Thursday, March 31, 2011

My Comfort Cross Review & Giveaway

Thank You to all who entered! I really enjoyed reading all of your comments below! I wish I had one for all of you, but I only had 1 to giveaway...
The Winner is Brandy McAmis!
You have 24 hours to send me an email at to claim your prize, OR I get to choose another winner!
I STILL HAVE 1 COMFORT CROSS TO GIVEAWAY!!! Soo...I am going to extend this giveaway for just 1 more day! You have until this evening, Friday, April 22nd to enter!

I recently joined this great blogging program for fellow bloggers to promote and review products called Business 2 Blogger. Through this great program, they connect you (the blogger) with companies who want you to try their products for free in exchange for a review! Pretty cool, right?

Well, I was selected by a company to try out their product! My Comfort Cross chose me as one of the bloggers to review their product!

So what is the product?
An attractive handcrafted cross made from Olive wood. The cross comes inside a beautiful red velveteen bag with a card explaining the significance of the comfort cross and this verse: “When I am afraid. I will trust in you.” – Psalm 56:3.

Designed to fit in the palm of your hand, it is perfect for taking with you anywhere...

The cross is smooth to the touch, and a perfect reminder to have faith in God. It is small enough where you could take it with you in your purse, back pack, diaper back, etc. You could keep it in the car, on your desk or by your bedside.

A close up of the card

The Olivewood Cross
Comfort Crosses are individually carved from a single unique piece of beautifully grained olive wood pruned from the olive trees around Bethlehem the birthplace of Jesus.
Christians have been carving crosses like this for hundreds of years, originally for pilgrims and more recently tourists visiting the Holy Land. Each craftsman receives a fair price to support their family and Christian community. The Comfort Cross is designed to fit comfortably into the palm of your hand as an aid to prayer or meditation. Ideal as your spiritual companion for easing children's fears, comforting worries and stresses of adults and focusing the prayer of the sick and elderly.

What's really great about this company?
Their mission is to help Christians in Bethlehem. This is a story they sent to me below:
Issa is a Christian living on the outskirts of Bethlehem and has been carving crosses and religious items his whole life to support his wife and three children. Twenty years ago my mother met Issa on a visit to Bethlehem and began importing his olive wood handicrafts. With the decline in Bethlehem tourism, Issa and other Christian Artisans are struggling. Our aim is to support them by providing a market for olive wood crosses direct to Christians in America.

Purchasing comfort crosses and other handicrafts made by local Christians in Bethlehem who are paid a fair price for their work both provides yourself with a beautiful natural reminder of Jesus Christ but also supports the presence of Christians in the land of Christ.

How much do they cost?
If you go to their site, you can buy individual crosses for $6, a pair for $11 or in packs of ten for $40. Comfort Crosses can be used for fundraising and giveaways at just $3 each, see the website for all the details.

If you go to this link, you can purchase 2 crosses with cards and bag and postage within the US for $12, a $2 discount.

OR you can win one in the giveaway below! I am giving away 2 crosses to my readers!

Comfort Crosses make a wonderful gift to say “thanks” or “I care” to your pastors, priests, bible study groups, prayer groups or any family member or friend in need of a little boost in faith. Also, Easter is coming up and this would be a perfect gift to that special someone for the holiday! Comfort Crosses are also available for fundraisers!

Visit to find out more information on their crosses and about the wonderful service they are doing for others!

Now comes the GIVEAWAY…
Two lucky readers will each receive one Comfort Cross of their very own to keep or give as a gift!

MANDATORY ENTRY: All you have to do is leave a comment below telling me what you like about the comfort cross or any gift ideas you have for the comfort cross!

Bonus (please leave additional comment):
1. Follow my blog with Google Friend Connect
2. Follow me on Twitter & Tweet about this giveaway
3. Like "My Comfort Cross" on Facebook
4. Share this giveaway on Facebook

This giveaway will end on Friday, April 8, 2011 Friday, April 22, at 11:59 PM! Thank you for entering and GOOD LUCK!!! I look forward to reading all the comments :)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

All the lovely...parties

You know that Beatles song (Eleanor Rigby) where they sing, "All the lovely people, where do they all come from..."

Well that song is playing over and over in my head because I found this list of amazing blogs/sites that provide freebie printables or ideas on how to design/buy your own party stuff for baby showers, birthdays, weddings, etc.

I would like to believe that there is some kind of creative instinct living deep down inside of me...but I just would like to know where it is. Why couldn't I have a beautifully decorated party? Or a beautifully designed house that comes out of a magazine? I just had no ideas how many hundreds, if not thousands of sites there are out there that encourage being creative, making things and publishing it on the world wide web.

