Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Merry Christmas (#ShareTheGift)

Christmas is a day away! I can't believe it is practically here. I just want to take the time to tell everyone I hope you have a Merry Christmas!! I hope you are able to spend some wonderful time with your family and friends.

I guess I am emotional right now because I am almost in tears writing this post which is so silly. I think part of the reason is that I had a miscarriage 5 weeks ago today and I was at the hospital today getting blood drawn to check my hormone levels....which are okay!

Christmas is such a beautiful time of the year. People are kinder. Friends reach out to each other despite months or years with no communication. Family get together despite differences. Christmas helps me refocus on what truly matters in life and how I can help make others feel loved. This Christmas Season I have been able to feel so much love despite the many hardships I have been through.

I have spent many weeks thinking about what I truly wanted for Christmas. And each time my mind would answer: I want my baby. I want my baby girl. My heart is healing, and I have to thank my Heavenly Father for that.  I am truly humbled to know that even though I don't get to hold my precious baby in this life, I will be able to hold her in the life to come because of The Gift that God gave the world. God gave the world His Son!

This video sums up everything I am truly feeling right now:




The best gifts are gifts that can't be purchased! 


Merry Christmas and a Happy New year!!!!

Monday, December 22, 2014

The #Cube™ Giveaway #Cube14

Don't know what to do with all those Instagram photos?? Well I have a perfect answer for you! You need to get the #Cube which allows you to display the pictures from your Instagram account. The #Cube will allow you to see all your Instagram pictures and remember those fun moments that you would have forgotten. Check out this giveaway!!                                            

                                             


The #Cube™ Giveaway #Cube14
Sponsored by #Cube
Co-Hosted by:
A HUGE Thanks to everyone promoting this contest!


Have you had a chance to check out the #Cube yet? It is pretty cool. It loads your Instagram stream so you can see all the latest pictures. Check out the review HERE.
Would you like to win one? Enter below!


This giveaway is in no way endorsed, affiliated or associated with Facebook,
Twitter or any other Social Media Networking Site. This giveaway is valid only
in the United States and Canada. Entrants must be 18+ years of age to enter.
This giveaway will start on 12/23 at 12: AM (EST) and end at 11:59 PM (EST) on 1/15/15.
An email will be sent to the winner and they will have 48 hours to reply or a new winner will be drawn.

GOOD LUCK EVERYONE!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The blogs that are promoting this giveaway are in no way responsible for delivery of prize. The sponsor will be given the information and only the sponsor is responsible for delivery of prize.

 
                                                           

MeasuPro IRT20 Temperature Gun Non-Contact Infrared (#MeasuPro)






About the product

The MeasuPro IRT20 Temperature Gun Non-Contact Infrared will help you out in when you are cooking, baking, doing maintenance on the air conditioning unit or on the car, and electrical troubleshooting!
  • Features - The MeasuPro handheld infrared thermometer takes accurate readings using advanced laser technology to aim in various places with no direct contact necessary. Using this thermometer gives you the ability to measure moving targets or very hot surfaces.
  • Functions - Three convenient buttons on the screen are displayed for easy selection. You can choose the mode as Celsius or Fahrenheit. The stark contrast LCD display features a bright backlight which you can set to be on or off. The red laser pointer can also be deactivated according to your preference.
  • Operation - To get a temperature reading, press the trigger and then release so the temperature will display on the screen and automatically hold the reading for seven seconds. You can locate a hotspot using this thermometer by moving it up and down randomly until the hotspot is located.
  • Specifications - This product is FDA and FCC approved and RoHS compliant. It measures a range of -50 to 380°C (-58 to 716°F). The response time of 500ms guarantees an immediate reading. The no-sweat rubber oil finish makes it comfortable while using. It also features a low battery indicator.
  • Power - Uses one 9V battery and has an automatic auto off function of seven seconds. The distance to spot ratio is 12 to 1. It is a small size and very simple to operate. Engineered to high precision standards to provide accurate temperature readings.

My thoughts

My husband is the handyman in my house. He fixed a lot of things which is so awesome. Depending on what he is fixing, it is helpful to know what the temperature is.  When I saw the MeasuPro IRT20 Temperature Gun, I knew my husband just had to have it because it would really help him out on his projects. And, I knew I would like using it when I am cooking and baking.

I didn't realize that my husband already had a temperature gun until he said something when I was trying the MeasuPro temperature gun out. My husband got a temperature gun at a hardware store in our area about two years ago. I thought it was broken, but it wasn't. Anyways, I was actually able to compare the two and see what one worked the best. And, without a moment of hesitation, the MeasuPro temperature gun performed better. The gun is made out of high quality materials and is more accurate. It
also fits your hand better!

My husband has had a lot of fun using the MeasuPro IRT20 temperature gun to check out how well our furance and vents are working in our house. I have enjoyed using the MeasuPro temperature gun when I am cooking because I can make sure my oil isn't too hot and can get an accurate temperature reading when I have been baking sweets this Christmas season.

My husband and I love this MeasuPro IRT20 temperature gun! We totally recommend this brand!


I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

When Everything is Not OK

This was supposed to be a very different post.  I never thought I’d have to write what I have to write today. This post was supposed to be an announcement. I was going to go on about the shock we felt and adjustment we went through when we found out that we were unexpectedly pregnant with number 3, due in March. I was going to talk about dealing with antepartum depression while being a mother to 2 toddlers. I was going to write about how we're surprising our parents with the gender reveal on Christmas. But, then our world stopped turning and seemed to reverse.

