Facebook Chat Tomorrow {Visa Gift Card Prizes}

cb fb chat

(Disclosure: This Facebook chat is sponsored by the company I work for but I was not compensated for posting this information.)

*****THIS CHAT HAS BEEN POSTPONED DUE TO TECHNICAL FB ISSUES. SORRY FOR THE INCONVENIENCE. *****

Can you believe that Thanksgiving is next week already!? To celebrate, we are going to have a Facebook chat tomorrow at 1pm CST on the cbSocially Facebook page. We’d love for you to join us in talking about all things turkey. There are prizes up for grabs, too. Three people will win $25 Visa gift cards during the chat!

Find all the details here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1451014955125550/ Hope to chat with you all tomorrow.

(The giveaways during the chat are not sponsored or endorsed by Facebook.)

 

Visa Gift Card Giveaway- Easy Entry!

cbsocially giveaway

I’m excited to share that on the cbSocially Facebook page we are giving away a $25 Visa gift card! It’s easy to enter to win. Just comment on this status on Facebook with your favorite store to shop at. The giveaway ends tomorrow, Saturday 11/9 at noon EST, so hurry up and go enter :)

(Disclosure: This giveaway is being held on my work’s Facebook page but I am not receiving any compensation for posting this on my personal blog. Just thought you all would be interested. This giveaway is not associated with Facebook in any way.)

The Best Restaurants In The United States, Canada And The United Kingdom

Social Fabric Local Restaurants Blog Hop

Remember a couple days ago when I posted my favorite family friendly restaurants around the Naperville, IL area? Well now I am excited to share posts from bloggers all around the United States and even some from Canada and the United Kingdom so that next time you travel you will have a list of recommended restaurants to try!

Eastern US

Tampa, Florida – I Run for Wine
Annapolis, Maryland – Maryland Momma’s Rambles
Framingham, Massachusetts – 3 Garnets & 2 Sapphires
Orleans County, New York – Living Off Love and Coffee
Charlotte, North Carolina – MommyB Knows Best
Eastern North Carolina – Rebecca Lately
Raleigh, North Carolina – The Dirty Floor Diaries
East Greenwich, Rhode Island – Mama Luvs Books
Richmond, Virginia – Close to Home

Western US

Phoenix, Arizona – Brie Brie Blooms
Aliso Viejo, California – Una Colombiana en California
Oceanside, California – Adventures of Valley Writer
San Diego, California – Toot Sweet 4 Two
Wildomar, California – Simple Sojourns
Las Vegas, Nevada – Growing Up Gabel
Las Vegas, Nevada – Home Cooking Memories
Reno, Nevada – Saving in Nevada
NE Oklahoma (Route 66) – The Creative Princess
Tulsa, Oklahoma – Masterpiece
Austin, Texas – Texas Type A Mom
Dallas, Texas – The Effortless Mom
Dallas/Denton County, Texas – Coffee & Giggles
Houston, Texas – A Day in Motherhood
Palestine, Texas – Going Crazy! Wanna Go?
Provo, Utah – Clarks Condensed
Salina/Sevier, Utah – Home Maid Simple
Salt Lake City, Utah – Summer Scraps
Bainbridge Island, Washington – Popcorn and Pearls
Seattle, Washington – Faith Filled Food for Moms

Northern US

Chicago, Illinois – East 9th Street
Lake County, Illinois – THE ROCK FATHER
Long Grove (NW Chicago Suburbs), Illinois- Make Dinner Easy
Naperville, Illinois – Making Time for Mommy
Cincinnati, Ohio/Northern Kentucky – {enjoy the view}
Detroit, Michigan – Roasted Beanz
West Michigan – Eat Local, West Michigan!
Rochester, Minnesota – The Mama Report
St. Charles, Missouri – Robyn’s Online World
St. Louis, Missouri – inRandom
Omaha, Nebraska – Midwest Mammas
Seward, Nebraska – Busy-at-Home
Dayton, Ohio – Mudpies and Tiaras
Miami County, Ohio – The Home and Garden Cafe
Greenville, South Carolina – The Destiny Manifest
Milwaukee, Wisconsin – Outnumbered 3 to 1
Norwalk, Wisconsin – The Mommy Bunch

Southern US

Northwest Arkansas – Jamie’s Thots
Northwest Arkansas – MamaBuzz
Atlanta, Georgia – The Jort Report
Cumming, Georgia – In the Kitchen with KP

Canada

Quispamsis/Saint John, New Brunswick – Older Mommy Still Yummy
London, Ontario – Creative Cynchronicity

UK

Banbury, UK – Bubbablue and Me
Bristol, UK – Slummy Single Mummy
London, England – The 21st Century Housewife
Portishead, UK – Practically Perfect Mums

Favorite Family Friendly Restaurants Around Naperville, Illinois

Social Fabric Local Restaurants Blog Hop

Ever travel and wonder what restaurant to eat at? Which ones are kid friendly? Which ones have good food? Well wonder no more! Members from the Social Fabric blogging community are sharing our favorite restaurants in the United States, the UK, and Canada. I am sharing about restaurants in the Western suburbs of Chicago, Illinois and in about a week will be sharing everyone else’s posts as well. Here are my favorite kid-friendly local restaurants:

All Aboard Diner

1) All Aboard Diner (Downer’s Grove, IL): We love this train themed restaurant! Ask for a counter seat and a train will come along the counter and deliver your food. This is a favorite to visit on birthdays because the train will bring around a little cupcake (they also have a party room). Thomas the Train plays on a tv screen and a train runs around the ceiling of the restaurant to keep the kid’s entertained.

2) Johnny Rockets (Bolingbrook, IL): This is a fun, old-fashioned diner. Pick a song from the tabletop jukeboxes to listen to while you eat. Favorites at this restaurant include burgers and milkshakes.

Lobster Grilled Cheese from Jimmy’s Grill

3) Jimmy’s Grill (Naperville, IL): During the summer this restaurant is a great place to go because of their large outdoor patio. It’s located in Naperville’s cute downtown area and is a fun place to people watch. The food is delicious as well. Last time I went I got the lobster grilled cheese sandwich. It’s a little pricier than we are used to but it’s pretty decently priced for the area. Kids are welcome at the restaurant and given crayons and paper to color.

4) Choo Choo Johnny’s (Naperville, IL): Similar to All Aboard Diner, this is another train themed restaurant where a little train delivers the food. Check the website for deals and coupons.

Pretzel dog with bacon and cheese & chili cheese tots

5) Sonic (multiple locations): This is a fun drive-in restaurant. They have great “happy hour” deals on foods and milkshakes. I love their new pretzel bun hotdogs, the boys like their french toast sticks, and Sinisa loves their cranberry juice with cherry syrup.

6) Lou Malnati’s (Bolingbrook and Naperville, IL): I live in Chicago so you know I had to have a pizza place on this list! While not my favorite place to go for pizza, I love going here for their salad. Yes, you read that right….I said I’d choose salad over pizza! The rest of my family does like their pizza though.

Cracker Barrel

7) Cracker Barrel Old Country Buffet (Romeoville and Naperville, IL): This restaurant is great for spending some time relaxing with the family. The porch is full of rocking chairs. There is a country store inside to check out as well while you wait for your table. Each table has an old fashioned game and there is a fireplace inside which gives the restaurant an at home feel. Crayons and an activity sheet are given to each child. My favorite food here are the cinnamon apples I get as a side dish with my French toast.

8) Culver’s (multiple locations): I discovered Culver’s when I was in college. I like their burgers because they toast their buns. The kid’s meal comes with a free custard which the boys can get if they eat their lunch.

BONUS: Bolingbrook, IL has a restaurant at the small, local airport called Charlie’s where kids can watch the planes take off and land. I’ve never been there before but it’s on our “to-do” list :)

Where do you like to eat in the Chicago suburbs?

