Easter Gift Ideas for Families to Enjoy Together {giveaway, too!}

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.  Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.  All opinions in this Easter gift ideas for families post are mine.

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If you have been to any retail store in the past month, you have surely seen the plethora of Easter themed gifts for kids.  Chocolates, candy, stuffed bunny rabbits, shirts, Easter baskets, and more.  All of this is fun, for sure, but I like to include the entire family so we can all enjoy our time together.  Five gifts that would be great for family togetherness and fun follow:

1. Raised garden bed kit (or any garden themed item) – gardening is a great way to involve the whole family and get outdoors this Spring and enjoy God's creation!  There is nothing more satisfying than preparing the ground, planting seeds, and watching a garden full of delicious vegetables and fruits grow.

Easter gifts for families

2. Zoo passes – we absolutely love having a family zoo membership!  We can go any time and spend as much time as we want and we do not feel like we have to stay all day to get our money's worth.  The boys love animals and every time we go, there are new surprises!

3. Picnic basket – eating outside is super fun for the boys.  The times we get to have a picnic is very special, so having a dedicated picnic basket would be such a fun surprise!

4. Tickets to a movie or show – We don't get to the movies very often, but there are many great plays, musicals, and shows to choose from where we live.  Pick an age appropriate movie or show to attend and you will create some great memories with the kids!

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5. A good book about the true meaning of Easter – Easter Stories: Classic Stories for the Holy Season is a collection of classic tales that bring Jesus to the forefront.  Each story was selected for the spiritual value and literary quality.  Authors such as C.S. Lewis, Leo Tolstoy, Selma Lagerlof, Oscar Wilde, Elizabeth Goudge, and more are included in this 383 page book.  

When we received this book, I was excited to begin reading a story each night to the boys.  The Captain has been captivated with these read alouds and hangs on to each word.  He particularly loved a story by Laura E. Richards entitled "The Coming of the King," about a group of kids who want to clean their dirty playground because a king is coming by.  The comparisons and thought provoking details of each story are just wonderful and we have really enjoyed reading this book together!  Read more about this great collection at the Plough website.

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Enter to win a copy of this great book in the Rafflecopter below.  Good luck!

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Stop Spending So Much Green and Check Out Our Lucky Savings on the Lowest Priced Unlimited Plans

This lowest priced unlimited plans shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser.  All opinions are mine alone.  #MarchIntoSavings  #CollectiveBias

Hubby and I have been married for almost ten years and have never had our own landline, we have always relied on our cell phones.  This has saved us a lot of money over the years, but now we are realizing that another phone besides our personal cell phones might be a good idea.  While we do not leave the boys with a sitter often, I think it is important that the Captain, especially, have a way to get in touch with us if he needs us.  While he is far too young for a phone, having communication available for a text or a call when we are away is reassuring to him.  Also, if our regular provider is down or something goes wrong with our phones, it is always important to have a backup.  When looking at landlines or other plans, however, we were overwhelmed!

#MarchIntoSavings #CollectiveBias #ad

I have read a lot about the Walmart Family Mobile plans and have seen the in store display, but been a little too intimidated to try it.  When I finally took the time to look into it at Walmart, I had to give it a try.  I was already shopping for groceries, so it was quick and easy to check out what was available in the electronics section.

#MarchIntoSavings

We decided to treat ourselves to a little St. Patrick's Day gift and see what kind of lucky deal we could get. With the help of the nice man in the mobile department, I bought the Alcatel Evolve 2 at a great price – $39.83, down from $59.88.  He also let me know that we needed the $25 starter kit since we were not already using the Walmart Family Mobile plan.  The starter kit includes a standard and micro SIM card for your phone.  After I checked out and finished my shopping, I was able to easily set up our new phone within 10 minutes at home.  I chose to set it up on the phone with a real person, although you can do it online.  The woman was very helpful and gave me my choices of plans and informed me about when I would be billed, etc. I went with the $29.88/month Unlimited Talk, Text, & Data plan which includes up to 500MB of 4G LTE data.
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Important things to remember about Walmart Family Mobile plans:

  • plans are NOT prepaid, but postpaid
  • you must cancel the plan at any time and you will receive one final bill after you cancel
  • unless you are currently a Walmart Family Mobile customer, you must purchase a $25 starter kit
  • there are many phones to choose from, or you can use your own phone
  • you have options – prices, plans, phones – you can surely find just what you and your family need!

