Thursday, October 30, 2014

Real life

We had family pictures tonight, and although it is worth an entire post {and more}, I will just leave you hanging with this blooper that will definitely not be making the Christmas card, but will most definitely be making the cut for the photo album.


Because it's real life.

Me: "No one is listening to me...."
Andrew: "How do you want me to sit?!"
Graham: "Where is the sucker I've been promised for an hour?"
Elliana: "God, can you make it rain or something...I need out"


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Learning cartridges that teach vocabulary and reading while having fun at the same time

***The VTech products mentioned below were provided for review, however, all opinions stated are that of my own.

Last month, I shared our experience with the new VTech innotab. It's still strange and a whole new territory for me to be discussing learning tablets because I feel like I should still be talking about her first steps, and baby food, and learning how to walk, and everything else that you get wrapped up in when you become a new mom. It makes me wonder if one minute I'll go to sleep and my baby will be little, and the next, we will be sending out college applications. 
But before college, we have VTech Innotab.

I had the opportunity to test out two of their learning cartridges, Learn to Write with Cody & Cora learning cartridge and Go! Go! Smart Wheels® Busy Day in Alphabet Town learning cartridge. Both of which came at the perfect time, as my biggest is practicing writing her letters, and my little one is learning the alphabet. Might I mention again how wonderful it is that I have something that is beneficial to children of different ages, and something that they can learn how to share and teach one another? 
Really, it's pretty great.

So the Learn to Write with Cody and Cora learning cartridge has 11 different activities and games for the kids as they go on an adventure with Cody and Cora discovering how to not only write the words, but spell them too. Some of the activities include a memory game, a handwriting practice, matching, mirror drawing, and a fun maze for them to go through. 

As for the Go!Go! Smart Wheels Busy Day in Alphabet Town,  Graham is obsessed with and begs for on the daily. It doesn't help that is utterly obsessed with cars. He goes on the adventure of matching letters in the mechanic's shop, rescue's kittens from trees by finding the correct letters, builds roads while practicing the correct writing of the letters, and even has fun with taking pictures! 

One of the things that the kids {and mom over here} love the most is that the cartridges both come with an e-book for a little extra practice in reading. 

My son, who will be 2 in December, definitely needed my guidance while navigating through the games, but was able to catch on pretty quickly. My daughter, who just turned 4, is able to work through the games on her own, but it never hurts for me to sit right there with her so that we could talk about the things that she is learning. 

They're both fun, challenging for the kids, and have great picture and sound quality.  

For all the latest updates, be sure to check out VTech on twitter and facebook!

Monday, October 27, 2014

I don't.

I recently read a post on a friend's blog about the things that she doesn't do, and it instantly made me think about the things that I don't. I've been jotting down ideas the past couple of weeks when I come across something and it makes me so.... "Ah, no!" 

Like dishwashers.
I don't do dishwashers. I used it maybe the first year that we were at the house, then I had Elliana and really {kind of} went hippie on my husband and banned many chemicals {not enough}in the house. Plus, it's like a 2 hour process for them to be washed, and then I have to remember to actually put them away. Putting laundry is enough for me.

I don't do drama. I'm sure this is a popular don't for many. But this is a huge one for me. Mainly because I don't have the time for drama in my life. And I'm one of those people that I just don't forget that easily. Which means that if one is dramatic, over the top, and goes crazy on me? They probably will not be a part of my life. Unless they are family. Then I kind of have to suck it up and deal.

I don't do painted nails....enough. This isn't one where I don't like to paint my nails, it's just that I don't do it nearly as much as I should. The reason this one made it on the list is because I got out the shower and looked down at my chipped toes. It's something I've been wanting to get in the habit of doing more often.

I don't do diets.
I just don't believe in them, and I see no reason for them. I think lifestyle changes and changing the way we eat is great, but going on some 30 day diet is just not something for me. I struggle enough as it is to stay away from the bad stuff, I would just purge like crazy if I completely excluded things out of my diet only to restart again after the diet. So, we just make little changes along the way, watch what we eat, and portion control. 

