Christmas Traditions Includes Hickory Farms – You?

November and December and my favorite months. I absolutely love the holiday season and wish that these months could be spread out for a longer time period. The hustle and bustle of the season just warms my heart.

Some of my favorite Christmas traditions are the Christmas movies paired with hot chocolate with the girls. Cuddling up with the girls and watching movies such as Polar Express are priceless times. I hope the girls will remember this tradition when they grow up and are adults. Our red cups from Starbucks as a family is another sweet tradition. We treat Starbucks as a very special date. We do not go often but when we do, there is something magical and especially at Christmas time.

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Packing shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child is another special tradition. The girls absolutely love doing this since they know it will go to a special child that would otherwise receive nothing at all. It is also an opportunity to help spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

operationchristmaschild

All of these are traditions that I have created with my girls since becoming a mom. One tradition that I am passing down to my girls is delicious treats from Hickory Farms.

Hickory Farms Party Planner

For more than 60 years Hickory Farms gifts have been a classic holiday tradition that brings family and friends together. I remember as a young child my Grandma would have Hickory Farms on her  Christmas table, then my mom would have the same on her table and now I am passing the tradition on down to my girls as well. When the above party platter was delivered, my girls’ eyes both lit up and we were very happy to partake in the tradition early.

As with my recollection, many Americans have a distinct memory of Hickory Farms at their holiday gatherings; Hickory Farms is very proud to be a part of those nostalgic moments and continues to focus on and celebrate its long heritage of tradition and authentic holiday memories.

Hickory Farms not only embraces passing down traditions through generations of families, but also creating new traditions and sharing them with loved ones.

You are able to purchase Hickory Farms both online and in stores. You are able to grab your favorite Hickory Farm treats this year in 700+ Holiday Market stores and kiosks across North America, as well as in select retailers.

WIN!

One lucky reader is going to win the above party platter so you can create memories with your family.

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Disclaimer: Compensation and products for review were provided by Hickory Farms via MomTrends. I received a free sample of the product for the purpose of this review and to facilitate a giveaway. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions of Hickory Farms.

The Love Connection (Pampers Giveaway)

As we all know, we have a special love connection with our children. This time last year, our family was leaping into new territory. My stepdaughter welcomed Baby J into the family. Would I be able to love him as much as I do my own girls? There was an immediate love connection when we met Baby J in the hospital.

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My husband and our girls had this immediate undying love for our sweet Baby J. God’s sweet miracle was introduced into our lives and we definitely were swept off our feet. This grandparent gig is one of the sweetest gig’s that I have been blessed to take part of. As soon as his eyes catches our eyes, he immediately starts smiling and kicking his feet. He may not be able to carry on conversations with us, but the smiles and kicks are all the communication that we need to know. There is a deep love between us all.

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A baby’s love is so sweet and I know I want to cherish every minute and create as many memories as we can create. Time truly goes by too fast as M and L are 9 and 10.

Even though my stepdaughter has the most fashionable cloth diapers on the market, there are times that we need to let Baby J wear non-cloth diapers. BabyCenter welcomed me to partner with them on their latest campaign with Pampers Swaddlers. I was thrilled to join in the campaign.

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First off, Pampers have changed so much since the girls were babies. See the yellow strip going down the back of the diaper? That is the neatest little strip. The strip is called a color-changing wetness indicator. Smart move Pampers.

The Swaddlers are very soft and contour to fit the baby well since babies are always on the go with either crawling, scooting or even walking. Again, another smart move with the softness factor.

Did you know Pampers are #1 worldwide diaper brand serving 25 million babies in more than 100 countries around the world? Pampers is committed to make your baby happy and loves to hear from families all over to hear their feedback. Due to the feedback, Pampers made their Swaddlers diapers available up to size 5.

Each diaper includes an absorb away liner. Check out this short clip to see the new and improved Swaddlers diaper.

WIN!!!!

