Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Giveaway: Freschetta By The Slice

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of FRESCHETTA®. All opinions are 100% mine.
Social Spark sent me a coupon for a single slice of pizza. I thought it was a bit odd since I'm used to seeing whole pizzas sold at my grocery store. But, when I went to the store the next day, I found out that Freschetta now sells pizza by the slice! So, I used my coupon, bought a slice, and had it for lunch. And you know what, it fulfilled my desire for pizza.
The crust was chewy. and the pizza was cheesy (because I picked the Six Cheese Medley flavor). Overall, it was a satisfying lunch once I added an orange and a tall glass of cold water.
FRESCHETTA® By the Slice comes in 4 different flavors:
  • Six Cheese Medley
  • BBQ Recipe Chicken
  • Vegetable Medley
  • Chicken, Spinach, & Mushroom
This product is too expensive to serve for an entire family. And not big enough to throw in the oven for those nights when my husband is "bachin' it." But, the serving size is big enough for lunch or might be nice to make if you have a girlfriend over and its just the two of you wanting a little bit of junk food.
If you'd like to try FRESCHETTA® By the Slice yourself for free, keep reading. Social Spark sent me an extra coupon and a set of 3 storage containers to share with 1 hungry reader.
How to Enter: There are five ways to enter and you can do any of them you like, for up to five entries:
1. Leave a comment telling me your favorite pizza flavor,
2. 'Like' Family Musings on Facebook and Freschetta on Facebook, then leave a 2nd comment with your FB name telling me you did,
3. Subscribe to my RSS feed or subscribe by email, and leave a 3rd comment telling me you did so, or already are subscribed,
4. Link to my giveaway on your own blog, leaving another comment with the permalink to you post, or
5. Follow Family Musings on Twitter  and Freshcetta on Twitter then tweet this giveaway and leave a 5th comment with the twitter id or permalink. Here's your tweet:
Win a slice of #pizza from @Freschettapizza & @FamilyMusings #giveaway 
That's it. 5 ways to win and 1 lucky winner. This giveaway will end Wednesday, May 4th at 9 pm. Read all contest rules here.
Visit Sponsor's Site

Congrats to comment #11, left by allysmama. I've emailed you and hope you reply soon!

Review: Pier 1 Imports

This post brought to you by Pier 1. All opinions are 100% mine.

Window shopping is something I like to do when I get to leave the girls at home and have some time to just browse and plan. Window shopping is also something I have to do when it gets towards the end of the month and we still have a week left until payday (being paid once a month stinks sometimes).

With gas prices being the way they are, I'm doing more window shopping online these days. And browsing Pier 1 online is kind of fun. There are tons of different ideas for seasonally appropriate decorations

Fortunately for my decorating sense, most of Pier 1's furniture works indoor or outdoor. I've actually had 2 wicker chairs (similar to this wicker chair) hanging out in my living room for several years. They were meant to be put outdoor on a patio, but living in FL, our outdoor entertaining season is pretty small. And now that I live in a condo, I don't have any outdoor entertaining space.

Browsing Pier 1 online lets me imagine what I would do if I did have an outdoor space, or find things that my friends or family ought to buy for their outdoor spaces.

Take the Sunset Pier line for example - I think it would look great on the back patio of a certain friend who just bought a new house. And when I went looking for bird accessories, because it seems most of my friends are now bird crazy when it comes to decorating, I was pleasantly surprised to see several really sweet and affordable options. I think this Petite Metal Tray with Bird is my favorite one. Oh, and I remember swinging around in chairs like these Pier 1 Papasans when I was a little kid. They were so much fun. The Swingasan looks like something my girls would really like to hide and relax in.

And though the dates have already passed, wouldn't it have been fun to go to one of the Pier 1 Tweetups they hosted in stores? I'm sad I missed it; instead, I'll have to be content with browsing their catalog online.

Visit Sponsor's Site

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Bag Holder Challenge Update

Crispy Tilapia with Mac & Cheese
As reported last week, Kara has challenged me to prepare the majority of my family's meals in The Bag Holder. After using the BH for 7 days so far, I am definitely liking it more than expected. I've posted several updates on my Facebook page so far as well as some photos and videos. You can check those out over there, but for those of you not on Facebook, I'll try to recap my experience as well as share some new details.