Women’s Spring & Summer Fashions From Kohl’s {Giveaway}

kohls 1

I am so excited to be going to Collective Bias’ very first blog conference, #SoFabCon, next week! As an employee of Collective Bias I want to look my very best while representing the company and I don’t think the comfy pajamas and sweats I wear while I work from home are going to cut it. I have tons of cute clothes but not much that is fitting me nowadays so I knew I would have to go buy some. Thankfully, Kohl’s sent me a gift card to do some shopping and check out their Spring and Summer fashions.

My favorite item of clothing {other than yoga pants} are tank tops because I can wear them year round so I wanted to pick up at least a couple while shopping. I wanted to find a dress and a shirt I could pair with black pants for a dressier event at an art gallery and for Friday of the conference. I also needed some cute shirts to pair with jeans. If I found any accessories or a Spring purse that would be amazing, too!

Here are some of the items I chose:

Not one to wear white or horizontal stripes but I just loved this dress!

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Loving the color of this shirt!

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Earrings! These hoops are gorgeous!

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One of two polka dot shirts I bought. I think I’ve owned one other polka dot thing in my life but I just thought these tiny polka dot tops would add a pattern to my otherwise plain wardrobe. This one has little cap sleeves. The other is a tank top like the blue-green one above.

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Everyone needs a little blue in their wardrobe! This top is nice and billowy and looks cute with black pants. With the accents of yellow in the flowers I can even wear my bright yellow flats with it.

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This Derek Lam dress is so fun. You can’t tell in the picture but it kind of bubbles a bit at the bottom. Still undecided on if I’m keeping this one or not because I’m not sure if I like how it looks on me.

I found a lot of great clothes and earned some Kohl’s cash just for shopping. I am going to use my Kohl’s cash to get some jewelry this week.

Need to do some shopping yourself? One lucky winner is going to win a gift card to Kohl’s. Think of all the cute items you can get!

GIVEAWAY:

One winner will win a $100 Kohl’s Gift Card

HOW TO ENTER:

{Do any or all of the following, leave a separate comment for each you do}

1) Tell me what you’d shop for at Kohl’s

2) Share this giveaway on a social network

3) Share a link to an item from the Kohl’s website that you like

4) Subscribe to this blog via email (look in upper right corner)

5) Comment on another blog post

6) Follow @Kohls on Twitter

7) Follow @aliciamarie112 on Twitter

Giveaway ends May 20, 2013 at 11:59pm Central time. US residents, 18 and older only.

(Disclosure: As stated above, I received a gift card from Kohl’s to shop and I am an employee of Collective Bias so I will be attending the conference courtesy of CB. All thoughts are my own.)

Creating A More Welcoming Dining Room | Home Lighting Makeover

GE24

My family and I live in a duplex and have a small dining area that basically consists of a couple cabinets and a rectangular shaped table and chairs set. I had never really thought about decorating the dining area since I have young kids, including a 3 year old who can make a mess out of anything he is eating. Recently I had the chance to makeover my dining room area and GE Lighting sent me some coupons for light bulbs since no room is complete without light. (This is sponsored but all thoughts are my own, as they always are.)

Lucas and I went shopping at our local Walmart and I ooh’d and ahh’d over all of the things I’d love to put in my kitchen and dining area. Colorful mixers, glass cake plates, ceramic bowls… I saw all of the possibilities of what a dream dining space and kitchen could be like and then I came back to reality. I remembered that my space I was working in was small and that I had two little adorable boys who would be touching anything that was within reach. Most of those beautiful things would have to wait but I could do something nice with the space I did have.

I also looked in the lighting area. There were shelves full of light bulbs. Honestly I normally just find cheap light bulbs and am out of the aisle in less than a minute but since I had coupons I actually looked at my options. GE had a great value back of light bulbs for a little over $8 but I chose to get the GE Reveal® light bulbs that came 2 for $12 because of the picture displayed on the front of the box. I liked the idea of having bright, beautiful lighting in my home as opposed to the lighting that is pictured on the left.

Along with the light bulbs I came home with a few things for the dining area including a tiered fruit stand. I have always wanted one and though the bowls are breakable I think it’s sturdy enough to withstand my family. I found a plaque that talked alluded to the fact that I don’t cook that often and some flameless candles (remember those little hands?). I also was thrilled to find some cute decorative jar carriers on clearance that people who can fruits and vegetables probably use that I thought would work to hold bowls of condiments, appetizers, and trifle dishes for dessert. The last thing I decided upon were some colorful tablecloths to add a splash of color to the room.

Once I decorated the boys loved adding fruit to our fruit bowls. Then it was time to change the lighting. Look at what our lighting situation looked like before:

We had a mixture of energy efficient spiral bulbs and regular light bulbs. One of the bulbs had burnt out a few weeks back and we hadn’t gotten around to changing it. The fixture was also dusty so Sinisa cleaned it up a bit and added our new light bulbs. I’d really love to change the fixture but we rent so we are stuck looking at this one every day.

Wondering how much difference the lighting in a room makes? Check out this “before” and “after” picture!

We sat in our newly decorated dining room as a family for the first time yesterday and it was so nice! I had never wanted to sit there before but now I welcome the chance to sit in there. It’s well-lit and it feels inviting with the personal touches I added. One other bonus? We’ve been eating more fruit since it’s prominently placed on the table and I think this whole makeover to our dining area is going to help me lose weight! After we ate dinner I was still hungry but instead of reaching for seconds I helped myself to a small orange. Once I had peeled it and eaten it I was no longer hungry. Who knew that decorating could help you in the weight loss department, too ;)

I normally wouldn’t take time to makeover a room since I always put my wants low on my to-do list so I’m so thankful to GE Lighting and Collective Bias for the push I needed! Now I’m excited to redecorate every room in my home!

(Disclosure: I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This content has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias® and GE Lighting #cbias #SocialFabric #GELighting)

Touchable Skin With NIVEA Lotion

nivea 1

When I was a new mom I remember how close I held my children as I rocked them to sleep. I remember putting my finger in their palms and having their little hands close around it. I remember stroking their soft cheeks while I gazed at them, overcome with love for these little humans I had just met.

Touch is important, but not just in infancy. That need for human connection continues throughout our lives. Those hugs that express love. Those pats on the back after a job well done. Walking hand in hand across a street. As humans we all need to feel loved and touch continues to be a main way that this need is fulfilled.

Since I’m not lucky enough to have skin as soft as my children do, I have to rely on lotion to make my hands smooth and touchable. I heard that Sam’s Club had double packs of NIVEA lotion that was specially formulated for very dry skin. I headed to the store with my mom for a little mother-daughter time to wander around Sam’s Club and pick up the lotion. {See my shopping story here}

The 2-pack was perfect for sharing with a loved one. I could use one bottle myself and give one bottle of lotion to my mom.

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Upon rubbing the NIVEA lotion into my hands I noticed that it quickly soaked into my skin and made it feel smoother. I think everyone in my family will notice my softer skin. Sinisa will notice it when I put my hand in his and my children will notice it when I rub their backs as they rest on the couch. Everyone benefits when momma has softer skin!

(Disclosure: I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community.  This content has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and Beiersdorf for NIVEA.  #NIVEAmoments #cbias #SocialFabric

It’s All About Relationships In Business

ROR Book Cover

You may have heard the term “ROI” or “Return On Investment” which has been used a lot in business over the years but today I’m going to talk about another return- “ROR” and the new book out about it called Return on Relationship.

Here’s a little more about the book from the back cover:

Social Media drives engagement, engagement drives loyalty, and loyalty correlates directly to increased sales. Is your company currently focused on gaining brand advocates and building its social media credibility? Do you question whether or not using Facebook, Twitter, or blogs is a worthwhile investment of your time and resources? In Return on Relationship, Ted Rubin and Kathryn Rose present real world, practical ideas that will help businesses maximize their potential through using community-focused tools on the Internet. You’ll discover why ‘That’s the way it’s always been done’ will leave you without any customers. In this book you will also discover:

  • How to Maximize your potential by using the right  community- focused tools on the Internet
  • The importance of moving from convince and convert to converse and convert
  • What main problems will keep you from seeing dramatic results
  • How building engaged and responsive communities around your brand will significantly impact your bottom line

Whether your business is just starting out or if you’ve been a leader in your field for years, in Return on Relationship, Ted Rubin and Kathryn Rose give you a guided tour to taking your company to the next level.

