Archives For family

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 their client. All opinions are my own. #cbias #SocialFabric

CrossKeys Winery, #shop

We found a great way to save money on our phone bill with the Walmart Family Mobile cell phone plan powered by T-Mobile.

What did we do with the savings? We shored up our marriage!

We did. We used the savings to treat ourselves to a CrossKeys Winery tour.

Chris and I at Winery Tasting #shop

We did a tasting, followed by a tour of the Vineyards

Lunch at winery #shop

The cheese platter was a nice perk from the Groupon I got:)


Lunch at winery #shop

It was a gorgeous, late Summer day full of sun. We had a blast

After a fantastic afternoon, we even went and saw the “World’s End” at the movies. We had so much fun! If you saw that movie, I have to ask, “How adorable is Andy, people”??

While it was no surprise I love a good Pinot Noir, I found out my husband likes the CrossKeys Cabernet Franc. For a couple with six children, to have a quiet day after seeing one son off to college, one son off to the Marines and one son moving to NYC…well… a quiet day, with wine and a movie, is like a dream.

Winery side view #shop

I was thrilled to offer this trip to my husband as his early birthday gift. I showed him how we saved money while sending Nick off to college, when we chose this cheap wireless plan.

Nick gets unlimited data. This is awesome. Just this month, we saved $60 and did not have to share our 2GB of data we get on our other plan. My husband is looking at switching our whole family over to this plan as soon as we can because we would save almost 50% on our cell phone bill.

Nick is also able to handle his billing and service at the online account management and information site at This works really well. I like it also because I can log on and see his usage and help with his bill. (You can pay in other ways too, but I like the online billing view, it makes it easy for me to keep up with what my family needs.)

I also like it that as a parent, you have some control over the phone because they have a “Limits and Controls” page. I do not set this for Nick, as he is old enough that I would not do this. BUT, I would LOVE to use this system for my two younger daughters! I have tried some net download type protections on their phones under our current service and it never works right. For this Walmart family plan, the limits and controls are simple and do work (Nick tested it for me). You can block adult content, block certain callers, and even set restrictions on when phones can be used. This is an amazing option.

Seriously, don’t pay too much for your service! Take a look at the Walmart Family Mobile plan.

Read what others think at #FamilyMobileSaves and  #cbias We got the $25 one time starter kit and chose the $39.88 /month unlimited plan with talk, text and web. You can take a look at our shopping trip in my Google+ album.and my first post about this service:

Save some money and have some fun with your savings! #FamilyMobileSaves #shop #cbias

Deep Tissue Massager

After a day of playing Tennis, this Massager Works Wonders

So what makes Mom happy around here? From my title of this post, you may think a good backrub. And that is true.

But what also makes me happy is having my husband and kids feel good.

In our home, we have a bunch of athletes! From the littlest up, we spend time going to Soccer matches and Tennis things all the time. I feel really bad for the kids when they are sore and tired. What can we do to help ourselves have a nice massage?

It was very fun to be able to pull out the Wahl massager I received to review and see if it helped me and my family feel better.

It definitely did. I heard things like “wow, this is nice, where are we keeping it?” and “can I try it, this is awesome.” My teenagers were very impressed.

After a long day for both my husband and myself, I asked him to help me judge the one I have, the Deep-Tissue Percussion Therapeutic Massager. Created to specifically relieve pain and fatigue, this massager has four attachments with differing massage effects.

I have the:

  • Four Finger Flex attachment – for more of a human touch
  • Accupoint Attachment – targets and pinpoints problem areas
  • Raised Bump Attachment – wide surface for all over muscle massage
  • Deep Muscle Attachment – all-over general use
wahl massager

this has helped with sore shoulders

My daughter really likes the overall deep muscle attachment. Nothing fancy–just relief.

I personally really like the Raised Bump Attachment. This was super relaxing without poking me. (I am very sensitive) I found the massager nice. I wish it was a little lighter for me, but I like that I can control the speed and pressure. I do have some chronic fatigue issues and when I am tired out, it is hard to even hold a massager. I was glad this made it easy for my husband to help me feel better. I do feel guilty asking for massage all the time.

My husband, likes the four finger flex and the deep muscle attachments. He was very happy to get a massage even though I was tired out!

And that is the key thing for me. This is a great tool to help everyone in my house feel better, without me having to work super hard.

