Monday, June 30, 2008
I'm having fun with this!
Have any of you started up your own home-based buess? If so, what was your approach? What wa your product? How successful has your business been?
I have to say, despite the enormous amount of work involved with trying to get my Sparkle & Charm Boutique off the ground, I'm really having a lot of fun with it!

Here's my checklist (randomly organized):

Now, all of this is evolving and changing over time as I learn what works and what doesn't. I'm trying to keep things simple (no business plan, no expensive marketing campaign, no hard sales, etc.). I'm simply trying to turn my creative outlet into a small side business.

I don't expect that I'll be able to stay at home and do just this on a full-time basis anytime soon, but maybe some day. For now, I'm just enjoying seeing a labor of love made from my own two hands being packed up pretty and sent off to a little girl. I love hearing how much joy my hair bows or tutus are bringing these little ones!

This is turning out to be an exciting and fun venture!!

By the way, if you've promoted my Sparkle & Charm Boutique on your blog since 9 May, please leave me a comment here with a link to that plug so that I can enter your name in my drawing for a $10 gift certificate to be used on any one of my products. I'd really like to choose a winner this week!

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5:00 AM

Sunday, June 29, 2008
June Pay It Forward Winners!

It's time to pick the three winners for my June Pay It Forward Book Exchange. I've used to find my winners.

And the winners are...

# 1-Tamy with 3 Sides of Crazy who wins a copy of Your Child's Strengths.
# 13-Cynthia with Springmont Cottage who winsa copy of Your Child's Strengths.
# 14-Briggie with There is Power in Prayer who winsDevotions for the Sandbox Set by by Jane Morton and Sharon Dahl.

Congrats, Ladies! Please email me your mailing addresses so I can send out your book! If I don't hear from by Friday, 4 July, I'll have to pick another winner.

And for those of you who didn't win my giveaway, there are 7 additional books still up for grabs this month thanks to PIF giveaways being held by other bloggers! Hurry quick to enter to win!

My next Pay It Forward Book Exchange will be held on Tuesday, 1 July. I hope you'll join me then!

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7:14 AM

Friday, June 27, 2008
Favorite Ingredients Friday (Sweet Potato Bars)

Good Friday to you all! It's time for another Favorite Ingredients Friday recipe exchange! I can't wait to see what you all come up with!

Upcoming Themed Schedule
July 4- 4th of July Edition II

The recipe I'm posting is one that I found in my Parents magazine. These bars are yummy!

Sweet Potato Bars

Now, I look forward to seeing your Favorite Ingredients Friday recipe! I won't be able to visit your recipes right away but fear not, I will stop by to visit your recipe as soon as I can!

Don't forget to link your specific recipe post link on Mr. Linky so I can see what's cooking at your house!

Oh, and be sure to put the title of your recipe in parenthesis! It makes it so much quicker for me to go back and search for recipes as I build my weekly menu.

For guidelines and my past Favorite Ingredients Friday recipes, click here.

Thanks so much for your participation. I do appreciate it!

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6:30 AM

Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Boo has a Permanency hearing coming soon!
This week we had a meeting with Boo's CPS worker.  We discussed a lot of things but the most important thing we talked about was what might happen in her upcoming Permanency hearing that's taking place next week.

A Permanency hearing takes place after a child has been in the "system" for 12 months.  At this hearing, the judge is supposed to decide whether to change the goal from reunification to severance or decide that there's a compelling reason to extend the case plan out for the parents and keep the goal as re-unification.

Yes, Boo has been in the system for nearly 12 months already.  She's only 16 months old.  She was removed from her mother, then from an extended family member, and then she was put into foster care and was pulled from two different homes (through no fault of her own) before she arrived with us.  

I'm determined that this will be her last stop unless she's re-unified with her parents.  This child deserves a permanent home and a family she can call her own.  I pray that we are allowed to be that family.

So, the way CPS explained things, it looks as though we're in for a long ride no matter what the judge decides next week.

If he decides to extend the case plan, it'll be like Boo has to start all over.  We're talking she'll be in the system for a minimum of 10-13 more months, if not longer, before the issue of severance comes up again.  I can't get into the details of why, just take my word for it.  That puts it at about next July before talks of adoption come up again.  It means she'll have been in the system for 2 years and in our home for a year and 5 months!

If he decides to move towards severance, then we're still looking at many, many months before all the additional hearings, trials, appeals, and adoption court appointments will be finished so that we could finalize her adoption.  In fact, when I sat down and calculated all the months these things would involve, I believe that the best case scenario would put us at about August or September of 2009 before we could finalize!

I was shocked, to say the least, when I realized how long all of this will take, no matter what happens next week.  I want to cry in frustration and anger.  My heart is heavy.  What kind of system keeps a child in limbo that long?!  It's just not right!

Both the CPS worker and Boo's lawyer are going into court next week and, once again, pleading with the judge to allow severance and adoption.  They feel that is the best course of action for this little girl, given the circumstances which I can't explain.

I want to pray for the best possible outcome for Boo but I don't even know what that means at this point.  

Perhaps you all might be willing to pray for God to give us strength to get through all of this and that Boo will be as unaffected as possible about the enormous decisions being made for her.  I just want her to have a happy, normal childhood.  

I could sure use come encouragement right about now!

By the way, the picture in this post is one of Boo at an outdoor concert, wearing my straw hat.  She does love hats!

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6:00 AM

WFMW- FREE Thomas the Train products!
Happy Wednesday to you! It's time once again to post another WFMW tip!

