The winner of the movie Against the Wild  is Pam H.  Also, thanks, everyone, for sharing good family movies you’ve seen lately!

Movie ticket winners are…

…commenter #6 Melanie and commenter #23 Jillyan.  I will get those movie passes headed your way, ladies!

Free movie tickets!

Son Of God movieThis seems to be a month of giveaways! The winner of the book The Antelope in the Living Room by Melanie Shankle is commenter #12  Tracy Stanley.  Tracy, send me your address and I will get your copy headed in your direction.

Today I’ve got a new giveaway–  four vouchers  to go see a new movie that comes out this weekend.  It is called ‘Son of God‘  and the vouchers can be redeemed to use in any theater as long as it is showing. Here’s what the Dove Foundation had to say about the movie.

I’m always a little leery of movie presentations of faith– often producers use their creative license pretty liberally.  But  John and I are looking forward to taking our teens to check this one out for ourselves.  If nothing else, it is a great springboard and opportunity to talk with others about our faith. And the musical score was done by Hans Zimmer, one of my husband’s favorite composers.  (He’s a big fan of dramatic orchestral musical numbers.) Here’s the official movie trailer so you can get a feel for it.

I am going to give away these tickets in pairs, so that two families will have the chance to see this movie more affordably — or free, depending on the size of your family.  To enter the drawing, comment below and tell me about a movie you enjoyed recently.  I’ll choose a winner on Thursday, so get commenting!  :)

Because these vouchers are e-vouchers, if the winner replies quickly, I might even be able to get them to you in time to see the movie this weekend– if I can find time in the midst of the Refresh conference anyway.

Speaking of which, if you’re in the Seattle area and are interested in attending Refresh (a conference for adoptive and foster families) online registration is closed, but you can still show up on Friday and register in person.  There are lots of good speakers, including Deborah Gray (she wrote Attaching in Adoption) and Milan and Kay Yerkovich (authors of How We Love).  I’m excited to be team-leading a couple sessions with two awesome mommas.  Lisa Qualls of One Thankful Mom and I are doing a talk on having faith in hard times, and Jen Summers (a fellow mom of ten!) and I are talking about large family logistics.  Should be fun!

Of Chaos and Coffee

Coffee in the morning One of the things about having lots of kids is that you’re always trying to control the chaos one way or another. Sometimes that means putting multiple kids in the same activity to save driving, or doing fewer activities overall. Other times you triple a cookie recipe while you’ve already got a mess in the kitchen, or nix a messy snack and instead suggest one that is easier to clean up.

Recently it dawned on me that years of parenting many little ones left me in the habit of saying ‘no’ more often than is necessary in my current life. My youngest is 9, and I’ve got lots of capable teens, all of whom can wash dishes and do all sorts of other useful things, and some of whom can even drive each other places. That makes for a little more margin in our lives. I’m on a campaign this year to say yes to my kids more often. Sure, there are still limits. But ‘yes’ is definitely flying off my lips more often.

One of the example of this is hot drinks in the morning. For years I saved cocoa, tea, and coffee in the morning for sledding and snow days just to save on hassle and mess, but these days when kids ask for coffee or tea in the morning, my answer is a happy yes. The kids enjoy the extra pampering and so do I. This month, thanks to some freebies from Maxwell House International, we are enjoying cafe style coffee along with our tea and cocoa. This mildly sweet coffee is mellow enough that I’ll even let my 9- and 11-year-old daughters make half a cup in the morning. I also occasionally add a spoonful to my Ethiopian coffee for a bit of a different flavor. My kids really like the French Vanilla, but I prefer the Vanilla Nut myself. Swiss Mocha and Hazelnut are a couple of other options. You can see them all here.

Did you know that not only can you enjoy Maxwell House International as a cafe style coffee beverage for a flavorful and creamy coffee experience, but you can also add a few spoonfuls instead of creamer, to bring some romance to your coffee? In honor of Valentine’s Day, Maxwell House International wants you to try it. It’s delicious!

International Cafe

 Click here to get a sample (or a coupon) while they last. For additional fun, you can comment below, tell me which Maxwell House International flavor you would like to try. There are so many–including French Vanilla, Vanilla Nut, Hazelnut, Suisse Mocha, Vanilla Caramel, Café Vienna. You’ll be entered automatically in a random drawing for a $100 Visa gift card.

 

 

Sweepstakes Rules:
No duplicate comments.

You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post

Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post

Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post

For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winner  will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.

The Official Rules are available here.

