Monday, February 27, 2012 Glass Water Bottle Review

Okay, so you all know that I'm making a conscious effort to improve my health for the sake of my family (and myself). One thing that I think is essential to improved and restored health is drinking enough water. 

You may know that diabetics tend to be thirsty a lot. This is true of me. I drink a lot. Coffee, diet soda, almond milk... anything that I can think of that isn't water. Why? I don't know. I actually LIKE water.
 There is something that tends to help me work on boosting my water intake.  That thing? 
A nice water bottle. Maybe that's silly, but it's true. When I have a nice water bottle, I feel more inclined to drink more water!

 I've been fortunate to have the opportunity to try a glass water bottle from

 Here's what I think:

  •  This bottle is pretty. I like it, it's cute. It feels good in my hands. It looks good with water inside.
  •  The bottle is sturdy. There is a rubber shell that comes with it to help protect it in case of falls. It is thick glass and seems like it is not the type of bottle to break after just one fall. I haven't tested it's fall-ability, however. 
  •  It holds JUST enough water for one workout, one meal, one walk to the park. If I fill it 5-6 times a day, I meet my quota. It is slim enough to fit in the cup holder on my treadmill. I like that feature. It means I can have it close while I exercise!
  •  It is glass. That means that I don't have to worry about the chemicals that are used in it. It also means it washes clean. I don't have nasty stains appearing on it. It can be recycled. It's made without damaging trees or putting tons of chemicals into the air. 

 I really like this glass water bottle from Reusit!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Busy Bag Activity #3

Our third busy bag activity is a cardboard shoe. 

 This shoe is a DIY project and is designed to help your little one practice tying! 
 Monkey is no where near ready to tie shoes, but he thinks the shoe is fascinating. 

 This is something I made several years ago for a preschool class I was teaching. It's really simple to make. 

Here's what I did:
 I traced one of my shoes onto a cereal box, then I cut it out. I glued the box to some 
fabric, and cut it to the same shape/size. I happened to work in a daycare where I could laminate things - so I laminated my new cardboard shoes. I punched 6 holes in the shoes with scissors and inserted brightly colored laces. That's it. It's that easy. I think if I were to do it now, at home - I would just use a cardboard box and not even worry about making it pretty or sturdy. They're cheap and easy to come by, they're also quick to make.

Champions for Kids, shopping adventure


Do you remember a couple of weeks ago, that I told you about the Champions for Kids program?  I shared with you that we were going to be putting together a winter emergency kit and donating it to a local crisis pregnancy center as part of the Energizer Light up a Life program.  Well, we did and we had a lot of fun with it!

We went to our local Walmart (#4231) with the purpose of putting together an emergency kit for a teenage mom and her young child(ren).  The boys had so much fun picking out things to give to others.  They liked talking about what we might need in an emergency.  They also enjoyed the treat they got at the end of the shopping trip!  (If you want to learn about their treat, see my album on Google +).

Here is our kit:
2 Rolled Fleece Blankets - to keep mama & baby warm in case of a power outage, or a slide off during icy weather.
1 roll of paper towels - sometimes emergencies are messy.
A medicine spoon & dropper - in case of a health emergency.
Wet Ones Hand Wipes - for keeping kids clean during emergency situations.
Puff Cereal - to help calm everyone's nerves in a time of need.
Gel Hand Sanitizer - for keeping mommy's hands clean in times of need.
A thermometer - to monitor fevers.

Neon Bandaids - to cover cuts & scrapes (and because neon is cool).
Peanuts - to help nourish the body and give energy in a crisis.
2 sets of hats&gloves (one for mama, one for baby) to help with warmth.
Handwarmers - for hands, toes, any place that needs to keep free from frostbite.
A first aid kit - to provide for many first aid needs.
A Buzz Lightyear Flashlight - to help in calming children during a power outage.
A plug-in flashlight that lights up automatically when the power goes out.  
An Ice Scraper (very necessary around here).
Extra Batteries.

Our Winter Emergency Kit went to "A Hope Center".  This particular branch is where we got pregnancy confirmation for our insurance.  We are grateful to them for their help and loved learning about their programs for young & underprivileged families.  They are a great resource for information, help, and care.  We were blessed to be able to help them give one family an emergency kit.

