Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Little Things Thursdays: #79

This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for supporting our family and blog!

Welcome to The Little Things Thursday!!

If you are new to our link-up, we like to take a minute to look back on the little things that brightened our week. So often we get busy and forget all of the things that we enjoy as we go through our daily lives. This is an opportunity to stop, remember, and enjoy those things! Nothing is too small...in fact, the smaller the better! That's the whole point! If you have a blog, link-up below. If you don't blog, I'd love for you to participate by leaving a comment. Ready?


1. Swimming!
We were invited to a neighbor boy's 5th birthday party last weekend. He had a bounce house and water slide, and the kids LOVED them. Especially the water! Last summer, they weren't big fans of how cold the water in our blow up pool was, but this year, they were all about being in the water!

Also, the party was 10 days after Caleb's heart surgery. 10 days. Not only was he running around without any residual effects from the surgery, he was also RUNNING AROUND. He wasn't like this before! His energy level is through the roof, and he is now playing and enjoying activities like a normal little boy.

God is SO good! There is no other reason to attribute to how well he is doing other than that God is amazing!

2. Brothers Forever
Caleb and Elijah

Sean took this photo last night. It's now one of my favorites!

3. Little Monkey Bizness
Clockwise from left: Elijah, Caleb, and Ellie


Abby

We made it out to Little Monkey Bizness this morning to run off some energy in the air conditioning. The kids had fun as they have in the past, and it was nice to see them running around even more independently than they were a year ago. We made it about two hours before the kids were done. My first indication that our time was drawing to a close was finding Abby with her blanket inside one of the climbing toys, getting ready to take a nap. What?! Lol! And then Elijah started screaming because another kid had a snack, and he couldn't eat it. But up until then, it was great!

4.Young Living July Oils

I got my Young Living July oils this week. Although we didn't win that big $2000 oil set a couple of months ago, we did win a runner up credit with Young Living. It let us try some oils for weight loss, stress, energy...and particularly, the Reconnect Kit (bottom photo of 4 oils) that helps with ADD, ADHD, and Autism spectrum kids. We picked it up because of Caleb's delays (there might be something more there that we are currently having evaluated). I'm excited to see if they help him come out of his shell and learn to communicate.

5. What Our Kids Do During a Heat Advisory
Caleb and Ellie

This is how I found Caleb and Ellie a couple of days ago. It was the first day of a heat advisory in our area, so they thought they'd bring down their pillows, blankets...and stocking caps. Uh...okay. And in case you were wondering, the temperature in the house was 74 degrees. 

6. 1 down, 3 to go...
I *think* that we can officially say that Ellie is potty trained! At least, during the day. She has the occasional accident, but has far more dry days than accident days. So proud of her!

Now on to the next kid....*sigh*




Now it's your turn! What Little Things brightened up your week? Link up your post below (or leave a comment if you aren't a blogger) and make sure you come back next week to play again!

The link up rules are super simple!
1. Please add the button or a text link to your sidebar or post to share the fun that we are having over here!
2. Please visit at least one other blog linking up and leave some blog love. Maybe you will find someone else's "little thing" is exactly what you needed to read!
3. Please keep your linked post clean and respectful! Any links directing to offensive posts will be deleted.



This post may contain affiliate links. For more info, please see my disclaimer page.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Febreze Noseblind Test + A Febreze Product and AMEX Gift Card Giveaway!

This review and giveaway was made possible by Double Duty Divas and Febreze. I was compensated for my participation in this campaign, but all opinions are 100% mine. 

Who hasn't seen the Febreze Noseblind tests on TV? You know, the ones where they blindfold a couple of people, lead them into a gross, stinky room, and ask them what they smell? 

Our family was challenged to a home version of that same test for fun! While we didn't have blindfolds or the theme music in the background, we did manage to give the Febreze products a good test!

And because this type of thing is always more fun with friends, we asked JoEllen and Sean (yep! She is dating a Sean, and I'm married to a Sean. We had a lot of Seans in the house!) if they would do the Noseblind test with us.

