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Life is beautiful whether you're soaking in sunshine or caught in a thunderstorm. I take the beauty of life for granted too often. I have a supportive husband who I don't want to live life without, a beautiful son who is always reminding me of the simple things that really matter, and an independent daughter who is teaching me to throw schedules out the window and live in the moment. My day is made when free samples fill my mailbox. I love discovering a new product and sharing it with others. I hope you will enjoy reading my posts and will share your stories with me as well.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Savannah Turns One Year Old!

And just like that, my baby girl turns one year old!  Savannah darling, this has been the fastest year and the slowest year all in one.  You have given me anxiety attacks, turned our world upside down (not necessarily in a good way), and tested our patience in ways beyond words can describe.  And yet you have taught me how to love deeper, focus on the positive moments, and find more compassion within myself.  I'm learning to appreciate the stubborn streak you have because it means you won't give up easy.  Your high maintenance personality means that you know what you want and you will fight hard to get it which will  help you succeed later in life.  Your grumpiness makes me appreciate your smiles so much more.  My dear Savannah, this first year has been such an adventure that I can only imagine what the next year will bring.  I love you with all my heart, dear daughter of mine!

Crying photos are pretty much your specialty.

You love this shirt from Auntie Shannon.

Such disappointment when I told you there were no more presents.

You're a little chef in training and love to be in the kitchen with me.

You were very proud of yourself for figuring out how to open these containers.

Obviously you're not a fan of the snow.

You love your noodles and can eat them like a pro!

You're not fond of sledding either.

Your pigtails just add to the cuteness of your expression.

 Italian food and messes are some of your happiest moments in life.

The ever so "I'm innocent" look.

Sink baths are the best!

I pretty much cried too when I saw this mess.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Tough As They Come by SSG Travis Mills Book Review

Wow!  I have a hard time putting in words what I'm feeling right now after reading this book.   SSG Travis Mills is my hero.  Tough As They Come is a story of endurance, heroism, patriotism, unconditional love, and inspiration that will make you rethink your "bad day".  Just reading about U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Travis Mills's day to day life while in combat is enough to make you appreciate our freedom in a whole new way.  Travis does an amazing job with drawing you into his life without making you feel sorry for him.  This young man has been through more than I could ever imagine and yet he displays such a sweet attitude despite it all.  I love how he even starts the book telling us that he doesn't value his service in the military above anyone else's.  He didn't serve better or harder than anyone else.  He is just grateful to have had the opportunity to serve our country.  Travis helps us see the big picture of what all our brave service men and women go through every day fighting for our country.  I hold so much respect for his wife, Kelsey.  Her loyalty and unconditional love speaks volumes and I also consider her my hero.  One of my favorite parts is at the end of the book where Travis defines success.  He defines it as "To live in freedom.  To go forward.  To love your family.  To make something of your life.  To never give up.  To never quit.

To order your own copy of Tough As They Come, please click here.  To read more about SSG Travis Mills and his organization, please click here.

**Disclosure - I received a free copy of Tough As They Come by being a member of Blogging for Books.  This copy was provided to me in exchange for a review.  All opinions expressed here are my own.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Our Visit to Charmingfare Farm

We recently visited Charmingfare Farm in Candia, New Hampshire for their Lighted Winter Wonderland event.  This event is held every Friday and Saturday from now until Christmas Eve.  The Lighted Winter Wonderland features a horse drawn ride that takes you thru the woods and pasture where you will see various holiday displays and Christmas lights until you reach the "North Pole".  At the North Pole you are greeted by holiday costumed characters such as The Gingerbread Man, Frosty the Snowman, The Grinch, Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, and others.  Santa and his reindeer are waiting for the you in the barn where each child has a chance to talk to him and have their picture taken with him.  When you are finished visiting the North Pole, a tractor train ride will take you back to the entrance where you can warm up by the bonfire or check out some of the friendly animals in the barn.  The whole experience should take you anywhere from 60-90 minutes.  Dress warmly and wear boots.

Our experience with this event was just ok.  Check-in was easy enough but we weren't given any instructions on where to go once we walked outside. We didn't see any staff so we just followed the path to the barns we saw.  We saw a bunch of Christmas lights in the distance so we just started making our way up there.  Once we arrived, we realized we had walked up the back road to The North Pole and had totally skipped the horse drawn ride.  There was an employee that was extremely helpful and helped us get on the tractor train ride back to the entrance so we could start over.  The line for the horse drawn ride was rather long but I was impressed with how quickly the wait went.  They have a total of four horse drawn wagon rides and each wagon holds about 16-20 people.  The ride up to the North Pole is about 20 minutes and you will see Christmas lights and holiday displays along the way.  It was 34 degrees the night we went so make sure you are bundled up.  Bringing a blanket would actually be a good idea especially for the horse drawn ride.  There is hot chocolate and smores available for purchase once you get to the North Pole.  I was little confused about that because I thought the hot chocolate was a part of the ticket price but I was wrong. The North Pole wasn't as magical as I thought it would be.  Our favorite part was actually seeing all the animals in the barn and being able to pet most of them.  I'm not sure it was worth the 90 minute drive for us and I'm not entirely sure it's worth the $25 ticket price if you are local.  I heard several people say they found a deal on Groupon so I would check that route first before buying online on their website.  If I had paid $25 for each of us, I would have been disappointed in the value I received.  