Links to help you learn more about the sponsors for this post:

Thank you #ChampionsForKids #CBias and #EnergizerCFK for giving us this opportunity!

This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias, all opinions are my own.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Busy Bag No-no

One thing that does NOT go in my busy bags is markers... Guess why!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Eating well, living well

I'm really good at eating well - most of the time.  I could do better, popcorn 3 or 4 night a week is not great.  I think really it's the late evening snacks that kill us as far as food goes.  We like to relax and have a snack together before bed time.

What's really a killer for me though is exercise.  If I'm going to really be "living well"  I've got to get on top of that!

Exciting news: We got an exercise bike this week at Salvation Army for just $10.  Then we got a treadmill from an online garage sale site for $30!  So, now we've got the equipment taking up our former "tv" room.  Truthfully we hardly ever used that room anyway.  I'm working on pumping myself up, convincing myself that I want to use these things.  Using them until it hurts, and then a little more.  

Here's the problem:  I need motivation.  It's a struggle.  My blood sugars have been crazy recently and without exercise they are not going to get better.  If they don't get better I am going to kill my organs.  I don't want that.  I want my boys to have their mama around and functioning in their lives for a very long time.

So my question to you is this:  How do you motivate yourself into regular exercise?  What kinds of routines do you use in the winter?  Do you have any old Richard Simmons videos that you want to mail to me?  (okay, that part was a joke - mostly).  

Busy Bag Filler #2

This is another super-cheap, simple idea.  It's easy to make in a few minutes and can provide a lot of entertainment in "quiet" times.

These are our homemade felt faces.  You can make them with just a few pieces of felt (flannel works too but it frays).  I cut out ovals in several skin tones and other various shapes from a variety of colors.  The boys can make faces, and rearrange them as long as they want.  They can even use the felt pieces to make other objects!

What was your favorite quiet activity when you were a child?

Please help us win...

Okay, I don't do this kind of contest very often, because honestly I'm terrible at rallying support via "likes".  But I can't resist trying to win this adorable cowboy hat and boots set for baby.  
If you would PLEASE take the time to click on the post and "like" my comment (Jennifer Billey Crum) it would really make my day.  - You might have to like their FB page first.  I promise to share pictures of little man in this sweet set if we win it!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Socks 4 Life

Hurry, don't forget to enter the Socks 4 Life giveaway before it's over!

Busy Bag Filler #1

Preschoolers & Pipe cleaners

What a splendid combination.  Last week during my meeting I gave each of the boys 3 pipe cleaners for their busy bag.  I thought it would be a brilliant way to occupy their little minds.  This mama knows how many hours her preschoolers used to spend bending pipe cleaners into interesting shapes way back when she used to teach.

Unfortunately, the pipe cleaners made Monkey cry.

He was very upset that there were only 3 in the bag, "I need all them" he told me.  He knew there was a bag with 25 inside sitting on the shelf at home and 3 just wasn't enough to satisfy his urge to bed fuzzy wires.  He got ahold of the bag while we were at home a couple of days later and sat on the chair with them for about half an hour.  Then Mr. Crum got involved in the building (I wish I'd gotten a picture of that).

Pipe cleaners are a very simple and cheap addition to the busy bag. A bag of 25 multi-colored wires is $.97 at Hobby Lobby (unless you catch a sale).  They allow you to stretch your imagination, they are fun and fuzzy!  A great add to our busy bag rotation.

What's your cheap go-to game to help preschoolers stay quiet when necessary?

Wordless Wednesday: Their First Snowman

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Bouncing Boys and Busy Bags

My boys do a lot of this...
and not a lot of this...

I like it that my boys are active.  Mostly.  It's difficult to convince them that there are times we should work on things quietly.  We don't have to run, jump, and yell all day long.  

You see, I work part time and once in a while I need some quiet - usually that time is from about 9:30-11:30 on Tuesday mornings.  2 hours is a long time for 2 and 3 year olds.

This month we also have seen a lot of doctors.  We're working on figuring out why Monkey's fingers and toes keep swelling up; Baby had a check up and a cardiologist visit; and Crackers - well this month he actually hasn't had anything.

There is a lot of sitting and waiting in small rooms for these guys.  During my meetings, I try to always bring toys so they will be entertained for a while.  Unfortunately, around 10 they start to get tired, and hungry, and they really just want to snuggle with mommy so they can rest.  

