Thank You Gifts on a Budget

August 5, 2016

This summer my oldest son got to be part of a really incredible local summer program and I’m incredibly grateful for each staff member that invested in him and helped him be as prepared as he could be for Kindergarten. I wanted to be able to give each of them a small token of appreciation, but I wanted it to be meaningful yet not break the bank. With him entering Kindergarten I also wanted to give his teacher and his bus driver a little something too, as we look forward to spending our year with them.

Most of the items, as well as the supplies for them, I got at the Dollar Store. Some of the printables I found online, but several them I made through an app on my phone called Word Swag.

Take a look below for some fun ideas to show appreciation to some of the amazing people in your kiddos lives!

Battery operated lamps were from the Dollar Store. The printable tag I found online at fullofgrace.

The bag was from the Dollar Store, the 8x10 White Frame was $4 at Walmart, the printable I found online at How to Nest for Less, and the flowers were leftover birthday flowers to make this picture even prettier.

The ribbon and favor bags I had on had leftover from birthday party supplies, the Smarties, and the glow sticks are from the Dollar Tree.

The printable I made using Word Swag.

The Burt's Bees I got at Walmart for $3 and the printable I made using Word Swag.

The bottle, candy, and the drink packets are from the Dollar Tree, the front printable I made using Word Swag, and the one hidden I found online at The Party Teacher.

Happy gifting!


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July 21, 2016

Yesterday was a humbling day; so many of you poured into my life by celebrating with me. As I struggle with taking each kind word said to me and accepting them as truth for my life, in my prayer time last night He overwhelmed me as He reminded me that He created me, is using me, and is shining through me in many ways and it's a beautiful thing to soak in and accept the love and encouragement given to me. It's such an incredible feeling to be loved and accepted by each of you, but even more incredible to feel that same love and acceptance from our Creator.

Psalm 139:14

I'm grateful for yesterday, for each of you, for all the amazingly kind words and wishes, and for having another year to celebrate with some pretty amazing family and friends. Each of you have helped shaped me in some way and have in many ways pushed me to be a better woman of Christ. That's the best gift ever.

Thank you for celebrating with me! I pray I can love on each of you on your birthday and help you feel as loved and valued as you made me feel.

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*GIVEAWAY* Berry the Bird Book Set

November 25, 2015

Joy Hill is a children’s book author who wrote her first book, “Berry the Bird Learns How To Fly.” The inspiration for this book was her son Jackson and his love of reading. She will be having more upcoming “Berry” Books. She lives in Northern Indiana with her husband Jamie and kids Jackson and Janie. She works part-time as a veterinary technician at a veterinary clinic and being a stay-at-home mom. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends, being outdoors, being active, reading, and being involved with her church. She desires to write children’s books that are fun, uplifting, and filled with positive messages. 

My boys and I got to meet this beautiful author one Friday night after her first book, Berry the Bird Learns How to Fly, was released. She was at our local bookstore doing signings. We bought the book and my oldest thought it was so neat that he got to meet the person who wrote about Berry the Bird. He had the book in hand and was “reading” it before we even got out the door. He’s always been a bit of a bookworm. I knew it’d be a family hit. :) 

We were beyond thrilled when we found out Berry the Bird had another adventure that was recently released called Berry the Bird Helps a New Friend and it became a family hit as well! Even more exciting news is that Berry the Bird had a 3rd adventure coming soon and you guys get a chance to win a copy of it before it’s even available! 

Joy Hill, author of the Berry the Bird books, has graciously given an autographed set of her books to me so that I can give away the set to one lucky reader!

My kiddos love them and I know one little bookworm in your life will love them to. With the holidays approaching, the Berry the Bird books would be a great gift to give! To purchase these books you can visit Tate Publishing.


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Buy the Muffin.

August 10, 2015

When the Lord speaks I listen and when He commands I do ask He asks. Well, today he commanded me to “buy the muffin”. I can’t help but giggle as I write this post, but it’s true. It was a simple commandment to buy someone a muffin and I did as He asked and I did it joyfully and I cannot tell you how wonderful it feels to bless someone. Especially someone you can relate with.

