And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children. Isaiah 54:13 KJV

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Summer's Here!

Now that we have celebrated Memorial Day, summer is in full swing! It's the time for cookouts, parties, and gatherings with family and friends. I love to have easy desserts on hand for those last minute plans. Look no farther than Private Selection Upside Down Cakes from Kroger.

I had the opportunity to try a FREE one as a BzzAgent. I picked the Double Chocolate Molten but I will tell you that it was a really tough decision. They all looked great! I found the cake in the deli section of my local Kroger.

It was easy to make, I just stuck it in the oven a bit to warm it up. The directions say to flip it to a serving platter. I will admit that was easier said than done. The pan needed more of a lip to keep a good hold on it. However Molten cake is meant to be messy so we ate it anyway!

I served it during a cookout with some friends. Everyone loved the super chocolatey cake. As you can see it was very gooey! It was a big hit with the kids.

Apple is a chocolate fiend so she got the first piece. She was quite pleased!

Take a look at your local Kroger store to find a Private Selection Upside Down Cake. It comes in Double Chocolate Molten, Amber Honey Apple Spice, and German Chocolate Fudge.

I received a free product in exchange for my honest review as a BzzAgent. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Workout Wear

I LOVE being a member of the Old Navy Style Council via Crowdtap. I get the BEST Old Navy opportunities. Old Navy is by far my go-to place when someone in my family needs new clothing. They have great selections for everyone and they usually have a fantastic sale going on.

I was thrilled when I was accepted for the latest Crowdtap/ Old Navy Sample and Share opportunity. I received coupons for a FREE Active Top and Bottom for myself and one each for a friend! I invited one of my BFFs to join me. She's a CrossFit fanatic and I knew she would use and love a new workout outfit. I was excited to grab a brand new outfit for myself to wear to Zumba.

We met at lunch and went to our local Old Navy. They were busier than I expected them to be! Luckily the active wear section was pretty calm so we were able to take our time and get plenty of pieces to try on. We each went through the whole section and mixed and matched several tops and bottoms. Then we headed to the fitting rooms. There were so many customers trying on clothes that we weren't able to get rooms next to each other and chat throughout our multiple wardrobe changes but we made it work.

Since we weren't right together I had to take my own mirror pics so bare with me.

I figured you'd be dying for some duck lip shots. You're welcome. I loved this tank and shorts combo. I could tell they'd be very comfortable.

Besties= super similar style. Actually B ended up getting this shirt with her coupon! I liked the purple shorts but I didn't feel like that color was flattering on me.

I liked the blue colors but the shirt seemed so thin. I didn't want anything showing through. B looked super cute in her choice but the tank was a bit baggy for her. We both agreed we had several Compression pieces in our workout drawers so we wanted to go for different styles.

I really liked this look. I have a very similar pair of shorts from last year but I wear them ALL the time. They are great for everyday, not just working out! B looks super cute in the bright yellow! She actually picked these shorts to get with her coupon. I just made her promise she wouldn't wear the bright yellow shirt with the bright yellow shorts!

What happens when you love everything you took in the dressing room?!?! I wanted them all but my budget said no.

I finally narrowed it down to 2 outfits. While I loved both for different reasons I decided I would get the most use out of the outfit on the left. The neutral gray shirt will go with lots of my workout bottoms and I just love the shorts.

Check out your local Old Navy to see all these great active wear pieces and more! Or if you are a shop at home type of gal then check their website here.

Thanks again to Old Navy and Crowdtap for my free workout clothes! All opinions are my own.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

School's Out for Summer

Now that you're singing the song, rejoice with me! Summer break is here! Hallelujah!

And so this little fella is a special Kindergarten graduate!

He was so excited to be recognized at church this morning with the other graduates. He's reading well although it still isn't his favorite thing, he's very interest in math and money still, and he's looking forward to finishing up his t-ball season and basketball camp. He's hoping we can go camping this summer as well so he has some time to go fishing. 

This little beauty has successfully completed the 3rd grade! She has her summer reading books all picked out and stacked up ready to read. One of our goals of the summer is for her to have 2 meals she can cook all by herself for the family. We've gotten a jump start and she prepared a fantastic hot dog meal almost all alone last week. She's looking forward to finishing her softball season (as the catcher) and music camp. She's excited about Vacation Bible School and a visit by many of her cousins for a family reunion this summer. She'd like to take a trip out of town just to get away for a few days. 

I'm so proud of these 2! School was rough this year. I know in the big scheme of things that we will encounter years like this but I must say I feel a HUGE relief now that we've made it to the end. I'm looking forward to swimming, enjoying some sunshine, and hopefully finding the perfect new home for our family. I'm also looking forward to a fresh start with school in August. I've got most of our materials for next school year and as soon as my Well Planned Day planner arrives I will begin lesson planning. 

