Thursday, February 28, 2013

Mama Madness Giveaway: NeoCell Beauty Products

Welcome to the Mama Madness Giveaway Hop!  
We have a great GRAND PRIZE that you should go enter.
Have fun entering this giveaway and make sure to check out all the others on the linky at the bottom of this post.  
All are themed for making the Mama in your life feel special!
I am a firm believer that mamas need to take care of themselves.  This does not mean we ignore the needs of our families.  We allow ourselves to continue nurturing others when we take some time to be healthy inside and out.  


NeoCell beauty products help mamas care for themselves!  I love the way their products make me feel as I take just a moment or two a day to make myself a healthier, happier person!  My husband doesn't know it, bu the likes it that I feel healthier too - my hair looks nicer, my body feels better - I am better able to function because I'm caring for ME!

NeoCell has offered to give a prize package of Beauty Bursts and Hair Volumizer to one of my readers!  To enter this giveaway, use the Rafflecopter form below.  This hop will be open from midnight March 1 through midnight March 20 EST.  The prize is available to residents of the US.

NeoCell Beauty Products: Review

I recently had the opportunity to try NeoCell's Keratin Hair Volumizer.  I was surprised that NeoCell wants to help people make their hair healthy from the inside out!  I expected a cream or a rinse, instead NeoCell offers capsules to strengthen and beautify your hair.  I love the difference it is making on my head!

Another fantastic health product from NeoCell is the Beauty Burst.  These yummy, chewy bursts of collagen help your body by providing specific amino acids.  They come in 2 flavors: Mint Chocolate and Fruit Punch.

A little about Collagen from NeoCell's Website:

Collagen supplementation is one of the most fundamental things a person can do to prevent premature aging and promote youthful vitality. Understanding Collagen begins with knowing that it is truly the glue that holds the body together; it is the building block for all our body's major systems.
Although abundant in our youth, the body's natural Collagen production typically slows at a rate of 1.5% per year after the age of 25. As this collagen production slows, the collagen fibers in the body become brittle and begin to break down resulting in many of the tell- tale signs of aging, such as loose, flaccid skin, wrinkles, ligament and tendon injuries and osteoarthritis. Super Collagen+C™ utilizes Collagen Types 1&3, which is 90% of the body’s total collagen supply and the main collagen constituents in the skin, hair, nails, ligaments, tendons, bones and muscles.

Find your nearest NeoCell Retailer right now!  

NeoCell is taking part in the Mama Madness Giveaway Event (March 1-20)!  Make sure to check it out today!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Here's to 35 More: NoNo Birdfeeder Review

Just over 35 years ago my parents married.  Last week we had the opportunity to celebrate their first 35 years.  I had the honor of being able to bless them with a beautiful bird feeder that will last for 35 more!

Okay, so it doesn't come with a guarantee.  Just like marriage, troubles happen, but if it is taken care of it WILL last a long time.  

The No/No Brass Wild Bird Feeder from Perky Pets is made to last a long time.  It can be used by both perching and clinging birds and it holds up to 2.5 pounds of seed!  I look forward to enjoying the next 35 years of watching birds with my parents!


Product Features:

  • No/No = No plastic, No wood
  • Holds over 2.5 pounds of black oil sunflower seed
  • Patented design ensures the highest quality
  • Attracts both clinging and perching birds
  • Feeds 10-15 birds at once

What's in the Box:

  • 1 No/No bird feeder


  • 2.5 lb. seed capacity

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

Rachel and the TreeSchoolers: Review

We are a pre-homeschool family.  Next year Manasseh will officially start Kindergarten.  This year both of our older boys are doing preschool activities and work.  We love learning!  The boys were super excited about the chance to review Rachel and the TreeSchoolers: A Rainy Day.

