Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Turkey Day Smiles! (And a winner!)

Turkey Day at Great Grandma's
And finally the winner of the awesome Taste of Home
 Cozy Comfort package is LOVE MELISSA:)


I'm off to email you now, please respond 
within 48 hours or a new winner will be chosen.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Amature outtakes.

Ok, so in a very amature attempt to take some pics I grabbed my sister and her fiance during Thanksgiving on Friday (we hosted a day late) and shot some photos.  Now, I am by no means a photographer - shit, half the time I can't figure out the right settings to use, but I'm trying.  I'd love some feedback, links to good photography sites, and any advice you'd like to give.  I tend to shoot my photos too light and then can't correct it.  Oh, and that's the other half of my problem.  I need someone to show me how to edit my photos correctly.  Right now, it's a guessing game with some crap software.  So, help!

p.s. I've had one CrAzY Thanksgiving break - stories to come. 












Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Tastefully Simple Review & Giveaway!


When Brittany first contacted me about reviewing some Tastefully Simple products, I was extremely excited! After all, the hubs is in culinary school and between his classes, my job teaching, and balancing parenthood in between all of that, any quick and easy foods are welcome in my home. 

First off, let me say this. I was very pleased with how quickly my items arrived.  I believe my package was scheduled to be delivered on a Friday, I came home from work Thursday to find a box waiting on the porch.  (Have I ever mentioned my love affair with mail? I love mail, especially non-bill mail!)  Love this!

When opening the box, I was flattered (lol...doesn't always take much) to find my items packaged in a pretty little fabric gift bag (reusable).  Inside the bag, I found the following:
Perfectly Potato Cheddar Soup Mix
We top the tater with a hearty mixture of potatoes, Cheddar cheese, carrots and onions. Simply add water and enjoy. Serves 6. (0g trans fat per serving)
 
Nana's Apple Cake Mix®
You'll love this moist, cinnamon-spiced cake! Just add apples and eggs, bake and enjoy for breakfast, brunch or dessert. Kosher (0g trans fat per serving)

Bountiful Beer Bread Mix®
Our signature bread mix is so simple to make - no kneading or rising time. Simply add beer or any carbonated beverage. Kosher. (0g trans fat per serving)
Bountiful Beer Bread

The beer bread (pictured above) was the first item we tried.  I actually stole a chick beer (Smirnoff Triple Black) from the depths of the fridge and used that to make the bread.  We were seriously impressed with how easy it was to make.  We added the additional butter to the top for baking (it was optional) and I'm so glad we did.  The top developed a beautiful, golden brown crust.  Yummo!

Nana's Apple Cake

The next item we made was Nana's Apple Cake and it too was super easy to make.  Hubs chopped some apples, threw them into the bowl along with the mix and some eggs and we were set...and let me tell you, this cake smelled awesome while it was baking.  We sat in the living room watching tv while it baked and we literally kept talking about how frickin' delicious it smelled.  It was like Christmas morning when that timer went off...lol!

Overall, we were very impressed with the ease, simplicity, and deliciousness of the Tastefully Simple items we received.  The Cozy Comfort kit would make an awesome Christmas gift for anyone in your family - from grandpa's/grandma's all the way down to college students!

One lucky reader will win an 
Cozy Comfort Gift Bag of their very own!
*Open to the US*

Mandatory Entries: (This must be done for any extra entries to count.)  

Follow my blog publicly via Google Friend Connect and tell me what product you'd be most interested in trying.

Extra Entries:  

Please leave a separate comment for each entry.  If an entry is worth two, please leave a separate comment for each.  The mandatory entry must be completed before any extra entries will count.
  • "Like" ELF: A Family Blog on Facebook. (1 entry)
  • Follow @elffamilyblog on Twitter - leave me your username. (1 entry)
  • Tweet about this giveaway and leave me the link.  (1 entry) You can use the tweet button below.
  • Share this giveaway on Facebook. (1 entry) You can use the share button below.
  • Share this giveaway on any giveaway linky/site.  Tell me where you've shared it.  (2 entries)
  • Browse my blog and leave a relevant comment on any other post of mine.  (2 entries/comment) (p.s. Leave a comment on this one and earn an entry into a super easy giveaway!)
  • Post my button on your blog and tell me where I can find it. (3 entries)
  • Blog about this giveaway and leave me the link. (4 entries)
  • Subscribe to ELF: A Family Blog and verify your subscription. (4 entries)
  • Make a purchase at Tastefully Simple and earn 10 extra entries! (Verification required if you win.)
Don't forget to vote for me! 
No, this won't count as any extra entries (rules are rules), 
but I love to feel the love.  =)


Vote For Us @ topbabyblogs.com!  Vote For Us @ Top Mommy Blogs  

*Open to the US*

Giveaway will end on November 27th at 11:59 PM CST.  Winner will be chosen using random.org and emailed.  Winner will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen.  Please leave your email address or make sure it is public in your profile so I can contact you. 

