Monday, December 19, 2011

Busy, busy, busy!  This is the time of the year when I wish most that I could slow time down.  I just have SO many things I want to do & I want to be able to really enjoy every bit of it!  I think the trick is probably to not try to cram so much into such a small amount of time, but I just can't bring myself to cut things out of our schedule.  All that being said, we really have had a great holiday season thus far & I absolutely TREASURE each little special moment we've had with the boys this year.  

We started the Elf on the Shelf tradition this year!  We talked about it last year but decided to wait one more year.  It has been SO much fun!  My mom ordered our Elf from Pottery Barn for us & we watched the CBS show & then she "presented" our little family with our very own elf! He's quite cute, with brown hair & blue eyes, of course :) Westin named him Polo.  Polo is always the first thing on his mind every morning-- his first task of the day is to seek him out & find out where he landed.  For as mischievous as my precious boy can be, he has been SO good and hasn't even attempted to touch him (the biggest no-no, if you've read the book!) or mess with him in any way.  Kreg & I are just having too much fun with this new little tradition for our family!

I took the boys to see Santa at the Chapel Hills Mall here in town-- my sisters & brother & mom & I used to get our picture taken with him every year :) Westin had been SO excited for days about going to see him, and told me he was going to sit on his lap & tell Santa he would like a toy gun & some toy cars for Christmas.  The whole way to the mall he couldn't stop talking about how exciting it was!  Well, we got in line to see him & the poor baby just couldn't bring himself to go see him!  He just cried & cried & said he just couldn't.  He told me later, "Santa is a nice man."  I don't know exactly what was going through his mind, but I know I was scared of the "nice man" for several years when I was little, so I didn't push him at all.  He'll be there next year :) Tucker, on the other hand, was very happy to see Santa! I got some great pictures, just wish I could have gotten both boys in them!

Westin took a lot of pride in helping his Daddy with our Christmas tree this year!  Almost all of the ornaments were placed (all along the bottom, ha!) by him & he had something to say about every one of them.  Tucker enjoyed getting into all the ribbon (just like Westin did 2 years ago :)) & watching all of the lights.  He is trying SO hard to crawl-- he can rock forever up on his hands & knees, he can lunge himself forward, and he can crawl backwards... I know it's probably just a matter of days now before he gets all of the motions together and is in to everything!  He is such a strong baby-- he's been sitting up & pulling up & doing planks & push ups for a couple of months now... I guess maybe he's a little football player in the making? His daddy would be proud! 

Speaking of football... in the Kell household, we have three football teams we follow.  The Arkansas Razorbacks, the Dallas Cowboys, and the Denver Broncos.  Since we are now officially a house full of boys, football is a BIG DEAL. :)  Kreg is not OFFICIALLY a Broncos fan, so officially, neither are his boys... just me, I guess... but, they are all Tim Tebow fans :) We keep up on a lot of the Tebow-mania that has hit Colorado & Westin & I watched this video this past week:  Kreg came home & had some other video of Tim Tebow on his phone that he was watching & Westin comes around the corner, hears the video playing & starts singing, "all he all he does is win, all he does is win, let him play let him play!" OH BOY. You know you're a big deal when... :)

I think I can officially say that I am completely addicted to cloth diapering. A lot of "you" who read this have asked me about it & how it's going, what's working for us & what I can recommend/advise so far.  I think I'll try to put together kind of a step-by-step what we're doing & what I'm using & how I'm washing, etc... It might have to wait until after Christmas, though :) Suffice it to say, I have gotten rid of the disposables & almost cry everytime I have to put one on Tucker! I didn't think I'd ever say it, but I just LOVE LOVE LOVE the fluffy bottoms!  I've been blessed to be able to review some cloth diapers for the blog I write for occasionally, A Nation of MomsThis has helped me try out what's out there without breaking the bank, which has been great!  I've learned a lot in the process & think I'm in a groove now that works really great for us-- it's saving us money on our monthly budget, it's so much better for Tucker's bottom, and I think they're a.d.o.r.a.b.l.e.!

