Passport to Purity {Getaway}

I don’t know how it happened.

I tried to prepare myself, I really did.

But I just don’t know if a mom’s heart is ready for this transformation:

Little girl, first day of school 2010:

Young lady, first day of school 2011

She’s a foot taller, curvy and check out those killer shoes.

It happened before my eyes, but it still took my by surprise. I love this smart, fun girl who keeps me on my toes, challenges me to be a better mom and doesn’t accept anything less. She’s my first born and I’m falling in love with her all over again.

Sure, we still have our battles–mainly about her room, her room and her room.

But we’re doing the tween dance: I’m learning to let go and she’s gaining more privileges and we’re both learning a lot.

We just shared the most incredible weekend together and while I won’t go into details to protect her privacy, I wanted to share the curriculum we used, Passport to Purity.

It’s an affordable curriculum (less than $20 for the whole thing!) that encourages a weekend getaway plan for moms/dads of kids ages 11-14 to talk about purity. It’s a weekend of object lessons, long talks, and commitments.

We stayed in a really nice hotel, splashed around in the hot tub late at night, ate candy in bed and giggled. We ended our weekend with a (first-ever) fancy manicure (the girls got style) and a purity ring.

I know we live busy lives. I know that there isn’t extra money lying around for weekend getaways. But I encourage you now, make this a priority.

It doesn’t have to look like ours. But talk to your kids about purity.

You can bet, someone else will.

WFMW: Online Calendars Don’t Work For Me

I’ve tried it. I really have.

For a year, I’ve used a virtual calendar on my laptop and my phone. I’ve missed appointments because I put it on one and not the other, forgetting to sync the two. Or worse, I can’t read what I’m supposed to do because of that darn autocorrect thing where technology inserts what it thinks I’m trying to say! Plus sometimes is uses bad words. Oops.

I decided a few weeks ago as I was trying to juggle a new school year, writing deadlines, Mercy House, and life in general that I’m a writer. I’m an old fashioned list-maker. I need paper and pen. I need to write down my dates on real paper.

So, I did it, I bought an old fashioned calendar.

Makes me want to sit in the school supply aisle and sniff glue, I mean, pencils. I’m coming home.

Watch out organization! Here I come.

How about you?

Online calendars don’t work for me.


Graham Gardens Wholesome Soap {Giveaway}

*UPDATED with Winner* Congrats to reader Shelly Smith!

Here are your random numbers:

239	

Timestamp: 2011-09-01 18:09:36 UTC

AND Graham Gardens posted a special code (“Sale30″) in honor of We are THAT Family readers on our homepage for 30% off all our products!

 

 

I wish I had a scratch n sniff screen, so y’all could smell what I’m smelling right now.

It’s my husband’s neck.

Unexpected, no?

We’ve been using new soap. Now, it’s not just any soap, it’s homemade chunky wholesome bar soap with names like Avocado and Oatmeal, Lavender and Coconut Milk, and Peppermint Cream that are smooth on the skin and smell as good as they sound.

I love soap. I’m not a perfume girl and don’t like heavy colognes. There’s just something about smelling the hint of soap on my kids and hubby that feels like home.  And also, I like clean people.

I’m a big fan of Graham Gardens. They sent an awesome variety of soap samples for my family to try out. We loved the variety of scents and how long each bar lasted. They also just look so much better than store bought soap!

One of my favorite, favorite items at Graham Gardens is the (also one of their best sellers) Lotion Bar. I love this little tin because it’s in solid form. It’s not messy and it’s perfect for my purse.

There are so many uses: dry skin, chapped lips, hands, feet, cracked fingers, etc! My oldest daughter confiscated a jar and even my hubby uses it.

We’re hooked. We also smell really good.

I’m happy to say that Graham Gardens is giving away this lovely basket of goodies:

Contents of giveaway basket:

1 Lavender & Coconut Milk Soap, 5.00
1 Peppermint Cream Soap, 6.00
1 Avocado & Oatmeal Soap, 4.00
1 Adirondack Trail Soap, 5.00
1 Fresh Butter Bar, Small, 11.25
1 Sweet Butter Bar, Small, 11.25
1 Natural Butter Bar, Small, 11.25
Product inserts (not pictured)
Candy (not pictured)

Total value:  $55.00

So, if you want to smell yummy, please visit this great store and leave a comment with what you’d like to try.

P.S. the packaging on these products is adorable. And y’all know how I love adorable.

This giveaway ends Thursday.

I’m Sensing a Theme Here

I was nearly done getting ready in the bathroom. I was just finishing up my makeup before I tackled errands and doctor appointments with my kids. My 4 year old was playing next to me and decided to offer me an impromptu dance.

I watched from the corner of eye and applauded at all the right places.

“I think that deserves a kiss!” I said of her unique improvisational dance.

She closed her eyes, leaned in and puckered.

SMACK.

Before I could turn around, she put her hands over her mouth.