I don't do full price. I don't know what it is, but I just cannot for the life of me pay anything full price. Except obviously groceries, gas, and the essentials. But when it comes to buying stuff out of want, I have to always make sure I get the best deal. Which most of the time means it has to be at least 50% off. And....

I don't do shipping costs. I will not pay for shipping. I will look high and low online until I find a place that will ship for free, a coupon code for free shipping, or discounts high enough that it will pay for the shipping. So far, that has worked out for me about 99% of the time.

I don't do bad customer service. I am not one to let things slip by, so normally I will write a letter, let a manager know, or contact the company in order to make sure that they are aware and that a review in policy be made. I should write a post on the good companies, and the not so good ones. Amazing how companies have still not figured out that quality customer service will keep their business running.

I don't do disrespect from our children. Out of our house rules, the biggest and most important one for me is respect from our children. They're still little, so they are certainly still learning, but we will continue to correct behavior at each opportunity that comes our way. Respect begins at home. How children treat their parents will greatly affect how they treat others, and it is crucial that our children learn to respect those that they come in contact with.

I don't do medicine. I mentioned this before, but I just don't have the desire to fix common illnesses with pills. The same goes for our children. I do of course believe in medicine to save lives, and when absolutely necessary. But otherwise, I'm just a soup and rest kind of girl.

I don't do seafood....except fish. No crabs. No shrimp. No lobster. None of that slimy weird texture stuff. Fish I will do. But that's it.

I don't do my hair....but I should. I love when I see beautiful curled hair, and I have that long hair that would be great for experiments, but I just cannot bring myself to spend any time on my hair. Probably 5/7 of the days I don't even blow dry it. Thankfully it just dries straight and you really don't notice the difference, but this mama has got to start doing something different because boy are the greys coming in.

I don't delete my email. That is why my mailbox says I have 10,000+ unread emails. But I just skim through my emails on my phone, and when there is actually something worth reading {not sent by a random company promoting something}, then I read and it and try to make a mental note to reply. And then I remember 2 weeks later....

I don't do late nights. I'm passed out with the husband by 9/10 on most nights. It's almost pitiful.

And the exact reason why I no longer do scheduled posts. 

Sleep is much more glorious.....

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Bullying & Pigs. Two new books on the shelf.

*As part of a member of the Parragon Book Buddy, I am sharing books that we received, however, all opinions stated are that of my own. 

Another month is sneaking up on us, and I have two more great books to share today. Two very different, yet important books. Classic, and new.

When I think of classic, I think of something that can never get old. Something that will stay in no matter how many years pass. For a book, a story that kids will enjoy with every new generation to come.

The Three Little Pigs, is exactly the kind of book that I would describe as classic.

The funny thing is, this is one of our favorite reads. The kids think that it is hilarious when mama or papa make the "wolf" voice and then the laughter only grows when we attempt the sweet little high-pitched "pig" voice. Then they imitate it, and the entertainment turns around to us.


What I love though about turning something old into something new is that with time a book can only get better. I love that the author turned this classic story into something fun and interactive for the kids by allowing them to pull the different pages up or to the side to continue reading the story. It's this little suspense that keeps their tiny hands grasping for more.

This book is a definite must on the kids' bookshelves, and one that my oldest has already memorized.


And then we have new. There are thousands of new stories and books out there that it would be nearly impossible to keep up with all of them. One thing that we look for however when in search for new books, are books that tell a story or teach us something new. Bullying? Bullying is not something that we ever want to teach our children about, because frankly, we wish it never existed. I don't ever recall coming across books that dealt with bullying as a child because it was never such an issue as it is these days.


I'm glad these books exist, like The Bully and the Shrimp.  I'm glad that I can put pictures and a story to a lesson that is so tough to teach to children. How do you explain that our children may encounter hurt one day? Intentional hurt. How do you explain to them how to deal with it? How do you ensure that they will grow and become better from it?

It's hard to say what the right answers are, but I imagine that it's one of those things that we, as parents, need to always continue to educate our little ones on. Starting at an early age.

Teaching kindness, and forgiveness.

I love that this book does just that.

Monday, October 20, 2014


It's 2:30.

