Friday, September 30, 2011

Where do you shop for kids?

~ Link up at at Kelly's Corner - Show Us Your Life: Favorite Places to Shop for Kids. ~

I'm fortunate that Daniel (9) isn't picky about what he wears, but the days of buying "cute" clothes for him are over :( I bring things home, and he will normally wear them without saying a word. I buy most of his clothes at Target, Kohls, Old Navy, and The Children's Place. I typically won't buy something unless it's on sale and/or I have a coupon (unless it's something he really wants). I love clearance racks & online coupon codes!

Our baby boy is sooooo fun to shop for. I am a member of a couple private flash deal sites that sell merchandise at close-out prices...I love, love, love them! Membership is free, and you get credit for referring friends. How cool is that? It's a win-win. Both of these sites have products for boys & girls, as well as grown-ups...so it's fun to grab a little something for yourself when you're shopping for the little people in your family :)

My favorite flash deal sites for kids are Totsy and Zulily. They have awesome bargains on clothes, shoes, toys, and accessories for babies through pre-teens (and grown-ups). Beyond the Rack also has some great deals...they had baby wellies boots last week for just $14.00! 

Heartsy is another one of my favorite sites to shop for kids. They have exclusive deals on fabulous handmade designer items. They sell discounted credit vouchers to lots of unique etsy shops (for both children & adults). For example, I most recently purchased a voucher for $28 worth of product for $11. You absolutely cannot beat that! They offer a VIP membership that offers an even bigger discount on vouchers. You also get credit for referring your friends...I got a $5 credit for just signing up to be a member. I'm not sure if they are still offering the $5 sign-up credit or not. Simply sign up and go to "my credits" at the top of your membership page to check your credits.

All of those sites have great gifts, too! I find myself stocking up on birthday and Christmas presents year-round. Happy Shopping :)

Disclosure: referral links used

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Happy Five Months, Joel!

I know I say the same thing every month, but seriously, where have the past five months gone!?! I think back to those first few days of Joel's life and can't believe how tiny he was. He is growing fast and learning so many new things...here he is at five months :)
* Joel continues to eat about six ounces every two hours (for me - he spaces his feedings about four hours for the sitter - not sure what's up with that, other than his pediatrician said he probably just likes me to feed him, so as long as he's growing, I'm okay with that!) We tried carrots, peas, and apples just after he turned four months...he loved them the first time, but didn't want anything to do with them when we tried them again the next day. We took a break & started back up a few days ago...his new favorite is sweet potatoes, but he's still not very interested.
*He loves to be held, talked to, and sung to...if we're doing any of those things, he is usually happy....but put him down to get some work done around the house & he throws a screaming fit...hence the current state of our house...clutter, dust bunnies, mountains of laundry, a kitchen floor that looks like a jungle because of all the grass that has been tracked in, get-your-own-or-don't-eat-dinners...yep, that's life in these parts these days. Oh well!
* He didn't want much to do with a pacifier the first four months of his life...he sucked his thumb for a while, but never relied on sucking to soothe himself (he would cuddle his monkey or just want to be held)...until right after his four-month birthday! He has been taking most nights to get to sleep, and sometimes it's the only thing that will calm him down...and he's been sucking his thumb a lot more - so cute! :)
*He loved having Gee, Pappy, Aunt Maggie, Uncle Jake, Parker, Fischer, and Finn spend the weekend with us for our birthdays (Maggie's & mine). He looks so big compared to his cousin who is only six weeks younger than he is! He would pull on Finn's bib and they just looked at each other in amazement...cute! :)
*First tractor ride with Daddy last night...he was so calm & content...
*He celebrated Mommy's birthday by sleeping the whole time while we were out to dinner at Texas Roadhouse...probably the best gift I could have asked for - I got to eat in peace while watching him sleep :) - sad that I don't have any pictures of my kids & me on my b-day, but didn't think about it! oh well!
*He rolled from his belly to his back last week, but hasn't done it again since. He tries so hard to go from back to belly...one of these days! He scoots all around on his belly...he still loves tummy time.
*He is sitting up for short periods on his own...it won't be long until we have a sitter :)
* We tried short trials in the crib earlier this month, and he did pretty well for short naps. We finally transitioned from the swing to the crib. He does so well and almost sleeps through the night...only waking up once to eat and then going right back to sleep. Hopefully, he'll go back to sleeping through the night every night again, but we wanted him to like his crib before he grew out of his swing!!
* He's settling into his routine of being away from me during the week (I guess I am, too - although I'm not a fan).
*I don't know what I was thinking when I bought up a bunch of 6-month clothes...I guess I thought that meant he would fit into them at 6 months...but I was reminded that they are up to six months (which really threw me off for some reason)! I'm only buying things 9 months and up now, because he's growing so fast!
*He weighed in at 16lbs. 3 oz, measuring 25 1/4 inches at his four-month well visit!! Although he is on the bigger side, he is only in the 70th (approx) percentile for both weight and height - so he's proportionate and healthy! His brother was always in the 90th and above for everything!
* Favorite toys this month are...his new OBall, My Pal Scout, rocking snail mirror, and his Monkey (of course).
*He's also been showing his team spirit with his brother & cousins :)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Favorite Places to Shop for Adults...

