Hiking at Linville Falls with the Family #Travel

Our family loves the outdoors and we live in a great place to enjoy may different outdoor activities. The weekends are spent with as much family time as possible so at the last minute, I thought let’s go hike up to Linville Falls. The last time we did this hike was when M was 10 months old. It was past time to go enjoy this beautiful scenic hike.

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There are different trails you can choose to take depending on how much time you would like to spend. Also, there are picnic tables so it is always nice to take a family picnic and enjoy the mountain air.

The view and water falls awaiting for your arrival at the end of the trail is mesmerizing. So much beauty to take in as a family. Stand and enjoy.

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As a family, it was just nice to disconnect from technology and enjoy God’s beauty. Families are able to view the upper and lower falls.

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Linville Falls

Linville Falls NC

Hiking at Linville Falls

You can visit the National Forest website for details on the different trails and directions. It is beautiful. The family will not be disappointed.

Once you leave, you can travel on the Blue Ridge Parkway to the Linville Viaduct.

The Linn Cove Viaduct was only the second bridge in history to be built from the end of a span, called a cantilever, which is anchored only at one end. In this case, the cantilever was the road itself. To protect the fragile terrain, all construction was done from the top down and no machinery was allowed more than 50 feet from the base of the piers.

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Linville Viaduct

Great adventure, family fun and beautiful scenery… what more could you ask for?

Celebrate 25 Years of Look Good Feel Better #ReimagineBeauty

This post is in partnership with Look Good Feel Better and The Motherhood. All thoughts and opinions are of my own.

Look Good Feel Good

Cancer can rock a person’s world more ways than one. My heart hurts for everyone affected by cancer. I pray that we can find a cure for all types of cancer. During its 25th anniversary, Look Good Feel Better is encouraging women to Reimagine Beauty and its meaning and importance to women undergoing cancer treatment.

The appearance changes women undergo while coping with cancer treatment – like beauty itself – are far more than skin deep. They can impact a woman’s self-esteem and rob her of the courage and confidence she needs to face one of the toughest battles of her life.

As a friend and/or relative, we need to rally around and uplift the women in our circles that go through these treatments. Be there for them, lend a listening ear, offer your shoulder, wrap your arms around and giving a loving hug and surprise her on days when she needs it most.

The #ReimagineBeauty campaign which runs through July 1st encourages all women – in a small way – to virtually experience Look Good Feel Better and to “reimagine beauty” and the power it can have to restore confidence and courage to women undergoing cancer treatment.

I love that the Look Good Feel Better is a non-medical, brand-neutral and free public service program dedicated to helping women living with cancer manage the appearance side effects of cancer treatment and improve their self-esteem.

Let’s do this together!

1. Visit the Look Good Feel Better website to try the Virtual Makeover tool.

2. Use the Look Good Feel Better Virtual Makeover tool by uploading your photo and trying the new hair and makeup looks. Through this experience, women everywhere can experience, in a small way, the help women living with cancer receive during a Look Good Feel Better workshop so that they can “reimagine beauty” and the impact Look Good Feel Better can have on women undergoing cancer treatment.

3. Share the “after” photo from the Virtual Makeover tool on Facebook or Twitter, using the hashtag #ReimagineBeauty, to spread awareness and to be entered for a chance to win a trip to the National Women’s Survivors Convention to participate in the Look Good Feel Better 25th anniversary party. The winner may give their prize to a friend or family member who is a cancer survivor.

To further encourage campaign participation, Look Good Feel Better is offering one participant the chance to win a trip to the National Women’s Survivors Convention in Nashville, TN July 31 through August 2, 2014 to connect her with other women who have survived cancer.

Check out my before and after look!

Look Good Feel Better

What do you think? It does make me smile for sure. Go ahead and perform your makeover!

Visit lookgoodfeelbetter.org, follow @LGFB on Twitter, and join the conversation at www.Facebook.com/lookgoodfeelbetter to learn more and spread the word.

Has a battery ever leaked from your child’s toy? {Giveaway}

Let’s set the stage. Your kid is having a major tantrum in front of you because their toy is no longer working. “Mommmmmmy, please make it work.”