TreeSchoolers DVD+CD: A Rainy Day
This video uses music, story, sign language, and questions to help draw preschoolers into the lesson and really understand and apply it to their minds.  I love the education model that Rachel uses with the children.  My boys were instantly drawn into the problem at hand: a bird who is afraid of a storm.  I also love that this tackles a subject that is very relevant to young children.  In fact, I wish I would have had this video when I worked with Jr. High boys in a children's home.  One of my favorite features of this DVD is that it comes with a CD that has all of the songs on it.  This means that we can take it with us.  I frequently find my boys singing the songs on their own as they recall the lesson.  I would love to see more videos in this series and use them with my boys as learning tools in the future.

My boys love the catchy music.  Even my 3 year old that does not sit still for anything on television was captivated by this video.  They also were extremely excited that the characters learned about kindness.  They  like to remind each other to be kind.  They are proud that they know some new signs and I am certain that when we start to get into yucky stormy weather, they will recall the lesson again and again!

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.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Caring for my Emotional Heart

I was honored, recently, to be given the opportunity to share about caring for my emotional well-being (or emotional heart).  I was challenged to think about how NIVEA could be a part of my emotional self care.

I tell you what, it took me no time at all.  You see - when my body feels smooth, soft, and fresh on the outside, I feel much better about myself.  My emotional state is improved simply by treating myself to some fantastic skin care.

I am a mama with 3 precious little boys.  I wouldn't trade them for the world!  Sometimes, however, being in a house full of boys is hard work and I need to do something special for me.  I was delighted to discover that NIVEA lotions are an amazing price at Sam's Club.  I love the thick creaminess of NIVEA and couldn't wait to treat myself to the extra moisture.

It's fantastic for connecting with my boys too.  They love the feel of lotion on their bodies, and they love touch from their loved ones.  Giving my boys a nice massage with NIVEA is a treat to them physically and emotionally.  I know they feel loved when I share it with them.

Do you know one of the best things about taking care of my emotional self by using NIVEA from Sam's Club?  It comes in a 2 pack for just under $9.  That means I was able to buy lotion for myself and give one away.   Isn't it great when we have the opportunity to put together a little package for someone we care about and spoil them a bit too?!  (FYI: Giving gifts helps care for my emotional heart too).

Links of interest:

I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community.  This content has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and Beiersdorf for NIVEA.  #NIVEAMoments #CBias #SocialFabric

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Creating Calm: Get Moving

Truth: Creating Calm in my house means helping my children learn how to relax.  
Myth: Calm means there is no time for getting "wound up".

In order to best find times of relaxation, we have to help our children learn the appropriate times to be crazy, noisy, and off the walls.  The trampoline has been in our home for a few weeks now and is a favorite way to work out excess energy.  When the boys get impatient for meals, or need a break from routine, the trampoline is one of our first choices.  It is so fun to watch them as they "trample" up and down.  They really enjoy releasing pent up energy!  They don't even know that they will be more able to relax later if they have used their muscles well.

Another friend of ours is the Vtech Giraffe Bike.  Cassius especially enjoys "riding" it when I ride the stationary bike.  He loves it that he can exercise with me.  Bonus: it has educational games on it.  He is learning to pedal a bike while he practices counting!  When we all get moving early in the day, nap and bed time are much easier.  Resting is more natural after we have really used our bodies!

How do you get your children moving early in the day to help them when it is time for necessary rest?

Creating Calm Linky
Link up below with your ideas about creating calm space in your life and family.  Please add the linky code (found on the right column of the page) to your post or blog.

Monday, February 18, 2013

No Guilt Fajita Recipe

Fajitas are simple, fast, and healthy meals.  We LOVE vegetable fajitas at our house.  This seasoning is extremely easy and cheaper than buying pre-mixed seasoning from the store.  What's better?  You can tailor it to your taste, and you probably have most if not all of the ingredients in your cupboard!


Warning:  I never measure ingredients unless I am baking.  This recipe will not include amounts.  You adjust seasoning amounts to fit your taste buds.

Fajita Guts:
We used about a pounds of sweet peppers, and 1 large yellow onion for this batch.  I also had some leftover salad (spinach ,green pepper, & radish) in the fridge, so I threw that in.  
Just enough oil to barely coat the bottom of the pan.  Whatever oil you prefer, go with it.  I use olive oil in my fajitas.