We were blessed to be able to celebrate Christmas this past weekend with my mom's side of the family in Denver.  We got loved on & spoiled & ate way too much & made some more great memories! My Grandma is the Christmas Lady & I think she always will be in my mind! I just don't know anyone who brings so much joy at Christmastime & finds so much joy in Christmastime & she has made it such a special time of year for my mom & for my siblings & me & now for my babies too.  Of course, I got up there with my camera & no memory card :( I will have to get the pictures my mom took!  

We will celebrate our Christmas together a little early (on Thursday night & Friday morning) and then head to Searcy to celebrate Christmas with Kreg's family on Friday.  We're really looking forward to seeing everyone & having everyone together for the first time in a year & a half! (too long.) We're also really excited about our "road trip" in my awesome new mini-van.  I tell ya, I keep finding more & more things about that car that I love.  Like the 8 cupholders just for the front two seats.  And the little mirror that lets me see the entire back two rows without turning around.  And the built-in sunshades that I can pull up on all four back windows.  And the automatic doors & back hatch.  And the remote start.  And the back-up camera.  Why didn't I want a mini-van before?? I just don't know.  These things are awesome. 

 Christmas Eve marks 4 years since Kreg proposed :) I have always LOVED Christmas, but every year since then I have one more reason to get warm fuzzies every Christmastime! In some ways it seems like it's been a lot longer than that, in other ways it seems like yesterday! It was the perfect proposal & I am so very blessed to be married to my very best friend :) I love you, Kreg! Forever & ever.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Super Undies **GIVEAWAY** (6 Winners)

I'd been having a hard time finding good nighttime training pants and really wanted to get away from diapers for our son, so I was eagerly anticipating the arrival of our Super Undies. The Super Undies Nighttime Undies came in a simple large white envelope, and I noticed right away there were no "instructions" for washing care, how-to-use, etc. Not that it looked too difficult - the Undies are made of a poly-Lycra blend on the inner fabric, waterproof PUL on the outer fabric, soft fleece for the binding, and microfiber on the absorber insert. After a little research on the Super Undies website, I found plenty of good information on how-to-use & care.

When we got our Super Undies Nighttime Undies, we were having more dry nights than wet nights but still not consistently enough that I felt comfortable putting my son in regular training pants at night. The Super Undies are ideal for this "transition" period in potty training. I was very pleased with the waterproof properties and the fit. For those having more nighttime accidents, you can also stuff more soaker pads (or anything cotton) into the pocket, which makes them great for nighttime potty training from start to finish… you don't have to run out and buy multiple training pants for each stage of potty training.

I loved that they aren't super-bulky and they don't feel like a diaper, yet they're well-equipped to handle nighttime accidents. My son loves that they're also comfy to sleep in, unlike the bulky plastic pants I started him with!

Washing is very simple, thankfully! The main things to remember are: wash them inside out (since they're so thick), the insert comes out & unfolds so it's easier to clean (brilliant) and as with most cloth diapers, no bleach, no fabric softener, don't wash with other garments that have hook & loop (velcro).

Overall, we've been very pleased with our experience with our Super Undies Nighttimes & will definitely continue to use them!

BUY IT! Super Undies come in fun super-hero colors and retail for $19.95 and up, depending on your style and size. Find Super Undies in various retailers, or buy directly from Super Undies. They will email you a code for $5.00 off your first order just for creating an account. They also have Potty Training Boot Camp Packages, Hemp Soaker Pods, Step-Up Inserts, and Waterproof Potty Training Rugs. Be sure to check out their current specials.

Other Official Rules and Details: Winner will be emailed after the giveaway closes and also announced on this blog under the featured "Recent Giveaway Winners" section on the homepage of our blog-azine within a few days after the close of the giveaway. Winner will have 72 hours to respond to our email, or another winner will be drawn. We never share your email with third parties. Prize(s) will be mailed directly from the sponsoring brand. No purchase necessary. Erroneous entries (specifically those that did not follow the entry rules) will not be considered. Non-US resident winners may have to answer a series of simple questions in order to comply with international regulations on sweepstakes. To view our complete rules and regulations, please click here.
Disclaimer: The sample product(s) reviewed was provided free of charge. NoM was under no obligation to review it if we so chose, nor was NoM under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product. The views and opinions expressed in this post are solely that of NoM, and are completely honest and without influence. NoM has reviewed this product(s) because we like it and think it would benefit our readers. NoM will not responsible for prizes that have not been received, but will make every attempt to assist winner(s) in securing them in a timely fashion. It is the winner's responsibility to make contact with NoM in a timely manner (within 30 days after the close of the giveaway) to report that a prize(s) has not been received or the prize(s) may be void. Click on the appropriate links to view our full policies, giveaway rules and disclaimers.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

In a better mood... have some things to share!