We have all been there but that moment you open the battery compartment door and battery acid causes a huge mess all over your hands. Your mood just went south even further. Was that even possible? Oh yes!

Stop the presses. I have help.

While many consumers believe battery leakage is an issue of the past, some batteries can still leak after they have been fully used, causing damage to devices and creating a mess. Believe me, I can vouch that there are still batteries out on the market that will cause a mess.

I have partnered with Energizer® MAX® with Power Seal to bring less messes to your household. Leakage is an industry-wide issue among alkaline batteries. Research shows Energizer® MAX® with Power Seal technology outperforms leading competitors when it comes to in-device leakage.

So the next time you reach for batteries, make sure your child’s favorite toy is powered by Energizer® MAX®. Your kids will thank you. Energizer protects your devices from damaging leaks. Guaranteed.

energizer max

Want to discuss this further and find out more information on the No-Leak guarantee? Join me, The Motherhood and other bloggers for a twitter party on May 20 at 1:00pm ET. We are all going to help spread the word on Energizer’s innovative, long-lasting battery that can protect your household devices or children’s toys from damaging leaks.

Energizer continues to be known for many “firsts” in battery technology! Join the party fun to chat with parents everywhere about the “firsts” that they and their children are experiencing and some of our messiest leak moments. From batteries to faucets to diapers, we’ve all experienced the peril of leaks! We’ll also be exchanging helpful tips for battery storage and use, so that your family’s battery-operated devices and toys are always ready for use, without worry of leaks! Can’t wait to “chat” with you!

When: Wednesday, May 20 at 1p ET / 12p CT / 10a PT

Where: We’ll be on Twitter – follow the #NoLeaksGuaranteed hashtag to track the conversation. You can see the details and RSVP via this Twtvite: http://twtvite.com/noleaksguaranteed

Hashtag: #NoLeaksGuaranteed

Prizes: Five prizes will be given to randomly selected participants who answer the trivia questions correctly. Each prize basket includes a collection of Energizer batteries, a plush Energizer bunny, a water bottle, a t-shirt and more! Valued at $75+.

Hosts: @theMotherhood, @theMotherhood25, @CooperMunroe, @EmilyMcKhann

Sponsor:
@Energizer, @EnergizerBunny

GIVEAWAY!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: This post is sponsored. I have partnered with TheMotherhood and Energizer. All thoughts and opinions are of my own.

Day 49: Progress every single day!

It doesn’t seem quite possible that tomorrow will be 7 weeks from surgery. It will be two weeks since I was unwired from my splint. Getting the splint un-wired did not hurt but it tasted awful. I could not have ran faster to the sink to brush my teeth and the roof of my mouth. GOOD BYE splint. I was ready to take on the world by eating and talking….. well maybe not!

I was in for a rude awakening. After my splint and wires were out, I thought all would be normal in my world once again. Ummm no! I couldn’t hardly even chew up a piece of grilled chicken. Talking was just way too weird. My mouth wouldn’t open far. Sad feelings rushed over me. You are not able to talk normal or chew normal.

Two weeks have passed and so much progress has been made in the past two weeks. Dr. Turvey and his Resident Doctors sent me home with popsicle sticks. I need to get 12 to 15 in my mouth by the time I see them on June 17th. It’s not easy but guess what? Tonight, I was able to get in 11 sticks. Go Jen! My daughter M was cheering me along the entire way.

Day 49 Jaw Exercises

Happiness. True happiness. Who knew sticks could make someone so happy? Food is still a battle. Each day though, I feel like I can chew lightly a little better. I am only able to chew soft foods such as pasta, oatmeal, muffins, etc. I tried to bite into a banana and it was a no go. My mouth just cannot open that far yet, but with time and exercise it will.

Each day I do my exercises and the heating pad. The heating pad wrapped around my jaw helps relax the muscles so I am able to do my exercises. Throughout the day my face gets really tight. I am hoping over time this will stop. It is a question that I am going to ask Dr. Turvey when I go see him next month.