Items Made So Far:

Life meant I veered slightly from the original menu a couple of nights, so here is what is on the menu for this week:

I've got some catching up to do to try all of these recipes, so there's a good chance a couple of them will just be mixed up and then tossed in the freezer for another week. That's something I do from time 
    to time and another great use of the BH.

    Things I Like about The Bag Holder:
    • Quick clean up, fewer bowls and spoons
    • Easy for kids to help make meals
    • My girls love mixing the bag up
    • Makes it easier to fill bags for frosting cupcakes and filling deviled eggs
    There haven't been many moments when I was disappointed in the BH. Really, the only issue I've had where things didn't work out as planned was when I made the Mac & Cheese. My noodles were steaming hot and when I tried to pull the bag out to seal and mix, the bag tore. I suppose the heat weakened the bag and my pound of cooked noodles was too much for the bag to handle. My warning then is to be cautious when adding hot items to the bag. It might be best to wait for them to cool a bit first. 

    Frosted with The Bag Holder
    Oh, and one more thought about mixing baked goods in the BH - my cupcakes came out dense than usual because I didn't use my beater. The taste and texture were just fine and everyone still enjoyed them, but it was different than usual. Having fewer items to clean up and make a mess with still made this a winning treat.

    I need to head to the grocery store to buy the rest of my groceries (though most will come from my stock pile). We'll be walking though since Bruce borrowed the van today.

    Friday, April 22, 2011

    Jesus Storybook Bible

    The Jesus Storybook Bible is my favorite children's Bible. It tells the story of the Bible from a biblical theology perspective, showing how the WHOLE Bible is meant to teach us about Jesus and God's redemptive plan for the world. Sally Lloyd-Jones did an amazing job with this interpretation and it is meaningful to children and adults alike.

    Recently, on the Jesus Storybook Bible Facebook page, they shared 4 videos that are temporarily available on Facebook. They are readings from the book with moving graphics based on Jago's illustrations in the book. I know that in about a week's time you won't be able to watch these videos, but until then, I hope you and the kiddies gather around your computer to watch and hear the story of Easter. I know Charlotte and I will be snuggling up tomorrow to watch these.

    The Servant King

    A Dark Knight In The Garden

    The Sun Stops Shining

    God's Wonderful Surprise

    And if you have extra time and want to see Charlotte's version of the story, then you can watch this short 92 second video.

    Thursday, April 21, 2011

    Mary Needs - A Google Exercise

    Inspired by a previous post where I shared the results of a Google search for "Charlotte Needs," I decided to repeat the idea for Mary, just to find out what she might be needing right now. Here are my 13 favorite results:

    1. Mary needs the lamb in school: Really? She doesn't even go to school yet!
    2. Mary needs Facebook: Daddy has already taken care of that and has created Mary's Facebook page. I'm still not sure why though.
    3. Mary needs saving: So true, but we don't expect her to make that kind of decision just yet.
    4. Mary needs sleep: Every day. About 14 hours of it too. She gets 12 or so at night and then another 2 while she naps.
    5. Mary needs coffee: I think they got Mary mixed up with her momma on this one. Because I'm the one who needs coffee. About 3 cups every morning.
    6. Mary needs shadows: I guess if we think about this in the bigger picture it makes sense. If Mary gets her shadows, it means she is also getting sunlight. And that's an important source of Vitamin D.
    7. Mary needs to row her boat across a 120 meter river, walk 4 miles, drive for 20 minutes, etc...: Apparently, Mary is a busy girl because she shows up in a lot of words problems on math sites.
    8. Mary needs to go back to the kitchen: Really? Because I keep trying to get her OUT of the kitchen, especially when I am cooking dinner.
    9. Mary needs Medicare coverage: Huh? Oh well, I guess that is what happens when your parents give you an old lady name... you sometimes get confused with the AARP set.
    10. Mary needs sugar: No she doesn't. I assure you, she gets lots of sugar from Mommy and Daddy all the time. She's pretty sweet just as she is.
    11. Mary needs a new picture: Ok, I'll concede this one. I haven't busted out my camera recently and taken any new pictures. I'll get on that.
    12. Mary needs a housekeeper: For sure this is true! Jennifer needs one too!
    13. Mary needs fans: Yep, that's the truth! So be sure to leave a comment below and tell her how much you adore her! I'll read her all of the loving comments.

