Thursday, December 18, 2014

Holiday Traditions, Then and Now

Taking a break from reviews and giveaways 
to share the important things this holiday...

The winter holidays are meant for kids.  Santa Claus is real, snow falls solely for sledding and building snow families, and a baby (just like I used to be, they'll say) was born in the hay.  When else do we let them bring trees in the house or bury them with brand new toys, shiny paper, and glittery ribbon?  In the thick of it, they'll tell you every bit of it is magical.  It's not until we get a little older that particular pieces of that holiday magic begin to plant themselves in a special part of our memory. For me, the enchantment was the Christmas tree.

Growing up in Iowa, the formula for the perfect Christmas tree involved waiting for a bitter cold day and swirling biting winds.  The whole family piled out of the station wagon at the country Christmas tree farm, picked up a hacksaw and trudged acres and acres to the farthest, most un-harvested hill.  The arguments then ensued as six girls poured out their hearts in defense of their " perfect"  tree.  Ultimately, Mom got the one she wanted, and the saw went to work chopping down her tree.

The adventure continued on as we dragged our enormous tree back across the snow-laden hills looking for a tractor and trailer willing to give us a ride back to our car.  If we were lucky, the tree would fit in the baler-one year it would not-and a great big Christmas tree bundle got strapped to the top of the car.  Piling back into the station wagon, we raced home to set up our tree.

The happy memories don't end there.  Getting the tree home was only half the act.  Enter Pa-pa and his voice of reason.  "Dawn, that tree is too big.  It won't fit in our house."  He was right nearly every year.  The tree's trunk always  received a second round of shearing before taking it's place front and center in the living room window.

After the tree was decorated and lit, we enjoyed seeing more and more presents accumulate underneath.  We would plug in the lights in the late afternoon and sometime before going to bed, Mom and Dad would unplug it again.  Until Christmas Eve.  On Christmas Eve we all knew the twinkling lights stayed on all night.  Early in the morning (or later in the morning depending on how old we were getting to be), six girls would tumble out of bed, shuffle into the living room and be greeted with the most breathtaking sight!  The glow of the Christmas tree illuminated the room, shining off wrapping paper, and calling attention to a big bag from Santa. Spread out on the floor, in front of the tree, were six stuffed-to-the-brim stockings inviting us to come and partake.  With the allure of new toys, the moment was over in the blink of an eye, but the living room aglow on Christmas morning is what Christmas time magical to me.

Imagine then, the struggle it's been with a husband who grew up a little bit differently.  In a home that in all ways seemed even more frugal than my own, the electric bill at Christmas time apparently just went out the window.  He wants the lights on all the time, day and night and any extra time in between.  Last year we followed each other around, secretly plugging and unplugging.  I was certain he was being obstinate only because he didn't like digging around for the loose cords to fit into the socket.  There had to be a solution before we started our holiday celebrating again this year.

In come our kids.  Even before talking about getting a tree, they tell us excitedly and assuredly that Christmas trees have lots of presents and candy canes.  I have no idea where the candy canes came from, but they are certain and now our tree is covered in candy canes they can eat every day.  The first night we had our tree up I heard our oldest telling his dad that if he couldn't sleep he would just come out and look at the tree.  The second night we had our tree up, I found him sleeping on the couch and when he woke up the first thing he said was, "I just wanted to lay here and look at this beautiful tree."

A mom's heart melts.  It's a struggle to walk by and see the lights on at all times of the day.  I want my family to know joy the way I remember it as a child.  At the same time, who am I to take away a three-year-old's joy?  Children make the holidays!

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Gift of Math For the Holidays

This is a sponsored post via USFamilyGuide
I received a complimentary service in exchange for an honest review.

I've mentioned before that we are a homeschooling family and I'll be sharing more of our experiences and helpful resources with you in the coming months, but today I'm excited to whet your whistle with an online mathematics program for grades 1-5 called Splash Math.

