Saturday, December 12, 2009

My Disclosure Policy

This policy is valid from 12 December 2009

This blog is a personal blog written and edited by me. This blog does not accept any form of cash advertising, sponsorship, or paid topic insertions. However, we will and do accept and keep free products, services, travel, event tickets, and other forms of compensation from companies and organizations.

This blog abides by word of mouth marketing standards. We believe in honesty of relationship, opinion and identity. The compensation received may influence the advertising content, topics or posts made in this blog. That content, advertising space or post will be clearly identified as paid or sponsored content.

The owner(s) of this blog is compensated to provide opinion on products, services, websites and various other topics. Even though the owner(s) of this blog receives compensation for our posts or advertisements, we always give our honest opinions, findings, beliefs, or experiences on those topics or products. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the bloggers' own.

Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider or party in question.

This blog does not contain any content which might present a conflict of interest.

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To get your own policy, go to http://www.disclosurepolicy.org
Posted by The Spears Family at 9:09 PM Comments Links to this post

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Bees-Tees... Character Building T-Shirts

I was reading a locally produced magazine during my lunch break one day and came across an article about a South Carolina mom-prenuer. Being in South Carolina myself, I am always looking for other SC moms to feature on BloggyMom.

Bees Tees founder, Melissa Patton, came up with the concept of Bees Tees as a way to connect with and teach her young daughter positive character building skills. How? In the morning, as you are dressing your child, you can share the motto for the day...and explain to them what it means. For example, "Bee Fair" means to share your toys and let everyone have a turn. As they wear their Bees Tees, throughout the day, it is a reminder of this life lesson from Mom.

Says Melissa, "I was a Mom looking for way to connect with my daughter on a daily basis about the things that matter in life; kindness, honesty, fairness & friendliness. I wanted a way to teach her through thoughtful conversation about positive character traits. Dressing Lena in a Bee-Tee gives me a teachable moment in the morning to explain that beeing kind means showing kindness to everyone and to back her bee through her daily actions. Hopefully others will see her wearing her bee, backing her bee and will catch the buzz for positive character building. ...there is a line of adult themes for us big kids. The adult Bees Tees urge others to bee creative, bee inspired, bee involved, bee active & bee unique. So check out Bee-Tees.com. And spend some moments inspiring yourself and your child to bee the best they can bee!"

Melissa was kind enough to send us a sample tee. It is truely adorable! The little Princess, who, at 2 thinks bees and ladybugs are cool anyway, was super excited. As I dressed her for daycare, we were able to have a discussion about what the slogan "Bee Fair" on her shirt meant.

I patiently explained to her that "Bee Fair" means to share and take turns with her little friends at school and to be nice to the babies. Being nice to the "babies' is a big one, as she goes to a home daycare and there are three babies there who have just started to crawl. This means that no 2 year old nor any toy in said 2 yr old's hand is safe. My little angel looked up at me with her big brown eyes and said, in the sweetest little voice, "No hit the babies, mama?" "Yes! That's what it means!" Mission completion!

Bees Tees are available in sizes 6 months through Ladies 2XL. You can choose between 13 different colors and 16 different bees. Available designs include: Bee Involved, Bee Friendly, Bee Honest, Bee Yourself, Bee Creative, Bee Humble. Each tee features a design on the left shoulder reminding you to "Back Your Bee."

To order your Bee-Tess, visit the Bees-Tees website here.

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Posted by The Spears Family at 10:03 PM Comments Links to this post

Monday, April 27, 2009

Book Review: The Noticer

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I recently completed Andy Andrews' latest book, The Noticer.
I've never read anything by Andy Andrews and wasn't sure what to expect. The book jacket looked good and the plot summary sounded decent, so I decided to give it a try.

I would describe this book as "sweet." The plot was at times confusing and somewhat predictable. The message of the book- to always consider things from every perspective - made the book worth reading. Many times we get so caught up in ourselves and what is going on in our immediate world that we forget to communicate our needs and desires... we forget to think about the big picture. This story shows us how noticing even small things can make a difference in the course our life takes.

Do I think this book will win any literary awards? No.

Did I enjoy the book? Sure- it was a sweet, easy read. Great for a quick weekend read.

Can I think of a better book to read with the same message? Yes, Mitch Albom's The Five People You Meet in Heaven.

The Noticer goes on sell today so feel free to pick up a copy, drink a glass of wine and read it on your sun porch as you watch your kids play in the backyard.

On another note, check out The Noticer Project, a worldwide movement to "notice" the 5 most influential people in your life! Noticing those five people is meant to encourage us to step outside our busy schedules and avoid waiting until a wedding, graduation or even a funeral to take notice of the special, influential people in our lives . . . What a wonderful concept! So check it back and come back and tell me your thoughts....there may be a giveaway in your future!

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Posted by The Spears Family at 8:58 PM 1 comments Links to this post

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

These are a few of my favorite things...

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So, I decided to let you guys get to know a little more about me. At least once a month, I will share with you "a few of my favorite things..." (Does anyone know which movie that line is from?)

This month, let's talk candy. I love candy...all sorts of candy. I craved sweet things when I was pregnant. As it goes, if you crave sweets, you are having a girl. If you crave salty or spicy foods, a boy is in your future. I had a girl.

Back to the candy... here are my some of my faves:



Chocolate- I'm a huge fan of the Reese's Cup as well as the KitKat, but neither compare to the Twix bars! Chocolate, cookie and carmel...YUM!




Jelly Beans - As far as regular jelly beans, the white ones are my favorite. But my all-time favorite are JellyBelly Buttered Popcorn flavor! The taste and smell delicious! AND I recently discovered that you can buy a single bag of ALL buttered popcorn flavored Jelly Belly's!




My FAVORITE candy of ALL time- By far, hands down, are Trolli Sour Brite Crawlers! These are the BOMB! Nothing compares to these sweet yet tangy colorful worms! Often imitated, but never duplicated, the other brands don't taste anywhere close! I get these in my stocking at Christmas, instead of chocolate hearts at Valentine's Day, in my basket at Easter...you get the drift... I totally heart them!





