So I've been thinking....

2:39 PM Posted by Natalie

All this blog business got me thinking. I'm very interested in having a blog that is geared toward networking with and helping other moms by not only sharing stories, but also helpful tips, advice, deals, and giveaways, as well as advertising for mom-run businesses. I know there is a growing number of these sites out there, but I think we all have something that is uniquely our own to offer. However, this blog was created with mostly personal family stuff in mind, and I would like it to reflect my main purpose because I think it would do better that way.

So, I am considering creating a separate blog that is devoted to this. What do you think? (Of course, I just signed up for Entrecard using this blog, which may complicate things if I have to delete one account and create a new one for the new blog.) On the other hand, things may not go as I hope and it could be a big waste of time, but I guess I won't know unless I try. I love to share advice with other moms that draws from my own experience as a mother of 4, and great deals and products that I love. Just ask the ladies from my mom's message board ;) Why should we go through every product out there or every technique before we find the one that actually works when we can get that information from other moms and get it right without so much fuss?

Let me know what you think. And, if you think it's a good idea, I need your help with something else....a name! It needs to be something original and that reflects the purpose of the new blog. I've been thinking on it, but am pretty much coming up blank. I'd love to hear some suggestions! You can give me as many ideas as you like, and if I choose one of yours, I'll do something for you in return (should I decide to actually do this, that is). Please comment back to this post and help me out!

Please Pardon the Mess

9:17 PM Posted by Natalie

If you read my blog, you may notice I've added a sidebar on the left side of my blog. The right sidebar was getting quite long and I felt like some things were getting "buried" down there, so I decided to try to add another one. After much trial and error, and the help of my best friend, Google, I did it! So, for the next few days, things may be moving around and changing until I get it the way I want it. Please bear with me!

Hoohobbers Giveaway!

8:20 PM Posted by Natalie

I'm always finding new blogs with great giveaways run by great moms. Today, I happened upon Blessings Abound, where Jacqueline, a stay-at-home mom of 4 (just like me!) gives some great product reviews and fabulous giveaways. I've come to really appreciate these sites within the blogging world because it has introduced me to some really unique products. Perhaps some day my blog could develop into something like that, or I can get connected enought to start a completely separate blog dedicated to spreading the word, too. On to this great giveaway....

"What is Hoohobbers?" you ask? It's a company that offers some unique specialty products for children, right here in the good 'ol USA! I'm sure we have all become aware these days of the importance of buying products made right here at home. It's also hard to find unique items at our local superstores. Shopping on the internet opens up a whole new world to the savvy mom who wants to find more original items for her children, and Hoohobbers is a great place to start! At Blessings Abound, Jacqueline is sponsoring a giveaway for a kids rocking chair from Hoohobbers! This would be a wonderful gift for my daughter Lauren's 3rd birthday in July. She'd love it! So head over to this fabulous giveaway over at Blessings Abound and enter for your own chance to win!

Snow Days

9:39 PM Posted by Natalie

It was pretty much a given that the boys would be off school today, and sure enough, the call came last night after I had put them all to bed. So, I made good on my promise and we all went out to play this afternoon. This was the first time Lauren had been out to play in the snow. Didn't she look cute all bundled up? Yes, she is wearing blue boots. Of course, I'd much rather they were pink, but I had not bought her a pair of boots this year, and I've got just about every size from the boys, so they "had" to do ;)

I had sent the kids out one by one as they finished their lunch and I got them all bundled up.

Sledding was a given since we now live in a place where there are hills everywhere. Heck, our back yard is a hill. But, it's not a steep hill by any stretch and I would never have imagined it would be so good for sledding. I had a BALL! I couldn't believe how fast you could get going down it. Lauren even went down on the sled with me a couple of times. I was impressed! The last time did her in, though. She was ready to go inside and I wanted to go down the hill just ONE more time. So, she got on with me and I had not expected we would go as far as we did. We jumped the little ledge at the edge of our yard and went zooming down the lot behind us. If I hadn't stopped us, we would have gone clear down to the street! Poor little Lauren got snow in her face. She was so bright pink that I knew it was time to go in for some hot chocolate.