Well, I'm feeling much better than I was last time you heard from me.  There have been no more upsets with the vehicle, Westin's face is healing, no more Sheriff's deputies showing up at my door, no more nasty notes from neighbors, Kreg is home... all is well. 

I just finished the designs I had promised for some of my clients for Christmas cards.  I thought I'd offer them to any of you who may still be looking for Christmas cards & who are interested in doing it on a tight budget! Just let me know if any of you want them-- I can either send you the photoshop file if you use photoshop & you can add the photos yourself, or you can email me your photos & I'll add them & send them to you as a .jpg file & you can upload them yourselves. You can either upload them as a 5x7 photo and have them printed at your favorite 1-hour-photo place (very cheap & easy! just remember to factor in the cost of envelopes!) or, you can check out these other deals I've come across that make it cheap & easy as well:

*Vistaprint-- offering 20 cards for $1.99 (total) plus shipping & I know they offer blank templates where you can upload your own design.  Click Here for the $1.99 Deal

*MyPublisher-- if you haven't used them before, you can get $20 in products free by clicking on this link and starting your new account. If you have used them before, you can also get 30% any of their cards by entering the code HOLCARD30.  

*Snapfish-- offering 40% off their cards through Dec. 11 plus free shipping-- use code CARDSFS40. 

I'm sure there are lots of other great deals, those are just the ones I have come across! Here are the designs I have, you may want to click on them to see the full size...

 Well, just thought I'd share! Like I said... just let me know! Hope you all are enjoying the season! Much love!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Van, Vitiated, Violated, Vexed, Venting...

Whew.  What a week. In an attempt to wind down and ease the ulcers I feel coming on... please let me vent. 

First off, I feel the need to say how very blessed I am! I know this, I sometimes have to remind myself of this & when I do I feel awfully silly for having to be reminded. Regardless of the minor upsets this week, I am wonderfully blessed so far beyond measure.

I have not been able to catch up this week on anything! I am seriously behind on my housework, my laundry, I am JUST now getting caught up on editing photos, just in time for two more shoots tomorrow, and I have a bit of an issue with feeling "behind." I know I'll catch up eventually, I just don't like letting people down by getting behind schedule.

My hubby bought me a mini-van this week :) I never thought I would ask for a mini-van! I always told myself I'd be the "cool" soccer mom driving the big SUV's. Always.  Then I started putting two carseats into my big SUV and lifting & carrying & reaching... and I realized... I'm kind of a small person.  And then I learned about all the awesome features these new vans have & I was sold.  My awesome, loaded Chrysler Town & Country is black with grey leather interior, the front & middle pilot seats are heated, the back two doors & the back hatch open automatically, it is equipped with TWO "big screen" TVs, a touch-screen operated sterio that downloads my music & plays my ipod, LED lights that "light" the entire back so I can see my kiddos at night, and a random analog clock build into the dash... not so sure what the point of that one is but its lit up with LEDs too :) I'm just sayin'... this is a totally awesome vehicle.  We were very blessed to be able to work with people we know & trust to get a great deal on this new car & are very excited about entering the "mini-van phase" of our lives! That being said, buying & financing a vehicle, although exciting, is also a little stressful.  I am such a careful person, as is Kreg, that we went over the numbers over & over again for three days before we finally decided that it was a good decision.  After we signed the papers & drove it off the lot, I realized that the entire upper console that houses the lights & the two tv screens was completely dead. I panicked & stewed for the next 12 hours until Kreg could take it back... HOPING they would fix it, because I of course declined the electronics piece of the warranty- HA! Thankfully, like I said earlier, we were working with great, honest people that we know & they fixed it at no charge.  Whew. 