This sweepstakes runs from 2/12/14 – 3/24/13.

Be sure to visit the Maxwell House International Page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ reviews and find more chances to win!

$1000 Suave Moroccan Infusion giveaway

Moroccan Infusion Lotion

Along about February in Idaho, I think the vast majority of folks could use a little more moisture in their skin. Idaho is basically a desert, after all: Boise gets about 12 inches of rain in an entire year. Then there’s the fact that the vast majority of the people in our house have dry skin. Suffice it to say that dryness reigns supreme around here. When I was asked by Suave® to try Suave Professionals® Moroccan Infusion Body Lotion, I happily accepted. This lotion features argan oil from Morocco, a type of oil that is high in Vitamin E and is supposed to be very good for the skin. I found that the lotion smelled good and absorbed quickly, while seeming to stay on my skin for quite a few hours. The fragrance is light and pleasant. My girls and I all liked it. Suave® wanted me to share the following information points with you.

  • With new Suave Professionals® Moroccan Infusion Body Care, women everywhere have access to premium products infused with authentic Moroccan argan oil. Suave Professionals® Moroccan Infusion Body Lotion is a daily moisturizer that absorbs quickly for up to 24 hours of radiant, non-greasy hydration. Suave Professionals® Moroccan Infusion Dry Body Oil Spray has a non-greasy formula that absorbs instantly and seals in long-lasting moisture.
  • · New Suave Professionals® Moroccan Infusion Body Care products, clinically proven to moisturize as well as Moroccanoil®1 , feature a light, luxurious fragrance and are infused with authentic Moroccan argan oil, a lightweight miracle oil known to be rich in nutrients and antioxidants
  • · Find more information about the Suave Professionals® Moroccan Infusion Body Care products at www.Facebook.com/SuaveBeauty.
  • · Visit the Suave® Beauty Facebook page to get tips for radiant skin, style advice from celebrity stylist Brad Goreski and enter the “Radiant Wishes” sweepstakes for a chance to win Suave Professionals® Moroccan Infusion products, a spa day or a trip to Los Angeles.

 
Sweepstakes Good news! There’s a giveaway! Each comment posted belows garners an automatic entry into a random drawing for a $1,000 gift card (across all participating blogs). For a chance to win a $1,000 gift card, let me know which of the Suave Professionals® Moroccan Infusion Body Care products you would most like to try. For an additional entry, go to Facebook and like SuaveBeauty. Then come back and COMMENT AGAIN to tell me you liked them on Facebook.

 

 

Sweepstakes Rules: 

 

No duplicate comments.

 

You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

 

  1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
  2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
  3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
  4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

 

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.

 

The Official Rules are available here.

 

This sweepstakes runs from 2/7/2014-2/28/2014.

 

Be sure to visit the Suave Professionals® brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ posts!

 

Simple Toddler Toy

Toy (3)

Toy (6)

I love to think of fun things for our little grandsons to do when they come to visit our house. Not long ago I put together a simple little toy that gave the boys a fun way to practice their developing fine motor skills. Basically all you do is cut a handful of drinking straws in half and just let your kiddos  stick the straws through the holes in the lid of a jar, filling the jar with the straws.  I used the lids to Parmesan cheese containers, since they have nice round holes that are just a bit bigger than the average straw.

Concentration

Since babies like to put things in their mouths, this is definitely a ‘do-with-them’ toy.  And I realized AFTER doing this that– duh– I really should have used the plastic parmesan cans instead of screwing lids onto canning jars.  Though canning jars are sturdy and not likely to break when kids are playing on a carpeted floor, kids could theoretically throw them and break them.  Next time I buy parmesan, I’ll save those plastic cans to make this toy safer.  One thing that I didn’t expect  (but probably should have guessed) is that they liked emptying the jars just as much as they liked to fill them.

 

As you can see by the engrossed expressions on our little guys’ faces, they LOVED this game.  It kept them both in the same place, happily occupied, for a good ten minutes, which for them is quite an accomplishment.  They tend to turbo all around the house rapidly, usually in different directions.

My absolute favorite picture is this last one, where Ascher is leaning way down to see Ranger’s straws go into the jar.  It was so much fun to see how much they enjoyed this simple little toy.  If you don’t have straws, you could do the same thing with crayons or pipe cleaners.    Toy

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Veggie Tales Giveaway

Silas in 'Merry Larry'

The winners of the cookbooks are commenter #21 Janie (you won Y’all Come Over) and #30 vicki c. (you get the The Southern Food Truck Cookbook).

