Thursday, March 31, 2011

10-tips for a fun, distraction-free family vacation

It is hard these days to plan a true distraction-free family vacation, with all the technology out there for us to stay up to date on everything. I have teamed up with the Twitter Mom group and have come up with a list of things that you can do to plan a fun vacation that does not include distractions.

1) Don't let the kids take their portable games. If they have their games in hand they are going to want to play and may not be as involved with the family activities as you would like. If they are left at home, they will have no choice!

2) Only take one cell phone. We all know that we need a cell phone these days in case there is an emergency. But if you use your cell phone for business then you need to leave it home - you are on vacation so business will just have to wait!!

3) Leave laptop computer at home!!! If you take it you will be tempted to work, and how can your family enjoy being with you if you are still working?? There are those neat little messages that you can put on your email that says "I will be on vacation but I will reply as soon as I can when I get back". I suggest using these messages to let others know that you are on vacation and you are not just ignoring them, but also so they won't be tempted to try to continue to contact you.

4)Come up with fun games to play in the car. If the kids don't have their games they are going to be bored but there are lots of fun games that the family can all get involved in during the trip. One that I have always enjoyed is the 50 states license plate game. See who is the first person the see a license plate from each state, or see who sees the most.

5) Nobody wants to go on a vacation where you have so many plans that you are tired and miserable, but you do need to have some plans. If you do not have any idea of what you want to do then you may find yourself bored and possibly arguing over what to do. So make plans before you go, but make sure these are plans that can be changed if needed.

6) Let the entire family (including the kids) help out with the plans for the trip. Get the family together before the trip and look at all the possibilities of things to do, then let each person give their input of what they want to do. The kids will have more fun if they get a part in deciding where to go instead of being "drug" to places they are not interested in.

7) Depending on how far you are traveling, it may help to schedule special stops on the way. Look at the map and search before your trip of some fun and exciting places that the family would love to stop at and explore. This may be just a simple place that has a nice lookout or an old country store, but somewhere that will give everyone a break from the ride and keep the interst up.

8) Make a check list of things that need to be done before you leave home. It would not make for a fun time if you are constantly trying to remember if you turned the coffee pot off, etc. Make your check list ahead of time so that you can have time to think of everything that needs to be done before leaving and check everything on the list before walking out the door.

9) Make sure that you have completed all of your tasks at work. Don't go on vacation thinking about what you needed to do at work but didn't, or think about what you will have to do at work when you get back. Claer your mind from work things so that you can enjoy being away from work.

10) And finally, probably the most important tip I can offer is...make sure there is no tension among the family. If you and your spouse have been in a recent argument, make sure everything has been cleared up before vacation. Clear your mind, clear your schedule, and relax and HAVE FUN!!!

I hope some of these tips will be beneficial to someone as you take your summer vacations this year. I am also interested in some tips that you may have as well.



How I Keep My Family Happy

In 2011 there are so many games, gadgets, and our phones are "smart". We no longer have to read a real book because now we can read it on a device. Our phones can do about as much as a computer. And the gaming systems are so high-tech these days that you can actually play online, download movies and other fun things.

So why is it so hard to make our families happy?

I am a firm believer that "stuff" does not make you happy. And all the things that I described above is proof of that. It starts out with small babies and toddlers. Have you ever noticed that when a small child gets a gift, they would rather play with the box? So it starts when they are small, but we still continue to get them "stuff", which only makes them happy for a short while. They really would love to just have that big box to make a space ship out of it.

Now I am not judging anyone by no means because my family has a lot of these games and gadgets as well. But it is not those items that keeps my family happy. My son is happiest when he can go outside and play with the "scrap pile" and find something to build. Him and my nephew have built a clubhouse, and now they are adding more things to it. They have swing and a slide and each day they look through the scraps to see what else they can come up with. Those are the moments he will treasure the most when he is grown.