Here are some of my favorite ones I found:

I guess I am just so overwhelmed by how much there is...but this morning as Arwen naps, and Destin is playing nearby I am adding blogs to follow, and links to like on Facebook..hoping and believing that maybe someday I could have such a lovely party. A lovely house. A lovely get together that will be remembered for years to come.

I wonder if there is anyone else out there who has these same hopes...hope for a creative part of their world come alive! Maybe when I find it, I could make money or promote a business of my own someday - wouldn't that be nice? I have a handful of friends that have done this...and I think I have mentioned it before. I feel like my creative side is just hiding and needs to spring out of me! Maybe someday...

My sick babies

Well if you read any of my recent posts lately, you would know that Destin had an up and down fever for a couple other symptoms, just a fever..she got it Sunday afternoon, but by Monday evening she was fine again.

What's worse than having one sick baby? Two sick babies!

Then Tuesday, Arwen woke up with runny nose and coughing most of the day. Then that evening, Destin started coughing, and now has a little bit of a runny nose too. I just despise cold season, and even worse now because its not even supposed to be cold season. Its spring, for goodness sake! But with the weather being hot one day, and the cold the next - I am not sure if allergies are lurking close to my girls.

Last night, Arwen woke up about three times (which is not normal for her!) crying and wanting to be held, rocked and eventually fed at 3 AM. Destin kept waking up, talking in her sleep, and flailing her arms around ALL NIGHT LONG! sleep for me or daddy! Ugh!

I know my allergies have been up and down...I just wish nice weather would get here, so we wouldn't have to be cooped up inside all the time. We were hoping to make a trip to Wichita, Kansas this weekend - a very long, overdue trip to visit with my dad's family - my aunt, cousins, grandma and great grandma (the girls' great-great). The last time we went for a visit was Christmas 2009! And now the girls get sick - perfect timing!!

That's one think that kind of bothers me...they say when you breastfeed your children won't get sick as much - and mine rarely do. But it doesn't help that wherever you go there are germs - on people, on shopping carts, on sinks, doors, etc. They are everywhere! See side note below...

I just hope that the girls are better soon...if we don't go to Wichita this weekend, it will have to be next weekend. Then we have two birthday parties to attend the month of April. I cannot wait for REAL spring weather!

On a side mom and I were talking about breastfeeding over the weekend and she mentioned that she breastfed me and my little brother (who is 15 years younger than me) until we over the age of 2. That is older than Destin! I could not imagine breastfeeding Destin still - but I know there are several mommy's out there in the world that continue to breastfeed well into the pre-K age. When I asked my mom why she breastfed that long??? She said that she didn't want to use a bottle, and sippy cups weren't traditionally introduced until 2 or older. I informed to tell her that both Destin & Arwen started using sippy cup as soon as they could sit up - between 4 and 6 months old.

As far as breastfeeding Destin goes, I stopped when she was almost one..and I was a few months pregnant with Arwen. I am not sure when I will stop with Arwen, but most likely it will be around the time she turns one. Simply because pediatricians say it is safe to give cows milk to your baby when they turn one.

What are your thoughts on breastfeeding past the age of two? Should more moms be doing this? I just cannot imagine breastfeeding Destin (even if we didn't have Arwen in our lives)...Destin is on the go all the time, independent, talking, walking/running/jumping and acting like a preschooler. I just don't know if I could do it.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Johnsonville Italian Sausage Review

A little over a month ago I was chosen by a site called SheSpeaks to become apart of the Johnsonville Italian Sausage program! They sent me a kit by mail and this is what it included: 3 coupons for FREE Italian Sausage, 5 coupons for $1.50 off to give to friends & family, 5 recipes which include Italian Sausage and One coupon for a complementary Francesco Rinaldi pasta sauce (which I cannot seem to find anywhere!).

About Johnsonville Italian Sausage:
In 1945, Ralph F. and Alice Stayer opened a butcher shop and named it after their quaint hometown - Johnsonville, Wisconsin. The delicious sausage made in the Stayer’s butcher shop came from an old family recipe, which made its way down the family tree from 19th-century Austria. This recipe became known as the sausage with the BIG TASTE, and a legacy was born! During the 1950s, the Stayers answered the high demand for Johnsonville Sausage and expanded into nearby communities. In 1970, trucks took to the road and began delivering the BIG TASTE of Johnsonville Sausage to stores throughout Wisconsin.

Today, Johnsonville is the most popular brand of sausage in the United States and is available in 30 additional countries. The company remains privately owned. Johnsonville is the No. 1 brand of sausage in America. The Italian Sausage is one of their award-winning product lines. Johnsonville has approximately 1,300 employees, referred to within the company as "members."

Types of Johnsonville Italian Sausage (there are lots to choose from!)
Mild Italian Sausage Links - Authentic Italian flavor with the perfect blend of spices that’s sure to please!