~ Link up at Kelly's Corner ~ Show Us Your Life: Favorite Places to Shop for Adults ~ 
Shopping...it's a favorite past time of mine.  I love to shop...for everything...clothes, shoes, handbags, scarves, kids' clothes, home decor, toys, and the like. But...since Joel was born, I haven't had much free time, so most of the shopping I've done in the past five months has been online or when I get a chance to peruse the clothing & shoe departments while I'm at Target on a toilet paper & toothpaste run.  Cash isn't exactly flowing freely in our household these days either, so I have to watch my spending...And anyone who knows me, knows that isn't easy.  However, my birthday was three days ago...My family came to celebrate last weekend...and they delivered!!  I was blessed with cash, gift cards from Mom & Dad and a gift certificate to my favorite day spa from Dan & the boys.  I can't wait to take a day and spend those babies!!!  
I don't have one particular style...a mix, I guess.  I love to layer with jackets, sweaters, and camis.  I like embellishments.  Matching is usually a must, but I'm getting better at mixing colors that compliment each other...and scarves are a favorite accessory.  I have more shoes and purses than one can imagine, and I don't carry a purse for more than a few weeks before switching to another.  I like capris, dressy pants, and jeans.  I rarely wear dresses & skirts - just not my thing.  So...what style would you call that!?  ha!  My favorite stores are Kohls, Target, Old Navy, TJ Maxx, and Ross.  I rarely buy anything unless it is on sale and/or I have coupon(s).  

Here are a few looks from Old Navy that I love...
 
I am also a member of a few awesome private flash deal sites...membership is free & you get credit for referring friends.   Some of my favorites are... Totsy (they mostly have stuff for kids, but I always seem to find something for me when I'm there!  Another favorite is RueLala.
Beyond the Rack is another great site...they currently have the cutest sweaters for $39 (reg. $100)!  I also love Heartsy - they sell handmade items at reasonable prices - I have an infinity scarf from TeaRex on Heartsy and I love it!!!
Have a great weekend...happy shopping! :)

Disclosure: Referral links used.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Daily Devotions

