September 15, 2016

Jump Start Your Christmas List

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are mine.

I can't believe it's almost time for Christmas shopping!! At this point in my life, I certainly don't have time to be going from store to store hunting for the right gifts. But I am one CRAZY online shopper, let me tell you.

My plan is to share the best deals I find with you as I go, but I can tell you one thing - you should sign up for Groupon Goods so you will get alerts on the crazy good stuff they will be offering.

Last year, they had some of the most popular gifts - think adult coloring books and bluetooth speakers - at some of the best prices . . . all without having to leave your home or your desk at work.

Here's some of the stuff they have available right now if you want to get started early:

NFL Throw Blanket - $21.99

If college sports is a better fit, a NCAA Decorative Wooden Sign - $21.99

And, if you have little ones on your list, check out these options:


What, if anything, have you already bought on your Christmas list?

August 31, 2016

15% Off Promo Code for Photobooks!

Recently a friend and I were discussing how hard it is to stay caught up with scrapbooking all of our kids pictures . . . sometimes it feels like every year, I just get further and further behind.

One quick solution is to use photo books to supplement. They're quick, fun and can be customized just like a scrapbook.

Right now you can get 15% off a company that's new to me - Adoramapix. I'm getting ready to place an order so I'll know for sure, but I've heard they books are high quality and able to display your images in rich detail. The covers come in linen, hardcover and leather including 6 stunning paper finishes.

Use the code PHOTOBOOK15 to get your discount and try out AdoramaPix today.

Sale ends 11/5/2016 at 11:59 PM EST.

** I was provided with a free photobook in return for sharing this discount with my readers.**

May 8, 2016

Thank You to Moms, of All Kinds

A mom . . . a dad . . . approximately 2.5 children. Married, for life. Isn't that what we think a family is? Isn't that what the church has taught for decades, maybe centuries, at this point?

 

Maybe it's time to reconsider this definition. I'm not talking about changing our stance on same-sex marriage. I am talking about the fact that frequently the redeemed families God puts together look NOTHING like the definition of family we just mentioned.

 

It may be a single, elderly mother with a handful of African orphans living in her home. It could be a mom, a dad, a stepmom, and a stepdad - all who love Jesus and love their children and are earnestly working together today to raise their family to love Jesus and further His Kingdom. It could be grandparents raising their grandchildren because the parents are gone. It could be a husband and wife with three children of their own who graft in a single father and his young son desperately in need of the support of a larger family. 

 

It could be a young teenager who found herself pregnant and placed her baby for adoption, a woman that chose to bring this baby - and the automatic, extended relationship with the birthmother - into her family, a father, and two more biological children that were God's surprises after the adoption. 

 

We have so many families - of all shapes and sizes - around us. Yet, time and time again, our judgment is clouded by the preconceptions and biases we have towards a definition of family that may not even be reflected in our own home.

 

As we approach Mother's Day, we find the same thing applies to our definition of mothers. My young boys would probably define a mom as someone who gets married, has babies, and loves their family for the rest of her life. But there are others that would define mothers much, much differently. There are some who would define their "mother" as the woman who chose multiple men over her child. There are some whose definition of mother is the woman who stepped in when no one else was there - there may be no ties by blood or by marriage, but the ties of the heart and the interweaving of the lives leave no doubt of the relationship that exists. There are some mothers whose arms are empty this year because their children are no longer with them. Some of these mothers want children desperately and can not have them. Some of these mothers gave birth to a beautiful baby that was taken way too young. Some of these mothers chose to terminate their pregnancy and only now are they realizing how empty that has left them.

 

Some of these mothers made the best decision they could have made for their child, and they placed those babies in the arms of another mother who had prayed for, hoped for, and longed for that baby. Those brave mamas arms are empty too. There is a special place in their hearts that is empty, too. Unfortunately, the church has neglected these "moms" for a long time. We praise the idea of choosing life. We condemn the choice to end a pregnancy for convenience or out of fear. But we don't talk much about the women who find themselves pregnant and truly not in a position to raise a child well. We shy away from hard discussions about mothers who choose adoption. Our silence and avoidance imply condemnation, intentional or not. We shame the decision, and discourage others who might consider it because of this.

 

Why have we stuck our heads in the sand here? What is it that makes this topic, of all the topics we could avoid, one that seems so easy to ignore? Is it because these women don't fit into our definition of family? Is it easier to focus on the adoptive mother and father with their child and call that a "complete family"? Does it bother our box . . . our definition of family when we suddenly find ourselves with a second mother in the equation?

 

Today, I would ask you what is it that causes us, as the church, to push women to choose life but ignore an entire group of women who have chosen life for their child . . . and then made maybe the most difficult and most courageous choice a mother could ever make - to sacrifice her desire to keep that child by her side and instead do what is best for him by allowing him to be raised in a household where he has been wanted and prayed for, where he will be treasured and raised safely and securely, where he can learn of a God who had a plan for him long before his birth? 

