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I am thankful

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

With everything going on the last few months, I've been pretty pessimistic. I have a tendency to do that. To always look at the negative and to always think of the worst case scenario in every situation. I have a very hard time looking on the bright side and I let my emotions get me down when life gets hard. So this post is kind of a reminder to myself to be thankful, regardless of some of the not-so-perfect details surrounding my life right now. Yeah, things are kind of crappy, but they could be much worse!

A few months back, my husband lost his job. But he got a new one. I am thankful.

We had to move, put everything in storage, and stay with my parents (albeit, briefly). But at least we have family. And now we are closer to everyone and get to spend the holidays with the people we love, and I am thankful for that.

We are now living in a house and are in a roommate situation with a friend of ours. It's not a perfect living arrangement, but we have our own space, a roof over our heads, and a warm place to sleep. And cheap rent, split utilities, and can still afford groceries. I am thankful for that.

My husband had to have emergency surgery right after we moved and we have no insurance. Now we're stuck with an enormous hospital bill. At least he's alive, and I'm thankful for that.

One of our vehicles crapped out on us completely and we've been down to one car. It's been difficult and annoying at times, but at least we have one running vehicle (even if it is a piece of junk too). I am thankful for that piece of junk right now.

I'm sure all of my "big problems" are very small and insignificant compared to some.

My children are happy and healthy. I get to hear them laugh and squeal with joy every single day. My family is together, and while we my lack a few materialistic things, we have everything we really need. I'm going to try to focus on that more, and not just around Thanksgiving- I will try to remember all of these things on a daily basis when I get annoyed or mad that I don't have everything I want.

What are you thankful for?

Hope everyone has a happy and safe Thanksgiving.

Weekend Wrap Up

Monday, November 25, 2013



 Let's take a look at what's been going on lately...

I posted my review and a giveaway for a really cool, educational children's book series, Travels with Gannon and Wyatt. My 9 year old loved the first two books and is excited to start the 3rd.
Speaking of books, we hit up the library and Lily picked out some books, including this one about sharks. Then we went to the book store to pick up the newest Diary of a Wimpy Kid book for Ayden.

While we were at the mall we saw that the Christmas tree had been erected. Santa wasn't there just yet, but we want to wait until after Thanksgiving to see him anyway.

My husband fulfilled a childhood fantasy and got to finally see Nine Inch Nails in concert.

I hosted another week of Things I Don't Love Thursday and vented about the freezing cold and my crappy, messy storage unit.

I shared these cool little limited edition Star Wars pens found in Big G cereal boxes. My kids were pumped that we got a 2nd Darth Vader & they don't have to fight over him anymore.
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We went to a birthday party at a place called Wonderland. It was not so wondrous for mommy.

The kids tried their hand at chopsticks.

I finished up Across the Universe and started The Fiery Heart by Richelle Mead. Across the Universe was great and I highly recommend it. The Fiery Heart is in a really good spin off series from Vampire Academy and I'm loving it so far!

And I posted this throwback collage from when Ayden was 4 and Lily was 6 months.
Babies!
 Hope you had a great weekend!
 Linked up at:
Sami's Shenanigans

Cereal Wars: Star Wars pens from Big G cereal

Friday, November 22, 2013

May the force be with you- at the breakfast table!

Any Star Wars fans out there? We're pretty big on it around these parts. Let me tell you about this awesome promotion that combines Star Wars with cereal- both things I absolutely love.

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Big G cereal has teamed up with Star Wars to make these cool limited edition pens you and  your kids can collect. Fans can look for the collectible pens in specially marked Big G cereals starting now and until supplies last (December 2013). Participating cereals include: Honey Nut Cheerios, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Reese’s Puffs, Golden Grahams, Cocoa Puffs, Trix and Lucky Charms. You can collect all of your favorite characters, including Darth Vader, Yoda, Chewbacca, Storm Trooper, Mace Windu, Obi Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, and Boba Fett.

Does this sound fun?! Finally, a good prize in all the boxes of cereal we buy.
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Look who we found in our Reese's Puffs- it's another Darth Vader! Thank goodness too- I was worried one of my kids was going to lose an eye after the way they were fighting over Darth the other night. And why the heck wouldn't they? He's my favorite too, and I'm sure he'd love a bowl of Reese's Puffs.