With the help of my friend "Pinterest" I have begun putting together a busy bag for the boys.  Our busy bag is comprised of a variety of quiet activities they can share together while they wait.  It also has sippy cups (we don't use sippy cups at home, but when we're away it's nice to avoid spills - and they ALWAYS want a drink when we're near a water fountain).

Over the next few weeks I will begin to share some of our fun busy bag activities.  I would love input with more suggestions so I can rotate activities out of the bag once in a while, to keep it fresh and entertaining!

Looking forward to sharing our first activity with you tomorrow!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Bed Time

I am so VERY thankful for Mr. Crum.
Most nights he puts the "big" boys to bed, and they love it.  He reads to them and sings to them, he prays with them, and I even heard a rumor that he tried to teach them "duck, duck, goose".

Tonight, Mr. Crum is at a meeting.  Mama does not like bed time.  The boys have been in bed for half an hour, Monkey is rolling all around in his bunk, finally settling down.  Crackers is laying directly behind me (I'm leaning on his bed).  He's playing with my hair, singing songs, now climbing on my head.  Baby is in his little swing, screaming his head off (usually I feed him during the bed time routine).

I want them to go to sleep.  It's mostly selfish - I want time for me.  Knowing that my ambitions are selfish makes me feel like a cruddy mama.  Do you ever feel this way when you just want some time for yourself?

Fortunately, it's been a good day with a few pick me ups to help me out.

Do you ever get unexpected compliments?  It feels so nice - when the pediatrician told me this morning that "your boys are always so well behaved... it's hard for the kids their ages to be in such a small office with no toys for so long".... I felt good about things.  I was somewhat frustrated even then, they were having a little bit of a struggle with following directions to pick up the beads so we would be ready to go.  They did well though.

Then I got a nice note from a friend, affirming that I'm doing okay as a mama.  She told me some good qualities about my boys and about myself.  I needed that.  I greatly appreciate that.

What's the best thing someone has said about you today?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Socks 4 Life: Review & Giveaway

I like socks.  That's no secret.  Pretty socks are a lot of fun!  How could I pass up an opportunity to check out  

Socks 4 Life has a huge selection of really cool socks!  I couldn't believe how much I was able to get for just $25!  

Now, I thought these would be low quality socks that would fall apart the first time I wore them.  Really - their prices were incredible!  
One thing that you may know about me is that I love a good bargain.  These fit into my bargain category.  I think they'll be on my list for future gifts for a certain teenage girl I know - what teenage girl doesn't like cool socks?

Now, they don't only sell girly socks.  They sell legwarmers, men's socks, diabetic socks, slippers.  Seriously - there is an amazing selection.  Make sure to check it out so you can fill your sock drawer!

Oh - and the giveaway?  Socks 4 Life would like to give one of my readers a $25 gift code to their shop!  

*This is a sponsored post*

Monday, February 13, 2012

Mommy Lesson #15(ish): Don't Tell

Moral: Keep it a secret.

Okay, so I KNOW this already, I've practiced it SO many times.  Still, sometimes it just doesn't happen the way I plan.  A while back, we were planning on visiting a friend.  I told the boys before we left the doctor's office.  We walked outside and guess what - nasty snow.  I did not want to stop to play on the way home.  I had 2 very disappointed boys.

Today?  Yes.  Today... I needed something (anything) to motivate my troops to get ready for the day.  I said to Monkey, "we are going to the "star mall" today to play with your friends."
(the star mall is the one with Macy's, he identifies it by the Macy's sign)

We drop Mr. Crum off at work just before 8 every day that we use the van.  Malls do not open at 8am.  I knew that when I told him, but did not expect the reaction that I got when we had to drive past the mall to accomplish another task (we needed to print pictures - I thought we'd go to Walmart - for future reference, their photo labs open at 9, not 8).  THEN we had to drop off my time card.  Yikes.  There was a lot of wailing, sobbing, screaming.. and that was just me.  Okay, is it time yet?  Nope, our play date is 10:30 and it's not even 9 yet.  Ugh... I really needed to finish some work on the computer this morning.  SO - we went to McDonalds.  This is usually a joyous occasion - did I mention that we've already passed the star mall going in 2 different directions?  How about the fact that McDonalds is across the street from the mall?