I won't pretend that we have a perfect family and that we remember to do devotions every day.   But...we do have a book that we should read from on a somewhat regular basis.  One Year of Dinner Table Devotions by Nancy Guthrie is a book with 365 pages of daily stories & discussion starters (one for each day, dated from January 1 - December 31).   I don't know about you, but I like books and calendars like that, because it's easy to read for that day if you've missed some & I don't have to remember what I read last.  Each topic is different, and it's not necessary to read every day in order to gain wisdom and insight.
We try to sit down and eat dinner as a family at least four evenings a week (sometimes it's just impossible with soccer practice, church meetings, and school events).  There are nights when it's a real fast meal (envision brown paper bags with golden arches), but this book makes it easy to grab & read a quick passage that gets us all involved.  It's kid-friendly, and Daniel leads most of the time when we read them.  He even served communion on a day when that was the topic...complete with grape juice & bread :)
If you don't already have a devotional book that you love, I encourage you to try this one.  It has  meaningful stories & discussions for every family.
~~~~~
Each day's devotion includes....
*Several scriptures on the day's theme to read together
*A brief devotion that gets everyone thinking and talking
*Discussion starter questions to engage even the youngest and most reluctant participants
Source: One Year of Dinner Table Devotions by Nancy Guthrie, 2008
Disclaimer: I am not being compensated for this post...just sharing my thoughts :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

(in)spired: In God's Heart, I am...


A few weeks ago I stumbled onto a Facebook page entitled "In God's Heart I am..."  I had been having one of those days and "liked" the page.  I read some posts on their wall and then wrote my own: In God's heart, I am special even when I'm not feeling like I am.  The very next day I noticed that in(courage) was offering a free product in return for hosting a blog review.  The theme, you ask? God's heart for you.  Coincidence?  I think not.  
I signed up and didn't think about it again until I pulled in the driveway after another one of those days to find a package on the front porch with Blessings Unlimited in a whimsical font flowing across the box.  I had no idea what it was, but my only thought was, Lord, after today, I need all the blessings I can get...and I need them NOW!  Coincidence?  I think not.  
I came in the house with the kids, fed Joel, helped Daniel with his homework, and thanked God when I saw the steak thawed on the kitchen counter ready for Dan to grill when he got home.  The little things, I tell you.  Then I went out to get the box.  I opened it to find a "God's Heart" card pack tied up in a cute pouch...
simple.
modern.
classy.
I read them all, and every single one of them spoke to me in some way.   One of my favorites read: You're going to make it through, just when you least expect it (Romans 8:28).  Yes!  In God's heart, I am...going to make it through the day!  They are the most (in)spiring cards I've read in awhile.  I sent one to my sister who just went back to work after almost four months of maternity leave (and I know how hard that is).  It took me awhile to choose which one to send, because any of them would have been perfect. 
 
Each one is definitely (in)couraging, and I (in)courage you to stop on over to (in)spired deals and check them out.  Blessings Unlimited is Dayspring's home party business, so you can go here to find a consultant near you if you wish to purchase these cards {or any of their other items}.  In times where our main line of communication is through a keyboard & computer monitor, who doesn't love to get handwritten note in the mail?  I know I sure do!  These would be great to have on hand for the special women in your life.  Let them know that...In God's heart, they are special!  This pouch of "pick-me-ups" would also make an awesome birthday present or stocking stuffer...Christmas is less than four months away!  :) 
Disclosure: Dayspring gave me this product to review, but all thoughts & opinions are my own.

Monday, September 12, 2011

short & sweet

The Children's Place is offering FREE shipping today until 11:59pm EST...no code needed!  Daniel needs new pants for gym class & Joel needs some fall clothes - hoping to find some good deals tonight after soccer practice, dinner, bath & bedtime and whatever else crops up!  Happy Monday  :)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Under Construction

Please excuse this mess until I have time to completely revamp my blog.  I've been trying between naps, but it's not working very well!  Hopefully I'll have something I like by next weekend!

Where were you?

Where were you when the world stopped turnin' on that September day?