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Our family has enjoyed getting to know our new family mobile phone.  We have looked up St. Patrick's Day recipes and crafts, played fun games, and more!  I have also loved the extra security of a helpful back up phone that doesn't break the bank.  We definitely found the "pot of gold" with Walmart Family Mobile!
 
How would this plan be helpful for your family?

Frozen 2 is Officially in Development!

We are still loving Frozen in our house, especially after our trip to Walt Disney World last week.  We were able to watch the Frozen Sing Along at Disney's Hollywood Studios.  It was JAM packed and pretty difficult to reserve a Fast Pass for.  But, we did and we loved it!  Well, our biggest Frozen fan, Baby Brother, was exhausted, so he fell asleep mid show, but the rest of us really loved the live show!  BUT he was able to enjoy seeing Princess Anna, Queen Elsa, and Olaf in the parade!

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So now…for the news we have all been waiting for….Frozen 2 is officially in development at Walt Disney Animation Studios!  The news was announced at Disney's Annual Meeting of Shareholders this morning by Bob Iger, chairman and chief executive officer of The Walt Disney Company; John Lasseter, chief creative officer of Walt Disney; and actor Josh Gad, who of course is "Olaf" in Frozen.

John Lasseter said:

We enjoyed making 'Frozen Fever' so much and being back in that world with those characters.  Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck have come up with a great idea for a sequel and you will be hearing a lot more about it and we're taking you back to Arendelle.  We are so excited about that.

Release date and productions details are yet to be announced, but this is super exciting!!

What do you think the story line behind Frozen 2 will be?
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Our Disney World Adventure (Including How We Told The Boys!)

Back in October, we decided to plan a trip with a homeschooling group on their Disney World trip.  Families from all over the country planned to venture to Walt Disney World in Florida the first week of March, and we were very fortunate to be able to go.  We somehow managed to wait until two days before we left to tell the boys, and we did so with a fun scavenger hunt and final reveal…a video of Daddy and I telling them we were going to leave the cold weather and go to Disney World on Monday!  We had an absolute blast and I'm sure you will hear more about it later, but first…check out this fun video of our boys learning they were going to Disney World for the very first time!!  

So many people have said to wait until the boys were older so they could remember the trip, but this was just a perfect opportunity and in all honesty, they were the perfect age.  The Captain and D both love Disney Junior, still, so they were able to enjoy that part of Hollywood Studios together, along with Baby Brother.  D was too short for a few rides, but he's also very agreeable and happily went to other rides with Baby Brother and me.  Baby Brother was very easy going and made this whole experience the more wonderful.  And yes, he won't remember this trip, but his brothers will, and we will, and those memories are ones to cherish.  We didn't like the idea of having to wait until our youngest was 8 to enjoy a family vacation.  We are SO GLAD that we went.  It was magical, fun, and such a great vacation!

Disney World

And by the way, if you insist on waiting until all of your children will remember….my husband went to Disney when he was 11 and does not remember much, at all.  ha!  So sometimes, you never know!

Have you been to Disney World or Disney Land?  I'd love to hear about it!

Stock Up on Fig Bars for the Holidays!

This post was created in partnership with Nature's Bakery fig bars. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Nature's Bakery fig barsThe holiday season can be stressful and chaotic, and our good eating habits tend to go out the window for a few weeks (months?)  This year, I decided to have healthier snack foods on hand for our family and I have been proven time and time again how smart this was!

