Visit Texas Christkindl Market Arlington TX

Christkindl Market Arlington TX

Texas Christkindl Market Arlington TX

This post has been brought to you by the Arlington Convention & Visitors Bureau. All opinions are mine.

Arlington 2011 Christkindl Market Day Two photographed Saturday, December 2, 2011. Photography by Bruce E. Maxwell.[/caption]

We love holiday events, but are always unsure about the best ones in our area, and if they are even family friendly.  This year we will be attending the Texas Christkindl Market in Arlington, TX and here's why!  

First of all, the event is free and parking is free.  It's not a gamble to if your family will like it and if it's "worth it," because you only spend what you want to spend.  It's an open air market where you can shop for gifts and holiday decorations, enjoy German cuisine, holiday beverages, live entertainment, events for the kids, and much more.

Christkindl Market Arlington TX

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Family Dinners are Important, Even On Busy Days {Dinner Table Question Game Printable}

This family dinners shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BlakesAllNatural #CollectiveBias
Make Family Dinners Special #BlakesAllNatural ad #cbias

Fall is a busy time of year for us. Like most families, we have school, sports, and church events, holidays, and also three birthdays!  All of the boys were born in November or December and it's a crazy time of year!  Some days are so jam packed, that we resort to quickly eating whatever we can find in the fridge or going out to eat.  I simply cannot be stuck in the kitchen for hours, although I want to always provide my family with good tasting, all natural foods.

Keeping the freezer stocked with easy to prepare foods is a must for this time of year.  I was thrilled to see the selection of homemade comfort foods by Blake's, at Walmart the other day.  And right now, there's a great deal on ibotta that will make stocking up on Blake's frozen foods even smarter.

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VeggieTales Live! Little Kids Do Big Things! Coming to Verizon Theatre, DFW!

If your kids love "Veggie Tales" and you're in the Dallas/ Ft. Worth, Texas area, you should definitely take them to "Veggie Tales LIVE!" on November 28th at the Verizon Theatre in Grand Prairie!  Bob the Tomato, Larry the Cucumber, and all of their Veggie friends will be there for the VeggieTales Live! Little Kids Do Big Things tour.

Fans of all ages are sure to love this show.  Join the crew in a musical review that celebrates kids and the fact that with help and faith, they can do big things, too!  This all new production features live performances of Veggie silly song favorites like The Hairbrush Song and I Love My Lips as well as songs that inspire like Big Things Too.  This high-energy show is jam packed with VeggieTales greatest hits.

VeggieTales provides wholesome, quality entertainment that promotes values and lessons kids use for a lifetime such as telling the truth, sharing and forgiveness.   

Tickets to VeggieTales Live!  Little Kids Do Big Things tour can be purchased at, by phone 1-888-929-7849 or at the theatre box office.  A limited number of VIP tickets are available, which include premium seating and a special meet and greet with your favorite VeggieTales characters!

For the most up to date tour itinerary and additional ticket and tour information please visit

HUGE Best Buy Holiday Shopping Event: This Saturday, November 7!

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10 Things Every Family Should Keep In The Car {Go2Towel and Starbucks Giveaway}

We spend much of our time in the car- going to see family, driving to and from sports practices and events, going shopping, to church, to school, and many other things during each and every week.  We are very thankful to have cars to take us to the places that we need to go!  It's important to remember that because we are in the car so much, it's helpful that we keep them well stocked with essential items in case we need them.

With winter approaching, it's important to keep things in your car that are specific to your climate.  This is just a general list, but obviously if you live in Alaska, you will need to add more things to your car essentials list!

Ten Things Every Family Should Keep In The Car

1.  First Aid Kit – You can purchase a first aid kit specifically for your car or create your own, but it should have things like band-aids, first aid directions, gauze, scissors, tweezers, vinyl gloves, alcohol prep pads, and more.

2.  Extra Clothes –  Accidents, spills, rain, and more happen!  Pack underwear, socks, a season appropriate outfit, and a jacket for each member of the family.  You can save money by shopping thrift stores for extra clothes.

3.  Water – There have been so many times that the kids have been thirsty and completely drank all of the water they had when we left the house within the first ten minutes of the trip.  Always grab two times the water that you think you will need.  Leaving water in plastic bottles in the car in the hot summer days isn't a good idea, but storing water in glass bottles or stocking up each trip is a good idea.

4.  Snacks – Any parent knows that this one is a biggie.  Kids get hungry, even when you thing there's no way they could possibly eat another bite.  Keep a stash of granola bars, crackers, or other snacks in the car at all times to be prepared for any bouts of hunger.

5.  Jumper cables – If you ever need help starting your battery, it's better to have a set of your own jumper cables instead of trying to find someone who has some that you can use. 

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Make Fire Safety Fun! Throw a Party to Help Kids Learn and Make a DIY Paw Patrol Badge, too!