My daughter loves to sing. She is happiest when we get together and put in a CD, or plug in the MP3 player in the car, and we sing together. She walks around the house with the MP3 and sings all the songs over and over. She is going to be the next American Idol cause this girl loves to sing!

Farm Rich wants to help you “Keep ‘em Happy” with a selection of tasty and easy-to-prepare snacks! They have great snacks such as cheese sticks, quesidillas, and meatballs. Around my house we love to get together for family movie nights. We love making these kinds of snacks, put them on a big platter, and sit around the t.v. eating and watching. When I was growing up I can always remeber my dad being at work. We did not do many family activities other than family vacations. I appreciate all of the time that my dad spent working for our family, but I do love the fact that my children will have the memories of us having family time together.

So what is it that makes your family happy? Is it food that makes them happy, or something else?  Please share your thoughts about your family in the comments, I would love to read some of your stories!!

Disclaimer: I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Farm Rich blogging program, for a gift card worth $25. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

Monday, March 28, 2011

What is your favorite part of Easter?

Easter is right around the corner and the group from Social Moms wants to know, what is your favorite part of Easter. When I was younger I really enjoyed the Easter egg hunts. We would go to church and the adults would hide the eggs and then the kids would go out and run as hard as we could to find the most eggs. And someone would find a special egg! It was so much fun. And of course on Easter morning, the thrill of getting up to an Easter basket full of goodies. But all that aside, I think my absolute favorite part of Easter was getting a new dress to show off at church.

As I got older, my ideas and favorites changed but stayed the same. I know that statement did not seem to make sense so I will explain. Now that I am a mother, I don't hunt eggs or get an Easter basket, but I love the excitement that they have with these experiences. The fun and excitement they get when it is their turn to hunt eggs is priceless. And although my kids stopped believing in the Easter bunny a long time ago, they still enjoy the surprise of the basket that the bunny leaves for them. It is a wonderful feeling transitioning from the one with all the excitement about Easter traditions, and then making those traditions fun for the next generation.

But Easter would not be worth celebrating at all if we did not mention, or celebrate the true meaning of Easter which is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. My family enjoys the Easter egg hunts, and getting the Easter baskets, but our top priority is going to church and participating in the Easter program. If it were not for the resurrection, there would be no reason to celebrate so we make sure that is the most important part of our celebrating. And I love that our church has a different program each year. We have a program for the kids and one with the adults. They become very thought provoking and inspirational.

So, I ask you...what is your favorite part of Easter? Do you have some traditions or favorite activities? Share your favorite Easter activities in the comments. I would love to read some of your ideas. To make new memories, make sure to take your family out to see the movie Hop. It looks like it is going to be hilarious!

Disclaimer:“I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Hop blogging program, for a gift card worth $25. For more information on how you can participate, click here.”

Make Money Monday

When I began this blog, I never really imagined the possibilities to make extra money. Now I have not made enough that I can quit my job and stay home full time, but I have made enough to take care of birthdays and other holidays. So I decided that each week I would share some of those "money makers" with you.  Some readers may be like me, and work full time but need extra money on the side; or you may be a stay-at-home mom and need a way to make some extra money. Either way, I hope you can have success in some, if not all, of these ideas from each week.

For the first one, I want to share SwagBucks. SwagBucks is a site that offers different ways to earn "Bucks". These "Bucks" can be used to get different items from the swagstore such as gift cards, gift items, or even cash put into your paypal account. I love getting the Amazon gift cards, and I usually earn enough to get about 2 a month (@ $5.00 each). So, how do you earn swagbucks?? Well let me tell you!!

Click on this link SwagBucks and sign up. Then use swagbucks to search the internet. Periodically you will get rewarded with Swagbucks! You can also earn swagbucks by playing games, watching videos on Swagbucks TV, and so many other ways.