Just this morning I came across a link that gives you a printable coupon for FREE Thomas the Train products! That's right, FREE! But you have to act fast because the coupon expires tomorrow.

Here are the four you can choose from:

Go here to print out your coupon. Be aware that once you close the window that pops up to print your coupon, you don't get another chance so tell your printer to print more than one copy that first time if you want!

FREE toys works for me. To find out what works for others, be sure to check out the other links at Shannon's, the creator of Works-For-Me Wednesday!

My past WFMW entries are found here.


5:30 AM

Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Winners of Energizer® Light on Demand™ products!
Sorry, my day got away from me yesterday and I didn't get winners picked as I had hoped. Since I'm up with the baby right now, I figured I should do it now. :)

I used's Integer Generator to randomly select my winners. And here are the lucky three:

Click image to enlarge for more detail.

#10- LeAnna of Our son...Patrick wins the Wall Sconce.
#16- Kathleen Marie of The Open Window wins the Twin Light Center.
#23- Barb of A Chelsea Morning wins the Desk Light.

Congratulations, Ladies! You have until Friday to email me your mailing addresses so that this company can send you their product directly. If I don't hear from you by end-of-day on Friday, I'll pick another winner. And as I mentioned in my original post, I'd appreciate it if you'd post a review of the product on your blog after you've had some time to use it!

I'd like to thank Kate with Weber Shandwick and, of course Energizer® for this wonderful giveaway!

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1:31 AM

Saturday, June 21, 2008
Win a FREE Energizer® Light on Demand™ product!

Kate with Weber Shandwick recently asked me if I'd be interested in reviewing the new Energizer® Light on Demand™ products. "I'd love to!" I told her. And guess what, she's offering three products to use as giveaways for my readers (more on that in a minute).

I chose to review the tabletop nightlight and I have to say that we LOVE it! Before I explain why, let me share some details with you about this product.

Features and Benefits:

* Rechargeable light stick, nightlight, portable area light and flashlight all in one.
* The nightlight plugs into the wall for everyday use and contains a sensor that automatically turns the nightlight on when the room darkens.
* Includes a "Find Me™" light.
* Can run on batteries as an area light for 25 hours and as a flashlight light for 10 hours.

When I got the tabletop nightlight out of it's box, I plugged it in to charge and literally within minutes it was ready to go!

Now Snuggle Bug, at almost 3 1/2 years old, has suddenly become scared of various things in his room at night. We have dimmer switch lights in his room and we've been forced to leave the light pretty bright each night. I've thought about finding him a little night light but I worried that the little outlet ones wouldn't be bright enough to offer much comfort.

The other night I took this light stick into his room and told him it was his new nightlight so he didn't have to be scared any more. He looked at it closely and said, "The sun is in there!" Then we spent about 10 minutes setting the light stick in various places around his room until he settled on having it on a bookshelf across the room from his bed.

The light that this nightlight emits is powerful enough to give the room a soft glow (chasing away scary shadows) but not so bright that it keeps Snuggle Bug awake. He sleeps like a baby with his new nightlight!

I love the fact that when this light stick is plugged into it's base, it has an auto setting that automatically turns it off or on depending on the amount of light in the room. I also love the fact that you can switch between using this light stick as a nightlight or a flashlight. It's wonderful!

Now for the good stuff, Kate has offered me the following three products to be given away to three lucky readers:

Wall Sconce

Features and Benefits:

* Decorative and easy to install.
* Designed for intermittent use, the wall sconce features a high- and low-light setting.
* Cordless installation - no electrician necessary.
* Available in Brass and Nickel.

Twin Light Center

Features and Benefits:

* Easy to mount to a wall, under a cabinet or place on a countertop, and doesn’t require hard wiring.
* Combines two detachable area lights with a nightlight.
* One of the detachable lights can function as a flashlight and the base of the light center features a permanent nightlight.
* Can run on batteries as a flashlight for 10 hours and an area light for 5 hours.

Desk Light

Features and Benefits:

* Lamp, rechargeable LED light stick and emergency light all in one.
* Includes a "Find Me™" light.
* Can run up to 20 hours on a "low" setting before batteries need to be replaced.

So, all you have to do to have a chance to win any of these three products is leave me a comment asking to be entered into the drawing. I'll choose a winner on Monday, 23 June.

I do ask that each winner be willing to post your own review after you've received your product and have had some time to try it out.

By the way, if you're not one of the lucky winners, Energizer® Light on Demand™ products are currently available nationally at Target. The line will also be sold at several other major retail stores soon.

Good luck to you all!

Note:  Comments are now closed and three winners have been selected.  Thank you for your participation!

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11:00 AM

Friday, June 20, 2008
Favorite Ingredients Friday- Refreshing Drinks Edition II

Good Friday! It's time for a special Favorite Ingredients Friday: Refreshing Drinks II recipe exchange! Last year I got a lot of great recipes that I was able to use for refreshing drinks for the summer and throughout the year. I'm excited to see what you all come up with this year!

I have a couple of drink idea that I found on Associated Content.

Fizzy Twist

1 cup orange juice
1/3 cup cranberry juice
1/3 cup ginger ale

Mix the orange and cranberry juices over ice. Then, add the ginger ale.

Milky Strawberries

2 cups frozen strawberries
1 cup milk
1½ Tbsp simple syrup
½ Tbsp vanilla

Mix all the ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pour into a chilled glass or cup. You can add a sliced fresh strawberry on top as well if you'd like.