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The book is available for sale on Amazon {find it here}. I am excited to read the book because Ted, one of the authors, is one of my bosses at Collective Bias. I’m so blessed to learn from him and watch him develop relationships using Social Media. It’s amazing to me that he has 100,000+ followers and has built relationships with so many of them. He truly practices ROR in his daily life and knows what he is talking about when it comes to marketing and social media.

About the Authors:

Ted Rubin knows what he’s talking about when it comes to Marketing and Social Media. He has been the Chief Marketing Officer of ELF cosmetics and Open Sky and is currently the Chief Social Marketing Officer of Collective Bias. Collective Bias is a content marketing company that weaves organic social content into real-life stories for brands and retailers. Ted is the #1 followed Chief Marketing Officer on Twitter. Follow him at @TedRubin and follow his hashtag #RonR.

Kathryn Rose is an award-winning, best-selling author, speaker and social media strategist and trainer with clients ranging from multi-million dollar corporations, to small business owners and entrepreneurs. Kathryn has a 20+ year career in sales and marketing that includes successful track record of using a collaborative mindset to increase sales. Follow Kathryn on Twitter at @katkrose.

(Disclosure: I am receiving a copy of Return on Relationship but all thoughts in this post are my own.)

Reusing Items For Learning Fun

learning fun recycled

I talked last month about Unilever and their commitment to donating meals to those in need. I found out that this was just a part of their sustainable living plan. They are also working on improving health and well-being, enhancing livelihoods, and reducing environmental impact. They are working towards a goal of 100% renewable energy. I think that the work this company is doing is amazing and it makes me want to work harder at reducing my own environmental impact. Wondering which of your favorite brands are made by Unilever? Take a look below!

I went shopping and bought some Bertolli meals and some Lipton Iced Tea. I love the Bertolli meals because they are easy to make and taste delicious. Here was last night’s dinner:

Jacob is not a huge potato fan but he loved the potatoes in this meal because of the sauce they were in. After dinner I wanted to find a use for the Lipton Iced Tea bottles. We recycle some items into a recycling bin but lately I’ve been trying to create more with “trash” and save what I can to reuse. My favorite way to do this is by incorporating them into learning for my preschoolers.

When I taught preschool I had some “sensory bottles” in my classroom. They were fun to shake and look at for the children and I wanted to make them with my own kids.

I used the Lipton Tea bottles that were empty and instead of throwing them away I reused them for this fun activity. First, I rinsed them clean and let them dry. Once that was done I called the boys to the kitchen table and we got to work. I had decided we would make two different types of bottles. The first we made was a “find and seek” bottle.

I filled a bottle halfway with rice and put some letter beads out on the table. I then called out letters and the boys would have to find that letter and put it in the bottle. They thought this was a lot of fun and they liked helping mommy.

After all the beads were in we added more rice. We filled up the bottle but left a little empty space at the top so that the rice and letters inside could move around. A little tacky glue in the cap to ensure we wouldn’t have a huge mess on our hands if one of them got it open and we were done with our first bottle. The boys liked shaking it up to find all of the letters in their names.

Next, we made some water filled sensory bottles. You can fill these with anything you’d like but we chose sequins and glitter and then added a few drops of food coloring in the water.

I let the boys put their own sequins in their bottles {warning: little hands putting little pieces into little bottles makes a huge mess}. They worked at this diligently for a while since they could only get a few pieces in at a time. I then helped them sprinkle glitter into their bottles and we filled them with water. I let them pick out the color they wanted to make their water and squeezed the food coloring in. I added a bit too much to Jacob’s and his turned a very dark shade of green. Lucas wanted red so I just added a few drops in his. I also added a little dish soap to put some bubbles in it.

The last one we made I decided to do half oil and half water. I put in some vegetable oil, a little glitter, and some drops of food coloring. The boys watched as the food coloring didn’t spread, like it had in the water, but instead created tiny beads of color. I think a full bottle of vegetable oil would have been a lot of fun. I added water and the colors bled together though it was still fun to watch the water and oil separate.

The boys enjoyed putting these sensory bottles together and then playing with them. I’m looking forward to creating more crafts with them using recycled materials. Someone suggested making a planter out of a Country Crock tub and I think the boys and I might do that as the weather gets warmer.

How do you reuse items for learning fun?

(Disclosure: I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and Unilever  #cbias #SocialFabric )

Hunger In America {And How We Can Help}

unilever cross off hunger

One in six Americans does not have access to enough food to sustain a healthy life.

One in six.

In America.

I’m not talking 3rd world countries here, I’m talking in this nation that I live in and most of you, my readers, live in as well. This country where myself and so many others go to our fridge, open it up, look upon all the food in it and close it declaring “there’s nothing to eat!”. What we really mean is there is nothing we feel like eating.

Never again.

Never again will I look into that fridge full of food and say I have nothing to eat because there are many people in my town, and in your town, that really don’t have anything to eat. They could only wish to have near the amount of food that I do.

When I think about how many go hungry every day it hurts me and I am moved to do something about it. Thankfully there are companies that want to do something about hunger, too. Unilever is one of those companies.

Unilever is committed to donating more than two million meals to families in need with Feeding America and every item on your shopping list counts.  Show your support by adding Unilever brands to your cart next time you shop.  Together we can help to Cross Off Hunger.

How will I show my support? By purchasing some of my favorite brands this season!

Ragu Sauce for pasta

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Imperial Margarine for Santa’s cookies

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Axe Shower Gels for stocking stuffers

Another way you and I can help those who are hungry is by learning more about food banks and providing items that they need. When I thought of food banks before I always assumed they only accepted food items but I recently learned that’s not the case. According to an article I read about the top 10 needs of food banks, personal care items and baby items are also greatly needed.

Volunteers at food banks and soup kitchens are needed as well, so that’s another way that you and I can make a difference and help cross off hunger.

What are your ideas to help those who are hungry?

(Disclosure: I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and  Unilever  #CBias #SocialFabric #BetterTogether )

Potty Training Children Who Have Special Needs

huggies potty training

When I was a preschool teacher {back before I had children of my own} I couldn’t understand how children older than three were not potty trained yet. I blamed the parents and assumed they were just too lazy to potty train their kids. Here I am years later ashamed that I ever thought that and realizing how wrong I was in judging them. My oldest wasn’t potty trained until he was almost four and my youngest is three and a half and not even close to being potty trained. And that saying about karma? Yeah, I think it’s true because I feel the judgment when people realize my child in pull-ups is in preschool and no longer a toddler.

You see, what I didn’t understand all those years ago was that each child was different and though I had this list of things children “should” be doing by a certain age, it was just a loose guideline. Some children develop skills quicker and some children take longer to develop skills and potty-training is no exception to that rule.

The first time I tried to potty train Jacob he was about two. I had this idea that a sticker chart and a lot of encouragement along with making him sit on the toilet every 30 minutes were the keys to potty training success. After about a week I realized that he wasn’t “getting it” and I threw in the towel. Not only was he not realizing he had to go, but he wasn’t even realizing that he was wet or had a dirty diaper. After this first failed potty training attempt Jacob started wearing pull-ups. I figured this would be the easiest way for him to go to the bathroom if he all of a sudden felt he was starting to pee in his pants and could get to the bathroom.

Months later I tried potty-training him again. He still wasn’t ready and I decided at that point to wait until he was realizing he had to go before trying again. When that milestone came around it was a little bit before his fourth birthday. He started telling me when he had to go and we’d run to the bathroom. Sometimes he’d make it to the toilet and sometimes he’d just be so busy with what he was doing that he’d wait until the last minute and end up having an accident. The first weeks were full of constant reminders and multiple accidents but a month or so later he was fully potty trained and he moved on to underwear.