I also have heard things about massage being good for lowering inflammation (which I do have) I am curious to learn more about this and very hopeful that I can get some benefit from this hand held massager—obviously massage sessions are pricy. This seems like a good option.

In honor of Mothers Day, do you know a Mom who could benefit from a nice massager??

If you do, take a look!

•   Beginning April 26 and running through May 13, those who like Wahl Home on Facebook can nominate a mom to win a mom relief package from Wahl, whether it’s your mom, grandmother, wife, daughter, a friend or yourself.
•   To enter the Mom Relief Initiative, simply post a comment explaining why the mom on your list deserves relief—maybe they’re a single mom who does it all, a working mom who never takes a break, a grandmother who’s always been there…every mom has a story and every story matters.
•   Entries will be judged on their uniqueness and sincerity and the winners will be selected once the contest wraps up on May 13. Stories MUST be submitted before then in order to be considered.

For more on the health benefits of massage visit This online resource  discusses chronic pain management methods.

I received a Wahl Deep Tissue Massager as a member of MamaBuzz in exchange for my honest review.

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Maaman Aacua Review and Giveaway

Heather —  September 9, 2011

How gorgeous is she?? I love her eyelashes:)

How gorgeous is she?? I love her eyelashes:)

Have you ever bathed a teeny baby? Did it scare the heck out of you? I remember how carefully I held and bathed and wrapped up my first child. I was so afraid I would break him!

I was so glad my Mom was with me to help hold him and guide me. To this day, I remember how we had a little yellow spongy babytub liner placed on the counter and a soft, snuggly towel at the ready.

I also remember my next child…the wild one. The child I chased around the living room, trying to get at least a towel on that kid!

Fast forward twenty years and I find bathtime a breeze and Mama isn’t chasing anyone. But, I am looking for healthy, natural and organic solutions for all my children’s needs. Green, reusable, sustainable is important to me.

Out of the blue, I heard about Maaman Aacua through Moms Meet. What a genius idea! This baby towel combines all the things I wanted for my each of my children. What a great product for new parents! I immediately wanted one to review for my new little niece. (The adorable one pictured above:)

The maaman aacua is a 4-in-1 bath towel that triples as an apron, baby wrap, and toddler bath wrap. This modern, stylish special design allows you to have your hands free while you bathe a baby, while the same design can easily wrap up a toddler.

How adorable and functional is this?

On top of that, the aacua is made of soft, absorbent, 100% cotton. One-size-fits-all (newborn to 35 pounds), and you can choose from natural or white, with five bright trim colors: orange, green, yellow, teal, or pink. It retails for $42.

So what did the new parents think of it?

“hey! the towel is awesome! how cool of a story of the lady that invented it!”

This company is on the right track!

I appreciate the statement on their website:
“maamam aims to improve our lives as parents by creating unique products that are modern, functional, and most importantly safe for our children. Founded and operated by mothers, maamam is a private company that strives to achieve social, ethical, and environmental sustainability”

We are all really impressed with all of maaman’s products. It is nice to have things done right!


This is definitely a company to watch to find useful and adorable baby and child products. The aacua would make a fantastic baby shower gift or gift for the new mommy!

Find them online at:

Want to win one for your little bundle?

maaman and Moms Meet have graciously offered to let me do a giveaway~hooray!

A winner will be chosen on September 15, 2011. I am opening this until Sept. 17th due to a mistake I made in closing comments!! I apologize to anyone who had trouble entering.

I received this product for free from the sponsor of the Moms MeetSM program, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms MeetSM blogger, I agreed to use this product and post my opinion on my blog. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of May Media Group LLC or the manufacturer of the product.
The kids!

The kids!

With four children over the age of 15 around here, my husband and I find ourselves having loads of talks about lots of issues.

Often we are addressing the little day to day issues that are important to our kids. Like, they need jeans, or a ride, or a better phone plan…

Sometimes, we spend time talking about more important issues like dating, future plans, and our faith. I am the worst for talking about deep subjects while driving. The kids joke they’d much rather ride with Dad for fewer lectures…but that Mom is on time!

Anyway, I think as parents my husband and I do a pretty decent job talking openly about anything with our kids. I do think I did a crummier job with my oldest, as far as paying attention to the things that were important to him.

Now, I’m on my fourth 15 year old, Haha. So, it gets easier to keep track of what’s up!