Now it's your turn... leave a comment and tell me what YOUR favotire candy is! Who knows...maybe you'll get a special treat in the mail when you are least expecting it!
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Posted by The Spears Family at 4:56 PM 3 comments Links to this post

Friday, April 17, 2009

Disney on Ice - Family 4 Pack - Special Pricing (Columbia, SC)

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Disney on Ice, Worlds of Fantasy will be at the Colonial Life Arena in Columbia April 30 - May 3, 2009. For my Columbia area readers, I have a special treat.... you can purchase a 4 pack of tickets for this amazing show for $10 ea!

All you have to do is click this link and follow the purchasing instructions!

I went to a Disney on Ice performance YEARS ago with a friend and her daughter. It was really something to see...remember this is a performance entirely on ice! My husband and I will be taking Little Miss Priss...so look for a review of the show in early May.

Here's the fine print:
This deal will be good only on the $16 and $12 price level for all shows except opening night. This special pricing is only good through Monday, April 27, 2009.

If you're not already a follower of my blog, I urge you to become one so that you can check in for more great Columbia area entertainment discounts throughout the year!

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Posted by The Spears Family at 10:57 AM Comments Links to this post

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Freckle Box Giveaway Winner

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The winner of a free personalized item from Frecklebox is....

Elissa
Congratulations to you!
I hope your son enjoys his Ahoy Matey! Personalized puzzle!



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Posted by The Spears Family at 10:52 PM Comments Links to this post

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ultimate Blog Party 2009

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The 5 Minutes for Moms Ultimate Blog Party 2009 has begun. It runs through Friday, March 27, 2009. The Ultimate Blog Party is basically a place for online friends to meet and mingle. Using Mr. Linky, bloggers can access a whole list of links to other bloggers who share similar interests. Since this is my first year of being BloggyMom, I decided to participate as well!

That being said, here's a quick recap of me:
I am a working mom of one who started BloggyMom because I have realized that since having my little one, I was always making suggestions and sharing mommy tips & tricks that I have discovered along the way. And even more... the people I shared them with actually listened!

Read some of my useful insight here:
The First Time Mom Baby Registry
OxiClean Baby Stain Soaker

More about me:
I was born and raised in South Carolina. I left for about a year and a half when my husband was stationed in Fort Hood, Texas. I met some really great people down there who got me through a tough deployment and will remain my friends for life! After Texas, I wanted to be close to my family, so we moved back to South Carolina. Eventually we'd like to relocate to our hometown of Aiken so that our little one can be close to her grandparents.

I'm grateful to my best girlfriends who let me vent and keep me sane! I have an awesome family, and a husband whom I love to pieces. My daughter is my pride and joy though at times she makes me want to pull my hair out- but then what mom of a 2 year old doesn't feel that way at some point?

Likes:
I love to watch reality tv, much to my husband's dismay. I usually DVR the shows...oh, I heart DVR too!... and watch them when he is working. I enjoy taking day trips with my family and short weekend trips with my husband. We'd love to go on a cruise someday!

I also like shopping... I love finding great deals...it's like a treasure hunt! I've recently learned to sew and enjoy making dresses for my little one. I also make tulle tutus. I do some freelance design work...mostly stationery- invitations, announcements, business cards, etc. I'd like to learn some basic web design soon! Something that I would love to do someday is travel the US by rail.

A blog goal:
One of the things that I would really like to do with this blog is network with other blogging moms throughout South Carolina. Since I review products on this blog, I'd really like to connect with South Carolina business women and help promote their products.

What I want to know about you:
Name one thing on your "bucket list" - it can be anything...from simple "dance in the rain" to outrageous "ride a roller coaster naked" to seemingly impossible "Host Saturday Night Live"
(Disclaimer- the only one of these on MY bucket list is dance in the rain)
(For those of you who don't know, a "bucket list" is a list of things you want to do before you "kick the bucket")

Thanks for stopping by to visit me! Please feel free to become a follower of my blog and enter my current giveaways (Pay It Forward and Frecklebox Personalized Children's Gifts.)
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The UBP also offers tons of prizes to be won for those who participate (sign up by March 27!) My top three prize picks are:
• $50 gift certificate to Target from
Beginner Baby Blog, Agoosa, or Shoot-Me-Now
• Amber Alert GPS child safety unit with one year of service from
Amber Alert GPS
• $30 gift certificate to
Cute Clips & More
And if my top three picks are already chosen, I’d love any of the following (in order of preference):
26, 27, 52, 57, 71, 99, 102, 106, 135, USC 11, USC 18, USC 19, USC 20, USC 26, USC 42, USC 43, USC 45, USC 64, USC 68, USC 73, USC 80 or anything else related to toddlers ( I have a 2 yr old) or arts/crafts/design (my hobbies.)
Posted by The Spears Family at 2:21 PM 22 comments Links to this post

Monday, March 23, 2009

Fiber One Spa Break Winners

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The winners of the Fiber One Spa Break Giveaway have been determined:
Congratulations to Jennifer K., sphinx63 and Mommyhood is Thankless!

Ladies, be sure to send me your mailing information by Wednesday, March 25th so I can get your prizes sent to you!

Thanks to everyone who entered! Be sure to sign up for my current giveaways (see sidebar) if you haven't already done so!


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Posted by The Spears Family at 10:20 AM 2 comments Links to this post

Friday, March 20, 2009

Frecklebox- Personalized Gifts for Kids

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If you, or your child have the honor of having an uncommon name (I'll be raising both hands here), then you know how difficult and frustrating it can sometimes be to find personalized items. Kids love to hear their name...well unless you're screaming it at the top of your lungs. And they love to SEE their name in print, but then don't we all?!?!

Anywho, unless your name is Henry, Michael, Ashley or Samantha, it's hard to find such personalized items. (Disclaimer- I have nothing against any of these names) But then, you happen to come across a great company, a company called "Frecklebox."

Frecklebox makes personalized items for kids. For all kids. Kids named Henry, Michael, Ashley, Samantha AND kids named Saxon, Stephano, Tatiana, or Desiree. Plus every other name in between.


Even better, Frecklebox makes fun, EDUCATIONAL items for kids. I had the opportunity to create and review a personalized book from Frecklebox. Their site is quite easy to navigate, you create your book on the site and see the pages transform before your eyes into a lovely story all about your special kid.