Fajita Seasoning:
Chili Powder
Cayenne Pepper

Chop desired vegetables.  (If using meat, cook meat thoroughly first).  Pour a small amount of oil over the vegetables.  Mix together seasoning and sprinkle it over veggies.  Cook on Medium-High heat until vegetables are softened to your desired texture.

Serve with tortillas or over rice.  

Great sides: Cilantro Lime Rice, Black Beans, Refried Beans, Lettuce

Be A Burden #Mamavation

When was the last time someone asked what they could do to help you out?  How did you respond?  Did you think about 37 things you really could use help with and then say something like "Oh, I've got it pretty well covered"?


I've been there.  I don't want to "be a burden" to my friends or family, but maybe I really could use some help.  Because... just maybe... I'm human.  I'm frail.  I need help sometimes.  It is so hard to admit that I need help.  I don't want to feel like a burden.  I don't want others to have to go out of their way to help me out.

I've been on the other side too.  I really want to help out a friend, who I know is having a hard time with something: pregnancy, illness, business, life in general.  I ask what I can do to help.  I've asked specific things, "can I bring you a meal?" or "can I watch your kids for a while?"  It seems almost inevitable that my loved ones "have it all under control." 

Here's the thing.  Some of us are wired to express love through serving others.  Some of us truly desire to help others out, because that is how we show our best caring.  When I turn away a friend or family member who asks to help out - I am not allowing them to bless me.  When a someone turns away an offer to help, it hurts.  Honestly, I feel as though my attempts to love on someone have been kicked in the guts.  Ouch.

So be a burden.  Let other people serve you.  Allow your loved ones to love on you.  It's good for your health to let others help you out - allow yourself time to de-stress.

If you're a servant, like me, know that sometimes others just don't understand you want to show them love.  Be patient with them, and keep offering to let them "be a burden" in your life.  Keep serving, it's good for your health too.

How do you best show love?  How do you feel when others offer to do things to help you out?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

My Valentine

He claimed to be a Super Hero.  It's true, that was his "profession" when I first saw his profile on the dating website 6 years ago.  I found out that what he really did for a living was somewhat less noble, but still qualified for superhero status on many accounts.  You see, he made buckets for ice cream.  In my book - anyone that helps ice cream has a supreme status.

We met for the first time at a coffee shop in my home town.  We sat under the moon and sipped a bit of brew.  He was wonderful, we had such a great time over coffee that we decided to take a walk.  We walked from the coffee shop to the dam pond (where months later he proposed to me).  There was still a little time to kill before I had to go to work, so we went to lunch at a nearby Chinese buffet.

Coffee, hiking, and Chinese food were marks of our short dating relationship.  We were engaged after 4 months and married 3 months later.  It's true, we moved quickly.  I guess, sometimes you just know it is right.

Today we have 3 beautiful boys and he is still a super hero.  He does not make ice cream buckets anymore, instead he helps turn books into ebook formats.  He helps care for our children.  When things are tough, he helps care for me.  He has learned to fix a variety of household troubles.  Randy is helping the boys learn how to live honorably as gentlemen who follow God's prompting.

I am so glad to be married to Randy.  I am truly a blessed woman.

Photo by Manasseh Crum
Happy Valentine's Day.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

My first sports injury #mamavation


I have my first "sports" injury in a very long time and I don't even know how it happened.  On Saturday when we did our Chilly Chili Run, my calves hurt a bit after only a very short time, but I didn't think anything of it.

Last night, as I was putting some things into my van, I leaned over the front seat and felt a *pop, pop* in my left calf followed by immense pain.  I drove home and my dear husband helped me get inside.  I cannot put any pressure on my leg without excruciating pain.   I've had it wrapped and elevated all night and iced off and on.  I've taken pain reliever, but it doesn't seem to help.  

Any great suggestions?  It's hard being laid up with little boys around.  My hero of a husband has been amazing, running to the store, finding all the things I need, and even taking time off of work to get the boys to their appointment.

