Sunday, March 31, 2013

Cloth Diaper Giveaways from Around the Web (3/31)

Cloth Diaper and Free Baby Gear Giveaways Below is this week's list of cloth diaper giveaways, as well as other mama and baby gear from various sources.  Good luck to everyone entering this week's giveaways, and don't forget to bookmark this page and come back throughout the week for updates and to complete your daily entries!

If you would like your giveaway added to the list, please email me a link at sparetimesupermom@gmail.com.  Thanks!

Spare Time Super Mom Giveaways:

Kindle Fire - Ends 3/31

Chrombeook 3G - Ends 4/10

Kobo Arc Tablet - Ends 4/15

3-Month Subscription to Conscious Box - Ends 4/24

Autographed Copy of College Bound - Ends 4/25

Cloth Diaper Giveaways:

Mini Modia Fitted Diaper - Ends 3/31

Mabu Baby Diaper Cover, Insert, and Boosters - Ends 3/31

Rainbow of Fluff Giveaway - Ends 3/31

RearZ Fitted Cloth Diapers (2 Winners!) - Ends 4/2

5 Kushies All-in-Ones - Ends 4/2

Giggle Life One Size Pocket Diaper - Ends 4/2

Buttons Cover and Inserts - Ends 4/2

BabyKicks Basic Pocket Diaper - Ends 4/4

Swaddlebees Simplex All-in-One and Flannel Wipes - Ends 4/4

Diaper Safari One-Size Cover and Trifold Insert - Ends 4/4

Best Bottom Cloth Training Pants - Ends 4/5

New BumGenius 4.0 Pocket Diaper Print - Ends 4/7

Bummis Training Pants - Ends 4/7

Funky Fluff 3-in-1 Diaper - Ends 4/7

Glow Bug Diaper - Ends 4/8

BumGenius 4.0 Pocket Diaper - Ends 4/8

Green Bees Pocket Diaper - Ends 4/9

Sweet Pea Diaper Cover - Ends 4/9

Glow Bug Diaper - Ends 4/9

Upsies Fitted Diaper - Ends 4/10

Geffen Baby Fitted Diaper - Ends 4/11

Tori's Tushies Pocket Diaper - Ends 4/12

Bum-Ware Extreme All-in-One - Ends 4/12

Imagine One-Size AI2 Diaper - Ends 4/12

Baba & Boo Diaper and T-Shirt - Ends 4/13

Sweet Pea Cloth Diaper - Ends 4/14

SoftBums Diapers, Wipes, and other prizes - Ends 4/14

Thirsties Duo Fab Fitted and Duo Wrap - Ends 4/15

6 Little Monster Cloth Diapers and Other Prizes - Ends 4/15

5 Fitted Diapers, Cloth Wipes, and Nursing Pads - Ends 4/15

BumGenius All-in-One and Rockin' Green Soap - Ends 4/15

Rebel Cloth Diaper Cover - Ends 4/16

Three Best Bottom Shells and 10 Inserts - Ends 4/17

2 New Bummis Potty Pants - Ends 4/18

Peachy Green Sprout Up Shell - Ends 4/26

K.I. Baby Blues Wool Soaker - Ends 4/29

Cherry Blossom Babies Diaper - Ends 4/29

Other Giveaways:

$25 Gift Card to Selected Retailer - Ends 3/31

Project Pomona Pants - Ends 3/31

Crane Humidifier, T-shirt, Woolzies Dryer Balls, and other prizes - Ends 3/31

Grovia Perfect Pail - Ends 4/1

Kiddy USA City'n Move Stroller - Ends 4/3

$50 Gift Certificate to Kelly's Closet - Ends 4/3

Gen-Y Go Bag and $25 Gift Certificate to Abby's Lane - Ends 4/4

EZ Squeezees Refillable Pouches (3 Winners) - Ends 4/4

Combi Catalyst Stroller - End 4/5

Combi Catalyst Travel System - Ends 4/7

Prize Pack from Mother's Organic - Ends 4/8

$25 Gift Card to MomBecks - Ends 4/8

Lansinoh Double Electric Breast Pump - Ends 4/8

Britax B Ready Stroller - Ends 4/11

$25 Gift Certificate to Kissed by the Moon - Ends 4/14

Pink Lining Blue Butterflies Poppins Diaper Bag - Ends 4/15

$50 Gift Certificate to Pish Posh Baby - Ends 4/15

Leachco Nursing Pillow - Ends 4/15




College Bound Giveaway

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Last month, I posted a book review of College Bound: A Pursuit of Freedom by Emily Tomko*.  Now, in celebration of the upcoming release of the sequel, Church Bound: A Bride in Fake Diamonds, Ms. Tomko has generously agreed to donate an autographed copy of her book for one of our lucky readers.

I cannot say enough about College Bound, and I really hope that you will take the time to read it for yourself.  I tried to steer clear of any spoilers in my review, but suffice it to say that as a soon-to-be mommy, this book was a wake-up call and reminder of all the spiritual dangers that our children face.  It seems to start earlier and earlier, and College Bound is a great tool to help parents recognize those dangers early so they can prepare their children.

Please check out my review and then enter the giveaway below.  A special thanks to Conservamom for helping to promote this giveaway!