Hot Italian Sausage Links - Made with crushed red pepper, Johnsonville Hot Italian Links are sure to make them stand up and take notice!

Sweet Italian Sausage Links - Italian flavor with fresh, sweet basil for a one-of-a-kind Italian taste!

Four Cheese Italian Sausage Links - The perfect blend of Mozzarella, Romano, Parmesan and Cheddar cheeses ramp up the flavor of Johnsonville Italian Sausage.

•Mild Ground Italian Sausage - Mild Italian Sausage is now available in an All Natural Ground that adds flavor to any recipe.

•Hot Ground Italian Sausage - Hot Italian Sausage is now available in an All Natural Ground that adds flavor to any recipe.

•Sweet Ground Italian Sausage - Sweet Italian Sausage is now available in an All Natural Ground that adds flavor to any recipe.

My thoughts...
Our family loves Johnsonville meats...ground up, links, patties and more! This program was so much fun to participate in and share with my friends and family! One night when the weather was in the 70's last week, we grilled out with our Mild Italian sausage links and served with pasta salad, chips/dip and fresh fruit. Then tonight I served Sweet Italian sausage links cut up with pasta and sweet Italian pasta sauce (see pic below). I haven't been able to find the Rinaldi sauce at any of the grocery stores around here, but hopefully I will soon! I will keep my eye out, and put in a request at Price Chopper next week.

Thank you so much & Johnsonville for allowing me to review your products! I love being able to share my thoughts, and great products with my family and friends! I look forward to working with both of your companies in the future!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free provided by Johnsonville Italian Sausageusing with I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.—Be Heard. Be Happy.—Be Heard. Be Happy. is another great site that allows you to review products for free...a few months ago I was given several coupons for Florida's Natural Orange Juice. And today, I just got approved for Country Crock butter! Woo hoo!

Arwen Kinsley ~ 8 Months Old

Arwen Kinsley is 8 Months old today! No pics, since Arwen has a cough/cold - I hope it goes away soon! Destin just got over her fever that lasted a couple days :(

The months are just flying by and Arwen is growing just as fast...I just can’t believe she is now 8 months old! A couple of weeks ago on March 18th, I posted an update on her and Destin’s current milestones – so I thought I would include those on this post, as well as some new ones that she has mastered over the last two weeks or so. I told Patrick today, that in less than 4 months we will be celebrating her 1st birthday...and I know that it will go by so fast! I cannot wait to see what new things she masters until then :)
Milestones (from 3/18):
- Sits up wthout any support for long periods of time
- Scoots on her bottom & belly to go forward, backward and in circles (she is learning how to get from one spot to another in the living room)
- Has 2 teeth on the bottom (and is teething right now for some top ones)
- Goes from sitting to laying & laying to sitting on the floor/bed
- Claps her hands
- Makes sounds like an indian (with her arm/hand)
- Blowing raspberries
- Everything goes in her mouth
- Eating all sorts of baby foods
- Starting to eat finger foods (graduate puffs & yogurt melts) and fruits such as watermelon, cantelope, peaches, pears and more!
- Still breastfeeding great! About 4 or 5 times/day
- Went on a swing for the first time at the park this week (loved it!)
- Waving hi or bye bye (not saying it)
- Says 'dada' and 'mama' (not too many words yet)
- Laughing, smiling and squealing all the time!
- Working on crawling and standing up with support (with mommy or a toy)
- Loves to read books & listen to mommy
- Loves to play with all of the toys in the house! What baby wouldn't?!
- Knows her name & responds when someone talks to her
- Does not like having a dirty diaper!
- Does not like when mommy leaves the room

And here are some new ones…
~ Has eaten: crackers, popsicles, mashed potatoes, various baby foods
~ Drinks from a sippy cup (water only) - she has been doing this for 2 months now
~ Army crawling/creeping (and can move around quite a bit on the floor)
~ Working on pulling self up (she is so close!)
~ Can now stand with help (on a toy or holding mommy's hands)
~ Lots of smiles and baby talk!

I wanted to look back to compare the girls and here is what Destin's 8 month journal entry on 10/13/09 said:
Wow! Destin turned 8 months old today :) Its hard to believe that in about 4 more months we will celebrate her 1st birthday!! Destin now has 8 teeth - four on top & four on the bottom. She is pulling herself up to stand, holding on to the furniture/mommy/daddy, and 'army' crawling. She is so talkative - saying words, screaming, & making loud noises :) She is also eating a little bit of everything - sharing with mommy & daddy, trying out new tastes all time time. She really likes mac n' cheese! We are still working on good sleep schedule - it seems to change quite a bit, but most of the time she sleeps through the night.