The book I chose was the "My Name Is..." personalized hard cover book. I'm not sure who was more excited to see the book, me or my little one! The graphics in these books are beautiful! The colors are bright and vibrant.

Her name is featured in unique ways on every other page! This book is definitely a keepsake. The story is just precious. My little one loved it because she loved to see and hear her name. When she is a bit older and knows her letters and how to spell her name, I know that she will love it even more.

Although "My Name Is..." did not replace our nightly reading of "Goodnight Moon" (DARN!), it did get added to the list of "Books to read EVERY night BEFORE reading Goodnight Moon."

Frecklebox has several great stories to choose from, all of which can be printed in paperback or hardcover. Additionally, they also have coloring books, posters, journal books, placemats, growth charts and party favors. Recently they have added personalized puzzles and stickers as well.

If you're looking for a lovely personalized children's gift that will be treasured for years to come, I implore you to visit Frecklebox and take a look at all they have to offer!

As a special gift for my readers, Mark over at Frecklebox has agreed to give one of you lucky peeps a free personalized gift!

To enter:
REQUIRED (You must do both, but it counts as 1 entry - 1 comment)
1) Become a follower of my blog. (If you are already a follower, you can skip this step.)
2) Visit the Frecklebox site, then come back here and comment on the product that you like most and why.
i.e. The Frecklebox product that I like most is _________ because ________.

OPTIONAL (for extra entries)
A) Blogging about this contest OR posting this contest on your facebook page will earn you one extra entry. You must actually blog about the contest, not just paste a link.
B) Subscribe to my RSS feed. (See sidebar to subscribe.)
C) Earn 2 more entries by leaving relevant comments to any other posts on this blog. You cannot leave two comments on the same posts and the comments must be relevant to the post.

Leave only one comment to complete the required entry. For each optional entry you complete leave a separate comment. Please make sure to include your email address if it is not listed on your profile or in a prominent place on your blog.

This contest is open to US and Canadian residents. Entires will be accepted until 10pm Eastern time on Friday, April 3, 2009.

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If you're coming here via direct link, please be sure to check out my other giveaways!
Posted by The Spears Family at 5:45 PM 29 comments Links to this post

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Evolve Winners

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The winners of the Evolve Eco-Friendly Showerhead Giveaway have been determined:

Congratulations to Meg and Rashmi!

Ladies, be sure to send me your mailing information by Friday, March 20th so I can get these in the mail to you!

Thanks to everyone who entered! I have lots of new giveaways in the pipeline so keep checking back!

Remember that the great folks over at evolve are still offering 25% off your showerhead purchase through May 1, 2009! Enter coupon code TB25 at checkout!

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Posted by The Spears Family at 12:00 PM Comments Links to this post

Monday, March 16, 2009

Update

I would like to apologize...it has been a week since I last blogged. Last week was one of those weeks...you know the kind...when life catches up to you and the only thing you can really do is push through it. Not to mention that the time change really threw our entire household for a loop! We are still trying to re-adjust to that and work out a new bedtime schedule for the little one!

I am very excited to tell you all about some new products that I have had the opportunity to sample as well as some great giveaways that I'll be hosting over the next few weeks though! (Check out my "Upcoming Giveaways" box on the sidebar for a sneak peek.)

In my next post I'll be reviewing a personalized children's book from Frecklebox. Frecklebox is a great company that makes personalized items for kids! Check back for that review...there may be something in it for you too!

Also, don't forget to enter my current giveaways; both are ending this week.

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Posted by The Spears Family at 12:32 PM 1 comments Links to this post

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Fiber One Spa Break Review and Giveaway

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I recently received a Fiber One Spa Break Gift Basket courtesy of my friends over at My Blog Spark. The theme (besides spa) was chocolate. Who can resist that theme?!?! Since I love chocolate, I was super excited to receive my gift basket!

The basket included a bath pillow, chocolate scented soap, lotion, and bath salts, and a coffee scented candle along with a box of the NEW Fiber One Chocolate Mocha Chewy Bars. One of my major goals this year is healthier eating, so I am all about fiber! I was pumped to try the new Fiber One Bars because they are chocolate flavored...but good for you- the best of both worlds. The only thing that concerned me is the word "mocha" since I'm not a big coffee person. (Example- I recently asked my pal Candace if Starbucks carries a french vanilla flavor.)

The first time I tried the Fiber One Chocolate Mocha Chewy Bars, I really liked them. The coffee taste is not that strong at all. And the chocolate and chewiness outweigh the bit of coffee taste that you get. The second time I had one I didn't even taste the coffee! Now, the Fiber One Chocolate Mocha Chewy bars are my daily afternoon snack! Seriously people, these things are GOOD. Chewy! Chocolate! YUM!

Now that your mouth is watering, I'll tell you that the people at My Blog Spark were kind enough to offer me additional Spa Break Gift Baskets to give away! The basket will have a bath pillow, chocolate scented soap, lotion, and bath salts, and a coffee scented candle along with a coupon for a FREE box of the NEW Fiber One Chocolate Mocha Chewy Bars.

The contest will run now through 10 pm Friday, March 20, 2009. I'll award gift baskets to THREE lucky readers. Winners will be notified on Monday, March 23, 2009. Contest is open to US and Canadian residents.

Here's how you enter:
REQUIRED (You must do both, but it counts as 1 entry)
1) Become a follower of my blog. (If you are already a follower, you can skip this step.)
2) Comment about a Fiber One product (other than Chocolate Mocha Chewy Bars) that you have tried or would like to try.

OPTIONAL (for extra entries)
Blogging about this contest OR posting this contest on your facebook page will earn you one extra entry. You must actually blog about the contest, not just paste a link.
Comment about one benefit of fiber for one extra entry.
Check out the Fiber One Recipes and let me know one you'd like to try- I'll give you one extra entry.

That gives you a total of 4 possible entries. Leave only one comment to complete the required entry. For each optional entry you complete leave a separate comment.

Also, check out this link for downloadable $1.35 coupon for Fiber One Chewy Bars!

Be sure to check out my other giveaways as well!