Don't want to wait or want to share this book with friends whose children are facing the struggles of a secular world?  College Bound: A Pursuit of Freedom is available on Amazon in print and for Kindle.



Disclosure: *Emily Tomko also happens to be my sister.  I was given a copy of the book to review.  No other compensation whatsoever was provided to me for this post.  All opinions are mine.


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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Letting Go of Anger and Learning to Forgive

As I said yesterday, I have been challenged to start my day with God, and I have decided to make that a personal goal for each day.  I also want to share my reactions each day, just based on whatever short passage of the Bible I read or whatever inspiration comes to me.  Daily Devotional: Letting go of anger and learning to forgive

Today, my focus is on letting go of anger and learning to forgive.  These are really two different things, neither of which is easy.  Letting go of anger means allowing someone who has wronged you to walk away from the situation and not seeking revenge.  When people hurt us, our natural response is to want to hurt them back.  Forgiveness, which in many ways is much more difficult, means wiping an offense off the slate completely, as though it never happened, and not allowing it to influence a relationship.  

A couple months ago, I threw a baby shower for my best friend, and my sister came, along with my 3-year-old niece.  I was standing near my niece and talking to someone when I felt little hands on my back and turned to find my niece sobbing.  It took her several minutes to calm down and tell me what happened, and of course, the whole time, I was worried that she had hurt herself.  When she finally got herself under control, she told us that one of the women at the party, a young mother, had snapped at her when my niece tried to go say hello to her baby.

I don't really know this woman, but I know about her from things my friend has told me, and I did not doubt for a moment that she had done just that.  I could not believe another mother could be so cruel and then just sit there a few feet away while my niece sobbed, acting as though she had no idea what had happened.  I was furious, and I found myself remembering it over and over again in the weeks that followed.  I know I will be seeing this woman again in a couple months, and I kept thinking of all the things I wanted to say to her.

As I thought about it, though, I realized this is not how we are supposed to handle our anger.  I prayed about it several times, asking God to help me forgive her.  I spoke forgiveness towards her out loud, even when my feelings were the opposite of my words.  

After just a couple days, my perspective changed dramatically.  Instead of anger towards this woman, I felt sorrow at how terribly lost she is.  I believe that her behavior often stems from a feeling of insecurity and a need to be in control of each situation.  What a miserable way to live, being so insecure that being cruel to a child somehow makes you feel better about yourself.  I realized that she must be incredibly unhappy, and what she really needs is the unconditional love of a Savior, not another person pointing out her faults.  I was able to start praying for her in earnest, and I felt the anger seeping out of me and being replaced by a calmer, more loving attitude.  

This morning, when I went to pull a Derek Prince proclamation card out of my Bible, I stumbled on one of my favorite verses, Isaiah 49:25: "Surely, thus says the Lord, 'Even the captives of the mighty man will be taken away, And the prey of the tyrant will be rescued; For I will contend with the one who contends with you...'"  Immediately, I thought of this young mother who, a few weeks ago, I was eager to put in her place.  Any remaining anger in me washed out in that moment when I realized that God is (as always) way ahead of me.  It doesn't mean that I can relax now because God is going to smite her or send lightning bolts down to teach her a lesson.  Quite the opposite.  It means that I can let go of my anger because God is in control of the situation, and He is going to take care of it for me.

Photo by Aaron Burden, Courtesy of CreationSwap

As part of my planned devotions this morning, I also read Ephesians 4:32: "And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."  Whenever I have a particularly difficult time forgiving someone, I try to remind myself that God forgave me and that Jesus died for my sins.  When we refuse to forgive others, after such grace has been accorded to us without restraint or condition, we are essentially spitting on the sacrifice made for us.  This Easter weekend, I plan to reflect on the great suffering that Jesus willingly endured for my sake and look for other situations in my life where I am still holding on to anger and resentment.

Friday, March 29, 2013

More for Mom Free Blogger Opportunity

More for Mom Free Blogger Opportunity

This Giveaway Event is all about MOM!  Let's celebrate every mother we know by getting the coolest gifts out there.  These will include everything from technology to pampering as long as it's something mom would like!  Sponsors to be announced by 4/10.

Hosted by:

Sign-ups close 4/15
**The blogger with the most referrals will receive the additional links at no cost,
so make sure to tell them that Spare Time Super Mom sent you!
Click HERE to sign up and for more html info.

M.O.O.N. has now added several perks/discounts for frequent participation in our events but you must be a member of our Facebook group to be eligible.  Please visit the M.O.O.N. group if you are a blogger and would like more information regarding these perks and other group events.

Starting the Day with Jesus

Yesterday, I came across a great post from The Deliberate Mom entitled Start Your Day With God.  It made me think about my usual morning routine, and often the first thing I do is pop open my laptop and start working on the blog.  After about fifteen minutes, I usually switch to job hunting, which is an ongoing activity throughout the day.  I usually apply for at least a few jobs every day, which takes additional time.  The rest of the time I spend doing some work around the house, gardening if the weather is nice, and working, working, working on the blog.Daily Devotionals

Often, I am so preoccupied with other things that I forget to just take time to stop and read my Bible and take time to talk to God throughout the day.  That is the opposite of how I am supposed to spend my time.  I Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, "Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

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Rejoice always.  There's a real challenge if I ever heard one!  