    Tuesday, April 19, 2011

    Motivating A Preschooler To Eat

    Last August, I posted about a new strategy we implemented for encouraging our daughter to eat her meals in a timely manner. The positive feedback I received from friends both in the comments and on Facebook were encouraging. What I appreciated even more was the comment that my friend Babs left for me. I started to address her concerns in another comment, but it was getting lengthy and I thought that others might benefit from seeing more of the discussion.

    Babs wrote, "It's definitely a sound approach since she knows she has the option for it later. But these days I often wonder where dinner time went when it is over in just 15 or 20 minutes. How long was she taking and what was she doing while she was dawdling. So many people these days don't even realize they've eaten because the goal was to get it done, not to enjoy it while it was happening...gee, kind of a lot like life in general :) I'm not dissing the idea, thinking of motivators (charlotte's) and repercussions"

    For some background, Babs is my former leader in a national weight loss chain and is familiar with some of the food issues I've had. She has also been fairly transparent about her own issues with food and therapy so when she speaks up about this, I know I ought to listen.

    And last August, here was my response to her:
    First, I have tried to work hard to ensure that my daughter doesn't have her own issues with food and body image. I am cautious to not reveal any displeasure with my own body when she is around. I always serve her new foods to try and open her palette, even if it isn't often successful. I focus on all the wonderful things about her that have nothing to do with her appearance. When she plays princess I emphasize how brave or strong a princess needs to be. And even though she is 3, I think I am doing okay in this way.

    But I know that sometimes even the best intentions can be thwarted by something that parents never saw coming.

    I have always been adamant about family dinners. We sit down to eat dinner together as a family an average of 5 nights a week. During that time, every one at the table is asked about their day and given a chance to talk. Charlotte tends to monopolize a lot of the discussion though she is usually polite about it and often shares things of value that helps us get to know her as a little person.

    Unfortunately, many nights she talks so much, and gets so interested in sharing, that she doesn't eat. So, while Bruce and I might finish the eating part of our meal in 20 minutes or so, she may have just taken a few, small bites. And I'm all for spending time together at dinner, but there should be some eating going on during the process. Our total time at the table most nights is about 45 minutes.

    As for breakfast and lunch, right now she spends about 30 minutes eating while she watches her "shows" (go ahead, flog me now for letting her eat in front of the TV, it is a major weakness of mine), eating, singing, etc...

    I've thought that her dawdling might be due to insufficient adult attention, but let me tell  you... the girl gets quite a bit of my undivided attention every day. Probably more than is healthy because she barely knows how to play by herself. We are working on that though.

    Current situation:
    Since I wrote that response last August (and left it in draft instead of publishing it), I wanted to provide an update about the situation.

    Over time, she slowly started eating a little more focused, but she still talks just as much. I am not worried about her not eating dinner any more. She seems to roll with whatever I serve pretty easily, though I do keep her sauces and spices down to a minimum.

    I eventually figured out that she didn't fully understand how to chew her food and taught her to use her tongue to move the food over her molars so she could chew it. That helped probably more than any other thing that I did.

    Now though, that Charlotte is not napping and dinner is fairly close to her bedtime, dinner time isn't the most fun part of our day. So, for the last couple of weeks, I've been feeding the girls about 30 minutes before the grown-ups eat. They have a better attitude at dinner if they aren't quite so tired and Bruce and I also get a chance to talk, instead of listening to the Charlotte show for 30 minutes while we try to eat.

    Overall, I am ok with where we are with the eating issues and both girls. I wish Charlotte had a more adventurous pallet, but Mary does so that helps a little. Other than excessive talking and getting out of her chair at dinner time, things are going very well.

    Monday, April 18, 2011

    The Bag Holder Challenge

    A nice lady named Kara issued a challenge to me. And I love challenges. You see, Kara invented something called The Bag Holder. When I first saw it, I thought, "it's basically a plastic bowl. What's the big deal?"

    Kara believed it was a big deal, so she pressed on and tried to show me why it was better than a plastic bowl. She said it could completely make over the way I approached cooking and cleaning my kitchen. This was her baby and she wanted me to believe in it like she did. So... Kara challenged me to cook the majority of my meals for 2 weeks using The Bag Holder (TBH) and see if I changed my mind. She even offered to pay for the groceries and give me a free TBH.