3 WINNERS will receive one month’s supply of diapers and wipes (in the form of coupons).

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Disclaimer: This post is part of a sponsorship on BabyCenter. I received a free sample of the product for the purpose of this review.

Pack a shoebox with Si Robertson

Christmas is just around the corner.

ChristmasAboutGiving

My mom and dad have always taught me that it is better to give than to receive. I didn’t fully understand this phrase until I became an adult. Since beginning my job at Samaritan’s Purse, I didn’t realize the impact that a simple shoebox made to kids in third world countries.

This past shoebox season, we reached 100 million shoeboxes. Here is a video that gives you a look into how a shoebox impacts a child.

Let’s take a moment with the VeggieTales and see how to pack a shoebox. Grab your kids and let them enjoy this short video too!

Bless a needy child by participating in this exciting project! Your child is able to possibly interact with the child that receives their shoebox by filling out this coloring sheet and putting it inside the shoebox. National collection week is November 18-25th. You have time to pack your shoebox and drop it off at your nearest drop-off location. Just put in your zip code here and it will tell you the nearest locations.

I will leave you with one more video and if you are a fan of Si Robertson from Duck Commander, you will love this one. Happy packing!

The Holidays are HERE!

We are finally back online and thriving. We moved and my laptop crashed. Thank goodness we had the desktop still in storage. Cleaned up the dust and we are back in the technology world. I know I will miss my laptop though. Anyone bought a new laptop lately?  Reviews?

The Holiday season is officially upon us! I am so excited. I made my first holiday goodies tonight for work tomorrow and had my first red cup latte from Starbucks.

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Are you excited about the Holidays?

We had a great Halloween night. A fall festival at church and then a few door-to-door trick or treating in the neighborhood. Baby Jackson enjoyed his first Halloween so much. He would get so excited as we would go up to each door. His bucket would be out before we even reached the door. He would jump up and down. So smart and so cute.

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Looking forward to sharing with you all and catching up with you all.

My Baby is 9 years old!

I cannot believe that I just wrote that title. Let me pause for a moment. I need to grab a tissue.

How can my baby be 9 years old? I have been requesting for time to slow down for years, but for some reason the time just continues to speed to a faster rate.

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Look at that sweet face. Oh I miss the baby stage so much. She just warms my heart and soul so much. The one bright spot is L is still very much attached to her mommy. I need to be in her presence, especially at night. She still loves to play with my hair. My hair has been a lovey ever since she was a baby. She use to play with my hair while she was nursing and then moved on to playing with my hair while she was trying to fall asleep.

mommy and L

She is such a blessing. This past year has had lots of ups and downs. The downs include her multiple hospital stays and so many worries about her health. It is my prayer that she will have a better year this year. We give God the glory for bringing her through all she has been through. One of the awesome ups is L asking Jesus into her heart. This was on July 28 and that evening will forever be etched in my brain. She came to me all on her own to say she was ready to ask Jesus into her heart. I immediately stopped what I was doing and went upstairs to be with her and pray. We asked Daddy to join us so she could tell the great news to him. We are such a proud mom and dad of our L.

L is thriving so much in school as well. She did miss over 30 days of school last year and we thought this may hurt her academic wise. It is quite the opposite. Her teacher tells me that she is very involved in class and always wants to help others. L has such a giving spirit about her. There are days that she will wake up and just want to do something to help others. Beautiful spirit indeed. I, as an adult, am learning so much from her personality. Always giving forward to others.

L has a mild addiction, or should I say major addiction to mine craft. The online architecture building game. Anyone else’s child addicted to this game? We have to put time constraints on her technology time as he would sit and build all day long. Offline, she is in love with LEGO friends. It is amazing what she can build with each package she receives. I can’t wait to have an open desk for her so she can show off her artistic building capabilities. L is very artsy and loves to draw. My plan is to have a whole shelf dedicated to all of her art supplies. Art supplies were first on her list when she was asking for birthday gifts. She is going to be one amazing girl when she grows up as an adult. I know God has great plans for her. I can wait for a long while for that though as I just want to keep her as my sweet precious little girl.

