Monday, December 10, 2012

Winners of National Geographic Super Readers Giveaway!

Sarah and Bzelenka are the winners (see comments on the original post here).  Please send me your contact information (including email address) so that the company can make arrangements to send your National Geographic Super Readers package!  Congrats!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Product Review: Xlear SparX Candy - Sweetened with Xylitol

Once again, because I'm a Mom Ambassador with Moms Meet, I received a product for review and wanted to share my experience with anyone who might be interested.

Xlear SparX candy samples were provided as well as some Spry Children's Tooth Gels.  Xlear (link to their Facebook page) SparX is manufactured by Xlear (please check out the website link because they have many other products including nasal sprays).  SparX is a candy that is sweetened with xylitol. Xylitol is a plant-based, dentist recommended sweetener. It does, in my opinion, tend to make the product taste really sweet and almost "cold".   The flavors I sampled were Fruit and Citrus and I thought both tasted pretty good for something that is made with a sweetener other than sugar. The packaging was nice because it snaps closed and didn't just fall open in my purse or bag. They are small, round little pebbles in pastel colors.

According to the information provided to me by the company, Xylitol has been proven to improve dental health and strengthen tooth enamel. This is pretty important to me since I have a VERY sweet tooth, and have had some issues with cavities over the years, despite the fact that I love to brush my teeth often. I have also recently completed chemotherapy treatments which can cause damage to the enamel of your teeth, so I thought this might actually be helpful.

I would recommend this to friends who are trying to avoid sweets made with sugar as long as they like products made with xylitol as a sweetener.  Sometimes these sweeteners can be an acquired taste but I have had it xylitol, so there were no real surprises.  My teeth will probably thank me later. :)  Should you still be looking for those stocking stuffers, SparX would be great for kids and adults who enjoy sweet treats without all of the dental work that might follow.  According to the information provided to me, the SparX candy retails for $1.49 per tube, which seems pretty reasonable.

For simplicity, here are the links provided in my review:


Xlear website

Xlear Facebook Page

DISCLAIMER: I received this product for free from the sponsor of the MomsMeet program, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a MomsMeet blogger, I agreed to use this product and post my opinion on my blog. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of May Media Group LLC or the manufacturer of the product.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

National Geographic Super Readers Program - A Review and Giveaway

I am excited about my first opportunity to review and blog about a product as a result of being a Mom Ambassador through Mom's Meet.  The National Geographic Super Readers program is a great way to get kids motivated to read about nonfiction topics.  My family always subscribed to National Geographic magazine when I was a child and young adult.  When my children turned 4, we subscribed to the National Geographic Little Kids magazine and they enjoy the wonderful photographs and activities that are a part of the magazine.  This Super Readers program is just another wonderful way that National Geographic brings "the world" home to children, so I was glad to have a chance to share this with my kids.  National Geographic makes it easy to keep up with new publications via their Facebook page at National Geographic Books.

Since my children are not yet five, I appreciate the fact that the program is broken down into reading levels (Pre-Reader, Level 1, 2 and 3).  This makes it much easier, as a parent, to decide which books would be right for my children as their reading skills progress.  While we have one who is an avid reader (all on her own), my other two LOVE books but are not able to read independently.  They all love discovering new books on the shelf and I can find so many new and interesting subjects they haven't yet experienced as a part of the Super Readers collection.

We received Sharks!, a Level 2 reader in the National Geographic Super Readers Program.  The full-color pictures make the information very exciting (at least when describing sharks, as you could see the teeth of one VERY clearly on the cover).  Since this is a Level 2 reader, we did read this book together and I'm sort of glad since it was such a slightly scary topic, but really interesting.  The kids are always interested in animals, the ocean, etc, so it was easy sitting down to check it out with them.

The National Geographic Super Readers Website provides a chance for the kids (and parents) to download a poster which lists the readers by level and title and allows them to track their progress.  Downloadable bookmarks, magnets and even an iron-on transfer can be found on the website as well to celebrate their participation.  My kids are thrilled to have a chance to display any sort of accomplishments, so I expect that each one will have their own poster to track their progress reading through other books in the Super Readers Program.  The website also encourages children to continue reading and achieving a higher reading level by offering other rewards and incentives.  The games and activities will further enhance their experience.

I am able to offer THREE lucky winners a National Geographic Super Reader book, poster, bookmarks and badges.  I will select the winner via on Sunday, December 9th, 2012 at 10:00pm EST.  Please leave a comment below to enter.