To celebrate this fun promotion, a "Cereal Wars: Edible Episodes" website was made to recreate some of the most epic Star Wars scenes using these pens as props. Make sure to head over to the website to view and share videos, or even request which scene you'd like to see recreated. I personally would love to see the classic "Luke, I am your father" scene, though I'm not sure how they'd do the whole hand being cut off by a light saber thing.

I found this hilarious GIF on the website and it cracked me up!

That awkward moment when Chewbacca takes all of the milk...
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Giveaway Info

Three unofficial Star Wars fan sites will host a giveaway of five high-value collector’s items from the Lucasfilm archives. Submit your video requests on the site to be eligible to win, and winners will be chosen by the site administrator. The links to the fan websites are listed under the "About" section of the Cereal Wars website.

Giveaway items include a 24" Star Wars Super Shogun Stormtrooper (Limited Edition), 501st Legion Trooper Helmet Replica (Limited Edition), exclusive Studio Scale Star Corps Trooper Helmet Replica, Luke Skywalker vs. Vader ARTFX Statue (Ralph McQuarrie Version), and aScout Trooper and Speeder Bike Statue Gentle Giant.

So who's ready for some Star Wars and some cereal? 
I'm about to devour this bowl of Reese's Puffs and doodle with my new Darth Vader pen.
head to your local grocery store to pick up a box of your favorite Big G cereal and collect all of these limited edition Star Wars pens.

Make sure to head to your local grocery store to pick up a box of your favorite Big G cereal and collect all of these limited edition Star Wars pens. Then check out Cereal Wars: Edible Episodes to watch and upload some hilarious videos and get a chance to win some Star Wars swag.

Have fun, enjoy, and always use the force!


Thanks to General Mills for sponsoring today's post and inspiring some fun Star Wars creativity in our house!

Things I Don't Love

Thursday, November 21, 2013

It's Thursday, which means it's time for another Things I Don't Love.


Here's how it works: 
Write up your own Things I Don't Love post and link it up here. You can write about anything and everything. It can be one thing or ten things, and you can choose to include pictures, internet memes, a funny anecdote, or whatever you'd like. Just tell me what you're not loving right now. Please make sure to grab a button or link back to my blog in some way, then hop around the link ups and check out some other blogs. Linky parties are a great way to meet new people and find some fun new blogs to follow, so have fun and be social. I always read and try to comment on every single link up! 
Freezing temperatures. It's been c-c-cold the last few days! I love the beautiful, bright blue skies but the painfully cold, subzero temperatures are killing me. Even with my new winter coat I was still freezing. Isn't it cute? And notice how it's not black? That is so not like me.
 
Dry hands. I've been doing a ton of cleaning lately, including shampooing the carpets, cleaning out the oven & fridge, and I even scrubbed the kitchen floor on my hands and knees. Yeah...I know, I have a problem. But the fact that my hands have been in water so much lately mixed together with the cold weather has left me grabbing for hand lotion 50 times a day. I hate the feeling of dry hands, like when you rub your fingers together and can feel your own fingerprints- ahhhhhh! It gives me the chills just thinking about it. My hands must stay moisturized at all times.

Not being able to do crafty stuff. Basically everything I own is in a storage unit right now. I really, really want desperately to dig through it and try to find some of my stuff I've been missing. It's the holiday season and I want to be quilting and sewing! Unfortunately, my venture to the storage unit this last weekend wasn't so successful. This is what greeted me when I opened the door.

Now it's your turn!

Link up your own Things I Don't Love post below.
Make sure to follow me on Twitter too so we can stay connected :)
Lulu and Sweet Pea




Kids book series review and giveaway

Monday, November 18, 2013

I'm happy to say that I have passed my love of books on to my children.

My 9 year old son Ayden especially loves to read. He's in 3rd grade (but reads at a 4th-5th grade level) and he beat the record last year for most books read in one school year in his class. This year he's bound and determined to set another record, and I couldn't be more proud.

So when I was chosen to review Travels with Gannon & Wyatt, a middle grade adventure series by Patti Wheeler and Keith Hemstreet, I knew Ayden would be the perfect one to read these and help me review them.