Patriotic Yogurt Shake

* This one is our favorite! *

Plain or vanilla yogurt
¼ cup milk
½ c frozen cherries
½ c frozen blueberries

Blend all of the ingredients using a blender but reserve a few of the blueberries and cherries. Pour the smooth, blended drink into a cup and top off with the few reserved cherries and blueberries.

Now, I look forward to seeing your Favorite Ingredients Friday: Refreshing Drinks recipe!

Don't forget to link your specific recipe post link on Mr. Linky so I can see what's cooking at your house!

Oh, and be sure to put the title of your recipe in parenthesis! It makes it so much quicker for me to go back and search for recipes as I build my weekly menu.

For guidelines and my past Favorite Ingredients Friday recipes, click here.

Thanks so much for your participation. I do appreciate it!

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8:34 AM

Tuesday, June 17, 2008
4th of July Tutu
Last week I showed you a really cute picture of Baby Bug in a tutu that I had made. I've been a busy bee making more custom tutus. I just finished one of two 4th of July tutus, that Jill over at Charming & Delightful has ordered for her nieces. Thanks Jill!

Take a look and tell me what you think!

Click image to enlarge for more detail.

If you you're interested in having a custom made tutu created for your daughter, granddaughter, niece, cousin, or friend, email me at or leave me a comment on this post and I'll get in touch with you to discuss details.

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9:52 AM

Monday, June 16, 2008
Father's Day recap
So, last week I frantically asked for Father's Day gift ideas and several of you offered up some great suggestions. Thank you!

Here's what I did for Oronzo:

1) I took a favorite picture taken in Mexico of Oronzo walking on the beach with Snuggle Bug and Boo and opened it up in Photoshop. Oronzo was carrying Boo in an "airplane" position so you can't really see her, but I really liked Oronzo & Snuggle Bug's footprints in the sand.

2) I searched on line for a Father's Day poem and found the "Walk a little slower" poem that I thought would be great when combined with my picture. I copied the text and overlaid it next to my picture in Photoshop.

3) I printed the picture/poem in an 8x10 size.

4) I painted footprints of Snuggle Bug, Boo, and Baby bug (each a different color) and after they dried I cut out one footprint for each child and glued it on the border around the picture/poem.

5) I made wallet sized mug shot prints of each child and glued them near their footprint and added a little tag with their name next to the picture.

6) I put the photo collage in nice white frame and wrapped it up as Oronzo's Father's Day gift.

Since I'm such a procrastinator, I found myself assembling this gift on Father's Day as Oronzo was napping with the kids. I didn't give him his gift until later in the evening so I'm sure he thought he was getting nothing but a kiss and a "Happy Father's Day" greeting from me.

Last night we attended the last Spring season outdoor pops concert with Oronzo's parents, his sisters and a niece and a nephew. I gave Oronzo his gift at the concert and he carefully read through the poem and then gave me a hug, telling me that my gift almost made him cry. Hooray, he liked it!

To top off the evening, Snuggle Bug was selected to be one of eight to get up on stage and play some big drums during a portion of the concert. Oronzo went up with him to help him. They both had a blast and I got great pictures and even video!

Oh, and for my father and father-in-law I had Snuggle Bug and Boo paint on some poster board that I had cut into an 8x10 size, then I added the text "Grandpa lets us walk all over him!" and "Happy Father's Day". Then I added the painted footprints and the mug shots of each child. I framed these, wrapped them, and gave them as gifts. They loved them!

So, how was your Father's Day and what gift ideas did you come up with for the men in your life?

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10:37 AM

Friday, June 13, 2008
Favorite Ingredients Friday (Fish Tacos)

Good Friday to you all! It's time for another Favorite Ingredients Friday recipe exchange! 

Upcoming Themed Schedule
June 20- Refreshing Drinks Edition II
July 4- 4th of July Edition II

When we go to Mexico on vacation, one of our favorite restaurants serves mouth watering fish tacos.  Since we don't get to go on vacation often, it's nice to make these at home too.  This particular recipe came from my Parents magazine.  They're quite yummy!  Enjoy!

Fish Tacos

Click on the image to enlarge.

Now, I look forward to seeing your Favorite Ingredients Friday recipe! 

Don't forget to link your specific recipe post link on Mr. Linky so I can see what's cooking at your house!

Oh, and be sure to put the title of your recipe in parenthesis! It makes it so much quicker for me to go back and search for recipes as I build my weekly menu.

For guidelines and my past Favorite Ingredients Friday recipes, click here.

Thanks so much for your participation. I do appreciate it!

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7:16 AM

Thursday, June 12, 2008
Tipful Thursday- FREE summer movies!

I didn't manage to get a Works-for-me Wednesday post up yesterday, so I thought I'd post a tip for Pink Explosion's Tipful Thursday instead.

We're all looking for fun things to do with the kids during the summer months. Why not take the kids to the movies, for FREE!

When school's out, kids around the country visit selected Regal theatres for the Free Family Film Festival. It's a fun-filled nine weeks of movies for kids and parents. Since 1991, Regal has provided this service to the community, and best of all it's FREE!

Selected G & PG movies start at 10AM each Tuesday and Wednesday during the festival. First-come, first-served seating is limited to theatre capacity. The Free Family Film Festival is safe, lots of fun and a great way for kids to spend a weekday morning in the summer.