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Posted by The Spears Family at 3:00 AM 40 comments Links to this post

Monday, March 2, 2009

Evolve Eco-Friendly Shower heads (Review & Giveaway)

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In this economy, who isn't looking for ways to save money?! And while you're at it, why not conserve water too??!! A revolutionary product from evolve does just that! evolve shower heads are maximum flow, eco friendly shower heads that use ShowerSmart technology to help you conserve water and save money. Say what?!?! Yes, it's true. But how does it work? AND really, how does it work?

Thanks to my pal Chevon over at evolve I had the opportunity to try out the water lily rain shower head. First, installation of this shower head was quite simple. That's great, you say, but how exactly does a shower head save me money? And how much money are we talking here?

First, how it works...
Basically, you start your shower just as you normally would. When you turn on the shower, cold water is sent through the pipes to your shower head. If you're like me, you're running around doing other things- ironing clothes, brushing your teeth, trying the catch the weather portion of the morning news- while you're waiting for the water to heat up. While you're doing this, you are wasting gallons of water, and since your hot water heater is fired up, you're also wasting precious pennies.

With evolve ShowerSmart technology, once your water temperature reaches 95 degrees, the water slows to a trickle. So finish your ironing, brush longer, and actually hear what the weather is going to be for the next 3 days. Once you're finished, hop in the shower and pull the cord attached to the shower head to resume normal water flow. It's all quite simple.

And I'll save money?
According the the evolve website, you can save up to 2,700 gallons of water and $75 on your utility bill yearly! WOW! Personally I haven't used the shower head long enough to determine a difference in my utility bill, but I can't wait until that time comes!

Yeah, but how much does it cost?
The evolve shower head that I tested is the "water lily" Rain Shower head. This shower head retails for $80, other rain models retail for $60-$110. evolve also has standard ($40-$90) and handheld ($70-$130) shower heads available. I feel that these prices are comparable to shower heads that one would purchase at Lowes or any other hardware store.

So how can I get one?
You can order directly from the evolve website, here. Use coupon code TB25 now through May 1, 2009 and save 25%!
Also, thanks to my friends over at evolve, TWO lucky readers have will win a Water Lily rain shower head ($80 value). That's right, you could WIN AN EVOLVE SHOWER HEAD of your very own!

Great, how do I enter?
You must to do two things to enter the contest.
Part 1, Become a public follower of this blog (if you're already a follower, you can skip this step.)
AND
Part 2... One of the things I love about evolve is their philosophy- this eco-friendly company has pretty much the same outlook as you and I in concerns to being "eco-friendly." For the second part of your entry, head over to evolve and take a look at their vision. Come back here and tell me one of the beliefs that you read about that struck you. Do not comment on the same belief as the person directly before you.
If you do not complete both parts of the first entry, you will not be eligible to win.
The contest will end at 10 pm on Monday, March 16, 2009. Winners will be chose via random.org.

Want to earn extra entries?
You can earn up to 5 extra entries when you bring friends to my blog! Simply inform your friends about the contest (how you do this is up to you) and invite them to follow my blog. If they become a follower at your suggestion, they must leave your username or a link to your blog in a comment. To enter the contest themselves, they must follow the same rules above. You can invite as many friends as you like, but only the first 5 to become followers will count towards your extra entries.

You can earn 2 more entries by leaving relevant comments to any other posts on this blog. You do not need to comment that you left a comment- I'll see that when I approve it. You cannot leave two comments on the same posts and the comments must be relevant to the post.

That's a total of EIGHT possible entries to win one of two evolve shower heads that I am giving away!

The Fine Print...Winners will be notified and must respond within 24 hours or new winner will be chosen. Please note any issues with the winning product are not the responsibility of Bloggymom and must be taken up with evolve shower heads. This contest is open to persons 18 and older with a US, Canadian or APO mailing address.
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******UPDATE 3/3/09******** I have an AWESOME savings to pass on to you! evolve has agreed to give my readers 25% off of their next purchase! Use coupon code TB25 now through May 1, 2009 on your purchase and save 25%!
Posted by The Spears Family at 8:17 PM 42 comments Links to this post

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Shout Out...

Thank you to Sweeties Sweeps for posting my giveaway.
Posted by The Spears Family at 10:57 AM Comments Links to this post

Monday, February 23, 2009

Find Your Talents and Use them to Create Personalized Baby Gifts

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Need a fun, affordable baby shower gift? Use your talents to make something meaningful! We all have a special and unique talent! There are plenty of options out there! For example:

• Painting or Drawing- Buy a blank canvas at a local craft store and create something to match the room theme.
• Sewing- Bibs and burp cloths are easy, cute and fun!
• Crocheting- My daughter received a beautiful blanket crocheted by a friend... I absolutely adore it!
• Scrapbooking or Stamping- Create thank you cards with baby's name or monogram or just cards with a baby theme
• Singing- Record a CD of Nursery Rhymes
• Cross-stitching or Embroidery- We received a beautiful framed embroidered piece that included all of our daughter's vitals. It is hanging over her dresser.

Of course there are many other options out there... You don't even have to create it from scratch, buy something and add your own personalized touch to it! Just sit down in your thinking chair and think... think... thi-i-ink! (Can you tell that we watch a lot of Blue's Clue's?)

If you need some ideas, or like the idea of a handmade gift, but that's not your cup of tea, check out etsy. There are plenty of talented artisians on there!

What can you do to create a special and memorable baby shower gift? Share with us a unique hand-crafted gift you have made or received.

If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas. ~George Bernard Shaw

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Posted by The Spears Family at 4:14 PM 3 comments Links to this post

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The First Time Mom Baby Registry - Part 2

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This post is a continuation of my First Time Mom Registry. If you missed the first post, you can read it here. This time I am covering Bedding and other room needs, Breastfeeding, Big Ticket Items and some other great things to have.