The series consists of Botswana (May 2013), Great Bear Rain Forest (October 2013), and Egypt (January 2014). We were lucky enough to get the whole series- including Egypt, which hasn't been released yet!

Here's a little bit from their website:
In the tradition of the historic journals kept by explorers such as Lewis and Clark, Dr. David Livingstone, and Captain James Cook, comes the fictional adventure book series Travels with Gannon and Wyatt. From Africa to the South Pacific, these twin brothers have traveled to all corners of the globe. The journals, photographs and video compiled on their real-life expeditions provide the foundation for this action-packed educational series.

My son loved the first book, Botswana, and read it entirely on his own each night before bedtime, finishing it in about a week. I was worried it would be too "old" for him, since it is geared towards a slightly older group of young boys, but he jumped right in and was immediately hooked.

In this book, Gannon and Wyatt are headed to Botswana for an African safari. After they learn a lioness has been shot and wounded by a poacher, the boys set off on an adventure to try to save the mom and her cubs before the poacher can finish off the job. They find themselves tangled up in much more than a family vacation and their mother views this as an extension of their schooling and gives each boy a journal to chronicle his experiences. Gannon wants to be a filmmaker while his brother Wyatt has a scientific perspective. Both revel in the chance to see new cultures, witness animals in the wild, and understand more about our fragile world. They go on this amazing adventure and encounter Africa's Big Five- elephants, rhinos, cape buffalos, leopards, and lions, but soon learn that the most dangerous predator in Africa is man himself.

In addition to this being a really fun, entertaining read, I love that Ayden was learning at the same time. The books promote an understanding of world geography, cultures, and wildlife. The characters interact with indigenous people, explore the natural beauty, experience the challenge of each place's living conditions, witness wildlife in its native habitat, and learn about kindness, courage, and sacrifice.


I did a little interview with Ayden and here's what he had to say about Travels with Gannon & Wyatt.

Me: What did you think about the first book, Botswana? 
Ayden: I thought it was amazing. I learned a lot and it was interesting. I've never been to Africa and I liked learning about it. I hope the next book will be really good and I want to learn a lot about the rainforest and especially Egypt. 

Me: Who do you think you are more like, Gannon or Wyatt?
Ayden: Wyatt. He's really smart and likes learning new things.

Me: Who do you think would like this book series?
Ayden: Everybody. I think boys and girls will both like it and it doesn't matter if your are old or young like me.

Giveaway time!

I'm so excited that Greenleaf Book Group is giving away the first three books to one of my readers (valued at $38.85) This includes Egypt, which will be released January 2014!

Enter on the Rafflecopter widget below.
This giveaway is open to US residents only (sorry Canada & international friends!)
Void where prohibited.
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Also, three Kindle Fires are being given away on the Travels with Gannon and Wyatt Facebook page in November, so make sure to hop over there and enter to win!

Ayden just started the Great Bear Rainforest book and is already halfway done.
Do you know anyone who would love this book series?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Things I Don't Love

Thursday, November 14, 2013


It's Thursday, which means it's time for another Things I Don't Love.


Here's how it works:

Write up your own Things I Don't Love post and link it up here. You can write about anything and everything. It can be one thing or ten things, and you can choose to include pictures, internet memes, a funny anecdote, or whatever you'd like. Just tell me what you're not loving right now. Please make sure to grab a button or link back to my blog in some way, then hop around the link ups and check out some other blogs. Linky parties are a great way to meet new people and find some fun new blogs to follow, so have fun and be social. I always read and try to comment on every single link up!

Driving downtown. I suck at it, apparently. At first I thought it was everyone else around me, but then the other day I realized it might actually be me. Maybe I'm the shitty driver. Within a span of about 2 minutes I nearly backed into a bus, almost hit a group of pedestrians getting ready to step off the curb, sat like an idiot in the middle of a cross walk (because I stopped too late & the light was red), almost turned up a one way into oncoming traffic, and then I drove off a curb turning a corner too tightly...right next to the bus I almost backed into before. How mortifying. I think I should just stay home all the time and never drive anywhere again.