Go here to see if these free movies are being offered in your area!


8:57 AM

Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Help! I need gift ideas for Father's Day!
Okay, I'm so far behind in everything that I haven't even started to come up with a Father's Day gift for Oronzo, my dad, and my father-in-law. Yes, I know it's Sunday.

I need some quick but personal gift ideas. I could do a personalized picture, like I'm doing for Baby Bug's dad, but I've done that in the past so I'm not sure if I should do it again.

Any suggestions for me?

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9:06 AM

Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Tutu Cute! picture of Baby Bug
Click on image to enlarge for more detail.

Lately I've been immersed in yards and yards of tulle as well as ribbon, beads, silk flowers, and small sparkling jewels. I've been filling orders I'm receiving for custom made tutus.

I thought you might like to see a couple of pictures of Baby Bug modeling one of my recent creations. Her latest trick is sitting up on her own so I had Oronzo take some pictures of her at the park in her tutu and matching hair bow with the intention of creating a photo collage to give Baby Bug's father this Father's Day (I did something similar for Baby Bug's mother on Mother's Day). Isn't this baby just so darned cute?!

Tonight I'll be working on some 4th of July tutus (red, white, & blue tulle embellished with matching ribbon, red sequins, and stars) that I have on order. I'll have Boo model one of my 4th of July pictures to show you.

If you you're interested in having a custom made tutu created for your little girl, email me at and I'll share some specifics.

P.S. I owe one lucky winner a $10 gift card to be used for any of my Sparkle and Charm Boutique products but before I randomly select a winner, I need to find the time to post more of my products (beaded jewelry, beaded bookmarks, tutus, etc.) so that you have a wide variety to choose from. Sorry for the delay!

P.S.S. I'm still trying to find the time to compare all the web designers that contacted me offering to design my Sparkle & Charm Boutique online store. I haven't reached a decision yet but I hope to in the near future!

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10:09 AM

Sunday, June 08, 2008
Church Family
Each Sunday we get spiffed up, hustle the kids into the car, and we head to church for 9 AM mass.  

Some mornings the kids are well behaved, other days, like today, not so much.  At one point I had both little girls in my arms crying as I carried them to the cry room.  

Over the past three years, we've interacted with some supportive parishioners that make a point to stop and say good morning to us and the kids after mass.  Apparently we're a visible family now, in part because we added two little girls to our family within three months and since we sit about 4 rows back from the front people noticed and asked questions.

I must admit that beyond going to mass each week, we're not as involved in the church community as I'd like to be.  I used to be quite involved with teaching CCD, attending bible studies, and singing in the church choir.  Now, it's all I can do to keep three small children 3 and under somewhat quiet during mass.  I miss my involvement in the church but I just don't have the time to do something about it yet.  I tell myself that fostering is my ministry at the moment.  The rest will come later.

This morning, something beautiful happened.  

One of the families that we've talked to in passing in the past came to chat with us after mass.  This family (Carl, Patricia, and their three children that I think are about 8-12 years old) knows that we're fostering and have mentioned that they've considered fostering as well but haven't quite made the commitment yet.  They've asked us a few questions in past conversations.  

This morning Carl, Patricia, and their children came with a purpose.  After exchanging casual conversation and holding and cooing over Baby Bug, they invited us to have a meal with them at their house next weekend!  They want to get to know us better.

I wasn't expecting this invitation and I was really touched that they extended it.  I would like to get to know more of my fellow parishioners but I didn't even think to invite anyone over for lunch or dinner!  It's such a simple concept but in the hustle of keeping tabs on three active children each Sunday morning, my brain is a little fried.

We happily accepted the invitation and made plans to meet at their house for lunch next Saturday.  I can't wait to get better aquatinted with this kind family!

I'm curious, how well connected are you with your church family?  Do you interact much outside of service?  If so, how?

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3:18 PM

Friday, June 06, 2008
Favorite Ingredients Friday (Freezer Edition II)

Good Friday! It's time for a special Favorite Ingredients Friday: Freezer Edition II recipe exchange! Last year I got a lot of great recipes that I was able to use to stock up our freezer. I'm excited to see what you all come up with this year! Please share your favorite recipes for bulk meals that freeze and reheat easily.

My recipe is something I found on Who says you can't do freezer cooking in the summertime? This pre-marinated entree can be pan-seared or grilled outdoors. Pair it with refried beans for a hearty, easy meal.

Steak Fajitas


  • 1 lb sirloin steak
  • 2 T lime juice
  • 2 T white wine vinegar
  • 1 T salad oil
  • 1 t oregano, dried
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 6 flour tortillas
  • 1 frozen vegetables, fajita mix
  • 1⁄2 c salsa


  • Place steak in quart-sized freezer bag; combine lime juice, white wine vinegar, salad oil, oregano, and crushed garlic cloves; add to meat.
  • Freeze. To bundle: Steak/marinade mixture; flour tortillas; frozen vegetables.
  • To prepare: Thaw steak in marinade. Remove steak and pan-sear in hot pan. Cook until medium rare; remove from pan. In the same pan, add frozen vegetables and marinade; cover and cook until vegetables are crisp-tender.
  • While vegetables are cooking, slice meat into thin slices against the grain. Add to cooked vegetables. Add salsa to meat and vegetables; heat through.
  • To serve, spoon into warmed flour tortilla; garnish with avocado cubes, chopped tomato or fresh cilantro.

  • Now, I look forward to seeing your Favorite Ingredients Friday recipe!