“That was a prickly kiss!” she said.

“Oh, did I shock you?” I questioned.

“No, it was just your mustache.”

Botox and now this?

I’m sensing a theme here.

Tempur-Pedic {Ultra-Mega Giveaway}

FINALISTS WILL BE ANNOUNCED SOON!!!!!

I have a long sordid mattress history.

I’ll start off by saying that the ah-mazing TEMPUR®-ContourSignature and the TEMPUR Advanced Ergo System® that we are sleeping on is our first new mattress in our married life. We’ve been married for nearly 17 years.

It was high time. And yeah, I know, gross.

My very first mattress purchase was made right after college. I had just signed on as a first grade teacher, making a whopping $12, 500 a year. I was so poor, I used my Discover card to buy breakfast every day. I started long-distance dating my soon-to-be-hubby that year and he made me send half my Discover card to him in the mail before we could take our relationship to the next level.

But I bought a mattress on that beloved card. From Bud’s. Anyone ever heard of Bud’s? It used to be a store for WalMart misfits, discontinued items and returns. Let’s just let that fact seep in: My first mattress was a returned item to a WalMart reject store. I got married 6 months later, so we put the mattress on the new bedroom set from my in-laws and lived on love for many years.

It can only get better from there.

Our next mattress was a few years later when my in-laws got a new bed. So, yeah, we got their hand-me-down.

This post is just getting grosser by the paragraph. (If it makes you feel better, it was a very good quality mattress from their spare bedroom. But still). [sidenote: never, ever, pull off your old mattress and expose the filth under your bed in front of your in-laws.]

Our final mattress was from my parents who decided to go from a queen to a king-sized bed. We got their old mattress in like new condition, which is a pattern for us. But in the past few months, it’s had some, um, issues. I’m pretty sure this would fall into the category of things my hubby doesn’t want me to blog about. So, I’ll just give you a hint: it involves an aging dog, frequent bladder issues, our old mattress and pee.

So, YOU CAN IMAGINE, our complete shock and awe and delight in not only getting our first NEW mattress, but a top of the line, TEMPUR®-Contour Signature. [Tempur-Pedic is the most highly recommended bed in America™: 94 percent overall satisfaction for Tempur-Pedic mattress owners.*]

I know the importance of sleep. I’m not a nice mommy/wife when I don’t get enough. (If I could just get everyone out of the bed!)

Did you know that according to a *survey:

  • Americans are also willing to make sacrifices in order to get a good night’s sleep:  Nearly 50 percent of Americans are willing to go a month without Facebook, their iPhones or their iPads (46 percent) in order to get a good night’s sleep!*

Besides getting the best sleep eh-ver, I think these are my favorite things about TEMPUR®-Contour Signature and the TEMPUR Advanced Ergo System® :

  • Designed for those who prefer a firm to medium-firm sleep surface
  • Delivers proper alignment and support to help you fall asleep and stay asleep
  • Provides edge-to-edge, pressure-relieving comfort and support (really helpful when you have back issues!)

And I’d also like to point out that you can put this bed in just about any position imaginable, raise the feet, the head, while you use the rolling massage feature–all accessible with a remote control. (The massage feature lulls me to sleep every night) I’m completely serious!

When I was contacted by Temper-Pedic, I was beyond excited but not just because I was getting a bed, I’m thrilled to get to give a bed to one VERY lucky reader.

So, we’re gonna have ourselves a little contest.

If my [old] mattress could talk, this is what it would “tweet”

“A Princess Sleeps Here and so does Pee”

Get it? Ha! (Only don’t tell my hubby) {wink}

photo source

So, that’s it: Link up a photo of your current mattress (below) and include a mock “tweet” or what your mattress would say right now if it could type. (in 75 characters)

The Details:

You don’t have to blog to enter, if you have a picture on your computer, you can link to it below! You can also upload a picture to Flickr or Photobucket and link it. If you want to write a post, feel free. Finalists will be able to use social media to invite votes next week!

There will be three blanks below (after you click the blue-enter link)

URL-put the link to the picture-from your blog, flickr or put no blog

Name-this is where you put your “TWEET” or what your mattress would say

Email-this is so we can contact you-doesn’t show up

The next step will allow you to choose the correct picture-from your blog, from Flickr or even your computer

Only one entry please.

Please don’t leave this info in the comments, it is not a valid entry. Email me with questions: kristenwelch@mac.com

We (thankfully, I’ll have help from the people behind this giveaway) will narrow down the entries (based on creativity, originality and what really ‘grabs’ us) and let YOU vote the winner next week. One person is going to win their VERY OWN TEMPUR®-ContourSignature and the TEMPUR Advanced Ergo System®. MSRP: $4,699 (TEMPUR-Contour Signature and TEMPUR Advanced Ergo System™)

Disclaimer: I’m beyond excited and thrilled to be a part of this Tempur-Pedic campaign and giveaway ! Although I’m being compensated for this program, the opinions are mine. I’m also happy to say that Tempur-Pedic chose my blog for this campaign because of  my involvement with Mercy House. The monetary compensation from this program will be given to Mercy House. But I’m gonna keep the bed. And it just doesn’t get better than that!