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. Teach your kids about fire safety. #ChangeYourClock #CollectiveBias#ChangeYourClockOur boys have always loved to play dress-up.  If there is one real profession that they love pretending to be the most, it is a firefighter.  I think it has to do with getting to spray a really huge hose and that they drive huge red trucks, but the boys just love it.  Their love for being firemen has allowed us to teach them key facts when it comes to fire safety.  Since they were all old enough to walk, and probably even before, we have been teaching them that we do not touch hot things, don't touch the oven or stove, don't play with lighters or matches, etc, like all parents teach their kids.  But, there is really so much more to be taught when it comes to fire safety.

I realized it was time to have a big family discussion about fire safety, what to do in case there is a fire, and what a smoke detector is.  (I figured they should know that it's not just something that goes off when Mommy burns something.)  With the time change coming up, I had already picked up some Energizer® MAX® 9V batteries at Target to change out our existing batteries in our smoke alarms.


I told the boys that we would be having a "Fire Safety Party" and they were excited!  They dressed up in their fire fighter gear and we took the party outside.  I made it very kid friendly with a coloring sheet, crayons, cupcakes, and also a DIY Paw Patrol badge craft.
fire cupcakesMommy's attempt at fire cupcakes. The "fire" is melted cherry Jolly Ranchers that had been broken up.Fire Safety

Download the coloring page and Household Safety Checklist and printables that we used!

We then made a pretty simple DIY Paw Patrol badge.  I am confessing that I used a badge printable template online, and they were easy for the Captain to make.  The boys were so excited to have a badge like Marshall's from the Paw Patrol, which is one show that they all love!  Dogs helping out, who can resist?

DIY Paw Patrol BadgeMaterials needed for Paw Patrol badge:

  • one sheet of white foam
  • one sheet of red paper
  • one sheet of yellow paper
  • liquid school glue (glue stick doesn't work…we tried)
  • one large safety pin per badge
  • hot glue gun, for parents' use only
  • scissors
  • optional – badge template if you are like me and cannot freehand one!

paw patrol badgeDirections:

  1. Trace badge template or freehand a badge shape onto white foam paper.
  2. Trace smaller badge template or freehand a smaller one on red paper.
  3. Cut out white badge and red badge
  4. Use liquid glue to attach red badge on top of the white foam badge.  You don't want to use too much glue, so smooth it out with your finger or a paint brush prior to attaching it to the foam.  
  5. The foam is difficult to stick to, so I turned the badge over after I had glued the red badge on top and put a book on top for about 3-5 minutes to make it flat and smooth.
  6. Meanwhile, cut a flame shape out of the yellow paper.  This was a little trickier for the Captain, so I helped.
  7. Glue the yellow flame on top of the red paper on the badge.
  8. When your badge is complete, hot glue a large safety pin on the back of the badge, leaving the pin side outwards so it's easy to attach to your child's clothing.
  9. After the hot glue has dried, attach to clothing and let the Paw Patrol fun begin!

Paw Patrol Marshall Badge

After that, Daddy gave the boys a great lesson on changing the batteries in our smoke detectors.  He showed them how to do it, talked about what smoke detectors were for, and more about fire safety.

#ChangeYourClockHe then showed the boys how to check to see if the smoke detector was working properly with the test button.

#ChangeYourClocksD wasn't a fan of the loud noise, but it was helpful for him to see how and what the loud smoke dector is for!

Did you know that Energizer® and the International Association of Fire Chiefs started the "Change Your Clocks Change Your Batteries" program 28 years ago after realizing that many houses had smoke detectors with missing, disconnected, or dead batteries?   Throughout this important program, they have donated more than 5 million batteries in coordination with local fire departments to help make sure more families have working smoke alarms.  Smoke alarms provide an early warning to families and cuts the risk of dying in a house fire in half!  It's amazing that a simple working battery can save your life.  So remember that whenever it's time to change your clocks, it's time to change the batteries in your smoke detectors, too!  Teach your kids so they can help you remember and keep you accountable.

How do you teach your children about fire safety in the home?


Easily Stay Connected with a Home Security System from Arlo by Netgear at Best Buy

This home security system post was brought to you by Netgear and Best Buy.  The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free.

Easily Stay Connected with a Home Security SystemI am very lucky to be able to stay at home and be with my kids all day, as well as work from home.  We live in a somewhat quiet town, but we live on a busy street and people come to our house often.  Usually it's a neighbor or friend, but sometimes it is a solicitor or someone that I do not know.  I feel like I do not have to answer the door when I am alone with the kids, but I like to know who it is before making that decision, especially if I'm trying to get someone to sleep or change a dirty.  Also, we leave home often and really have no way of protecting our valuables while we are away.  Our neighbors are watching out for us, but that's never a guarantee.