BEDDING and OTHER ITEMS
Plastic Infant/Child Hangers- you'll need at least 2 packs of these...and save all of your "pants" hangers that come on the clothes you get- you'll reuse those too
Flat Quilted Crib Pad - you'll need at least 2 and the flat ones work better than the fitted b/c they shrink when you wash them and the fitted will end up not fitting right
Crib Sheets- I'd register for at least 2 but no more than 4- you'll always have at least one clean one when you need it...usually at some ungodly hour ;-)
Plush/Heavy Blanket- At least one- works well cold mornings and evenings going to and from car/buildings/etc
Receiving Blankets- At least 4- you'll use these alot when he is super small
Contour Changing Pad- it works better than the flat ones- don't ask me why- it just does
Contour Changing Pad covers- you'll need at least 2- by there very name it should be obvious why you'll always want a clean spare - these come in all colors so find something that matches your theme
Hamper- this really comes in handy for keeping his clothes separate the first year b/c you'll want to wash all of your baby's clothes in separate baby safe detergent
Swaddle Me Adjustable Wrap- basically the impossible to duplicate burrito wrapping they do at the hospital made easy- good for the first month or two
Sleep Positioner - needed for the first few months to keep baby sleeping on stomach (until he can hold his head up well on his own
Crib Wedge - if anyone is prone to allergies or sinus issues this is useful b/c your baby will prob be as well- goes under mattress to slightly elevate it
****** You'll also want some sort of basket that will go on the changing table to put diapers, wipes and ointment it- The decorative rectangular ones at Target work well.
Onesies- I used onesies alot as undershirts when she was younger. The absolute best ones are the Carters brand- they are SUPER soft- you'll love them! I'd ask for one pack of 6 in each size they have.
Gowns- You'll really like these for the first month or so- I'd ask for 4
Sleepers- You'll need these for all sizes- at least 4 of each sizes again, Carters are the softest.

BREASTFEEDING
As for breast-feeding- if you are planning to go back to work, I HIGHLY recommend the
Medela Pump In Style Advanced BreastPump- it is very pricey ($280+) but TOTALLY worth it. Probably the BEST investment that we made. I used mine religiously for 11 months. I actually still have it as this is the one item I'm holding until I am positive we won't have more.
Milk Storage bags- one large box should do you Johnson & Johnson Nursing Pads- these fit better than any other brand that I tried (Lansinoh, Avent)
Nursing bras in the next 2 sizes- the size you are wearing at the end of your pregnancy will be a size too small after birth and by the time your milk is really coming in you'll be up at least one more size over time you'll go back to the before milk (after birth) size. The Motherhood Maternity nursing bras are the most comfortable.

BIG TICKET ITEMS
Infant Seat with 2 bases- Do not buy used! Also having two bases for the seat to snap into makes life so much easier for you and your husband if you are sharing baby duties! All brands make the extra bases for usually around $40. Remember that expensive is not always safer too! We did a lot of research before buying an infant seat. At the time , the Graco Snug Ride Seat ranked in the top two safest. Read my review here.
Stroller- I recommend the Graco SnugRider Infant Carseat Frame (BabiesRUs) - at $60 it's affordable and practical. Plus it's lightweight for new moms to easily lift in and out. When your infant outgrows the infant seat, get a fancy pants umbrella stroller like this one: Chicco Capri Stroller (BabiesRUs).
Convertible car Seat- Again do your research- you want a 5 point harness and preferably to hold up to 50 pounds forward facing. Register for two (one for each car) If someone buys at least one off your registry you'll only have to come out of pocket for the other one. In this instance, the great ones aren't cheap. (Britax Marathon $280 or Alpha Omega Elite $190)

OTHER ITEMS
There are some other things that you may or may not need...it will really depend on your babies likes and dislikes. Some you will think you need, some others will tell you that you must have. My advice would be not to spend full price on these items. There are tons of great local consignment sales (see local sale dates) where you can get the items listed below for half price or less. They carefully screen all items before accepting them for sale, so they are all in great to good condition as well.
Highchair - a tradition high chair that reclines is great, these work well also: Fisher-Price Space Saver High Chair
Swing- I bought one at a consignment sale for 1/2 price. My daughter hated it, but I was able to sell it for what I bought it for.
Fisher Price Papasan seat- more secure than bouncy seat, but serves the same purpose
Fisher Price Jumperoo- Ok, this one another GREAT purchase- she LOVED this thing, every kid I have ever known who has had one LOVED it- they are all over the consignment sales for 1/2 the price. read my review here.
Baby Bjorn Infant Carrier- this is one thing in which brand most definitely makes a difference! We tried 3 other bands of carriers before the Baby Bjorn. This was comfortable for both Jason and I. Our little one loved it as well. Can be used for bitty infants to snuggle against your chest or for bigger infants to ride front facing. My hubby really liked this one because he could carry her easily. (Great for walking or weekend outings where stroller is not practical) They are quite pricey ($70+), but you can find them on craigslist or via consignment for reasonable prices.
Bumbo Seat- Didn't think this was as great as it was talked up to be. You can find them at the consignments though. We ended up taking ours back (We used it primarily at restaurants) and getting a Chicco Hook-on Chair, which is AWESOME!
One more item that I cannot recommend enough is the
OxiClean Baby Stain Soaker- Register for the BIGGEST tub of this you can find (Babies R Us) It works WONDERS! You can read my review of this here
Baby washing detergent - 2 bottles- Purex Baby smells better than Dreft, but either will work fine. Some people don't wash separately, but I have sensitive skin and assumed my baby might as well. Two bottles should last you quite a while.

Again, this list is just what worked (or didn't work for me) If you would like a copy of this list in its entirety, please email me.

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Posted by The Spears Family at 4:25 PM 9 comments Links to this post

Monday, February 16, 2009

Consignment Season is Almost Here!

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My favorite season is rapidly approaching! No, not spring...CONSIGNMENT SALE SEASON! Those of you who know me well know that I love consignment season, which unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) comes only twice a year.

In our area, there are 4 different sales that I shop. After shopping them all at some point or another over the last three years (I started shopping when I was pregnant) I would say that I've got a system. Some sales you must shop on the first day. Other's you benefit more going on the last day. Some are worth checking out the first AND last day! If you've got kids and have never shopped a consignment sale, trust me when I tell you, YOU ARE MISSING OUT. You can find some really great things at these sales.

My mom will usually come up for a few and join me in shopping. My husband will come along too.. he says to watch the spending, but he contributes just as much to the "must haves" as anyone else. Our daughter will come to "test out" the toys. The four of us always have a great time!