    Don't forget to link your specific recipe post link on Mr. Linky so I can see what's cooking at your house!

    Oh, and be sure to put the title of your recipe in parenthesis! It makes it so much quicker for me to go back and search for recipes as I build my weekly menu.

    For guidelines and my past Favorite Ingredients Friday recipes, click here.

    Thanks so much for your participation. I do appreciate it!

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    7:41 AM

    Thursday, June 05, 2008
    Allowance for kids- Do you do it?
    As of Monday, we've started giving our almost 3 1/2-year old son, Snuggle Bug, a small allowance.  He's been getting a quarter per day.  To earn it, he has to help pick up the toys in the living room and his bedroom each night before bed (this takes about 15 minutes).  

    He has very little concept of the value of money but he's already learning.  To him, money means he can buy candy (every so often we let him put a quarter in the gum ball machine at the local pizza joint down the street) or small toys.

    These past few nights, he's been very cooperative in his chores and eager to get his quarter after picking up toys.  He then goes and puts it in his piggy bank (it's already pretty full with the loose change that Oronzo and I have been adding to it for quite some time, he's just now aware of the piggy bank).  

    Yesterday, when he was supposed to be napping, he decided to get into his piggy bank (it has a little plug at the bottom to shake out the change) and he crammed all of his change into his pockets.  It was spilling out onto the floor and that's what alerted us to the fact that he wasn't actually napping.  I couldn't help but laugh when I saw him standing there, with his pockets bulging with coins. :)

    If we continue on with a regular allowance, I'm considering getting three jars, labeling them "save", "spend", and "give" and teaching him to evenly portion out his allowance into those three jars and teaching him what those terms mean.  He's a bit young to teach him about a bank savings account, but he can physically see what saving money means.  We can let him spend some of his money purchasing small toys at Target or other stores.  We can have him donate a portion of his money in the collection basket at church.

    Can you tell we're winging it here?  We're not really sure what we're doing yet.

    So, do you give your kids an allowance?  If so, do you tie the earnings to chores inside or outside of the house or do your kids just get an allowance to teach them money management?  What do you consider the pros or cons of allowances?  Did you get an allowance as a child (we did not)?

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    6:00 AM

    That Is a Big Honkin' Bunch Of Music!
    Shannon over at Rocks In My Dryer is hosting a music giveaway that you won't want to miss!

    WOW Hits 1 is a new compilation CD, full of hits from many great Christian recording artists, including Steven Curtis Chapman, Casting Crowns and Chris Tomlin. The nice folks behind WOW Hits 1 are offering TWENTY winners each a boxed set of 17 CDs, one CD for each of the artists represented on WOW Hits 1. That's right, TWENTY winners!

    Head on over to Shannon's to enter to win!

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    5:30 AM

    Wednesday, June 04, 2008
    June Pay It Forward Book Exchange- 21 books up for grabs!

    It's time for another one of my free Pay It Forward book giveaways!

    For those who may have missed out, please read about the guidelines right here.

    So, I have three books to give away this month.

    1) Your Child's Strengths (I have 2 copies to give away to two separate winners.)

    These book copies were sent to me by Tom with Future Perfect Publishing on behalf of the author Jenifer Fox, M.Ed.. Thanks, Tom!

    Forward by Marcus Buckingham:

    There's no doubt that our schools are in crisis. One response to this crisis has been the "No Child Left Behind" program, which has an unfortunate tendency to prey on a parent's worst fears: that their child will, in fact, be "left behind." In order to ensure that each child moves forward with their group, the focus of parents and teachers has primarily been on "fixing" kids' weaknesses to improve academic performance. In YOUR CHILD'S STRENGTHS: Discover Them, Develop Them, Use Them educator and author Jenifer Fox, M.E.d. turns this flawed paradigm on its head, arguing that we must focus on how our children's individual strengths create success and build on this foundation to help them thrive in school and in life.

    I haven't had a chance to read my copy of this book yet but it sounds so good that I don't want to hold up on giving the other two copies away!

    2) Devotions for the Sandbox Set by by Jane Morton and Sharon Dahl

    Book description: A collection of forty illustrated devotions, accompanied by scripture passages, short poems, and questions. Each poem expresses questions and needs from deep within a young child's heart. Each offers an accompanying Bible verse and questions to prompt lively discussions about God and His wonderful world.

    If you'd like to win these books, here is what you must do:

    1. On your blog, write a post about this giveaway, using my "Pay It Forward" button, and then link back to my post. I am sure your readers would appreciate learning about the chance to win a book. You must complete this step to be put in the drawing, unless of course you don't have a blog!

    2. Sign the Mr. Linky (the Mr. Linky is that list of names at the end of this post - just type your name in the box) with your name and the specific URL of your PIF post. Note: If you are not a blogger, you may still enter to win. Just sign your name on the Mr. Linky without a URL and then email me your contact information. Please note on your email that it is for the PIF book giveaway.

    I'll announce the winners on Saturday morning, 27 June, so be sure to check back.

    Best of luck!

    If you have any books you'd like to Pay It Forward yourself this month, please leave me a comment and I'll link you in this post!

    Additional Pay It Forward Giveaways:

    1) Millicent at Frugal Mommy is giving a book on 8 June, she just hasn't decided which book yet. :) Stop by her blog to enter win. Thanks, Millicent!

    2) Paige at Supepaige's Pad is giving away two books, Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini and 8 Minutes in the Morning by Jorge Cruise on 13 June. Stop by her blog to enter win. Thanks, Paige!