L loves to sing as well. I am still trying to get a video of her beautiful voice. As we are driving to school each morning, she will sing at the top of her lungs to our Matthew West CD. The tune she carries is amazingly beautiful too. I just know God is going to use these wonderful talents for good will.

Pet lover is still a great name for L. She is on a huge kick about wanting a bunny. We are trying to steer clear of this request. Animals just bring out so much happiness for her and still will tell you her favorite amusement park is SeaWorld because of all the animals. Be still my heart.

Mommy, cannot believe you are 9 L. I could not be more proud of you though and I want you to keep being YOU. Reach for the stars and look to the Good Lord for guidance in your life. Mommy and Daddy will always be behind you as your biggest cheerleader.

Happy Birthday L!!

VTech® InnoTab 3 Learning App Tablet Review and WIN!

Let’s face it, technology is only going to get stronger as the days go by. We can either embrace it or turn away from it. My view is to embrace it but set limits. This is what I love with the VTech InnoTab 3. You are able to set limits for your child. We were so excited to receive this tablet to review.

vtechinnotab3

I asked my girls what they loved best about this tablet. M responded with:

She likes having separate accounts. Her sister can have her favorite games, pictures and music while M has her favorite files. M really liked the option of making your own greetings. She was able to personalize it to her own style.

L responded with:

She loves you can take pictures with the 180 degree rotating camera. Also, she is able to read e-books.

•The InnoTab® 3 combines educational games, creative activities and reading skills in a child-friendly, multi-function, touch screen tablet to make learning fun.

•Compact and lightweight design with 4.3” color touch screen, new directional pad and tilt sensor

•2.0 megapixel, 180° rotating camera with more than 55 photo features and special effects

•Your child can even embark on fun, educational adventures with their favorite characters such as Doc McStuffins®, Sofia the First® and Jake & the Never Land Pirates.

The size is another great feature it is great for our grandson (almost 1) to hold in his hands. Also, the outer shell is great for the unexpected drop accidents.

The tablet comes with 16 different apps and then you are able to more downloads from the Learning Lodge. Also, since we are huge music lovers, we were able to import our music onto the tablet and L plays the music at night as she is going to sleep. The tablet helps with all subjects which is a plus for parents. Kids are playing but learning as well.

Two stylus’ are included with the tablet. This allows you full function with the apps.

You don’t have to worry about running through lots of batteries as you have a choice of AC adapter or rechargeable battery pack.

Even though lots of learning is involved with the tablet, the apps allow for your child to be creative. The WonderCam includes over 55 photo effects. The girls spent an hour over the weekend being creative with pictures. You are able to download the pictures via a USB cable, so you don’t have to worry about losing their beautiful artwork.

Overall, I was impressed with all this tablet can do and for the price. It’s available for $69.99 on the VTech website. A price point that will not break the bank and comes packed with so many features. This would be a great birthday or Christmas gift!

You could WIN one now!

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Disclosure: VTech gave us an Innotab 3 in order to facilitate this review. All thoughts and opinions are of my own.

NC SEA LIFE Aquarium Begins Construction in Concord

We are steps closer to the opening of the NC SEA LIFE Aquarium!

This is beyond exciting news. I have been invited to be part of their parent advisory council, so I will be able to pass onto you insider information. The groundbreaking ceremony was last week.

Concord Mayor J. Scott Padgett was joined by Donna Carpenter, President/CEO of Cabarrus County CVB, and other dignitaries to commemorate the construction of SEA LIFE Charlotte-Concord.

sea aquarium groundbreaking

SEA LIFE Charlotte-Concord will open early Spring 2014 with 5,000 marine creatures on view. This is going to be a fun attraction for kids of all ages. Yes, I am talking about the parents too!

