Wednesday, September 28, 2011

10 Ways to Declutter the Playroom!

Are your kids messy?  Ok, ok, what kid ISN'T messy?  (That's a much easier question!)  I have found some things that work (for us) to keep the mess contained and fairly easy to pick up.

1.  Have a plastic tub - you know, the BIG ones - and take unused (but still age-appropriate) toys and put them in the tub.  Put the tub in an unknown location so that you can swap out with another set of unused toys in about 4-6 months.

2.  Build what works.  We are building a large, wooden shelving system to store toys in.  It has plenty of space for the tall, bulky, awkward toys.  And then it has space for bins for the small stuff.  I realize that building your own isn't an option for everyone - if that's the case, look for something until you find something that fits your home rather than buying a new piece over and over.

3.  Labels/Photos - For younger kids, take photos of what goes in each bin and use them as labels.  I use a combination of photos AND words to label our bins.

4.  If you are done playing with it, PUT IT AWAY!  This really helps cut down on the time it takes to pick up, but it also creates more space to play.

5.  Get rid of the toys that are no longer age-appropriate.  If your kid can't/won't play with something because it's too "young" for them, donate those things to friends, family or charity!

6.  Use a bookshelf for books - don't mix those treasures into your toys.  They will just get bent and torn that way.

7. Only use the space you have.  If you have a playroom, but the kids like to play in the living room, let them.  BUT, make sure ALL toys go back to their place at the end of the day.

8.  Clean out.  Go back to #1.  When you are sorting unused toys, this is the PERFECT time to divide toys into 4 piles - keep, toss, sell and donate.

9.  Get the kids involved.  They are more likely to keep a clean/organized space if they have a hand in cleaning up/out.  Let them decide what they don't want anymore and where it should go (charity or garage sale).

10.  Be flexible.  It's a kids' space - there WILL be disorganization.  Hopefully setting some limits and labels will help to keep it more organized that it was before.

In what ways do you and your family keep the play areas of your home organized? 

I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Hot Wheels® blogging program, for a gift card worth $40. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

My Little Mover

I have never been a fan of the changing table.  We have always changed diapers on the floor in the middle of the living room.  We have a little end table that houses the basket of diapers and wipes.  When a change is needed, we pull out the basket and get to work. 
What's diaper changing time like at your house? Do you change on a changing table or on the floor? What do you do to keep your kiddo happy (and STILL) while you change their diapers?

C is right at the age that he SHOULD be potty-training, but he knows that he is in charge of that and he tells me he is NOT ready.  So, when it's time for a diaper change, I wrangle him to the blue "diaper changing rug."  Then I have to make sure he has something to entertain him while I attempt to change his diaper.  Even if he has something to play with, he tries to get away to find something better to play with.

We tried Pull-Ups, but they are a little more expensive than diapers and what's the point in trying to transition if C is telling me he doesn't want to?
Well, Huggies has come up with and AWESOME new diaper design ... Huggies Slip-Ons!!  I LOVE this idea!  All I have to do is pull off the old diaper and he can step into the new one!  Also, I really like the idea that this is a precursor to moving on to Pull-Ups and then to BIG BOY UNDIES!!
I am anxious to try the new Slip-Ons!  I want to know how I change a poopy diaper with the slip-on design.  I want to know if C would be more motivated to use the potty if he has to take a diaper on and off like regular underwear.

What do you cute names do you call your kiddo when they won't stay still for diaper changes?  I usually call C a Wiggle Worm.  No explanation necessary, I am sure ... he just won't stay still!  What is it with kids and not wanting to get out of that dirty diaper!?

You can find more info on Huggies:

Or you can:
Like Huggies on Facebook
Follow @huggies on Twitter

I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Huggies blogging program, for a gift card worth $35. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


When I was a kid, people would ask me, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"  Any my answer was always the same - I want to TEACH!

I went to school to be a teacher (I am not done yet - as I still have student teaching - but that's all I have before I am done.).

I don't want to teach anymore - but I have no idea what I want to do!

I LOVE education and learning, but I don't want to deal with other people's kids and I don't want to deal with the politics and standardized testing that comes along with teaching.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Fun ... at least the thought was there!

Last year, my husband was invited to the ESRI conference in San Diego, but we couldn't afford to send him.  So he missed out.  I felt REALLY bad.

This year, the company he works for PAID for him to go to the ESRI conference (he was presenting a speech). 

He told me he would be gone for a week - ok - so what do I do with that week?! 
I tried to tell him that I needed to go with him - but he didn't buy that.  (Plus, the kiddos would have to stay with Grandma and Geezer for that week.) 
I called my Mom and asked if she wanted to go to the coast (Corpus Christi, TX), after all I had a free night at La Quinta.  The plan has been made.