We started with a questionnaire about how our house smelled. I found out after the fact that "poop" was the overwhelming room scent. While that makes sense with 3 kids in diapers and one potty training, it's not exactly a compliment. 

Embarrassing!
JoEllen

Daddy working on his questionnaire and Elijah pretending to work on his as well 

Then we popped some popcorn for our viewing of Frozen (which we might as well keep on repeat with the number of times we watch it in a week). The kids love that movie, and since Joellen and Sean were at our house with his three kids, it was a good, family-friendly movie selection.

Of course, while the popcorn drowned out the poop scent, it left an overwhelming scent on it's own,
Ryan, JoEllen's Sean, Aryn, JoEllen, Ellie, Gavin, and Elijah

I think the kids' favorite part of the Noseblind test was the popcorn part. Lol!

Interestingly, over time, we stopped noticing the popcorn smell as much. I think the same thing happened with the popcorn that happened to me with the poop smell. Our noses just got used to it. I'm sure if someone walked into the house, though, they'd definitely be able to tell that we were both potty training and eating popcorn.
 Watching Frozen!

Finally, our Noseblind test called for us to break out the Febreze and give the room a good spritz!

It took a few minutes to clear the popcorn from the room, but it worked! Since then, we've had a second, super disgusting Noseblind test when my husband accidentally got spoiled raw chicken on his clothes while taking out the trash. It took us far too long to identify the scent and where it was coming from, but at least we had the Febreze in the meantime!

Want to learn more about how your nose adapts to smells and conduct your own Noseblind test? Head over to the Febreze site for more info! You can also find them on FaceBook and Twitter.

~Giveaway!~
Febreze is sending one of my readers everything they need to do their own Noseblind test at home! Please use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter. Winning entries will be validated prior to announcing the winner with an alternate drawn if the entries cannot be verified.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
The contest ends at 11:59pm on Wednesday, July 30th. The winner(s) will be randomly chosen and contacted by email, and will have 48 hours to respond to the email with their information so that the prize can be forwarded to them. This giveaway is open to residents of the United States. This giveaway is not endorsed by Young Living Essential Oils and is solely sponsored and administered by A Beautiful Ruckus. This post may contain affiliate links. For more info, please see my disclaimer page.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Our Meal Plan: 7/20-7/26


If you are looking for some of the strategies that help us decide what to eat every week, make sure you check out our Meal Tip Series!

One of my good friends brought over a bunch of tomatoes from her garden over the weekend. We are having a very tomato-centric meal plan this week. I can't wait!

Sunday: Leftovers
Monday: Thai Chicken Pizza
Tuesday: Grilled Chicken topped with Pico de Gallo, Chipotle Ranch Salad
Wednesday: Bacon and Egg Burritos, Strawberry Spinach Salad
Thursday: Chicken Tzatziki Wraps, Tzatziki Sauce, and Tomato Salad
Friday: Homemade Margherita Pizza
Saturday: Dinner with Extended Family

What is on your menu this week? Leave me some inspiration!
This post may contain affiliate links. For more info, please see my disclaimer page.

This post may contain affiliate links. For more info, please see my disclaimer page.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Yard Stick Planter Activity

One of my very favorite places to shop for craft supplies is the dollar store. They normally have a small section with craft items like pom-pom balls, googly eyes, and popsicle sticks. The last time I ran in there, I found some Decorative Yard Stick Planters. They had four designs, so it was perfect!
The items we needed for this activity were:
  • A Yard Stick for Each Child
  • Markers

 I've had the markers for awhile, but I can't imagine that they were more than a dollar. $5 for a summer activity for quads is pretty reasonable in my opinion!
Clockwise from left: Abby, Caleb, Ellie, and Elijah
Our main potty training goal last week, was to get Ellie to go on the potty, but by day 3, we desperately needed a break from sitting on the toilet. That's when I broke out my dollar store craft supplies, and we all sat down to work on decorations for the backyard.