Yesterday, after waiting more than a month to get back to work, I got a call about a project starting on Monday.  I was so excited, but when they told me how long the project would last, I realized I would not be able to do it because of when we leave for Europe.  I was really disappointed because I am waiting to start a business until I have the funding.  All I need to get started is about $1,000, so if I could just get a few weeks of work, I would be ready to rock.  Instead, for some reason, I keep getting called for projects that end up not happening.  It is even worse than just not getting the call at all, because when the number shows up on my phone, I get so excited.

However, today I am going to stop doing what my human self tells me to do and start doing what the Bible tells me to do.  (That sounds like such a simple and obvious plan, and yet, I forget to follow it so often.)  My prayer for today is:
Lord Jesus, I thank You for always providing for me.  I thank You that today I sit in a warm house with plenty of food to eat.  I thank You that you have given me so many blessings, especially my husband, my son, and all of my family.  I trust You to provide a solution in Your time, and I believe that Your timing is perfect.  

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Why I Don't Support Gay Marriage

This week has been awesome for me as a blogger.  My blog is only 2 months old, but traffic has been through the roof this week, and I even was contacted for my first sponsored giveaway.  All in all, it has been a great week for business!  I realize by writing this, I risk throwing all that away, but by not writing it, I risk far more.  I am quite sure that I will lose many of my followers once I publish this post, but it is my sincere hope that my readers will approach what I have to say with as open a mind as they would like me to have to what they say.

This week, arguments were made in front of the U.S. Supreme Court regarding whether homosexual couples should have the right to marry in the United States.  This is such a hot-button issue right now, and there is so much anger and hate from both sides that it is sometimes difficult to find cohesive arguments in the middle of the chaos.

As a Christian, I do not support gay marriage.  I believe that homosexuality is a sin because I believe in God, and I believe in the Bible as His Word.  This does not mean that I or any other Christian should condemn homosexuals any more than we should condemn anyone else.  The Bible says that is not our role just as clearly as it says we should not engage in any kind of sins.  No one sin is elevated above any others, with the exception of blasphemy.  Romans 3:23-24 says that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came through Christ Jesus."  In other words, we all sin.  We do it in many different ways, but we all do it.  But the good news is that no matter what we do or what we have done, God's grace is given to us FREELY.  All we need to do is ask.

Therefore, as Christians, we should always, always, always, seek to bring first ourselves and then those around us closer to God so that they may experience His love and the power of His grace for themselves.  I have personally experienced His love, and it is an amazing thing to see God working and doing what would otherwise be impossible.  I hope and pray that all of you get the chance to see this for yourselves!

Now, as an attorney, I freely admit that from a purely legal perspective, denying marriage to homosexuals is difficult to justify.  But my faith is what it is, and it is what it is for good reason.  I have personally seen miracles happen.  I know God is real, and therefore, I have to believe what His Word tells me.  Christians are not free to pick and choose which portions of the Bible to take at face value and which to gloss over or ignore.  Just as I cannot justify engaging in gossip, however entertaining it might be for me, I also cannot pretend that the Bible does not condemn homosexuality just because I have friends who are gay.  (On the same note, Christians cannot ignore the many promises that God has made in His Word, promises of healing, forgiveness, and blessings that are ours if we choose to follow His guidelines for accepting them.  But that is a topic for another day.)  While it is not my job to condemn, neither can I condone.

I have heard people say some really hateful things about Christians, which is painfully ironic, especially when it is done with an air of showing how tolerant the speaker is and how intolerant Christians are.  Applying a label to a group of people is always bigotry, no matter how you slice it, and you don't get a free pass just because you happen to be on the more politically correct side of an argument.  No matter the day or the hot topic of the moment, I strive to keep my prayer the same, "Lord, open my heart to You and open the hearts of all the people of the world to You.  Let us all experience Your great love firsthand and be driven to do Your will."

Book Review: The Leviathan Effect by James Lilliefors

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I won this book in a giveaway on GoodReads.com, and from the moment I started it, I absolutely loved it. I enjoy the thriller genre, but I get annoyed at all of the cliches (i.e., Independent, abnormally strong woman with troubled marital past due to her career-oriented mindset and cop/FBI agent/otherwise tough but misunderstood guy spend entire book engaged in sexual tension only to finally give in in a trite sex scene just before everyone else realizes the two of them were right all along about Bob - he is the killer!). 

 The Leviathan Effect was just the opposite. Although there was a little love story in there for those who enjoy that, it was not overblown and did not detract from the main story in the least. The subject matter of this book is original and engaging, and from the very first page, the reader is drawn into a complicated mystery that keeps him turning the pages. 

Although there is some bad language, it is minimal, especially compared to other books in the genre. Sex scenes are not described in detail, which is a plus for me. Sex and swearing are not necessary in books, and usually they just detract from the main tale. If a writer can't find a better way to express himself than through vulgarity, that shows an inherent problem with the writer's abilities.

Lucky for me, James Lilliefors can tell an awesome story without being vulgar or using curse words on every other page. Overall, just an awesome book for this genre and compelling enough to be enjoyed by people who aren't thriller junkies like me.