Splash Math combines the best of both worlds. For a child, Splash Math appears to be like a game which rewards on getting answers correct, keeping them engaged all the time. For a parent, Splash Math covers all necessary math skills for their grade levels and provides crucial insight on the child's performance.

My 7-yr-old and I are excited to share our likes and dislikes about the program with you next week. Need a reason to try Splash Math before then? Here's one:

 Get 20% discount on Splash Math - the fun math program for K-5 Kids

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Gourmet Popcorn Sent to Your Door #Giveaway



Want to receive a delicious treat at your door?

Check out the Gourmet Popcorn Club from ClubsGalore! You'll get 4 quarts or more of gourmet small-batch popcorn in 3 to 4 different varieties each month including flavors like Barbecue, Buffalo Wing, White Cheddar, Ranch, Caramel, Chocolate Mint, Parmesan, Salt & Vinegar, Pesto and many more!

One lucky winner will receive a 3 month subscription (Starting in January) to the Gourmet Popcorn Club! Bloggers at "Just Another Mom" recently had the opportunity to sample some of the delicious flavors and you can read all about their experience. Speaking from that, Just Another Mom gives the Gourmet Popcorn Club two thumbs up and a must-have gift.

Gourmet Popcorn Club Giveaway

Sponsored by: ClubsGalore

Hosted by: Just Another Mom

Co-Hosted by: Deliciously Savvy, Heartbeats Soulstains

Michigan Savings and More, Totally Temberton & Tx Mommy's Savings

Begins: 12/10 and Ends: 12/22 at 11:59 PM EST

Send someone a box full of indulgence each month – Made with premium corn kernels and the finest ingredients. Each flavor is packaged separately keeping it fresh until you are ready to partake! This popcorn will create conversation, provide entertainment for your palate, and offer moments of genuine joy.

This giveaway is open to residents of the continental United States only. Winner must be 18 or older Winner will be notified within 24 hours of the giveaway ending and will have until 12/27 to reply or a new winner will be chosen.

Ready to Win?

Disclosure: Just Another Mom received complimentary product to facilitate this giveaway, no monetary compensation was received. Freemples has in no way received product or compensation. None of the participating bloggers have been compensated for their participation in this giveaway. This giveaway is not associated with Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, or any other mentioned social media platforms. This information is being disclosed in compliance with FTC regulations.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A Subscription Box For Your Little Space Explorer

Freemples received a 2-month subscription
 in order to faciliate this review with USFamilyGuide

A few weeks ago, I introduced you to new subscription box service geared towards the space enthusiasts in your life.  

Space Scouts
After receiving and using the first two month's subscription boxes, I'm prepared to tell you we LOVE Space Scouts and can wholeheartedly recommend them!

Space Scouts
Here is a look at what is provided in the 1st and 2nd Space Scouts shipments...

1st Month: Lunch Box, Poster, Sticker Puzzle, Wiki Stix, Worksheets, Constellation Ring
2nd Month: Magnet, Astronaut Figurines, Stickers & Sticker Puzzle, Worksheets,
 Constellation Cards, Robotic Space Arm

Here are my boys completely engaged with their Space Scout activities...


And here are the reasons I think Space Scouts is a great investment...

Reason #1
 Educational-As a homeschooling parent, I could easily incorporate these boxes into a unit study each month.  They are in-depth with information pages and interactive with worksheets.  The recommended age for is 6+, but I found the worksheets to be a good mix of challenging for my 7-yr-old and also entertaining for my 4-yr-old.  Each month's box also contains a new "Space Plan" to study and a new constellation to learn about.
Reason # 2
     Quality Products-The toys are not cheap plastic that will break the first time they are used.  The poster, stickers, and magnets are durable and meant to be long lasting.  And the metal lunchbox is a fun but sturdy way to contain all the components for a long long time. 