This is not one of those sites that will make you an instant millionaire, but if you want something to do, and want to earn "swagbucks" to trade in for stuff, then sign up and have fun!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Walgreens Brand Health & Wellness Products

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

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Do you take vitamins on a regular basis? I have known for a while that I need to take vitamins but they seem to be so expensive. With gas prices on the rise still, and everything else going up as well, I put vitamins on the way back burner. But like I said, I know I have needed them because I am always tired! In fact, my doctor recommended prenatal vitamins because they have extra iron that is good for energy. But to get prenatal vitamins, you still need money or a pregnant friend that don't take theirs. I have neither.

But there is good news; I recently found out about Walgreens Brand Health & Wellness Products. They are just as good as the "name brands" that we are so used to, but the cost is so much better. I received a sample of the Walgreens Brand vitamin A to Z. It is comparable to Centrum but at only a fraction of the cost. If you can get the same benefit at a lower cost, why would you not? I am asking myself that now wondering why I went so long without taking vitamins. You really feel better, or at least I have.

 

Another great thing I learned about Walgreens is the Walgreens Way to Well Fund™.  Purchase of every Walgreens Brand Health & Wellness Product supports bringing preventive wellness services to local communities through the Walgreens Way to Well Fund™.

a. Walgreens will contribute up to $3 million annually to the Walgreens Way to Well Fund™.

b. The Walgreens Way to Well Fund™ will provide free preventive health tests as well as other health and wellness services and education to local communities. Some of those services will include preventive health tests through the National Urban League Health & Wellness Tour and vouchers redeemable in select stores.

c. For details, visit walgreens.com/waytowell.

So, the next time you need any Health and/or Wellness products, check out Walgreens Brand Health & Wellness Products and help the community through the Walgreens Way to Well Fund™.

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Dive into the season's sexiest swimwear

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

Spring is upon us! With that comes warmer weather, which means swimsuit season is fastly approaching as well.  Express has some new women's swimwear for this spring season. Since I have a very ugly c-section scar, I can't wear the two piece swimwear or bikinis, but they have a great selection of swim suits that we all can wear and feel sexy in. My favorite piece is this pretty one piece.

PRETTY LOZANGE MONOKINI at Express

 Right now if you sign up for Express e-mail, you will have a chance at winning  one of ten $200 Express gift cards! Check out the sweepstakes rules for more information. The sweepstakes ends 4/21/11 @ 11:59 p.m. EST so sign up now!

Shop Our Newest Arrivals in the Express Spring 2011 Swim Collection!

* Available in our always-popular monokini, sexiest string bikini and must-have strapless and halter bikini styles.
* Shop bright solids, on-trend graphic prints, the essential reversible style, nautical-inspired striped and sleek metallic styles.
* Designer details include flirty ruffles, sexy self-tie sides, glam beaded embellishments and polished metal hardware.
* Removable padding in tops.
* Bottoms fit smaller to size for moderate back coverage.
* Swim shorts available for men.
* Accessorize with Express spring essentials including sandals, tote bags, sunglasses and hats For Him and For Her.
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Friday, March 11, 2011

**HOT** AMF Bowling coupn



Does your family do date nights?? Do you enjoy bowling?? AMF Bowling is offering $20 off four people. Go here to sign up for the eClub and get your coupon, then make a family date night!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

What makes you feel lucky?

Are you a superstitious kind of person? Do you carry a four-leaf clover, rabbit's foot, or something else that is supposed to have "luck"? I have felt like a lucky person most of my life. I have always had the ability to walk by a clover patch and find the one that has four leaves.

Whether you are lucky or not, Redbox has a promotion for everyone. The only thing better than $1 a night movies – free movies! Lucky you, redbox is giving everyone the chance to score free movie credits now through St. Patrick’s Day during the redbox Lucky to Have Friends Like You promotion. Each fan receives a unique web address. Every time someone rents from your address through March 17, you get a free movie credit. Rental credits are valid for ten (10) days after they’ve been deposited into your account. Spread the word, and lucky you could be rolling in free movies this March.