Traveling While Pregnant (or Why my Husband is Awesome)

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We are down to just a month until my husband and I leave for a 2-week trip to Europe.  We will be starting our trip in Madrid, Spain, then taking a few days in Salamanca, a short train ride from Madrid, before flying to Ireland for a week-long guided tour with my aunt and uncle.  After Ireland, we will head back to Madrid for a few days and maybe take a few day trips by train to the surrounding areas.

The Ireland tour has been planned since around August of last year.  My aunt and uncle showed up at our annual family reunion with details on their planned trip and asked the rest of us, "Who's coming?"  Jesse and I jumped on it, partly because hey, who wouldn't want to go to Ireland, but MOSTLY because we realized that traveling to Europe with my aunt and uncle, who are in their 70s (not that you would ever guess or believe it) is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

A few months later, during a trip to Turkey, we made ourselves a little surprise: a baby boy who is due in July!  I spoke to the doctor, and she said that as long as everything was going well in the pregnancy, we could still take our trip.  We will be returning a couple days after I hit the 7 month mark, just in time by the doctor's standards.

Given the level of discomfort I already have when it comes to trying to sleep or walk for a long time, I know that this is not going to be the easiest trip for me physically.  When my hubby and I have traveled in the past, we have usually done so without a lot of planning for daily activities.  Our first full day in Istanbul, we walked over 10 miles, just checking out whatever we happened to come across.  When we started planning our Spain/Ireland trip, I told him that this one has to be different.  There is no way that I can be out walking for hours without resting and using the bathroom.  Plus, public restrooms in Europe often require payment for use.  In the past, I have usually been able to avoid having to pay by using restaurant facilities, but this trip, I doubt I will be able to do that every time.

I knew I was going to need to put some serious thought into staying comfortable during our flight.  As I was writing this post, however, it occurred to me that my husband had never sent me flight information, so I glanced at my Delta Sky Miles account.  There, in big bold letters, it said "Business Class."  What?!  We never fly first class, not even domestically, and especially not internationally.  It is ridiculously expensive, so expensive that it would not even be enjoyable.  But my husband, who travels ALL the time, just happened to have a TON of Delta Sky Miles from all his work travels, and he decided to surprise me with an upgrade.  He was disappointed that I found out before the trip because he really wanted to watch me figure it out as we boarded the plane, but I am so excited that I think he figured it was better to let me enjoy looking forward to it now.

As I was jumping up and down and squealing like a 6-year-old on Christmas (which is not unusual behavior for me), he pulled up the video below to show me how we will be traveling.  I didn't even know there were planes like this, at least not ones that I would ever ride on, even in coach.  (As you watch this video, don't be jealous.  Remember that the only reason I get to fly like this on our vacation is because my husband is gone 4-6 months out of the year.  I would gladly fly coach, or not fly at all, if it meant having him home.  That being said, I am going to enjoy every moment of this!)




So, I guess I don't need the foot rest now, but even so, below is a list of the most helpful items to bring on a plane if you're flying while pregnant (or even flying while not pregnant).  These will help to keep you comfortable during the flight and prevent some of the back and foot pain that we pregos deal with so often.  

Every time we fly internationally, I arrive exhausted and with intense back pain.  I have chronic back pain due to a car accident over a decade ago, but through a lot of stretching and exercise, I have learned to manage it...most of the time.  But when I fly, I end up aggravating it because I am too short (just under 5'2") for my feet to reach all the way to the floor.  I STILL have pain in one area of my lower back that started on our flight to Istanbul back in October.  Since being pregnant means that everything hurts a little more than usual, it takes even more effort to be comfortable.

The most important thing that you can invest in is some kind of foot rest for the airplane.  There are several different kinds available, including some inflatable ones, but the one that seems to be the most popular is the Econo High Folding Portable Foot Rest.  (This is also a really good option for under your desk at work!)  At just $25.00, it's well worth the money to get the added comfort of being able to put your feet up while you're hurtling through the air at 500 miles an hour.


The next important piece of equipment is the travel pillow, and the one I would select is the TravelRest Inflatable Pillow.  My understanding from my research and from reading the reviews is that you should experiment a little at home before your trip to determine the best level of inflation for your needs.  Also, there is a great informational video from the company that explains all the different ways that you can use the pillow, so you can practice at home and see what is most comfortable for you.  

Another essential travel companion is a good pair of shoes.  During pregnancy, your feet tend to swell, especially when you're standing or walking for extended periods of time.  Invest in a decent pair of walking shoes and consider buying a pair that is a half size or so larger than what you normally wear.  Match them up with some Dr. Scholl's Gel Inserts, and you will be good to go.  Or at least bearable, if not good.

Also, make sure to get a prescription for compression hose from your doctor if you are going to be taking any long flights.  Pregnancy increases the risk for blood clots, and compression hose will help reduce that risk.  Also, make sure to get up and move around from time to time when you are flying and stretch your legs to keep the blood flowing.  (You should always do this on long flights, but especially when you are pregnant.)

Your doctor should also provide you with a full print-out of your medical records to take along, just in case you have any issues while you are away.