I really enjoy talking to the kids about things on my mind, like should they wear this or play that or wear contacts, etc, so I was surprised to see the results of a survey from the Bausch + Lomb “Daily Talk Program” that showed that:

“ moms felt least prepared to talk to their children about makeup (33%) or to talk with a child who wants to forego glasses for contact lenses (21%).”

I wonder why some parents may not feel prepared talking about things like makeup and contacts. With my kids, this was easy because I wear contacts, so I know a lot about them. I suppose that helps.

All my boys wear contacts and it was an easy transition for them to move from glasses to contacts. Now, they tend to wear both. This year, though, I mentioned contacts to my daughter, as she is doing cheerleading. She was perfectly happy with her glasses, but I was worried she could get hurt while doing her sports, so we talked about trying contacts.

I feel that kids will be ready to try out contacts at all different ages. For a few of my kids, I felt they were ready to be careful with using contacts and taking care of them at early “tween” ages, while I made one kids wait and prove to me they were ready to be responsible for the contacts (and their eyes).

For my daughter, playing a lot of sports, contacts just make sense. I also think sometimes, contacts can improve kids self-esteem. I think all my kids look good in either glasses or contacts. But, if a kid needs a boost in self-esteem, I don’t see any reason to not try out contacts.

Now, I had already considered contacts for my daughter when I read that Bausch and Lomb had a new type—the daily disposables. I agreed to try them out with my daughter as I think that is a nice happy medium for a tween or younger teen. With the dailies, you do not have to worry so much, whether or not kids are being responsible with the contact solution and such.

I will note, I have always checked with our optometrist to see if contacts are a good fit for my children.

You can see the Soflens daily disposables site and learn more about contacts for your kids here:

“I wrote this review while participating in a Test Drive by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Bausch + Lomb and received Soflens daily disposables to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.”

How to Have A Heart For Your Kids

Heather —  September 3, 2011

Do you know the joy of having a heart for your kids?

We hear all the time that children are a blessing, a gift from God, our most precious possession.

And, when they are new, aren’t we so careful with them? We spend so much time just looking at them, loving them, teaching them, praying for them, thanking God for them.

And, for most of us, even as they get older, we continue on, loving, teaching, praying. Sometimes just looking at them and being happy for the fact that they are in our lives.

But, other times, we begin to take them for granted. Our culture does not cherish our children. Our culture tells us we can do things faster and thus, better. Even our child raising. We worry about what we should be doing with them. We become busy, tired…in a worst case scenario, our children become a burden. We forget to praise God for the simple fact that we have children.

In the middle of all that, we can lose our heart connection with our children.

Sometimes, this can happen in small ways. Some days I can look at a particular child being rebellious or such and it stops me in my tracks and I think, shoot, “I don’t have that child’s heart right now. What is going on?” I need to stop and think. And pray.

Only, some days I don’t stop and think…or pray. Now that I am getting to be an “old” mom, I often remember to stop and regroup. When I was younger, not so much! Suffice it to say, we all survived.

However, I wish I had owned Rachael Carman’s new book, “How to Have a Heart For Your Kids,” when I was younger.haveaheart

Why do I like this one, especially? Between you and me, I have gotten two books this year in the midst of all my school plans that stopped my racing mind and reminded me of why I homeschool. This is one of them.

Carman speaks from her own experience as a mother to seven. Seven. Also a national speaker, she has spoken to homeschool mothers over the years on the topic of How to Have a Heart for Your Kids.

In this pocket size, hardback book, she wraps up all her wisdom into five chapters and presents it to Mothers with a beautiful cover and an easy to remember acronym:

  • H – Have a heart for the things of God
  • E – Enrich your marriage
  • A – Accept your kids
  • R – Release them to God
  • T- Teach them the truth

Here are a few excerpts from the chapters I enjoyed:

H- Having a heart for the things of God: “My beginning point was to realize just how much I needed him”

E – Enrich your marriage: “It is from watching their parents marriages that our children learn trust, sacrifice, loyalty, teamwork, forgiveness…perseverance, joy, diligence,…it is from our marriages that they learn grace.”

A – Accept your kids: “Genuine acceptance of our kids means a radical change of perspective-a paradigm shift. It means seeing our children as gifts.” And, Your kids were sent right on time, on purpose, “for such a time as this.” (Esther 4:14)

R – Release them to God: “That’s what it means to train up a child in the way he should go-to help him go in the way that God directs.”

T – Teach them the Truth: “You must live truth every day and in front of your kids. It is not enough to breathe life into hundred and thousand-year-old stories, no matter how factual and inspiring. Your personal and daily example will either negate or reinforce what you read.”