    3) Tracy at BookroomReviews's Webblog is giving away the book The Safety of Secrets by Delaune Michel on 15 June. Stop by her blog to enter win. Thanks, Tracy!

    4) Jubilee at Notes of Jubilee is giving away the book DragonLight by Donita King on 15 June. Stop by her blog to enter win. Thanks, Jubilee

    5) Cynthia at Springmont Cottage is giving away the book Love Walked In by Marisa De Los Santos on 21 June. Stop by her blog to enter win. Thanks, Cynthia!

    6) Briggie at There is Power in Prayer is giving away three copies of the booklet God’s Creative Power For Healing by Charles Capps and one copy of the booklet God’s Creative Power For Financesby Charles Capps on 27 June. Stop by her blog to enter to win. Thanks, Briggie!

    7) Michelle at Big Blueberry Eyes is giving away the book I Will Not Be Broken: 5 Steps To Overcoming A Life Crisis by Jerry White on 27 June. Stop by her blog to enter to win. Thanks, Michelle!

    8) Tamy at 3 Sides of Crazy is giving away the book Piercing the Darkness by Frank Peretti on 30 June. Stop by her blog to enter to win. Thanks, Tamy!

    9) Lori at Lori's Reading Corner is giving away three books: Shakedown (Pinnacle Books Fiction) by Joel Goldma, BelongTempting Evil (Prison Break, Book 2) by Allison Brennan, and Certain Girls: A Novel by Jennifer Weiner on 30 June. Stop by her blog to enter to win. Thanks, Lori!

    10) Wani at Wani's World is giving away the book Strong Women, Soft Hearts - by Paula Rinehar on 30 June. Stop by her blog to enter to win. Thanks, Wani!

    11) Dawn at She is too fond of books... is giving away the book The Brass Verdict by Michael Connelly on 30 June. Stop by her blog to enter to win. Thanks, Dawn!

    12) Forgetfulone is giving away the book Live Your Best Life from the editors of "O," the Oprah magazine on 30 June. Stop by her blog to enter to win.

    Labels: , ,

    6:30 AM

    WFMW- "Mom, I'm Bored" Edition
    Happy Wednesday to you! It's time once again to post another WFMW tip! This week Shannon is hosting the "Mom, I'm bored" edition and asking us for ideas on how to keep the kids busy this summer.

    The kids in our household range in age from 3-years to 6-months.  They don't really say, "Mom, I'm bored", but they get cranky and that's when we know that diversion tactics are necessary.

    Here's a list of things that we do with our little ones to chase the boredom away!  I consider them relationship building activities as well!

    1. Visit the library. Oronzo and I been taking Snuggle Bug to baby and toddler story times since he was about 6 months old. He loves them! Now Boo and Baby Bug are joining in the fun.  Oronzo is usually the one that takes them to a couple of different ones each week, since he's the one home with the kids during the week, but occasionally I get to. The story times involve singing, dancing, coloring, playing with other children, and of course, stories. Best of all, the parents get to socialize as well. The kids have fun, the adults have fun. It's a win-win situation. After the story time is finished, I like to take the kids into the children's area of the library and let Snuggle Bug pick out books to read.
    2. Visit neighbors. We moved into our house about three years ago. It didn't take us long to realize that when we were out walking with Snuggle Bug, neighbors enjoyed stopping us for a chat. We've gotten to the point now where we'll walk over to a neighbor's house, ring the doorbell, and know that we'll be invited in for a chat and a snack. Many of our neighbors are elderly and they dote over the kids and support our fostering efforts.
    3. Take walks. We love taking Snuggle Bug, Boo, and Baby Bug for walks. We went out and bought a double stroller for this purpose. I make sure never to be in a hurry because it's amazing what Snuggle Bug and Boo likes to explore along the way. A caterpillar inching it's way across the sidewalk can provide several minutes of enjoyment!
    4. Go to church together. We go to mass nearly every Sunday. Snuggle Bug has always been right there with us, since he was 3 days old and now the girls are with us as well. At 3-years old, Snuggle Bug imitates us by kneeling on the kneeler, looking at the missal, and repeatedly singing "alleluia" with gusto. He loves observing the pianist and the older children singing in the children's choir (we hope one day he'll join), he can't wait for his turn to put our donation envelope in the basket, and even the priest's "clean-up" duties after communion fascinate him. He also has fun flirting with the members that surround us. After mass, we treat ourselves to brunch at our favorite local cafe.
    5. Go for a bike ride. Not long ago we bought a children's bike seat and attached it to Oronzo's mountain bike. We also bought a children's bike helmet. Snuggle Bug absolutely loves to go on bike rides. Often times we will bike a mile or so to a nearby Starbucks and stop for a muffin and hot chocolate. Biking as a family is a lot of fun!
    6. Go shopping. Yes, that's right, we purposely take our toddlers shopping with us, and not just when we have errands to run. Sometimes we go shopping just to get out and explore. Because we've been doing this with Snuggle Bug from day one, he's actually well behaved in any store that we go into. The girls are great little shoppers as well!  They don't break things, they like to look and touch, but we're careful and so are they. Our favorite place to go is Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts where the kids loves to feel all the different textures of the bolts of fabrics. The varying colors attract them too!
    7. Cook meals and eat together. It never ceases to amaze me how interested Snuggle Bug is in cooking. Pull a chair up to the counter, tie an apron on him, and give him a mixing spoon, and he's happy as a lark. We try to eat at home often and when we do, we make a point to sit down at the table and eat as a family.
    8. Read books together. This should be a given, but I'm going to list it anyway. Not a day goes by that we don't read a book to Snuggle Bug and the girls. Despite the fact that he has 3 bookshelves of books all his own in his room, Snuggle Bug also gets more books weekly from the library. He has a huge, stuffed turtle in one corner of his room and that's where he likes to take books and thumb through them. He has books in nearly every room of the house and often brings us books for us to read to him. Snuggle Bug's vocabulary is growing by leaps and bounds and I attribute the largest part of that to the time we spend reading with him.
    9. Go on excursions. We have annual memberships to our local zoo, children's museum, and the botanical gardens. We use those memberships frequently! We also go to parks to feed the ducks or to attend outdoor concerts, school playgrounds to play on the slides, aquariums to pet sea lions, on trails to do some hiking and exploring, and to pet stores to touch lizards, turtles, birds, hamsters, and even snakes. Going to bookstores is a favorite treat as well, even when we don't buy a thing. I find myself looking at our city calendar of events to see what is scheduled each week. This past weekend we attended a local Family Arts Festival that I found listed on the calendar of events.
    10. Dance, sing, and get dizzy together. Snuggle Bug, Boo, and even Baby Bug loves when we sing together at home or in the car, especially if it involves hand actions (like the Itsy Bitsy Spider and Wheels on the Bus). Most of the time, we sing a cappella and make up the lyrics as we go. As for dancing, he and Boo can shake their bottoms like there's no tomorrow! Oh, and they love when the dance involves jumping, which it nearly always does. Snuggle Bug and Boo get giddy when I make them dizzy by holding their hands and twirling them 'round and 'round in circles until we fall over laughing.
    11. Have a tickle tumble on the bed. Snuggle Bug, Boo, and Baby Bug love being tickled and our king-sized big bed seems the perfect place on which to roll around and tickle each other. Most of the time, we're still in our pjs and sometimes bopping each other with pillows gets mixed in with the tickles. Laughter swirls high into the air and we take frequent rest breaks where we snuggle together with legs, arms, or fingers, tangled together in a cozy twist. Tickle tumbles are one of my personal favorites!