You also want to bring some simple snacks to ensure you always have access to some kind of nutrition, especially if you end up struggling to find a restaurant where you really want to eat.  Jesse and I never plan where we are going to eat.  We just walk around until we stumble on something that looks compelling and isn't too pricey.  If nothing grabs us, we usually try to find a grocery store and just pick out some interesting meats and cheeses.  (Europe has such a better cheese selection.)  But all of this takes time, and if you are pregnant and getting hungrier by the second, you will be so glad that you brought some little snacks along to hold you over until the next meal.

Finally, make sure to bring a water bottle with you.  It doesn't have to be anything fancy, just something that you can easily tuck into a pouch or pocket on your purse or backpack and refill as needed.  The more you are able to stay hydrated, the less susceptible you are to foot swelling and Braxton-Hicks contractions while you're out sightseeing.  It will mean more trips to the ladies room, though, so keep that in mind and always have an eye out for the nearest facilities.

All of these things should help to keep you rested and relatively comfortable wherever your pregnant travels may take you.  If you have any tips that have worked for you, please share them below!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Conscious Box Subscription Giveaway

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I am so excited to have been contacted by Conscious Box this week to conduct a giveaway.  They have been kind enough to offer one of my readers a FREE 3-month subscription to Conscious Box.

If you have not yet heard about Conscious Box, it is a monthly subscription service that offers its users eco-friendly, sustainable health and beauty options, as well as a variety of food, in the form of a box that ships each month.  Conscious Box offers three different box types to choose from: Classic, Vegan, and Gluten-Free.

Every month, a new box shows up at your door filled with all kinds of healthy and earth-friendly products, all for an extremely affordable price, especially compared to what you might otherwise pay.  When your new box comes, all you have to do is open and enjoy, knowing that everything in the box comes from responsible vendors who care about the environment and about what's in their products.

And, I must say, there is something so fun about getting a little surprise each month!  Plus, you can even earn points for reviewing the products that you get!

So, you're probably wondering how you can get in on this action, right?  You can enter to win using the Rafflecopter below, but why wait?  Conscious Box is so sure that you will love your subscription that they are offering Spare Time Super Mom readers a 25% discount to sign up.  Just enter the coupon code LOVELIFE at checkout to receive your discount on an already fabulous price.  Sign up now to be sure to get your special Earth Day box next month!


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*Any opinions expressed in this post are my own.  Informational material was taken from Conscious Box's website and/or Facebook page, but Conscious Box did not require any specific information to be included.  Conscious Box is providing me with a free box in exchange for hosting this giveaway, but no other action on my part was required.  The information contained above is a statement of what I personally like about Conscious Box.  For more information about our policy, please click here or email me at sparetimesupermom@gmail.com.

Kobo Arc 64GB Tablet Giveaway

Welcome to the Kobo Arc Giveaway!

Organized by Mom to Bed by 8

KOBO ARC – READS YOU LIKE A BOOK

The Kobo Arc 64GB offers booklovers a competitively featured Android 4.0 multimedia tablet with a new way to discover content – books, movies, TV shows, music, web pages and more. With a Kobo-developed interface called Tapestries, Kobo Arc gives consumers an exciting new way to discover content. Using an intelligent cross-media recommendations engine, Tapestries responds to the user’s “pinned” content to recommend related videos, movies, books, webpages and other related content. Tapestries makes it easy to discover new personal multimedia recommendations with little effort as the engine learns what consumers love – and brings them more.


The 7” high-definition display delivers crisp, sharp text and with 16-million colours bring photos and videos to life. With front-facing speakers with SRS TruMedia, a built-in microphone and high-resolution 1.3 MP camera to take photos and videos, the Kobo Arc offers up to 10 hours of continuous reading or video play, and two weeks on standby. With Google Play, Kobo Arc users have access to more than 600,000 apps and much-loved pre-loaded apps including Facebook, Twitter, Rdio, Zinio and PressReader.

One lucky reader will receive a Kobo Arc 64GB.

Giveaway ends April 15th at 11:59pm, open to US & Canadian residents, ages 18+. To enter please use the Rafflecopter form below. There will be a lot of entries for this amazing prize, so make sure to bookmark the page and come back every day to get those daily entries!  Good luck!

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Disclosure: I received no compensation for this publication. My opinions are my own and may differ from those of your own. SPARE TIME SUPER MOM is not responsible for sponsor prize shipment. Please contact teri@mompoweredmedia.com with questions or to see your business or blog featured on the next big event!

A Visit with my Grandparents

This past weekend, the hubs and I traveled to my home state of Pennsylvania for the day to visit with my grandparents and to see my best friend's new baby.  We stopped in at the assisted living home where my grandparents, ages 95 and 96, recently moved.  Until just a couple months ago, they were still living at home and on their own way up in the mountains of western PA, and it took a lot of convincing from their 5 kids to get them to finally move across the state to be closer to family.  They are still mostly independent, but they have the convenience of a dining hall right in the building, as well as a staff that can come running should they have an emergency situation.

We met them at the dining hall for lunch, and even before we came around the corner, I could hear my grandfather joking with some other residents.  During lunch, my grandfather - or "Pop," as we have always called him - was his usual joking self for most of the time, even leaning over to tell Mom, his wife of 75 years, that he had fallen for the young waitress who came by to fill our water glasses.  Mom shrugged, unconcerned with this new competition.