Andrew brings Graham into bed with me. He's fussy. He's fighting sleep. Heavy eyes. Restless. Soft, subtle, whimpers. 

I'm awake. I worked last night. And the night before. And here I was sleeping in preparation for my third night shift to come. In a row. I never work three in a row. Well, never say never. I try my hardest not to, but if I do, it has to be on the weekend when Andrew is home and I am able to sleep while he's up with the kids.

I actually get sleep. Chopped up, and probably not a normal "nights rest," but hey, it's sleep.
But I'm awake. I feel rested. I don't think I'll be able to fall back asleep.

I try to get Graham to lay with me, to rock him, to settle him down into a nap, and that was definitely not working. I carried his little body to his room where we tried to rock. He fussed. He tossed and turn from one side to the other. We rocked, and rocked, and rocked. I knew he wanted to sleep, but I knew he wasn't comfortable. So I put him down. He cried for a minute, fighting it some more, and then he was out. I headed back into our bedroom in hopes of maybe laying down for a couple more hours, but I just couldn't.

I am awake.

I head downstairs where I hear Elli's sweet voice. She lights up when she sees me. "Mommy! You're awake." I walk over to her, kiss her forehead, and lay down next to her to find out about her day.

"So what did you and papa do."

"Have you had a good day."

"Did you and Graham have fun."

"What did you eat for lunch." "Was it yummy."

We talked for a while. Well, she mainly did the talking, and I simply looked at her and stared at this big girl of mine that will be turning 4 in a just a few short weeks. I stared at her little mouth moving a mile a minute. I stared at her eyes that I could get lost in for hours. I watched her hands as she moved them telling me stories. I studied her, wondering when I missed the "baby" of her start to slowly {quickly} dwindle away.

I hugged her mid-story, interrupted what she was saying, and said "You want to go outside for a little bit?"

"Outside?! Yippeee! Yes, let's go!"

And so we went. It was probably 58 degrees out, and we dressed like it was 30. Her in a winter coat, gloves and hat {per request}, and me in double layered fleece jackets and winter boots. You would have thought snow was coming.

We went on a walk hand in hand around the neighborhood, and I tell you what, that little girl did not stop talking the entire way. I'd ask her a question, and her answer would go on and on and on, and somehow, I found myself just getting lost in her voice and the beautiful fall weather around us. I smiled so hard I thought that my face may hurt. I thought about how long I have waited for these sort of moments, when I held her as a newborn dreaming of days that she would talk to me, and here she is talking non-stop and telling me everything that is on her mind.

We walked this way for a good 30 minutes, and I would stop her every few minutes to hug and kiss her. I love that she lets me. I love that she doesn't fuss or ask why. I love that she is so used to it, and I hope so bad that this never changes.

As we neared back around the corner to our house, she looked up at me and said:
"Mama, out of all my friends in the world, I love you the most."

I think all of life stood still there for a moment. I'm not even sure if I remembered to breath. A tear rolling down my cheek, and finally a sign of life from me: a big sigh of relief. She loves me I thought. Really loves me. Not because I give her food, baths, a warm home, toys, and let her participate in fun activities.... but she loves me for me.

I don't know how kids are able to have this effect on their parents, but I tell you what, it's amazing how quickly you can forget about anything disobedient they may have ever done, and only remember these very special moments together. Because that was me right there. Wiped away all the fuss, all the tantrums, all the talk-backs, as though they never happened.

But those words? Those words will stick with me like glue for the rest of my life. A moment where you'll remember what you were wearing, what the weather was like, and what you did as if you were reliving it over and over again.

I'm awake now. More than awake.
I feel refreshed, alive, and energized.

More importantly, I feel loved. Really really loved.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The winner is....

***This is a sponsored post by Kohl's with all opinions stated being that of my own. Promoting a wonderful company with great savings programs is an easy thing to do when you are naturally a big fan - See more at:
***This is a sponsored post by Kohl's with all opinions stated being that of my own. Promoting a wonderful company with great savings programs is an easy thing to do when you are naturally a big fan - See more at:

 ***This is a sponsored post by Kohl's with all opinions stated being that of my own. Promoting a wonderful company with great savings programs is an easy thing to do when you are naturally a big fan!

