Wednesday, January 30, 2013

14 Inexpensive Gift Ideas for a Busy Mama

I don't know about how things work in your family, but it seems like at my home, my husband tends to struggle with ideas about what kinds of gifts he wants to give on special occasions.  Seriously, I'm not picky.  I just like to know that he thought of me enough to pick something out.  I do know that sometimes he has amazing, complex ideas that just don't work out.

I decided to make a list of ideas for my husband and any others looking for great ideas for their loved ones.  Please leave a comment below telling me a fantastic addition to this list.

* Exercise Videos

* Homemade Dinner

* A Live Plant

* A Simple Date (hiking or a fire on the patio)

* Photos of the Kids

* Hobby Supplies

*Hand Crafted Jewelry (think Etsy)

* Coffee and a favorite creamer

* A Tshirt from someplace significant to your story

LAST DAY TO ENTER $266 #GetMoving2013

... is tomorrow (apparently I can't count)

Don't forget to enter to win the fantastic prize package I'm giving away RIGHT HERE!  There are other prizes available too on many other blog pages (check the bottom of my giveaway post.

Take time to look through the last week of posts for more giveaways too - I have 3 great healthy living prizes waiting to be grabbed!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


It's a beautiful day!  What are you doing to enjoy it outside?

We're getting ready for a 3 mile hike to the library downtown!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Health Update #Mamavation

It's a good news/bad news sort of week.  Did you ever write those stories in school?  Somewhere in my parent's basement, I have a story from early elementary about a couple of girls that bought ice cream and it fell off of the cones... it went on and one - who let me write that?

The good news:  This week is that I went to the doctor.  Yep. I did it.  I went in for a consultation about my diabetes.  It had been a while and I needed to address a medication issue that I was having.  She did an A1C and it came back as 7.  A few months ago, when I went for the first time since last October, it was 11.5!  Yikes.  The doctor was very pleased at my blood sugars which have become almost "normal" over the last few months!  I would like to say it is all due to my hard work - but I think my body is finally balancing itself out again.

The bad news:  I did not meet my goal of tracking all of my foods and I did not get to the gym all 3 days I was scheduled to go. 

More good news:  As of this morning I have lost 1.8 pounds in the last week!

My plan: Get back on the wagon.  This week I'm back to tracking my foods and back to the gym 3 days.  It's slow, but coming along.  I'm also going to continue my increased water consumption.

I know already that the end of the week will be a struggle because I've got a quick trip out of town - I'll be working on a plan before I head out so I am ready for that day!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Quinoa Burgers

2 c uncooked quinoa
4 c water
2 celery stalks
2 medium sized yellow onions
2 carrots
1/2 can refried beans
Additional seasoning to taste
preferred cooking oil (opt)

Quinoa burgers are some of our favorites.  They are moderately quick and easy to make.  I do not use exact measurements when I cook.  I have provided estimations.  As you try it out, adapt the recipe to your taste and texture preferences.

1.  Combine 2 c uncooked quinoa grains and 4 c water in a large pot.  Bring to a boil, then cover and turn to low heat until quinoa is a sticky, rice-like consistency.  Quinoa will appear to have rings around it, like a tiny planet.  Remove from heat.

2.  While your qunioa cooks, chop celery, onions, and carrots into a skillet.  Saute with oil or water until tender.

3.  Puree vegetable mix in a blender.  Add to quinoa.  Mix in refried beans, cilantro, garlic, and other desired seasonings.  I used cilantro, seasoning salt, and hot sauce to flavor my quinoa patties.

4.  Mix all ingredients until they become a "meat like" texture.  If your mix is too sticky, you may add flour to reduce stickiness.

5.  Once combined, make burger patties or "meat" balls.  Fry with oil in a skillet or bake on a cookie sheet in the oven.  I prefer frying on the skillet, as it gives the patties a meatier texture.

6.  Serve with or without a bun and your favorite toppings.  Eat like a hamburger.

7.  Leave a comment below telling me your tips, favorite toppings, or other thoughts.

Grab button for Wellness Wednesday

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Imperfect Organization: Circle Time


Meet our learning robot!  This super cool poster was a steal at Christmas time for $1.59!  I bought it at Darlington Holiday Outlet in Fort Wayne.  

The Learning Robot has really simplified and helped me organize circle time in our home with my preschoolers.  Now we can easily sit on the floor in the dining room and go over the skills it presents to my boys!  