Disclaimer: This review is based on my personal experience and is my honest opinion.  I was given the product(s) mentioned above to review at no cost.  No other compensation was received.  A special thanks to Brittany for providing the product to be reviewed and the prize.

Monday, November 21, 2011

WINNERS!

Congratulations to Sarah from Nurse Loves Farmer!
You've won the Mother-ease Cloth Diaper giveaway!


Congratulations to Madeline! 
You're the winner of the Tiny Prints giveaway!


Remember, you'll have 48 hours to respond to my email or a new winner will be chosen.
Thanks to everyone that entered, keep your eyes open for another set of giveaways soon!

p.s. For those who commented on yesterday's post - Thad and dad stayed home together today and did guy stuff...like watch Sport Center and lay on the couch. ;)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Can the kid catch a break?

First, let me apologize for being MIA. Second, allow me to explain.

In the last three weeks, Thad has come down with croup, crazy high fevers from his 15 month shots, and now and awesome frickin' round of norovirus.  It all started Thursday and Saturday was the peak of sickness, including 17 runny, slimy, stinky, burn inducing diarrhea diapers...and no, I'm not kidding.  The poor kid has shit so much that his butt and inner thighs (because let's face it, I'm using disposables right now because I would never have enough diapers to keep up with this - so they leak down his legs) are raw and red and swollen from his poop.  He finally ate better (meaning like two pieces of toast) today and drank more fluids.  (Ooooh, and pooped a lot less!) We were just lucky enough to get him to drink something yesterday or we would have been in the ER with dehydration.  

So, for the next couple days it's no wipes (just warm washcloths), lots of Lotrimin (supposed to work when diaper cream quits working), loose fitting diapers, baking soda baths, crackers, toast, and anything else he'll eat, oh and he'll wash it down with Pedialyte.

I honestly don't even know if I should sent him to daycare tomorrow.  Nothing against my husband's aunt, I just feel like he might not get the attention he would at home (which duh, we all think sometimes when we have someone else watch our kids) and I don't want his rash getting any worse.   

So, if you were me - would you stay home or would you send the little guy to daycare?

p.s. Winners will be drawn tomorrow and there will be a couple reviews posting soon, just bare with me while I get my brain functioning again after being buried in poop.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

OsoCozy WINNER!

Congratulations to Kristin from Our Growing Garden!  
You are the lucky winner of the OsoCozy Cloth Diaper Giveaway!  


I'm off to email you now. Remember, you have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.

As for all of you other cloth diaper giveaway junkies ;) -- be sure

Also, if you're looking for a very inexpensive way to advertise your blog, Etsy shop, or business, feel free to contact me about PR space  -- it's a cheap and easy way to gain exposure and followers!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Mother-ease Cloth Diaper Review & Giveaway!

Mother-ease Cloth Diapers
Cloth Diapers


Recently we had the opportunity to review a Mother-ease Wizard EasyStuff Pocket Diaper in the adorable Oceans2 print!  This was the first diaper we've tried that was open and stuffable using open sides.  What a concept!


Diaper: Mother-ease Wizard EasyStuff in Oceans2

Fit: Trim, size would be comparable to the fit of a BumGenius 4.0.  Snap closure with an adjustable snap rise to accommodate babies 7-33 lbs. 

Feel: This diaper was lined with what I would call an open pocket concept.  As you can see from the photos above, this diaper is stuffable from the sides -- this makes stuffing and washing super easy!  The side that would actually touch your little one's bottom is soft and reminded me of a jersey like material (you know, the stuff basketball shorts are made out of) because of the weave; however, it's softer than a pair of gym shorts. ;)

Leak Factor: We did have a leak when using it overnight, but that could be my fault because I should've probably stuffed it with an additional insert due to Thad's uncanny ability to fill a diaper while he sleeps....lol.  No leaks during the day so I'll blame the one leak on me. 

Cost:  Retails for $23.95! Inserts are sold separately in two different sizes: small ($3.50) or large ($3.90).




Overall, we really liked the open pocket concept of the Mother-ease Wizard EasyStuff.  The lining of was very soft and I personally loved how easy it was to wash and use.  If you're looking for an easy, go-to option in a pocket diaper, but don't want to stuff your hand inside every time, I recommend checking out the Mother-ease Wizard EasyStuff!