So for those of you who are intrigued.... or those too lazy to look them up yourself ;-) here are the 2009 Spring Consignment Sale dates (you can click the sale title to go directly to the sale site for more information):
March 4 • 9 am - 6 pm
March 5 • 9 am - 6 pm
March 6 • 9 am - 6 pm
March 7 • 9 am - 6 pm • 50% Off Day
(I usually browse this one the first day on my lunch break. It's a smaller sale so you can do that. I make a rule not to look at clothes on the first day, but go back on discount days for the sole purpose of looking through the racks and racks of clothes. They still have PLENTY to choose from on discount day!)

BELLES & BEAUS
March 13 • 9 am - 6 pm
March 14 • 9 am - 6 pm
March 15 • 1:30 pm - 6 pm • 50% Off Day
(This sale is worth going to, but be prepared for a great variation in pricing on clothing items. There usually isn't too much left on half off day but you can get some great deals.)

TOT TRADE
March 19 • 4 pm - 9 pm • Expectant & New Moms Only
March 20 • 9 am - 7 pm
March 21 • 9 am - 6 pm
March 22 • 12 noon - 6 pm
March 23 • 9 am - 6 pm
March 24 • 9 am - 7 pm • 30% Off Day
March 25 • 9 am - 7 pm • 60% Off Day
(This is a consignment sale like no other. If you're an expectant mother, you can probably get everything you need at this one sale. They have rooms dedicated to strollers, highchairs, bouncers, swings, bassinets, cribs. If you've never been before, take my advice when I say don't attempt this one alone...you'll definitely need a team! Oh, and don't miss the 60% off day- there will still be TONS of items left and you can get some AWESOME deals!)

THE M.O.M. SALE
March 28 • 7 am
(This is the Mothers of Multiples Sale- there are two of everything, but they don't sell in sets so moms of singletons can also benefit from this sale! Also great deals on toys and other accessories. pay $1 to get in at 7am or wait til 9 when it opens to the public)

Don't forget to take an empty clothes basket- these places don't have shopping carts and people pushing strollers or pulling wagons get dirty looks! Happy Consigning!

Posted by The Spears Family at 10:41 AM 2 comments Links to this post

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The First Time Mom Baby Registry- Part 1

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Last night I responded to an SOS from a old friend who, as a first-time mom, is freaking out about what to register for. If you have kids, you can probably remember how overwhelming that simple task was the first time!

Think about it- you've never had to care for a baby of your own before...there are all these lists and books, not to mention aisles and aisles- heck even an entire store- dedicated to things for this baby. How do you choose?!?! And how do you know if you're choosing the "right" thing?!!?

It got me thinking. If I felt overwhelmed, my friend felt overwhelmed, there are probably lots of other 'expecting' moms out there who feel the same way. So I decided to make a list. A list of the things that you will REALLY need. And how many you actually need. And which are the best (at least in my opinion.) And some cool things I found along the way.

As I told my friend, you'll read this list, and on some things you'll heed my advice. On others you will not, but will later wish you had. It's okay- I did the exact same thing! You live and learn... and then pass what you learn along to another new mom.

Because my list is so extensive, I have broken it into several parts. This is part one. If you actually like this list and think you may find it useful when registering yourself, email me and I'll send it to you in a Word document :-)

FEEDING
Bottles- I recommend Avent or Dr. Brown- you'll need both 4 oz and 8-9oz, although you'll need more of the larger in the long run
Nipples- for each stage- I'd got for 2-3 packs for each stage/size
Bottle/Nipple Cleaning bush (2) - one will eventually need to be replaced
Bottle Drying Rack- nothing fancy
A Bottle Warmer- great for late nights! I liked this one...The First Years Quick Serve Bottle Warmer
Pre-Fold Cloth diapers (instead of burp cloths) - they are thicker and work much better- 1 pack of 12 will do ya
The First Years Take & Toss 28pc Variety Bag - you won't need this right away, but these are AWESOME for when baby starts feeding himself
Gerber soft bite spoons- 1 pk should be good
Dishwasher basket- for washing nipples and bottle caps

HEALTH & SAFETY
Safety Swab Q-tips - thicker tip for babies
Comb & Brush Set
Desitin- the more the merrier
Infant Tylenol- you'll use it for the first 2 years
Mylicon Gas Drops -
LOTS OF THIS- it's a LIFESAVER - the Wal-Mart brand works just the same
Safety 1st Complete Healthcare Kit - it has all the essential things you'll need
Braun Thermoscan Ear Thermometer- I'm not big on the whole rectal thermometer thing and this always served us well...and we can still use it as she grows


BATHING
Infant Tub- I actually bought a fancier one, found out that it could potentially collapse on my baby, return it and got this one, which I LOVED. My recommendation: The First Years Sure Comfort Deluxe Newborn-to-Toddler Tub
Hooded Towels-
You'll need 4 of these. More than that and you won't really ruse them all. The heavier (thicker) ones are obviously better
Washcloths-
1-2 packs of thin Gerber brand- these are great for cleaning messy faces
Huggies Disposable Washcloths are AWESOME! Register for LOTS of these- you'll love these the first two years! Read my review
here

Munckin Spout Guard- Fits over the faucet to prevent head bumps
Munchkin White Hot Super Safety Bath Duck - tests the bath water temperature


CHANGING
Diapers- Register for diapers through size three- never open more than one box at a time b/c you can take unopened boxes back as you move to new sizes. I used Huggies but everyone I know with boys says Pampers worked better for them.
Wipes- Pick one brand/scent of wipes and stick with it to avoid irritation and diaper rash
*******I'm not a fan of the wipe warmer as it seems to burn the wipes on the bottom and the smell of burnt alcohol didn't settle well.


Don't Agree with any of my suggestions? Leave a comment and tell us what you recommend instead! Have something to add? Share it with us!
Posted by The Spears Family at 11:21 AM 2 comments Links to this post

Friday, February 6, 2009

Rock `N Learn Nursery Rhymes DVD

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I have a two year old daughter and one of our favorite things to do in the car on the way to and from daycare is sing nursery rhymes together. It's been about a ten year stretch between singing nursery rhymes (used to do it all the time when I babysat) so remembering the words to all the classic nursery rhymes is a challenge. Insert the Rock `N Learn Nursery Rhyme DVD.

I actually won this item through a contest hosted by smartypantsmama. We received the DVD from Cindy at Rock `N Learn within days of the win. When we got home I popped it into the DVD player as a substitute for our normal afternoon show, Yo Gabba Gabba. The graphics are very animated and kid-friendly. In addition to nursery rhymes there are also songs and lessons about safety.