What you don't see in these photos? Ellie's potty chair is all of 12 inches from where she is sitting....and she isn't wearing anything on her lower half. Oh yes, potty training adventures will make it on the blog at some point. Meanwhile, photos were very carefully taken of this project. Lol!
Clockwise from top left: Ellie, Caleb, Abby, and Elijah

The kids were delighted to have a project to break up the monotony as well. And (thankfully!!!) everyone liked the yard stick design that I picked out for them: A Bird for Caleb, A Butterfly for Abby, A Bug for Elijah, and A Flower for Ellie.

And then, we just had to wait for Daddy to get home so that we could go outside and find special places for them!

After dinner, we all headed out to the backyard and started looking for the best spot. We let each child pick where they wanted to plant their yard stick, because we wanted the activity to be theirs from beginning to end.
Ellie and her flower

Abby decided that her butterfly would look best right next to the flower.
Abby and her butterfly (with Elijah waiting for his turn to pick a spot)

Elijah found his spot a little distance away. He was so excited about planting his yard stick, that he wasn't looking at the camera. I started waving at him to get his attention, so he thought he'd wave back. Ha!
Caleb and his bug

Caleb had an entirely different method from everyone else. While Ellie was working on a spot for her planter, Caleb ran over and pitched his in the middle of the flower bed and ran off. Lol! I guess he figured that if it were ON the ground, that it was close enough to being IN the ground. Eventually we got him to come back and find a spot for his, but he was really more interested in just running about the backyard.
I highly recommend checking our your local dollar store for craft supplies and ideas! It's a great spot to pick up inexpensive, low stress, easy prep activities to pass the summer days.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Young Living Lavender Essential Oil Giveaway!

I'm not a "natural" or "crunchy" blogger. Just a family blogger with quads who likes to write about way too many subjects in this space. But I guess I'm not the only mom out there who finds the idea of essential oils fascinating. My Journey to Essential Oils series has been far more popular than I ever thought it would be!

While the original series was about how we got to the point of using essential oils, it really didn't give any info about the oils themselves. But that's where this subject gets really, really interesting! I've been reading voraciously on the subject since January, and the more I read, the more I realize that I'll never know everything about these amazing oils. However, what I do know, I'd love to share with you...and maybe give away a few bottles of oils in the process so that you can try them yourself.

I bought an entire Everyday Oils Essential Oils Collection to giveaway on the blog. This is the same set of oils (with the addition of Stress Away) that comes in the Young Living Premium Starter Kit, which is where I started. I'm thinking I'll giveaway one oil per month from that collection and tell you a little bit about how we use it in our home. It kind of depends on the interest though. I find these super interesting, but I'm not sure if this is something that you would enjoy as well? Let me know!

So for our first essential oil, I thought that we would start with one of the most well known: Lavender.
I've met several people who either don't like lavender or don't think it works. Goodness! You haven't tried real 100% essential oil then! My guess is that you tried a fragrance oil like what they use in linen sprays or room sprays. Not the same thing at all!

Real lavender essential oil has a beautiful low-key floral scent. It's often used to promote relaxation and sleep, the healing of cuts and burns, and to soothe irritated skin due to dryness or eczema. It's referred to as the "Swiss-Army Knife" of essential oils because Lavender has SO many uses! My motto is, "When in doubt, rub lavender on it!"

How do we use it at our house? Here are a few of the ways:

-When our kids fall over outside and scrape their knees up, we put 1-2 drops on their knees. Abby fell in the driveway on the way to church on Sunday and cut her knees up pretty well. I put a couple of drops of lavender on her cuts, and her knee immediately stopped bleeding. Since lavender has antiseptic properties, I also know that it cleaned out her wound. An extra perk was that she stopped crying as soon as I asked her if she wanted some oils for her knee. The kids know that oils work and really like it when they get some. (Just as long as they don't start falling over on purpose!)

-I like to use lavender for sleep in one of two ways. Sometimes, I smooth a drop or two across my pillow case so that I can breathe it in as I'm falling asleep. More often, I put a few drops in my diffuser with another complimentary sleep oil (like orange or cederwood), and let that help me sleep. I love it!