At 22 weeks (5 weeks ago) we went to the doctor’s for our 20 week anatomy scan. Up until that point

our biggest worry (once I'd found an anti-depressant that worked for me) had been if we'd find out the gender or not (I was against it, McGee was very much for it). Well, we found out the gender, and everything else seemed fine. It was a short ultrasound and, when we met with her a short time later, our doctor said how great baby looked… “But…” I hate that word. Both of my previous pregnancies included a lot of “buts”.  The doctor didn't seem overly concerned, but she'd noticed something weird around baby’s heart and recommended that we go to a specialist in Denver to have a more in-depth look. This, oddly enough, didn't worry me. We'd been sent to the same specialist for a “heart issue” with Goofy Girl that ended up being nothing. So, this would be the same right?

Not so much. By the time the doctor sat down to do a half hour peep of the baby, after the tech had spent an hour, I started getting bad vibes. Especially when the doctor said that we'd “need to talk” after she was done, and then followed up with asking if I had anyone with me that I wanted to come sit with me while we talked.  And then she said “I want you to know that this isn't your fault. Nothing you did caused this.” My world shattered. To put it simply, I was told that baby had fluid in the abdomen (ascites) and heterotaxy syndrome (the stomach and, it appeared, the heart were in the wrong place). “I’ll get you into the Children’s Hospital as soon as I can.” That was Tuesday. Thursday McGee and I went to the hospital for about 5 hours of ultrasounds with various different departments and techs. Monday I went in for an MRI and then we had our team meeting; a meeting where we sat across from 5 distinguished experts who told us that they were baffled. What was happening should not have been happening. The only good news (also known as the only answer) that we got, was that baby’s heart was fine and WAS in the right spot. Baby’s liver and stomach were fine but on the opposite sides from where they should have been. That fluid? The ascites? That was the baffling part to them. That’s not just supposed to appear, something like an infection, STD, or family history is supposed to cause it- none of which fit our case.

The gist of all this? We don’t know if baby will come home with us in March. We won't know until the pregnancy has run its course, baby has been delivered, and they're able to see what they can do. Meanwhile, we wait and go to appointments at Children’s Hospital weekly and my doctor 2 times a month.

Now, I'm left with nothing to say when people ask how the pregnancy is going, or if I’m liking being pregnant. I'm left having to give a half-hearted smile when people say what a good big sister Goofy Girl will be, or how full my hands will be when there are 3 toddlers to chase. I get the unusual experience of feeling my baby move and watching every week, not knowing if I'll ever get to see that on the outside. It hurts, REALLY hurts.

BUT.

The title of this was misleading- everything is OK. At least, it’s going to be. No matter what the plan for this little one is, I know that this is supposed to happen. I know that we’ll be strong enough to make it through; strong enough to trust that Heavenly Father has a plan. I know that this sounds na├»ve. I know that it sounds like I'm believing in a fairy tale. But, even if I am, it’s a fairy tale that’s bringing me peace in an otherwise shattered and darkened world, so I'm clinging to it.

I am so blessed to have an amazing support group behind me. Family on both sides, friends near and far, and virtual friends I might never meet have rallied around us and buoyed us up in ways that I’d never imagined. The day of my MRI I had prayers coming, both sent to me and silently said, by at least a hundred women who I've met through my beloved Cloth Diaper Group. Family was praying and friends were texting. I know that’s the only way we got through that day, the day with more questions than answers. To all of you, thank you, and please keep them coming. Every bit of strength is being felt and is much appreciated. We're paying it forward the best that we can and will continue to do so, as always.


I’m going to try to start blogging again. I need to throw myself into something besides thinking about the uncertainty, I need predictability in my life, and Christina (who wrote about her recent struggles) needs the support that I haven't been giving her. This was started as a partner blog and it will continue that way, just don't be surprised if it’s not frequent (well, it will definitely be more frequent than the last 6 months…) 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Wisdomantics Review & Giveaway (#wisdomantics, #HowlingHornGfitGuide)

 note: this game is being featured in my #HowlingHornGiftGuide because you can buy it for Christmas or you can gift it for birthdays or another speical occasion. This game won't be able to get to your place before Christmas, but it deserves some special recognition because it is awesome!


About the game 
WisdomanticsGAMEBOARDFINAL021312
For 2-4 players, ages 12+
 Wisdomantics–New King James Version (NKJV) is an interactive DVD board game for players of various faiths who desire to gain the vast wisdom of King Solomon. Wisdomantics-NKJV utilizes the proverbs of Solomon and blends chance, knowledge and strategy to create a fun experience while you learn! The game’s intent is to bring individuals together to learn how to cope with numerous situations in a fun and relaxed environment. Inside the box you’ll find 2 interactive DVDs with 400 questions, score cards, blessing cards, and more!






Here is a video from youtube that explains more about the game:




My thoughts

I came from a family that loved playing all sorts of games. I still have my passion for playing games especially board games. When I heard about the board game, Wisdomantics, that quizzed you about the book, Proverbs, in the Holy Bible, I just knew that I had to play the game.


I love learning and testing my knowledge especially religious knowledge. I find knowing more scriptures helps me out in my daily life adventures. It helps me feel closer to my Heavenly Father and helps me when adversity strikes.

