Lou has been asking whether Santa is real.  She told me she knows the reindeer aren't real because, "Seriously Mommy?  Flying reindeer don't even make sense."  We've never EVER pushed the Santa thing.  We don't use Santa as a threat at all.  We rarely even mention him!  Little Lou had one picture taken with Santa, but that's it.  So help us out, friends.  How do we let Little Lou down gently?  I need your ideas!**



Wednesday, December 7, 2011

On Quiet 1 Year Olds (Wordless Wednesday)

Because Mommy didn't have enough to do today...




(Yes, that would be EVERY piece of clothing from 2 drawers, unfolded and piled onto the floor and drawer.  Guess I'd better get moving!)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Diamond Candles Call for Bloggers

Maybe it's current, maybe it's not, but just in case, I am applying!

Diamond Candles is looking for review bloggers!  


That's right.  They NEED bloggers who are willing to review their candles!  Have you heard of Diamond Candles?  They're soy candles (hooray for soy!) and every. single. ring. comes with a ring inside!  They're not all diamonds, but some of them are!  The rings can be worth $10 or hundreds of dollars.  You won't know until you burn your candle what kind of ring you get!

If you're interested in doing a blog review, click this link to get to the review form!  Good luck!

Friday, December 2, 2011

I like you...and a giveaway.

I like you!

I like writing for you.

I like the way you indulge me even when I'm really writing for myself.

I like the way you interact with me!

I like that some of you have become my virtual "friends" over the last year.

I like sharing bits of my life with you.

I like the way you share bits of your lives with me!