Day 1 - Drive to the coast, spend time at the beach, check in to the hotel, swim, sleep ...
Day 2 - Go to the Texas State Aquarium, drive home.

I have not really ever longed to have sand on my feet - I don't like it - but I did it for my kids.  I WILL NOT EVER GO TO THE BEACH IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SUMMER AGAIN!  It's hot, humid ... and it's just plain gross.  Couple that with two kids that refuse to listen and a Grandma that takes their "side" when I try to discipline ... I need a vacation from my "vacation!"

I think I need to fly to another state and see what my husband does with two unruly kids for a week! ;)

I hope you all are having a great week!!  Send some prayers and patience my way! :D

Monday, July 11, 2011

10 Reasons I'd LOVE to Visit Virginia Beach!!

Have you ever been to Virginia Beach??  You have?!  I am a little jealous!  I haven't ever been!  What's your favorite thing to do or see in Virginia Beach? 
I have been looking at the Virginia Beach Visitor's site and I have seen LOTS that I would love to do ... let me tell you!

1. I LOVE history ... so the first thing I would do is visit the Adam Thoroughgood House!  "... Built circa 1680 and is one of the oldest brick homes in America."  Can you imagine what it would have been like to be in that home in 1680?!  Historical interpreters (in costume) will lead you on a guided tour through the home. 
2. Then, I would go to the Francis Land House (circa 1805).  Full antiques (and reproductions) I can only imagine what I would learn on a tour through this amazing piece of history!  I would relish my trip back in time. 
3. First Landing State Park - "retrace the footsteps of our forefathers" ... YES, please!  That sounds like so much fun, to me!  Put yourself in the shoes of our forefathers - are you there?  Can you imagine what it would have been like ALL those years ago?!  How different did the land look, what kind of animals did they run into, what were they wearing? 
4. Nauticus looks absolutely spell-binding!  I love learning - so for me, this is a great cross between fun and education!  Prices weren't outrageous, about the same as most zoos and aquariums in our area but it seems as if there is so much more to learn and do!
5. Parasailing - I have a huge fear of heights, but parasailing is on my "bucket list."  So, why not do it in Virginia Beach!?  That super colorful balloon (found here) looks so appealing!
6. Boat Tours - Gosh!  There are so many to pick from!  How do you determine which boat tour is best for you?!  Fishing, Pirate Ship Adventures, Dolphin-watching, Kayaking ... I think my family would go for the Pirate Ship because they are small and enjoy the "fun" of pretend Pirates.
7. Yoga ... on the Oceanfront?!  Now, if you know me, I have NO coordination!  But, I would try Oceanfront Yoga just to say I've done it!! :)  It sounds AMAZING!
8. What's a trip to Virginia Beach without a day at ... (yep, you guessed it) THE BEACH!  Take your pick - they all look awesome!

What's a vacation without food?  What are your favorite places to eat in Virginia Beach?  We love to find "the little hole in the wall" when we travel, because they almost always have great food that isn't super expensive.  Did you want to dine like a "local?"  Here are some tips:

9. Dining on the boardwalk - it sounds so delicious to me.  Lots of choices for food and a beautiful scenery! 
10. Kayaking for your dinner - I read about this place here (under tip #3), but didn't find (or missed) the name of the restaurant. 
I found a list of restaurants in Virginia Beach - - for your convenience.

Some great information and links:

About Virgina Beach
Virginia Beach entices visitors to “Live the Life” year-round! Located in the southeastern corner of the state, Virginia Beach is four hours southeast of D.C. by car and within a day’s drive or less from two-thirds of the U.S. population. For visitor information, call 1-800-VA-BEACH (800/822-3224) or visit for online trip planning. For media information and digital images, click on Please
follow us on Twitter at and on Facebook.

Virginia Beach Resources
More info on Virgina Beach:

Virgina Beach on Facebook:

Follow @VaBeachCVB on Twitter

Now, I know I am ready to pack my bags and book a flight!  What about you?!  Did you find anything in my list that you just have to add to your list?!  What was it? 

If you visit Virginia Beach before I do, please come back and tell me what you did and what I can't miss out on!  Enjoy your trip!

I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Virginia Beach Tourism blogging program, for a gift card worth $40. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

Sunday, July 3, 2011


I love fireworks because they are beautiful!   I love how you never know what to expect, be it color, shape or size.  We don't often go out and watch them in person because it's just so hot here.  (Plus, the BOOM! scares my kids.)  However, this year, we don't even have the opportunity to watch them live because there is such a huge fire danger.  We have only had (I want to say) 6 inches of rain since January.  It's HOT and DRY and it's been mildly windy.  So I guess this year we will be watching the fireworks on television.  It makes me a little sad. 