 **Disclosure - I received free tickets in exchange for a review.  All opinions expressed here are my own.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Our Elf on the Shelf

We introduced Elf on the Shelf to Bradley this year.  The first night Bradley was actually scared of the Elf.  It really bothered him and he made us promise that we wouldn't let Elf come into his room at night.  But when he realized the next morning how much fun Elf has at night, he decided Elf was pretty cool.  Bradley named the elf Gerald and Gerald has been busy the last 5 nights.  You can follow me on Instagram if you want to see what our Elf is up to the rest of the month!  

Gerald played Candy Land with his Super Hero friends.

Gerald is pretty good at drawing his self portrait.

Gerald cleaned up the entire play room for Bradley on this particular night and then
had fun with all of Bradley's matchbox cars.

Gerald sweetly reminded Bradley to wash his hands after he uses the bathroom.

I love this one of Gerald reminding us to show love to all.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving 2016

Today was one of the happiest Thanksgiving's I've ever had.  We slept in (6:30 am is sleeping in for us) and had a leisurely breakfast.  We played Bingo while watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade which was so much fun.  Mike and I took turns running on the treadmill so we could justify all the food we were getting ready to consume for lunch.  And then we did something I thought we would never do.  We went to Cracker Barrel for our Thanksgiving lunch!  And you know what...it was the best thing ever!  We waited for about 45 minutes which wasn't the easiest with hungry kids but our waitress was fantastic and got us our food as quickly as possible while keeping our drinks full.  After lunch, we headed to the movie theater in Falmouth to watch Trolls.  It was our first time to that theater so we were super excited to see leather recliners!  It was the best thing ever!!  We were so cozy and comfortable and the movie was really, really cute.  It was Savannah's first movie and we weren't sure how she would do, but she stayed awake for almost all of it and was really into watching it.  On the way home, we stopped at Cumberland Farms for our free coffees.  When we got home we played Monopoly in which Bradley beat both Mike and me big time!  And an evening of relaxation ended our Thanksgiving Day.  I'm so thankful for my family.  I'm so thankful for our home.  I'm so thankful God brought us to Maine. 
 I'm so thankful for simplicity. 

A very quick game of Checkers since it was freezing outside.

Bradley was super excited to see it start to snow!

 Savannah's first taste of lemon!

Waiting so sweetly for her first Thanksgiving meal!

My favorite little boy!

Movie time in super comfortable leather recliners!

Full bellies and a comfortable recliner makes for a perfect nap!

And he's the winner!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Latest and Greatest in Bradley's World

So much growing up is happening with you Bradley!  The biggest milestones would be losing your first tooth and having an official crush on one of the little girls in your class.  It's sweet to see young love but I'll have to admit there is a little jealousy when I hear you talking about another girl in your life.  I want you to love me the most even though I know that will not always be.  You are doing so well in kindergarten.  It's amazing to watch you spell words, sound them out, and read them.  Daddy and I have to be careful about spelling out our secrets now because there have been several times you've knew the words we were spelling!  You get so excited about eating hot lunches at school.  I love watching your eyes sparkle when you tell me about the things you are learning in school.  Your favorite classes are still recess, lunch, and snack.  Your appetite is getting bigger.  The other day we went to Red Robin for lunch and you ate the corn dog meal off the kids menu, 1/4 of Daddy's burger, and 1/4 of my chicken salad.  And you were hungry an hour later!  Bradley you are such a joy to watch grow up.  You have a heart of gold and I see so much of my Mother in your sparkling eyes.  You are my little sunshine and life is more beautiful because of you!

 This pile of wood was your fort for several weeks. 

 You wanted to take a nap at the top of the mountain we hiked.

You love climbing trees!

You and your puddles!

 You asked to walk to school so we could look at the colors of the trees.

 It's hard to believe my beautiful baby boy is 5 years old.

Your first school project!

You make one cute turkey!

Your first official school picture!

You loved Halloween this year!

Our neighbor gave you a full size Hershey's Chocolate bar which made you so happy!

You can make this mess in about 5 minutes.

But you are also the best in helping me clean and vacuum!

You wanted this pair of shoes so bad.  My heart broke because we didn't need to buy them at that time.  But I know for a fact that Santa has them ready for you on Christmas Day!

Your first missing tooth!