About halfway through lunch, however, Pop took a more serious turn with his conversation and started talking about family members who passed on long before I was born.  He spoke first of Mom's father, my great-grandfather, Emory.  Pop smiled as he remembered how Emory took his time warming up to Pop.  "He had a mule that he liked better than he liked anyone else, though," Pop said.  He then recounted the story of when he was out on the driveway at Emory's house with Emory, my great uncle Frank, and Emory's beloved mule.  He picked up a branch or board from the driveway and asked Emory, "What would happen if I just hit that mule over the head with this?"  Emory, without missing a beat, said, "There'd be two jackasses lying on the driveway."

Pop became more serious as the conversation turned to his father.  He talked of how his dad never showed any emotion, not even when he and his brothers and sisters were young.  When Pop's brother was dying, he went to their father and tried to talk to him, to get some sign of affection from him.  He took his father's face in both hands and stared straight at him, but his father said nothing.  Not a word.  Although Pop is not an overly sentimental man, he has always been able to show his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and now great-great-grandchildren that he cares for them.  I had never heard him talk about his father in this way before, and it was interesting to think that a man like Pop could have come from such a reserved and cold upbringing.

Of course, I know that a big part of the change in Pop came when he became a Christian back in the 1950s.  He quit drinking, smoking, and gambling that day and never looked back.  It was only a few years ago that his church reluctantly acquiesced in him giving up teaching Sunday School.  Even though he often struggled to hear questions posed by members of the class, his insights were always so welcome that no one minded having to shout a little bit.

After lunch, we walked back to their apartment with them and spent a few more minutes chatting.  I left feeling overwhelmed by how blessed I have been to be in a family where love is so easily and freely expressed.  I have a huge family on my dad's side, and we are all so close.  It is a truly special thing, and I am so grateful to be a part of it.


Monday, March 25, 2013

Free Blogger Opp from Life in a House of Testosterone

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Saturday, March 23, 2013

Tick Removal: A Harrowing Experience

Yesterday afternoon, I had to deal with one of the most traumatic experiences for me as a dog-owner: the removal of a tick.  After doing some research, I determined that it was most likely a brown dog tick.  I am no scientist, so this is a best guess given where we live and my own observations.


This nasty little creature had attached itself pretty firmly to poor Oliver's scalp, right on the top of his head.  Now, anyone who has ever met Oliver knows that he is a friendly guy, but he has certain limitations as far as his personal bubble is concerned.  Although he doesn't bite, he has been known to put forth some pretty significant growling if his feet are touched by anyone other than me (unless he has decided to shake, in which case a brief grasp of his proffered paw is considered acceptable).


He also gets very nervous of anything coming at him that he does not recognize, which is really an understandable emotion.  For example, he had an ear infection a few years ago.  In order to get him to hold still enough to have his drops put into his ear, I had to muzzle him, leash him, secure him to the front door, corner him, put him in a head lock, and squeeze the drops in from a height of about 6 inches, all while talking to him in my best soothing voice.

But I love my pup, so I do what I have to in order to protect him and keep him healthy.  In that case, it was a matter of finding the right process to get Oliver to be docile long enough to get the drops into his ear.  In the case of the tick, it was fairly similar.

Now, when it comes to removing a tick from a dog, there are a ton of really great resources out there, but because Oliver is so sensitive, I had to put together a personalized plan just for him.  For reasons unknown to me, as much as he fights certain things, Oliver becomes completely docile in the bathtub.  I have never understood this, especially since he can thrash around so violently in the face of anything else and even spraying a little flea and tick repellent onto his back makes him crazy.

When it comes to the bathtub, however, he just gives in.  When I bathe him, all I have to do is attach his leash and lead him to the tub.  He will walk into the bathroom, hesitate for a moment, then resignedly climb into the tub under his own power.  I put down a rubber bath mat to help him with his footing, and he now stands quite comfortably, though rather sadly, throughout his bath.

When I found the tick yesterday, it had already attached itself pretty firmly to poor Oliver's head.  I knew that because of his fear of foreign objects, I could not use tweezers, and I would just have to yank the thing out by hand.  (I have an irrational but deep-seated fear of insects of any kind, so this should give you some idea of just how much I love my pooch.)  I put Oliver in the tub and since he was overdue for a bath anyway, started out by shampooing him.  I put some water on top of the tick and the surrounding area, being very careful to avoid getting any in his ears since water in the ears can cause ear infections in dogs.

While I shampooed and rinsed the rest of him, I kept adding water to the tick area to soften the skin.  When I finished bathing him, which took about ten minutes, I then took a washcloth and got it wet enough to be dripping slightly, then started massaging the tick area with it.  This helped to keep the scalp wet and continue to soften it, as well as to (theoretically) loosen the tick's grip before giving it a yank.  I did this for about another five minutes, then got a good grip on the tick's body and pulled.  Out the little nasty thing came, with all eight of its legs waving!  (Poor tick, he's just doing what he's programmed to do, but he is gross!)