Last week I shared a new savings program by Kohls called Yes2You , and this week we get to find out the winner of the $250 Kohl's Gift Card!  I hope that even to those that entered and didn't win that you are still benefiting in big ways by being a part of the program. You can earn points while you shop in the store or online, and with the holidays right around the corner, every penny back counts!

 So. Can we get a drum roll here?

The winner is.......

Sarah H! Congrats.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I say "yes!" Sarah says "yes!" And I hope you consider also saying "yes" to Yes2You

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

3 Favorite recipes: Enchiladas. Pumpkin Cheesecake. Pizza Sauce.

It's been a while since I shared some of the winners in the kitchen. Mainly because there are a lot of losers as well, and some so-so ones thrown in the mix.

But I couldn't help but share these three recent recipes—some old, some new, and all definite keepers.

1. Pizza Sauce
Servings: 6 pizzas.

I always make 2 pizzas for a dinner, so this lasts me for 3 dinners. I make one batch and then put two separate batches in containers to freeze for later use.

It is seriously the easiest to make, with minimal ingredients, and definitely better than any store bought out there. And cheaper!


1 can tomato sauce
1 can tomato paste
1.5 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning { mix of thyme, oregano, and basil}----original recipe used just 1 tablespoon of Oregano, so you can do that as well.


Mix together and serve. One step process. Love.

2. Pumpkin Cheesecake

 Serving size: 1 standard size pie.

Recipe directly from here: {see below snapshot}

No changes made!

It is perfection {although the picture shows otherwise}, and my only suggestion is to bake it about 10 minutes longer! 

3. Enchiladas.
 Serving size: 10 enchiladas

I apologize for the lack of after picture, but I just had to share this delicious recipe that is easy {but time consuming}. I would be sure to start about 1.5 hours prior to dinner time {because rice takes 45 minutes to cook}, and then prep while the rice cooks. This made 10 large enchiladas, and my plan is to next time cook one pan and then freeze the other.

Recipe directly from:

No changes made!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


This past weekend, we had the opportunity to go visit my in-laws new homes. Andrew's parent's new home, and Andrew's sister's new home. First and foremost, it was wonderful to see those that we love and miss. Distance is not our friend.

It reminded us of how wonderful it would be if we all lived close to one another, and how valuable time spent with family truly is. We didn't do a whole lot except hang out and be around each other, and that was more than enough. Surprisingly though, there was another thought that crossed my mind that actually took me back for a second and made me think, why.

Why that thought even entered my head at all.

The thought that, wow, I wish I lived here. Not in those particular states exactly, but more specifically, their beautiful homes. I couldn't help but think that in comparison to those that we love the most, we must seem poor. I know, I wanted to laugh just typing that out. I pondered even saying it, because it sounds so much worse than it means. You see, none of us are poor. The majority of Americans, even with a combined average salary of 40,000, are considered to be "rich" in comparison to other parts of the world. And that, well that is pretty true and eye opening when you think about it.

However, it did not change the fact that this thought still crossed my mind. I looked around my mother-in-law's home and thought, wow, the decorations alone probably cost more than my house. And then my sister'-in-law's home which is 3 times my size, lead me to think… what would I even do with this space? I envisioned a clean slate and going shopping and decorating it. All the space for the kids to run around it. And all the kids I would need to have to even fill the space. My husband's dream of having a man cave, and my own dreams of an office and a craft room.

It all sounds wonderful, and I could sit here and map out each and every room, and each and every piece of art that I would hang on the walls. But who has time for that, and who wants to even hear about it. Because as quickly as that thought crossed my mind, it left even quicker. I was abruptly interrupted by my toddlers, one who needed help in the restroom, and the other who just wanted to be held and kissed.

No complaints there.

So I was brought down to reality. All these thoughts showed me it is okay to be excited for success of those that we love, but also how easy jealousy can spring up on us without you even knowing or better yet, without even inviting it in. But, we are talking about material things here. Wanting something that gives us no sort of love, affection, affirmation, strength, support, or anything else that our actual family members provide for us.