My husband and I were able to play this together when our kiddos were in bed. My little ones are 3 and younger and not quite old enough for this game (don't worry, I play other games with them so they don't feel left out).

The instructions on how to play were really clear. We didn't have a difficult time understanding how to play the game. I liked how the Wisdomantics' website contains videos about how to play and different scenarios for those who learn through visuals. The game is set up so each player must build their own King Solomon
Temple by collecting gold, cypress, and cedar tiles. The first player to build their temple wins the game. Players collect tiles by answering questions about Proverbs correctly. The game become very interesting with advancement and blessing cards.

One unique feature of the game is the "Praise Report Space". When players land on this space, they must briefly tell everyone what God has done or is currently doing in their life. By doing so, they collect Blessing cards. I love this space because it is a gently reminder to look for what God has done for you!



This game was so much fun and definitely helped me and my husband learn more about Proverbs. This is a game that we will be definitely be playing a lot especially on Sundays! I feel that you are truly missing out by not owning Wisdomantics!





Giveaway
*Chance to win Wisdomantics
*open to anyone 18 and older who lives in the USA or Canada
*If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again
*winner has 48 hours to respond to winning email before a new winner is picked





"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Organic India Spices Review (#HowlingHornGiftGuide)

About turmeric formula

"If I had only one single herb to depend upon for all possible health and dietary needs, I would without much hesitation choose Turmeric."


--Dr. David Frawley, Founder of the American Institute for Vedic Studies

Our  organic Turmeric formula is made with the purest, 100% organic turmeric, a natural spice that contains curcumionoids, which are phytonutrients with powerful antioxidant properties that fight the damaging effects of free radicals in the body. Fortified with curcuminoid extract and organic ginger, our organic Turmeric supports important blood and liver functions, healthy joints and overall well-being, which is ultimately reflected in a radiant, supple skin.

It is only in recent years that Western scientists have increasingly recognized the medicinal properties of Turmeric. According to a 2005 article in the Wall Street Journal entitled Common Indian Spice Stirs Hope, research activity into curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, is exploding. Two hundred and fifty-six curcumin papers were published in the past year according to a search of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Benefits of Turmeric:

Supports healthy joint function
Promotes radiant skin
Improves digestion
Supports healthy inflammation response
Gluten-free and vegan
90 capsules per bottle
GMO free
Kosher & Halal certified


My thoughts

I actually started the turmeric capsules when I started losing my voice. I got a cold that lasted about a few days, and then the cold settled into my voice (turmeric also supports a healthy immune response). When this happens, I normally lose my voice for many days. However, I got my voice back really soon and didn't feel so exhausted. The turmeric capsules really helped. My husband also starting them too to see if they would help me get over a virus that he picked up. And, he told me that he could tell the difference before and after
taking turmeric.

Turmeric is amazing! I honestly understand why it is go to herb because it has so many healing properties. I am definitely going to keep this in my house to keep my family healthy.

About Chyawanprash

Chyawanprash (CHAI-en-prah-sh), 100% organic, is made from the original  Ayuryedic recipe developed by the sages living in the forests of the Himalayas and is the real deal! It is rejuvenating, energizing and boosts the immune system, and often called "The Elixir of Life".

Chyawanprash is helpful to everyone, regardless of age, by creating harmony in the body and improving metabolism. Well-known as an immunity booster, Chyawanprash also excels as an antioxidant, rejuvenator, and source of energy. With Amla as a main ingredient, Chyawanprash also serves as a rich source of vitamin C and antioxidants.

Benefits of Chyawanprash:
  • Supports digestion of food and absorption and nutrients
  • Balances stomach acids
  • A rich source of vitamin C which strengthens the immune system and speeds healing
  • Smooths heart function
  • Nourishes brain cells and improves coordination and memory
  • Maintains moisture balance in the lungs
  • Supports liver function to purify the blood and eliminate toxins
  • Eases occasional constipation and promotes elimination without taxing the urinary system
  • Improves skin complexion and increases the absorption of calcium
My thoughts

I was so excited to try Chyawanprash. I have been learning about herbs the last few months and how much they truly help the body.

Chywanaprash only needs to be taken once a day and you only need about a teaspoon. You can take it with crackers, by the spoon, and with milk. I decided it would be fun to try it out with my breakfast so I made biscuits and I put Chywanaprash on it. All I have to say is how delicious it tasted. I love herbs and spices and because it has 37 herbs, the flavor and smell is amazing.

Chywanaprash can get a little warm in the mouth so it is recommended to consume it with milk. I noticed some warmness, but it didn't bother me at all. Both my husband and I noticed a change after eating Chyawanprash. We just felt healthier and had more energy. I know it was due to this product because it has so many things that the body requires. I am a firm believer that you are what your body absorbs and Chyawanprash helps your body to absorb nutrients.

About Tulsi Holy Basil tea - original

Throughout India, Tulsi is considered "The Queen of Herbs" and is revered as a sacred plant infused with healing power. Traditionally grown in an earthen pot in every family home or garden, Tulsi (also known as Holy Basil) makes a delicious and refreshing tea that possesses wonderful health benefits that support the body's natural immune system while relieving the body's negative reaction to stress. Tulsi's remarkable life-enhancing qualities, noted repeatedly in ancient Indian scriptures dating back 5,000 years, are now here are for you to fully enjoy.