This tool offers letters, beginning sounds, shapes, colors, reading a clock, months, days of the week, and numbers 1-30!  The boys love it.  They have so much fun checking it out.  It is a fun game when someone tells them what letter or picture to look for.  It's even more fun when the boys get to be the teacher.  They don't even realize they're still learning to identify these items!

Behind the learning robot is our thankful tree.  Each leaf has something that we are thankful about written on it.  It also has apples and flowers with numbers on them that we use at different times for practicing counting and number identification.

How do you organize daily learning time with your family?

Injinji Giveaway

Performance Lightweight  No-Show 
Did you see the cute teaser video about Injinji socks last week?  If you missed it, click here to watch.  These socks are made with athletes in mind, but are suitable for everyday, everywhere use!  Do you love socks?  Do you want to try socks that won't bunch or irritate your feet, but will keep them comfortable and safe while running or playing?

I have fantastic news for you!  One of my readers will win 4 pair of Injinji socks to try for themselves!  Please enter below for your chance to win.

This giveaway is open to readers in the USA.  Winner must be 18 or older and respond within 24 hours once notified of winning.  This giveaway will run from January 23 - February 6.  Winner will be notified on February 7.


***Disclaimer:  I have received a product or products in exchange for this giveaway.  All opinions expressed are my own.***

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Chilly Chili Run


I still don't love running.  I just have to say that straight up.  BUT - I am excited about the Chilly Chili Run in Bluffton, IN.  This will be the first run Randy and I have done together and it's FREE!   The run starts at 11am on February 9 and is followed by a chili lunch!  Who wants to sign up to run with us?

Wholly Giveaway Time!

The Wholly Family
Remember Wholly Guacamole and Wholly Salsa?  I shared about them last week.  They are absolutely some of my favorite products to keep my family eating healthy together!  Wholly Guacamole is offering a prize pack of their products to the winner of my Get Moving giveaway package.

They have decided to offer prize packages to 2 more of my readers!  This giveaway will close on Tuesday February 5 at midnight EST.  Winners will be notified on Feburary 7 and have 24 hours to respond.

Enter using the Rafflecopter form below.

***I have received a product or products in exchange for this giveaway.  All opinions are my own.***


Monday, January 21, 2013

My Dream

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  We all know that Dr. King is a hero for his outstanding leadership in the civil rights movement.  We celebrate this day because we are thankful for the changes that have come about because of the work of so many. 

Today, as I reflect on the national heritage I have received, I also think about what I want to pass on to my children.  We have progressed in so many ways - in other ways we have taken some pretty big steps in the wrong direction.

My boys and a few of their cousins.
 Below are some of the dreams I have for the world my children grow up in:
* I dream of a nation seeking truth, yearning for it and earnestly pursuing it.
* I long for my children to grow in a world where parents aren't afraid to allow them to go outside, there is no need to fear strangers in the supermarket, or at school. 
* I desire that my children and their friends know what it is to be peacemakers:  it takes action, not tolerance; words, not wars; and truth, not deception.  Making peace is not always easy and it is never passive.
* I dream that my boys will know a world that is not littered with dangerous chemicals - in the ground, the air, our foods - everywhere.  I want them to know a restored world.
* Above all, I want my children to know what it is to be children of God, acting as the Kingdom heirs that they are and treating others in His love everywhere they go.

What are your dreams for your children?

My first week with MyFitnessPal #mamavation

Photo by MyFitnessPal

 This week I started using MyFitnessPal.  I love the ease of entering my meals and instantly having calorie counts.  I hardly have to do any work to figure it out.  I also love that I can set goals for myself and it helps me figure what I need to do in order to achieve my goals.  How fantastic.

I did a great job keeping track and getting my exercises done Monday through Wednesday.  Thursday I did a great job keeping track of calories - although I was hesitant because we chose a high cal junky dinner.  Friday I was lazy, Saturday out of town, and Sunday.. well.. I blew it.

My goal this week is to track consistently all week long, even when I am afraid to know my calorie counts.

What are your goals for the week?

Friday, January 18, 2013


Have you heard of Injinji? I recently learned about Injinji socks. They are perfect for athletics, designed for feet that get a lot of use. Check out this little sneak preview below and keep your eyes open for a great giveaway next week!

Find Injinji on Facebook, and Twitter!

World Water Crisis: Take Action

Last week I shared some thoughts about the gift of water.  We are so incredibly blessed by the ability to access clean water every day - any time we want it - with just the turn of a nozzle.  I said in my post that I wanted to find ways to give water to others. 