Tomorrow will be back to work full-time for two weeks. Work is going well. There have been days of pain, but I finally quit being stubborn and take my ibuprofen. It helps me get through the painful days. Tiredness still gets me though around 6:00pm. I am ready for bed. My iron levels still could not be back to normal. I need to have them checked again. My coworkers help talk me through the days but I feel like I complain to them too much about my jaw recovery so I try to keep the recovery talks to a minimal. Several coworkers have told me they can see a difference over the last two weeks with how I am moving my jaw. It is moving more freely. This definitely makes me smile. I tried to tackle phone calls today but realized quickly, the feeling of my jaw was making me feel weird. Maybe a couple more weeks?

Dr. Turvey says it takes a full year to recover. I didn’t believe him but after the last two weeks, I do. Most of the recovery should be complete by six months. Overall, I think he will be pleased with how far I have came so far and I still have another 4 weeks until I see him. I have most of the feeling back in my face except my cheeks, bottom lip and my chin. This morning though was a big breakthrough when I could finally start licking my lips. This was HUGE. I feel like I am just right on the edge of getting my feeling back in my lip and chin. My waterpik is still my best friend after every time I eat. I have no idea how I lived with braces without it.

If I can say so myself, doesn’t my jaw look awesome?

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Day 47 Family

Moms… You’re Doing OK! #YoureDoingOKMom

This sponsored post is in partnership with The Motherhood and Johnson’s Baby!

Mother’s Day is just days away. This day couples with my birthday. Growing up, I always wanted to be a mom. My mom would come into my bedroom with my baby dolls lined up and I would play “house” for hours. Once I became an adult, I could not wait to actually hold my own child in my arms.

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Holding my first-born daughter M, was the best feeling in the whole wide world. I wouldn’t even let her go to the nursery. I just wanted to hold her forever. Less than two years later, we welcomed baby L!

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The girls are my world. Tears well up in my eyes just thinking of the beautiful girls that God gave my husband and I. At times I feel like that I am not being the best mother that the girls deserve and then I get a priceless note from them that reminds me that… I am doing OK!

This video makes me smile so much. Those nights that my sweet L would wake up every two hours, I wouldn’t have traded for anything. Her gummy smile would say… I love you mom!

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As they grow older, I think of all the nights my mom would stay up with me to study. M loves me to quiz her on all her study guides. My mom would sit and do the same thing with me for many years. She never complained once and always did it with a smile. L has now started studying for tests and we come up with very creative ways to make it fun so she will not lose interest. My mom would do the same for me. I love you MOM!

I love you M and L. Thank you for making me a mom. You will always have my heart.

Through all the hospital stays, the chaotic days at home and the big smile days, life as a mother for the last 11 years have been the best days of my life.

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Moms, this Mother’s Day remember… you’re doing OK!

JOHNSON’S® Baby CARES, the JOHNSON’S® Baby brand’s charitable platform, is committed to ensuring that every baby has a healthy and happy start through educational and social initiatives, product donations, and financial support.

As an extension of this promise, for every view of the “You’re Doing OK, Mom” video above between now and Mother’s Day, JOHNSON’S® Baby will donate $1 to Save the Children®, up to $50,000.

How my surgery brought me closer to my husband!

Scott and Jen

My surgery recovery was harder than I expected but it brought me closer to my husband. Odd? Not at all. My husband is my best friend but being together 13 years, our communication skills were not the best. When your jaws are clamped shut, communication skills are needed. You have to get creative. Lots of note writing, sitting right beside each other, and listening were the three keys. The keys that have brought us so much closer.

We both sit and really listen what the other person is saying before we cut the person off and not let them finish the discussion. We hold hands way more which just makes you feel closer to your spouse. The last five weeks have been spent together pretty much 24/7. It could have either drove us crazy or it could have brought us closer. The latter is what has happened and we both couldn’t be happier. My husband made the comment, I hope this keeps up after your recovery is completed. I do too and I know it will because we will both ensure that we are trying our best to give each other the attention.

Lives are so busy that we can get wrapped up in our schedules but marriages will go so much farther is you make sure to give your spouse time, keep focused on God and your family.

I love you Scott!

Easter Warms the Heart

I truly wish every day could be Easter and Christmas. The love, faith and family that contributes to these holidays are just beautiful connections for every one.

