Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Aelah Grace: 8 Months

Those cute little toes!  I just want to eat them up!  ;)

 A couple weeks late on this one, as usual.  But this little lady is keeping me busy!  And I am soaking up every single moment of it!

I could add cords and wires to this list but I didn't want any judgy looks.  I wouldn't let her play with them, of course,.but they definitely seem to be her all time favorite thing ever!  ;)


How am I growing?

So hard to tell without a doctors appointment.  She is so much more mobile now, I really think she is thinning out.  So we may have lost a bit of weight...but I highly doubt that.  We have an appointment the end of this week though so I'm anxious to see the changes.  She has pretty much grown out of her 6 month clothes though I still have a few things I didn't pack away.  Some of the 9 month brands are still a bit big yet.  Since she grew so quickly in the beginning, it is amazing to me that we have been in the same clothes for so long!  We even made sure to get a bunch of summer clothes in 12 months - now I'm not sure we'll need them!  That's just how it goes I guess...

How am I sleeping?

Sleeping through the night has continued to be the trend.  Sometimes she wakes up between 11 and 1 or between 4 and 5.  But all I have to do is give her a paci and she usually goes right back to sleep.  So thankful for this (knocking on wood over here....).  But who knows what will happen once teeth actually decide to appear or some other developmental change.  ;)

How am I eating?

She loves her food!  Very much!  If she happens to nap through dinner time we have one cranky bear on our hands.  So she definitely depends on that evening meal.  But breast-milk is still her primary nutrition.  I've started giving her some oatmeal or cereal some mornings.  And she has been eating a "snack" for lunch.  We're slowly getting to three meals a day.  But I'm not in any rush.  She is happy and healthy and that's all that matters.

What else is new?

She is officially mobile!  She started king of scooching around and within a week she was crawling.  It is still very unique but she gets around very quickly.  I am getting less done around the house but enjoying watching her grow and change every day.  Even if it means pulling her out of the same corner or away from the TV stand every 2 minutes.  ;)  


This was the original scootch, army crawl, whatever you want to call it....I already miss how cute it was....


Her personality is really coming out as well.  So many faces, so many noises.  She laughs, she gets mad.  It is so fun!  But makes it a bit difficult to tell her no.  haha.

And she looooooves the pool!


Thank you Aldi - this is the best $5 I've ever spent.  ;)

And here are a couple of my other favorite pictures from the past month:

Our ray of sunshine...even when it rains every. single. day.

THAT face!  The super excited I can't contain myself face.  By far one of my favorites.

Monday, June 15, 2015

4 Easy Ways to Make Extra Money from Home

This post contains referral links.

Hey all!

I know it has been too long since I've written.  I've just been trying, more than ever, to put my family first and to take a few things off of my plate.  Less stress = a happier home.  Without blogging deadlines my mind has been a bit more clear.  But I still really enjoy spending quality time with my readers!!  So you will still hear from me on occasion...just not as frequently.

Most of you probably know that I believe God's calling on my life it to be a stay at home mom.  That meant really getting creative on my end.  I was hoping my blog might become a source of income but it turns out that monetizing a blog is tough work!  And it requires a lot more time than I am able to commit to at this point.  Thankfully, God has provided me with part-time employment outside of the house.  It's just 10 hours a week (a day and a half away from baby girl), sometimes I am able to work from home, my mom and my grandma are the best babysitters around, and I am doing ministry!  It is a huge blessing.  

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But before I accepted this position last week, we were surviving on savings and I searched high and low for different ways to make a few extra bucks.  This list includes a few of my favorites:

1. Swap.com

Not only is one of my favorite places to shop for Miss Aelah (and now myself) but it is such an easy way to make some extra cash.  I have sent a couple of boxes of things from around the house and made a decent amount.  But recently, I've started buying  baby clothes at yard sales for the specific purpose of sending them to Swap.  All I have to do is put the items in a box!  They photograph and put the items online for you to price.  I only have to worry about shipping once and I never have to photograph a thing (forget Ebay!).  The site says that on average users make about $50 a box!  Click here to get started or to go shopping! 