One of the awesome things about this new aquarium is it will help books the local economy by creating over 50 new jobs.

SEA LIFE is the world’s biggest aquarium brand with more than 15 million visitors a year and 50 superb attractions in Europe, USA and Asia Pacific. This will be Merlin’s sixth SEA LIFE Center attraction to open in the USA, and SEA LIFE at Concord Mills will highlight all of the qualities which have gained the brand the support and endorsement of marine experts worldwide. Initial plans call for more than 30 spectacular displays of diverse marine life for visitors to enjoy – everything from shrimp and starfish to seahorses, sharks and rays. In keeping with other SEA LIFE attractions, there will also be a unique element reflecting the Carolinas’ location based around the marine creatures most associated with the region.

Finally, the stunning centerpiece will be a huge tropical ocean tank with a walk-through underwater tunnel. We are so excited about this tunnel. Keep an eye on the blog for more aquarium updates soon!

Beautiful sunrise to start your day off right! TGIF!

We have made it to Friday. Great job!

Check out this beautiful sunrise that I was able to capture yesterday morning on the Blue Ridge Parkway. I was just in awe by God’s wonderful beauty. It was like He took a paint brush and painted the sky.

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Have a wonderful Friday and a superb weekend!

Is your child in the right car seat?

A startling fact: car crashes are a leading killer of children ages 1 to 13. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), an average of two children died every day in 2011 from motor vehicle crashes. However a properly-installed car seat can make all the difference. From 1975-2011, NHTSA estimates that nearly 10,000 children age 4 and younger have been saved because of child restraints.

We’re proud to partner with NHTSA on Child Passenger Safety Week (September 15 – 21, 2013)—an annual initiative to encourage parents and caregivers to make sure that they are correctly using and installing their car seats. The week’s activities culminate in National Seat Check Saturday on September 21, when parents can meet with certified child passenger safety technicians to inspect their car seat installation for free.

Visit safercar.gov/therightseat (English) and safercar.gov/protegidos (Spanish) to find a National Seat Check Saturday location? in your local community.

My sweet girls, I always wanted the best for them in car seats. Looking back, I felt like I turned M around too soon. I do regret that but made sure that I did it right with L. L was in a five-point harness until she was 8 years old and then her weight reached the maximum for her to be in a five-point harness. She still is in a booster seat and prefers to still ride on one too. You can never be too safe when it comes to keeping your child safe in a car.

Car Seat Safety

 

Let’s make certain every child is buckled the right way every ride, every time.

My first challenge of being a work out of the home mom

My job could not be going any better. I am so blessed. For the past few months, I have been praying for God to use me in his ministry and for me to draw closer to God. It is an amazing experience each and every day. I never know what will come across my desk each day, but I do know I will end each day being blessed. I have shed many tears at my desk but not because of being sad. It is because I have been moved by the Holy Spirit.

With all of that being said, I am sad tonight. My sweet L is sick. She has had such a terrific summer. We were able to get her off all her meds but now it is all came back to haunt us. Her eyes are swollen, she can’t breathe good and she is just fatigued. I don’t believe she will be able to go to school tomorrow and I can’t miss work. I have two meetings at work tomorrow that I need to be there for, but all I want to do is just cuddle my sweet L and get her better. Oh my heart. Mommy has always been the one there for her, stayed home with her when she was sick and met her every need. Now, my husband will stand up to the plate and take on my role. This is hard to gulp.

Even though a sadness is creeping into my heart, I am thankful that my husband can be with her. I know it is the new norm and eventually my heart will get adjusted but for right now, it is sad.

Moms deal with this every single day right? Husbands always stand up and take on this challenge. They don’t skip a beat. It is fine for mom and dad to share the sick duty. We still will give lots of cuddles and be there for our sweet princess.

For now, I am going to remember this super fun day back in July at Disney World.

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