Oliver's scalp was a little red, so I kept an eye on it for the next few hours.  Within about 20 minutes, it had returned to its normal color.  I did flush the tick, which I later realized I should not have done.  You are supposed to keep it in case your dog develops any kind of infection.  Then the tick can be tested to see if it is a carrier for the disease.  Everything still looks good, but I am going to keep an eye on my pooch for the next few days, just to make sure.

*Note: I am not a veterinarian, scientist, or anything other than a dog owner.  This post is for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as any form of medical or scientific advice.  I posted it in order to relate a story, not to provide any kind of advice, especially that for which I am not qualified.


Christmas in July Signups Now Open

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Classic Soup, Salad, and Bread Combo


Around my house, I do most of the cooking, but it's a factor of available time and not skill.  Sometimes, you need an inexpensive way to throw together a meal for your family.  This is one of my favorites, and it is such a good meal that you really feel like you must have tried harder to make it than you actually did.

Soup and Bread:

     2 cans Campbell's Chunky Soup (Choice of flavors, but I recommend the Chicken Corn Chowder)
     1 loaf Italian bread from grocery bakery
 
     a.  Heat soup on stove over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.
     b.  Slice bread and heat in oven at 175-200 degrees for about 10 minutes (about as long as the soup takes to heat.)
     c.  Serve.

Salad:

     Chopped Romaine Lettuce
     1 can Sliced Mandarin Oranges
     Cherry or Grape Tomatoes
     Seedless Red Grapes
     Cucumber
     Shelled Walnuts
     Green Stuffed Olives
     Croutons

     a.  Throw ingredients in bowl.
     b.  Mix together.
     c.  Serve
 
Take note that, with the exception of the lettuce and the cucumber, everything on the salad can be tossed into the bowl without any other prep.  This combo is filling, and the whole thing takes about 10 minutes.  If you serve the salad first, the soup and bread should be ready at about the time you finish eating salad.  Pretty healthy, super easy, and surprisingly delicious.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

$20 Shutterfly Gift Code Giveaway

Independently+Obtained

Spare Time Super Mom is pleased to bring you my very first giveaway on the blog!  The prize is a free Shutterfly gift code worth $20.*  The prize will be emailed to the winner after verification of entries.

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*Terms and Conditions: Valid through June 25, 2013.  Code is good for a one-time $20 credit towards a purchase of $20 or more (excluding shipping, handling and taxes) at www.shutterfly.com.  To redeem the code, you must have or create a Shutterfly account, and enter the code in your account.  Your promotional code is not redeemable for cash and cannot be transferred to another Shutterfly account or combined with other offers, discounts, promotions, or credits.  Shutterfly is not responsible for lost or stolen promotional cards.  Not for resale.  Void where prohibited or restricted by law.  The use of this promotional card is governed by the laws of the State of California.  Shutterfly reserves the right to change any of these terms and conditions from time to time without notice.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Great Celery Experiment

I was browsing something the other day and happened upon a blog post about how to grow celery from the base.  It was one of the very rare occasions when we actually had celery in the house, so of course I had to try it.

I took a mason jar and filled it with water and wedged the celery stalk into the opening so that only the base was covered.  Then I left it by the window and waited.  After 3 days, it had already started to regrow, and after 11 days, it was getting crazy!

Regrowing celery from base
March 12 - Day 3                                    March 20 - Day 11

On Day 11, I decided it was time to move this puppy into the ground, so I took the whole thing and planted it outside, where it would have some room to really grow and thrive.  Hopefully, it will continue to grow and in a few months, I will have my very own homegrown celery stalk.  Since we don't eat celery very often, I could probably do this about two more times and have enough celery for the year.  I could not believe how quickly it grew, which was super exciting because it means it will make an awesome indoor project for the kids someday!  


Letters to My Son

A few months before I got pregnant, my husband and I visited his best friend and his wife to meet the newest addition to their family.  They had a little boy already, and they had just had a little girl about a month earlier. We spent some time with them and each got to hold the little cutie pie.

While we were there, Jesse's friend took pictures of each of us on his phone and told us how he had been sending emails to his children since they were born.  He would take a photo sometimes and then send an email to them to tell them about something that happened that day.  He copied each of us on the email he sent, which had our pictures with the baby attached.  The email talked about how we met for the first time that day and contained just a few details of our visit.

I loved the idea so much that I could hardly wait to use it with my own children.  It turned out I didn't have to wait long, since I was pregnant just a few months later.  Even though my son is not due for another four months, I decided to get a head start on writing to him, especially because I have so much I feel I want to share with him, and there is so much I might forget.