I like you!

~~~~~

You know what else I like?  I like my kids (even when they're, you know, behaving like kids) and I like my husband (even when he's behaving like, you know, a husband).  I like telling them what I like about them, and I like hearing what they like about me (who doesn't?), but I don't always remember to tell them what I like, especially on the rough days.  That's why I like the I Like Book!


I know, of course, that none of you ever feel this way, but some days it's not easy to think of something I like about like all the people in my family.  That's right.  I'm putting it right out there.  Sometimes I don't even bother to try to like my family!  Like I said, I know you aren't that way, but sometimes I just have one of those days, you know?  That's why I like the I Like Book!


You see, the I Like Book is divided into months.  And then into days within each month.  There's a spot for every. single. day. of the year!  I don't know about you, but I'm an "all or nothing" kind of girl.  If I'm going to do something, I'm going to do it.  All the way.  Until it's done.  The right way.  The I Like Book forces prods reminds allows me the space to tell my family what I like!

I initially received the I Like Book to use with my daughter.  As you know if you've been here a while, she and I clash a little.  She's 6.  She's a perfectionist.  She's opinionated.  She's a tad bit like her mommy.  We struggle to see eye-to-eye.  I wanted to have the vehicle to show her (and me!) daily what I like about her!  I thought surely it couldn't hurt, and most likely it would help, our relationship and both of our attitudes!  I was SO excited to start using the I Like Book.  As soon as I received the purple book (her favorite color!) I ripped it open and checked it out.


I instantly fell in love with the format!  THAT DAY I ordered 3 more books, one for Bugsy (age 4) one for Stinky (age 21 months) and one for my husband and myself.  I liked the format that much.

We're only 5 days into the I Like Book.  When I finish writing this post, I will go write in the books.  Today, I am going to tell Little Lou that I like listening to her read to her brothers!  I'm going to tell Bugsy that I love the way he helps me bag the groceries every time we go to the store.  I'm going to tell Stinky that I love his snuggles (I need that reminder today because he was ON me ALL day today)!  I haven't decided what I'm going to say to my hubby yet, but I wouldn't tell you anyway.  Tomorrow morning, my kids will run (literally run) to the table the minute they get up to see what I said in their books.  Little Lou will read them out loud.  They'll all smile and be proud of what I said.  They'll remind me all day long about what I wrote in their books.  They are loving the positive reinforcement that they're getting every day!

I can't say enough about the I Like Book!  The quality is amazing.  The concept, although very simple, is very unique and charming.  The reminders to me to think of what I like about my family?  Priceless!


Thank you, I Like Book, for bringing a little bit of joy into my family this Christmas season!  We're loving the books (all 5 of us) and we're already loving their effects!

You can purchase your very own I Like Books in a variety of colors for just $19.95 each!  If you're like me, you're thinking, "$20?  For a book?  That's crazy."  It's not.  It's worth every bit of that.  Buy one (or more).  You'll be so very glad you did! 

Want to try it out but you're just not sure about buying it yet?  (Trust me, you'll be convinced.)  You're in luck!  I'm giving one of you very lucky US readers one free I Like Book!  You choose the color!  Why am I don't that?  Because I Like You!  (And I Like Book likes you, too!)

(Open to US only.  Contest will end and a winner will be drawn December 13, 2011.)

I received one copy of the I Like Book at no cost to me in order to facilitate a review.  I was not compensated in any other way.  All opinions are my own.  I Like Books are AMAZING!








Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wordless Wednesday -- Bugs: A Shoe Tying Tutorial





















Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Go Green Champ WINNER

You like prizes, I like giving them out!  Today's winner is 

Breanne

entry #412!  Thanks for following my blog!  

Breanne, check your inbox!  You have 48 hours to respond or I'll choose a new winner!  Enjoy your diaper!


Sunday, November 27, 2011

No-hassle meals for sleepy moms! (A Tyson Mini-Chicken Sandwich story)

I'm one of them.  Yep, that's right.  I wear it loud and proud.  I'm not ashamed.

I'm a Black Friday Shopper!

Now, I'm not the "dress up in Christmas wear" kind of shopper.  I'm not the "shove people out of my way for the stuff I want" kind of shopper.  I'm not even the "stand in line for hours on end" kind of shopper...usually.  

What I AM is the "shop from midnight to 4am" shopper.  (Longer if no one is sick at home.)  I'm the "make a list and leave it at home" kind of shopper.  I'm the "I don't really want anything, but I can't resist going" kind of shopper. I'm the "shop all the local stores and then shop their websites" kind of shopper.  I do it for fun, with my sister and mom.  

And then I'm exhausted and all I want to do is SLEEP!

But, I have three of these:


and they like to get up early.  And eat. 

What's a super sleepy, post-Black Friday shopping mama to do when 3 hungry monsters sweethearts wake up too early on Black Friday morning?

Why, she'll pop a couple of these bad boys into the microwave:


50 seconds on each side, add a few apple slices, and my three munchkins had a balanced breakfast!  (Mommy got to turn the kiddos over to Daddy and go back to sleep!)






Tyson Mini Chicken Sandwiches are quick, easy, and budget-friendly!  (They're daddy friendly as well, in case the need should arise.)  You can purchase them at Walmart.  Click here to see where I found them in my store and to "watch" my shopping trip!  Right now, for a limited time and while supplies last, Tyson has a special offer at Walmart!  (Check here to see if your Walmart has the sandwiches!)  When you purchase 2 boxes of Tyson Mini Chicken Sandwiches, you can earn a $5 Walmart giftcard by mail!  Now that's #TysonGoodness!

This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. #CBias  All opinions are my own.





Melissa & Doug Facebook Cyber Monday!

Hey everyone!  Check out this awesomeness for Melissa & Doug!



Thursday, November 24, 2011

30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 24

Brussels sprouts.  

Yep, you read that right.  Today I am thankful for Brussels sprouts.   Sweet potatoes.  Carrots.  Corn.  Potatoes.  Broccoli.  Turkey.  The bounties of our Thanksgiving table today!

More than the food, though (although those brussel sprouts get me EVERY time), I am thankful for the relationships that grow around that table.  I am so thankful for family that gathers at every holiday, usually around a table to food.  With or without that food, though, I would be equally as thankful, not only for the companionship of my family, but for the legacy my grandparents left and that I am honored to be able to share with my own children.