Reason #3
     It's Fun-Being young boys, my kids don't always sit in one place for very long.  The afternoon we opened up the Space Scouts packages, they sat at the table learning and playing for nearly 3 hours.  They loved the bright colored worksheets and activities.  They got along deciding how to apply the stickers and magnets, they used their imaginations with their new astronaut figurines, and calling a generic toy grabber a "robotic space arm" is absolutely genius!  They followed their challenges to accomplish different space arm missions to the letter...



We loved our Space Scout boxes.  I think you would, too.  At $11.95/month it is an extremely affordable way to both entertain and educate.  I thought I might want 2 boxes so my boys wouldn't fight over what was inside, but each month comes with enough items to divide that we didn't have any problems. At that cheap price, though, it wouldn't be exorbitant to order an additional subscription if we decided to in the future.  

One last thing, whether you decide the Space Scouts subscription box is the right fit for your space-loving loved one or not, I highly recommend joining the Space Scouts Facebook page.  They update frequently with current space related news events that are incredibly fascinating. 

Think the Space Scouts Subscription Box would be a great fit for your family?
Use code USFAMILY20 at checkout to get 20% off your initial purchase!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Enter to Win a YouCopia Chef's Edition SpiceStack!

Everyone cooks a little more, bakes a little more, eats a little more at the holidays.  Today we're excited to be able to offer our readers a YouCopia Chef's Edition SpiceStack to help bring a little organization to all the yumminess....

YouCopia

Sponsored By Tammie's Reviews, Giveaways and More and Queen of Savings.

and

Sponsored By YouCopia

 You can read Tammie's review of the product that you have a chance to win by going HERE.

This Chef’s Edition SpiceStack holds up to 30 bottles and fits in the cabinet.

  • Organizes 30 full size or 60 half size bottles.
  • Measures 12.8 W x 8.7 H x 10.9 L inches
  • Includes 96 ( 48 printed and 48 blank labels )
  • Non skid feet hold the unit securely in place
  • No assembly required, Units are stack-able

On To The Sweepstakes Rules~

  • 1 reader will win a YouCopia Chef's Edition SpiceStack

  • This will end on 12/19 at 7 p.m.

  • This is open to the U.S. only

  • All entries will be verified

  • Winner will be notified by email and have 24 hours to respond or another will be chosen. pankuch1605@hotmail.com is the email it will come from.

  • Must be 18+ yrs of age to enter

  • Void where prohibited by law.

  • Full terms and conditions are on the entry tool below

    Enter Below and Good Luck to You~


Disclosure- [Freemples] is not associated with any of the companies named above. No purchase is necessary to enter. Void where prohibited by law. The odds of winning are based on the number of entries received Open to the US 18+ only. Confirmed Winner(s) (by Random.org) will be contacted by email. Winner(s) have 24 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law. The sponsor(s) will be responsible for product shipment to winner(s) of this giveaway. My blog is not responsible for product shipment/delivery nor did I receive compensation. Only 1 prize per household. This event is in no way administered, sponsored, or endorsed by, or associated with, Facebook and/or Twitter, Google, Pinterest. This disclosure is done in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission 10 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements. Entrants must only enter with either one email address, IP address and/or Facebook account, anyone found violating these rules will be disqualified. It is at the sole discretion of the admin of the giveaway if the winner has met the rules or not. While here why not follow Tammie’s Reviews, Giveaways and More, on Facebook, on Twitter, on Pinterest or contact me info@tpankuch.com and see how I can promote/feature your product for you.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

1lb. Chocolate Stadium Giveaway

There is not a person on this planet who doesn't need a little bit of chocolate from time to time.  Your sports enthusiast friends and family are no exception.  Enter below for a chance to win them this scrumptious prize!

SportsChocolate  

Hosted By Tammie's Reviews, Giveaways and More, Queen of Savings and Joan's 5 Star Reviews.

and

Sponsored By SportsChocolate.com

SportsChocolates.com™, a division of Better World Brands has created the #1 Fan Chocolate Collection™ and Gaming Chocolates Collection™. Either collection includes our custom chocolate stadiums and arenas and replica chocolate gaming pieces.