What do you do to recover from your injuries?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Creating Calm: Fireflies Yoga CD Giveaway

Photo from Fireflies Yoga Website

Are you ready to win the Kings and Queens of the Forest CD?  Kira Willey is giving a CD to one of my readers.  Please make sure to check out my review of her fantastic music, and enter using the Rafflecopter form below.  
This giveaway is open to residents of the US who are 18 or older.  The winner will be randomly chosen by Rafflecopter.  Giveaway ends at midnight EST on February 26.

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

Grab button for Wellness Wednesday

Creating Calm: Fireflies Yoga CD Review

I shared last week that one of the struggles we have in our house full of little boys, is relaxation.  As we have worked on tweaking our rest-time routines over the past several months, one thing has risen to the top of the boy's lists as a must-have in order to be ready for relaxing.  That thing? Yoga.  That's right.  We do 1 song with yoga before nap and bed - right now it is the same song every time, because it is simple and slow.  The boys like the "dance" moves and it makes their transition to the bed much simpler.

This is Manasseh during "Mama Nature" about a week ago.  Although he does not look thrilled, both boys love the stretching routine as they slow their muscles down for a while.  

Personal story: the very first time I tried this with the boys at nap time, Cassius climbed into his bed without any argument and was asleep within 10 minutes, he lay silent and still listening to the other songs on the CD as he drifted to sleep.  Usually, Cassius tosses and turns, singing and playing for 1-2 HOURS before falling asleep.  You had better believe that I took note of this!

"Lay down like a stick, straight and tall, put your hands to your sides and stretch out your legs long"... I try to convince them.  Manasseh, however grows branches every time.  Cassius is starting to get branches too.

They love that they can be creative with their bodies during these quiet, focused moments.

We fell in love with Kira Willey's music when Manasseh was an infant.  The first time he heard a clip of the "Dance for the Sun" CD, he was crying (like a baby).  Immediately he stopped crying and looked at the computer monitor.  When it finished, he went back to crying.  He did this multiple times.  We decided that this must be his first favorite music - we bought the CD that day.  

Now we listen to both "Dance for the Sun" and "Kings and Queens of the Forest".  The boys love the variety of sounds in her music almost as much as they love dancing to it.  They enjoy trying the many yoga moves that Kira has published in the booklet that comes with the CD.  I enjoy watching them try new things.  Randy and I frequently find ourselves singing the catchy tunes even when we are away from the music for a little while.

Have you heard of Fireflies Musical Yoga for Kids or Kira Willey?  Make sure that you check them out.  Consider these CDs, complete with instruction, as a way to help create calm in your home or preschool class.  You can get one of each (that's 2 CDs) for just $22 right now on the website!  Click HERE to listen to some samples of her songs and consider a purchase.  It was worth it for us 4 years ago, and is worth it for us today!  

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

Creating Calm Linky
Link up below with your ideas about creating calm space in your life and family.  Please add the linky code (found on the right column of the page) to your post or blog.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Chilly Chili Run #mamavation

I did it!  
Well, kind of...

I have been working on the Couch to 5K training program, and honestly I've been stuck on week 1.  It is hard for me to really get much beyond that while I'm stuck trying to do it inside.  Also, I just feel old, overweight, and out of breath so much of the time.  Still, I am pushing myself at home and at the gym to at least get okay with the first week of this program (it's been at least a month of week 1).

This weekend, Mr. Crum and I put on our running shoes and sweats and headed to a neighboring city for their first ever "Chilly Chili Run".  It was not officially a 5k, it was closer to 3.5 miles - good enough, right?  I loved it that we did this together.  He was kind enough to stick with me on the icy/muddy trails for the entire thing.  We loved our adventure through the state park together!

We started out at a jog.  That lasted a minute or two - the real actual ground hurts my legs a WHOLE LOT more than the treadmill or the trampoline.  I'll keep working on that.  We walked at a brisk pace for the rest of the "run".  Then we enjoyed a bowl of chili and a corn muffin together before heading to pick up our boys.