Running errands with the kids?  Don't stop for fast food, grab a Nature's Bakery fig bar.  Wrapping gifts and don't want to stop?  Fig bars.  Watching a Christmas program and need to dig a delicious but healthy snack out of your bag?  Fig bars!  Every time one of us gets hungry, instead of grabbing something unhealthy, I get a Nature's Bakery fig bar.  All three of the boys (ages 6, 4, and 1) LOVE fig bars.  Their favorite flavors are blueberry and strawberry, but all six of the delicious flavors are satisfying, healthy, non-GMO, and trans fat free.  Other flavors include: apple cinnamon, raspberry, peach apricot, lemon, mango, and fig.  Yum!  Each package contains two mini fig bars, which are the perfect size for little hands.  The sticky center can be a little messy, but when something tastes so good, it's hard to make much of a mess.  
Nature's Bakery Fig BarsNon-GMO ingredients include:  stone ground whole wheat flour, dried cane syrup, brown rice syrup, fig paste, canola oil, rolled oats, oat fiber, ammonia-free caramel color, sea salt, citric acid, natural flavors, baking soda, and more, depending on the flavor.  (The blueberry fig bar is colored with red cabbage extract!)

Nature's Bakery Fig Bars stocking

Join Nature's Bakery Fig Bar Fanatics Program and enter to win a box of fig bars for yourself in the Rafflecopter form below!


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Join Me for a #GiftOutsideTheBox Christmas Twitter Party on Wednesday!

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'Tis the season for gift giving and celebrations!  Make time for good deeds and paying it forward, too!  Join me and other great hosts and co-hosts for a fun Twitter party!

When:  Wednesday, December 10th at 1 PM, ET (noon CT/11 am MT, 10 am PT)

Where:  Twitter, following #GiftOutsideTheBox

RSVP here

What the Party is about:  Are you planning on giving back this holiday season? While doing good deeds is a great idea all year, the spirit of the holiday season gives us even more inspiration to pay it forward.

Paying it forward means to perform an act of kindness without expecting anything in return, other than the person receiving the act of kindness doing something nice for someone else. It’s a simple, powerful concept that can change the lives of others and make us feel great. Doing something nice for a friend, neighbor, or even a complete stranger also makes you happier and less stressed – and we all need that during this hectic time of year.

Join SBLI and Charley Johnson, President of the Pay it Forward Foundation, for a Twitter party to share tips and ideas for how we can pay it forward this holiday season. We’ll also be talking about how you can get the whole family involved in paying it forward, and how to teach your kids the importance of spreading kindness.

Prizes: We will be giving away five prizes to randomly selected winners. Five winners who answer trivia questions during the party will receive $50 VISA gift cards, and a Pay it Forward bracelet!

Hosts: @SavingsBankLife and @charleypif

Co-hosts:  

Danielle, Simmworks:  @simmworksfamily
Dawn, Homemaking Hacks: @dawnchats
Gena, Life with Captain Fussybuckets: @cptfussybuckets

Jamie, Roubinek Reality: @jmroubinek

Kristin, Exploring Domesticity: @ExpDomesticity

Leila, Life as Leels: @LifeasLeels

Melissa, Outnumbered 3-1: @OutnumberedMama

Tesa, 2 Wired 2 Tired: @2Wired2Tired

 

New Series on Netflix – “VeggieTales in the House” {giveaway, too!}

Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.  Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

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The Captain is really getting into Veggie Tales lately!  It's a fun, safe, and I feel good about him watching it.  Well, a NEW series – "Veggie Tales In The House" is a Netflix original, and it is delightful and fun, as well!  The veggies have a new look and all new adventures.  Veggie Tales in the House weaves morals into good old family fun.  The Captain really enjoys the privilege of watching this new series on Netflix on the iPad.

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The all new series remains true to the values-driven storytelling that has made VeggieTales such a beloved part of childhood.  The episodes are 22 minutes long and only available for Netflix members in the US, Canada, Latin America, UK, Ireland, the Nordics, Benelux, and France to watch instantly.  In each of the episodes, two separate 11 minute stories impart important life lessons designed to captivate audiences of all ages.  Every episode has brand new songs and the closing phrase that has been with VeggieTales since the beginning:  "God made you special, and He loves you very much."

And if you're worried, Netflix has great parental controls.  Set it to where kids can only watch shows tailored to them, so no bad content reaches their little eyes.  We have ours set for only G rated shows and movies to be able to be accessed, and of course "VeggieTales in the House" is just that.  Perfect for the whole family.  Visit the official website to learn more.