Made from 100% Premium milk chocolate, many include complimentary chocolate accessories like foil wrapped sports balls and casino chips. Our chocolates can be packaged in either beautiful imprinted tins, glass jars, or wood canisters, and then finished with a hand tied ribbon and bow.

All products are manufactured in the USA [except the wood canisters] under the strict guidance of our Chocolatier – Monsieur Petit. Each is shipped from our New Jersey production facility directly to the recipient with your personal message card.

On To The Sweepstakes~

  • 1 reader will win a SportsChocolate.com 1 lb Chocolate Stadium arv $45.00

  • This is open to the U.S. Only

  • This will end 12/16

  • All entries will be verified

  • Winner will be notified by email and have 24 hours to respond or another will be chosen. pankuch1605@hotmail.com is the email it will come from.

  • Must be 18+ yrs of age to enter

  • Void where prohibited by law.

  • Full terms and conditions are on the entry tool below

Enter Below and Good Luck to You~

Disclosure- [Freemples] was not compensated either by free product or payment. I have not been compensated for this post. All opinions and experiences are my own. Open to the US, must be 18+. Confirmed Winner(s) will be contacted by email and have 24 hours to respond before a new winner will be drawn. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law. Entrants must only enter with either one email address, IP address and/or Facebook account, anyone found violating these rules will be disqualified. It is at the sole discretion of the admin of the giveaway if the winner has met the rules or not. The sponsor(s) will be responsible for product shipment to winner(s) of the giveaway. Sponsor will be responsible for prize fulfillment. This event is in no way associated with, sponsored, administered, or endorsed by Facebook, Twitter, Google, Pinterest or any other social media network. The disclosure is done in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission 10 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. For questions about this giveaway or to have me promote your product, Please email Tammie at info@tpankuch.com.

Monday, December 1, 2014

#GiveHope on #GivingTuesday

Does anyone else feel like they need a shopping detox?  The flurry of Black Friday sales and Cyber Monday promos has completely overwhelmed my wallet this year.  And I'm glad...because it makes the selflessness of #GivingTuesday so much more meaningful.

There are innumerable organizations/causes/charitable efforts in need of an outpouring of support, I know.  The craze that was the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that swept the world last summer was incredible for a cause that had previously had little name recognition.  While I know that my one little blog post today will not come near to bringing about the same kind of response, I'd love to share one of the research initiatives affecting my loved ones and ask you to consider sharing your support for it today.

This is my adorable nephew, Braydon...


Braydon was born with hydrocephalus, a condition causing an excessive pool of fluid on his brain, and had a shunt placed immediately to allow the fluid to drain.  Over the next few months he had ups and downs as he began to have difficulties with the shunt malfunctioning and other related challenges.  Appointments with eye doctors, neurosurgeons, orthopedic specialists, and physical therapy quickly became his weekly routine.  And in the middle of it all, it was discovered that Braydon has a condition called holoprosencephaly.  The simple explanation of holoprosencephaly is that where the human brain normally is divided into two lobes, Braydon's brain is one undivided lobe.  
The National Human Genome Research Institute goes into more detail with this description...

Holoprosencephaly is a disorder caused by the failure of the prosencephalon (the embryonic forebrain) to sufficiently divide into the double lobes of the cerebral hemispheres. The result is a single-lobed brain structure and severe skull and facial defects. In most cases of holoprosencephaly, the malformations are so severe that babies die before birth. In less severe cases, babies are born with normal or near-normal brain development and facial deformities that may affect the eyes, nose and upper lip.
 To look at my Braydon's calendar of appointments is exhausting. But he impresses the doctor's and therapists every single day.  He is a happy little boy developmentally improving despite all his diagnoses and expected outcomes.  His next major hurdle is to have reconstructive surgery to reduce the size and misshapen-ness of his skull caused by the excess fluid.  It's a scary procedure, and one my entire family is confidently praying he makes it through with flying colors.