We ended up going to the mall much earlier than our friends.

What a morning!
My 3 year old screamed (multiple times) "I NEED Go to mall!"  I wish I could record him saying that so that a few years from now I can pull it back out and say, "see - you need to go, it's for your own good!"

MS. Understood

This April I get the honor of walking with my sister and the National MS Society to help raise funds for MS research.  

Why do I care about MS research?  I have some friends that suffer from MS.  I have a sister who suffers with MS.  I don't want to know more people with MS, I want to help find adequate medicines to stop the effects of the disease.  I am not a doctor or a scientist.  There is so little I can do.  I can walk.  I can ask others for support.

Do you know anyone with MS?  
Will you support me as I walk with my sister?

It's an easy way to make a difference.

Check your Choice

Wholly Guacamole is at it again!

They are inviting you to improve the health of  your family. 
Yep, you heard me.
For the next 8 weeks, Wholly Guacamole will be offering a new weekly challenge every week!  You know what's better than challenges to help you live healthier?  They're going to have prizes!  I sure do love prizes from Wholly Guacamole!  

Log in on Facebook to Check Your Choice!

What are you doing this week to improve your family's health?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Champions For Kids


One thing that most people know about me is that I love kids.  I love their energy, their curiosity, their potential, their snotty noses.  Because I love children, I want to see good things happen for them.  I want to be linked up with organizations that do good things to help our world better for my children and their friends, my grandchildren and great grandchildren.  

  Champions for Kids is one such organization.  Here is their mission:
Champions for Kids works to mobilize MILLIONS of people by providing training and resources to improve the lives of children in communities across America and beyond. Our goal is to mobilize 20 Million people by 2020. 
That is huge!  This organization has a huge mission and YOU can be involved.  Here's the thing - it doesn't take an enormous sacrifice on your part to improve the life of a child.  You don't have to be talented or rich.  All it really takes is a little time to do a simple service project!

Need ideas?
Donate a bag of popcorn to a Boys & Girls club.
Crochet a scarf for a child in a shelter.
Read to children in the hospital.
Toss a baseball with the kid next door.
Volunteer as a crossing guard at your local elementary.

Do you attend my church? Talk with me, I'll give you a list of ways you can be a champion for kids in Fort Wayne. 

It does not have to be difficult or costly to make a difference in the people around you.

The boys and I are getting ready to put together a winter care kit as part of Energizer's Light Up Your Life campaign.  They are sponsoring Champions for Kids and encouraging individuals and groups to build safety kits and share them with children in need.  Our kit will go to a local crisis pregnancy center.

We chose this organization for a couple of reasons.
1) When I was pregnant with Baby, we went there to get "pregnancy confirmation" for insurance purposes.  We learned about their amazing program and they offered to help us through any thing we might need assistance with.
2) This program specifically targets teenage mothers.  They aim to teach them to be good parents.  With our weird, unpredictable winter weather, it is important to be prepared for injuries and power outages.  These young mothers are learning what it means to be the responsible adult in a family and can use every advantage they can get.  By helping a teenage mother prepare for winter emergencies, we are helping 2 or more children - the mother and her baby (and possibly other children).  

Become a fan of Champions For Kids on Facebook on Twitter to learn more and participate!

This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias.

How do you prepare for a winter emergency?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Growing Stronger

At Home Date Night Winner

Congratulations to Sam Buck - the winner of the fantastic At Home Date Night Package!

Sleep Tight Package Winner

The winner of the amazingly cool Sleep Tight Package, that gets to snuggle her little one in for bed on Valentines Day so she can have a date is...
Tabitha Evans!

All For Love Event Links

Don't Forget to Enter BOTH Prize Packages!

Sleep Tight Package (for little kids)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

8.5 hours!

Only 8.5 hours left to enter the All For Love Event Giveaways. 2 packages are available here

(wine opener, Forks Over Knives book with recipes, i like book for couples, and $20 gift code for Cents of Style)

(ElJay Plushie monkey and pillow, Zoobie blanket pet, amber teething necklace, and Little Toader pajama and book set)

Friday, February 3, 2012

Tropical Traditions Organic Palm Shortening: Review & Giveaway

I have to admit, I had no idea what to expect when I asked to try Tropical Traditions Organic Palm Shortening.  
Image of Organic Palm Shortening from Tropical Traditions. Certified organic Palm shortening is a healthy subsitute in your favoite bisquit recipes for hydrogenated shortening.
I love Tropical Traditions products, however, and I was certain that I would find some incredible way to use this.  