 

Maybe it is time for us to step up as the church and praise these women and their decision. I know these women. These women are brave. These women are tough. These women are anything but selfish. They are the definition of what a mother should be. Think about the environment in which these women have made this decision. It comes with a heavy cost of personal sacrifice. There is no one cheering them on; in fact, many will forget these women ever became mothers. When their belly no longer protrudes and their arms are empty, it will be easy for others to not see the stamp of "MOTHER" imprinted on their heart, but these moms, they don't ever forget. Those babies made them moms, and they remain moms for the rest of their lives. It doesn't matter whether they see the child regularly after the adoption, or never again - they will forever be that child's mother.

 

Isn't it time that we begin to make room for families with TWO mothers or TWO fathers or children who actually have another family but still have a need from this family that God has uniquely placed them in for a season? Can we break out of our rudimentary definitions of things in order to embrace what we see God doing in the people around us?

 

It seems that at times the church is too quick to condemn, vilify and question people who are simply doing what Christ has called the church to do. On Mother's Day, of all days, let us not be THAT kind of church, but let us embrace the moms, of all kinds, in our lives today.

 

April 26, 2016

Look What I Found: Super League Gaming Discount!

I can't even tell my boys about this because they will talk of NOTHING else until this arrives . . . and then maybe NOTHING else again until they find out if they can do it again.

I don't know if you knew this . . . but you can now play Minecraft in a movie theater!


Gamers of all ages will be super excited about this opportunity to participate in this fun, face-to-face social experience. Using the big screen, kids will have a chance to implement superhero-themed maps and mods in a custom Minecraft adventure, Rise of Heroes.

Just bring a laptop with Minecraft 1.9.2 installed. You will be able to play first person on your computer and then connect wirelessly to the Super League server which will put you and everyone else's gameplay up on the big screen. Parents and siblings can attend for FREE and cheer on their favorite gamer.

Your gamer will be able to collaborate and team up with 4-7 other members their own age as they create their own worlds, fight against the elements and others, all while being creative and using their imagination. The teams play for 90 minutes, once a week for four consecutive weeks. In the end, the winning team will even have a chance to split a college scholarship!

The league begins on April 30. Visit this link to find out if there is a location near you. 

Tickets are $60, but you can use the promo code USFAMILY10 to get $10 off. 





December 13, 2015

GREAT Stocking Stuffer Ideas - Order Now!









A Rain Poncho - In Texas, we can use a rain poncho anytime of year. We have gotten lots of rain recently and it probably isn't over unless it gets cold enough to freeze all of the precipitation. These are simple and can range anywhere from simple, plain and inexpensive ($3.95) to a fun, kid-themed, high-end version (the OliveKids poncho pictured that runs just over $20.)

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Exergen Temporal Thermometer - Some of you may find this to be a very, ahem, unique stocking stuffer, but hear me out. As a mom, I know how difficult it is to take a little one's temperature and how much more difficult it is when you don't know what their temperature is because you can't get them to let you take it. I also know how unhappy children are when they already don't feel well and they suddenly have to hold a glass thermometer in the mouth or . . . even worse, somewhere else. For both mother and child, a temporal artery thermometer would be a very welcome stocking stuffer.

Just run it across their forehead and read the output. That's it!

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Do your kids love things with their name on it? Mine do! They love staking their claim over even the tiniest things - like shoes, pencils, bouncy balls, etc. Knowing this, I make it a goal to find things that have their names on them. But with names like Riley, Colt and Weston, I don't find a ton of items pre-printed with their names.

Easy solution to that? StickerYou labels with their names! The great thing is you can upload your own images to even further personalize these sticker labels. Even better, you can also create your own temporary tattoos!! If you have kids under the age of 10, this is right up their alley.

Use promo code 13STICKER to get 13% off your order at StickerYou!

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REAL wooden, colored, pencils! If your kids are as literal as mine, they'll be fascinated by these . . . and they're adorable. 


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This is a personal favorite of mine. CardNinja has a small attachment that turns your phone into a wallet . . . I don't even carry a purse anymore. You just peel off the backing and attach the expandable, stretchy pocket to the back of your phone directly. It will hold cash, cards, license and more. The stretchy material snaps back so that you don't have a stretched out piece of material that will no longer hold in anything. 

Now, one thing I wish someone had recommended to me was waiting to attach the CardNinja pocket to the outside of a good solid, phone case. Unfortunately, I didn't and now I will be getting a new phone because I shattered my screen this weekend. That now means I will have a new phone with a new screen AND a new case with a new CardNinja on the outside!
CardNinja - $9.95 (as of 12/12/15)