I think it is okay to dream or even want more than we have, but it's even more important to be grateful for what we actually do have. Not just grateful, but happy, content, and proud. Think about how you got where you did, and think about what it took to get there.

So we made the 11 hour drive back to our home, walked in our house, and said... man it feels good to be back. Back to our little old place that brings our little family of four together.  Back to where the dog has ate our garage door, the carpets are 5 years overdue for change, dust in the corners of corners that I never even think to look, and furniture that has gotten beat down over and over again.

But it was ours. And this is where our family has grown. And it's ours. And we feel safe, and we feel warm, and most of all we feel loved here. And...

It's ours.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

If you like to say yes to saving money, then say Yes2You and enter to win $250 Kohl's Gift Card

***This is a sponsored post by Kohl's with all opinions stated being that of my own. Promoting a wonderful company with great savings programs is an easy thing to do when you are naturally a big fan!

It's no secret that I am an avid Kohl's shopper. My husband says that I have an addiction, but I like to say that it's more of a skill. The skill being how much money I can save in one given time. Kohl's has always been great about supporting this passion of mine {saving money} with all the great discounts and programs they have available, not to mention the huge sales that always reel me in.

I try to stay up to date with all of their current deals and coupon codes so that I am able to maximize my savings. Better yet, I try to mainly shop during their promotional periods of cash backs and make sure to spend the exact amount in order to reach the minimum goal to getting bucks back. That means little stocking stuffers {socks and pj's} have been purchased many times throughout the year. Oh the famous Kohl's cash that makes me giddy like a child on Christmas morning.

Gets me every time.

And then there is the Yes2You program– a new savings opportunity where one earns points for every purchase, whether in store or online. But that's not all. The perks continue with Yes2You customers receiving eight offers per year, a birthday gift, and opportunities to get extra bonus points throughout the year.

With no limit on points, and no cost to start up, it's really as simple as a one minute sign up online, in the store, or through the Kohl's app on your phone— and that's it!

Yes2You Rewards is what I like to call a no-brainer-must-have-program.
Once you reach 100 points, Kohl's will give you back $5 for every 100 points earned, and you have one month to use it.  Don't have a use for them or have a generous heart? Then you can share with your family and friends, or even give back to the Kohl's Cares that supports children's health and education. 

Now that you are ready to enroll, let me tell you just how. Go into any store, go online at or simply download the Kohl's app straight to your phone!

Can you tell that I am super excited about this program? I think I have made it very clear, and that's because I want you to be just as excited. I want everyone out there to be able to save money and be excited about saving money and about perks that are available to them. Like I tell my husband, if I'm going to be shopping anyway, if there's something I have to buy anyway, why wouldn't I go ahead and make sure that I am getting the best deal possible.

You know what else? The savings have also allowed me to buy for others in need. I was able to buy 30 shirts for a woman's shelter with a 93% savings! As happy as saving money makes me feel, nothing beats when I can actually save money and give to those in need.

Kohl's great sales, amazing coupon codes, cash back opportunities, and the new Yes2You savings program is how that was made possible.

How about that Christmas shopping? I am ready to own it!

My question for you is this: What makes you say yes to Kohl's? 
Answer this question and enter to win $250 to shop at Kohl's!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, October 6, 2014