To go along with the brand new Netflix series, check out the Veggie Tales Holiday Hotline.  It's a fun way to get holiday recipes, silly songs, vegetable jokes, Bible verse of the day, and more!  And…it's free!

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I am excited to give one reader their own 3 month subscription to Netflix.  Just enter in the Rafflecopter form below.  Giveaway ends 12/15/14 and is open to US/CAN only.  Good luck!

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How to Keep Your Marriage Strong (Even After Having Children)

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

How to Keep Your Marriage Strong

Marriage is hard, guys.  It really is.  No one ever told me it would be…not that I would have listened.  It takes constant work and attention to make a marriage work.  People drift apart and marriages fail.  Add children to the mix and time and attention has to be split.  It can get messy and often, it does, unfortunately.  

Hubby and I have a strong marriage, but we had to make adjustments when we became parents.  The most stressful time, in my opinion, was when the Captain was about 3 and D was 1.  We were still adjusting to Hubby's new job, living in a new town, and being a family of four.  It seemed like the Captain kept getting sick and D had chronic ear infections.  It was hard to be optimistic about anything and our relationship did suffer because we didn't prioritze correctly.  Instead of turning to each other, we just bickered a lot.  It was hard.  It felt like we were in a hole and we had no idea how to get out.  But, by the grace of God, we managed to get out, but we had to do it together.  We realized what was important to us and did everything to make things better….and it worked. 

Obviously I'm not a professional marriage counselor and we have only been married for 9 1/2 years, but here are my personal tips to keep your marriage strong….or at least what has worked for us.

1.  Respect each other.  This should be obvious, but respect is missing in a lot of relationships.  I try to remember….if I don't want my spouse doing it, then I don't need to be doing it.  If you don't want your spouse badmouthing you to his/her friends, don't do it either.  If you don't want your spouse to go to lunch with a member of the opposite sex, don't do it either (even if it is "completely innocent" to you.)  If you don't want your spouse looking at naked pictures online, you don't do it either.  This also goes for respecting their opinion, which was a huge pill for me to swallow.  No man likes to be belittled and told that his opinion doesn't matter.  Men need respect from their wives and if my husband feels strongly about something, then I make it a point to respect his opinion and work with him instead of just doing whatever it is I want to do.  This is especially true about parenting.  Even though I may spend more time with the kids, he is still their dad and needs to have an opinion, too.  Just think….what will happen if one day he stops having an opinion?  That means he doesn't care and is disengaged.

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2.  Go on dates.  Oh man, is this a hard one.  I can always find a million reasons why Hubby and I don't need to go out on a date.  No one wants to baby-sit three kids, we need to save our money, Baby Brother is going to cry, blah blah blah, the list goes on and on.  But, the truth is…uninterrupted dates are so nice and we must make it a priority.  Even if we are only gone for an hour, it is nice to be able to devote all of our attention on each other without having to worry about the kids.

3.  Give your spouse what he/she needs.  Find out what it is that they need and make every effort to give it to them.  When Baby Brother is having sleepless nights, Hubby has helped me out so I can get a nap or at least some extra help with the boys (or a coffee on the really bad days!)  He always asks if I need anything if he is at the store and I always check with him, too.  But beyond that, we need to find out what our spouse needs and try as hard as we can to give it to them.  Love, respect, intimacy, companionship, a button sewed back on a shirt, a warm cup of coffee….it could be big or small, but it's important!

4.  Communicate.  It's hard with kids to get an untinterrupted word in.  Hubby and I text all day because we have to.  If we didn't, we wouldn't have a clue what was going on!  It's not a constant thing, but if I need to tell him something, I'll send him a text.  If I'm thinking about him, I'll send him a text.  Some days are long and a text from the hubby makes it easier.  And, since our kids go to bed later than the average kid, there's not a lot of time we have to sit around and chat together, but we try as much as we can.  Find a way to communicate, no matter how you go about it.

5.  Have a daily devotional.  I know there is never enough time in the day for everything you want to accomplish, but taking a 5-10 minute break to just read together, pray together, and reflect on a prompt is so helpful.  And it makes communicating easier.