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It warmed my heart to be able to go back to church since my surgery. The only downfall, I wanted to sing so bad during service. Praise songs just lift my spirits so much. Christian music just moves my soul and can bring me to happy tears quite frequently. I love praising our Lord so cannot wait until I can sing.

After church was joining family for Easter festivities. Of course, I had to be restricted with what I can and cannot do since the sun was shining in full force. It did not matter. Being surrounded by loving family, meeting new baby cousin and enjoying the laughter from the kids was all just simply amazing. My aunt had concocted me up some pureed food so I did not walk away hungry. I’m just ready to CHEW!

It has been nice to get back into routine and get outside the house. A week from today, I head to Chapel Hill to get my splint removed. The countdown is on for sure. The following day, I will return to work. I’m ready I believe. Hopefully, I will not get too tired. It will be so grand to get back into a normal routine.

Easter warms the heart. I hope your heart was warmed this past weekend. Remember, God is good!

Let’s Party in a Disney Magical Way! #DisneySide

Did someone say Disney?! We love us all things Disney and was so excited to be able to party with our friends and family with a Disney Side Celebration.

The girls and I had so much fun planning for this celebration. We created some special types of food that seemed fitting for a Disney party. Let’s take a journey through the fun!

First stop: Grab you a cup of lemonade!

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Then we will head over to our Disney “Minnie Photo Booth” and grab your picture.

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DisneyMinniePhotoBooth

It was fun to see the guest get creative with our Disney props. Who new paper and sticks could be so much fun?!

It was time for a little Disney Bingo action. This game caused quite the conversations with all the Disney Characters. The kids would yell out who their favorite character was and the reasons why would at times be downright hilarious.

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All the laughter and conversations caused growing appetites with the guests. Let’s roll out our Disney food selections.

The rocket dogs were a huge hit. Some guests even said they wanted them for dinner at their house.

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As they filled their plates with rocket dogs, the guests made their own trail mix. Many different concoctions were mixed.

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We can’t forget about a healthy treat with our fruit sides.

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Then, we sealed the tastes with Mickey Mouse cupcakes!

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Since all the bellies were full with great Disney food, it was time to get our imagination on with decorating Hanes t-shirts with fun Disney designs.

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The imagination can go far with the right artistic tools. We capped off the wonderful magical time with printing our own photos with the new HP ENVY printer. Guests could print right from the printer which was super easy and cool!

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The kids went home and told their parents what a fun time that they had experienced. It truly was a “magical” time. Would you like to throw your own party? Check out how to get started at the Disney Side Celebrations party page. Have fun showing off your Disney Side!!

Disclosure: I was provided with a Disney Side celebration kit by our friends at Disney World and BSM Media to help throw this wonderful magical party. All thoughts and opinions are of my own.

Tweetsie Railroad Announces Season Passes for 2014

Calling all North Carolina Friends! The most economical way to enjoy Tweetsie is to invest in a Golden Rail Season Pass. Why? Read further to see the answer.

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Pass holders will enjoy a full season of adventure from Wild West train journeys, amusement rides, live entertainment and the animals in the Deer Park, as well as free admission to all special events throughout the season, free parking on July 4th and discounts at other North Carolina family attractions. Golden Rail Season Passes are now available at a special rate of $80 for adults and $55 for children ages 3 through 12. After April 27, rates increase to $90 for adults and $65 for children. Children 2 and under are admitted free.

Tweetsie will open its gates for its 57th season on April 11; the season will run through November 2. A 2014 Golden Rail Season Pass is the best and most economical way to experience all Tweetsie has to offer. This year¹s lineup of special events will include the return of many family favorites, like the July 4th Fireworks Extravaganza, Day Out With Thomas, SpongeBob SquarePants, K-9s in Flight Frisbee® Dogs and Tweetsie¹s Ghost Train® Halloween Festival. North Carolina¹s first theme park is also proud to announce two new additions to its entertainment lineup: four-time Grammy Award winner David Holt will treat guests to a one-day only solo performance in May; and the Cartoon Network¹s Scooby-Doo and Shaggy will greet guests for one special weekend in July.

The entire family is in for a great time all season long aboard Tweetsie Railroad¹s historic steam-powered locomotives. Explore Tweetsie¹s own Western town, tap your toes to live entertainment at the Tweetsie Palace, or take a turn on one of the many exciting rides. Journey high above the park via the chair lift to Miner¹s Mountain where you can pan for gold and meet the animals at the Deer Park Zoo.