One lucky reader will win an 
Mother-ease Cloth Diaper of their very own!
*Open to the US and Canada*

Mandatory Entries: (This must be done for any extra entries to count.)  

Follow my blog publicly via Google Friend Connect and tell me what color/print you'd pick if you won.

Extra Entries:  

Please leave a separate comment for each entry.  If an entry is worth two, please leave a separate comment for each.  The mandatory entry must be completed before any extra entries will count.
  • "Like" Mother-ease on Facebook. (1 entry)
  • Follow @motherease on Twitter. (1 entry)
  • "Like" ELF: A Family Blog on Facebook. (1 entry)
  • Follow @elffamilyblog on Twitter - leave me your username. (1 entry)
  • Tweet about this giveaway and leave me the link.  (1 entry) You can use the tweet button below.
  • Share this giveaway on Facebook. (1 entry) You can use the share button below.
  • Share this giveaway on any giveaway linky/site.  Tell me where you've shared it.  (2 entries)
  • Browse my blog and leave a relevant comment on any other post of mine.  (2 entries/comment) (p.s. Leave a comment on this one and earn an entry into a super easy giveaway!)
  • Post my button on your blog and tell me where I can find it. (3 entries)
  • Blog about this giveaway and leave me the link. (4 entries)
  • Subscribe to ELF: A Family Blog and verify your subscription. (4 entries)
Don't forget to vote for me! 
No, this won't count as any extra entries (rules are rules), 
but I love to feel the love.  =)




Vote For Us @ topbabyblogs.com!  Vote For Us @ Top Mommy Blogs  

*Open to the US and Canada*

Giveaway will end on November 21st at 11:59 PM CST.  Winner will be chosen using random.org and emailed.  Winner will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen.  Please leave your email address or make sure it is public in your profile so I can contact you. 

Disclaimer: This review is based on my personal experience and is my honest opinion.  I was given the product(s) mentioned above to review at no cost.  No other compensation was received.  A special thanks to www.clothdiaper.com for providing the product to be reviewed and the prize.https://usshop.motherease.com/shopdisplayproducts.asp?id=30&cat=EasyStuff%99+Diaper

Friday, November 11, 2011

It's a mini me! (Husband/son style.)

I picked Thad up from the hub's aunt (our daycare provider) the other day and she pulled out a photo album full of photos - some including my handsome husband as a baby.  This is huge!  Hubs didn't have the most ideal childhood, at 17 his dad lost his house and he was on his own.  After a very tumultuous relationship, he left her with the clothes on his back, a basket of laundry, and a dog.  All of his belongings staying with the crazy lady that shall remain nameless.  She never returned them, he never wanted to go near her again.  Everything he had ever owned including baby pictures, social security card, yearbooks, etc. were all left with crazy girl never to be seen by hubs again.  It's really very sad.  Anyway, the only pictures I've ever seen of E are from when he was in middle school (I worked at his former middle school and pulled the yearbooks) and one set of photos his grandma had.  The rest have been lost, so his aunt pulling out an album with more than one photo of E was awesome!

Check it out! See any resemblance?


Of course I put in a call to my parents - hopefully they'll have time to dig through old photos and send me a few so I can compare how I looked as a little one to how Thad looks.

So what about you?  Do your or your significant other's baby pics look like your kiddo?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Joe Paterno should not have been fired.

This is my blog, therefore, my personal opinion.  You don't have to agree with me, that's fine.  And let me be clear, the abuse, the whole situation, is sick and wrong.  Kids that are abused will be affected the rest of their lives.  I'm not arguing that.  Let's just be clear on that.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I think it's firing Joe is effed up. He reported the abuse. If I went and reported one of my co-workers for something, but the co-worker remained on the job, I could only assume that they investigated and found said co-worker not guilty. If I tried to find out what happened with the investigation, I'd be turned away and told it's none of my business. How is this not the same thing? 

The man has been around for years. He reported it and he probably knew that he did what he was supposed to and it was in somebody else's hands. The people he reported it to are at fault, not him. He could have kept reporting it or going back and asking questions, but if they found the other party not guilty, then the accused could of sued him for slander. The man did what he was supposed to, he followed the chain of command. Our world isn't set up to allow the reporters to keep reporting, in fact, a lot of places look down on that (Is that right? No.) I agree, it's wrong, but the thing that gets me is that he reported it. He did what he was supposed to do. Yet, the higher up's didn't do anything. It's not like he really has the power to fire someone, it's a chain of command. The chain failed, but he's getting the blame. That's what I disagree with.