Kyle had been doing fine when I first got outside with Lauren, but a short time later, he got all crabby for no apparent reason.

This face and crying went on and on and on, practically the whole time we were out there. I had no idea why. He just stood in the yard like that. This is what I am talking about when I talk about Kyle's difficult temperment. I kept asking him to go on the sled with me and he refused, only to cry harder when I went without him. I'd ask him what was wrong only to get either no response, or incomprehensible mumbling between cries. This is typical Kyle. So I finally took him into the garage for a little one-on-one hoping I could snap him out of it. We went back in the back yard and he did finally go on the sled with me once, but he continued to be contrary.

By this time, Lauren was ready to go inside, so I brought him in, too. When we got in and started taking everything off, I discovered that his poor little feet were completely wet! I have no idea how they got so wet....whether his boots had fallen off while he was outside before I got out there, or whether they just sucked, but both pairs of socks were completely wet and cold. I had no clue! Why couldn't he have told me that his feet were wet? Or at least cold? I would have brought him in right away and taken care of it. I felt bad, but I'm tellin' ya, this kid is a challenge!

So we all came inside, thawed out, and enjoyed a yummy cup of hot chocolate with plenty of marshmallows. It was fun, but I think next time maybe we should just sled with Joey and Alec. Since Shaun was working, I had to have them all outside, which I had wanted to anyway. As it turned out, we got quite a bit more sleet and snow today. It's actually still snowing lightly out there now. So, no school tomorrow, either! I'm actually glad because Shaun had already taken the day off for the school's annual Super Bowl game for the kids. That's been cancelled, so that means we can take turns sledding with the boys! WOOHOO!!! LOL!

Let it Snow!

8:08 PM Posted by Natalie

I'm totally ready for spring, but I have to say that I was excited when I heard a winter storm was coming. We haven't had a real snow here yet, and I was starting to wonder if we'd get a good one at all this winter. Being in our new house with the big front and back yards and kids all over the place, I've been wanting a big snow so the kids could go out and play in it. It started icing a few hours ago and now it's turned to snow. We're supposed to get 4-7 inches. So, it's pretty much a certainty there will be no school tomorrow. The kids are still up (but not for long!) and I have already been planning that we will all go outside tomorrow to play in the snow and then come in for some hot chocolate. WOOHOO!!!! (Although, it's going to be VERY cold, so we'll freeze our patooties off.) I can't wait to see how pretty it looks around here with all the hills and trees covered in fresh snow. I love it here!!!

I WON!!!!

11:34 PM Posted by Natalie

I FINALLY won my first online giveaway! I WON!!! I don't win anything. Ever. My husband used to be the lucky one, winning us tickets to see Jay Leno on the Tonight Show in L.A. back when we were first married and another time to see ZZ Top in concert. But I fear I must have rubbed off on him because it's been a long time since he's won anything either. So I won the giveaway my friend Angie hosted at Buy By Mom for the $25 gift certificate to Suzi Homemaker! Now I'm going to have to figure out what the heck I'm going to get! It's feast or famine, I tell ya. There are SO many things on her site I would LOVE to get, but I can only pick one or two. OY! Okay, so I admit it isn't the most unfortunate of dilemmas ;)

Hard Truth

12:48 PM Posted by Natalie

You may not hear much about it, but today marked the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Thousands of pro-life activists replaced the crowds attending the inauguration of Barack Obama in Washington, D.C. just two days ago. As a supporter of partial-birth abortion, leaving babies who survive botched abortions to die, and a man who promised that one of his first acts as president would be to pass the Freedom of Choice Act, I have been deeply saddened since the election. I have lamented often about what this means for the unborn....more will be murdered, with no end in sight. And that's not even to mention the effect it has on their mothers. My husband has told me during these discussions that he doesn't think Obama will do all these things. Maybe not, as we all know that politicians make promises during campaigns that they don't keep, and people continue to fall for it hook, line, and sinker while the Washington fat cats laugh all the way to the bank. But, news rumored that he would use today's anniversary, his first full day in office, to issue an executive order reversing the "Mexico City policy" which prohibits U.S. money from being used to fund abortion in foreign countries. I cannot confirm that he has, in fact, done so today, but it's coming. Abortion is big business. After all, they get women to PAY to murder their children, lie to them about the risks, then collect more funding for "breast cancer research" while denying the fact that abortion increases a woman's risk of the disease by as much as 50%. It's quite a business plan, don't you think?