I really wish it hadn’t taken so long to potty-train Jacob but this was my first kid and I had no clue what I was doing {not that I have any clue now but at least I have a bit of experience}. My first attempts at potty-training were before I suspected any special needs and I think if I would have known then that he had Sensory Processing Disorder I would have waited until I thought he was ready and saved both of us a lot of time and frustration.

Lucas I think is going to be a little tougher to potty train. Lucas has SPD like Jacob but, along with having that, he also has Autism Spectrum Disorder and significant language delays. After the long journey with Jacob I decided not to push it with Lucas. At three and a half he doesn’t notice when he is wet yet and only occasionally seems to even notice if he has a poopy diaper. Children with Autism often are delayed in potty training and having SPD and language delays means that things are even more difficult because he doesn’t process senses the same as a “typical” child and can’t communicate his needs as well verbally. With Lucas I feel more confident in my parenting and accept the fact that people may judge me but I don’t care because I now know that I am doing what is right for my child and for my family instead of trying to pressure him to fit.

Here are some tips I have for potty-training children with Sensory Processing Disorder and/or Autism {seeing as every child is different these may not all work but I hope some might give you ideas of what might work for your child}:

1) Wait until they are ready. Your child needs to realize that they have have soiled themselves before they are even ready to start potty training.

2) Explain the process of using the toilet to the child. Explain step by step before, during and after. Many young children with Special Needs, and many without as well, need to know what is coming up so they can mentally prepare themselves for the task. Reading books about potty training may be beneficial, too. Here’s a list of ten books that you can read with your potty training child.

3) Provide visuals. You can type in “visual aid for potty training a child with Autism” in a Google search but here’s a direct link to one I think is a good one that you can print out and use in your home. Some children are visual learners and pictures will help greatly so they can see each step of the process.

4) Develop a way for them to notify you that they have to go potty. Maybe use sign language or have them point if they are non-verbal. A picture card may work well also so that they can give you the card when they need to go. For children who are semi-verbal maybe they can learn one word that they can use to tell you that they need to go to the bathroom.

5) Encourage your child and celebrate every victory. Even if they start peeing on the floor and you grab them and sit them on the toilet and they finish the rest in the actual toilet bowl…that’s a victory! Even if they go in their pants but then alert you that they are wet… that’s a victory. They aren’t going to be potty trained over night but instead, there are going to be a lot of small victories on the road to potty-training success.

6) Some children need motivation to get tasks done. Each child is different and therefore their motivator will be different. For some it may be extra time with a favorite toy or electronic, like my boys and their tablets or trains. For others one m&m or a sticker if they go in the potty may work. One thing I have done in the past is put old McDonald Happy Meal toys into a basket and if they went on the potty they could play with one. Since these toys had been put away it was like they got a brand new toy and I didn’t have to go out and spend extra money on them.

7) Use pull-ups that are easy to get on and off. We like the Huggies Pull-Ups because they feature easy open sides. Since he still wears a pull-up to school these help because then the teachers don’t have to take off his shoes and pants to change him.

8) Consider using a special kind of training pant that lets the child feel when they have peed. Huggies has a type of pull-ups called Cool Alert that feel cool when wet. I think this one in particular would be great for children with SPD or Autism because they can feel when they are wet with these more so than with an ordinary pull-up.

9) Make it fun! The Huggies Pull-Ups feature a favorite character, Lightning McQueen from Disney Pixar’s Cars movie, which makes wearing them exciting. They love reading books in the bathroom. We also sing random songs I’ve made up, which Lucas really likes because he loves music.

10) Understand and accept that your child is going to have accidents. With potty-training, like any learning process, it is going to take time. Your child will most likely have accidents and that’s okay. As frustrating as it can be for parents, try not to get frustrated with them because that will just make the process harder for everyone involved.

I hope the above steps have helped give you some ideas as you try to potty-train your child with Special Needs. The Huggies Pull-Ups website has some other tips and if you have any tips I’d love to hear them in the comments :)

If you are wanting to use pull-ups, Walmart has Huggies on rollback right now in stores and online for $8.97 a package! They also have Night Time Pull-Ups that are extra absorbent.

(Disclosure: I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and Huggies but all thoughts are my own. #HuggiesWalmart #CBias #SocialFabric )

Holiday Happiness With Nivea

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I am so happy to be almost done with Christmas shopping. The only things I have left on my list are to buy stocking stuffers and teacher gifts. These are also the two hardest items on my shopping list so it makes sense that I’ve saved them for last. I looked online at the Holiday e-gift guide from Party Blu Prints that had some good ideas for stocking stuffers, gifts that everyone will love, and tips for entertaining during the holidays.

I came across Nivea lotion in the gift guide and thought about how it would work for both stocking stuffers and could be part of a teacher’s gift. I thought about putting together a basket full of relaxing gifts for the teachers with a little note on the lotion that said, “Thanks for making my preschool experience a ‘smooth’ ride”. Sinisa thought it was pretty corny so I’ll have to keep thinking about the saying but I headed to Walmart to pick up some lotion in the meantime.

There were so many great Nivea items to choose from. I even found out they have a men’s line which will be great for Sinisa’s stocking this year. I ended up deciding on the Nivea Smooth Sensation Daily Lotion because I liked that it has Shea Butter. This lotion also keeps working for 24 hours which is great for busy women like moms and teachers. It’s important to keep skin hydrated all winter long but I think that this season is so busy that it’s not always something that’s added to our to-do lists like it should be. I thought the Nivea lotion would be great with a gift card to Starbucks because I don’t think there’s anything better than pampering yourself while drinking coffee.

{Hey, don’t judge! This momma needs some time to relax, too!}

So the teacher’s gifts were mostly figured out. I think I’ll add a little homemade ornament and a card from the boys and then the  gift will be complete. Now it was time to concentrate on stocking stuffers. I made a list of toiletries, snacks, and other little items that would fit in the stockings. The large lotion I got would fit and be a good stocking stuffer in the adult stockings but I also found a tiny tin of Nivea creme that would work wonderful as well.

Apparently someone else thought it would make a good stocking stuffer, too….Look who stole my Nivea!

(Disclosure: I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias®  and Nivea #CBias #SocialFabric #HolidayGuide )

The Amazing Spider-Man Themed Party

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With The Amazing Spider-Man movie’s upcoming release on November 9th the stores have been full of Spider-man mania and infected our house! The kids and I wanted to throw a Spider-Man party for our extended family so we headed to Walmart to get our food and decorations.

We got Spider-Man tableware, party favors, and themed activities to do during the party. It was then time to head to the grocery side and stock up on food.

I was excited to find The Amazing Spider-Man pizza boxes that Walmart had out for the movie release. Closer to the movie launch, Walmart will be releasing Amazing Spider-Man themed Augmented Reality triggers that will be included on the pizza box & display pallet, triggering special Amazing Spider-Man experiences on shoppers’ iPhone, iPad or Android in-store.We also got boxes of cheese-it’s and fruit snacks that had Spider-Man packaging. And what party would be complete without some kind of dessert? We got a package of cupcakes that had Spider-Man rings on top of them.

I decided to host the party at my mom’s house since it’s larger than mine. My brother’s family came over for the party and the kids are always excited to see their cousins. Each of them wore a Spider-Man shirt for the occasion. While the pizzas cooked and I set the table the kids watched Spider-Man cartoons.

I kept the table-settings easy. I used disposable Spider-Man plates and plain napkins. I was going to get disposable cups too but Walmart had kid’s reusable cups for less than a dollar each so I chose to get them and then each child could have one to take home. I loved the masks because they were an inexpensive way for the kids to pretend to be Spider-Man. They were a hit with the adults, too! My brother put one on and was a good sport and let me take his picture!

After we ate pizza the children enjoyed doing a variety of activities. They colored Spider-Man pages, made sticker books, and played with Spider-Man character figures.

Before leaving everyone enjoyed the Spider-Man cupcakes.

At the end of the party each child took home a goodie bag with Spider-Man figures, fruit snacks, stickers, sticker books, rings, masks, and cups.