Hubby and I have been enjoying the couple's devotional "Awaken Love" from "THE SONG" movie.  It was written by Kyle & Desirae Idleman and is a fantastic, short, easy to read through devo that can help you and your spouse discuss important topics and either keep the flame alive or awaken love in your marriage.  No matter what your story is, I think you will benefit from this devo.  We certainly have!

Awaken Love The Song

 

Here is a preview of "The Song" movie, which was inspired by the Song of Solomon from the Bible.  It is about marriage, adultery, reconciliation, and redemption.  I haven't seen it, but it looks like a tear jerker for sure.  (It should be noted again that you don't have to have these issues in your marriage to get a huge benefit from the couple's devo book!)

Visit "The Song" movie website for additional resources and enter to win a copy of this great couple's devotional book in the Rafflecopter below!  Giveaway ends December 10, 2014!

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The Boxcar Children DVD {giveaway, closed}

 This post has been brought to you by Propeller Consulting, LLC.  Opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

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The boys love to have movie night and let's be honest, so do I!  The problem for me, however, is finding good, wholesome movies that are entertaining and hold the boys' attention.  I had always heard about "The Boxcar Children" book series but sadly, had never read the books.  But, I had an idea that "The Boxcar Children" animated movie would be  good one.  And I love the fact that it is rated G and endorsed by the Dove Foundation!

We had movie night and just as I had hoped….both D, who is 3 and the Captain, who is 5, ADORED this movie.  They watch it any chance they get.  It's fun, entertaining, and gives you the warm fuzzies.  It's just an honesty terrific family movie. 

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The storyline is this:  four orphaned siblings feel like they aren't wanted or loved.  They are on the run from a grandfather that they are scared of, but have never met.  They find an abandoned boxcar and make it their home.  I won't spoil the end for you, but it has a sweet, happy ending and it truly is heartwarming.  

Featuring an all-star cast of voice actors, including Academy Award Nominee Martin Sheen (Apocalypse Now), J.K. Simmons (Spiderman), Zach Gordon (Diary of a Wimpy Kid), Joey King (Fargo), Mackenzie Foy (Twilight series), and Jadon Sand (LEGO: The Movie), this is the very first full-length, animated feature adaptation of Gertrude Chandler Warner's best-selling classic!

"The Boxcar Children" is now available at Walmart!  Check out the classic books at The Boxcar Chidren website!

Follow on Facebook and Twitter, too!

Enter to win a copy of "The Boxcar Children" DVD!  Enter by leaving a comment telling me if you ever read these books as a child and/or why you want to win!  

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.  Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Dont Wait For The Ice Cream Truck – Make An #IceCreamRun!

This ice cream post was brought to you by Global Influence.  All opinions are mine.

We live in a relatively small town, but there is a local ice cream truck that makes it rounds on random days.  I say random because last summer, it seems that the only time it came to town was when it was pouring rain, which wasn't often.  The boys did learn that even if the ice cream truck drove by, we couldn't always get a treat.  I, personally, am not a fan of the ice cream truck because of many reasons.  We can't check the ingredients, we don't always have cash, and it's not always a good time to have ice cream.  Not to mention the fact that the prices are insane!  It's hard to get a good ice cream treat for less than $3.  

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But, well….it is summer and the occasional treat is special.  Did you know that Walgreens has a great assortment of ice cream and ice cream treats?  You don't need to wait for the ice cream truck or make a big grocery store trip to get some ice cream treats your family loves.  I took the boys to Walgreens and let them each choose a treat…there are so many to choose from!

Walgreens #IceCreamRunWe came home with Fruttare strawberry and milk pops, Magnum Double Caramel ice cream bars, and good ol' Klondike bars.  They are perfect to keep in the freezer for days that we need a special treat.Walgreens #IceCreamRun

 We had an ice cream party and all enjoyed our favorite ice cream treat!  D loved the strawberry Fruttare bars.  They're a great way to cool off on a sweltering Texas summer day!

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Hubby was a fan of the Double Caramel bars from Magnum.  (and they were my favorite, too!)  So delicious!

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Have you ever made an Ice Cream run to Walgreens?  What would you buy if you were to choose?