My Little Princess Pea was totally engrossed with the songs that she had heard before, the others she watched with curiosity. The musical is not loud and outlandish like most children's shows today- it is very soothing- as nursery rhymes should be. While the recommended age is 3-5 years, my friend's 6 month old twins were mesmerized by the show and the gentle tunes. I would definitely recommend this DVD to parents with children age 4 and under!
Posted by The Spears Family at 3:02 PM 1 comments Links to this post

Monday, January 26, 2009

Etsy Feature Store: Kissing Kumquats

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As part of my Plight to Save Homemade, I have will begin featuring individuals who will be directly affected by the new CPSIA law if it goes into effect as written on February 10, 2009.

This week, I will be featuring the etsy store, Kissing Kumquats.

Kerrie and her sisters, Kellie and Kristie, started the stores as a means to "...offer the funky, fresh designs to others who love bold, graphic prints and sweet florals that do not look like something your grandmother would wear."

I love, Love, LOVE their awesome fabric designs!

<---This one is my favorite! They have the most adorable skirts on their site and they are super-affordable as well. All the skirts pictured in their shop have already been made- when you place your order, they will create the skirt you order especially for you. Whats more, they can create sizes 2T up to girls 7/8. If you're looking for a special gift for your child or a friend, be sure to check out Kissing Kumquats!

I recently chatted with Kerrie of Kissing Kumquats regarding the new CPSIA law. Here are her thoughts on the issue....

I understand the reason for the law and agree with it, to an extent.

In my opinion, large manufactures don't have the relationship with their customers that small businesses do and therefore don't share the same social conscience. We, on Etsy, are literally on a first name basis with our customers and would never, ever, use or make a product that would harm their little ones. As for those of us who make clothing or anything out of fabric...I think if the manufacturer has tested the fabric, it is redundant to test again.

I feel strongly that the law makers did not think this through at all. We are a nation know for our entrepreneurial spirit, and they have passed a law that will essentially cripple those who have put their heart and soul into that exact concept. This law should definitely have exceptions for small manufacturers including home-based businesses owners. A large percentage of sellers on Etsy who make childrens clothing/items are stay at home moms. We have made the choice to stay home with our children and found a way to make a living, or at least supplement the household income. This will effect so many of us who are essentially living the American dream. We get to stay home with our children, practice our "art" and make a living.

The fact that we have made the top 10 list on
Change.org says something about how many people this is going to affect.

And GUESS WHAT?!?!?
Kissing Kumquats is currently running a sale on all of their children's items.

According to Kerrie: "We have had such a great response to our sale that we decided to extend it until Feb.10th. and will be adding new items almost daily. Why not? We have awesome customers and I feel like they should be able to buy cute clothes for their girls, and themselves in some cases, until "d-day."
Posted by The Spears Family at 11:49 PM 1 comments Links to this post

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Kiss by Ted Dekker and Erin Healy

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I’ve never read anything by Ted Dekker or Erin Healy before. In fact I’d never even heard of either of these authors. And admittedly after reading the book description wasn’t even sure if I would like the story. I received Kiss in the mail on a Tuesday. I was finished with the book by Wednesday evening.

Kiss is a very suspenseful novel, a winding tale of deception, disaster, and deceit. It is a tale of awakening and renewal. There are many questionable characters, many unanswered questions and many plot twists.

In this novel, the main character, Shauna, long-ago “abandoned” by her father and step-monster, wakes from a coma and is told that she caused the paralysis of the only person who matters to her, her younger brother, Rudy. The problem is that she can’t remember any of this…and as the plot thickens we learn that there is a reason for this. In this twisting, winding tale, Shauna must sort through the information and memories being fed to her by all those around her to determine the truth. In this novel, Shauna, haunted by her past and consumed by the unknown, is renewed when she learns that while the past does not define the future, it does help to shape it.

Even now, I’m not sure if I liked the novel, but to say that the storyline hooked me and I was so intrigued by it that I couldn’t put the book down would be an understatement.
I received a free copy of the book, "Kiss" from the Thomas Nelson Publishing copy. In return for this book, it was asked that I read and publish a review of the book.
Posted by The Spears Family at 12:40 PM 1 comments Links to this post

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The plight to Save Homemade...

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We are all aware of the numerous toys that have been recalled over the last several years. Pages and pages of toys listed. My daughter was just starting to really play with toys when Mattel issued their recall of numerous Sesame Street and Nickeloden toys due to led paint hazards. I can remember checking the recall lists on a daily basis to make sure that my child wasn't putting into her mouth any of these potentially harmful goods made mostly in China. Like any other concerned parent, I wanted stricter regulations on imported goods, especially children's items.

In response to such recalls and corresponding public outcry, the Consumer Product Safety Commission went to work and Congress soon passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), which goes into effect on February 10, 2009. The CPSIA bans lead and phthalates in toys and requires third-party testing and certification for all products intended for children under the age of 12. Great news, right?

EXCEPT.... This act will effect ANYONE and EVERYONE who creates items for children under age 12, not just large businesses and manufacturers. It will effect grandpas who make swings and rocking horses for their grandchildren, the lady at your church who knits the beautiful baby blankets you purchase for your friends and family, your favorite children's handmade dress booth at the local craft fair. Yeah, etsy is included too.

WHY, you ask? Because unless these local crafters spend thousands of dollars testing the lead levels of every lot of every material used in their product- materials that have already undergone testing- to prove there are no toxic chemicals in the item, it will be illegal for them to operate after February 10, 2009.

WAIT a minute- so basically, with this new law we're destroying the only people who's products we actually trusted during the whole recall scare? And furthermore we're unemploying even more people in an already struggling economy? The answer, sadly is YES. That is exactly what this law will do unless we all take action to SAVE HOMEMADE!

WHAT can I do? (1)Find your congress person and senators and write a letter like the sample here. (2) Send an email directly to the CPSC or contact chairperson Nancy Nord at 301-504-7923 (3) Place the Save Handmade! button on your blog or website to help spread the word to everyone you know who cares about protecting and preserving beautiful items made with love for our children.
Posted by The Spears Family at 11:03 AM 1 comments Links to this post

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Giveaway Winner

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The winner of the giveaway for a copy of the book Rex: A Mother, Her Autistic Child, and the Music that Transformed Their Lives is....