Someone tried to tell me that because Joe didn't report it to the authorities (the police) that he was satisfied with the actions that were taken (or not taken in this case).  This is my response to that.

I don't agree with you, I don't believe that Joe was satisfied, but our corporations, our businesses, aren't created to allow others to know what's being done within an investigation or even after a reported allegation. If I went and reported to my boss that a co-worker told me that he saw another teacher sexually abusing a student, my boss might be able to pass on what I said, but all that does is start an endless game of telephone. The WITNESS should have been the one to report the abuse, the WITNESS is the one responsible for reporting the abuse. 

Placing the blame on Joe isn't right, firing him because the witness didn't report the abuse isn't right. Joe followed the appropriate chain of command, it was the chain that failed the system. What if Joe would have gone to the authorities (after ignoring the process his institution has in place), the media got wind of it, the allegations ended up being false - who would be fired and probably sued for defamation of character? Joe, that's who.

I agree wholeheartedly that something should have been done and that the whole thing is absolutely horrible, sick in fact...but I believe it was the responsibility of the witness and the people in higher authority at the university, not Joe. Firing him wasn't right. And to give you one more example, say a student of mine is dealing drugs - I report it to the parents and my principal. They investigate, but the authorities (police) are never involved. Two weeks later this kid is busted selling drugs again on school property and the drugs he sold killed another kid. Am I responsible for that kid's death? Am I responsible for the kid selling drugs? I reported it, I did what I was supposed to do. It was my understanding that the issue had been handled (and yes, this could mean the student is still in school), but obviously someone higher up, someone with more power than me, allowed the student to stay at school. Should that blame be placed on me? No, I did what I could. I reported it. That's what Joe did. He reported it (and didn't even see it first hand like I would have) - he shouldn't have been fired.

End rant.
 .

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

There's a beaver in the bedroom.


Nope, not that kind of beaver...lol...get your mind out of the gutter! Jeepers people. ;)

I'm talking about the just-turned-15-months-old (say what!?!?) beaver living in Thad's room.  See that craziness?  Yeah, so much for that wonderful, had-to-have the expensive conversion crib that will last Thad through high school....ah, the things you learn after the baby is born...

It all started around 10(ish) or so months old - the little spawns of the devil (better known as teeth) began to make an appearance and Thad (being such a genius) learned that gnawing on his crib provided much needed relief.

Awesome. ::head desk::

Yeah, so - I can't figure out how to get him to stop.  I tried putting some toys in the crib, I tried racing to him in the morning (and we all know how much of a morning person I am these days...lol), and well, I didn't know what else to try.

So I improvised! (Brilliant, right?)

A few blankets and some hair ties later and we've got some major beaver proofing going on!

Now how 'bout them apples?

Monday, November 7, 2011

OsoCozy Cloth Diaper Review & Giveaway!



This week's cloth diaper giveaway is sponsored by www.ClothDiaper.com.  The OsoCozy was our first ever all-in-one (AIO) and it could easily make one wonder why they've ever used pockets instead.



Diaper: Unbleached Cotton Birdseye Weave OsoCozy All In One in aqua.

Fit: Very trim fitting.  I expected an AIO to be bulky, but I was very surprised and the fit was great.  It wasn't a small fitting diaper - in fact, I think it fits better (and bigger) than a BumGenius 4.0 and it was comparable to a Tiny Tush in size.  We tried the Size 2 and it was a perfect fit.

Feel: This diaper was lined with an unbleached cotton birdseye weave and while it wasn't as soft as a fleece lining, it was very durable.  Birdseye is known for softening up and increasing in absorption over time.

Leak Factor: We didn't have any leaks with this diaper at all.  =)  p.s. If you were to have leaks, make sure that you've washed your unbleached diaper at least 3-5 times or the natural oils may repel urine.  This is common until the oils have washed out.

Cost:  Retails on www.clothdiaper.com for only $14.95!

Overall, we were very impressed with the OsoCozy.  Great fit, fabulous price, and is very, very easy to use!  If you're on the fence about cloth diapering, an AIO lover, or just wanna give the OsoCozy a shot, go for it! You won't be disappointed.


One lucky reader will win an 
OsoCozy Cloth Diaper of their very own!
*Open to Continental US*

Mandatory Entries: (This must be done for any extra entries to count.)  

Follow my blog publicly via Google Friend Connect and tell me what color you'd pick if you won.