Don¹t miss out this limited-time only pricing: visit Tweetsie.com to purchase and print season passes at home. Guests looking to renew last year¹s season pass without waiting in line for a new card can easily do so by visiting Tweetsie¹s website or calling 1-877-TWEETSIE.

A 2014 Golden Rail Season Pass includes:

· A full season of adventure from Wild West train rides, amusement rides, live entertainment and the Deer Park Habitat

· Free admission to all special events including Day Out With Thomas, the Ghost Train® Halloween Festival, SpongeBob Squarepants, Cool Summer Nights evenings (July 5, 12, 19 and 26), Railroad Heritage weekendŠand more!

· Free parking for the July 4th Fireworks Extravaganza, the High Country¹s most popular Independence Day celebration

Season Pass holders also receive discounts at other North Carolina family attractions including:

Biltmore Estate
Chimney Rock Park
Grandfather Mountain
Mast General Store
Great Smoky Mountains Railroad
Tanger Outlets in Blowing Rock

Tweetsie Railroad will be open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays starting April 11, including Memorial Day Monday, and seven days a week from May 30 through August 17. The park returns to the weekend schedule from August 18 through November 2, including Labor Day Monday. The 2014 season ends Sunday, November 2. The park¹s regular hours are 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., but will be open until 9:00 p.m. on July 4 for the Fireworks Extravaganza and July 5, 12, 19 and 26 for Cool Summer Nights. Daily admission to Tweetsie Railroad is $39 for adults and $26 for children ages 3 through 12. Children 2 and under are admitted free. The Ghost Train® Halloween Festival will take place Friday and Saturday nights September 26 through November 1 from 7:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., with an admission price of $31 for adults and children. Tickets and Golden Rail Season Passes are available at Tweetsie.com.

Tweetsie Railroad is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains on U.S. Highway 321 between Boone and Blowing Rock, North Carolina. For more information about the 2014 season at Tweetsie Railroad, visit Tweetsie.com or call 877.TWEETSIE (877.893.3874). Find Tweetsie on Facebook or follow Tweetsie on Twitter @TweetsieRR.

Focusing on the Family in 2014

My heart has really been convicted over the past few months. Obviously, with myself working outside of the home now, my time with the family has been shortened. I am still trying to figure out how to manage this whole work outside of the home gig, but I have been making great strides. My girls will always be my top priority of course alongside my handsome hubby. This past weekend, it dawned on me that we needed a weekly planner. With our busy schedules, each day leaves for lots of guessing at times. I found this weekly printable planner on Pinterest from DigiMamas.com.

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Each day is marked with what time I will get off (since we are still working over-time at work), what is for dinner that day, the extracurricular activities for the girls and who is doing pick-up and drop-off. Also, one big thing that is written for every week day – NO Technology from 5:00pm – 8:00pm. This is going to be our first week really pushing the no technology all week but it needs to happen. We are going to allow technology for the family every week night from 8:00pm to 8:45pm. I am excited to see how this works for us. Be prepared to hear an update from me next week.

Then we will end each night at 8:45 with devotions and prayers. This month, we are working through a great devotion book called God’s promises for girls. We focus on two pages a night. Each promise listed on the page includes bible verses. The girls take turns reading the scripture from the bible and then pairing it with the promise in the book. God is already showing his provision with this book. One night last week, L was very worried about her tooth. We need to get it checked out by the dentist but she just was overcome by tears. Our devotion that night was God’s promises when you are worried. Divine intervention right? The wording is appropriate for M and L. The promises are great conversation starters as well. I definitely recommend this book to Moms of little girls!

Spending more time with my family and making that time mean something instead of our faces in front of technology really means so much to me. M and L are not getting any younger. I want to cherish every minute and also grow closer to my husband.

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This also means more pictures in 2014 with ME in them. I know you can relate right? Moms are usually the ones behind the camera. Also, we can’t forget about spending time with our sweet Kingston. He is the sweetest and most cuddly dog.

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Here’s to focusing on the family more in 2014!

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