The horror that is abortion has claimed 50 million little souls since 1973. It seems to be the mantra of the pro-abortion movement, including our current president, that we should not outlaw abortion, we should instead try to "reduce the number of abortions." I wonder if they even think about what they're saying. How exactly is releasing money for the funding of abortion and abortion programs around the world going to accomplish that? Of course, the billions spent in "sex education" programs haven't done any good anyway. One in four teenage girls has an STD. Over 1 million babies are aborted in this country every year.

So yes, I am fired up today. Mostly because at least half of this country refuses to see abortion for what it is....not a choice, but the willful murder of a child, all the while proclaiming, "God bless America!" And because I watched a video the other night that shook me to the very core of my being. Yes, I have seen pictures of aborted babies here and there over the years. I know in my mind and in my heart what it is, and that it is a sin that cries out to God for vengeance. But this video showed the reality of this terrible crime against humanity in a way that I think has forever changed the way I will see the pro-abortion side of things. It has also made me want to find a way to ACT, to do what it is within my power to do to help stop it. In the end, we will all be rewarded according to our works.

This video is called "Hard Truth" and you can see it here. I will forewarn you that it is VERY, VERY graphic, and horrible. Children should be nowhere around when you play it. I sobbed through the whole thing. But that is the terrible reality of it, and in my opinion, EVERY adult should watch it. I'm glad I did. The next time I hear of one of these unborn children referred to as "a glob of cells" or the "product of conception," I'm not sure what I will do. My heart is broken for these precious babies. Not only are they murdered simply for existing, but the people who are supposed to love them the most are convinced to deny who they are.

There is perhaps something else those who are so proud of and emotionally charged about the election of Barack Obama should consider...

Put me in COACH!

9:33 AM Posted by Natalie

Yes, this is a reference to the popular Dan Fogerty song about baseball, but for us fashion-savvy ladies, I'm really talking about COACH purses. My friend Angie is GIVING AWAY a COACH purse on her blog! Anyone who knows me knows that I am an admitted purse-aholic. I tend to change my bag every few months or so, and I can rarely pass up that section of a store without at least looking. When I started having children, diaper bags became my obsession. I need help!

Anyway, to earn 25 extra entries in this awesome giveaway, I am supposed to blog about it here and post pictures to demonstrate why I "need" to win this purse. It is a beautiful purse, and while I would LOVE to win it for myself, I honestly can't say I NEED it. So, I am actually entering to try to help someone else who really does need it win it. Therefore, I am posting pictures of my 3 current purses to show you why.

This is my current purse, my $9 special from Wally World. It even came with a wallet:

This is the purse I bought a few weeks ago. I need to switch it out with the above purse, which has effectively become my personal trash can. Maybe I will finally do that today!

And this is my very own COACH purse! A wonderful and generous gift, and surely the most expensive purse I have ever owned. It is going to be my spring and summer purse, and I can't wait to use it! Isn't it CUTE?

So, as you can see, I don't really NEED to win the purse from Angie's giveaway. In fact, I think I still have 2 purses somewhere that I haven't even used yet! See, I told you I have a problem ;) But, there is another very deserving entrant in the giveaway, and I'd love to be able to help her win. So, that's what I'm doing. But, if you would like a chance to win this fabulous purse for yourself, check out Angie's giveaway and enter! Contest ends February 1st.

Wordless Wednesday: Static

8:57 AM Posted by Natalie

In at least one way, Lauren is just like her mom....she has very fine, straight hair. This has to be a particularly dry winter because we have had static electricity in this house like crazy!

I'm not Suzi Homemaker....