Compared to Destin...
- Arwen only has 2 teeth at this age (compared to 8)
- Arwen is not pulling herself up yet (although she is starting to)
- Arwen is army crawling & scooting just as her sister was
- Arwen is not eating a lot of regular food just yet, she is still eating lots of baby foods and started finger foods about a month ago or so
- Arwen is a great sleeper and for the most part is sticking to a good schedule (Destin has not been a good sleeper for quite some time!)

Monday, March 28, 2011

"A Long Walk to Water" by Linda Sue Park

"A Long Walk to Water" by Linda Sue Park

A Long Walk to Water begins as two stories, told in alternating sections, about a girl in Sudan in 2008 and a boy in Sudan in 1985. The girl, Nya, is fetching water from a pond that is two hours' walk from her home: she makes two trips to the pond every day. The boy, Salva, becomes one of the "lost boys" of Sudan, refugees who cover the African continent on foot as they search for their families and for a safe place to stay. Enduring every hardship from loneliness to attack by armed rebels to contact with killer lions and crocodiles, Salva is a survivor, and his story goes on to intersect with Nya's in an astonishing and moving way.

Click on the video below to learn more about the book:

My thoughts...

A Long Walk to Water is based on the true story of Salva, one of a group of Sudanese "Lost Boys" who eventually emigrated to the United States in the mid-1990's. Park's account of Salva's life begins in 1985, when Salva is eleven years old. Things were good for Salva's family before the civil war; his family was affluent, with many heads of cattle, and could afford to send each of their sons to school. But because Salva's at school when the war comes to his village, he is separated from the rest of his family, and begins a long and brutal journey by foot to safety. Meeting up with members of his Dinka tribe, he joins their group, walking east toward Ethiopia.

During the journey, he must confront hungry lions, scarce water, crossing the Nile in hand-made canoes, swarms of mosquitos, and the most difficult part of their journey: crossing the unforgiving Akobo desert. He spends six years in the Ethiopian refugee camp, before their government decides to close the camp, driving the residents with guns out of the camp and across the Gilo River, well known for its crocodiles. Miraculously surviving the crossing, Salva makes up his mind to walk to Kenya--and becomes the de facto leader of a group of about 1,500 boys, some as young as five. More than 1,200 arrived safely in Kenya, including Salva. He led 1500 "Lost Boys" hundreds of miles through the Southern Sudan desert to the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya.
While in Kenya, Salva learns to read and speak English from an Irish aid worker, and eventually is chosen to be part of a special initiative to airlift over 3,000 boys and young men to America. Resettled in Rochester, New York, Salva goes on to found Water for Sudan, a non-profit which brings clean water to the parched regions of the south of his country.

Alternating with Salva's story, Park weaves in the story of a contemporary girl in Sudan, Nya (a fictional character), who must walk for eight hours each day to fetch water for her family, water which sometimes is contaminated and bears diseases. The two stories don't seem to parallel until the end, at which point they meet in a lovely ending - bringing hope, clean water, and education to Nya's village.

This slim but unforgettable book (120 pages) tells Salva and Nya's stories in a spare style, with no wasted words or descriptions. Like many stories about Holocaust victims, this book celebrates the tenacity of the human spirit, capable of maintaining hope and finally triumphing over incredible adversity. It's a story you won't quickly be able to forget, and I would highly recommend it for adults, teens, and children over the age of ten. Park includes an afterword by Salva Dut himself which provides some information on his project, Water for Sudan, and an author's note with additional historical background on the civil war in Sudan. 

I just couldn't imagine not having food or water for days at a time. This book truly makes you thankful for the family you have, the roof over your head, the clean water that you drink and just about everything in your life. It really made me stop and think about all of the things that I take for granted...that many people take for granted.

We often take for granted the faucets and pools that we have, and this eye-opening, well-written book would be a great class exercise as well as a reminder for adults. The views between Nya and Salva do get a bit confusing, but they are easily labeled and each could be a student lesson for late elementary to early middle-school students.

To learn more about the book click hereYou can purchase this book on Amazon (available November 2010). 

Thank You so much Net Galley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion) for allowing me to read this book! I cannot wait to read more books from you in the future!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Net Galley review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

"A Dog Named Slugger" by Leigh Brill

"A Dog Named Slugger "by Leigh Brill
The heartwarming true story of Slugger, author Leigh Brill's trained service dog, who transformed Brill's college years as she struggled with congenital cerebral palsy. Brill is now a counselor and motivational speaker involved in the service dog community. She travels with Slugger's successor, Kenda.

Watch this video to learn more about the author and her story...

My thoughts...
As the title suggests, this is the story of a dog, but it's also the story of the author and her struggle with congenital cerebral palsy. Slugger, a large Labrador, became her canine companion when she was in graduate school. By that time, balance problems and weakness in her legs were causing her to fall frequently, and weakness in her hands made it difficult to even hold onto a pen. She could no longer deny her disabilities, as she had done all her life, and push herself to be "normal." Slugger became much more than her physical support; their bond gave her the life-altering confidence to face her limitations without shame.