One year I was in Denver, Colorado for the 4th of July and got to see them at the military base there - they were AMAZING!!!  That was before I was married, before I even met my husband. 

What are your plans for the 4th of July?!

Hope you have a SAFE and HAPPY Independence day!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

First Experiences ...

J is 7 years old ... and this morning was his very first experience with swallowing a pill.  It did NOT go well.  After the first two attempts, he took the pill out of his mouth (which he was told not to do).  We got the pill back in his mouth.  I told him to take a drink of water and think about the fact that the water needs to go down - but NOT to think about the pill in his mouth.  He held that drink of water in his mouth for about 3 minutes before it finally went down.  J kept walking to the sink (as if I were going to let him spit it out - HAHA, yea, right!)

What are your tips and tricks to get your kids to swallow pills without a fight?!

Enjoy your day!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Ohanarama is FUN!

Have you heard of Ohanarama?!  SUPER cool ... those words really sum it all up for me. 

Let me give you some background ... My son, J, turned 7 in April.  Needless to say, he has become obsessed with wanting to be on the computer.  He is allowed 30 minutes a night, with my supervision. 

What I love:
- I LOVE that I can play a game, and then challenge my son to play the same game. 
- I love that it's designed specifically for elementary-aged kids.
- You control who enters your special family space. Only people you invite will be part of your Ohanarama network.

- I really can't say I have any dislikes ... it's all fun and games! :D
Some of our favorite games include:
- Drop3 (This is the game I play most of the time!)
- Memory Master
- Hungry Monkey

My husband doesn't travel for work, we are fortunate to have him at home every night for dinner and play time.  That being said, J has been playing games while Daddy is at work, and then Daddy attempts to beat J's score after he is in bed.  It's SO MUCH FUN to watch the rivalry grow!  If J is beating Daddy, he gets super excited.  But, If Daddy is beating J, then something MUST be wrong!

Since we have started playing with Ohanarama, the ONLY thing J wants to play on the computer are the fun games at Ohanarama.  And, I can't say I blame him!  I find myself playing Drop3 after the kiddos are in bed!

Why don't you try it!?  Ohanarama
While you are at it, follow them on twitter and like them on facebook!

Ok, so you have signed up, right?  What games are YOU looking forward to playing?  I can't wait to hear what you think of Ohanarama!!


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner!

I had a record number of entries for my Sesame Street Naturals Giveaway

THANK YOU for making it such a HUGE success!!

Winners picked by

HUGE Congratulations to @cin_20, @kcoud33 and @dawkinscj!!

Thanks again for entering!!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

10 Tips - Family Road Safety

We love roadtrips!  They are so much fun and you can stop and goof around along the way.  There is no time restraint and not many rules!

My father-in-law used to tell my mother-in-law to pack a small bag (this usually included her camera, a toothbrush and undies) and they would drive down the Oregon Coast.  These stories make me so jealous! 

My husband isn't nearly as spontaneous, and, even if he was, South Texas isn't quite as nice (weather or landscape) as Oregon!

1. Plan AHEAD!
  -- Really, this is all-encompassing for me.  Pack blankets, water, snacks, jumper cables, make sure you have an inflated spare tire, etc., etc.
2. Know your limits.
  -- If you are driving long distances, make sure you plan to stop and sleep along the way.
3. Stay awake.
  -- I am HORRIBLE with this one.  I don't love driving, so when we travel, my husband drives and I tend to sleep.  I have been trying to get better with this by drinking water, listening to upbeat music and munching on snacks!  We usually travel late at night or early in the morning so that the kiddos don't miss out on anything and I want him to stay awake to focus on the road.  If I am awake, I KNOW he isn't dozing off.
4. Put your phone on silent.
  -- It's so easy to get distracted by the phone.  If I am driving, I don't usually put my phone on silent, but I put my purse on the floor in front of the passenger seat.  So, I wouldn't be able to reach it even if I wanted to!  If my husband is driving, I take his phone and play Angry Birds, so I don't worry about it as a distraction for him. This goes without saying - but NEVER, NEVER text while you are driving.  If you need to send a text, pull over or have your co-pilot do it for you!
5. Keep a map in the car.
  -- I have a GPS, my husband's phone has a GPS in it, but we ALWAYS have a Texas map in our car so that if we needed it, we would have it.  (Have you heard about the people that get lost for days and days because their GPS units sent them down the wrong road?!)
6. Wear your seat belts.
  -- Do I really need to explain this?  Wear your seat belts - set a good example for your kids.  My biggest pet peeve is seeing kids that are goofing around, obviously unbuckled, in the car.
7. Watch your speed.
  -- For at least two reasons: 1. So you don't get pulled over, 2. if you are going to fast, it's dangerous!
8. Keep your eye on the gas.
  -- You don't want to run out of gas and then have to hike 5 or more miles to find a gas station.  (Especially when you live in Texas and it's already 100+ degrees outside!)
9. Safelite AutoGlass brings you peace of mind by emailing you a Technician Profile before your appointment, showing you a photograph and credentials of the technician coming to your home or place of business.
  -- I haven't had the pleasure of working with Safelite, but I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that they email you a PHOTO and credentials of the technician!  It makes me feel so safe and tells me that this company really does care.
10. A chip could turn into a crack at any time, often when you are least expecting it. Windshield repair is often a safe and economical alternative to a full windshield replacement.
  -- Our weather is insane.  It's mostly hot and humid with about 2 weeks of winter every year.  I once had a car (before I was married) that had a tiny windshield chip, and it started to spread in the middle of the summer.  My Dad had that fixed for me. 