I found the book a delight to read and finished it very quickly. I then went back and underlined some things I liked and wanted to remember for myself. Her narrative voice IS really just like talking to a friend in the kitchen, which I liked so much. And she gets right to her point and uses lots of scripture and stories to support her ideas. She really doesn’t do any “fluff.”

Trust me, this is a book worth reading. The cost is minimal, $13. I like that the book is hardback, because I can see pulling this out and re-reading portions for years to come. You can purchase the book on the Apologia site.

See what my crewmates have to say about How To Have a Heart For Your Kids


I received How to Have a Heart For Your Kids, from Apologia through the TOS Crew for review purposes. I have given my honest opinion.

Hmmm. I think I'd be ok, being on this road instead of at my desk!!

Hmmm. I think I'd be ok, being on this road instead of at my desk!!

My daughter cracked me up when I got this book to review. She asked,

“Mom, what’s this book? Those parents are mean, they have shoes, but they don’t buy shoes for their children!”

After I laughed, and explained to her that the children were most likely simply allowed to run barefoot in the Summer.

Then I wondered how many misperceptions I have of the Amish. I thought about what I knew about them…mainly nothing, picked up from that movie Witness and some other random media, I suppose. Overall, I don’t have a real negative perception, I just haven’t thought much about their culture.

Amish Values sm websiteAfter reading this book, I have to say that many of the stories made me laugh and reminded me of my own family! Maybe we had television and cars, but my parents always protected our family time and raised us to know our faith and to respect our elders, pointed out dangerous cultural trends…taught us to have common sense!

When I was asked to review this book, I was given an assignment–basically to choose a particular story and see how it might apply to my life. I figured I would read for awhile–thinking I’m pretty smart and I probably know much of this–and eventually find something that I could incorporate in my life.

Well, I got to page nineteen, which was right in the beginning! There was a story about The Rabbit Hutch. The proverb accompanying the story is: “A family that works together, grows together.”

In this tale, an Amish family and a non-Amish family are neighbors. One of the Dads builds a rabbit hutch with his son, while the other proudly points out they are on sale at the local hardware store…and “why bother” to build one that probably costs more than the on sale, pre-made ones. he says there is “no reason to reinvent the wheel.”

No reason…to which the Amish father replies “Unless you’re trying to teach your son how to use a hammer and saw…Unless you want to give your son skills he can use for a lifetime. Unless…you’re trying to to teach him to build things that last. To take pleasure in his work…those good talks a father and son have while they’re working together, side by side.” If you don’t mind missing those things, then sure, buy the hutch.”

I loved this story. As a family, we really try to have family time and teach our children useful skills. But, we are somewhat “in” the culture and our time is divided and we are busy. I often think of things I would like to learn and teach “when I have time.”

This story reminded me that I do have a set amount of time, and I choose how to use it…and I need to remember to judge not just the immediate value of an item or job…but the long term value of some choices–to learn to sew together rather than find a good deal shopping, for example.

Now, that took alot from me to decide to try to sew, because I hate it and have never done it! So, you can say this book has had a profound effect on me, hahaha!

Anyway, I have tons to say about this book, but my post is already so long. Shoot. But, mainly, I encourage you to take a look into a simpler world and see what you can take from it and enjoy.

The Official Word:

Suzanne Woods Fisher is thrilled to announce the release of  Amish Values for Your Family: What We Can Learn from the Simple Life her latest non-fiction release.

“It offers loving ways to bring your fractured home back to life-Amish style. Read it and apply generously! It’s a beautiful book-funny, charming, soulful, and beautiful.” -Mary Ann Kirkby

For readers who long for strong families that know how to truly enjoy life together, there is much to learn from the Amish. Values like community, forgiveness, simple living, obedience, and more can be your family legacy–without selling your car, changing your wardrobe, or moving out to farm country.

In Amish Values for Your Family, bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher shows how you can adopt the wisdom of the Amish when it comes to family matters. In this inspiring and practical book readers will find charming true stories interlaced with solid, biblical advice about parenting, marriage, and all aspects of family life. As readers get an intimate glimpse into the everyday lives of real Amish families, they will learn to prioritize what’s truly important, simplify decision-making, slow down as a family, safeguard time together, and let go when the time comes.

Read the reviews here.