2. Grocery / Shopping Apps

There are so many different grocery apps out there, it is hard to know which ones are worth it.  Well, I've tried quite a few and these are the few that I use on a regular basis and have stood the test of time  (in order of how much I like and use them):
  • Shopkick
    • This is, by far, the easiest way to make some extra money.  Just open the app when you walk into select stores and you get points!  The only catch is that you can only redeem points for gift cards.  While not actually cash, you can get Walmart or Target gift cards for groceries or even gift cards to major Gas Stations like Exxon or Shell.  This helps the budget which means extra cash! Click here to sign up.
  • Walmart Savings Catcher
    • Just scan your receipt and they price match for you!  Since we usually buy off brand, I don't get a huge return on this but if you buy name brand, the savings add up quickly.  And no matter what, every little bit helps!
  • Receipt Hog
    • Snap pictures of your receipts for points.  This isn't just for specific stores either!  It takes awhile for points to add up but it is super simple so I don't mind the extra few seconds it takes to snap a picture of my receipt.  If you use my referral code, SPOG8394, you will get 5 free spins on the "Hog Slots"...which might mean extra points!
  • Ibotta
    • This app has you scan barcodes and receipts to earn points for specific items that you buy.  Some things are name brand, other things are general like '1 dozen eggs' or '1 gallon of milk.'  And it only works at specific stores.  The only place local for us is Walmart.  I don't make a ton extra this way but every little bit helps.  The plus side is that the bigger your team is the more money you are capable of earning.  Your team grows in a couple of ways - direct referrals or any Facebook friends that join (you don't have to invite them, you just have to have your account linked).  You can join my team and we can make money together if you use my referral code: tyjrokq 

3. "Points Per Activity" Sites (Surveys, Videos, etc.)

This is popular way to make a few extra bucks.  But again, there are a ton of different sites out there. I have tried a few and only three have stood the test of time for me.  
  • Swagbucks
    • They give you a "daily goal" every day which I try to reach so I get the bonus points.  But if nothing else, I do the daily to-do list on the left hand side and I "watch" my allotment of videos on the Swagbucks TV app.  I made Swagbucks my default search engine so I can get points if I need to look anything up online.  I occasionally do other things like surveys or tasks to reach my daily goal.  And, if I'm shopping online, I make sure to do so through Swagbucks so I can earn points that way as well.  Click here to see all the awesome ways you can earn swagbucks.
  • Perk.com
    • I use Perk in two ways.  I have the Perk TV app on my old iphone that I can "watch" videos on all day.  I have the Perk Scratch app that is basically a lottery ticket game that I play when I'm wasting time (while nursing or watching TV).  The points take longer to add up...but it doesn't require a lot of my time.  Go here to start earning Perk points.
  • Superpoints
    • Again, another one that takes a bit longer to add up but requires very little effort on my part.  I push the super lucky button as many times as I'm allowed each day, do the "daily click surprise" and open my daily email (receiving the email is a requirement...opening it means you might win points).  SUPER easy.  Click here to try your luck at the super lucky button.

4. Reward Credit Card

We have one credit card, Chase Freedom, in our house that we pay off every month, well, technically multiple times a month, but the point is, we never have a balance on it.  We get 1% cash back on every single purchase and then 5% back on different items each quarter (gas, restaurants, etc.).  With no fees and no balance, they are paying us $15-$30 a month just to use their card!  If you sign up by the 23rd of June and spend $500 in the first three months, they will give you $200 cash back!!  That's huge!  And it's the biggest cash back offer I have ever seen.  Just follow this link and you are on your way!

Bonus... Start an Etsy Shop

I included this as a bonus because it isn't exactly *easy.*  If you can sew or have any kind of creative gene, having an Etsy shop is a fun and creative way to make money from home.  Since I made all of our own natural, chemical-free cleaners and bath & body products, Hubby suggested I start selling them.  We try to attend at least one craft show a month and started an Etsy shop.  Not only is it a fun way to make some extra cash, but we get to spend some extra time together....which is always nice.  

Thinking of starting your own shop?  Use this link and we'll both earn free listings!

You can check out all of the natural products we sell here.  Use code MYBLOG10 at checkout for 10% off.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Truth: Our Days are Numbered

Let me ask you a question.  And I want you to really think hard about the answer.

Do you know when you are going to die?

Seriously....do you?  Or don't you?

The answer is easy.  You don't have a clue....just like I don't have a clue.

But we live like we know we won't die until we're old and grey.  

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We have no way of knowing if we will be old and grey or if we will even see tomorrow.

Psalm 90:12
So teach us to number our days,
That we may present to You a heart of wisdom.