    Relationship building activities that chase away boredom works for me. To find out what works for others, be sure to check out the other links at Shannon's, the creator of Works-For-Me Wednesday!

    My past WFMW entries are found here.


    6:08 AM

    Monday, June 02, 2008
    Care to share a secret?;

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    children or even your own mother finding you.
    Simply your own place to let it all hang out!

    Anonymous Thoughts
    Anonymous Dreams
    Anonymous Stories

    Your secrets are safe with us
    Share your story

    I can only imagine how interesting reading over at AnonymousMom will be! If you're interested in being entered to win lots of free things as a result of posting about AnonymousMom, go check it out at The Mom Blogs.

    Good luck!


    6:00 AM

    Sunday, June 01, 2008
    S*X and the City movie review: SPOILER- don't read until you've seen the movie!
    WARNING! This post contains a spoiler, so if you haven't seen the movie, stop reading and come back for a discussion after you have!

    As promised in my previous post about planning to go see S*X and the City: The Movie post, I saw the movie on Friday night and I'm back to give a review.

    Overall impressions? I loved it!

    There were parts of the movie that made me cry (several times) and parts that made me laugh, get ticked, shout for joy and even cringe a bit. The movie was 2 hours and 15 minutes and I was enthralled the entire time!

    I loved how "real" the ladies looked in this movie. There were times when they were dressed to the nines and looked fantastic. There were times when they had on very little make-up, sported nappy looking hair, and looked their age (not in a bad way).

    As I expected, the clothes that the "girls" wore were wacky and fun. I probably won't go out and try to imitate their fashion style as others will, I'm sure, but it was fun to see what outfits they came up with. The wedding dresses Carrie tried on were crazy, but I really loved the last one...the one that was gifted to her.

    Okay, let me comment on my thoughts for the various story lines going on in this movie.

    1) Charlotte- The beginning of the movie recaps what's happened over the last 4 years since the girls were together at the end of the T.V. series. Charlotte and her husband adopted a baby girl from China, Lily, and she's now about 4-5 years old. I don't know why the writers felt it necessary but they decided that Charlotte was going to become pregnant, thereby fulfilling her ultimate dream. In fact, during the movie she expresses fear that something would go wrong because now she's got everything she ever wanted and is now truly happy...or something along those lines.

    I really disliked this story line. It does nothing but feed in to the myth that if you adopt you're bound to become pregnant. It makes it look like adoption is a second choice for women suffering from unresolved infertility issues. I think it does a disservice to women and adopted children on so many levels. Why couldn't the writers have had Charlotte and Harry adopting a second time, maybe domestically this time instead of internationally?

    At least, given the crappy story line, the writers tried to make a point of giving the audience the impression that Lily would be loved no less than the new baby Rose.

    2) Miranda- I cringed as I watched the interaction of Miranda and Steve in their marriage at the beginning of the movie. I thought to myself, "Please don't let Oronzo and I end up like that. It's hard juggling work, kids, and your relationship with your spouse!" It was pretty clear to see where the writers were leading and I wasn't surprised that Steve cheated. I think Miranda's reaction to leave and end the marriage were pretty realistic. Fidelity is a big one for me! I thought the writers did a pretty good job with having Miranda and Steve eventually get into therapy and I thought the concept of meeting at the bridge and leaving it all behind them was interesting. I'm not sure how easy that would be to do but it was a neat idea.