We own over 600 DVD's...yes, we are a small Blockbuster! I have never personally used the Redbox rental but with this promotion, I think I may just have to break out of my comfort zone and try something new. It is not that I won't use the box, but I don't always think about it when I am going to rent a movie. Plus, like I said, we own a lot of movies so I go to where I can buy the movies I want to see. But with the Redbox promotion, I can watch a movie to see if I like it, then go somewhere else to buy the ones I want to see again and again.

My family will tell you that I LOVE anything that is FREE!! And we all love to watch movies, so this promotion is perfect for all of us. I feel not only lucky but blessed to have everything that I have in my life. Pretty good health, a husband that works hard and takes care of me...in fact, I have to stop here and just share that I am SPOILED! My husband does the cooking (unless he is on night shift then I stop somewhere and pick up something for me and the kid), he does most of the house cleaning (he made the mistake of criticizing my efforts - they were not good enough for him so now he has to do it). And about a year ago I learned about blogging and I have been really lucky in getting opportunities such as this one to share with the world.

So please share with us, what makes you feel lucky? Redbox is making it easy for anyone to feel lucky by helping us score FREE movie rentals! Be sure to check out this promotion and score some movies for your next family movie night.


Disclaimer:“I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and redbox blogging program, for a $25 Walmart gift card from redbox. For more information on how you can participate, click here.”


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Pier 1 outdoor furniture

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Pier 1 for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Spring is in the air, or at least getting closer in most places, and Pier 1 is getting ready too. Although I do not personally have a green thumb, I do enjoy looking at the beautiful flowers that everyone has planted. There is not much about the outdoors that I do not love! I am a spring and summer kind of girl and I am so ready for the warm weather to come on and stay. I am ready to see the flowers in bloom, the kids in shorts, and the winter decorations coming down and spring decorations going up.

If you are like me and you enjoy the outdoors, then you need to visit Pier 1. The outdoor furniture has arrived and they have some beautiful stuff in stock. One of my favorite items is the outdoor wicker rocker. It combines two of my favorite seats, wicker and rocker! I also love this ceramic bird bath and the hanging frog bird feeder. There is nothing like sitting in the yard watching the birds and listening to them sing.

Pier 1 is having a special in-store offer the weekend of March 18-20. If you would like to be a part of this special event, go to www.pier1.com/outdoor and sign up. Also, be sure to sign up for the Pier 1 Outdoor newsletter and be on the look-out for upcoming Pier 1 Tweetups coming to your area. These Pier 1 Tweetups will be in the following areas:

  • Orlando: March 9, 2011
  • Dallas: March 22, 20011
  • Atlanta: April 5, 2011
  • NYC: April 20, 2011

For more information on these dates and times, visit http://izea.com/a-pier-1-tweetup-coming-to-your-area/

March 20th marks the official beginning of Spring, so be sure to check out the great deals at Pier 1 and get your home and yard ready!

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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Are you pregnant? Get a FREE BellyBag

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of CryoCell International. All opinions are 100% mine.

My babies are not babies anymore, they are 10 (almost 11) and 12. I will be the mother of a teenager this year and that kind of scares me a little!  When I was pregnant what seems like eons ago, it seems the idea of banking cord blood was just starting out. No one knew a whole lot about it, but even in the early years it seemed like a good idea. More and more we are hearing stories of children that are being treated for terminal illnesses by using their cord blood, and even the cord blood of siblings.

If you are pregnant, now is a great time to start thinking about banking your child's cord blood. None of us want to think about or imagine our child getting sick, but unfortunately it is a reality in more cases than we like to accept! I encourage you to go to www.Cryo-Cell.com and read up on the company that can bank your cord blood. One of the reasons that Cryo-Cell is the company you should choose is: Cryo-Cell boasts the industry’s highest levels of quality certifications and accreditations. On their site you can read the other nine (9) reasons they give of why you should choose them.

Also, right now if you go to www.Cryo-Cell.net, you can get a FREE bellybag. Although we never want our children to get sick, it helps to have a plan for when they do! And with the help of www.Cryo-Cell.com, you can feel confident in your choice to bank your cord blood.

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Psalm for the Day