I am thankful for my aunt who hosted Thanksgiving today...and also hosted a pre-Thanksgiving "Girls Rule" sleepover at her house last night for two 6-year-old girls and two 7-year-old girls!  I'm so thankful my kids are able to build friendships with their cousins! 

I am thankful for the many hands that had a part in preparing today's meal.

I am equally as thankful for all of you family members who couldn't make it today!  I missed each of you dearly!

Dear Lord, thank you so much for a loving, giving family.  Thank you for a day to celebrate the things and relationships with which we've been truly blessed!  I will be forever grateful for a legacy of love, not only for family but for our God as well.  Thank you for blessing me continuously!


(For the record, I thought they were Brussel sprouts!  That got red-lined.  You learn something new every day!)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 22

Today I don't feel like writing this post, because I have had a very frustrating morning.  I'm doing it anyway, and I'll be thankful for self-control.  Is that okay with you?  I'm thankful for it because I've been using it today.  (I mean...not on my eating, because that's not going so hot today...but well...)

Here's a sweet picture of my baby boy from a couple days ago.


He's so stinkin' cute!  How could he EVER cause the need for self control?!?

By standing perfectly still and letting this guy


use a pair of these





on those beautiful blond locks.  And not just a snip.  Nope.  You see, part of self-control is making sure that if you're going to do something, you're going to do it right.  ALL the way.  And Bugs tried to do just that.  

I was sitting in the living room, balancing the checkbook on this very computer, over which I could see the boys.  They wanted to use that pair of scissors to cut a piece of paper.  I could SEE them.  I agreed.  And then they were cutting that same piece of paper by the back door.  I could SEE them.  I didn't stop them.  And then.  "Look, Mommy!  I cut his hair!"

"You what?!?"

"I cut his hair!  I thought I could make it look better!" 

It wasn't a snip.


No, it was a pile.  A pile of three inch long, baby fine blond hair.  MY baby's hair.  Not connected to his head.  I couldn't even look at Stinky at first.  I thought of my sweet Aunt Maribeth, whose daughter cut her own hair, not too long ago.  I remembered that (as the story goes) she didn't yell.  She remained calm (although slightly tearful).  I wanted to be that mom.  I was kind of angry, though, so before I spoke a word, I closed my eyes, prayed, "God, help me," and breathed...and then sent Bugsy to his room until I could calm down.  When I opened my eyes and looked at Stinky, here's what I saw:


Not so bad, right?


RIGHT?!?

(Yes, you see 2 bald spots.  BALD spots.)


Inside that circle, under a fine layer of hair??  Bald.  And just above the circle?  It's hard to see, but totally choppy 1/2 in long chunks.

I didn't lose my patience.  I hung right onto it.  It took every. last. bit. of my self control not to yell.  Or cry.  But I didn't.  Because he's 4.  And he's 1.  And we've really never talked about NOT cutting hair with scissors.  We've never had to.  I just pulled out the scissors and cut Stinky's hair.  But it was still choppy and chunky and very, very obviously a temporary "fix."  And so, now, here's what we're left with:




Yes.  That hair is buzzed.  1/4 inch long.  And yes.  That is a bald spot, still obvious.  It's not the only one, either.

He's still cute, though...


Dear Lord, thank you for my boys.  Thank you for making them...boys.  Thank you so much more than I can say for keeping me calm and helping me to keep my emotions in check at times such as these!  You know as well as I do that 4 is not my favorite age.  Today didn't help that.  But thank you for helping me handle the situation with a supernatural amount of self-control and a fair bit of grace.



Tropical Traditions WINNER!

I LOVE announcing a winner and making the day of one of my readers!  Today it's Tropical Traditions Laundry Detergent winner day!  This is great soap!  Anyway, you've already read the review, you don't need me to tell you all the perks again.  On to the winner...

Samantha Cuhel!  Congratulations!  Rafllecopter chose your entry, #23!  Thanks for following Tropical Traditions on twitter!

If you didn't win, that's okay!  There are 3 more open giveaways on the blog right now!  Enter away!

Monday, November 21, 2011

30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 21



She's spunky.  Sassy.  Opinionated.  Smarter than either of her parents (shhh...don't tell her I said that).  She a perfectionist.  She loves her brothers.  Sometimes.  She loves school and would read 12 hours a day if she could (because she sleeps the other 12).  She loves the idea of art projects.  She breathes basketball all winter long (and if we had a good net, she'd breathe basketball in the summer, too).  She would prefer to read a non-fiction book over fiction because "that way I can learn things while I'm reading."  She has a vivid imagination.  She won't take anything from anyone.  She loves to eat salad and rarely drinks anything other than water.  She loves Jesus.  She adores her daddy.

Little Lou.

I am so glad God decided to let us borrow you for a while!  You've been independent since well before you were born.  You haven't stopped moving since God put you in my belly.  You didn't want to be held when you were born and you've really never relied on anybody for anything.  I get so frustrated some days because you are so very opinionated and strong-willed, but I know that someday I will appreciate those very same qualities in you because I'm confident you'll stand your ground when it matters most.  You're fierce.  You're a fighter.  You don't take no for an answer.  You're brilliant!

I love you very, very much!  You haven't turned out to be exactly who I expected you to be.  I'm kind of glad God makes surprises like you.  (You weren't a surprise, but who you have become was a surprise!)  I probably wouldn't have given you the personality God gave you had I been the one to pick, but I am so glad he chose a spunky, independent, fighter of a personality for you, because you've needed it already and I can't imagine what you'll be fighting for as you grow!

No matter what you decide to grow up and become, know that I love you and I always will.  Even when I get frustrated, even if I yell, I still love you.  You are a rockstar!  (And if that's what you want to be, I'll come to your concerts, but I don't see that being in your future.)  I love you, Little Lou!

Dear God, thank you for my little big girl!  I can't believe how quickly she's growing and becoming!  She amazes me, every. single. day.  As she grows, please show me how to be her mommy.  I don't always have all the answers, and I know I won't as she grows either.  Please help me to be right *most* of the time, though.  Help me to have the words to teach her about life and to teach her about you!  Help my words and actions to be uplifting to her, and help me to be a good, Godly example for her.  Help her to learn love through me.  Thanks for Little Lou!