    So tonight, the challenge began. I've picked out 10 dinner, 6 lunch, 4 breakfast, and 4 snack recipes that I will be making over the next 2 weeks to see if TBH is all Kara says it is. Tonight I made Chicken Enchiladas, creating my own riff on the version on TBH's website based on what I had on hand.

    Riffed Chicken Enchiladas

    1 lb chicken tenderloins
    taco seasoning
    2 cups cheddar cheese
    1/2 cup salsa
    1 small onion, chopped
    10 oz Philly Santa Fe cooking cream, divided
    10" Tortillas
    1 can enchilada sauce

    Toss chicken and taco seasoning into TBH. Seal bag and then hand it to your 3 year old to shake up so the taco seasoning coats the chicken. You can even let your 19 month old in on the action if she wants to. Pour chicken onto baking sheet and cook thoroughly (350 degrees for 25 minutes). Of course, you could cook the chicken another way, like sauteing with your onions or skip that part and just use leftover chicken.

    Cut up your cooked chicken and toss it in your gallon-size bag (helpfully propped up in TBH) along with the cheese, salsa, onion, and half of the cooking cream. Seal and toss gleefully. Again, let the kids help with this part. It's kind of cool to them to feel the warm chicken and the colder ingredients all together in the same bag (or Charlotte says).

    Scoop out the chicken filling into 6 tortillas. Roll them up and lay down in a 13x9 inch pan. Combine the enchilada sauce with the remaining cooking cream and pour over the rolled enchiladas. Make sure you get even coverage for even cooking.

    Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Serve with tortilla chips or Spanish rice.

    And since Kara wants me to show how TBH can be used to help you save money, here's what our meal cost: $6.49. for 6 servings. A pretty good deal if you ask me.
    Chicken - $1.99
    Cheese - $0.75
    Tortillas - $1.00 (I only used 1/2 a package)
    Onion - $0.70
    Cooking Cream - $0.50
    Enchilada Sauce - $1.55

    Overall, I'm happy with my first time using TBH. I'm looking forward to trying the rest of my new recipes and sharing with you what I think of The Bag Holder and how it works in a regular family kitchen. If you want to learn more about TBH, check out The Bag Holder Facebook page.

    Sunday, April 17, 2011

    30 Day Photo Challenge - Day 15

    At this point in the photo challenge, I'd like to share with you some pictures of something I've already done, but that I want to do again before I die.

    I'd love nothing more than to take my family to China and share with them all of the beautiful and amazing things I was able to see. Plus, I know there is so much still left to explore that we could discover together as a family.

    What do you want to do before you die? Do you have a bucket list?

    Easter Spring Wreath

    The majority of the arts and crafts I create are riffs on something I saw somewhere else. My Spring wreath is no exception.

    While browsing the home arts at a local shop (The Barn, if you must know) I saw a wire wreath with butterflies floating on it. I really liked it and knew my papercrafting friend Amy (of Dearie Designs) would be able to help me get my planned replica just right!

    While discussing wreath forms, we happened across 3 old frames with very old Anne Geddes type pictures in them. Not our style at all. But they were free and would be more interesting than a more traditional round wreath.

    So we popped the glass and pictures out and contemplated how to cover the frame. I had 2 ideas - twine and ribbon.

    Then, the twine wrapping commenced. Let's just say that I don't wish this part of the project on anyone. It took me nearly 3 hours (with a few interruptions from the littles) to wrap the entire frame. And I didn't even both with the corners. At the end of the day, I was very happy with how it looked, but will need to use thicker twine next time. Or not be as concerned about having a tight wrap. And I've grown to like the exposed corners.

    From there, I used floral wire (about 8 inch pieces) and wrapped one end around a mini clothespin (50 for $1.99) and the other end around the frame. I tried to get it as tight as possible so I'd have more control over the final butterfly placement.

    Then, I clipped in die-cut butterflies that I had made with some extra scrapbook paper I had that looked springy. I let Amy pick out the papers that matched each other the best because she has such a great eye for these sorts of things.

    A week or so later, one of my other crafty friend's was selling some wire words that she had made and I added a couple of them to my wreath. To me, the words hope and  joy represent the truth of the Easter season. Jesus' death and resurrection are my source of hope and joy in life and I hope you experience them this Easter season as well.

    Overall, I am VERY pleased with how this project turned out. I love seeing it on my door every day. And having grown up watching Friends, I've always wanted a frame around the peep hole in my door. :)

    I also made one with the frame wrapped in 1" white grosgrain ribbon. This version is for my little girls' bedroom.