Benefits of Tulsi tea:
  • Stress relieving
  • Soothing & relazxing
  • Abundant in antioxidants
  • Powerful adaptogen
  • Uplifts mood
  • Caffeine & gluten free
  • USDA certified organic
  • 18 tea bags in a box
  • Non GMO Project verified
  • Kosher & Halal certified

My thoughts

I love herbal teas because they really work. Like I stated before, I have only recently started getting into herbal drinks and herbs and I wish I had started sooner. Tulsi tea has a smell like basil and it tastes like it too. I found the flavor to be mild and comforting.

I tend to get really stressed because I am so busy and worry so much. Sometimes I find it hard to calm down. I decided to try this tea several times to see how I felt. And every time I felt so much better. I calmed down, my mood brightened, and I could relax!! It is so nice to be able to find a healthy way to relax along with my yoga.

Final thoughts

I am really impressed with the products by Organic India. I think these would make great gifts for Christmas. I would love to get these products as stocking stuffers and so would your friends and family.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Ballroom Dancing Mastery System (7 DVD Set) Review & Giveaway (#HowlingHornGiftGuide, #ballroomdancing)




About the product

This 7 DVD set, progressively and step by step, takes you into the beginner's world of Ballroom Dance, in all the major social ballroom dances. Ballroom Dancing DVD Set Covers Swing Dance and it's major patters, Waltz Dance, Rumba Dance, and Foxtrot over 7 DVDs that take you from your very first steps.

Here are the four types of dance dvds:

Swing Dancing and swing dance dvds can be difficult. Swing dancing is one of the single most prolific styles of dance, you'll find it everywhere. Get ready to swing dance with DanceCrazy's extensive introduction to Swing Dancing, a 2 DVD Series! This is the first of two DVDs, and covers the fundamentals of the dance, extensive swing dance lessons, as well as a few beginner patterns.

Two left feet? No rhythm? No Problem! This swing dancing DVD series is for you. You'll be showing off some amazing Swing Dance steps in no time at all. "There's no other DVD series that is this in depth, this step by step, or this fun..." Swing has earned its reputation as one of the most versatile and energizing forms of popular music and continues to attract new converts to its catchy tunes and syncopated beats.

Two progressive Waltz Dance DVDs. Learn to Dance the Waltz! This DVD teaches the very basics of how to dance the waltz. We include a complete breakdown and detailed instruction for men and women, including dancing to the music, and essential tips for success on the dance floor. Waltz your way to grace, style, and confidence with the help of two friendly and accomplished instructors. You'll learn the essential components of this beautiful dance, such as Rise and Fall, Sway, and Footwork, as well as exploring steps that will showcase your dancing and help you gain the poise to shine on the dance floor! Explore the gorgeous movements that made Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dance icons and then incorporate that fluidity into your own steps. You learn everything from the Box Step to the Twinkle and more, all while having a great time!

Learn to Dance Rumba. Beginners 2 Volume Set. DanceCrazy.com presents the second of two beginning rumba dance DVDs in your complete step by-step-guide to dancing the beautiful Rumba! This DVD walks you through an amazingly fun array of beginner Rumba dance steps that are sure to light a fire on the dance floor. From the very basics, our professional Rumba instructors guide you through every step of the way.
Learning the Rumba has never been as easy and exciting. This spicy and sensual dance combines luscious rhythms, memorable melodies, and gorgeous patterns to create the ultimate, intimate expression of Latin romance. With the resurgence of Latin music and dancing, Rumba dancing

And Finally, Foxtrot! Want to embody the essence of Frank Sinatra's fantastic music combined with Fred and Ginger's grace and style? The Foxtrot Dance will make it happen for you! Foxtrot epitomizes elegance, class, and big band sophistication. Popularized at the beginning of the 20th century by vaudeville performers, Fox's Trot was quickly adopted by ballrooms across the nation and transformed into the dance we know as Foxtrot today. Foxtrot not only showcases grace and flair, but also combines it with the swingin' sounds of some of our best loved jazz musicians.

The Ballroom Dancing Mastery Set has it all! The system puts all these dance together. There s nothing else like it.

My thoughts

I have always wanted to learn how to dance especially ballroom dance!! I never got the chance to learn when I was younger so I jumped at the chance to review the Ballroom Dance Mastery System DVD Set. Thankfully, my husband was supportive of my desire to ballroom dance so we could do this DVD together. We wanted to take dance lessons but find it hard to do with our schedules.

I decided it would be fun to learn how to Waltz first so I starting watching the Waltz DVD. All I have to say is how well the Waltz DVD (and the other ballroom dance DVDs) are made. They really are made for beginners. The instructors will first show you a basic dance step. Then to make sure you understand how the dance step is done, they show it at different angles. The instructors even take time to show the woman's and the man's steps with different angles. I found it extremely helpful to have segments of the DVD devoted to my dance steps.

The pace of the DVD is nice and slow in order to allow you to fully grasp each dance move. The instructors are excellent, and I found their directions easy to follow. All I can say is how much fun it is to be able to learn how to dance! These DVDs would be a great gift for anyone because they truly can teach anyone how to dance! And, of course, a perfect gift for yourself!!