Are you a Spider-Man fan? Did you know that you can view the movie before it comes out on the 9th?! Since we bought the pre-purchase case we were able to watch the movie on October 30th and will get the hard copy mailed to us when it’s released. If you get The Amazing Spider-Man Pre-Purchase from Walmart you can watch the movie on VUDU now along with being able to access special features. You can get all of the details by reading my post from last month. This is a must buy for any Spider-Man fan!

(Disclosure: I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment #CBias #SocialFabric #SpiderManWMT )

Supporting Hesed House, A Chicago Area Ministry To The Poor & Homeless

Jacob in front of the Hesed House

As you all know, I have been sharing about making this an “others” focused holiday season instead of a “gift” focused season. I’ve shared about many issues lately that are focused on other countries but I wanted to show Jacob that there are people near us that need help, too. We talked about how some people in our town and towns around us don’t have any homes and sometimes stay at a place called a homeless shelter. We found one near us, called Hesed House, and looked at the list of items they were in need of.

Knowing that we could easily provide some needed items, Jacob, Lucas, and I headed to our local Walmart and shopped the health and beauty aisles.

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We bought soap, shampoo, body wash, toothpaste, toothbrushes, and deodorant to donate to the shelter.

We put everything into bags and headed to the shelter. Once there I told Jacob to hop out of the car and help me with the bags. It wasn’t until we were standing outside in front of the shelter that I had noticed Jacob hadn’t put his shoes on and was standing in his socks outside the homeless shelter office.

Once we were let inside we dropped off our bags full of toiletries and briefly learned more about the mission.

Hesed House’s mission is to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless and give people the chance to hope again. Today, Hesed House is a national model for ending homelessness – one person, one family at a time. It is the culmination of nearly three decades of strategic evolution from a formerly acceptable model of “eats and sheets” to a Comprehensive Homeless Resource Center – a campus of centralized highly skilled professionals collaborating to provide the tools necessary to help individuals and families break free of the shackles binding them to homelessness.

I think it’s a great ministry and one that I plan to be more involved with in the future as a volunteer. We’ve also already started a donation basket for our next visit to the shelter and will be shopping off of their Christmas wish list as well.

If you live in the Chicago area and would like to donate to this shelter please leave a comment and I’d be happy to meet and pick up donation items from you. :)

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This post is part of a #DialCFK Simple Service Project with Champions For Kids. They believe that no child should ever go to school hungry, cold or without the resources they need to thrive and as a mother I am thrilled to support them. You can connect with them on Twitter and on Facebook.

See my Google+ story for more pictures!

(Disclosure: I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and Dial Soaps  #DialCFK  #CBias #SocialFabric )

Updating The Fall Wardrobe With Cookies Kids

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My four year old is growing like a weed. While cleaning out Jake and Luke’s closet I realized that Jacob’s 3T pants were all way too short on him and it was time for him to move up to the next size. Most of the time I shop at a big box store but lately I’ve been so busy working that I don’t have time to get to the store. This is when online stores are ideal because I can shop at midnight when I finally stop working and taking care of the kids and I have a minute to sit and rest. It was one of these late evenings when I decided to shop at CookiesKids.com to get Jacob some new clothes.

I had shopped at Cookies Kids last year and loved the clothes that I ordered. They were really cute and the quality was wonderful enough that I was able to pass them down to Lucas when Jacob outgrew them. Looking at the site again  I remembered my favorite thing about Cookies Kids- the prices! There’s nothing better than finding stylish clothes at a great deal.

The online ordering process was pretty easy. I normally shy away from online shopping because I’m afraid of getting the wrong size but Cookies Kids has a new feature to help. The Alva Kids feature helped me choose the right sizes of each item with just a few steps.

When I went to pay I was excited to see that I had $30 in my account from referral credits I had earned in the past few months. Once I ordered everything I wanted I had it shipped to my house. About a week later the package arrived and I opened it to check out all the new clothes that I had bought for Jake.

I ordered three jean outfits, one sweats outfit, one hoodie, two pairs of pajamas and two pairs of long johns. With my referral credit, all that would have only cost around $60!

Outfit #1

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Outfit #2

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Outfit #3

I thought the clothes we got were great quality and Jacob felt very comfortable in them. The only thing I wished was different is that I would have liked to see the pants with waist adjusters in them since both my boys are pretty skinny and always need the waistbands of jeans tightened. Overall, I was happy with the clothes I had chosen and will definitely be shopping at Cookies Kids again.

Cookies Kids is amazing and gave me a unique code for all my readers to use so that you all can get 10% of Cookies Kids already low prices! Use the code “makingtimeformommy” for 10% off at CookiesKids.com! Code expires on 12/14/12.

You can see more pictures of my online shopping experience and the other clothes I ordered in my Google+ album. You can find Cookies Kids on Facebook and Twitter. If You are in New York, Cookies Kids have 7 stores in the NYC area in Bronx, Brooklyn and Jamaica.

(Disclosure: I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and CookiesKids.com #CBias #SocialFabric #CookiesKids )

Quick & Delicious Meals With Lean Cuisine

Lean Cuisine with fresh vegetables

Remember how I told you a couple weeks back that I was getting fit with Lean Cuisine and the Couch-To-5K program? Well I’m back with an update! It’s been fun and most of all easy to make healthy choices with this program.

First, lets start with the one thing I typically despise- exercise! Following the Couch-To-5K program started me off slow which is the way I need to start. Check out the first day:

I hate running. Hate it. But running for 60 seconds? Yeah I can do that! Here’s me after one of my workouts {please don’t mind my post-workout look}:

I also had fun on one of the days working out on the soccer field at the parents vs. kids game on Jacob’s last day of soccer. These are the kind of workouts I like because it doesn’t feel like exercise {but those parents that have ever played a sport with a young child know you do a lot of running to get stray balls!}

I enjoyed the food I ate during the past couple weeks as well. Thought I was eating healthy meals with low calories I didn’t feel like I was on a “diet”. I’ve been really busy so some meals I ended up eating at my computer.

Some Lean Cuisine meals I ate with a side dish. I chose fresh vegetables for most of my sides.

With the addition of these sides I was full afterwards which was a great feeling since I’ve found I tend to be hungry after eating other frozen meals.

Out of the three flavors I ate in the past couple weeks, my favorite Lean Cuisine frozen meal was the Sesame Chicken. With these meals there is no reason for me to skip lunch or dinner anymore. In less than 5 minutes I can create a healthy, delicious meal for myself.

Tammilee, my blogging partner in this challenge, enjoyed this challenge as well. I love the tip she gave for making sure workouts stay on her mind by putting her shoes right next to the couch so she sees them everyday. That’s a tip I’m going to steal! {You can read about her journey in today’s update post.}

If you want to try the Asian flavors Lean Cuisine meals you can find 6 packs of them at Sam’s Club in the freezers.

You can see more pictures from my shopping trip and of my meals in my Google+ story.

I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and (Nestle) LEAN CUISINE #CBias #SocialFabric #FrozenFavorites

Help Save America’s Mustangs

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I wrote earlier this month about my love for horses and how every time I saw one I was reminded of my mom who passed away in 2009. I shared that I look forward to helping my children see the beauty in these animals and sharing my passion for horses with my children. I also briefly mentioned a cause that is important to me called Saving America’s Mustangs.

Saving America’s Mustangs is a foundation that was created to protect wild horses. Businesswoman and philanthropist, Madeleine Pickens, started this foundation so that American citizens from all walks of life could unite to create a permanent home for these horses and save them from the unnecessary and cruel Government scheduled roundups.

Wild horses being rounded up by the government {Image courtesy of Saving America’s Mustangs}

Honestly, when I first heard about Saving America’s Mustangs I didn’t understand why there was a need for such a foundation because I was unaware that a problem even existed here in our country. I didn’t know that innocent horses were being inhumanely rounded up and killed. The thought of it made me sick to my stomach. Did you know that in the United States it is not illegal to slaughter horses?! American horses are being sold to killer buyers who slaughter them for financial gain! And it’s not just a few horses being killed. According to Wikipedia, 110 years ago there were 2 million mustangs roaming free and now there are only about 30,000. That’s not just a small fraction of them. That’s an alarming amount and a number that makes me think that at the rate they are being slaughtered they may not be around for my grandchildren to enjoy. That just makes me mad!