That same day, I took Westin to Chick-fil-A for a playdate.  We met his friend Camden who is a very nice 3-year-old that Westin has really enjoyed.  This being my week for mishaps, however, it happened to be the day that Westin had his first real injury.  I didn't see exactly what happened, but we THINK he slipped on the steps up to the slide in the playplace and fell.  A mom that saw it came outside to the table I was sitting at and came and got me-- I got in to see my poor baby in the playplace with his eye bleeding and little scrapes on his nose and forehead and cheek crying "I need my mommy, it hurts!" This was the time for a whole new panic attack. I guess it's good we've made it a whole 2 1/2 years without any head wounds, considering he's a very active, playful boy... but that didn't appease me.  I did my very best to stay calm and try to calm him down so he could finish his playdate.  He cried for the next hour, though, and there was nothing I could do.  When he finally did calm down, I noticed he had a goose egg on his forehead that was about 3 inches wide and 1 inch high... the good news was that it was swelling OUT.  He also has a bruise under his eye, a cut across his eye, and another big (only about 1") on his cheek.  Poor baby.  

Driving home that night, we pull into our driveway and the Sheriff is sitting in front of our house.  Panic AGAIN? YES. First of all, this was a very, very nice man.  He very tactfully told us that he had had a complaint about our dogs barking & just had to come check it out.  He said he has black labs himself & he's sure they were probably just getting cold & were ready for us to be home-- just so we were aware and could take some measures to fix the problem. Side note: we have a dog run that runs through the side of our yard on the side of our garage.  They have a doggie door that goes into the garage, which is heated & stays about 50 degrees when it gets really cold here.  They have their beds, their food & their water in the heated garage so while we're out & about I generally don't worry about them too much & I VERY RARELY EVER leave them inside my house while I'm gone.  If I do, they only get to stay in the guest bathroom. I'm in and out throughout the day & have never noticed them barking too much-- they will if someone comes up to the house (which I want them to) or if they're playing with each other or if one of the other dogs in the neighborhood barks at them.  Normal dog stuff if you ask me.  The official complaint was that they were barking at night... I would think Kreg or I would have noticed if they were barking at night. Anyway, we decided we would get batteries for their bark collars & make sure they had them on when we were gone.  Which I HATE because when we're gone, I want them to bark if people are coming up around our house. My biggest frustration is that we have never had any neighbors tell us our dogs were bothering them.  They called the SHERIFF before they ever spoke with us. Anyway, I was miffed but life went on.  The next day (last night), I had a migraine... I hadn't had one in a very long time so I decided it was just from the "different" stress I'd had this week.  We pull up last night after getting groceries (and batteries for the bark collars) after we'd taken dinner to some friends that just had a baby.  There was a note taped to our front door-- a NASTY note, saying our dogs had been disturbing the peace for a year, that we should do the neighborhood & our dogs a favor & find them new homes or let the humane society do it, that they had contacted the police & the humane society & that we were going to have to appear in court & be fined & even worse if they decided we were neglecting our dogs, etc.  Of course they never identified themselves, instead this was "on behalf of 5 households."  SO, the four of us started going door-to-door to our neighbors to try to find out who was being bothered and when & to let them know that we were more than willing to help fix the situation if they could just give us some more details.  Well, none of the neighbors directly around us seemed to know about the note or were really even bothered by our dogs.  We spoke with one lady who said she was at the bus stop with the lady who called the Sheriff and told us that the only time she had noticed the dogs barking too much was usually between 6:00 and 9:00 pm at night.  Well, that helps a little bit because there's probably 4-5 nights a week we're gone during those hours.  So, we have now narrowed down who we think is picking on us, who clearly has too much time on their hands, and we are doing our best to make sure they're not bothered. Kreg, as my luck would have it, has a Kansas hunting trip planned this weekend.  I hope we're done with nasty neighbors and visits from the Sheriff at least until Sunday night.

So, here I sit, Friday night, counting my blessings. And they are numerous. I might just take a hot bath. Drink some hot chocolate by my Christmas tree & fireplace. Hold & rock my babies. Thank God one more time that I am so blessed in so many ways.  Thanks for listening.