Giveaway
*chance to win a copy of Ballroom Dancing Mastery System DVD Set
*Open to anyone 18+ who lives in the US



I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Expandable Hose Review (#expandablehose, #HowlingHornGiftGuide)



 About the item
  • Strongest Hose Available at 100-PSI (Pounds Per Square Inch) Working Pressure
  • 300-PSI (Pounds Per Square Inch) Burst Pressure
  • Starts Out 33 Feet and Expands to 100 Feet with Water Pressure, Release Pressure and Hose Returns to 33 Feet
  • Lightweight will Not Tangle, Twist, or Kink
  • 100% Money Back Guarantee For A Risk Free Buying Experience

My thoughts

I live on about an acre of land. I have lots of grass, flower beds. trees, and a garden that I need to water. I do have a sprinkler system, but there are times where certain areas need more water or just don't adequately watered. It can be a challenge to haul hoses around my yard. However, if you had an expandable hose, then moving a hose around the yard wouldn't be such a challenge.

When I first received the expandable hose, I was impressed by how light it really was. I could pick it up and not even be bothered at all. In fact I can do it with one arm. My other hoses are definitely heavy compared to this expandable hose. I have to use both arms and my body weight to haul them around in my yard.

I love how the hose comes with nozzles and especially with a nozzle where I can turn the water off and on! A really cool feature!!




I closely examined the material. The material is very strong and is flexible. The stitching is excellent and gave me lots of confidence that this hose would last.



And the hose worked perfectly. There were no kinks, and it was easy to pull around the yard. It easily expanded to 100 feet and contracted back to 33 feet when I was done using it. The best part is that this hose doesn't take up a lot of storage room and doesn't need any fancy equipment to hold it up because it is so lightweight.

obtained from Quality Source Products

I tried to get some pictures of the hose being empty and full, but my pictures just didn't turn out so well. Probably due to the fact that I had my little boys helping me out. So I used a picture provided by the company, Quality Source Products.

All I have to say is how amazing it is to watch the empty hose start to fill up and see a hose that is 33 feet in length expand up to 100 feet.

I loved how this expandable hose has made my life so much easier. I love how I can get a 100 foot hose from a hose that is only 33 feet long with just using water pressure. This is definitely a great investment and is a perfect gift! I really want to get more to have them in different spots in my yard.


I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Wise Men Gifts - A Christmas Service Activity



My husband and I want to make Christmas special for our family. We want our children to learn that Christmas is about Christ. We want them to know that this season should be looking for opportunities to serve others and not just thinking about what things they want.

Christmas is such a beautiful time of year, and I want others to experience the joy and magic. There are a lot of people who are lonely, depressed, and struggling. I want to help those people out so they know they are loved.

When I was younger, my family was privileged to experience the "12 Days of Christmas". This is when some one starts delivering packages starting on December 13th for 12 days (it ends on December 24th) with the theme of the song 12 Days of Christmas. It was so fun waiting to hear the the door bell ring because I wanted to see what we could get. I don't remember everything because it has been a while but I do remember getting eggs for 6 geese a laying, milk for 8 maids a milking, and cans of pineapple for 5 Golden Rings. Here is a great blog post that provides ideas for each day!

I really wanted to do the 12 Days of Christmas for two individuals. However, my husband works in the evening and with small children it would be hard for me to doorbell ditch gifts for 12 nights in a row. That is when my husband came up with the idea of doing Wise Men Gifts! We decided that we would deliver 3 gifts to families or individuals that we feel need to know that they are loved.

How to do Wise Men Gifts:
  1. Pick at least one family or individual who needs some extra Christmas Cheer
  2. Decide on what gifts that you want to give them. Examples: gift baskets, food, games, baked goods, homemade items, etc.
  3. Print a sign that reads "Wise Men Gift #1 - Merry Christmas" or something like that. I printed the sign so no one would recognize my hand writing. (note: I will upload the sign soon!)
  4. Then deliver the gifts randomly during the month of December. I spaced the gifts out so the person/family would get a Wise Men gift about every week.
  5. Tell others about the Wise Men Gifts because this will spread happiness around!!

All I have to say is how much fun we are having with this service activity. We are having so much planning on gifts to give and picking a date to deliver the gifts. This is another new tradition my family is doing because it is helping us to make Christmas special and to help us remember the true meaning of this season.

Please share ways you serve others during this Christmas Season!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Susie's Hope Review & Giveaway (#HowlingHornGiftGuide)



About the movie

Based on the true story that successfully passed Susie’s Law in North Carolina, which seeks stricter punishment for animal abusers, Susie’s Hope brings to life the inspirational relationship between pit bull attack survivor Donna Lawrence and Susie, a pit bull-mix puppy found beaten, burned and left for dead. Recognizing reflect and abuse were to blame for the tragic attack that nearly claimed her life 10 months earlier, Donna resumes the battered animal and accepts her as family. Together, they learn to heal, love and forgive as thyey lead a historic effort to seek justice and protection, not only for Susie, but all animals. Starring Emmanuelle Vaguer (40 Days and 40 Nights), Burgess Jenkins (Remember The Titans) and Andrea Powell (Ender’s Game, The Twilight: Breaking Dawn Saga: Part 2), Susie’s Hope is an incredible story of love, loss and redemption.