    3) Samantha- seeing her as Smith Jerrod's manager in Hollywood was interesting. I liked how the writers had her coming to realize that she was loosing herself in that relationship and becoming isolated in CA but I wondered why they couldn't have had Samantha and Smith Jerrod work something out, some kind of compromise to make things work, especially after all they'd been through together. At least they didn't have her going back to her old ways in frustration. Instead, she ended it first and then moved back to New York, the home she longed for. I thought it was neat that we finally got to see how old Samantha was when the ladies celebrated her 50th birthday with her.

    4) Carrie- the events leading up to her wedding with Big were perfect and quite believable! The line she spoke, "I let the wedding get bigger than Big" was spot on. Oronzo and I struggled to come to an agreement on our wedding. I thought I needed the big Catholic wedding, dinner/dance reception and Oronzo would've preferred to have just him and I. We compromised by getting married in Killarney, Ireland with only 10 people from the states and 10 locals attending. It was the perfect day, for both of us! I'm glad this movie ended with Carrie and Big getting married alone at the courthouse, just him and Carrie, with Carrie wearing the simple dress she'd originally picked out. I thought it was perfect that Big arranged to have Carrie's dearest friends waiting for her outside the courthouse and then they had a wedding dinner of close friends only.

    I think all four women did a fantastic acting job in their various parts. Big was great too! By the way, his full real name was revealed. It's John James Preston.

    So there you have it, my thoughts and impressions on S*X and the City: The Movie. I'll be seeing this movie more than once, that's for certain.

    If you've already seen the movie, care to share your thoughts? I'd love to read them!

    Labels: ,

    2:26 PM

    Name: Overwhelmed

    My complete profile

    It wasn't supposed to work this way...Parts 1 through 10

    (the story of the private, domestic adoption of our son)

    (Part 1)
    (Part 2)
    (Part 3)
    (Part 4)
    (Part 5)
    (Part 6)
    (Part 7)
    (Part 8)
    (Part 9)
    (Part 10- Adoption Finalization)

    Fostering isn't for the faint of heart!

    (our journey to adopt again through foster-to-adopt, the good, the bad, & everything in between)

    Adoption #2- considering the State
    More Adoption #2 thoughts
    Adoption #2- Back to considering the State
    Adoption #2- The Paperwork (Round 1)
    Adoption #2- The Paperwork (Round 2)
    Family Foster Home Licensing Prep Checklist
    Adoption #2- Long overdue update
    PS-MAPP class homework assignment
    Our preliminary home inspection went well!
    Adoption #2: Licensing update
    Adoption #2- Foster Facts
    Adoption #2: I love it when things go my way!
    Adoption #2- The home inspection
    Adoption #2- We failed our home inspection!
    Adoption #2- We passed the follow-up home inspection!
    Adoption #2- Still waiting
    Adoption #2- We're getting closer
    Adoption #2- An update & a lead
    Adoption #2- The lead that didn't pan out.
    Adoption #2- We're licensed!
    Adoption #2- We have a tiny baby here!
    Adoption #2- Update on this precious little girl.
    Adoption #2- Quick update on Baby Bug
    Adoption #2- Baby Bug is staying longer!
    Adoption #2- Baby Bug is growing!
    Adoption #2- Overdue update on Baby Bug
    Adoption #2- The latest on Baby Bug
    Adoption #2- Shopping spree for Baby Bug
    Being a Foster Parent Does Not Make Me A Saint
    Adoption #2- Another Placement Call!
    Adoption #2- Placement Meeting- UPDATED!
    Adoption #2- We have Boo at our home!
    Adoption #2- Meeting Boo
    Adoption #2- I'm angry on Boo's behalf!
    Adoption #2- A Birthday Party for Boo
    Adjusting to three 3 and under!
    Stressful moments in fostering.
    Adoption #2- Update on our foster daughters
    CPS Workers Jerking Our Chain!
    It's getting much worse!
    Fostering: Update on Baby Bug
    Fostering: Update on Boo
    The effects of fostering on Snuggle Bug
    The time is drawing near to let go of Baby Bug.
    Good conversation with Baby Bug's dad.
    Boo has a Permanency hearing coming soon!
    My heart is breaking!
    Bittersweet news about Baby Bug.
    Next Friday is going to be tough.
    Packing up Baby Bug's belongings
    It's done- Baby Bug is gone.
    Working on finding peace, one day at a time.
    Referral to the Early Intervention Program
    Baby Bug update
    Home Inspection for re-licensing
    Parole granted for Boo's bio mom
    Baby Bug is turning 1 year old soon.
    Day 2 of Boo's permanency hearing
    A prayer answered today!
    Attending Baby Bug's 1st birthday party
    Foster news
    Good news for Boo's case
    Boo's bio family visits
    Termination Trial date set!
    A new caseworker for Boo
    I've been asked to testify in court.
    Court hearing for "John Doe"
    Contested termination trial begins tomorrow afternoon
    Boo's adoption has been finalized!

    Beautiful adoption video
    Date Night Bliss
    Family Rules and Values
    In the swing of school
    It's time for the kiddos to head back to school a...
    Flying home for a nice, long visit!
    Baby fix!
    Easing back into blogging
    A shocking phone call
    1 year anniversary for Boo

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