    My final thought - since the butterflies are just clipped in, I can replace them seasonally with other die cuts:
    Summer: flowers & water drops & suns
    Fall: leaves & acorns
    Winter: snowflakes
    Christmas: nativity people die cuts

    Will you show me a picture of your Spring or Easter decorations? Leave a link in the comments.

    Saturday, April 16, 2011

    First Born Meme

    Here's some random meme I found about remembering how my first born child came to exist in this world... well, just the part about my pregnancy and her birth, not the stuff at the very beginning of her existence. :)




    4. HOW OLD WERE YOU? 29

    5. HOW DID YOU FIND OUT YOU WERE PREGNANT? Home pregnancy test on the 1st day I could possibly know

    6. WHO DID YOU TELL FIRST? My husband

    7. DID YOU WANT TO FIND OUT THE SEX? Nope. I like surprises

    8. WHAT WAS YOUR DUE DATE? August 13, 2007

    9. DID YOU HAVE MORNING SICKNESS? No. I did have heart burn though at the end.

    10. WHAT DID YOU CRAVE? Ice cold fountain beverages or Slurpees.

    11.. WHO/WHAT IRRITATED YOU THE MOST? I don't think anything did. I was the happiest pregnant woman I've ever known.

    12.. WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST CHILD'S GENDER? Charlotte is a girl. Thank goodness too because that name would be really odd for a boy.



    15. DID YOU HAVE A BABY SHOWER? 3 of them! I was very blessed to have 1 at work, 1 at church, and 1 with my family & friends.

    16. WAS THE BIRTH A SURPRISE OR DID YOU KNOW? Birth was not a surprise. I had almost 40 weeks to get ready for it.


    18. WHERE DID YOU GIVE BIRTH? The Regency, which sounds like a really fancy hotel, but it is really just the name for the section of Winter Haven Hospital where women labor and deliver.

    19. HOW MANY HOURS WERE YOU IN LABOR? I had mild contractions for most of the first day and then my water broke at 1 am. Charlotte was born at 3:49 pm, so I guess that means I was in labor for about 35 hours.

    20. WHO DROVE YOU TO THE HOSPITAL? My husband.

    21. WHO WATCHED YOU GIVE BIRTH? My husband, a couple of nurses, and my doctor.

    22. WAS IT NATURAL OR C-SECTION? All natural.

    23. DID YOU TAKE MEDICINE TO EASE THE PAIN? I was given some Stadol early that morning to "help me rest" since I had been laboring all night. But it was completely gone by the time we got to the painful part.

    24. HOW MUCH DID YOUR CHILD WEIGH? 7 lbs 15 oz


    26. WHAT DID YOU NAME HIM/HER? Charlotte Moon


    I had to think kind of hard about some of these details... good thing I wrote some posts shortly after she was born so I wouldn't forget the details. Now though, they are all in the same place.

    If you decide to copy these meme about your first born, leave a link so I can read it!

    Friday, April 15, 2011

    What I Really Wanted To Say

    Every now and again I write a blog post but for a variety of reasons, decide not to publish it at that time. I was looking through my draft posts this morning and found this one from about December 2009 (3 months after Mary was born). I went to the mall this morning  again and experienced pretty much the same thing that I wrote about at that time. I figured it was okay to share the story now and don't really know why I didn't a year ago.

    When I was checking out at a local department store the other night, the impeccably dressed, stylish, and decidedly size 6 cashier asked me, "Did you find everything you were looking for?"

    To be polite I affirmed that I had, rang up my small purchase, and moved on.

    But.... here is what I really wanted to say:

    "No. I didn't. I was unable to find a single piece of clothing in this store that didn't make me look like the cow I have become. I not only weigh more than I did 3 years ago, but after 2 pregnancies, nothing is in the same place any more. There is no undergarment in this entire department store that can properly put me back together again.

    "I was not even able to find a suitably appropriate outfit to wear to work out in. It seems like your buyers only think thin people want to go to the gym in comfortable clothes. The fact that I am now buying a pajama top to wear to the gym should give you some indication of my comfort level with your workout selection."

    Anyone else had a shopping trip like this???