-I also have severe allergies that like to turn into bronchitis. Lavender is one of three oils that I use to combat my allergies to grass, ragweed, ceder, and dogs among other things. I either put a few drops in a capsule if the allergies are really bad, or I put a drop on the back of my neck along with the other two oils. I didn't think it would work, but it does! Amazing!

-Because lavender is so calming, I often use it when people in my family are sick as well. All that coughing causes tension through the body and, let's face it, it's incredibly frustrating as well. I find that a little lavender on the forehead helps to calm coughing and lower fevers.

-I finally found a solution to those really severe diaper rashes! We use a combo of this hair dryer trick and lavender oil diluted in coconut oil as a diaper cream. We don't use the store bought creams anymore because they just don't hold a candle to straight up coconut oil and lavender oil! And let me tell you, I've tried some of the highest recommended diaper creams on the market. Until you've tried this, you don't know what you are missing.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg! We use lavender constantly in our house!

So a few things:


It's important to note that I use Young Living Essential Oils with my family. Not all oil brands are created equally and many can cause problems to worsen if they are not true, 100% essential oils. Even if the label says "100% pure" they are only required to have 5% essential oils in them per regulations. Please visit this link for more info on why we chose Young Living and how we believe it is the best, most effective, and most affordable essential oil option out there. 


~Giveaway!~
Would you like to win some lavender oil to use at your house? I'll be sending one winner a 5ml bottle of Young Living Lavender Essential Oil to use and enjoy! Please use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter. Winning entries will be validated prior to announcing the winner with an alternate drawn if the entries cannot be verified.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
The contest ends at 11:59pm on Tuesday, July 29th. The winner(s) will be randomly chosen and contacted by email, and will have 48 hours to respond to the email with their information so that the prize can be forwarded to them. This giveaway is open to residents of the United States. This giveaway is not endorsed by Young Living Essential Oils and is solely sponsored and administered by A Beautiful Ruckus. For more info, please see my disclaimer page.

The information contained in these posts are for educational and entertainment purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. Products and techniques discussed are not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or ailment. Please do your own research and make your own informed decisions when you are considering lifestyle and health changes. Particularly if you are pregnant, taking medication, or have a medical condition, consult a doctor before starting any new protocol. Any links leaving this site are the opinion of the author of those sites and should be treated with the same caution as what you read here. This post may contain affiliate links. For more info, please see my disclaimer page.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Little Things Thursdays: #78

This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for supporting our family and blog!

Welcome to The Little Things Thursday!!

If you are new to our link-up, we like to take a minute to look back on the little things that brightened our week. So often we get busy and forget all of the things that we enjoy as we go through our daily lives. This is an opportunity to stop, remember, and enjoy those things! Nothing is too small...in fact, the smaller the better! That's the whole point! If you have a blog, link-up below. If you don't blog, I'd love for you to participate by leaving a comment. Ready?


1. Polar Vortex - Summer Edition!
Clockwise from left: Elijah and Caleb, Abby, and Captain Ellie


Sean and Becca (keeping it real with no makeup!)


They've been calling it a "Polar Vortex" in our neck of the woods. I have to say...I like summer polar vortexes! They are definitely a step up from the winter version. It's been really pleasant with the high's in the 70's for the past few days. It's hard to believe that it's mid-July and we are enjoying weather like this! We took advantage of it this evening and headed outside to play after dinner (complete with a "Frozen" sing along and dance party). Bedtime came too soon!

2. He's MY Superhero!
Once a month, our church offers Respite Care for a few hours so that the parents of special needs kids can have a break. We definitely took advantage of that on Saturday! Sean and I headed out for a lunch date, and then stopped by Target. While we were there, we found this awesome superhero t-shirt. I made Sean get it because it's true! He really is my superhero! He was all embarrassed that I made him hold it up for a picture, but he obliged me anyway. :)

3. Uhh....Buddy?
Caleb
So yesterday while I was cooking dinner, Caleb walked up behind me and just stood there. Like that. Staring at me. I finally picked him up, and moved him to the living room to watch a show with the other kids because it was kind of creeping me out. He immediately came right back and took up the same spot again. And continued to stare at me.

And I still have no idea why.