Researching our benefit options

October is a big milestone month for many people. It's the month that we transition to the fall with cooler temperatures and even busier calendars. We think about all things pumpkin, scarves and boots, hayrides and haunted houses, and watching the leaves turn into the beautiful rich colors of red, yellow, orange, and brown. Maybe even take a moment to jump in them with our children. It's the month before the big holidays sneak up on us, and not to mention the winter weather that always catches us off guard. But aside from the fun and excitement and beautiful weather, it's also often the month where people start thinking again about their benefits.
Open enrollment.
For years, open enrollment for my family meant logging into my work account, clicking the checkbox stating no changes to be made, and submitting my information for approval. For 6 years we had done that with not a single thought in mind---on my part. My husband tried to talk to me about switching, but for some reason I was convinced that we were in the best situation possible. Rates went up, policies changed, and we even went through 4 different insurance companies. Yet, I never put any importance at looking at researching and further understanding our policy. Last year, we decided to look further into my husband's employment insurance options, and after digging deeper, punching numbers on the calculator, and comparing his to mine, we realized that we had been making a huge financial mistake by continuing to click that little box year after year.
In fact, because of this, I probably cost my family thousands of dollars.
I was surprised to find out that I was not one of the only ones that has made this common mistake. A survey completed by Aflac on open enrollment found that individuals, on average {41 percent}, spent 15 minutes or less researching their benefit options. Another 24 percent spent 5 minutes or less. That was me. You know what other statistic I fell into? The 90 percent that were commonly "auto-enrolling" year after year.
We fixed that mistake quickly {not quickly enough}, and made sure that every year we sat down as a couple and reviewed the options available to us. Another thing we learned was that there were voluntary policies, such as Aflac, to help eliminate the financial stress that often times burdens families in medical situations.
Important Things to note about Aflac
A Fortune 500 company with individual and group voluntary insurance that provide protection to more than 50 million people worldwide with accident, dental, life, vision, cancer, hospital intensive care and more voluntary insurance policies.
It is available in all 50 states, including Puerto Rico.
Eight years in a row, Aflac has been recognized by Ethisphere magazine as one of the World's Most Ethical Companies, and was included in the Fortune magazine list as one of the World's most ethical companies.
Do you have questions about open enrollment? Click here for further information provided by Aflac WorkForces Report website.

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

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Two books the redefine the meaning of: Book.

Often times we think of books as something that we strictly read. As children we start with picture books, then we add more and more words as we get older, and eventually we dive into books that the only image we will see will be the one that is on the front cover.

I love when we discover books that are outside of what one may expect, and I love even more when they allow us to get creative and think outside of the box.
I have two new books to share with you today: Dino Supersaurus build and Play Box set and Live, Imagine, Draw. Two very different books, but both resulting in the same thing: smiles on kids faces.

The Dino book is obviously great for all the dinosaur loving boys and girls out there. There are 6 dinosaurs for the kids to put together and this is wonderful for the fine motor skills.  The book includes different activities for the kids to work on. I would definitely recommend this book for the older kids, 6+. I have this tucked away on the bookshelf for my little man when he reaches of age to do the actual activities. In the meantime, we pretend play with our dinos.

The second book Live, Imagine, Draw is the perfect example of a book with a different purpose. The purpose being to get those creative juices flowing. There are so many great qualities about this book, and the first one that comes to mind are all the art that went into creating this book, as well as the wonderful quotes to go along.

"Every artist was first an amateur." Ralph Waldo Emerson.

The pages are fun for the kids to draw, write, and imagine– just like the title suggests. For instance, they have a picture of different animals and asks the child to "add some hats to these animals." Do animals wear hats? No. But how fun for the kid to imagine what kind of hat they would wear if they did. Other pages as the child to draw a portrait of themselves, draw a dream, something blue, something old, a journey, and so forth. I would also recommend these books for kids 6-7+, or whenever a parent feels a child is ready.

To be honest? I want to keep it for myself and draw all my wildest dreams and journeys...... however, I still draw in stick figures.

So another two great finds, and really redefine the definition of a book. 

**As part of a blogger for Parragon Book buddies, I received these books to review, however, all opinions stated are that of my own.

Friday, October 3, 2014

What it's like to be rich.

Have I mentioned recently how much I love being home with my babies? I know I have said it before—many times. I know that I've explained on multiple occasions why I do what I do because of my babies. But sometimes, it's nice to be reminded of these things as life quickly zips on by.

Man, I love being home with my babies. Being able to wake up and get them dressed and ready for the day. Cooking their meals for them. Reading them stories. Going to the library, the zoo, the museum, multiple parks, and fun little play dates. Watching them reach their milestones. Watching them learn. Watching them discover themselves and the people that live around them.

And I get to be right there with them, watching them.