We follow Leigh and Slugger through their training and adjustment to each other, Leigh's newly freed life with Slugger to assist her, and her first meeting with her future husband, Pranav. The new family comes together, and we follow their personal and professional progress. Slugger is dedicated and totally professional when his harness is on--and a typical playful Lab when his harness is off.

The writing is excellent and the story is poignant without being overly sentimental, although you will need a tissue or two, especially as the author reflects on her childhood and the cruelty of other children toward the "crippled" child. Classmates bullied her not only in elementary school, but even in college and graduate school. Slugger helped her stand up for herself emotionally as well as physically.

I think the end of the story is where I truly started feeling the tears....since this is real life, and Slugger is a service dog, the time comes when he has to retire, and Leigh, Slugger, and Pranav all have to adjust to the introduction of a new service dog into their lives and home, a female yellow Lab named Kenda. One of the most touching sections of the book concerns Slugger's aging, and the growth of the friendship between the two dogs, as Kenda starts to assist Slugger, too, such as when he wants to play fetch but has difficulty seeing where the toy was tossed.

This is a wonderful autobiography and an insight into the world of service dogs and those who rely on them. I loved the pictures at the end of the story - you really got to see Slugger in action :) I also loved how Leigh Brill invites the readers into her most personal life and leaves us wondering what else she has ahead of her in life.

I enjoyed learning about canine companion programs as much as I enjoyed reading the stories of the author and Slugger. I am a dog lover to the core, almost every member of my family is too! I will be recommending this book to everyone I know! This book could be compared to the first person narrative book called Marley & Me (which was turned into a film a few years back - also a big tear jerker, but very funny).

You can buy this book on Amazon (avail. April 2010).

Thank You so much Net Galley and Bell Bridge Books for allowing me to read this book! I cannot wait to read more books from you in the future!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Net Galley review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Weekend Recap

I don't have a lot to report so I thought I would just sum it up...

1. Ants in our kitchen...they are back, and they are black! I do not like the ants our kitchen...although I do love the movies 'Its a Bug Life" and "Antz". Thanks for all the tips from friends & family via Facebook...I haven't had any luck with pepper, I am on to trying cinnamon this week!

2. One day last week we went to some last minute things and a new baby gate! Very exciting news around our house..we usually just buy the cheapy wooden ones that are falling apart at the seams. I also ordered a second one which we will hopefully get this week.

3. Wednesday (last week)...the girls & I actually got out of the house on our own (again). We went to the Post Office where I mailed some packages (still no word on if they received them yet though) and to the Greenwood park (where we have managed to go about three times this year). It was very windy, and I am starting to regret going now (see why below).

4. We went to Price Chopper on Saturday...during our mini snowstorm (I know, not smart...) but Destin wanted to get out of the house so thats where we went - grocery shopping, real exciting isn't it? 

5. We had an unofficial date night on Saturday...that is both the girls took a nap at the same time, during dinner. So Patrick & I ate dinner by ourselves (taco salads) for the first time since Arwen was born (almost eight months ago). I know we need to have a REAL date night - but this one counts, right?

6. SNOW...we got some Saturday & Sunday. Don't get me wrong, I love snow. Its beautiful to play in, make snowmen and such - but not at the end of March. It just a few days it will be April - where is Spring?!?

7. Arwen is teething, again...she has her two bottom teeth, but we think she is working on some top ones now. She is definitely wanting to put everything in her mouth still, and the last two days she has been very cranky, not herself...I am happy to say she is starting to be more of a happy girl again though :D

8. Gma Melanie (my mom) and Uncle Joe (my little brother who I am 15 years older) came to play Sunday with the girls. We usually get together every couple weeks to play.

9. That afternoon after they left, Destin got a fever, was very tired, took a nap (not like her) and was extremely cranky/clingy to daddy the rest of the evening. Daddy had a very short dinner, then proceeded to take care of Destin the rest of the night (lots of snuggle time, bath, and in our bed all night). Needless to say, neither one of us got much sleep - as Destin did not sleep well and her fever was up & down. The highest is got was 101, and currently its at 98/99. I just hope daddy doesn't crash tonight when he comes home from work - because Destin will be super excited to see him.

There is nothing worse than having a sick child and not being able to take that pain away from them. We must have taken her temperature at least fifty times last night, and I have probably taken it almost as much today alone. I have been sending update reports to daddy & grandma - and I even called the Dr just in case.