My thoughts about it?  I had a great time.  I wish I had the stamina to actually RUN in this event.  Maybe it was the cold weather (after all, it is February in northern Indiana); maybe it was my need for more conditioning.  I don't feel bad about the fact that we did not run.  I will continue to work on it.  I am already making plans for a women's run this fall with my sister and mother.  (We maybe haven't told my mom that she's planning to run a 5k with us yet).

We are getting fitter and continue to work toward health goals.

What new things have you tried this week to point you in the direction of better health?  What tips do you have for new runners?  I never thought I would WANT to run - that's another story though.

Friday, February 8, 2013

A Valentine Gift for Active Mamas: ibitz Unity

Tomorrow is my first 5K.  I am nervous!  I have been working on improving my body strength, stamina and health for the last several months - still, I wonder how this will go.  One thing that I have been really fond of is my pedometer.  I use a GeoPalz Pedometer (yes, I know they are made for kids - but I think they're cute and I like it that I can track my steps online).
I know I am not the only mam that is working on improving health and likes to track movement.  I mentioned a few weeks ago that GeoPalz was developing a new fitness tracker: ibitz.  I love the colors, I think red or pink or purple would be excellent for a Valentine gift (purple is my personal favorite).

This is what the company says about the ibitz Unity for Parents:

"The ibitz Unity for parents allows users to monitor family health wirelessly, all in one place. The adult app tracks steps, distance, weight, height, overall physical activity and body mass index (BMI) for the entire family. Unity users can also create groups outside of the family, such as a running group, for extra motivation
and streamline progress reporting. The app allows users to sync with other wireless devices including select scales, heart rate monitors and other social fitness apps."

I love it that I could use it with a group as a way to help support and encourage each other!  I also love it that it's a fitness tracker, not just a pedometer.  The ibitz Unity is currently available at Indiegogo and at for just $49.99, that is remarkably less than many of the other fitness trackers on the market right now!

Consider making ibitz a part of your Valentine gift to a favorite mama this month!

** This is not a sponsored post.**

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Our New Pet-venture

Okay, it's true.  I have a weak spot... for animals... and for my boys... and for well, okay I don't want to fill you in on ALL of my weak spots, you might call me with an offer I can't pass up!

Last week I got a text message from my mother in law asking if we would like 2 hamsters.  You might not know this, but I had hamsters as a child, I was fascinated of them - and terribly afraid that they would bite me.  I like them, but didn't REALLY want to touch them.  Yep, I'm kind of funny like that.

So, I said "Sure".  And that was the end of it.  Last night, our new pets: Peanut and Rhino came to our house.  Now, Peanut and Rhino are the names these boys came with.  We could not leave them like that.  Our boys quickly found much more um.. suitable names.  Manasseh wanted to name them "Nasa and Cash" after him and his brother.  Cassius wanted to name one "Chicken".

So here I will introduce to you Nasa and Chicken.  Nasa is slightly larger than Chicken.  The curious (hungry) cat?  That's Farlow.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Creating Calm: The Problem

I am an active mama with 3 active boys ages 1, 3, and 4.  They run laps around me some days.  They wear themselves out.  Unfortunately, my 3 and 4 year olds have a very hard time when it comes to relaxing.  They want to go, go, go.  When they start to feel themselves get tired, they push harder, bounce more, cry more, climb more... you get the picture?  We have been working with both of them for what seems like ages on how to better relax when it is time for resting.  We have been working on creating calm in our house with little boys.  Some days it feels like we are only taking baby steps, other days are smooth and easy, the boys calm themselves with no difficulty.  We are making progress!

Over the next several weeks I will be sharing about our transition to tranquility.  I will be sharing bits and pieces of how we have been "Creating Calm" in our home.  I would love for you to share your ideas about how to create calm with preschoolers in the home.

Watch for the Tranquil Tuesday link up starting next week.  Plan to share your thoughts or blog posts about how you have quiet space.

What hindrances do you have to calmness in your life?

Monday, February 4, 2013

Diastasis Recti and Me #Mamavation

Baby #3 and my post-baby body
Diastasis.  I feel like I have seen this word all over the place in the last couple of weeks.  Maybe it's a new trend, maybe I'm just learning more about myself and my body.  Regardless, I had to spend some time this last week reading about it.