I'm sharing this personal story with you today to help bring awareness to the Hydrocephalus Association's #GiveHope campaign.


Coinciding with #GivingTuesday, all donations made to the Hydrocephalus Association today, December 2, 2014, will be generously matched.  A little bit of money may not always go a long way, but a tiny gesture can be enormous in bringing hope and the outlook of positive outcomes to families who are living and loving their children through everything.

Interested in donating to the Hydrocephalus Association #GiveHope campaign?  Click here.
Interested in following Braydon's Journey?  Click here.
Want to learn more about hydrocephalus?  Click here.
Want to learn more about holoprosencephaly?  Click here. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Holiday Gift Guide Giveaway Event

What a treat!  A chance to win some truly incredible holiday treasures...be sure to come back and share a little love if you win!


Welcome to the 2014 Holiday Gift Guide Giveaway!

This event is hosted by Dixieland Reviews and Co-Hosted by Mom 'N Daughter Savings, Ottawa Mommy Club, Finger Click Saver, Susie Q-Pons and Giveaways & Michigan Saving and More and is sponsored by the various companies.

There will be a total of 19 Winners! To see a list of winners at the end of this contest, just click here.

This event is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada who are 18+. Void where prohibited by law. Winners will be notified via email and will have 24 hours to respond. If no response is received, winner forfeits the prize and a new winner will be chosen. We are not responsible for late or misdirected email or email ending up in your spam folder. Please add Marie@dixielandsdeals.com to your safe list so the email will reach you if you win.

This event will begin at 11:59 pm eastern standard time on November 28th, 2014 and end at 11:59 pm eastern standard time on December 8th, 2014. All entries from all tools will be combined and then ran through Random.org to ensure a fair draw. Chances of winning varies depending on number of entries received. Approximate retail value of all prizes is $4440. Participating Bloggers are not responsible for shipment of prizes.

Prizes:
(1) Mantry Gift Package -arv $75- from Mantry
1 Winner
 And don't miss their incredible Black Friday Deal!! But the deal is only good on November 28th!

(1) HP Stream 7 Tablet arv: $99.99 Blogger Sponsored Prize
1 Winner!

(1) Click 'n Dig F6 Smart RF Item Finder-arv: $67.95 from Click 'n Dig
 1 Winner!
 

(1) Coach Embossed Horse & Carriage Handbag -arv-$475- 
from Just Ideas with Venus Kem - 1 Winner

(1) Keurig 2.0 Coffee Maker K550 Bundle arv $249.99- from Keurig
 1 Winner 
 Save 20% + Free Shipping on Black Friday Only! Use Code: BLACKFRIDAY

(1) Black & Decker 4 Speed Digital Blender arv: $49.99- from Black & Decker  
1- Winner

(1) Black & Decker Extra wide Convection Toaster Oven arv $59.99 from Black & Decker 
 1 Winner


 (1) $350 Visa Gift Card arv $350 from Our World Travel 
 1 Winner

(1) XBox One arv $349 from Our World Travel 
1 Winner

(1) Absolutely GORGEOUS Butterfly necklace- arv $15 from Joyful Gifts by Julie 
 1 Winner

(1) Samsung Galaxy S 5 arv: $649 - from Samsung 
 1 Winner

(1) $500 Visa Gift Card arv $500 - from Our World Travel 
1 Winner

(5) $100 Visa Gift Cards -arv $100 each-from Just Ideas with Venus Kem 
5 Winners


Grand Prize!!! (1)- ONE lucky winner will win a $1000 shopping spree with a $1000 Visa Gift Card courtesy of Our World Travel, where you can earn cash back every time you book travel!

Entry is simple, just follow the instructions on the Giveaway Tool below.  Entries from this Giveaway Tool and the Follow Pages will be combined and ran through Random.org to ensure a fair draw. All winning entries will be verified. Visiting a Facebook Page does not require a "like" to enter, but please consider it while you're there.   Good Luck!!