Having a home security system is something that I have wanted, but felt that it was too expensive or hard to maintain.  I recently found out that there are affordable options with great features at Best Buy.  Netgear Arlo Smart Home four camera set is only available at Best Buy and is a great value at $499.  It enables users to safeguard their home or business with reliable security cameras.

Arlo Smart Home

Hubby is the electronics installer around here and is quite good at it, I must say.  He was excited about the new security cameras and installed them in less than an hour.  We picked four places that we felt needed a bit of security, inside and out, and we have been pleased with what we are able to see at any time of the day or night.  He installed the outdoor cameras with the swivel mount and the indoor ones with the simple magnetic mounts.  I was in awe when I saw that they are completely wire free and so easy to install.

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Seven Things You Should Do Before Getting Pregnant

7 Things You Should Do Before Getting PregnantI always knew I wanted to become a mother.  Some of my earliest memories involve dolls and playing house.  I often thought about what I would name my children, how many I would have, and who I would marry and what kind of dad he would be.  I also loved to baby-sit and work in the church nursery.  I just loved babies and could not wait until I had one of my own!  

When Ben and I got married, I knew that we needed to wait a few years until we had kids, but would have started trying right away if he wanted to!  We finally agreed to wait three years until we started trying, which turned into two years, but it was almost 3 1/2 years before we actually had the Captain.  

I do wish, now that, we had done more things as a couple before we had kids.  I feel like we spent so much time working and not enough time just hanging out with each other and enjoying each other's company.  His job was pretty stressful at times, as was mine, and we were spending too much time without really "unwinding."  You see, we both started our first "grown-up" jobs right after getting married.  I don't feel like our marriage suffered because of our job, but we definitely should have taken a few more breaks than we did.  "Breaks" for us was going to Walmart or out to eat…seriously!  So, here are some things that I should have done and also some things I did do and I'm glad about it.  As you begin trying to conceive and having kids, know that you will need to start taking advice with a grain of salt, because the advice will FLOOD in.  With that said, this is only my personal advice so feel free to take it or leave it.  

Please leave your "I wish I would have" or "must do before pregnancy"…in the comments section.

7 Things You Should Do Before TTC

1.  Go on a trip with your husband.  I had heard lots of people talking about a "baby moon," which is defined as "a relaxing or romantic vacation taken by parents-to-be before their baby is born."  That's great and all, but I wasn't a very good pregnant traveler.  I was nauseated all day, every day for the first trimester, had to pee every hour, was uncomfortable, had heartburn, needed lots of sleep, and probably was more unpleasant than I actually remember.  PLUS, I was paranoid about having the baby early (haha!) and felt I needed to stay close to home.  Needless to say, traveling while pregnant wasn't a good idea for me, at all.  What I wish that we would have done is taken a long, leisurely vacation before we got pregnant.  We had been married for 2+ years when we decided to start trying to conceive, and a cruise or other relaxing vacation would have been nice.  Now we have been married for 10+ years, have three kids, and while family vacations are awesome, I don't see us taking a couples' vacation alone for awhile.  It just would have been something nice to create extra bonding time and memories.  

2.  Take a look at your diet.  Now, I'm not saying go all out and google "pregnancy diet" and start an extreme fruits and veggies diet.  If you want to, then go for it, but you really don't have to eat anything specific to get pregnant.  Some women say that losing weight and exercising helped, but it's not a necessity.  DO look at what you're eating and see where you could make better choices to make yourself healthier and your baby-to-be healthier, too.  If your diet consists of packaged, processed foods, consider swapping out some with real food.  If nothing else, you will feel better.  And, it might make morning sickness easier and make it easier to eat healthy during pregnancy if you start now.

3.  Look at your budget, spending habits, and insurance.  I don't think you can ever have "enough" money to have a baby, but I do think couples need to have an idea of their spending habits and see if there are any ways they could cut costs if they need to.  You don't want to pay for a baby with credit, so make sure you understand your maternity insurance and decide if you need to cut out a luxury.  10 months of extra cable channels could give you a nice chunk of change that you can spend on hospital or midwife bills when the time comes.  Just be smart when you're spending.

4.  Start taking a good prenatal vitamin.  There are a lot of great, non-prescription options, in many different forms.  Liquids, powders, capsules, and the traditional pill form.  Read the labels, talk to your doctor or nurse, make sure it has enough folic acid, and choose real food vitamins whenever possible.

5.  Don't read any pregnancy books….yet.  Again, this is just my personal advice, but 40 weeks is a loooooooooong time when you are pregant and anxiously anticipating your arrival.  Unless you have a high stress job or hobby, you WILL have enough time to read a few books, magazines, and online articles about everything pregnancy, babies, and beyond.  There's really no need to read about the different types of baby poop when you aren't pregnant yet…unless you just really want to!