This week I found  This group has many projects for building wells around the world.  They state that with as little as $20 you can provide clean, accessible water to 1 person.  Imagine that!  I'm jumping on board and dragging my family along with me.  We will soon begin working on earning money to help families that need water. 

Take some time to look at the Charity: Water website, read some of their stories, see the pictures, think about how you might contribute to improving the lives of others with your family.  

How do you take action as a family to care for the world around you?

This is not a sponsored post.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

About Periventricular Leukomalacia (PVL)

Have you ever heard of PVL?  I had never heard of it until I had to stare it in the face.  At about 10 days old we were told that our baby, Cassius (now 3), had periventricular leukomalacia.  Okay, the doctors did not use those words.  We had to look at their paperwork and sort through a ton of websites to try and put together a picture of what they expected our baby to be like as he grew.  They did not give us much hope.  We were devistated.  Our dreams for Cassius were shattered.  We cried, a lot.  We prayed, a lot.  We shared with family and close friends, but had no idea what or how to share with others.

Newborn Cassius
Today I want to share about PVL, and tell a little bit about our personal story.

What is periventricular leukomalacia?  
It is an injury in the white matter of the brain.  It means there has been death of small areas of tissue around the ventriculars.  This injury is commonly found in premature, low birth weight babies and can be traced to motor control difficulties and other delays.   It is also associated with cerebral palsy and epilepsy.  It may also lead to learning problems later in life.

How is it discovered?
Frequently this brain injury is not discovered until infants and young children begin to have delays.  As doctors  seek answers to the cause of delay they may perform a series of tests.  Ultrasounds, MRIs, and CT scans are often used in diagnosis of PVL. 

What happens to children with PVL?
There is a wide range of results for children with PVL.  Some children are able to learn to live very normally, others have severe delays.  The prognosis for each child depends on his or her own complications related to PVL.  A doctor cannot predict what the final results will be when he or she give the initial diagnosis.  Many children receive therapies to help overcome difficulties associated with the disease.

Our Story:
Cassius does not fit the "normal" profile for an infant with PVL.  He was born at 36weeks gestation and just over 9 pounds.  He was certainly not a "very premature, low weight" baby!  At the hospital when he was born everything seemed pretty good.  I had a little difficulty waking him to eat, and I had to wake him every time.  He was released from the hospital at 2 days, like most other infants.  We were given a warning to take him to his pediatrician the next day to check for jaundice.

The day after we brought Cassius home, Randy went to work, I stayed with the boys.  Cassius barely woke up and I could hardly wake him.  He became extremely yellow from jaundice.  As soon as Randy was home, I had him take the baby to the doctor's office.  They were concerned about his coloring, but more concerned that they were having a hard time getting a temperature reading.  His temperature, when they finally got it, was about 94 degrees.  They weren't happy with that and sent us to the hospital.  We stayed there for a few days, once his jaundice was under control and it appeared his temp had stabilized, they sent us home.  (If you ever have a baby with unstable temps, make sure they check him after he has been out of the warmer for a while).

Cash's first EEG - 11 days old
The same day he was cold again.  I had him wrapped in a blanket, held close to me, shut in our bathroom with a small electric heater as high as I could make it.  I could not get him to warm up to a normal temperature.  When Randy got home from work that day, we called the pediatrician and told her we were taking him to the ER at a different hospital.

Cassius ended up going to Lutheran Children's Hospital in Fort Wayne.  He was put onto the pediatric unit and stayed for several more days.  While there, they performed a number of tests including a spinal tap and an MRI to determine what was wrong.  The doctors discovered an excessive amount of white matter on his brain.  They also stated that his brain is smaller than average and missing a small portion.  He would have difficulty learning motor skills and probably meet delays in learning as he grew.

By 11 days old Cassius had been referred to First Steps therapies.  We started to meet with therapists regularly when he was around 5 months old.  He was delayed with his motor skills, but with extra help from his therapists, he has succeeded.
8 months old - before a corrective eye surgery.

Around 8 months old, we noticed his eyes were starting to cross - a lot.  He had surgery on both eyes at 10.5 months.  The doctors at Riley Children's Hospital were fantastic to us.