DISCLAIMER: I received this product for free from the sponsor of the Moms Meet program, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer.  As a Moms Meet blogger, I agreed to use this product and post my opinion on my blog.  My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of May Media Group LLC or the manufacturer of the product.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Happy Fall Ya'll 2012

Here are some shots from the other day when Daddy made a pile of leaves for the kids to attack.  Clark decided he didn't want to be part of the shenanigans since he was busy "mowing" and fixing his mower.  This means, of course, that I have LOTS of pics of the girls and didn't get many of Clark.  I did try but he wasn't in the mood.  The good news was that Daddy conveniently located the big pile of leaves right at the bottom of the slide.  This proved to be a really fun location!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween 2012

I'm just trying to get some pictures posted from Halloween.  I had trouble getting clear shots of the kids because 1.) it was getting dark fast, 2.) there are three of them and one of me, 3.) I haven't had a lot of time with my camera lately and I tend to keep it set on "auto" which means I don't always get what I was hoping for when I clicked.


I should mention that I am NOT a fan of anything scary on Halloween.  I love to let the kids dress up and have fun, but I do not like being creeped out by scary costumes or anything.  I was thrilled that Kendall wanted to be Sleeping Beauty, although by Halloween, she decided on Tinkerbelle instead.  Clark really wanted to be a dragon and somehow I didn't really have anything that would work (or so I thought).  We went to an indoor trunk-or-treat type event the day before with another little friend of theirs who was dressed as Woody (from Toy Story), so we sent him with his Buzz Lightyear costume and he seemed happy.   Emma was Skirt Girl.  Come on.  You've heard of her/ She's the newest and greatest super hero of them all.  OK, not really.  She is Emma's hero.  She said she wanted to be skirt girl and when asked what that mean, she replied "I wear a skirt and look beautiful."  I asked what else she would wear and she said that she would need a long or short-sleeved shirt and some pretty things.   I missed the "pretty things" but she seemed to love her outfit.  I think she will be able to help us stay creative during future Halloween costume-planning-sessions.

All three kiddos have been sick off and on for about 2 weeks.  Clark was home with me for two days last week and Emma has been home this week.  We had originally planned to return to the BEST NEIGHBORHOOD EVER for their incredible parade and opportunity to trick-or-treat, but decided to stay home.  The kids were bummed until we said they could go out (with Daddy) to a few houses.  They only hit about 5-6 homes that evening (including, of course, Poo Pa's house) but they loved every minute.  Parenting success!

I hope that everyone had a safe and Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Little Catching Up....Summer Fun

I've been a complete slacker on our family blog.  Once I get through my "big" chemo treatments (last one scheduled for October 8th), I have planned to try to resume posting at least one photo or brief story each day.  It was a lot of pressure in 2010, but I am so thankful for those photos and memories and I want to be sure to remember even more of our adventures --- even the lazy, normal stuff too.

Anyway, we have enjoyed some beautiful and weather here lately with cooler temperatures.  This means more time outside whenever possible.  The temperatures had gotten so warm here that the kids didn't even want to play outdoors sometimes because even THEY were too hot.

Back in August (August 11, 2012), we had a fun afternoon/evening in the backyard with Kendall "mowing"...

Emma doing some repairs to the swing set....

And Clark keeping a close watch on the "kids" in the triple stroller....

As the sun was coming through the trees, I tried to get a shot because it was just one of those beautiful summer afternoons....

Just the other evening (Sept 16, 2012) the kids were thrilled to get to run around and burn off some energy.  We were busy inside making dinner and cleaning the kitchen, but Troy managed to get some pictures (through the kitchen window, hence some distortion, etc) of their crazy antics:

And we have had some late summer "visitors".  We've put out a couple of hummingbird feeders and I am completely awestruck by their tiny size and ability to hover.  But I have never really seen them stop anywhere before, so we've loved that one or two seem to enjoy perching on the weeping cherry tree just next to the feeder in the front flowerbed (right outside the bay window).  Our other, less stunning, but equally interesting visitor is the writing spider that is on the OUTSIDE of a sunroom window doing a great job catching many flies and other little pesky insects.  Troy showed me its little "pantry" where it has a long string of insects ready for another snack or meal.  It's kind of gross, but pretty fascinating also...just as long as it stays OUTSIDE.

I hope to be back with more pictures and stories about the kids again very soon.  I miss my camera and I miss keeping track of the memories and being able to read about them here, so I want to make it a habit once again.  My goal is to begin during the holidays (Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas), so I hope you will be patient with me.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Gardening 2012; Louis-style

[WARNING: This post has very little to do with the children, though it is something that was a big part of our summer.  I really think they enjoyed the gardening and I hope we can  continue/expand things next year.  I apologize in advance that I don't have any pics of the kids with my plants.  I will work on that in the coming days.  I took these and worked on the post while they napped earlier today.]