Falling down stairs. This one seems to get me a lot. Years ago (when I was about 8 months pregnant with Lily) I slipped on some very steep, carpeted stairs and hit my butt on every step on the way down, injuring my tailbone pretty badly. After that, I fell 3 more times within a year and re-injured my tailbone each time. Then on Monday I did it again. My foot slipped off the top step and I slid all the way down these very steep stairs and slammed into a door at the bottom. It was loud enough to wake my husband up from a dead sleep, and I just kind of laid there in a heap at the bottom and cried for a few minutes- it hurt pretty badly. Nothing is broken, but I thought my toe and a rib might be at first. I'm pretty sore and bruised up still, and I'm going to try to remember to turn on the light and hold the hand rail next time.
Cancer. Cancer really sucks. We're going to a benefit this weekend for a friend who is getting ready to undergo a bone marrow transplant. I mentioned this story before here, and we're hoping this is one of the final steps to getting him healthy again.

Now it's your turn!

Link up your own Things I Don't Love post below.
Make sure to follow me on Twitter too so we can stay connected :)
Lulu and Sweet Pea




Thanks, Vets

Monday, November 11, 2013

Just wanted to take a moment to thank all of the Veterans, past and present, who have served for our country on this Veteran's Day. Thank you all for your hard work and sacrifices you've made for the rest of us! My husband was in the Army for 4 years (before we were together), my brother is in the Air Force, I have a cousin serving in Kuwait, and I can think of 3 friends off the top of my head who have husbands in Afghanistan right now. So thank you all! Stay safe.

Lily learned all about Veteran's Day in school this week & taught me a song she learned.
She also likes to talk a lot so she schooled me on Veteran's Day a little :)


Isn't she cute? I love how proud she is of herself! She loves learning.

Make sure to check out MyChronicleBooks for 30% off personalized books!
They make a great Christmas gift.

Personalized children's books from MyChronicleBooks- a great holiday gift!

Friday, November 8, 2013

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Well folks, the holiday season is already upon us. Crazy how just a little over a week ago we were thinking about Halloween, carving pumpkins, and putting the finishing touches on our costumes, huh?

You all know how much I love books, so it may be no surprise that one of my favorite gifts to give is a book. And this year I have the perfect personalized book for you to give your children or a special child in your life: The Night Before Christmas
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As a kid, I loved the magic of Santa. I remember writing my letters to him, my parents "mailing" them to the North Pole, and then trying to be extra good for the month of December because I knew Santa was keeping his eye on me. We always left out some milk and cookies for him, and I can still remember quietly creeping up the stairs early on Christmas morning with my youngest brother as we checked to see if Santa had come and filled our stockings yet. The milk and cookies were always gone, with nothing but a few crumbs left behind. Christmas truly is a magical time for kids!

Christmas is still a magical time for me now, as a 29 year old woman, because I get to keep these traditions going with my own children now. They write their letters to Santa (via email now- Santa even replies!) and we leave milk and cookies out for him. Don't forget the reindeer too- they like carrots or "reindeer munch" (dry oatmeal mixed with glitter).  

Here's a darling little note my son (at age 5) left for Santa on Christmas Eve.
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My favorite Christmas picture of them. I think they were sick of smiling.
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You can start your own holiday traditions by ordering a customized copy of this book.

Customize the book with your child’s name, birthday, gender, hometown, favorite pet and name of a family member. Write a special dedication message, upload your holiday photo and even include your child on Santa’s “Naughty or Nice” list.
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With the personalized holiday keepsake “Night Before Christmas,” MyChronicleBooks gives children a reason to believe.

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30% Off all personalized books and gifts from MyChronicleBooks, including “Night Before Christmas.” Simply sign up to receive weekly newsletters from MyChronicleBooks, featuring exclusive offers, new book announcements and free personalized activity pages.

To ensure you receive your 30% off coupon, complete the subscription form by entering name, email address and the redemption code: MYNIGHT in the proper fields and hit submit. You will receive your one-time use code via email within 72  hours. Plus always enjoy Free Economy Shipping on orders over $75
Receive exclusive offers, free personalized activity pages and be the first to know about new releases – all with the weekly newsletter from MyChronicleBooks!
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The last day to order the book with free Economy delivery is December 1st to receive in time for Christmas Eve, while Express delivery is available until December 11th. So you still have plenty of time to get your own customized copy of Twas the Night Before Christmas for the special children in your life!

How will you keep the magic alive and your children believing this Christmas?


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Melissa Swenson and Lulu & Sweet Pea