9:34 AM Posted by Natalie

But maybe with some items from her shop, I can fool some people! LOL! That's why I'm entering the Suzi Homemaker Custom Embroidery Giveaway over at Buy By Mom. Suzi Homemaker has an awesome selection of great items you can have personalized for yourself, for that special gift, or even your business. Sometimes it's hard to stand out from everyone else or find that unique gift. Suzi Homemaker makes that easier with the variety of products she offers in her store. Tote bags, blankets, aprons, burp cloths....the list goes on, and all of them can be personalized just for you. Angie over at Buy By Mom is having a giveaway for a $25 gift certificate to Suzi Homemaker! I'd be so excited to win this, but I've looked through her site and seen so many things I'd love to have that I don't know what I'd choose! Probably a moot point anyway since I NEVER win anything, but I guess I gotta at least try. And even though it lessens my chances, I'm sharing this with you so that you can enter the Suzi Homemaker Custom Embroidery Giveaway, too! Just click the link to get to the contest page. Good luck!

Big Crumbs and Swagbucks

2:46 PM Posted by Natalie

What the heck are Big Crumbs and Swagbucks? Believe it or not, free money! Well, sort of. I mean, with Big Crumbs you have to spend money, but you earn cash back on purchases you would have made online anyway. REAL cash. With the internet as big as it is now and having 4 children, I have found myself doing a lot more shopping online. I can do it in the comfort of my home, search many stores with the click of a mouse, compare prices, order it up, and have it delivered right to my door. While you usually have to pay for shipping, sometimes it's worth it in the amount of shopping and driving you would have to do if you went out to all the stores you wanted to shop at. Other times, I simply can't find what I want in the store. Sometimes retailers have online coupons, offers, or sales that they don't in the stores. And, this includes one of our favorites....Ebay! (I once joked to my sister that you could even find a booger on Ebay. Although our search didn't find an actual booger, we did find booger-related items. HA!) So, if you are going to buy something online anyway, why not get a little cash back while you're at it?

There really is no catch. I've been a Big Crumbs member since 2007 and all I've had to do is shop through the store links on their website and earn my cash back. That's it! Big Crumbs also has special offers for retailers only available through their site. I recently earned cash back on a purchase I made from Vista Print. I almost forgot to go through Big Crumbs and when I went back to purchase what was in my shopping cart, I got additional discounts by shopping through Big Crumbs AND got cash back. Plus, if you join as a Crumb Earner and get others to sign up using your referral link, YOU get cash back for purchases THEY make! If you'd like to check it out, click on the link in my right sidebar. Even if you don't join but you make a purchase using my link, I'll STILL get cash back!

Swagbucks is a site where you can earn "digital dollars" to make purchases in the Swagbucks online store. Items in their store include hundreds of items from gift cards to electronics. How do you earn Swagbucks? All you have to do is an online search using the Swagbucks search engine just like you would with Google or any other search engine. That's it! You won't earn Swagbucks with every single search, but with each search you have an opportunity to win. You can also earn Swagbucks by clicking through the links on their site to make purchases at online retailers, referring friends, and recycling your old cell phones or Mp3 players. I've already earned 16 Swagbucks just by doing searches. If you're interested in signing up, click the button in my right sidebar and check it out. If you join through my link, I'll earn Swagbucks, too!

I promise, no catch to either of these sites. I just wanted to pass them along to you and maybe earn a little more for myself in the process! ;)

Contest Time!

9:13 PM Posted by Natalie

Eamon's Journey Review & Giveaway

Yes, folks, it's that time again! Ah, it's been too long ;) I just have to blog about this giveaway because a) it's being sponsored by my dear friend Angie, and b) it's for a good cause! Angie is sponsoring this giveaway at her blog, 5 Vinez Monkeys.

So what can you win and how does it help? Well, a friend of Angie's has an online shop which she uses to raise funds to help support treatment costs for her son, Eamon, who has been diagnosed with mild autism. Her shop features a variety of items from recipe books to adorable onesies and T-shirts for those special little people in your life. All proceeds from sales at Eamon's Journey Cafe Press Shop are used to help support Eamon's development and ensure a successful future for this sweet little boy.

Angie is giving one of her lucky readers their choice of one item from Eamon's Journey Cafe Press Shop! To enter for your own chance to win, go here or click the link at the beginning of this post. And if you find something you love but don't win, consider buying it anyway and helping someone out while you're at it!