Troy and I had discussed starting a small (think Square-foot Gardening) garden this year in order to save money on produce, teach the kiddos about where fruits, veggies and herbs come from and also to be sure that we knew that the foods we were feeding them were organic.  I attended a great one-day event here in Knoxville, called Eat, Play Live Knox, which inspired me even more to try to grow more things at home and also buy produce grown locally.  Well, in came my date with the infamous breast cancer beast and that sort of threw a kink in it.

Some amazing people from Westlake, where the kids attend preschool, came while I had my surgery and again when I was recovering to clean up the yard, flowerbeds and also plant some things that I got with a gift card and a half off certificate at Stanley's Greenhouse.  My idea when looking for plants was that I wanted things that would attract hummingbirds, butterflies and other birds.  I intention was to plant these goodies near the front bay window next to a bird feeder and bird bath (which ended up in the trash recently because it was falling apart).  Anyway, the kids and I can watch the birds and butterflies near the window even on days when I don't feel like getting outdoors because of the heat.  I also wanted plants that had different textures and purposes (herbs, vs ornamentals) so that we could talk about this as they grew and as the kids helped me water them.  They enjoyed helping out with the planting and watering this summer.  They have also been good at working on pulling weeds, though sometimes they might mistake a perfectly good plant for a weed.  Oops.

Today I realized that some are annuals and some are perennials and I have no idea what to do with them once we have cooler temps, etc.  Plus we have had great success with a few plants and have had some issues with others and I wanted to document.  I've made a few notes in the captions.  If you are a gardener and are able to offer any advice, especially regarding the first two pictures and also the look of the mint, please kindly leave a comment.  I am very open to advice, suggestions and ideas.  Below are pics that I took today.  I made notes to myself and created a Garden 2012 file in my email folders but I thought I'd just share the pics and some personal notes here:

I cannot locate the tag and have been unable to remember what this is, though I believe I got it because it attracts butterflies.  It has continued to bloom all summer and shows no signs of stopping yet.  I'm taking input if anyone knows what this one is!

AKA "Shrimp Flower": This one didn't survive due to a weed-whacker incident. We had another plant that I called my "Dr. Seuss plant" because it was tall and lanky and had these round flowers that made me think of the plants and trees that appear in his book.  Unfortunately, this one didn't survive the weeding and we also lost the tag from the nursery.  Hopefully I can locate it again next year, though I might choose to skip it because it was pretty delicate.

Basil, though I can't remember if it is "sweet" basil or something else. It has done VERY well!

The mint is still alive, but doesn't look too good. Taking any advice.....

Lavender because it smells good and I love the color.

Salvia Evolution.  One of my favorites and it has done really well to the point where we had to tie it up so it doesn't fall over.

Cape Town Blue/Blue Felicia Daisy has also done well, but I wish it was still blooming. Love the colors.

Bee balm is fragrant and attracts birds and butterflies. I had quite a few nice blooms but then I missed watering it. Not sure if more blooms will appear as the card indicated it blooms mid- to late-summer.

A gift from Tom and Karen - my absolute favorite addition! - a weeping cherry near the front window, but not too close. I can't wait to see it grow.

Russian sage which I purchased and had placed near the front porch because it is fragrant and wispy and also has the silvery-light-green colored leaves.  

The Balloon Flower blooms all summer as long as you remember to remove the dead flowers. It has pretty green leaves and the beautiful purple/violet flowers.  Definitely a keeper!

Flambé yellow
Chrysocephalum apiculture
This one did so-so as it didn't get quite enough water, though I'm told it does fine in drought conditions. But it continues to bloom, which makes me happy.

Pixie Twinkle/Tall Garden Phlox- We have had great success with the creeping phlox variety and this one was really pretty at the nursery.  It has actually done well, though I neglected to pull off dead flowers and it looks a little messy at the moment.

Mexican Heather has been a favorite of mine for many, many years, but I have never planted it. It seems to be SO easy to maintain and it has the beautiful green leaves and purple flowers that have continued to bloom all summer.

Wormwood/silver brocade has done so well for us and grown into a much larger plant that what we purchased in  May.  I love the soft leaves which provided interesting textures for the kids and the color is nice when mixed in with the other greener plants.
**I should also mention that my all-time favorite plant/flower is the Hydrangea and I received TWO plants back in May.  They have survived, barely, but I didn't get to photograph them because I was being attacked by mosquitoes and just couldn't take it any longer.  I dream of having rows and rows of hydrangeas lining my fence area sort of like my Great Aunt had in Cape Cod.  They were just beautiful and there were hundreds of them.  Here is a stock photo of some that I love:

This is NOT my image.
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