We've already been doing some fun things. Here is something we worked on one day just for fun:

Now that they are a little older it is obvious that they love learning (even though they don't know that's what they are doing). I love that we have the flexibility to hang out and do origami one day because they are interested in it.

How was your school year? Are you finished yet? What are you and your little ones looking forwar to the most this summer?

Setting An Example

It seems as though the word bullying and stories about the tragic results of bullying are everywhere lately. As I see more and more "cures" and "tips" for bully prevention and deterrents I can't help but shake my head just a little. Of course I don't agree with bullying. I don't condone bullying. I breath a sigh of relief because we homeschool and so we don't deal with bullying on a daily basis.

My soft sigh is directed towards the top ten lists and the "expert" advice that I keep seeing in magazines, online, and on television. See we tell each other (ALL THE TIME) that children will do what we do. They won't listen to what we say, they will imitate our behavior. And then when the discussion of bullying comes up we all shake our head and say tsk, tsk and then give all the reasons why OUR child would NEVER be a bully. But if we're all tsking then where are these bullies coming from?

My point is this (now that I've wondered around a bit) WE bully. Grown ups bully all the time. We have entire magazines and cable stations dedicated to picking apart celebrities and those in the public eye. We call it humor when we talk badly about one another. We say it's for the sake of fashion when we critique someone from the tips of their toes to the hairs on their head. We call it politics when we delve into someone's personal life and scoff at all their shortcomings. What is that if not bullying?

We expect actors and actresses to be perfect all the time. We encourage photographers to follow them around and harass them and their families all for the sake of entertainment. If they are having a bad day, make a mistake, or pick sweatpants to run to the store then they are the news story of the week. Granted actors and actresses have willingly gone to work in an industry that they know will put them in glass houses but should they really be unable to hit Starbucks for a coffee without a tribe of photogs following them? What is that if not bullying?

We sit around with our friends and bash the choices of friends and neighbors that take a different approach to life then we do. We take it upon ourselves to decide what is best for everyone around us and then we shun them if they don't follow our advice. We stick our noses in the air and scoff at those that moms that work or those moms that stay at home, at those that send their kids to public school or private school or those that homeschool, at those that breastfeed or at those that don't, at those that co-sleep or allow their babies to belly sleep or those that let their babies cry it out. What is that if not bullying?

So I don't think many of those bully prevention tips are going to help. I don't think teaching your kids to fight or travel in packs or make friends with the bully is the solution. I think kids are following our example. I think the only way we can combat the bullying problem is to stop showing them how to bully.

We need to reinstate the golden rule. We need to teach our kids to treat others with love and respect. And that begins with us and the way we treat others. We need to STOP bullying each other. We need to stop bashing and judging and criticizing one another. We need to stop supporting the shows and magazines and stations that bully others. We need to support one another instead.

Brother Ray told us today that his dad used to say you can't judge someone else unless you've spent a whole day being them. Amen to that! Unless you've walked in someone else's shoes then you don't know where they are coming from or where they are going.

Stop bullying. It begins with you. And me. And every other grown up around.

(This is a free, convoluted message from the musings of me. You're welcome.)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Digging Deeper

I received a free copy of this book from Waterbrook Multnomah for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.

When I first began staying home with Apple I didn't know any other stay at home moms. It was a lonely time. We changed churches when she was very young and while I had my mom nearby I lacked the companionship of ladies my own age that were experiencing the same things I was experiencing. 

I was very blessed to have a mentor. My special SuSu guided me along with her wisdom from years of being a mother and a wife. We helped one another through that season. I was so grateful for her and the wonderful things she taught me.

Debbie Morris was looking for a mentor. She found many of them in the Bible. Morris shares the things she discovered and learned from the women of the Bible in The Blessed Woman. She's really dug into the characters of women like Hannah, Jael, and Miriam. She has studied their behavior (good and bad) and found some important wisdom that we can all learn from. Having this book is like having a group of ladies to turn to when things get tough. 

This book would be PERFECT for a ladies small group or Bible Study. The questions for each chapter will enhance a group or personal study. The 12 chapters would make for 12 great nights of discussions. Click here for a free special podcast from the author. You can learn more about Debbie Morris here.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

BB Beautiful

I was THRILLED to be selected for the Garnier BB Cream Campaign. I've been curious about BB Cream for sometime so I was super excited to have the opportunity to try it for FREE! I haven't met a Garnier product I don't like yet and this was no exception.