The United States government has allowed the slaughter of horses but they aren’t their horses. The Bureau of Land Management manages them but they don’t actually own them. In 1971, the Wild Horse and Burro Act ruled that these horses should be protected under federal law but they belong to the American people. Know what that means? It means they are mine. And yours. And I did not say that slaughtering my horses was okay. And I’m going to guess that you didn’t give the okay for this to happen either. Why are they deciding the fate of our horses?

What’s even worse is that, not only are they allowing this, but we are paying for it! Our hard earned tax dollars {about $85 million per year} are being spent on the removal and holding of the horses. Madeleine Pickens wants to instead bring them to her Mustang Monument where she could humanely house these horses for almost 4x less the cost. The horses would be saved and the American people would save millions each year. How does our government not see that this is the best choice?

I hope you will join the cause and unite with others who want to protect America’s wild horses. I also urge you to contact Government representatives and let them know that you are not okay with what they are allowing to happen to our horses. You can contact your local legislators, Nevada’s Senator, the US Secretary of the Interior, the Speaker of the House, and President Obama.

We also have a few ways to spread the word via social media.

Facebook: If you are on Facebook you can “like” Saving America’s Mustangs page.

Twitter: There is a Twitter party coming up on August 22nd at 1pm EST that you could join in {more details here}. Besides supporting a great cause there are prizes to be won. Our hope is to get the hashtag #saveamericasmustangs trending to bring awareness to what is going on here in America.

Pinterest: We are also having a Pinterest party where you can pin to win {more details on that here}. Whoever wins the Pinterest contest also gets a donation made in their honor to Saving America’s Mustangs.

EXTRA CHANCES TO WIN HERE AT MAKING TIME FOR MOMMY:

Since this cause is important to me I am going to offer one extra entry into any of my open giveaways for what you do to support this cause! You can get one extra entry for each thing you do above and an extra entry if you share about this cause on one of your social networks. All you have to do is comment on this post what you have done and comment on the giveaway post you want an extra entry for! I want to thank you for helping me support this cause that I am passionate about!

(Disclosure: I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and Saving America’s Mustangs.  #CBias #SocialFabric All thoughts are my own!)

Bag It Forward With Elmer’s

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For the 3rd year in a row I am proud to take part in the “Bag It Forward” campaign. I participated two years ago in the virtual campaign and last year donated a bag full of school supplies to a little girl whose family had lost their home. This year I chose to “Bag It Forward” to my nephew, Camden, who is headed to Kindergarten. I felt like it would really help my brother and his family by not having to stress about the cost and time of having to go get school supplies.

I headed to Walmart with the boys to pick up school supplies. I had the list of everything Camden needed and boy was it a long list! I don’t remember needing nearly as much of those things when I was younger. When we walked in the door we easily found the back to school section because it was in the front aisles.

I love that Walmart has a school supply list holder. It’s so convenient for parents to easily ensure they are buying the supplies that their kids actually need and not just what they think they need. I read the information about the 1st Day app and excitingly downloaded it. What a fun way to document the boys first day of school and easily help give back to others!

One thing my mom told me that Camden really wanted was a Transformers backpack and lunchbox. I found backpacks for only $10 and I thought this was a great find because I had just spent $19 on the backpacks I purchased for Jacob and Lucas at another store.

Jacob loved helping me find the supplies we needed.

Lucas also enjoyed helping mommy shop. He was very excited when I put these watercolors in the cart {I think he thought they were for him!}

After I had gotten most of the school supplies on Camden’s list we head to the toy aisle. Jacob always asks me, “mommy, I look with my eyes?” and circles his fingers into glasses. It’s so cute that I just can’t resist his request! On our way there we saw a great display with school supply kits in it.

Pre-made school supply kits! What a great idea. And for $20 with over $30 worth of coupons in it the price can’t be beat when it’s purchased to give to someone in need. I thought of the supplies on the list that I still needed because they were out of stock and added one of these bags to my cart.

After we looked at the toys we looked at the clearance shirts. I thought it would be nice to get a shirt for Camden to wear on his first day of school. We then picked up the rest of the things we needed and headed for the checkout lines. {You can see more pictures from my shopping trip in my Google+ story}

We headed right from Walmart to my mom’s house for our playdate with the boys’ cousins. Thankfully the kids napped on the way there. Once we got to my mom’s house we surprised Camden with all his school supplies.

My nephew was so excited to see that he got the backpack he was hoping to. I also think he won’t need any school supplies throughout the year because we even got him some backup supplies!

Afterwards, the children sat down to do a craft. I had brought my Elmer’s glue, craft sticks, superhero stickers, and letter stickers so the children could decorate picture frames.

Maddie, Camden, and Jacob enjoyed decorating their frames. Maddie and Camden went crazy with the stickers while Jacob kept it simple with just his name on it.

I love how Maddie’s turned out!

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Do you have someone in your life who could use help getting the school supplies they need? It’s as simple as heading to Walmart and picking up a prepackaged bag of supplies while you do your own back to school shopping. I also created a list on list.ly with my top 10 school supplies young kids need.

Another easy way to give back to others is by using the 1st Day app. It can be downloaded from the iTunes store,  Google Play and from the website www.the1stday.com. This application was especially created for parents to use on their children’s first day of school. It makes it easy to organize the pictures and share them with friends and loved ones. For every photo uploaded, Elmer’s will donate one product to The Kids in Need Foundation (up to 200,000 products). I love that giving back is as simple as uploading photos of my children on their first day of school which is something that I was going to do anyway.

See how others are bagging it forward on Pinterest.

Want to connect with Elmer’s?

Find them on Facebook and Twitter

(Disclosure: I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and and Elmer’s.  #BagItForward #CBias #SocialFabric )

Saving America’s Mustangs

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I think my love of horses was passed down to me from my {step}mom. She is the one who first introduced me to horses when I was a young child and nurtured my love of them. When I was in second grade we moved to a new house in the suburbs of Chicago and our house was right down the street from a horse stable, the same horse stable that one of my mom’s friends just happened to board her horse at. I was so excited when I found out that this horse stable was within walking distance of my home. I lived in this home until I left for college so through the years I would spend afternoons walking over to the stable, carrot in hand, to visit Rusty. He was a beautiful horse and I enjoyed getting away from the busyness of school and activities.

When I was in my last year of high school my parents talked about moving and one of the things on my mom’s wishlist was a horse stable. Though I was headed off to college and likely not going to be living in their new home I always hoped that they would have a stable and a pool that I could enjoy when I came home to visit. My mom never ended up getting that house with the horse stable she dreamed of, but her life long best friend, who I grew up calling my Aunt, had one and my mom loved visiting the horses. She passed away in 2009 but I recently found some old photos of her and you could just see how happy she was around them. My sister still heads out to Missouri every summer and stays down there with my Aunt and cousins. She just got back a couple days ago and I wanted to share some pictures of my Aunt’s horses:

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Can you see why I love these animals??

I recently learned about a foundation called Saving America’s Mustangs and immediately knew that I wanted to do anything I could to support it. I found out that over 100 yrs ago 2 million wild horses roamed free in the US. and today only about 30,000 remain!

About Saving America’s Mustangs: Wild horses are a living symbol of our American heritage and freedom. These Mustangs must be protected. Businesswoman and philanthropist, Madeleine Pickens, is committed to this promise. Through her Foundation, citizens from all walks of life are uniting to create a permanent home, a Sanctuary, to save these magnificent national treasures.

image courtesy of Saving America’s Mustangs

So why do I support Saving America’s Mustangs? Because every time I drive past horses in a field I think of my childhood and I think of my mom and the time we spent together riding horses at girl scout camps. I think about my children and how I want them to learn about horses and have the opportunity to spend time with them like I did when I was younger. I think about future generations who may not have these beautiful animals and it saddens me.