I was student teaching in kindergarten at a small elementary school in Williamsport.  We were in the computer lab with our kids.  My co-op teacher's son stopped by on his way to school after a dentist appointment and told us to get to a tv right away.  He proceeded to tell us what was going on...that was just after the first plane hit the twin towers.   We would later learn of three more "hits" on our country.  It wasn't long before parents started coming in droves to pick up their children.  One family had friends in NYC, and I can still see the relief on their faces the following day when they told us their friends were okay.  I was five months pregnant with Daniel, and remember feeling helpless and just needing to get home to Dan, call my mom, and be with family.
This song brings it all back...I still get goosebumps just thinking about that horrific day. God Bless America. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

Preserving memories...what's your style? - Curious George - and a giveaway


I wish I had some stellar wall with nothing but an awesome presentation of children's artwork...you know...like the ones you see in magazines?...but the truth of the matter is, I don't.  Even though I'm usually organized, when it comes to storing and displaying artwork,  pictures, and other memories, I wish I could do better.  
I try to keep our fridge organized and up-to-date with cute pictures, but it usually falls by the wayside and ends up looking as if photos just jumped out of nowhere and landed any old way they chose!

For Daniel's first birthday, I bought a small bin and created a "time capsule."  I gathered his newborn beanie, his coming-home outfit, pacifier, and lots of other memorabilia from his first year.  I also included all the birthday cards, the "1" candle from his cake, and some other small reminders of his special day.  At our family party, I had everyone write something special on an index card for him to read on his 18th birthday.  Since then, my grandma has passed (when he was only 18 months old)...I hope everyone else is still here to see him celebrate his 18th birthday, but those words will be so precious for him to read and keep forever.  (I have read them all a few times & cry each time - in fact, I read them on the 8th anniversary of my grandma's death last week when I took the pictures for this post.) I plan to do the same for Joel on his first birthday.  I actually started his already so I won't be rushing around when I'm planning for his big day...call me crazy, but I already have a gamete of first birthday themes spinning in my head...ha! 
  
 
For preschool and kindergarten, I bought a small lidded tote at the beginning of the year and  put special art projects and papers in them.  Daniel's art teacher in elementary school kept most of their projects throughout the year (love that girl & her talent!) and sent them home in a huge portfolio at the end...so the past few years, I have just put report cards and writing projects in with his artwork and put them on the top shelf of his closet. From time to time, we go through and look at it...it's amazing to see how his artistic abilities have grown over the years! 
I treasure photographs.  I have recently started editing on Picnik and I LOVE it!!!  Some might say I'm obsessed!  Even though I have a little Nikon CoolPix point & shoot that I think I paid $119 for at Target a couple summers ago, I feel like I capture awesome shots and can edit them to make them look somewhat better than the camera I am using.  It is my dream to own a Canon Rebel or some other semi-professional camera...but no matter what, I'm capturing lots of smiles, milestones, and action shots that will last a lifetime.
A scrap-booker, I am not...I personally think it is a waste of time (for me).  I apologize to those of you who pour your heart and soul into scrap booking, but I just don't have the time, patience, or creativity to devote to it!...and I admire you for all your hard work...any scrap book I've ever looked through has been crafted so beautifully and holds precious memories!  I do, however, love those photo albums with a place to write captions.  I have several for each year since Daniel was born.  It's a great way for me to chronicle memories and keep them organized  (without scrap-booking!)
I also make photo books on photo-sharing sites, such as Shutterfly, Picaboo, Paper Coterie, etc.  Membership is free, and they always offer great deals and coupons via email once you have joined.  My sister and I share an account on Shutterfly and create personalized calendars and other gifts for our families each Christmas.  They look forward to them and always get big smiles when they get that little package to open :)
 
Each and every photo and piece of artwork is a special keepsake and can never be replaced...no matter how you preserve memories for your family!  Leave a comment here and/or "like" CandidColelctions & comment on Facebook to win a coupon code for a FREE 8x8 photo book from Shutterfly...One random commenter will be chosen Sunday.   :) 