What is it?  It is a condition in which the abdominal muscles separate, left to right, allowing belly fat to protrude from between the muscles and distorting the shape of the belly.  This seems to most commonly happen to women who have had babies.  Many times the muscles repair themselves, but not always.

How do you know you have it?  From my reading, I've found that you lay on your back, knees bent, feet on the floor, fingers from one hand on your belly button - and do a partial sit up.  If you feel a gap between your muscles (some say 2.5 fingers wide or more), you most likely suffer from diastasis.

What do you do about diastasis?  There are a number of websites suggesting a variety of exercises.  Several of these sites warn that if you do them wrong you are likely to teach the muscles bad form and not help yourself in the end.  That is not so encouraging to me.  Some websites suggest a wrap.  There are a variety of conflicting views about the best way to fix diastasis.  The important thing is: it can be fixed.

Diastasis, or just belly fat?
What does this have to do with me?  Well - I've had 3 babies, 4 pregnancies, and I have to admit - my belly is kind of "bulgy" and roundish.  It does not look like it did 5 years ago.  So, I had to check it out, to see if I might have problems with diastasis.  Great news: I appear to have nicely put together abs!  The bad news is, I need to work on toning those muscles.

Why am I sharing? I had not heard of this problem until a couple of weeks ago.  I'm certain there are others who are new to the topic and may benefit from learning a little bit about it.  I don't want to try and hash out all of the information available here.  Search Google, or Pinterest for "diastasis".  You will be amazed what you find!

Have you struggled with belly fat?  What is your best tip to reduce ab flab?

Grab button for Wellness Wednesday

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Happy Birds, Sad Squirrels #PerkyPets

We love nature.  It is so rewarding to watch my boys get excited about nature.  Would you believe that they still get excited every time we get a new bird feeder?  They like to help fill them and peek over the back of the couch to watch the birds that visit.  Manasseh even got binoculars for Christmas that will help him watch birds when we spend time together in the woods!
Our newest friend to birds
Last week we got the "Squirrel Slammer Wild Bird Feeder" from Perky Pets!  It has a 3.5 pound capacity for bird seed!  I love the size because it means I don't have to refill it every week in the winter.  I also love that it makes the birds happy and the squirrels sad.  Don't get me wrong, I like squirrels too - but it's kind of annoying when they steal our bird seed.

See the plastic shield?  I am beginning to put pressure on the seed area to close the ports here.
This feeder has a plastic shield above the ports that keeps rainwater out while allowing birds plenty of space for perching while they grab a bite.

The buffet is closed, sad squirrels!
When a larger animal tries to take seeds, they pull a shield over the feeding ports, disabling them from reaching fresh seeds.  I love the simplicity of the design!

Visit Perky Pets and tell me your favorite feeder!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Around the house

Preschoolers are inherently funny.  I want to share a moment a few things that we have heard around the house this week:

* "This tastes like throw up.... I kind of like it."
* "The stairs are net letting me go up"
* "My bed is not letting me stay on it".

* "Is your mama dead?  Then buy a new mama now."
* "I'm going to pee in this cup!"..... "Can I drink it?" (EWWW)
* "When the robot did eat my mom, then God gave me a new one." (Good to know I'm replaceable).  
* "I've got a longer story about when I was a kid that will take us much more time to talk about it."
*"When I was a kid, I used to have Veggie Tales at my house." (you're 3, buddy)
* "Your belly is big because you have a baby in it."  (um... nope - just big.)

J: Did you spit on the cake? (after blowing out candles on a birthday cake).
C Promptly spits on cake.

J: Do you want a hamster?
M: No, you can't cook a hamster.

the Booby trap

Are you a nursing mama?  Are you considering nursing the next time you have a baby?  My friend Trisha is starting a fantastic series about Breastfeeding.  Check it out all month long!  Make sure to stop by Intoxicated on Life blog and leave some feedback on the posts she shares!