I guess there is always that anxiety and fear that come with being sick - but when its your child, hands down it is even worse. Especially when there is so much disease, virus and such ~ which is why I regret taking the girls out last week on that windy Wednesday, and to the grocery store on Saturday when it was very cold outside and snowing. Of course, you just never know - was it the weather? Did we not sanitize the shopping cart good enough? Was it my mom (who is a school nurse)?

I know one thing is for certain - whenever we have gone to the Dr or a hospital (we have only been once this year)..someone in our family always gets sick. I guess it can't be helped - and what scares me is that when Destin and Arwen eventually go to school someday they will be exposed to so much more than we are now staying at home all the time.

On a happier note...I am so excited to say, that Destin is acting like herself again - she got dressed, has gone potty a few times, drinking and starting to eat some stuff. After a few hours hanging out in bed, she wanted to get up, get dressed and play :) Right now she is napping which is why I am able to write this and Arwen is playing happily on the floor beside me....happy times :) I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!

Take care,

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Free Samples ~ Week 20

Maxim magazine (April edition - I was supposed to get 2 free magazines, but have received 3 now), Custom Sticker Makers sticker samples (8), and the KC Royals schedule for Spring

Txting Kills thumb bands in 3 different sizes (5) with baggy to hold them from Allstate (see the link to get yours for free!), Post-it labels sample & coupons, Babies R Us coupons & pamphlet, my Disney Movie Club packet (came with free stickers from the movie "Tron"), and Solutions magazine (spring 2011).

"14 Cows for America" from Peachtree Publishers (they sent me this book free of charge for writing a review a couple weeks ago on another book they published) from UPS ~ look for review soon!

HealthiDent sample (a dog treat shaped like a star) & coupon from Walmart, Target coupons for baby and One Step ahead catalog (spring 2011) from USPS.

Junk mail today :P

'Ready, Set, Listen! Game dvd from SAMHSA, 'The Lobel Family Guide to Grilling' book, 'Civil War Trails from NC" brochure

Our gift set that I ordered from Piggy Paint ~ I won a $15 gift card about a month ago via Simple Mom Reviews :) Destin loved having her piggies painted sea-quin (turquoise color)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Breast is best

I know that I have written about breastfeeding before, although I cannot seem to find where on I thought I would discuss some topics about the subject. For those of you that don't know, I exclusively breast feed my youngest daughter Arwen (who is almost 8 months old) and I breastfed Destin until she was almost a year old. No formula, no pumping, no bottles - just breast! Too much info?

There is so much research out there that says "breast is best", that is...breast milk as opposed to formula can do wonders for your baby.

Breastfeeding helps defend against infections, prevent allergies, and protect against a number of chronic conditions.

Reasons to Breastfeed:
1. Breastfeeding is natural and is what your body was meant to do!2. Breastfeeding helps you recover faster after delivery.
3. Breastfeeding exclusively is recommended by The American Academy of Pediatrics and The World Health Organization.
4. Breastfeeding prevents your baby from developing many allergies.
5. Breastfeeding lowers the risk of SIDS.
6. Breastfeeding burns calories and can lower obesity for you and your baby.
7. Breastfeeding can raise the IQ of your baby!
8. Breastfeeding decreases risks of many diseases and cancers for you and your baby, such as breast cancer and diabetes.
9. Breastfeeding allows you to spend quality time getting to know your baby.
10. Breast milk is the best food to ever feed your baby!

And some of my own...
11. When you breastfeed you may or may not have your "monthly visit".
12. No need to have a bottle or formula - less expensive!

15 Products that Make Breastfeeding Easier
There are lots of products out there to help breastfeeding mommies including, breast pumps, pillows, covers and more! The two things from this list that I use:
#5 my Boppy Pillow (I love mine - in fact, I have two! One for home & one for on the go which stays in the car at all times) and #9 Nursing Cover (I use blankets, my shirt, jackets, and I have two covers).

There are lots of controversies when it comes to breastfeeding...usually it has to do with feeding in public. Here is an article I found which lists the Top 10 Breastfeeding controversies...and here is one that was in the news recently: Breast milk ice cream - a ice cream shop in the UK was selling ice cream made from breast milk. The women who donated were of course checked for diseases, etc. and were paid for their supply.

Although the thought of being paid for my breast milk does sound appeasing, I am not sure I would want someone eating ice cream made from it. Would you?

Just thought I would share some of the highlights of breastfeeding...there are so many resources, books, sites, organizations and more that support this great way to help your baby grow. Until next time, take care!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

"14 Cows for America" by Carmen Agra Deedy

"14 Cows for America"
Written by Carmen Agra Deedy, Illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez
In Collaboration with Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah

About a week ago I received an email from Peachtree Publishers thanking me for reviewing a book (via NetGalley) a couple of weeks ago
here. In addition to thanking me, they said they would like to send me one of their books free of charge and this is the book they sent me!