If you take a look at what the Bible has to say about our hearts, you will see that our hearts are the key to spending eternity with our Savior (for more on that, check out any of the posts I've written here).  We must be pursing the Lord with all that we are, and we can't do that if our hearts are not in the right place or if our affections are divided.  

It seems, however, that most of the general church population wants to put off cleaning up their hearts and giving them completely to the Lord until....well, until tomorrow. After all, we always have tomorrow.

But what if we don't?  What if we don't have tomorrow?

If you were to take a look at your life right now, would you be okay with everything if you died today?  Or are there things you need to take care of?  People you need to talk to?  Relationships that need fixing?  Family or friends that need forgiving?

Most importantly - is your heart in the right place with the Lord?  Could you present your heart to Him and tell Him that you gave it your all?  Would you be presenting Him with a heart of wisdom or a lukewarm heart that never left the fence?

I want to rephrase that verse for you a few different ways so that you really get the point.

John Wesley puts it this way: 

"Teach us...to consider the shortness of life and the certainty and speediness of death...That we may heartily devote ourselves to true wisdom."

Because, yes, death is certain and, often, quite speedy!  Therefore, we must devote ourselves to true wisdom which is seeking the Lord.

From Matthew Henry:

"We must live under a constant apprehension of the shortness and uncertainty of life and the near approach of death & eternity."

Everything we do should be with eternity in mind because this life is, most definitely, temporary and uncertain.

And lastly, Adam Clarke rephrases it perfectly:

"Let us deeply consider our own frailty, and the shortness and uncertainty of life, that we may live for eternity, acquaint ourselves with thee, and be at peace; that we may die in thy favor and live and reign with thee eternally."

 Eternity depends on our lives now.  Do you get that?  Do you really get that?  Everything we do, every choice we make affects that. 

Today, I challenge you to live like you were dying.

Make amends.  Apologize.  Forgive and let go.  Love like you have never loved before.  Give.  Enjoy life.  Be thankful.

And, most importantly, get your heart right with the Lord.


Monday, June 1, 2015

Chidren's Book Review: Drinking Animals

Story time is one of our favorite times of the day.  I especially love it because it is a quiet moment where I get to watch my husband be a wonderful Daddy.  Even when she is grabby and can't sit still, I think he still treasures that time with her.


Children's Book, E-Book, Animals, Educational, Fun, Picture, Dan Jackson, Review
An E-Book

I was given the opportunity to review the e-book: "Drinking Animals" by Dan Jackson.  It is a fun and educational book!  While my little lady is quite young for anything deemed "educational," I still appreciate when things are meant for more than just fun.  I have worked with children for long enough to realize the importance of combing the two.

"Drinking Animals" does a fine job of that!  Each page pairs a picture with a fun caption and an educational fact.


Children's Book, E-Book, Animals, Educational, Fun, Picture, Dan Jackson, Review
Who knew dogs needed so much water?  I learned a thing or ten from this book!
  
Unfortunately I only have a Kindle Paperwhite, so it doesn't display the color.  But from the images I have seen online, the images are really quite vivid - definitely something children would appreciate.

I think it will be a fun book that Aelah will definitely enjoy when she is older.  It even has a giraffe...which is our favorite:


Children's Book, E-Book, Animals, Educational, Fun, Picture, Dan Jackson, Review
Giraffes look so awkward when they drink....

For now, she enjoys books she can get her hands on (which means board books are our friends...)


Children's Book, E-Book, Animals, Educational, Fun, Picture, Dan Jackson, Review, Story Time
She so does love reading.
The description of the book on Amazon does say for children 4 - 8 and notes that it can be read aloud or that it would work great for beginning readers.  I'm not convinced that it is suited for beginning readers as the "facts" contain rather large words like: 'efficient,' 'retention,' or 'quantities' to name a few.

However, I can envision the child reading the quirky captions for the pictures and an adult chiming in with the facts.

All in all, it is a very cute book that is full of great pictures, education, and fun!

What is your favorite children's book?  I'm looking to grow our collection...

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Aelah Grace: 7 Months!