 Here is a trailer of the movie from youtube: 



About Susie

Susie was found nearly dead in Greenfield Park in Greensboro, North Carolina on August 20, 2009. Just a puppy, Susie had licked the face of her owner’s newborn baby. Her owner became violent—she was beaten so severely her jaw was broken. That wasn’t enough, though. She was then set on fire and left for dead. Incredibly and against all odds Susie survived. Donna Lawrence adopted her two months later. Susie is now a trained therapy dog and event won the American Humane Association’s American Hero Dog this year!




Check out Susie's Hero Dog Award video:



Want more information

To learn more about Susie and Susie's Hope, check out their official website: http://www.susieshope.com

My thoughts

I love animals. I wanted to be a veterinarian when I was little because I just loved animals so much. I didn't become a vet, but I kept my passion for animals with me. Currently my family has a pet rabbit named Freckles and seven chickens. Everyday I get to teach my children how special animals are and how they need to be treated with love and respect. 

Susie's Hope is based on a true story. I actually watched this movie shortly after my miscarriage so I was extremely emotional when I watched this. There are parts of this movie that I could completely understand the pain and the loss. Despite the movie having sad moments, the story has a message of love, hope, and forgiveness. So don't worry about the movie being too depressing because it is not! I was extremely moved how Donna Lawrence, survivor of a pit-bull attack, bonded with Susie, a pit bull-mix puppy that was found beaten and burned. I was able to see how Donna and Susie needed each other and helped each other heal because they understood each other's pains.

I love how Susie's Hope is about raising awareness about animal abuse and educating the public on how to end animal abuse. I feel this movie is a perfect Christmas time movie because it teaches us to have hope, to forgive, and to see the beauty inside of each other. I loved the quote on the movie jacket: "Every Now and Then, We All Need Rescuing". So true!

I hope you enjoy this movie as much as I did.

Giveaway
*Chance to win a copy of Susie's Hope
*open to anyone 18 and older who lives in the USA or Canada
*winner has 48 hours to respond to winning email before a new winner is picked





"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Gratitude Box




Christmas is such a special time of year for me. I love the Christmas trees, the lights, the giving of presents, and the love that people are more willing to share with each other. Christmas is also a time for me to reflect on the birth of my Savior, Jesus Christ.

Last year when I was getting ready for Christmas, I noticed that I spent more time thinking about what I wanted and what I needed to buy for my family. It made me feel so awful that I spent so much looking at what stuff I wanted instead of cherishing my blessings. I was saddened that I spent more time thinking of me instead of people around me.

So I decided that a new Howell family tradition will be the gratitude box. The gratitude box is a decorated card board box where pieces of paper containing statements "I'm grateful for" are deposited through the large slit on the top.

Each day you challenge yourself and your family to write at least one thing that you are grateful for. Whenever you think of something you are grateful for, then you write it down on a slip of paper and place it in the gratitude box. If you think of more, then put those in too! Once you get started, it is hard to stop. This habit continues until Christmas Eve where you sit down as a family and read all the slips of paper together.

The reason why I decided to do a gratitude box because it represents a present, a present where my family symbolically gives to our Savior. Last year was the first year I did this, and I have to say how much it helped my family remember what was truly important. We were able to continue to keep the Thanksgiving spirit through the Christmas season. We were able to recognize that Christmas is not about getting more things, but instead it is about loving others more deeply and doing service for others. It is a tradition that I am so glad that we started.



How to make the gratitude box:


  1. Get a cardboard box that comes with a lid. A shoe box works great.
  2. Cut a large slit through the box top. You want the slit large enough so papers can easily be slipped through.
  3. Decorate the box. I decorated my box with wrapping paper. You decorate using paint, stickers, scrapbook paper, etc. Make sure to get your entire family involved so they will be more excited about the box!
This is a closer look at my gratitude box. I just cut and clued wrapping paper onto the cardboard box.

I just love this wrapping paper

I wanted the inside to look pretty too!

I hope you enjoy doing the gratitude box in your home! And please feel free to share what you do to make Christmas special!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Losing A Baby

When my husband and I decided to have another baby, we were so excited and nervous. We already have two young children, but we felt that someone wanted to join our family. We decided to trust God, trust our feelings, and go ahead with having another baby. We love children, and we overjoyed with the idea of having another precious child in our home. We felt that it was the right time. So when we found out we were pregnant the end of September, we were so excited.

We made my doctor's appointment a little early since we weren't 100% sure when I was due since I never got my period back due to breastfeeding. When the day the appointment arrived, we were so excited to get to see our precious baby. However, the unexpected happened. I never thought that my doctor's appointment would end up in me leaving in tears and feeling so helpless. At my doctor's appointment, I was informed by my doctor that my pregnancy would most likely end up in a miscarriage. All she could say to me was "it is hard growing a baby" and "at least you know you can kids". I left so angry because my baby, the one I might lose, matters to me. My baby that would be number 3 matters.

I had to wait several hours to hear back on the results of the blood work to determine my hormone levels. Based on the results, my doctor said "it is a miscarriage". I was about 6.5 weeks along and I knew I was somewhere between 6 to 10 weeks along. The doctor felt that there should have been a heartbeat.She wanted me to get vaginal pills or schedule a D&C. I was horrified. From my research, there was still a possibility that I might not have a miscarriage so I believed in that. I told my doctor that I would wait two days and get my blood drawn again so I would know without a doubt what was going on. My doctor wasn't happy, but I didn't care. I already made up my mind that I would never see her again. Life is very sacred to me and I treat life with respect. I could not take something that would make my body start cramping and bleeding if my baby was still alive.