Elliana is sitting quietly playing with cars —the favorite thing around this house. Graham is already down for a nap at 9:30 —must be going through a growth spurt. And I sit here on the couch by the window watching as the rain pours down on the trees that have now started to turn golden orange, yellow, and red. Gosh, I sure do love October. And what is it about rain that makes things so calm and serene?

You know....

I've been so deep into our family that I have not taken the time to just sit down and reflect lately. It's good for my soul to sit down and write, and yet, it's something that I push off the agenda more times than not. But I promised myself to sit here for 5 minutes and do just that– write. So here I am. Writing.

Don't ask me about what.

Just life. I guess.

We are in a great place right now with the kids. Life is so much easier {yet busier}. We have a set routine, the kids are pretty predictable, and there is so much less stress and much more fun these days that it's hard not to think about how lucky we are for our health and the people and things in our lives. It's hard for me though not to think about the what-ifs, the why us, and the when will something bad happen to us moments? I'm constantly surrounded by so much sadness at work and the stories that we hear, that it's hard for me not to think about how tomorrow is never guaranteed and how easily our world can change in just a split second. We shouldn't go there. We shouldn't think that way. But it's also helped me enjoy each and every moment with my children and my husband. Even the not so picture perfect ones.

We cook a lot together. We play pretend a lot together. We read a lot together. We dance a lot together. And sing {although neither one of us four are any good}. And we laugh a lot. And we take a lot of pictures. And we do a lot of looking at those pictures {and videos}. And we love a lot.

Andrew and I were doing silly dances in our small bathroom while the kids bathed and sang one of our favorite songs, and I caught myself look at these three family members of mine and thinking... this is exactly what life is all about.

Not the money. Not the things. Not the parties or the trips or the people that we know in our lives. Not our status. Not our careers. Not our cars, homes, or toys.

But the people.

Our family. Our love. Our relationships among one another.

My kids make me feel like the richest celebrity alive.
And I hope that I make them feel the same way one day.

Until then, I'll just keep dancing, singing, playing, and getting messy with them.

Speaking of playing, time for me to go play cars. My 5 minutes {eh, 10} of fame is up.
Happy Weekend. 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

VTECH Innotab 3 review and giveaway! Can't put it down!

***VTech product, information, and additional playset have all been provided by VTech. This review however are my own honest opinions of the product.

In our family, we try to minimize the amount of technology use that not only our children use, but that we use as well. We want them to grow up playing and exploring and seeking educational opportunities that they can physically attain versus those on a screen. That being said, we do however enjoy and support any technology that helps stimulate further learning in a way that is fun and thought provoking. VTech®’s InnoTab® 3 Plus kids’ learning tablet was provided to us for review, and I was so excited to get my hands on it and start figuring all the ins and outs.

Elli is only 3 and was able to figure out this device almost immediately with little assistance from myself. She created her own user name and was able to take a picture of herself, which then automatically set the notion that she actually owned something and most importantly that she had to take care of it. We had this important conversation.

We went through all the different apps that were programmed into the device, and the camera was definitely a big time favorite from the start. Walking around the house and taking "pictures" of her baby brother, the dog, and an arm and a leg, was definitely quite the entertainment.  She continued on to read "books" and all I kept hearing from her is "this is cool" and "so fun!" Needless to say, there were be lots of chores done around the house so that she can download new books and learning apps to work on. 

Some of our favorite things about the Innotab include:
  • Innotab 3 comes with a rechargeable battery pack! It really doesn't get much better than that. So important when we are already eating through batteries every day, and in this case, I'll never have to worry about replacing batteries in the tablet ever again.
  • There are more than 800 apps that are education driven and can be purchased through the Vtech learning app store. That's a lot of skimming through on my part!
  • The camera isn't just your basic every day snap and shoot camera. It has a 180° rotating camera with over 55 special effect. They can also make their own videos and even store their own music!
  •  The price is definitely right. InnoTab 3 Plus comes with 12 apps at an affordable price of only $59.99. You know my thoughts on this right? Great Christmas gift!

Better yet, a great gift to giveaway! You can now have the opportunity to win on to gift to a special little someone in your life that will most certainly light up when they find out what's inside the package!

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