It moments like this I search for a deeper meaning than just to bless someone’s day and without fail the Lord has given me an incredible teaching moment. All over a muffin. Well, sort of. ;)

Today I made a stop at Dunkin Donuts to treat a sweet friend to a coffee and while in line thinking about what I wanted to order there was a beautiful mother with 2 littles ordering what I overheard to be some birthday treats for an adorable superhero and then she ordered a muffin for what I can only assume was for herself. After ordering she handed the cashier a gift card and then after hearing what her total still due was, asked if was ok to take the muffin off her order. She was still all smiles and full of joy as she politely and unselfishly gave up the muffin. It was in that moment that I started to imagine the thoughts running through her mind as a mother and started picturing myself in her very shoes and knowing I’d do the very same thing.

She may not have put that muffin back because she didn’t have the money, but maybe she thought that those extra couple dollars didn’t need to be spent on her and maybe didn’t need to be spent on a muffin. She would just use up her gift card and then whatever she still owed out of pocket she’d pay without reservation since they were sweet treats for a sweet moment.

As a mother, I do stuff like that all the time. I’ll want to treat myself to something, but then realize, nah, I rather my sweet boys have an extra donut for later instead of me enjoying a muffin now. I never feel sorry for myself, I never think twice about; it’s my heart as a mother to ensure my boys have a smile on their face. I’d spend my very last dollar on them even if it meant that I’d be hungry. It’s what some of us do as mothers and we do it with pure joy.

As I watched her walk away, never without a smile and full of joy as she beamed a light that I totally recognized, I heard the Lord say “buy the muffin”.  So, I placed my order, asked the cashier what muffin she had wanted, ordered it, ran it out to her car as her sweet family started to pull away, and in the pouring rain told her “I wanted you to have your muffin. From one mother to another. Enjoy!”

As I got back to the office I thanked the Lord for allowing me to bless her today. Even if it was just a simple muffin, I thanked Him for the opportunity to not only bless her, but to recognize that the world is a better place if we stick together, learn to understand one another, and to be there for one another even in the simplest of moments. What do I mean by that?

There could’ve been another person in line behind her without kids who didn’t understand one bit of her joy, understand her reasoning for putting back the muffin, or even cared at all about it. Instead, He placed me there to watch her beam a special light of love for her kids and to help me to realize there are times as mothers when we just really want the muffin, but He knows we won’t buy it for ourselves. I took the moment to relate to her because I could and the Lord let me buy her that muffin.

Friends, we’ve got to stop, slow down, pay attention to simple moments, and realize that we’re in the same boat sometimes and help each other out. Take the paddle and help each other paddle long enough so the other one can enjoy a low fat blueberry muffin from Dunkin Donuts. ;)

My encouragement to you, is not only pay it forward, but take the time to relate and pay it forward because you understand what it would mean to you to enjoy a muffin.


To the sweet mom at DD today,

I pray that you got to fully enjoy at least part of that muffin because if you’re anything like me you probably shared it with your hubby and your kids. ;) I pray that you know just how amazing of a mother you are and that you are loved and appreciated. Thank you for shining a beautiful light today. A light that I recognize comes straight from your heart. You’re doing an amazing job!
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Oven Hot Dogs

July 16, 2015

Calling all moms of toddlers who love hot dogs! I’ve got a fun and easy recipe for you that your whole family will enjoy. Even if your toddler prefers his normal cut up hot dog, you don’t have to make an entire separate meal for him because you already have the hot dogs out. Score! And don’t tell me that you don’t make your toddler his own meal separate from yours on occasion. ;)

Summer time means lots of grilling in our household and my oldest LOVES grilled hot dogs. Did I mention that my oldest is also one of THE pickiest eaters in history? So, not only does he prefer his hot dog to be grilled, he also prefers only Nathan’s Hot Dogs. I try to sneak in an Applegate Turkey Dog every now and then though. ;) If I have to eat a hot dog, I like to feel like I’m getting a healthy one. If there is such a thing.

Preparation for this meal takes just a few minutes and while the hot dogs are baking you could throw in some French fries at the same time. Two birds, one stone. If you’re a mama with more time on your hands, then I encourage you to make some homemade French fries, but for this mama, frozen ones work just fine.

Even the hubby enjoyed them! I know that if he approves, then I can add it to our meal rotation.

Oven Hot Dogs

8 hot dogs
8 hot dog buns
1 can of hot dog chili
1/2 an onion, diced
cheddar cheese

Line inside of hot dog buns with mayonnaise.
Line the bottom of the bun with relish. (You can use sweet relish, hot dog relish, but I chose dill.)
Evenly add mustard of choice.
Fill with hot dogs and squish into a 13×9 baking pan. (I only made 5 hot dogs so I used a 9x9” pan.)
Top hot dogs with chili, cheese, and diced onion.
Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350F for 45 minutes. (If you’re baking French fries at the same time, bake at 425F for 25 minutes.)
Carefully remove from the pan with a spatula and some tongs. It really does take both to get these babies out of the pan in one piece.