In June of 2002, a very unusual ceremony begins in a far-flung village in western Kenya.

An American diplomat is surrounded by hundreds of Maasai people. A gift is about to be bestowed upon the American men, women, and children, and he is there to accept it. The gift is as unexpected as it is extraordinary.

A mere nine months have passed since the September 11 attacks, and hearts are raw. Tears flow freely from American and Maasai as these legendary warriors offer their gift to a grieving people half a world away.

Word of the gift will travel newswires around the globe. Many will be profoundly touched, but for Americans, this selfless gesture will have deeper meaning still. For a heartsick nation, the gift of fourteen cows emerges from the choking dust and darkness as a soft light of hope—and friendship.

Master storyteller Carmen Agra Deedy hits all the right notes in this elegant story of generosity that crosses boundaries, nations, and cultures. An afterword by Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah—the Maasai warrior at the center of the story—provides additional information about his tribe and their generous actions. Thomas Gonzalez’s stunning paintings, which are saturated with rich hues of oranges, browns, blues, and greens, capture the modest nobility of the Maasai people and the distinctive landscape of the African plain.

To read more about the story and learn more about the publisher please click on the following links:

You can follow this book on Twitter too, for daily words of wisdom, opportunities to promote compassion in your community, and special giveaways!

This book can be purchased at a bookstore near you and online with Amazon.

My thoughts...
In this beautifully illustrated book, the main character, Kimeli comes to visit his old village, his family, and his people.

News travels very slow in their part of the world, and he tells the story of September 11th, 2001 (9 months after it occured). He was in New York and witnessed first hand the horrible events that happened that day. The elders of the village, along with Kimeli decide they want to donate/bless 14 cows in honor of the American people. Based on a true story, this book puts what happened into pictures and words for young readers ages second grade and up.

The story itself really doesn't go into great detail of what they do for the cows, only that they want to bless 14 cows. The village treats their cows just like their children - they treat them with kindess, love and even give them each a name. So by blessing these 14 cows (it discusses what happened to the cows at the back of the book) they will never be slaughtered...they are a symbol of hope from the Maasai to America.

Where were you on September 11th, 2001?
I don't think anyone will ever forget where they were "when the world stopped turning". I was a senior in highschool, in my college Algebra class (hour 1)...I remember not being able to stop crying. I remember my drive home and seeing the gas stations raise their prices. I remember watching the news all day long at school and watching the two towers being hit with the planes. I remember worrying about what this meant for our country...and now almost ten years later, we are still fighting this never ending war. Where were you?

In my last review with this publisher, I challenged myself to see if I could find some more children's books that discussed the devastating attacks on September 11th, 2001. Since graduating from college and having the opportunity to teach (regular & subbing) grades pre-K thru sixth grade, I am always on the look out for books that teach children what happened on this day.

I decided that Amazon would be a great place to do most of my research and here are some more books (click on the name of the book to learn more) that I found that discuss 9.11.2011:

The Man Who Walked Between the Towers

September Roses


The Little Chapel That Stood

The Day That America Cried

September 12th: We Knew Everything Would Be All Right

On That Day: A Book of Hope for Children

What Will You Do for Peace? Impact of 9/11 on New York City Youth

New York's Bravest (This one is about firefighters, not 9/11)

Just a side note - I have never read any of these books listed above discussing 9/11, so if you read them, please leave a comment and tell me what you think!

As a parent, a teacher, a book lover, and an American...I strongly believe there needs to be more books that teach our children about natural and man made disasters. These picture books provide a way for parents/teachers to share with their children/students what life was like for a particular country, family, child, animal or any given main character. It allows the child to understand in some shape or form why something like this happened, and how we as human beings have the power to stand together and help one another in all times of need.

I personally do not know how I will share what happened on September 11th, 2001; Katrina, or the most recent Japan tsunami disaster, with my family. I just hope that someday I will have the strength and compassion to help them understand why it happened, and how it affects everyone around them, including who they will become in the world they grow up in.

Thank You so much to the publishers at Peachtree for sending me this amazing book!Take care and I look forward to reading more books from you in the future!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR

Monday, March 21, 2011

Free Samples ~ Week 19

Samples are starting to slow down in my mail box...but here is what I got this week:

Free Dove Chocolate bar coupon (I won this via Twitter!) and Free MiO Liquid Water Enhancer which makes 24 servings (berry pomengranate) with $1.00 off coupon too.

Miracle Whip samples (2), Pampers coupons, Bath & Body Works coupon for freebie stuff on March 19th (I probably won't use this, but if someone wants it let me know!), and "Eat Your Peas" book from (see review here).

ASPCA Animals Inside Sticker from Emergencies & magnet from them too!

3/17 - Happy St. Patrick's Day!
The Art of Marriage info and dvd from Family Life.