She loved sitting in the basket!  :D

Woo hoo!!  Another month older and she is changing soooooo much!  Every day I stare at her and wonder how in the world she is mine.  Pregnancy seems like a distant dream.  Now I have this baby, this almost crawling, talking all the time, beautiful baby girl!  It still doesn't seem real.  I've come to treasure her "dream feed" before I go to bed.  When I go in to feed her, I'm the last one awake. The house is quiet, and its just her and I.  I stare at her as she sleeps and my mind goes 5 million directions - her past, her future, how wonderfully adorable she is, how thankful I am for her, and so much more!  Then I pick her up and snuggle her close and breath in that baby smell before I nestle her in to nurse. 

The list could go on......
In fact...I should have added 'feet' to that list.  She loves feet.  This is how she sat through the sermon a few Sundays ago...

How am I growing?

Her growth has really slowed down lately.  She isn't growing out of clothes near as fast.  In fact, this is the longest we've ever stayed in one size.  She is still able to fit in her 6-9 month clothes (been in those for quite some time) but we do fit into some of our 9 month stuff so we have a mix right now.  And there isn't much of a visible difference either:

I'm okay with this though....I wish she could stay little longer!  
How am I sleeping?

So much better!!  She doesn't fuss at all at night and she has been napping like a champ.  I lay her down around 8:30 and then do a "dream feed" (which I mentioned above) when we go to bed between 9:30 and 10.  A dream feed is when I go in and nurse without waking her.  This has been working wonderfully and has helped me get a good 5, 6, or 7 hour stretch before she wakes again.  If we miss that dream feed the night tends to be a little more difficult.  If she wakes before 6 I've been giving her a binky and going back to bed.  She doesn't suck on it but chews on it or plays with it until she falls back asleep...she usually stops fussing before my head hits the pillow.  If she wakes after 6 I will nurse her and lay her back down until 7:30 or 8 when I wake her.  Loving this routine and it is working well for both of us!

How am I eating?

Like a champ!  I am so glad that we decided to go the baby led weaning route.  Since breastmilk is still her primary form of nutrition, she usually only "eats" one meal a day.  Sometimes I'll give her something at lunch but she has been napping around that time lately.  She especially loves bread and pasta...just like her mama!  We give her something off of our plates each night.  If there isn't much she can eat then I'll get her some fruit or veggies...sometimes pieces and sometimes purees, it really depends on what I'm in the mood for.  Same goes with what we give her from our own meals - sometimes it is chunks and other times, like spaghetti, I'll put it through a grinder so she can easily eat some.  She doesn't have any issues transitioning between solids and purees and she hasn't disliked a single thing yet!  

But if you are eating and she is aware of it....you better plan on sharing!  She will make it known that she wants some!  :)

What else is new?

She is really developing her own little personality.  It is so neat to watch her figure things out.  Today, while I was cleaning the kitchen, she pulled her walker over to the stove and figured out how to reach the tea towels that were hanging there, which she immediately pulled down.  haha.  I would put them back up, pull her back across the kitchen and she would do it all over again...probably 5 or 6 times.  That walker is her favorite thing right now!  At first she could only go backwards but once she figured out how to go forward, she hasn't been able to be stopped!  ;)

She has also started sticking her chin out and growling/grunting when she is angry or frustrated. This can be pretty entertaining until she gets very mad and starts fussing.

She is almost crawling!  She figured out how to get up on her hands and knees.  Right now all she has mastered is rocking back and forth.  But I know that any day now my life will be changing big time!  Along the same lines, she managed to go from laying to sitting the other day....still not sure how she managed to do that since I missed the crucial in between phase, but she definitely did it!

Here are my favorite pics from the past month:

Love this outfit!  Those are actually 12 month capris....but we're rockin' them as pants for now!

She never naps with us anymore.  But this was the week my Grand-dad (Dad's dad) was given days to live (just a day or two before he passed) and she must have known he needed a snuggle buddy.  Never even fussed.  Treasured memory for sure.
Daddy is reaching her to love plants just as much as he does....and making sure she doesn't eat them.  ;)

Out of curiosity....when did your little one start to crawl?




Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Truth Is....

Here in America, it is so easy to fall into "the grass is greener" trap.  It is increasingly difficult for us to ever be content.  We are an instant gratification society.  Everything needs to happen right now, right away.  We are self-centered and self-righteous.  We think we deserve things just because...well....just because we....are. 

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But that couldn't be further from the truth.  In fact, the truth is that "the grass isn't always greener" even though it looks like it might be.  The truth is that delayed gratification (learning to wait) is much better for you.  The truth is that we should be focused on others instead of ourselves.  The truth is that we don't deserve a thing.