    Thursday, April 14, 2011

    Guest Post: Traveling with Children

    Thanks to mad networking skills, I've got another guest post to share with you today. This time about traveling with children. I love hanging out with my own kids. But I don't always love traveling with them. It's hard work to do my same job somewhere else without all of the usual comforts of home. I've taken them on a 12-hour car trip to TN, away for staycation over a holiday weekend, and even to Nicaragua. I won't pretend the trips were easy, but they were worth it. 

    I'm not sure if there will be the time or the money for a family vacation this summer, but this post from Sarah sure makes me want to try!

    Can you still holiday with younger children? 

    With a toddler or young child in tow, a lot of parents are dissuaded from holidaying because of the potential inconveniences that such a commitment might bring. Holidays are however an important part of any healthy lifestyle, an opportunity to relax from the stresses and strains of the everyday and a chance to spend some true quality time with your family.

    Whatever kind of escape you are dreaming of don’t be put off by the potential strains of traveling with a child. Although a generalisation, family vacationing today is a completely different experience from even a few years ago. Obviously for very young babies who are still nursing, there will be some limitations to the kind of travel you can enjoy and perhaps it is worth waiting a couple of years until your child is more independent and can be more aware and appreciative of the trip they are on.

    More and more airlines, operators, tours and hotels are moving towards offering child friendly services, from free cots and minders to kids clubs and dedicated menus, whether you want to go on a luxury holiday to a far flung location, perhaps even enjoy an African safari holiday (its hard to believe but it is becoming more and more frequent) or simply travel domestically if you are determined and enthusiastic enough, then there should be no stopping you. Honeymoons with infants are also becoming an increasingly regular feature as more children are born out of wedlock, but parents still want to celebrate their union. A holiday with a child can be exciting, stress free and even romantic with the right kind of preparation.

    You can take several simple steps towards making travelling with your child much easier. Consider contacting the airline you intend to travel with and discuss the options available to child passengers including changing facilities, meals and seating regulations. For small toddlers and babies you should also enquire about booking a bassinet or ‘sky cot’. 

    Make sure that you get to the airport in plenty of time so that you don’t feel rushed and bring with you all of the baby supplies that you might need. You could enquire at check-in whether or not the plane is fully booked and if not would it be possible to have the seat next to you left vacant, a cheaper alternative to booking another seat and very helpful if travelling with a toddler under two years who doesn’t need their own seat. If travelling with a partner consider booking seats away from one another so that whilst one has the baby the other can rest and when arriving at the airport look out for fast track customs and immigration points for those travelling with children. A great resource for parents travelling with children is full of insights and info from other parents.

    Most of all don’t forget to enjoy yourself. A holiday with a child can be a truly magical and rewarding experience.

    Sarah Jenson is a freelance travel writer and owner of the Whilst not travelling she enjoys helping couples and families plan their dream holidays.

    This post was sponsored by, via Fiverr.

    I did it! (almost 2 months ago)

    Almost 2 months ago, I did something really crazy. I warned y'all in this post on February 26th.

    I finished the Disney Princess Half-Marathon. With 2 equally crazy girls. Alisa, on the left, who was 5 months pregnant at the time and Kelly, on the right, who flew out from CA to do this with me!

    We each had a tutu to fit our personalities. Mine was very full with sparkly ribbon and lots of beads (top left). Kelly's (bottom left) was definitely non-traditional and more Tinkerbell colors than princess colors. Alisa's was pretty classic with soft pinks and white tulle. Her length was really long and classy looking.

    I was 10th from last in my age division and the slow walker bus was nipping at my heels, but I did finish the race. And I don't care that I was almost dead last. I finished it. And that is what was important to me.

    Along the way, I tweeted like crazy. I had to do something to keep my mind off the fact that I ought to be at home sleeping, but instead, I got up at 4 am to walk 13.1 miles with a few thousand other princesses.

    I gotta tell you though, despite a potty line 50 deep and 50 wide, the experience was a complete and total act of worship for me. As I stood in line and reflected on my complete lack of training, I realized that I would not be able to finish the race with my own strength and power. I was only going to finish this race if I walked like a real princess, like the daughter of the greatest king there ever was.

    At 5:20 am while I waited for our corral to take off, I tweeted:

    My only prayer this am is not that I would be safe & well, but that Christ would be glorified with me. 

    Then, moments later, I realized my typo and tweeted this:
    I meant IN me, no glory for me - its all about Him this morning!