The good thing is that we can do something to preserve wild horses. I will be sharing all about how you can personally help this cause in the next couple weeks. We also have a Pinterest party this month {from August 10th through August 24th} to raise awareness for Saving America’s Mustangs. Not only can you pin for a cause but you will have the chance to win one of two $200 gift cards. Follow the hashtag #SaveAmericasMustangs for updates!

Connect with Saving America’s Mustangs:

(Disclosure: I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and Saving America’s Mustangs.  #CBias #SocialFabric #SaveAmericasMustangs)

Review Of Unroll.Me {Tidy Up Your Email Inbox!}

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One thing that drives me crazy is my email inbox. It seems like no matter how many hours I devote to going through my inbox I can never get the number down to an acceptable amount. As a blogger and a business owner, I find important emails getting missed because they are surrounded by a bunch of spam and subscription emails.

23,907 emails! I am embarrassed to say that this isn’t even my busiest email inbox. I could not believe that the unread emails in my gmail account had gotten so high. I went to unroll.me to see if I could use this site to reduce the number of emails I received in the future.

Unroll.me helps you manage email subscriptions by easily unsubscribing to ones that you don’t want to receive anymore.

It was easy to start with Unroll.me. I entered my email address and waited while the program went through my email and put together a list of all my subscriptions.

No wonder I had so many emails in my inbox! I was receiving subscriptions to 285 things! I had to get that number down since I didn’t even read most of them. I went through and clicked a button next to the ones I wanted to unsubscribe from. I also had the option to send subscriptions to my inbox as they came if they were something I wanted to read right as they were sent.

After I went through the email subscriptions I was receiving I ended up unsubscribing to 215 lists. 75 was a lot more reasonable.

Once I went through and unsubscribed from lists the remaining emails were then organized into categories and combined into one email per day so instead of sifting through hundreds of emails I only have to look at one.

I liked that I could choose the time of day the email would come. I could have it arrive while I’m drinking my morning coffee, while I’m enjoying the quiet of mid-afternoon naptime, or at night while I’m relaxing. I chose the morning because I like to tackle my inbox while I’m {slowly} waking myself up and preparing for my day.

Overall, I really like the concept of Unroll.me and think it will save me a lot of time when I check my email. Right now the service doesn’t work with a lot of email hosts but from what I understand that will soon change and I can’t wait because my Hotmail email account is full of subscriptions to be organized.

(Disclosure: I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community. This content has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™. #CBias #SocialFabric )

Walgreens Grand Opening In Chicago

Walgreens Nail Bar

On Monday I went to the Grand Opening of a new Walgreens located in Downtown Chicago. To say that this store was amazing would be an understatement! The new Chicago Walgreens is two stories and located at State and Randolph.

When I think of Walgreens I normally think of prescriptions, over the counter medicines, and last minute items I need while traveling. I found all that and so much more at this Walgreens location. Here are some highlights of the store:

Walgreens Nail Bar

A Nail Salon inside with affordable manicures!

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wine tasting at walgreens

Over 700 varities of wine and wine tastings during peak hours

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virtual makeover

A virtual makeover machine that lets you scan makeup items and see how they would look on you.

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frozen yogurt station

Frozen yogurt station complete with add your own toppings bar.

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virtual bartender

Having a get together and need drink ideas? The Virtual Bartender and Virtual Wine Selector can help you select the perfect drink.

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Other fabulous perks at this store include:

*a sushi bar

*pharmacists that come out from behind the counter

*European skin care products typically only found at the dermatologists office

*variety of grocery products, including fresh fruit “to go”

*someone who will fix your eyebrows and put fake eyelashes on you

*Coke freestyle machine

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The Grand Opening event itself was a lot of fun. I enjoyed spending time with other Chicago area bloggers as we toured the store. We ate lots of sushi and a variety of other delicious foods and there was plenty of wine. The Mayor of Chicago and Governor of Illinois were VIP guests and invited to speak and officially open the store. There were also celebrities like Gabrielle Union, the Blues Brothers, the red M&M, and the twins featured in the Walgreens commercial. Here are some pictures of the people that were at the Grand Opening:

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Bloggers with the twins from the Walgreens commercial

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Politicians

Politicians

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Gabrielle Union, the red M&M, and the #SoFab bloggers

To view more pictures from the event check out my Google+ story!

(Disclosure: I was compensated for attending this event by Collective Bias but all thoughts are my own. #CBias #ChiWalgreens)

Brave Woman

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Did you know that one in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime? With that statistic I think it’s safe to say that everyone who reads this post has either experienced violence or has a loved one or friend who has been physically abused by a domestic partner. Maybe some of you reading this are still in an abusive situation and you feel too scared to leave. Even more saddening is that someone reading this might think this abuse is somehow their fault or they may feel stuck in the situation they are in and feel like they can’t leave. To them I just want to say, it’s not your fault. You did nothing to cause this and I am begging you to reach out to someone you know and trust to help you get out of the situation you are in. Leaving a violent relationship requires one to be brave because they are leaving a situation they are familiar with but guess what? You will NEVER be alone in the journey. There is a whole network of women who want to support you and show you that you deserve a better life!

Brave Woman is an online community of people who believe that every woman who escapes domestic violence is not a victim but someone who is strong and brave. They provide support and resources to those starting their lives all over again so that they can become independent  and start the healing process. The website gives women a chance to share their stories and the opportunity to listen to and learn from women who have gone through similar situations.

Want to support the Brave Woman cause? Consider making a donation, advocating against violence, or sharing about this important topic. You can also sign the Brave Woman pledge and stand up for yourself and other women.

Brave Woman can also be found on Twitter and Facebook.

(Disclosure: This post has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. #CBias #BraveWoman All thoughts are my own.)

 

Giving To Others With Champions For Kids and Disney #DisneyCFK #CBias

A week or so ago I shared with you all how I was working on a campaign with Champions For Kids and how I was going to give a stocking to my blogging friend, Paula. As a boy scout leader, Paula donates her time every week to give children a sense of belonging so I felt that she was the perfect person to give my stocking filled with goodies to. Since Paula has three children I figured I would give not one but three stockings so each child could have their own.

I went shopping at Walmart where I found a lot of stocking stuffers and cute little stockings. I got one Tinkerbell one for her daughter and two Cars themed ones for her children. I brought them over to Paula’s house last night and her children opened them this morning. Here are some pictures I wanted to share:

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I really enjoyed putting together stockings for Paula’s children and hope she knows how much her service to the community is appreciated :)

If you want to see more pictures from my shopping trip you can view my Google+ story. Champions For Kids can also be found on Twitter and Facebook.

(Disclosure: This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. All thoughts are my own.)

The Gigglin’ Garden Gang #GoGreenNGiggle #CBias


I’ve been trying to become more “green” and really want to help my children learn earth friendly practices. I was excited for the chance to learn more about The Gigglin’ Garden Gang and their eco-friendly line of products. We received a “Go Green and Giggle Set” that included a book, CD, and garden activity kit inside of a tote bag.

Once we took everything out of the tote bag, Jacob wanted to “read” the book to us. He enjoyed looking at the pictures and making up stories about what was happening.

Next it was Daddy’s turn to read the book to Jacob and Lucas. Lucas liked flipping the pages and Jacob pointed things out as Daddy was reading.

After the story it was time to plant our seeds that came with the book. I liked that the directions were pictures so even my three year old who can’t read could tell me what steps came next.

Jacob poured water over the “magic” soil pellets and we watched as the pellets grew. The boys then planted the seeds. They both really liked this step. Lucas, my two year old, kept digging in the soil of the one he planted so Jacob planted the other five.

Once they were done planting the seeds we closed up the container and set it in a sunny spot away from little hands. We then went to listen to the  CD but it didn’t work {I think because our player is old}. I was bummed because I was really looking forward to watching Lucas dance to the music. He does kind of a hop, skip, twirl that is just adorable.

Since most children are visual learners I really liked how the website had pictures of the entire growing process from start to finish. This will be helpful when Jacob is asking questions about our plants because I can show him what will happen next and what our plants will look like in the end.