Extra Entries:  

Please leave a separate comment for each entry.  If an entry is worth two, please leave a separate comment for each.  The mandatory entry must be completed before any extra entries will count.
  • "Like" OsoCozy on Facebook. (1 entry)
  • "Like" ClothDiaper.com on Facebook and thank them for the giveaway. (1 entry)
  • "Like" ELF: A Family Blog on Facebook. (1 entry)
  • Follow @elffamilyblog on Twitter - leave me your username. (1 entry)
  • Tweet about this giveaway and leave me the link.  (1 entry) You can use the tweet button below.
  • Share this giveaway on Facebook. (1 entry) You can use the share button below.
  • Share this giveaway on any giveaway linky/site.  Tell me where you've shared it.  (2 entries)
  • Browse my blog and leave a relevant comment on any other post of mine.  (2 entries/comment)
  • Post my button on your blog and tell me where I can find it. (3 entries)
  • Blog about this giveaway and leave me the link. (4 entries)
  • Subscribe to ELF: A Family Blog and verify your subscription. (4 entries)

Don't forget to vote for me! 
No, this won't count as any extra entries (rules are rules), 
but I love to feel the love.  =)




Vote For Us @ topbabyblogs.com!  Vote For Us @ Top Mommy Blogs  

*Open to Continental US*

Giveaway will end on November 14th at 11:59 PM CST.  Winner will be chosen using random.org and emailed.  Winner will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen.  Please leave your email address or make sure it is public in your profile so I can contact you. 

Disclaimer: This review is based on my personal experience and is my honest opinion.  I was given the product(s) mentioned above to review at no cost.  No other compensation was received.  A special thanks to www.clothdiaper.com for providing the product to be reviewed and the prize.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

I feel like I'm drowning.

I've got at least 6 loads of laundry that need to be washed, at least 3 ready to be folded, floors that need vacuumed,  furniture that needs dusted, sheets that need washed, floors that need scrubbed, grocery shopping to be done, stuff to donate, and lesson plans to write.

Mmmmm....guess I should be thankful for that extra hour we'll be getting tonight. ;)

Have a fabulous weekend everyone, keep your eyes peeled for a cloth diaper giveaway this week!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

My stand on adoption...take it or leave it.

Let me be clear, I'm all for adoption.  In fact, 100%.  I would even adopt.  My husband's aunt has run a foster home for years and year, BUT I get so frustrated with the amount of time, energy, and money that people spend on international adoption when there are hundreds of thousands of babies, children, and teens living in our cities, our towns, and our country that don't have a loving home.  They don't have "parents" - they've never known what a real family is like - they feel unloved.  Why?  Why do people always look to other countries to adopt?  Why don't we look here, at home, in our own backyards?  I've heard from some, "It's easier to adopt from other countries."  Oh, so that's it.  You chose to do it because it was "easier" - no, I adoption is never an "easy" process.  I don't believe it's ever easy for the biological parents, the parents choosing to adopt, or the people working to bring the families together.  It's hard.  It's expensive.  I'm sure it takes a lot out of you.  But if you've worked so hard (maybe because you can't have kids or you would just like to adopt), why, why don't you look here?  I'm not talking about adopting a little white kid, nope, pretty sure the last time I checked our foster care system houses many, many different races.  So why?  Why aren't we taking care of our own?  Why do we leave our children in the system?  Why do some not think of the American foster care system as detrimental to a child's development as an overseas orphanage or institution?  Sure, the kids are in a home - but is it permanent, is it consistent, is it loving -- or is it a place for them to go so the "parents" can collect a check every month?

I know this is controversial, I know you may not agree with me, that's fine.  Lord knows I'm not gonna impose my beliefs on you, but I'm tired - tired of watching kids, good kids - bad kids - disabled kids, get pushed through system. We need to start here.  We need to take care of our own.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

HELP! We have eating issues.

Thad was always an awesome, awesome eater.  Emphasis on was.  In the last few weeks he's started to boycott everything we put in front of him unless it's cereal, grilled cheese, hot dogs, or fruit.  Even when he does "voluntarily" eat, he'll take 3-5 bites and start throwing it all on the floor.  Some nights I'll try to feed him things I know he likes because he's eaten them before, but he'll refuse to open his mouth.  Instead, he'll throw his head back and forth and then start to whine/cry.  I've literally had to force his mouth open on occasion just to get in a bite - after that he'll realize it's ok and he likes it and then start to eat.  As for trying new things - forgetaboutit.  Not gonna happen.  I don't know if little man is asserting his independence, becoming a picky eater, or is just not hungry but it's driving me cRaZy!

So moms (and dads), tell me - did you child go through this phase?  What did you do?  How did you handle it?  Does it get better???

HELP!
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