Garnier Miracle Skin Perfector Oil- Free B.B. Cream is perfect for my combination skin and my large pores. It has an SPF 15, it moisturizes, controls shine, and provides a lightweight coverage. The tube is big so it's going to last me a long time even thought I use it everyday. I just squeeze a small amount onto a makeup sponge, dot it around my face, and then blend it in.

Before B.B. very early on a Saturday morning
After B.B. pretending to be awake- at least I'm not shiny!

I love it because I don't need to use a moisturizer, a sunblock, foundation, and powder. Instead I just use my Miracle B.B. Cream and finish my other makeup and I'm ready to go! It looks great whether I do the full makeup routine or just mascara and gloss.

I'm really pleased with the look too. I go for a more natural approach with my makeup and the B.B. Cream definitely falls into that category. It isn't a thick coverage but it hides my flaws (acne, uneven skin tone, etc).

Thanks Garnier for another fantastic product! Keep them coming!

I received this product free from for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Promo: Kick Back and Play This Summer

Dry Idea

How would you like to win a years supply of Purex Detergent & Crystals? Or a new LG washer and dryer? What about a Little Tikes Endless Adventures Playcenter Playground? I'd love to win any of those super prizes! 

Purex, LG, and Little Tikes have teamed up to offer the Kick Back and Play This Summer sweepstakes to make parents' lives a little bit easier. 

Y'all know I LOVE Purex Detergent and Purex Crystals make my laundry smell amazing. A front load washer and dryer have been on my wishlist for a long time. We will be moving in the next six months or so and a new Little Tikes Endless Adventures Playcenter Playground would certainly make the transition easier for my kiddos. 

For ages 3-10 this playground set includes a slide, rope ladder, sandbox, swings, and more! My kids love to play spy and detective. This playcenter would be perfect for all their spy adventures. From hanging out at the top checking things out through their imaginary binoculars to digging in the sandbox for clues, they would never run out of adventures. I can see them sliding to get away from the bad guys and climbing the rope ladder to their next assignment. They would have a ball!

I want them to enjoy childhood imaginary adventures as long as they can. Apple still loves to play pretend and Speedy is all about anything that involves physical escapades so this Little Tikes Endless Adventures Playcenter Playground would keep them smiling and laughing for years to come!

Ready for your chance to enter? Please use my unique link to go to the easy entry form. All the rules of the promotion are available on the sweepstakes entry page. 

I am entered into a drawing for a gift card as a Purex Insider for promoting this sweepstakes.


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Fire Breathing Dragon Oh My!

I received a free copy of this book to review from the Tyndale Blog Network. All opinions are my own.

Adventures in Odyssey is back with an all new The Imagination Station installment. Book 11 is Hunt for the Devil's Dragon. I told you here about another story in this collection and how much Apple loves them! This one was no exception.

Cousins Beth and Patrick are back with an all new adventure. This time they are going back in time to learn how to deal with present day bullies. The Imagination Station takes them back to a time of Roman soldiers, merchants, and dragons! Will they stand up for their new friends and their beliefs? What will happen to the dragon? Are the Roman soldiers friends or foes?

Your age 7 and up young readers will be so intrigued by these books. Speedy hopes to start reading them soon. The stories are adventurous and they are all told from a Biblical perspective. These history trips will relate to struggles and situations they may be facing today.

A New Favorite for Apple

I received a free copy of this book for the purpose of review as a Tommy Mommy. All opinions are my own.

Apple loves to read. Apple loves dogs. Apple loves a good mystery. Rock Harbor Search & Rescue gave her all 3! This book is based on the popular Rock Harbor series by Colleen Coble. She joined forces with Robin Carroll to churn out this exciting mystery for the 8-11 year old girl crowd.

Apple was enthralled with this book. I'm not sure she sat it down until it was completely finished. It even went with us in the car a few times! When I read the book I could quickly see why she was so captivated. The story line is intriguing and moves quickly. 

Emily is falsely accused of stealing a necklace during a craft fair. As Emily and her friend Olivia investigate to find the real culprit, Emily stays busy with family issues, her first crush, and assisting her stepmom with the search and rescue team. Will Emily find the thief? Will she get her own pup to train for search and rescue? Will she find solutions to her personal relationships?

Normally I steer Apple away from anything with boy/ girl relationships in it but this book was different. It wasn't pushing the crush idea. The crush was only mentioned a few times and in a way that really just went along with the story line. It dealt more with Emily's ability to talk with people and problem solve than it did with attraction. 

Apple has read so many books so quickly that we are always scrambling to find her something new to read. I hope Coble & Carroll will write more girls books soon. 

You can find out more about Rock Harbor Search & Rescue on the product page or by checking out a special preview of the book here and by watching the book trailer.

Would your daughter love this book too? One special reader will receive a free copy. Fill out the easy Rafflecopter below for your chance to win!