Today I have yet another giveaway for you!  This time it’s a copy of the latest Veggie Tales video, called Merry Larry and the True Light of Christmas.  We’ve been Veggie Tales fans as long as I can remember, and our girls enjoyed this one too. It features Si from Duck Dynasty for extra fun. If you’d like to win a copy of this video for your child, comment below and tell me one Christmas tradition that you especially love.  I will pick a video winner on Friday.

One that I’ve loved doing with our kids is getting out our stash of Christmas story books around December 1st and reading a different one each night.  On years that I get really organized, I even gift-wrap each story book, so that the kids can open one each night, adding a new book or two into the mix each year.  Since our youngest is 9, we’ve almost outgrown this tradition, but it has been a lot of fun for many years.

 

‘See the Light’ DVD winner

The winner of the See the Light DVD is commenter #22 Beckey who writes the blog Adding One More and recently brought home a little boy from Hong Kong.  Congrats, Beckey!

Book giveaway winner

The winner of the book Raising Respectful Children is Amy B. Thanks, everyone, for your thoughts about good manners and kids!

Beat the heat: family game ideas

Dutch Blitz

Is the heat getting to you this summer?  Now that the weather around here has cooled down into the 90′s, our swamp cooler is keeping things reasonably cool.  The little girls have been doing some swimming to stay cool. Another hot-weather thing we’ve been doing, though, is to play games indoors.  I really love to play games with my kids.  Besides being a fun way to spend time together, games teach kids reasoning and strategy, and (I think) stretch their brains in a good way. This summer we’ve had games out at least every couple days. But not just any game will do. Our favorites are ones that allow lots of players while being truly interesting to all players, including mom. (Sorry, this rules out Candyland and Monopoly in my book.)

 Currently we’re on a Rummikub kick.  This was a fairly recent addition to our game collection, and it is a lot of fun.  It contains numbered tiles that you arrange in sets and runs. For additional fun, you can rearrange any set or run to form different sets and runs.  This hugely increases your playing options on any given turn, and it really lets you think creatively.  Sometimes the girls and I try to rearrange so much that we get stuck, forget how we began, and then can’t put things back the way they were before a turn.  Good fun.  This game is suggested for up to 4 players age 8 and up, but I would suspect that most 6 year old children could play with a bit of coaching.  A whole game takes half an hour or so.

 

Another game that has been a favorite of ours for quite a few years is Ticket To Ride.  This game is played on a US map, with the goal of building train lines from city to city.  Up to five players can play together, and the more people on the map, the more crowded things become.  Part of the fun of the game is blocking other players from reaching their goals, sometimes causing opponents ridiculously long detours to go short distances.  This game often takes an hour or more to play, and is done when one person uses up all their trains.

I’ve told you before about Dutch Blitz,  Unlike the previous two games I mentioned, there’s no turn-taking in this game.  It is a wild card-stacking free-for-all.  A standard deck allows four players to play at once.  If that’s not crazy enough for you, mark a second deck, and play with up to 8 players for utter craziness.  I have to be in the right mood to do well at this game.  It is truly lightning-fast with a big group, and if you’re a little sleepy while playing a bunch of teens, you will be left in the dust wondering what just happened.  This game can easily be learned by any child who recognizes numbers, but younger siblings sometimes get frustrated trying to complete with speedy older siblings.  We occasionally handicap speedy older kids (by giving them more cards on their Blitz pile) to give younger ones a fighting chance.  But mostly we let the cards fall how they may, and gradually the younger ones get quicker.  A game can often take 5 minutes or less, so this is a great choice for some fun when you have just a bit of game time. 

Spot It consists of 55 cards that create a free-for-all matching game. (Is it only kid-at-heart me who adores games where you don’t have to wait for your turn??)  There are four ways to play, and you can play with 2-8 players.  This is definitely a game most interesting to younger kids. The instructions put the minimum age at 7, but I’d say it is more like 4, especially once kids learn the names of the various shapes and pictures used for matching.  There are multiple pictures in varying sizes on each card, and I’ve found that my kids are often better at this game than I am– something they enjoy greatly. Each game is done quickly– usually in 5 minutes or less– perfect for young ones with short attention spans.

  No game list  would be complete in my book without a mention of Phase 10.  This game consists of ten different ‘phases’ with a different goal in each phase. It takes about an hour to run through completely, though if we have limited time we sometimes just play to phase 3 or phase 5. It works well for kids who are age 8 or older.
What games do you like to play with your kids? I’d love some more suggestions.

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