4. CSA: Last Week
I am SO disappointed! Normally the CSA program through Good Natured Family Farms is one of my favorite parts of summer. This year, it just totally bombed. And I mean, bombed. The boxes have been scarce and definitely not a good value for our money, they forget items almost every week, the produce that is included rots quickly, and the truck that does the delivery at my husband's office is ALWAYS late. We hated to do it, but we asked if it was possible to cancel mid-way through the season. Normally they don't allow it, but the program has been so bad this year, that they are letting people drop out. This is our last week, and we are (unfortunately) happy that we managed to get out of it. In the photo above, we have our box and a box that one of Sean's co-workers gave us this week: 4 bunches of kale, 4 bell peppers, 10 peaches, 6 patty-pan squash, 2 small loaves of zucchini bread, and 2 quarts of  heavy cream. And yes. We are missing stuff from this box too. In fact, they owe us the equivalent of several boxes at this point because of everything that has gone wrong. So sad.

Here's hoping that we can find a decent CSA for next summer, because I really love getting our fresh produce every week!

5. Grandma Winn
Sean, Grandma, and Becca

We were sad to say goodbye to Sean's grandmother this week. She fought cancer for 25+ years, and finally passed away from leukemia on Sunday afternoon. We took the above photo with her on Thursday evening during our last visit with her. When we went to see her on Sunday, she was unfortunately on the decline and wasn't aware that we were there. We were able to spend some time at her house with extended family as she drifted off to be with Jesus.

Please pray for comfort for her husband of almost 57 years, their 4 kids, and all of the grandkids and great-grandkids. Our girls were asking me about TwoMa today (her nickname), and I had to tell them that she went to be with Jesus. We all miss her dearly already.


Now it's your turn! What Little Things brightened up your week? Link up your post below (or leave a comment if you aren't a blogger) and make sure you come back next week to play again!

The link up rules are super simple!
1. Please add the button or a text link to your sidebar or post to share the fun that we are having over here!
2. Please visit at least one other blog linking up and leave some blog love. Maybe you will find someone else's "little thing" is exactly what you needed to read!
3. Please keep your linked post clean and respectful! Any links directing to offensive posts will be deleted.



This post may contain affiliate links. For more info, please see my disclaimer page.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

{2014 Summer Bucket List} I-49 Bounce House Fun Center

Today's post is really more photos than anything else, but the kids had SO much fun, I couldn't skip writing about it!

A couple of weeks ago (yeah, I'm behind on posts), Sean's mom called and asked if she could take our kids to a place called the I-49 Fun Center. It's a big room with four big bounce houses, and kids can just run wild!

So although we agreed to meet Ma and cousin Marissa at the play center, Sean and I kinda thought it would be a bust. Caleb's issues are such that family outings very rarely turn out to be family outings. We normally end up splitting into two groups: Sean and Caleb, and Me and the rest of the kids. We had a feeling that bounce houses, a new location, and lots of kids was going to make for a very short play date.
 Ellie

I am happy to report that is was a resounding SUCCESS!!! I can't even explain to you how much it means to me to have a family outing that is actually a family outing! Until you repeatedly have to take a child out of public situations because of sensory overload and anxiety, you just won't get what a big deal this was for us!
Caleb

All of the kids had a great time, but Caleb especially enjoyed it! He was all smiles, and even left our side to go explore on his own. We eventually figured out that he most likely was able to cope with the situation because of the white noise in the building. The bounce houses all have blowers, and the noise level was just loud enough to drown out most other noises, but the white noise made it very manageable. 

It kind of makes me want to carry a bounce house around with us just to make family outings easier. Just kidding. Kind of.

Abby

They ran and bounced and climbed and ran. By the time we reached 1.5 hours, they were exhausted.
Elijah

 But everyone still wanted to go down the slide one more time before we left.
Daddy and Caleb

I think we are going to have to take another trip back over there. It was so nice to finally see all of our kids enjoying an outing together!
Ellie and Cousin Marissa

I'm not complaining about the awesome nap they took afterwards either!

This post may contain affiliate links. For more info, please see my disclaimer page.
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