More about Safelite AutoGlass:
Safelite AutoGlass® was founded in 1947. Throughout our more than 60 years of service, our company has grown from a single store in Wichita, Kansas, to a national auto glass provider, serving nearly 4 million customers per year.

Through industry-leading 24-hour instant scheduling, convenient in-shop or mobile service, top-of-the-line materials and SafeTech™ certified technicians, you'll find that Safelite AutoGlass offers superior customer service, value and quality.

More info:

Follow Safelite on Twitter: @safelite
Find Safelite on Facebook

What about you - do you love roadtrips?  How do you keep you and your family safe when you are on the road?
I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Safelite blogging program, for a gift card worth $30. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Sesame Street® Baby Naturals - Review & Giveaway {3 winners!!} *CLOSED*

I was given the opportunity to do a review/giveaway for The Village Company and their Sesame Street Naturals line!

C has HORRIBLE eczema! We fight to keep it under control by using a doctor-prescribed steroid cream. We are learning as we go, as J doesn't (and never did) have ezcema, but we are FINALLY realizing that if C starts to itch, the eczema will appear in the next day or two.

I just knew that the Sesame Street Naturals line would work for him because it is Hypo-Allergenic and Dye-Free.

More about the Naturals:
With Sweet Almond Oil and Aloe, Sesame Street® Baby Naturals products were developed especially for gentle cleansing and natural moisturizing. We have taken extra care to ensure the best for baby: Tear-Free, Hypo-Allergenic, Dermatologist & Pediatrician Tested, Dye-Free, and Paraben-Free. Each formula also contains naturally-derived ingredients to nourish skin and help restore natural moisture(1).

So, I got C's ezcema as controlled as I can and then I let him take a bubble bath!! The Baby Bubble Bath smells amazing! I was really impressed with the amount of bubbles that came from just a small amount of soap!

C played for a bit, and then I got out the loofa I bought to use with the Shampoo/Body Wash. It lathered so much better than a non-soap that we {usually} use! It smells much like the bubble bath - a smell I really enjoy! Then I washed C's hair, I could tell a big difference between the Sesame Street Naturals and other shampoo/washes.
Typically, the 2 or 3-in-1 shampoo/washes make C's eczema go CRAZY, but in addition to that, they make his hair feel dry and gross. Sesame Street Naturals did neither.

Lastly, the Shea Butter Baby Lotion - one word - LOVE! It's such a smooth, creamy lotion! It absorbs so quickly and didn't leave a sticky feeling on C's skin!

Do you want some more information about The Village Company?
The Village Company is a privately held, rapidly growing producer and marketer of leading personal care brands, including Mr. Bubble, the #1 Overall Bath Brand; Sesame Street, the #1 Licensed Bath Brand; Village Naturals Bath Shoppe, the #1 Adult Bath; and Village Naturals Therapy, the #1 Therapeutic Bath Brand(1).

Where can you buy Sesame Street Naturals?
It is available exclusively in select Target stores. You can check their Store Locator for a store near you!

Now ... for the part I know you are waiting for ...


Main Entry: Visit The Village Company and tell me what you think you will like MOST about the Naturals line.

Bonus Entries (Please post a separate comment for EACH extra entry):

1. Follow my Google Friend Connect.

2. Follow me on Twitter!

3. Follow @TheVillageCo on Twitter!

4. Like The Village Company on Facebook!

5. Tweet this giveaway (make sure you leave the link)! You can do this 2 times a day (please, at least one hour apart) for a total of 2 entries per day.