If you’d like to learn more you can visit The Gigglin’ Gang online. They can also be found on Facebook and on Twitter. You can read more about my experience and see more pictures in my Google+ story.

(Disclosure: This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. All opinions are my own.)

Ornament Tutorial {Frugal Gift Idea} #GlueNGlitter #ElmersHoliday

I found a fun ornament idea through Pinterest and wanted to recreate it. There were so many steps to it and I wanted to make it easier so that even people who weren’t crafty could make something pretty and so that it took less time to make. Here is my super easy, super frugal, and super cute ornament tutorial:

Gather your supplies:

-Clear plastic ornaments that open

-Scrapbook papers (No designs)

-Scrapbook letters

-Scissors (I used X-ACTO Precision Scissors)

-Glue pen (I used CraftBond Dual-Tip Flexible Pen)

-Optional: Double Sided Tape (I used CraftBond Double-Sided Tape)

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Trace the plastic ornament onto your scrapbook paper and cut out the circle.

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Add your scrapbook letters to the paper. You can do initials, words, whatever you'd like just leave space around the edges.

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Use the glue pen to put glue around the edges of the ornament.

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Match the edges of the ornament with the edges of the circle and press down. Hold down for a minute or so to secure. Wipe around outside edges to get extra glue off. It's ok if there is glue inside. It dries clear :)

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Put a ribbon through the hole and glue one side to the other.

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You can also make a bow and attach it with double sided tape if you want a bow instead of a ribbon to hang it.

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They make great gifts, additions to packages, or you can just use them to make your tree look pretty!

You can see more pictures here in my Google+ story.

(Disclosure: This project has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for #ElmersHoliday #gluenglitter #collectivebias #CBias. All opinions are my own.)

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Gift Guide Inspired By Parents Magazine

I get lots of great ideas for crafts and recipes from magazines so I thought it would be fun to put a gift guide together inspired by all the great things I saw in this month’s issue of Parents magazine. Some are companies featured in the magazine and some are similar to ones featured.

FOR BABY GIRLS:

Ruffled Bloomers By Ruffled Butts

 FOR BABY BOYS:

Rockstar Bundle By Carters

FOR TODDLERS:

Rocker by Sprout Kids

FOR PRESCHOOL AGED GIRLS:

Tutu Outfit From Cutie Pa Tutus

FOR PRESCHOOL AGED BOYS:

Superhero Costume By BabyPop

FOR ELEMENTARY AGED GIRLS:

Girls 3-in-1 Jacket

FOR ELEMENTARY AGED BOYS:

Insulated Jacket by Spyder

FOR MOM:

Personalized Necklace From The Vintage Pearl

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Want even more gift ideas? Check out my Google+ story!

(Disclosure: This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias #CBias. All thoughts are my own and I was not compensated by the companies I mentioned or offered any products in exchange for including them in this gift guide.)

Mommy Time With Starbucks Bottled Frappuccinos

I love Starbucks and if you’ve followed me for any length of time you are quite aware of just how much. {I even confess my love for them as part of my 160 character Twitter profile.} It might seem funny that I say that Starbucks, my mommy friends, and list making keep me sane but they do. I rely on my to-do lists to remember everything I have to do, I rely on my mommy friends to assure me that I can get through all the craziness, and then I rely on Starbucks for a little piece of “me” time in my busy day.

When I am out and about I stop at a Starbucks coffee shop but occasionally I just don’t feel like getting out of my pajamas and dragging my kids out in the cold {especially if it’s raining or snowing}. It’s days like these when I just have a short walk to get some delicious Starbucks as I get off the couch and head over to my fridge. I also like to drink them as an afternoon nap-time pick me up to give me some relaxation until the second half of my day starts {because as a work at home mom my day is just beginning at naptime}. I love that Starbucks bottles up their coffee and makes enjoying it easy and convenient.

Right now my favorite Frappuccino flavor is Mint Mocha and I really wish the flavor was year round {hint hint if you are reading this Starbucks} but otherwise I drink the regular Mocha flavor. They even have a light flavor for those who are watching their weight. Want to read more? Check out my Google+ story about my Starbucks Frappuccino shopping trip at Walmart.

(Disclosure: This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. All thoughts are my own, I’m just lucky enough to get paid to share about what I love!)

Outdoor Decorating With Sears

As I shared last week, we have never had a home with a place to decorate outside so I was really excited to head to Sears to get some outdoor Christmas decorations. There was a lot to choose from but I decided to buy three items to decorate the front of our home.

Our decorations

Here’s a close-up of the reindeer:

White Christmas lights are my favorite and I really like the spiral tree. It was easy to setup and makes the house look instantly festive. After I took this picture we had to move it from the porch because it has to be staked into the ground or else it falls over (it also looks really cute inside). I got two reindeer on sale for a great price and like that they move their heads. I thought about getting a wreath for the front door but didn’t think there would be enough room between the door and the screen door.

Sears had a great outdoor decor section in their store and I liked how they had everything displayed so you could see the products. The only thing I wished I would have seen but didn’t is a Nativity scene. I know they have one in their online store but I would have liked to purchase one when I was shopping in the store since that is what Christmas is about.

Want to decorate the outside of your house, too? Check out the Sears Real Cheer site for great deals and decorating inspiration!

(Disclosure: This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. #CBias #Searsrealcheer All thoughts are my own.)

Tyson Mini Chicken Sandwiches- The Perfect Quick Breakfast! #TysonGoodness #CBias

I am a huge fan of quick, easy meals. I think most busy moms are. I recently tried out the Tyson Mini Chicken Sandwiches and gave them to my kids for breakfast. Found in the freezer aisle, these sandwiches can be stuck in the microwave right in their wrapper and are ready in just minutes. How’s that for easy?!

I like them because I can wrap them in a paper towel and the kids can eat them in the car if we are in a hurry to get to preschool, Bible Study, or therapy. They are also great to make at home because I can cook them while getting out the fruit and pouring the milk, set them on cute plates, and then give my children this for breakfast:

I love these animal plates because they have little compartments for the fruit and they start the boys day with a smile :) Jacob liked the sandwiches and daddy snuck one later and thought they were delicious, too! I wasn’t sure if I’d like them because I thought the sandwiches may get soggy from condensation in the wrapper while cooking but I was very pleased to discover that the bun didn’t get soggy. I liked the taste of the sandwich, too, so I would definitely purchase them again!

Lucas loves his breakfast!

Want to try these out for yourself? Look to see if the Tyson Mini Chicken Sandwiches are in a store near you here. You can get a free $5 Walmart gift card when you purchase two boxes of Tyson Mini Chicken Sandwiches. Get paid to eat??!! Yes, please! Go here to get the details.

Check out my shopping trip for this product (and see more pictures) here.

(Disclosure: This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. #CBias #TysonGoodness All thoughts are my own!)

Outdoor Decoration Shopping At Sears

I love Christmas. It’s my favorite time of the year. I also love decorating for it. {I have been guilty of decorating on Halloween night before!} This year we dragged out our Christmas decorations and set up our tree in the middle of November.

We have a lot of indoor decorations but no outside ones. Last year we moved at the end of November into a house for the first time so we didn’t put any decorations up and we didn’t have any from previous years in the apartment so I headed out to Sears to buy some decorations for outside.

I used to think of Sears as a tools and appliance store but I discovered that they had so much more when I went shopping in their “toy shop” at Christmas last year. I found the Christmas decorations near the workout machines. They had a couple aisles of indoor decor and a large section of outdoor decor. Here are some of the things that I found:

Spiral Tree

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Lighted characters

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M&M Lawn Characters

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Pre-lit Wreath

They had so many great things it was hard to choose which I wanted to purchase to decorate my front yard. To see what other items I found you can check out my Google+ story or check out Sears Real Cheer site to get some inspiration for decorating your own home (inside and outside).

Pictures to come next week after I get all of my outdoor decorations up!

(Disclosure: This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. #SearsRealCheer #CBias All thoughts are my own.)