6.  Get a hobby.  It doesn't take much time to create a baby, (wink, wink) but it does come with a LOT of waiting.  If your cycle is regular, you have about 28 days between periods to sit around and you do not just want to sit around waiting for that positive pregnancy test!  I enjoyed gardening to help keep my mind from obsessing about getting pregnant, but I also played games online when Hubby was at work or on a trip during the summers when I wasn't working.  It's very, very easy to be consumed with everything about babies and pregnancy.  Don't let your mind dwell there.  Start a hobby now so you can just continue it after you get pregnant.  Sewing, cooking, crafting, gardening, running, blogging, whatever you love and can get lost in.

7.  Start charting.  I have to conciously try not to get on a soapbox about this, but it helps SO much to know your body.  Read my "Newsflash: Not Everyone Ovulates on Day 14" article to learn more, but just know that if you're one of the ones without a regular cycle, or even if you really DO ovulate on Day 14 every single time, it's important to know your body.  Some women don't ovulate until day 20 (or later) and some never ovulate at all.  Charting and taking your basal body temperature every morning will shed a light on when you need to start trying to get pregnant.

Just ENJOY the days before you start trying to conceive.  Enjoy your husband, get to know yourself, get ready for a completely wonderful, yet life altering change!  And remember that this is the man you will be with after the kids are all grown, so build that relationship now, so it will stand firm during those sleepless nights, long days, and trying times.

When you ARE ready to try to get pregnant, take a deep breath, tell only who you want to know, and try to let life go on around you.  When everything else feels right, look to Astroglide TTC™ to help.  This special formula is made exactly for couples who are trying to conceive, supporting fertility with adjusted pH levels.

Here's a helpful article I wrote to pass along to friends and family, if ttc does stress you out and people's comments are ticking you off:  "What NOT To Say To A Childless Couple Who Is Trying To Conceive.

Do you have any other tips or advice for couples who are not quite ready to start trying to get pregnant?  

Astroglide TTC™ sponsored this blog post. The opinions and text are all mine


Astroglide TTC™ sponsored this blog post. The opinions and text are all mine

Make Better Choices on the Beverage Aisle {Plus a Beverage Bands DIY}

 This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.  #SipandBeFit #CollectiveBias

DIY Beverage Bands

If one thing is for certain, our family stays well hydrated.  We all love our drinks, but admittedly, they're not always healthy.  I have made a concious efffort to start drinking more water and when I want a sweet drink, to make it a better beverage choice.  I know the boys are always watching…and waiting to have a sip of my drink, as well!  I need to be making good drink choices not only for me, but for my family.

Walmart has lots of drink choices, and some of my favorite healthier options are in the beverage aisle.  Right now, you can print a money saving coupon on some better-for-you drink options at Walmart.  Also, don't miss this great Ibotta offer.

Making Better Drink Choices

One of my favorite new finds is bai5.  I love the Brasilia Blueberry flavor!  There are only 5 calories per serving and it is non-GMO and naturally sweetened.  It has blueberry, blackberry, and strawberry juices for flavor and even has some caffeine in it (35 mg, like a cup of green tea, so not all that much.)  I also love the taste and convenience of bottled FIJI water!  And the taste of Snapple iced tea is awesome, and there are many different choices to fit your preferences and dietary needs, like the Diet Snapple iced tea.

While we are making healthier drink choices, the issue still exists that we can't keep track of which drink is ours.  That's fine, I guess, since we are all family, but with the holidays and sick season coming up, I wanted to create a way to keep track of our drinks.  The boys and I made some super cute DIY Beverage Bands that were very easy!

Better Drink Choices

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Our Celebratory Snackation! {Easy, Delicious Crunchy Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars Recipe, too!}

This crunchy peanut butter chocolate bars and snackation post was brought to you by Smucker's.  All opinions are mine.

Smucker's JIF Snackation

School started this week for the older two boys and man, it has been a long week!  The Captain started off apprehensive, but finished the week confident and looking forward to the next week.  D, however, back tracked and was very, very sad by Friday.  We all needed a break, whether we wanted to admit it or not.

I had planned a special "Snackation" to celebrate our first week of school and we just had a nice, relaxing time as a family in our backyard.  We are lucky enough to have the shade of a tree, a great swingset, and a relatively quiet neighborhood.  We laid a blanket out and just sat, snacked, talked, and had fun.  It was great quality family time.  And of course, there was yummy food!  I used the Smucker's and JIF products that I bought at Walmart for our Snackation and made a few special treats for us to enjoy as a family.

Baby Brother cannot have peanut butter, but he enjoyed a grape jelly sandwich and apple slices, as well as some strawberries.

snackation3D really loved dipping his apple slices in Jif to go peanut butter cups.  I think I will send some to school in his lunch box next week. 

We also tried the new Jif Cookies 'n Cream Hazelnut spread with strawberries.  This spread has so many possibilities.


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