I was right.  I love it.  

Palm shortening can be used like oil for frying, it can be used like butter for drizzling on popcorn... okay - maybe not exactly the same flavor, but really, don't you just want the salt anyway?  It holds the salt on well and doesn't taste bad.  

I have used it for fajitas, popcorn, saute'd onions and peppers, on toast.  Not really on toast, I don't think I would actually consider that.  Do you get my point though?  Tropical Tradition's palm shortening can be used in a variety of ways, in a variety of recipes.  It can replace oils, butters, and lard to make recipes a bit healthier.  

I also have to admit that I was overwhelmed by the size of this tub of shortening.  I called my sister when I opened the box.  This gallon of shortening will last a very long time!  It's well worth the price - regular price is 40.75.  Right now it's on sale for $30.65.  Don't miss out!

Tropical Traditions has offered to give one of my readers a tub of Organic Palm Shortening to try for themselves!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, February 2, 2012


I have 3 beautiful distractions at my house.  This morning I set my goal: drink water, eat breakfast, exercise, and then do some house work.

It sounded good.

I finished breakfast and was getting ready to find my exercise ball, when from the top of the stairs I heard my sweet 3 year old bellow, "Mommy, Crackers have poop".

Have I mentioned that Crackers is learning to use the bathroom?  I groaned inside - he's in underwear.. and playing in the bedroom... and if he really "has poop" - is it all over him yet?

So, I haven't gotten my exercise in yet because I have 2 beautiful boys in the bathtub.  I'll get there.. soon.

February 21

I did it.
I signed up for the 21 day challenge from Dustin Maher.
He's the guy with the nice eyes that created Fit Moms for Life.

What does that mean?
It means that I've got to work my booty off so that on February 21, I can show off a trimmer, healthier me. 
Really Dustin?  You think I can look different enough for other people to notice in only 3 weeks?  I admit, I'm skeptical.  Dustin is a trainer and has a big following of women that believe in his message.  

Since I'm skeptical, I have 2 basic choices.  
1) I can sit back, cross my arms, roll my eyes about ANOTHER trainer with ANOTHER program that doesn't really help people.
2) I can try it.  I can prove for myself that it does or does not work. Here's the thing though - if I don't do it how he says, and I don't change my body - I can't tell people it doesn't work.  I've got to actually do it, and the way he says to do it - to know that it works.

One minor problem for me: Dustin's diet offers meat and dairy products - those are the things we're cutting out at home.  We'll be sticking to our vegan commitment at home and adding in the specific exercises that Dustin recommends in his program.

So - later today I'll be posting some "before" pictures. I look like a stay at home mama with a new baby.  I suppose that's expected, but I think I can do better!

My stated goal for February is to lose 10 pounds.  I think if I really stick with this program, I can achieve that, mostly because I don't exercise at home as much as I should.

What do you do to help keep your body healthy? 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

All For Love Event: Sleep Tight Package


From the view of a mama.
Guess what! 
The All For Love Event is HERE! 

Over 50 blogs are offering amazing prizes in celebration of love, just in time for Valentine's Day! At Life With My Boys, we have 2 Amazing packages for you. You are free to enter them both and win them both if you're incredibly lucky. Don't forget to look at the sponsor spotlight posts for extra entries!

Be Mine Pillow and Heart Monkey

Choice of size (6-12 months not included in choices).

Multicolored olive amber teething necklace

Choice of Baby Necklace

Choice of Blanket Pet

a Rafflecopter giveaway

All For Love Event: At Home Date Night

From the view of a 3 year old.

Guess what! The All For Love Event is HERE!
Over 50 blogs are offering amazing prizes in celebration of love, just in time for Valentine's Day!  

At Life With My Boys, we have 2 Amazing packages for you.  You are free to enter them both and win them both if you're incredibly lucky.

Don't forget to look at the sponsor spotlight posts for extra entries!

10% off Coupon Code for all in the above post!

i like book - for couples