*  Tempur-Pedic Sleep Survey, conducted by StrategyOne June 23-28, 2010, using the field services of ORC.

Deadline to Enter: midnight, Tuesday, Aug. 30th. Finalists will be announced and voting will begin Thursday, Sept. 1.

WFMW: Kid’s Clothes Swap

I thought this was such a great idea. With three kids, I can’t keep up with how fast they are growing–daily it seems! I’ve asked OutGrowingIn.com to share about their [affordable] solution:

Kids grow and as much as we might try, we just can’t stop it. They get bigger and go from crawling to walking to running in a heartbeat. It’s a part of life and as parents, it’s both our privilege and our pride to watch them grow.

Sometimes that growth comes at a cost when they go from a size 5 to a size 7 overnight. Clothes aren’t cheap! Purchasing new clothes and figuring out what to do with the outgrown clothes is just a part of life when you are a parent.

Christine Korkin, the founder of OutGrowingIn.com, knows this first hand. One day she opened her son’s closet and was overwhelmed with all of the clothes she saw there. She knew that many of them no longer fit and she searched for a way to easily and affordably undertake the out-with-the-old and in-with-the-new process. When Christine realized that what she sought did not exist, she brainstormed with her programmer husband and OutGrowingIn was born.

On the OutGrowingIn website, parents can swap boxes of their children’s gently-used outgrown clothes for a box in another size. The average box listed on the site contains 12 items and the cost for each swapped box purchase is just $3, plus shipping and handling. This means the price of each article is much less than retail and even significantly less than you’d find at a thrift shop. The site is free to all, although there is also a premium membership option that offers several additional features for users.

In addition to clothes swapping, OutGrowingIn also offers a Marketplace where parenting items, toys and baby items can be listed. This service acts similarly to eBay but with a commission rate of only 6%. This is a great alternative for families looking to make a little extra money or to find a great deal on any needed items.

In honor of the great work being done by Kristen and her family, OutGrowingIn will be donating 50% of all premium membership purchases through the end of September to The Mercy House Kenya. It’s just a small way for us to show our support!

Thank you! I hope you guys will give OutGrowingIn.com a try. I know I will!

———–

[Please note: these are the suggested themes for the first Wed. of each month for the rest of 2011. These themed WFMW are optional ideas for those who might be running out of tips!]

[Sept. 7: Share something that DOESN’T work for you]

[Oct. 5: Share a great FALL tip]

[Nov. 9: Share your best entertaining tip]

[Dec. 7: Share your favorite store for shopping with purpose]




Baby Be Blessed {Giveaway}

Congrats to random commenter, Jennifer!

Here are your random numbers:

15

Timestamp: 2011-08-26 16:04:13 UTC

Everyone else, don’t forget: if anyone places an order they should please add “MERCY HOUSE” in the notes of their order and 20% of each doll purchased will be donated to Mercy House.  This offer will be good through Sept. 23, 2011.

 

There’s just something about a baby doll that is so perfect and pure.

You can’t help but hug them close.

I’ve always been a doll-lover. (Don’t make me break out the studio picture of me and my favorite doll when I was twelve years old. It’s almost as sentimental as my home perm in the picture.) My mom was a doll-maker and even today has the biggest doll collection I’ve ever seen, so my love runs in the family.

I’ve passed the affection down to my girls. They are eleven and four and regularly play with their dolls together. It’s one of my favorite scenes to encourage. It is the epitome of innocence. And let’s face it: a girl is never too old to play with dolls.

When Baby Be Blessed emailed me months ago about creating one-of-kind baby dolls for our precious pregnant girls at Mercy House, I jumped at the chance, knowing that this would probably be the first doll they’d ever owned. Being able to give these dolls to our first three girls while I was in Kenya was such an amazing experience for my family.

Seeing the dolls being hugged and held by our girls who’ve been through so much was touching…knowing the Word of God was written in their own language (a feature on the tummy over every doll made by Baby Be Blessed)  was priceless.

This is no ordinary doll company. Each doll is lovingly created to be a blessing for it’s recipient. I have been so impressed with the tender, generous heart behind this doll-making company and cannot recommend it enough!

Today, Baby Be Blessed is offering a $56.00 Gift Voucher for a (winner’s choice) Personalized Doll to one lucky winner! Please take a minute to shop around and tell me what your favorite doll is in the comment section of this post…what color eyes, hair, etc would you pick out?

I’m also happy to announce if anyone places an order they should please add “MERCY HOUSE” in the notes of their order and 20% of each doll purchased will be donated to Mercy House.  This offer will be good through Sept. 23, 2011.

This giveaway ends on Thursday.