And so began the longest 2 days of my life. I rested, I prayed, and then I prayed and rested some more. I prayed for a miracle. I prayed that my precious baby girl would be saved (I felt that this baby was a girl and so far I have never been wrong about the gender of my babies). When moments of doubt entered my mind, I would go and pray to remove my unbelief. I told God that I put my trust in Him. My husband felt the same way that I did so I was grateful to have his love and support. During my days of prayer, I came across this quote by  Dieter F. Uchtdor, 1st counselor of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, that I felt was an answer to my prayer!
I know many of you struggle with difficulties and trials. You are in my prayers. I hope that you will continue to pray as well. Your prayers are heard. Your Father in Heaven knows the desires of your heart. I cannot tell you why one individual’s prayers are answered one way while someone else’s are answered differently. But this I can tell you: the righteous desires of your hearts will bring blessings to your lives.
No matter your circumstances or trials in life, I urge you to remember who you are, where you came from, and where you are going—for the answers to those questions will truly provide confidence and direction for your life.

When the two days were up and I finally got my blood work results in, I couldn't believe what I was told. My hormone levels dropped quite a bit. I was having a miscarriage. What hurt the most was to have to tell my husband the news. He was in shock and didn't want to believe. He asked, "Could they be wrong?" I will never forget the look in his eyes when he learned the truth from my eyes. Oh how we both wished that the blood work was wrong. But deep down I knew the tests weren't wrong. This pregnancy felt different. I figured it was due to me being tired because I have two kids to take care of and more responsibilities. But now it makes sense. For the last month I had expressed concern to Broden about my feelings and the fact that I haven't had a dream about our baby. I normally have a dream about holding a baby when I am first pregnant and that is when I know if the baby is a male or female. I didn't have a dream because I wasn't going to get to hold my baby in this life.

I don't regret my two days of praying for a miracle. I don't regret believing that my baby was still alive. I know of stories where women were in my situation and their baby lived! So if you are in my situation, then don't give up. Wait a few more days because you never know if your baby will be a miracle baby!

Once again the hospital tried to persuade me to do get vaginal pills or do a D&C and I told them no. I wanted to do my miscarriage naturally. They weren't too happy, and I didn't care. I was so done with the hospital that I turned to a group of "crunchy mamas" for help and support. A midwife from the group contacted me and showed me so much support. She told me what to expect, how to manage the bleeding, and herbs and oils to use. I could contact her anytime with questions, and she would answer them as quickly as she could. I understand why so many women go to midwives now. I think I might go to a midwife when I have another baby.

I waited several days before my body officially started the miscarriage. Thankfully, I had my husband to be with me and my mom to watch the kids. When I passed the placenta and egg sac, there was so much peace in the room. A feeling of sacredness entered the room. I truly felt my little girl there telling me and Broden that everything will be okay...telling me that she is more than her little body...telling me that she will be visiting me frequently...and telling me that she will be waiting until the day that I can see her again. Broden made a simple box so we could do a do a little memorial for her and bury her in our yard in a safe place.It just felt right to do that. Oh, how I am grateful that I know that life continues beyond the grave.

During this time of loss, I got to see the love and kindness that life offers to everyone. I had people bring in meals, small gifts, and flowers. I had people text and call to see how I was doing. I was supported during the hardest experience of my life. I had to focus on those things as I went through a roller coaster of emotions. Hannah was very kind and shared this video with me. I have listened to it so many times because it truly speaks to my aching soul.



The Thanksgiving holiday was truly hard for me. It was the time that my husband and I were going to announce to our family and friends that we were expecting. Instead we had to face the hard truth that our little girl will not be joining our family right now. Instead I had to think has it really been 9 days since I lost my baby. It was hard to be so grateful for my blessings but yet be so empty and sad. I am extremely grateful to have read this article because it made me feel more normal.

I know it might be hard to know what to do or say to those who have experienced a loss of a child in any way. Here is an article that will help: pardon my grief.

My pregnancy hormones have left my body. I no longer feel nauseated which makes me curl up and cry. My pants fit better which makes me angry. I hear from family and friends who are expecting and I cry. Don't get me wrong, I am happy for their news. I would never wish a miscarriage on anyone; it is just hard to know that you have lost a precious baby and wonder why your baby couldn't stay.

I am grieving. I am devastated. My emotions change dramatically over the day. These last two weeks have been the longest two weeks of my life. Where can I turn for peace? I have turned to my God and to my Savior, Jesus Christ. I rely on them for support and understanding.  My testimony in the resurrection and in Jesus Christ keeps me afloat knowing that my little girl lives. I am using the atonement provided by my Savior, Jesus Christ, to heal. A little bit by little, I am healing. I feel a little more. I'm not as angry. I feel that I will survive.

My little girl will always be remembered. Broden and I have numbered her as one of our children. She will not be forgotten. We are healing, but there will always be a part of our hearts that will yearn for the day when we will get to see and hold her.

Little Chickadee Boutique Review (#HowlingHornGiftGuide, #stockingstuffer, #Christmasdress)



About Little Chickadee Boutique

Little Chickadee Boutique is a new Etsy shop that started up in May 2014. Tasha, the owner of Little Chickadee Boutique, wanted to share her passion for making one-of-a-kind clothes for kids. Right now you can buy skirts, dresses, ties, and bowties. Tasha is continuing to expand her shop and she is in the process of making boy pants, vests, and caps!