Today, Cassius is a very normal 3 year old.  To watch him and listen to him you would never know there had been delays.  There is nothing today that indicates brain injuries.  He has not had an MRI since he was an infant, but we know that his brain has found a way to recover.  We look forward to seeing him continue to grow.  If and when we hit rough spots, we will take them as they are.  God has blessed us with this little boy.  Our journey with PVL has been a learning experience that brought us closer to God.

PubMed Health, Boston Children's Hospital, Medscape Reference, Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford

Get Moving 2013 Giveaway! #GetMoving2013

Are you ready to win?  I am ready to share this fantastic giveaway with 6 amazing prizes with one of you!  Here is a reminder about what awesome prizes are in this package that will help you "Get Moving" in 2013:

GeoPalz Pedometer
Active Accessories Pouch
Healthy Guacamole
Wholly Guacamole Prize Pack
SimpleSkirt in Jinotega
FitnessUWear Skirt
Neocell Sport
Collagen Sport

EatSmart Scale

This prize packaged is limited to residents of the USA and closes at midnight on January 31.  The winner will be randomly selected on February 1 and contacted via email.  The winner has 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.

Don't forget to stroll down and see the others prizes being offered in the Get Moving Event!

Welcome to the Get Moving 2013 Blog Hop and Grand Prize Giveaway Event.  I'm sure it comes as no surprise that getting in shape is one of the top New Year's resolutions.  This year, let's stick with it! 

 Silent Springs, A Lucky Ladybug and Mommy of One and Counting,  have teamed up with almost 20 other bloggers to help you Get Moving in 2013 and actually keep those resolutions this year.  Each blog features a Get Moving 2013 prize worth at least $25, so be sure to hop around and enter them all!  3 different grand prize packages are up for grabs, so be sure to enter here to win! 

Your chance to win begins January 17th and ends at 11:59pm January 31st.  
Giveaways open to US

 Disclosure:  Please note that Silent Springs, A Lucky Ladybug and Mommy of One and Counting and the Get Moving 2013 Giveaway bloggers are not responsible for sponsors that do not fulfill their prizes. We have represented each sponsor with the expectation they will fulfill their prize and in a timely manner. We will contact the sponsor regarding your prize(s). The sponsors, in most cases, are shipping their items to you directly. We will make every effort to assist you obtaining your prize. If there is an issue with a sponsor, please notify the blog you won a prize from within 4-6 weeks for assistance, after that we may be unable to assist you.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Sponsor Spotlight: Wholly Guacamole #GetMoving2013

Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, gets me moving like good, healthy food.  Having the right balance of foods in my diet helps me maintain my energy and last through the day.  One of my very favorite foods has agreed to help keep one of my readers moving this winter with a prize package just for you! 

Meet the Wholly family!
It's true, I love Wholly products.  Their salsas are as fantastic as the guacamole.  When I say that you ought to know, I am extremely picky about salsa, I eat very little salsa.  I love their red pepper mango salsa the best and I don't eat mangoes - I think they are disgusting.. in Wholly Salsa, however.. WOW!

This Monday I shared that I am starting to calorie count.  I love it that Wholly Guacamole offers a fantastic variety of 100 calorie snack packs.  Check out this fantastic snack I had today!  Avocado Ranch from the 100 Calorie pack and some fantastic veggies.  Okay, the truth is: my 1 year old stole most of my Avocado Ranch pack, so I used Spicy Guacamole from another 100 cal pack!  It was all so delicious. 

Do you want to know why I love Wholly Guacamole so much?  I love it that I can read all of the words on the packaging.  I can go pick everything up at the store and try to make my own guacamole.  I have tried, however, and I just can't compete with their recipes.  The other reason I absolutely love Wholly products?  The flavor is amazing.  I have not found a Wholly product that I wouldn't share with all of my friends and family.  Believe me, I share them whenever I get the chance, I think they are that great.

This is what happens when we run out of guacamole.  I wish I were joking.  This is Azariah, immediately after finishing the 100 Calorie pack of Avocado ranch 15 minutes ago.  He was very angry, he wanted more!  I'm so thankful for kids that like healthy food!

Do you want to win a prize package of Wholly Guacamole?  1 reader will receive it as part of the Get Moving prize package - the Get Moving event starts January 17!  2 more readers will have an opportunity to win prize packages in the very near future.  Keep your eyes open for information about upcoming giveaways!

Are you familiar with Wholly products?  What is your favorite way to use salsa or guacamole?  Do you share these foods with friends and family?