Hearos Ear Plugs sample and 2 coupons, Turning Points Magazine & Devotional (april 2011), Family Life Marriage Bible from Book Sneeze (look for review soon)

U.S. Toy catalog and Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the cure info stuff (to race in one of many cities July thru November)

Weekend Update

This weekend...Saturday, daddy got his haircut - then when he got home, we went shopping at Target (Destin would not stay with us, again!), then stopped by Pet store to see the dogs up for adoption (NO we are not buying, just looking!)...then had lunch at Chilis (where Destin only sat still for about ten minutes). Then we drove around to go to a nature center (indoors) by the zoo since it was raining, but there were tons of people there, so we just went home.

Saturday evening, we got together with Patrick's brothers and had a bbq at their house. It was nice to see everyone - the last time we saw everyone was over a month ago for Destin's birthday. Sadly I didn't take any pics (I should have!)...oh well! Hopefully next time I will remember to actually take some pics of all the kids playing. I think Pat got one on his phone of all the kids watching Spongebob together :)

Sunday, we had breakfast, got around, then went to the ZOO. We bought our family pass for this year - yay! - and got to see Nikita the polar bear again :) He is so amazing to watch - the last two visits, he has been swimming and doing back flips in the water. Destin loves to watch him! I posted a bunch of pics on shutterfly of it this morning (and here are a few).

After visiting the polar bear, we walked through 'Asia' where we saw monkeys, tigers and some birds...then we went on our first ride on the zoo train. A short, but fun ride.

Our first trip on the train!

I love this pic of Arwen sticking out her tongue! She is getting so big!

We managed to leave the zoo before it got too busy, and skipped most of the indoor stuff (which we did about two weeks ago when the weather was nice). We tried to find some shoes for daddy, but the Shoe Carnival store only has 1 aisle of mens shoes, and Famous Footwear did not have any in his size. As for me, I bought some $2.50 sandals at Walmart to last me this season :)

Just a side note...our crazy Missouri weather...earlier this week it went from upper 60s, to snow (up to four or more inches), then 70s, rain, and now beautiful again.

Later on that evening, after the girls took a nap and a messy taco dinner (Arwen loves refried beans! I wish I would have got a pic of her covered from head to toe in beans!)...we went outside and daddy worked on clearing out some of the weeds. Destin & Arwen also rode their powerwheels jeep from Christmas that we got them for the first time outside!

Destin is still learning, she just uses her feet and doesn't steer! AHH!

A really beautiful weekend! I can't wait to see what next weekend has in store for us...hopefully Destin will learn to stay with us too! I am wanting to checkout Crown Center (they have a neat Under the Sea exhibit, and we could check out Kaleidoscope too!).

Will it ever get better?

The other day I spoke on the phone with a friend...we discussed our girls (she has two girls the same as age as mine), families, teaching (she is a teacher) and more.

We started discussing if the economy/job market will ever get better. Its really scary to think about the times we live in, the lack of money there is and the massive increase on prices of just about everything - gas, milk (any groceries!), vacations and more! AND we started to discuss if things will ever get better?

She mentioned that families with 2 salaries are being encouraged to save 1 and use the other to pay bills. Which had me asking, what do we do in our case? We live on 1 salary from Patrick, since I am a stay at home mom to the girls. Daycare is $200/week or more per child...and if I ever do find a job (which may not happen with the increasing school budget cuts) I am not sure I would make any type of profit. I would be making just enough to pay off the weekly/monthly daycare payments.

I just don't see how families are making it these days. We live in a beautiful used home, with two used cars...but there are some that have new houses, new cars, daycare, and more and living on salaries with minimum wages - how do they do it? Welfare? Support from family members or friends? Loans?

I mean, we are okay...we make just enough to pay our bills and get the weekly/monthly things we need - but we don't save..which is scary...I would like to save money each week, or month and put away for the girls college, a future vacation or even when Patrick gets laid off - but we just can't afford it. Then the discussion of having more children comes up, and honestly I am not ready - but I really don't think we can afford one. I wonder if that's why so many families say "one and done" because of the costs of raising a family these days. Or maybe that's why people have more because at tax season you get $1000 per child that you have (up to a certain amount I think).

I do not want to put the blame on the government, the wars around the world, the rich people in our country or even on the big wigs of hollywood/sports - but I just wonder, where do we look for help? Patrick makes too much money for govt assistance, and because we are American we can't get a loan to start a business like some foreigners can.

How are people surviving this economical crisis? Is it just going to get worse? Will it ever get better? Do I really need to start looking for some type of extra income somewhere? I really don't have any talents, and do not want to start my own business (nor would I know where to begin). I have seen friends make stuff and sell on their own etsy shops - bows, clothing, jewelry, paintings and more...I'm just not sure where to look or where to even start.