To celebrate the release of Amish Values for Your Family, Suzanne has teamed up her publisher Revell Books to giveaway a Kindle, and with Bill Coleman (the amazing photographer used on Suzanne’s book covers) to give away a signed Bill Coleman original.

One Grand Prize winner will receive an Amish Values Prize Package (valued at over $200) and includes:
* A brand new KINDLE
* A Signed Bill Coleman original
* Amish Values for Your Family (for KINDLE)

Enter 8/15 – 8/31!

Winner will be announced on 9/2 at Suzanne’s blog. Be sure to stop by the blogs on Suzanne’s blog tour – many have copies of Amish Values for Your Family to give away.

But, wait there’s more! Suzanne is running a Bill Coleman caption contest during the month of August on her blog. Title one of Bill’s gorgeous photos for a chance to win a print from Bill’s Amish Photo site and/or a copy of Amish Values for Your Family.

I received this book for review from LitFuse.

tangled cake

This Spring, all my daughter talked about was Tangled! So, as her birthday approached, we knew it would have a Tangled theme.

As I am not a genius in the kitchen, I was a bit worried, but then I decided,

“How hard can it be to make a Rapunzel’s Tower Cake?”

Yeah, go ahead and laugh!

Luckily for the birthday girl and her mother, one of my children loves to cook and another is a gifted artist. They both came in handy crafting this cake.

Now, if you follow my blog, you’ll know that we eat organic. I have been very strict about this with myself–and frankly it is easy to stick with eating organic if you do much research. Just watching Food Inc on Netflix changed my mind forever about what I am willing to eat!

But I digress. I just wanted to point out that our cake needed to be, from start to finish, organic. So for a non-super skilled baker (me) that also meant no fondant, etc. Because I didn’t know how to make that organically–so I just wanted colorful icing that actually tasted delicious.

First, Nick and I brainstormed how to make the cake. I found several ideas online, but nothing fit exactly what we wanted. Nick had the idea to create the tower out of cake rounds stacked on a skewer or skewers. We used an organic recipe that turns out well for a dense cake with a simple recipe.

Rapunzels hair

Second, we took the batter and made one large cake round instead of splitting into two cake pans. So, I had a pretty dense, high base for the tower.

Third, we also made one 9×11 cake–we planned to get the smaller rounds for the tower pieces from this cake. Nick actually cut out several circular rounds from this rectangle.

We planned to use a waffle cone for the top of the tower. I ended up using a regular size cone, which was all I could get at the store (In the future, I’d go to a shop and try to buy a large waffle cone as the small cone kind of messed up our proportions.)

  • So, we had the 8×11 round on the bottom.
  • To assemble the cake, we stacked several small cake rounds on a skewer stuck into the middle of the main cake.
  • We stuck the cone on top of the circles with frosting.

As we messed with it we saw that because the cone top was little we needed the tower to be smaller than our circles. At this point, A, our resident artist and engineer, told us to move and he’d

“fix that cake” Haha!

frosting the cake

Sure enough, A then cut into some of our circles to make the cake more proportional with the top cone.

base of the cake

Then, the artist in A took over and the two guys took our simple frosting (butter, vanilla and powdered sugar, a bit of milk). They split the large batch of frosting into several small containers and then added some food coloring, giving them a bunch of icing colors to work with!

happy birthday girl

In the end, A looked at a photo of the actual Tower in Tangled and gave the tower a realistic look, with browns, greens and a bit of purple for his sister!

I especially love how A made the vines with green icing and Rapunzel’s hair drapes across the cake. The end result was definitely a work of love and pleased Em tremendously!

If you have a little princess looking to have a Tangled birthday Party, good luck making yours!

My baby…all grown up!!

Heather —  June 24, 2011


ok. I have been so preoccupied lately. I have been living vicariously and haven’t been able to look away!

My little boy is engaged!

I always thought this would be such a giant step…as my children grow up and meet that special person…I thought it might be hard for me to accept and not miss my little boy…

Instead, I am full of the joy of being able to welcome a gorgeous, smart and kind young woman into our family!!!

She is gorgeous, isn’t she?? We have known her for over a year and I, personally, think she is amazing! She approaches life with a deep sense of calm, and fun — generosity and kindness. Oh, and she is going to Medical School. Seriously.


When they told me I cried. And I am not a crier.

What a wonderful blessing to see my beloved son find the girl of his dreams.

I cannot wait for the fun of the Wedding!!


(Between you and me…I saw this coming…when I saw them together~such smiles from both of them, all the time:)