Because we get all of that backwards, we tend to grumble and complain because we just aren't thankful for what we do have.

And let me tell you what, we all have much to be thankful for.  Yes, even if we're living on the street, abandoned by every last family member and friend, we still have much to be thankful for.

You see....

The truth is - God shows his lovingkindness toward us every single day.  And, when we accept His gift of salvation, He saves us from the depths of Hell.  And the truth is, we don't deserve it.

David points these things out in Psalm 86:

12 I will give thanks to You, O Lord my God, with all my heart,
And will glorify Your name forever.
13 For Your lovingkindness toward me is great
And You have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol

This is the reason we should be thankful!

Every.

Single.

Day.

Ever single moment!

Because He loves us so much, God literally snatches ('delivers' Strong's H5337) our souls from the hand of the devil.  Because of that, we never have to see, we never have to live through the eternal destruction of Hell.

It is absolutely beautiful isn't it?

Especially when we have done nothing to deserve it...


Friday, May 22, 2015

Uniquely Daddy: Zoey's Attic Daddy Gear

So far, our unique Father’s Day gifts include camping gear, a ginger beer kit, a daddy diaper bag, antiques, and a few other things.  Today, I’m bringing you an adorable idea for dads of all ages.

Matching t-shirt sets!!


Father's Day, Gift, Unique, Daddy, Dad, Manly, New Dad, Shower Gift, Zoey's Attic, Personalized Gift, Giveaway, Review, Win, Gift Card
From Zoey's Attic
And I'm not talking the cheesy kind...I'm talking about t-shirts that Dads will actually want to wear.  Here is our selection:

Father's Day, Gift, Unique, Daddy, Dad, Manly, New Dad, Shower Gift, Zoey's Attic, Personalized Gift, Giveaway, Review, Win, Gift Card
Adorable Baby!!  Love her grin here.  :)

We absolutely love this set because we can keep using it after our first baby!!  And it is easily dressed up for a little girl.

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This is my favorite - black and white polka dots! 
Hubby loves this combination so much that he always wants to wear it.  Shortly after it arrived in the mail, we had friends come over.  As soon as he got home from work he changed into his shirt and made sure that I got the baby changed so he could show off.  ;)  And people really do think it's pretty cute!

And if you don't like the grey baby shirt you can also get white, light pink, or light blue.  I love having options!  

These shirts come from a pretty neat little store called Zoey's Attic.  Like a few other shops I have highlighted, this shop was started because there was a lack of unique items for babies.  With a background in graphic design, Erin new she had an opportunity on her hands.  Erin's mom gave her first daughter, Bridget a small zebra names Zoey when she was born.  Since it was a connection between all three generations, Erin used the name for her shop!  And attics, well, to quote the website, "everyone knows that there are wonderful, unexpected treasures to be found in an attic."

Father's Day, Gift, Unique, Daddy, Dad, Manly, New Dad, Shower Gift, Zoey's Attic, Personalized Gift, Giveaway, Review, Win, Gift Card

Here are some of our other Father's Day favorites:

Father's Day, Gift, Unique, Daddy, Dad, Manly, New Dad, Shower Gift, Zoey's Attic, Personalized Gift, Giveaway, Review, Win, Gift Card
Who doesn't love mustaches these days!?!  Find this set here.

Father's Day, Gift, Unique, Daddy, Dad, Manly, New Dad, Shower Gift, Zoey's Attic, Personalized Gift, Giveaway, Review, Win, Gift Card
This is how we stumbled across the Daddy items...since baby girl's name means "oak tree" in Hebrew, we thought this was super cute.  But Hubby really liked the "Adorable Baby" set better... Find this set here.
  
After we have a couple more kiddos, I would love to get this for my dad!  Find this set here.

But they carry more than just items for Dads!  They have all sorts of things for babies and families and much more!  There is something for everyone!

Father's Day, Gift, Unique, Daddy, Dad, Manly, New Dad, Shower Gift, Zoey's Attic, Personalized Gift, Giveaway, Review, Win, Gift Card
  
To Buy: Head on over to the Zoey's Attic Website and take a look around.  Right now you can use the code NOTIES for 10% off for Father's Day!

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To Win: One reader will win a $35 gift code to spend on whatever they like...but don't forget - Father's Day is just around the corner!!  Use the Giveaway Tool below for your chance to win.