One more thing...Curious George is at Totsy!  Hop on over and check it out...I love Curious George...and I love it even more that Totsy is offering lots of books, toys, pajamas, gift sets, and more...at ridiculously low prices!  Free shipping for first-time shoppers...Invite your friends & receive $15 credit :)
And..I'm not sure if this is available to everyone or not, but when I went to checkout, a chat box popped up...I was skeptical at first, but gave it a shot...It gave me an additional 10% off my order...sweet!  Or...I think you can just use this promo code: totsygo2DLJOLCR.  There are lots of cute gifts...Christmas isn't far away!  Happy Friday...and don't forget to comment for a chance to win a photo book from Shutterfly! 


Disclaimer: I am not being compensated by any of the photo sites in my post...just sharing some good ideas :)
Referral link used for Totsy.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

It takes a flood...

I was at my desk writing a pass for a little boy to replace his rain-soaked pants when an email from our superintendent popped up on my screen.  Subject: Early Dismissal Today {due to flooding within the district}.  I can't lie and say that part of me wasn't a little excited...the kids had been cooped up inside for the past few days due to all the rain we have been getting, and indoor recess doesn't release near as much energy as climbing on the jungle gym...we were all itching to get back outside again!  I immediately thought of all the things we could do when we got home early.  Cooking, baking, snuggling, catching up on laundry, tuning in to the storm team on tv.   It took all of about 4.7 seconds for all these thoughts to run through my brain...then another 2.9 seconds to realize that leaving early and possibly having days off school meant revamping lesson plans and changing calendars - the part of my brain that color codes and organizes went into survival mode.  I gave the boy his pass and went back to reading {of all stories} The Little Blue Engine That Could.  Our lunch schedule was pushed up, but other than that, we went about our morning as normal as we possibly could - many of us eating yogurt, cheese, and crackers instead of the mac & cheese that was originally on the menu.  When the dismissal bell rang, lots of students were called to the car-rider exit instead of being dismissed to their buses because of their parents' concern for their safety.  We learned that some of our their homes were being evacuated and that they couldn't return home.  I felt so bad for those families, yet all I could think about was Daniel's safety as he would be on his bus on roads that were reportedly getting worse by the minute, wishing I could be one of those concerned parents picking my kid up at school.  That's an aspect of teaching of which I am not a fan - I care for my students, but I love my own kids & family comes first...I often feel guilty taking care of someone else's kids when I need to be with my own!  Dan was at work in Maryland, so there was nothing he could do other than listen to me nag at him to come home ASAP {which he did & for that I am so thankful}.  I thought I'd be rushing out the door {after all the students were called to their respective buses} to pick my kids up at the babysitter and heading home to do all that stuff on my get home early list.  Well, I  thought wrong. We got word that the buses couldn't make it to all the homes and that they would be coming back to the school.  I got texts from the babysitter saying Daniel's bus couldn't find a safe route, so they were possibly headed back to the school, and if so, she would go to pick him up there.  My heart sank.  I wasn't sure I wanted someone else transporting my child in a flood, but if it meant getting him to our neighborhood with his brother in case I couldn't make it home, then I was all for it.  About a half hour later, I got word that he made it safe & sound...I was thrilled!  I just wanted to make my way to both of them, but we had to wait.  I probably should have felt guilty when we got the green light to go home if we so chose {others were opting to stay at school to wait for the buses who might not make it home}, but I needed to get home.  Finding a passable route wasn't easy, but I relied on the GPS to take me anywhere.  I only needed to turn around one time {a creek was completely flooded across the road} and it only took me about 15 minutes longer than usual.  Some of the roads I traveled were quickly rising, and I'm guessing if I would have waited much longer, finding a route wouldn't have been so easy.  I picked the kids up and when we came in the house, I just sat.  I didn't cook, bake, or do laundry.   I asked Daniel if he was scared.  His reply: "Not really, Mom...I just prayed three times, and knew we would be okay."   I thanked God that we were safe above flood levels and that we had a place to come home to - when I know in my heart that others aren't so fortunate.  Three lives have been lost so far, basements are flooded, roads are washed out, bridges are crumbling, and many are without power and/or drinkable water.  Fixing my lesson plans and updating calendars just seems so silly.  I am not in control...I need to pray three times {or thirty} and know we are going to be okay.  Too bad it took a flood for me to get that figured out.  