    And the race was all about Him. Every moment of those long 13.1 miles, my mind was on the one who finished the race for me. I sang praise songs in my head. I quoted every piece of scripture I could remember. The old hymns from my childhood churches came back to me. My head was FULL of God's word and His songs.

    Then, during the last half mile or so, I just couldn't keep it in my head any more. I started shouting verses and encouragement to all the women around me. That bus was right behind us and I felt like we were a team, pushing one another to finish the race. 

    At one point, two-tenths of a mile from the end, the lady in front of me was wearing a shirt that said:

    1980: Brain surgery
    2011: Half-Marathon
    Praise God for life!

    And it hit me hard. That was the first time I cried the entire race as I shouted out to her that I did praise God for life! Then she and her friends hooked arms with me and we carried on for several hundred feet like that as she shared her story in a brief, sweaty moment.

    Finishing this half-marathon was, physically, the hardest thing I had ever done. Yes, even harder than giving birth. But God gave my legs the power to cross that finish line.

    My final tweet of the race was at 11:20 am and I wrote:
    I made it in Christ's strength. There was no other way. I lay my medal at His feet. 

    I don't plan to ever sign up for another half-marathon again. This one was enough of an experience to last me an entire lifetime!

    Review: Walgreens Brand Multivitamin

    This is a compensated post written by me on behalf of Walgreens. All opinions are 100% mine.

    I'm a bargain shopper. I rarely pay full price for anything. But when I do, I usually buy the store brand. There are very few things where the store brand isn't as good as the name brand. And for me, multivitamins is one category of products where I feel the national store brand is as good as the name brand.

    I recently received a free bottle of Walgreens Brand Health & Wellness Products to try out. I didn't mind using a generic product because this one is backed by Walgreens pharmacists. That's a lot of pharmacists putting their seal of approval on a product. And if you aren't happy with a Walgreens Brand Health & Wellness Products, they offer a 100% back guarantee (I think Walgreens does this with make-up too! Another plus in the Walgreens column for sensitive-skinned me.)Pharmacist

    One thing that I looked at when comparing this vitamin to a name brand one that was hanging out in my cabinet were the individual values for the various vitamins and minerals included. And they were nearly identical. There were a couple of minor differences, but not on any of the components that I was focused on, (iron, calcium, and B vitamins mostly).

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    Wednesday, April 13, 2011

    Happy St. Patrick's Day?

    Yeah, I know. I'm so far behind on my blogging it isn't funny. No excuses other than I've been living the life that this blog is about.

    For St. Patrick's Day fun during Spring Break, we went to the Central Florida Zoo with my mom, sister-in-law, and niece. It was a perfect day to be outside and enjoying the beautiful weather that we in  Florida get for about 5 days each Spring and Fall.

    Now, are you ready for a barrage of photos???? These are all SOOC (straight out of the camera) and completely unedited.

    Before you get into the actual zoo, there is a lovely outdoor picnic area. We had some time to play around here while we waited for everyone to arrive and get their tickets.

    Yes, she is reading that sign. ;)

    Charlotte was not in a terribly cooperative picture mood. She just wanted to get to the animals and splash pad.

    I probably bribed her with some lame treat to get this smile.

    All of Charlotte's talk about animals meant nothing once she saw these ride on toys. We could have gone to the mall for these. Geez.

    Ah! Finally, animals. I won't bore you pictures of the actual animals. If you want to know what a pygmy marmaset looks like, just turn on Diego. Or use Google images.

    The wonder in a child's eyes is always so refreshing to see.

     This zoo has a very long boardwalk. Great for kids who need to run off a lot of energy. Plus, it's very shaded.

    Having a little fun with my first born. I figured I ought to try to post a couple of pictures of me on here every now and again. You know, to prove that they have a mom and all.

    This is Mary sharing her ride with cousin Rebekah. I wish they didn't live so far away in TN. Both of them seem fascinated with clipping their chest straps though. This must be a universal baby thing.

    And the splash pad! If I had a quarter for every time Charlotte asks to go play in one, well, I wouldn't need to pimp my blog of with sponsored posts!

    Clearly, Mary shares her big sister's love of playing in the water.

    Rebekah however, was not interested that day. So my girls played ring around the Rebekah to include her in the fun.

    Now you know how we celebrated St. Patrick's Day. Do you remember what you did for this odd Irish holiday day?