***Disclaimer: I received a product or products for the purpose of review.  All opinions expressed are my own***

Sponsor Spotlight: FitnessUWear #GetMoving2013

Style, meet Fitness.  I'm so glad that FitnessUWear has taken the time to introduce the two!  They have developed Banglz - wrist and ankle weights that are wearable in public.  They come in a variety of cute decorative sleeves so you can wear them with a variety of outfits!  Banglz come in 1/2 pound and 1 pound sets at an excellent price.  I have a set of wrist weights and a set of ankle weights.  I love them.  Some days I wear them around the house while doing normal tasks to give myself a little extra weight and push my body just a bit more than normal.  I definitely feel the difference in my body when I wear them!

Headbands- BLUEFIZPony Tail Holders- MEGA 9-Pack!
FitnessUWear also has a line of stylish hair products, designed to be gentle on the hair.  They hold your hair in place without doing damage to it.  These are colorful fabrics made of stretchy spandex materials.  They are perfect for working out.  I use some almost every day!
 My favorite product made by FitnessUWear is their SimpleWear line.  These fantastic skirts, shirts, and dresses are so cute, they are incredibly comfortable, and they are fantastic for showing off your newly sculpted body! 

SimpleSkirt in FUNKY
I recently had the opportunity to try out a SimpleSkirt myself.  I LOVE it.  I would love to have their whole line of clothing and wear them every day - yes, they really are that comfortable!  I got the "Funky" skirt.  I have to admit I was a little surprised when it first came, my computer monitor did not show off the colors accurately.  There is some bright green where I thought there would be yellow.  I assume that is a problem with my monitor.  I quickly found some tops to go with it and have worn it several times - even on a hot date with my husband (who adores the skirt).

FitnessUWear wants to help you show off your body as you get moving this winter.  They have offered to contribute a SimpleSkirt out of their current available stock to one of my readers!  I am super excited to share this prize with one of you!  The pattern chosen for the winner will depend on size needed and current stock availability.

Which skirt is your favorite?  Have you ever worn ankle or wrist weights to improve fitness?  What product do you love the most from FitnessUWear?

***Disclaimer: I have received a product or products free for the purpose of review.  All opinions are my own.***

Sponsor Spotlight: GeoPalz #GetMoving2013


GeoPalz helps me get moving and it gets my boys moving!  These super cute pedometers encourage us in many ways to get on our feet each day!

GeoPalz are designed for kids.  They come in so many cute styles and entice children to move by unlocking game time in the GeoPalz arcade as they increase steps.  Look at some of these games:


Kids also earn points toward prizes!  Parents can set prizes for their kids when they reach a goal, or kids can choose from prizes pre-set by GeoPalz!  (Below are just a few of the prizes GeoPalz offers to kids for earning points).


Honestly, my boys don't care about the games and prizes.  They just love wearing the stylish pedometers and seeing how many steps they take.  They have to check them out multiple times a day.

Check out this new family of pedometers that GeoPalz is preparing to introduce.  These are called ibitz, they work kind of like the old neopet games - activities are tracked with the pedometer and earn health for your pet that can be accessed through smart devices.  The first model will work with Apple devices. They will sell for $40 and help track the times of days that children are the most active so parents get a better overall picture of what their children are doing during the day!

Great news!  GeoPalz has agreed to participate in the Get Moving event!  They will be contributing a pedometer as part of my fantastic prize package!  Are you interested?  Which pedometer is your favorite? How do you help your children get active?  Would you dare wear a GeoPalz?  (I do).

***Disclaimer: I have received a product or products free for the purpose of review.  All opinions are my own.***

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Grab button for Wellness Wednesday

Imperfect Organization: Morning Routine

This mama does not like mornings.  If I had my way I would sleep until 9 or 10 every day and stay up until 1 or 2 every morning.  Unfortunately, my boys like morning.  They wake up ready to go, I stumble around trying to figure out what I need to get done.  The boy's schedule had been fairly relaxed and unstructured.  BUT - we want to homeschool.  Manasseh is 4.5 and we are starting some kindergarten skills with him.  Structure is important.  Organization is key.

To help the boys know what needs to get done every morning, and to help me as I bumble through the cloudiness that some people call morning - I created a wall chart.  It made a difference for all of us immediately!  Cassius has since removed the chart from the wall multiple times, but the boys have it memorized and we revert to it as often as necessary to get our day going.  This simple, 6 step visual routine has helped us get organized.

How do you help your kids get ready to start their days?