And as we argued over who had the tv remote last {we had searched between every couch cushion and under the coffee table}...I had to stop and remind all of us that there are soooooo many bigger problems.  The remote turned up, and we went to bed, thankful for all that we have.   
I'll leave you with some pictures of the creek, road, and a little park down over the bank right behind our house...Please pray for those who have lost loved ones or whose basements or whole homes have been flooded.


wild.

crazy.
unbelievable.
I'm pretty sure their basement is probably flooded.
Daniel is so into weather...this is right up his alley!
He's in his element.

This is a little park that normally has some tables, chairs, tire swings, etc...everything has been washed away :(



one upside - I can finally wear my rain boots.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Happy Labor Day...and Totsy & Heartsy Deals

Other than a trip to the grocery store, Texas Roadhouse, and Target on Saturday, our holiday weekend has been spent relaxing at home.  I got up early Saturday to clean I could enjoy the rest of our three-day weekend without tripping over dust bunnies and looking at soap scum!  
Penn State won their home-opener...no pictures :(

I organized.

We baked apple crisp.

We bought and played with new bath toys.

We grilled out and spent our nights soaking up what was left of summer, complete with tikis, good food, and drinks! 

Now...I'm shopping at Totsy & Heartsy...check out today's bargains!
Totsy is having a great sale on the cutest Halloween costumes today!  Daniel has never liked Halloween and hates dressing up...But, Joel can't tell me he doesn't want to dress up yet!   So...he will definitely be in costume this year...even if we're just sitting around the house eating candy corn and answering the door to trick-or-treaters! 
Heartsy also has some really cute deals today.  My favorite is the $12 for $25 worth of product at The Hook Up.  I think I'm getting this owl hat for Joel :) 
 I hope everyone is having a safe and happy Labor Day weekend!  We're gearing up for a four-day week, filled with busy days & evenings...looking forward to Friday again! Stay tuned for a giveaway coming next weekend :) 

Disclaimer: Referral links used

Friday, September 2, 2011

Favorite blogs...

~ Link up at at Kelly's Corner - Show Us Your Life: Favorite Blogs. ~
There are a lot blogs that I read from time to time, but there are a select few that I have to read on a regular basis. Now that I've started back to work, I only have time to read on the weekends, but I look forward to catching up! Here are my favorites...
Kelly's Corner - She always posts the cutest pictures of her girls...they are so sweet - I go there just to see what they are up to...and those hair bows - too cute! I am tempted to buy some for Joel...totally kidding, Dan - in case you are checking up on my blog ;) I also envy her clutter-free house & interior decorating skills!
Kelle at Enjoying the Small Things is just full of inspiration. I stumbled on to her blog right after her sweet daughter, Nella, was born with Down's Syndrome. Kelle is an awesome writer...and an equally awesome photographer - I wish I had half her talent :)
I found Angie Smith at Bring the Rain shortly after she lost her sweet Audrey. She is a great writer...I read her book, I Will Carry You, last summer and cried most of the way through. Her latest book, What Women Fear, just released yesterday! You can get it here for just $7.99...go get one!
The Mom Creative - a life well-crafted
is a great blog about everyday life and great deals. I love reading about her adorable kids...she, too, is a great photographer. I love that she gets her point across in short posts most of the time. They are very easy to read...I wish I wasn't so long-winded sometimes! :)
Erin at The Vintage Pearl makes beautiful hand-stamped jewelry...I have this necklace and love, love, love it! She's also a wonderful photographer! :)
(in)courage - Home for the hearts of women is full of daily inspiration from tons of women just like you and me.
Happy reading...and if you're a college football fan, WE ARE.... you know the rest!
Have a happy & safe Labor Day weekend! :)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Tell your story.

I have made several photo books and the cutest growth chart for Joel at Paper Coterie...I LOVE their stuff!  
Get 40% off your order + FREE shipping :)
Use code: TELLYOURSTORY