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A Choice in Gratitude

July 15, 2015

The piece of chocolate cake or the sprinkle donut or that piece of deep dish pizza that’s sitting there in front of you saying “you know you want to eat me” is making your mouth drool, but you know deep down, you probably shouldn’t. Or maybe you have a health condition that doesn’t allow you to indulge in things that I personally would want to eat everyday if I could. Are there days that you desire so much to have something that you know you shouldn’t have or you can’t have? The battle can be tough.

Choosing to be thankful for the crisp delicious apple on your desk when all you want is chocolate can be hard sometimes. Yet, the moment we fully appreciate that apple and take our first sweet juicy bite, we are typically satisfied and the piece of chocolate isn’t so tempting any longer.

With my birthday a handful of days away I’ve been reflecting on this past year and realizing I have so much to be grateful for, but there’s still a tiny piece of me that struggles with things I didn’t get accomplished or goals not met or time that was not well spent.  It’s the same thing every year. Do any of us really accomplish all we want out of our lives or am I the only failure? Regardless of how much that tiny piece of me bothers me, I choose gratitude. Why? God has commanded us to be thankful, for our good and His glory.

Gratitude is a matter of obedience. There are days when I don’t feel like being thankful while driving to work after being up most of the night or being thankful for the job I have b/c I really just want to be at home with my boys or being thankful that I’m still walking but in so much pain, but that’s not the point. He’s commanded me to be thankful and as I learn to have gratitude then it draws me closer to Him. And that is my ultimate goal each day; to be near to Him, to feel Him, to know Him better. The bible is pretty clear in telling us that God inhabits the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3). He lives in the place of praise and if I want to be where He is, then I need to go where he resides.

Lately, as my disability continues to remind me that it’s there, that I need to stop ignoring it and stop trying to live like it’s not a part of who I am, I’m less and less grateful for its existence upon my life. The whole premise of this blog was to encourage you to be grateful for your imperfections like I’m grateful for my Spina Bifida, no matter what. I know those days are hard and some days are even harder than just the standard hard ones. Knowing that my physical imperfection restricts me from so many things is so frustrating. I look at my life and realize that some things that I want, like to be pregnant with another sweet baby, are just not possible for me anymore. It’s infuriating some days and it’s just not fair. Where is my peace?

If we were sitting across the table from each other, you could tell me what’s stealing your peace right now without having to think hard. You may be grieving a loss that never settles far from your conscious thoughts. You may be crying yourself to sleep at night over a situation that is beyond your ability to control—a failing marriage, a little one undergoing diagnostic medical tests. Maybe you’re facing some health issues of your own, or your income just isn’t meeting your monthly expenses, or your family is in turmoil over some issue.

I know that I can and should pray about these things, but praying is not all I can or should do. Paul wrote, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7) There is it again, choosing to be thankful.

To put it even more simply: In every situation … prayer plus thanksgiving equals peace.

When prayer teams up with gratitude, when we open our eyes wide enough to see God’s mercies even in the midst of our pain, and when we exercise faith and give Him thanks even when we can’t see those mercies, He meets us with His indescribable peace. It’s a promise.

Prayer is vital, but to really experience His peace, we must come to Him with gratitude. Hard gratitude. Costly gratitude. The kind that trusts that He is working for our good even in unpleasant circumstances, the kind that overwhelms our troubled hearts and minds with His unexplainable peace. 
God’s peace is one of the many blessings that live on the other side of gratitude. Today, will you choose gratitude?


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Super Hero Dad - {Printable Father's Day Craft}

June 18, 2015

I was helping the boys daycare/preschool come up with a quick and easy last minute Father's Day craft that would be personal to each little one. I started thinking about what would be quick and hand-prints came to mind. I love all the gifts I have received from my boys with their hand-prints, footprints, or fingerprints.

Then I started a little search of cute sayings and found one about super heroes with a printable from blogger That's What {Che} Said. Score!

Putting all those ideas together I came up with a cute printable where you can use finger paints to put your child's hand-print on the paper to create a cape. Once it dries you can put it in a frame and give it to that special super hero. That's it!

If you want something personalized please contact me and I will try to have something emailed to you by Father's Day.

To get your printable just send me a message via my contact page.

I hope each of you have a memorable Father's Day!


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