Diana D.
Congratulations Diana!

Thanks to everyone who entered the contest. Continue to regularly check the blog for children's product reviews, book reviews and contests. While some contests will be held to attract new followers, I will also hold contests for current members of the blog, which will only be announced here.
Posted by The Spears Family at 11:20 PM 1 comments Links to this post

Monday, January 19, 2009

Pampered Chef Creative Cutters

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So a recent thing for me- trying to think of new and inventive ways to serve up food for my little one. Currently she is going through the "no eat" phase. This is a new one for me because this is the same child who, at 8 weeks old, was drinking 9oz of milk every 2 hours. At 5 months old, was scarfing down baby food like there was no tomorrow (except the green veggies- she hated those!) At 9 months old she was chomping on pizza crust and by age one she would eat half the food on my plate!

Recently though, if she eats breakfast (aside from her cup of milk) it's not much, and she'll either eat a full lunch or a full dinner, but not both. Usually dinner loses out because she is just "too busy." Although if it's green bean day at daycare she'll skip lunch- she still hates green veggies!

Yes, I do understand that it is just a phase... I saw my little cousins, nephew, and a slew of kids that I used to babysit go through it as well. Yes, logically I know that if she gets hungry, she will eat, but still the "mommy" side of my brain says that she needs to eat something!

So what to do, what to do? Well, right now, her favorite shapes are "heart" and "star." So what does Creative Mommy do?!?! Yes! Serve her food in her favorite shapes! The Pampered Chef "Creative Cutters Set" is perfect for just this sort of thing!

The set comes with 8 "mini" cutters, to (in their words) "create decorative garnishes out of cheese, deli meats, fruits and vegetables." While i don't dispute this, these cutter are also PERFECT for cutting pb&J and grilled cheese sandwiches for a busy 2 year old on the go!

The cool shapes make her food fun, and the small size makes it easy for her to pop one in and move on to the next task! now if only I could thing of a creative way to get her to eat green veggies....

DISCUSSION:
Do you have creative methods to get your children to eat? What are they? Need some help thinking of new creative ideas? Let us know by leaving a comment!
Posted by The Spears Family at 9:37 AM Comments Links to this post

Monday, January 12, 2009

Giveaway - Rex: A Mother, Her Autistic Child, and the Music that Transformed Their Lives

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I was lucky enough to receive a copy of the book, Rex: A Mother, Her Autistic Child, and the Music that Transformed Their Lives, from Thomas Nelson Publishing to review. Since I have completed the book as well as my review of it (read my review here), I've decided to pass it on.

I will be giving away one copy of Rex: A Mother, Her Autistic Child, and the Music that Transformed Their Lives to one lucky blog reader.

There are three different ways that you can enter this contest. You can choose to do one, two, or all three of the following:
1 - Become a follower of my blog. (Follow here.)
2 - Add my button to your blog. (See button in sidebar on right.)
3- Blog about this giveaway on your blog. (Remember to leave a link to your blog!)

Remember to leave a comment stating which of the three ways that you entered. If you do more than one option to enter, leave a separate comment for each! Also, remember to leave an email address if you don't have your own blog so that I can notify you of your win!

I'm running the giveaway through 11:59 PM January 19, 2009. The winner will be randomly drawn by my little princess on the morning of January 20th. Good luck!

I will announce the winner on the blog on Tuesday, January 20. The winner will be notified via email and will have until January 23, 2009 to respond with contact information. If no response, another winner will be chosen.
Posted by The Spears Family at 11:42 AM 19 comments Links to this post

Friday, January 9, 2009

Step2 LifeStyle Grand Walk-In Kitchen

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My 23 month old daughter received the Step 2 Lifestyle Grand Walk-In Kitchen for christmas. We also received the bonus table and two chairs. For everything that came in the box, the price was EXTREMELY reasonable.

It was very easy to put together- it took my husband and I about 1.5 hours to put it together...this included putting all of the stickers on and setting up the food items that come along with it. When my daughter saw it Christmas morning so said "Whoa!" about 50 times. She ran to the kitchen and was so excited about all of the gadgets and accessories.

The phone and microwave both make different noises when you press the keys. Also, the stove recognizes the pot that you put on the burner and makes corresponding noises (sizzling, boiling, etc.) It comes with 2 plates, bowls, cups and cutlery sets as well as two baskets full of food. Some of the foods is more realistic looking than others but to me that is a minor detail.

The set has a counter so that you can sit on the enclosed stool and eat. Two smaller children can play comfortably in this kitchen. I think that the kitchen is plenty big enough for a child up to age 4 or 5 and hope that my daughter will not outgrow it before then.
Posted by The Spears Family at 2:22 PM Comments

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Rex: A Mother, Her Autistic Child, and the Music that Transformed Their Lives

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I just finished reading the book, "Rex: A Mother, Her Autistic Child, and the Music that Transformed Their Lives."

Let me start by saying that I enjoyed reading "Rex." It was a fascinating look into the "real" side of disabilities. The problem that I had is that the book cover states..."A Mother, Her Autistic Child, and the Music that Transformed Their Lives." While this book is indeed about a mother and her child, who happens to be autistic, it is also so much more than that!

Cathleen Lewis chronicles the real, raw emotions that any mother, who learns her child needs major surgery at a few days old, is blind and also exhibits autistic behaviors would experience. I felt was she was feeling when reading "Rex."

Rex is also the story of a mother who refused to give up, refused to back down, dug her heels in and made certain that her son would have the best life, the most enjoyable life that he could.

Rex is the story of a mother who learns to have faith, embrace faith, and like all mothers, learns that it's okay to let go, so that her son can soar...down a steep driveway, across piano keys as the musical savant that he is, bombing down a mountain on skis, on surfboard catching a waves.

Hats off to you, Cathleen Lewis, and your son, Rex!

I received a free copy of the book, "Rex: A Mother, Her Autistic Child, and the Music that Transformed Their Lives" from the Thomas Nelson Publishing copy. In return for this book, it was asked that I read and publish a review of the book.
Posted by The Spears Family at 4:13 PM 1 comments Links to this post
 

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