Here is Tasha said about her shop:
All my items are made in my smoke-free home, and 100% made by me, for you! Most of my items are ready-to-ship, meaning you pay for it, and I ship to you usually within 1-3 business days. 

I am happy to do custom orders! If you see something you love, but not in the size you need, just ask! There are some occasions where the fabric I use has been discontinued, but I will try my hardest to find something perfect for you. Custom orders generally have a turn-around time of 2-3 weeks from the time you order to the time it's ready to ship to you.

Ties and Bowties

I am blessed with two little boys. Tasha, owner of Little Chickadee Boutique, was gracious enough to send two items. Because Monkey loves the color blue, Tasha sent this blue alphabet tie. She didn't have the blue tie made yet, but was so willing to make a tie that my boy would love. I decided to get Roo the Wild Guy Bowtie because my little Roo makes everyone laugh because of all the crazy things he does with his energy. The bowtie just fits his personality so well.


The first thing that I noticed about the items was the included care tag. I love how the care instructions are included so you never have to wonder what the item is made from, if you can iron it, or how to wash it.



Before my kiddos got to see the ties, I wanted to have a close inspection of them. One thing that I instantly loved is how the velcro is positioned so it will never touch the neck! My boys hate having things itch their necks so it is a relief to know that these ties won't irritate them.



Another feature I love is how the bow is not attached to the bowtie and the tie is not attached to the band on the necktie. It is really helpful since it makes it easier to get onto my boys and it allows for adjustments to be made to make sure the perfect fit is achieved.  Here is a picture of the back of the ties. I wanted to show this so you know how nice these ties really are.


The great thing about the neck ties is that you can adjust them to be longer or shorter! All the neck ties in the boutique are designed this way so you can get the perfect fit! How cool is that!! Tasha will send any customer with the complete pdf on how to retie your tie if you need to adjust the length. Here are some pictures to show the process:




I just love how these ties look on my boys! And they love them too. And I just love how Roo looks all ready for Christmas!

My boys just couldn't sit still. At least they look cute while they have the wiggles.

So I have to include these pictures while I attempted to get some good shots to showcase these ties. All I have to say is how much respect I have for child photographers because it took me a while to get some cute photos while my kiddos ran all over the place and wanted to play on the stairs. Being at grandpa and grandma's house is just too exciting to sit still for pictures.

Roo wanted to play on the stairs. 


Monkey "showed" his face and his tractor

These ties and bowties would be perfect stocking stuffers! I know my boys would love to get these in their stockings because they are obsessed with wearing ties to church. I guess you could say that my boys want to be just like their dad which just melts my heart. (and I love any stocking stuffer that isn't full of sugar). I also love how you can contact Tasha and do custom orders so you can make sure that you get exactly what you want!
 


Dresses and Skirts

Little Chickadee Boutique has made me want a little girl SO much! The dresses and skirts are simply breathtaking and make me want to be a little girl again so I wear the cute clothes. Here are some of dresses and skirts that are in the Etsy shop:

                            4T/5 Parade Joys' Twirly Dress Girls dress Pink dress Sunday dress Summer Dress Peasant dress Ready to ship Whimsical dress    Size 5 Girls Fall Dress  Girls dress Fall dress Twirly dress Autumn dress Peasant dress

                        12- 18 Month Baby Circle Skirt  Baby Skirt  Twirly Skirt  Circle Skirt  Ruffled Skirt  Red Skirt  Everyday skirt  6-12 Month Mermaid Skirt Baby skirt Pink skirt Twirly skirt Summer skirt Nautical theme Ready to ship Octopus Seahorse Fishies Cotton skirt

Right now, Tasha has been working on getting Christmas dresses ready. All I can say is that these dresses show how much thought is put into them. I'm simply amazed at the designs. Here are the Christmas dresses that Tasha has created:

Girls Christmas Dress Infant Christmas Dress Toddler Christmas Dress 6-12M,12-18M, 24m/2T, 3t, 4t, 5, 6, 7, 8 Classic Christmas Vintage       Girls Christmas Dress Infant Christmas Dress Toddler Christmas Dress 6-12M, 12-18M, 24M/2t, 3t, 4t, 5, 6, 7, 8 Peasant dress Twirly dress

I just have to say that I love the red Christmas dress because my ancestors are from Scandinavia and it reminds me of my heritage. Plus, my favorite color is red! I love the idea of being able to buy a dress that is unique, made with love, and made with quality materials. I really really want a little girl now!

Black Friday/Small Business Saturday Promo Code
Use this awesome code to buy a stocking stuffer or Christmas dress for your child.



Giveaway

Tasha, owner of Little Chickadee Boutique, has informed me that once her Facebook page reaches 100 Fans, she is going to do a giveaway to show her fans her appreciation. So go on over and show Little Chickadee Boutique some love because this is one boutique that you don't want to miss! Being a fan will allow you to stay up to date with the latest discounts and giveaways that will be going on.

Final Thoughts

I love discovering new small businesses because I love unique items. I absolutely love the necktie and bowtie from Little Chickadee Boutique. I know your little ones will love getting items from this boutique as well. So be sure to check out Little Chickadee Boutique through Facebook and through the Etsy shop page.

What is your favorite item?? Please share!

And here are some more cute pictures of my boys with their ties to entice you to go order some ties!