" You can #win Sesame Street Naturals from @TheVillageCo and @Doodle741! Ends 5.31 - 3 winners!! "

{Please note that this giveaway is for US only, sorry!}


(1) This information was provided to me from The Village Company and can be found on their website.

Full Disclosure – I received these products to facilitate this review. All opinions are my own.

End of the school year ...

Well, it's that time of year again - the end of the school year. I am SO excited! We have had a really rough time with J's teacher this year - I don't blame it ALL on her.
Anyway - I want to know:
1. Do you give your child's teacher something for the end of the year? If so, what? (Do you do something different if you have butted heads with that teacher?)
2. Do you give the bus driver something? Again, what?
3. What are your plans for the summer? Anything exciting?!
I asked J what he wanted to do this summer. On the top of his list: "get a dog" ... EEK!!
Thanks for your feedback! :)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Slow Cooker Lasagna

I want you to know that this is not completely mine - I started with a recipe I got from Kraft Foods, then I altered it to fit our family. Slow Cooker Lasagna Ingredients: 1 lb. ground beef 1 jar Ragu Sauce 1 cup water 1 container (15 oz.) Cottage Cheese 1 pkg. Shredded Mozzarella Cheese, divided 1/4 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese, divided 1 egg 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley 6 lasagna noodles, uncooked (I think I usually use more than 6 ... but I don't ever count, I just layer until it's done.) Make it: Brown meat in large skillet, then drain. Stir in Ragu and water. Mix cottage cheese, 1-1/2 cups mozzarella, 2 Tbsp. Parmesan, egg and parsley. Spoon 1 cup meat sauce into slow cooker, top with layers of half each of the noodles, broken to fit, and cheese mixture. Cover with 2 cups meat sauce. Top with remaining noodles, broken to fit, cheese mixture and meat sauce. Cover with lid. Cook on LOW 4 to 6 hours or until liquid is absorbed. Sprinkle with remaining cheeses; let stand, covered, 10 min. or until melted. *Sara Note: I am not a precise person, so when I make it, MY measurements are guesstimations, the measurements provided in the "Make It" portion is what Kraft suggests!) Enjoy! Sara

Monday, March 28, 2011

Shoplet ROCKS!

Shoplet has AWESOME giveaways all the time!! Their current giveaway is for a $200 Avery Products package! Are YOU going to enter?! I did! OH! And, why don't you follow @Shoplet and like them on facebook?! Good luck! Sara

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Buzzing the Day Away Giveaway

I stumbled across a blog, Buzzing the Day Away, and she has an awesome giveaway for Disney's Tangled! I am so excited for it!! While I hope I win, I hope you'll give it a try!! :) Buzzing the Day Away Giveaway Post! If you decide you don't want to enter, she has a great blog and I hope you'll swing by and check it out! Good luck! Sara

Friday, January 7, 2011

Heart of Haiti

Can you believe it's (almost) been a year since the earthquake in Haiti? I remember the images on the TV, reading about it online and in the newspaper - I was in shock. It was scary for me to think about how the people would recover and what they would do if another earthquake happened during the recovery process. I know that Haiti is still recovering and dealing with the aftermath, which is why I am so proud to be writing this post!

I want to present you with this: ... a way to help with the recovery! Go, take a look, and tell me what is your FAVORITE!? What would you do with it? Where would you put it?

My favorite?! Easy-peasy: Heart of Haiti Bowl, Watermelon!! This is my favorite because it's so beautiful - bright, colorful and fun! But, what's better?! It's $16! I wasn't looking at prices when I picked my favorite, I was just looking to see what caught my eye. When I looked at the price, I was SO impressed! Prices range from $10 - $275. Where would I put such a beautiful bowl? I honestly believe that you should acutally USE the things you own, rather than putting them in a cabinet. So, I would put my watermelon bowl in the center of my table and fill it with fruit for my family to eat!

Would you like to know more about the Heart of Haiti founder and Fairwinds Trading CEO Willa Shalit?

"If you shop wisely," Shalit says, "you get to own this really wonderful object and also transfer money to those who need it—in a straight line. It goes right from you to people who may have lived only by barter and never held cash in their hands before. That's a very direct way to effect reform. It's not abstract; it's not a fantasy. It's real. Let's hear it for consumers! You have the power to change the world." I really love that Willa Shalit is doing something so tremendous for Haiti (and other countries)!

I really hope you will visit Macy's and help in any way you can!

I was selected for this very special “CleverHaiti” opportunity by Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity. All opinions are my own.