I created an email address for him and got started once we found out that we were having a boy.  Here is an excerpt from the first email I sent him:

By the time we got to the car, I had an email and a text message from Mandy, just dying to know if you were a boy or a girl.  She was ecstatic to know that Diezel, who is due next month, would have a playmate.  After we left the doctor's office, we went to get something to eat because we were both very hungry.  Aunt Emily called right after we got to the restaurant, and we put her on speaker phone to tell her the news.  I handed the phone to Daddy, saying that I would let him tell her since he is the "man of the house."  He made a joke about being the man of the house just for the moment, but she was expecting a girl so much that it took her awhile to get what he was saying.  When she realized, she was so excited.  We have all been waiting so long for a boy!
Carolina got on the phone with me to hear the news, and she was excited, too, but in a different way.  She was all business, wanting to know if you were crying and also wanting to know if we had purchased your crib yet.  (The last time she visited, we didn't have the crib yet, and she was not impressed by our parenting skills.)  I assured her that we do now have a crib, a present from Nan and Gumpers, and she relaxed.  Notably, Carolina was the only one to accurately predict that you would be a boy, but it was based on the fact that there are a few boy sleepers hanging in Aunt Emily's closet - gifts from a friend who was convinced that Carolina was a boy.  As your father likes to say, "You may argue with her logic, but you can't argue with her results."
I plan to write to him all along the way, detailing everything from his first steps to all the funny things he says and does over the years.  When he is older, he will be able to look back and remember all of it and also see proof of how much his mommy and daddy loved him, right from the start.


Your Soap Box is on my Toe!

I think that every pregnant-for-the-first-time woman must go through a period where she just wants to scream at about half the people around her.  And it's not the hormones, I swear.  It's the constant scolding, correcting, and instructing, usually by women who have already had babies, whether last month, last year, last decade, or last century.

This week marked the first time I saw my son's movements as more than just little twitches.  There was a good five seconds of something - probably a foot - moving back and forth across my belly.  This happened a couple of times, and while it was awesome, it was a tad on the creepy side, too.  Of course, when I said that to someone, I was immediately informed that it is not creepy, just beautiful.

Let me tell you something.  It is beautiful.  It is amazing.  It is something that no matter how excited I am to meet my son on the other side of my belly, I know that I will miss for the rest of my life.  I am soaking up every moment of it now because it is just the most inspiring thing I have ever experienced, and I would not trade it for the world.

Now, let me tell you something else.  There is another person living inside my body.  If that creeps me out a little bit, that does not make me a horrible person or an unfit mother.  It makes me human.  It makes me pregnant-for-the-first-time and still trying to grasp the enormity of the situation.  I am just going to say it one more time.  THERE IS ANOTHER PERSON LIVING INSIDE MY BODY.  In any other situation, such a reality would be good cause to be creeped out, possibly even alarmed.

I also mentioned to someone this week that I anticipate labor and delivery are going to be rather unpleasant and kind of gross.  Again, the looks of horror and statements that "It's not gross.  It's beautiful."  My son is beautiful.  The fact that two tiny cells can come together and begin this process that leads to the creation of another person - that is beautiful.  Blood and amniotic fluid and placenta and possibly even poo - these are things that are not beautiful.  Why can't we just be honest about that?  If you take the baby out of the equation for a moment, the delivery scene is filled with some pretty gross stuff.  Can't I just say that without being judged?  You want something beautiful?  How about the fact that women KNOW about this gross scene, and they sign up to do this, sometimes multiple times, because the beautiful miracle of bringing a child into this world makes the rest worth it.

The whole breastfeeding-formula feeding decision is another area that is just rife with land mines.  My husband and I have decided to bottle-feed exclusively.  I plan to try to do some pumping in the beginning and possibly for as long as my work schedule (and my body) will permit, but for a variety of reasons, we plan to use bottles to feed our son from the start.  When I mentioned this to someone, she asked me, "Don't you want the best for your baby?"

Of course I want the best for my son.  But the fact of the matter is that my husband and I have to make choices that are best for all of us.  Some of the reasons that I plan to bottle-feed are results of choices that we have made that reflect a desire to create a home that can thrive in the long run, as well as the short run.  So, what is best for my son is not necessarily what is best for your child.   And in some cases, the choices that I have made could turn out to be choices that you will later wish you made.  Even if my choices were bad ones, what a way to phrase it.

I am about to be a new mommy, so I certainly welcome input from others, but only when it is offered in a non-judgmental way.  If you are really interested in offering me some helpful tips or advice, then I would love to hear it.  But if your real goal is to demonstrate what a better mother you are and try to impress upon me how important it is to model my mothering after yours, then please just let me be.

Christian Songs to Sing to Your Baby

If you're like me, the fact that your little one has not yet arrived does not stop you from interacting with him or her (in my case, him!) on a regular basis. I have recently started reading to my unborn child, and I have also done a bit of singing, although the ability to carry a tune was not among the blessings God saw fit to give me.

When singing to baby boy, I have tried a few classics like Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and Yankee Doodle, but I really wanted to find some good Christian songs to sing to baby. Here are a few I came up with, and I hope my readers will share their favorites, too. (The larger my repertoire, the more likely I am to find one I can actually sing.)

1. Angels Watching Over Me - This is one of my favorites and one that a babysitter used to sing to me when I was very small.  I have included the video to this one below, just in case you don't know it.  I LOVE this song, and this is the one I sing to my little man the most.

2. Jesus Loves Me

3. Jesus Loves the Little Children

4. He's Got the Whole World in His Hands

5. Christ is Risen




Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Chromebook 3G Giveaway

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Welcome to the Chromebook Giveaway!



For Everyone. The Samsung Chromebook 3G is a computer that helps you get everyday things done faster and easier. It starts in seconds, has virus protection built-in, and runs your favorite Google apps plus thousands more. The Chromebook comes with leading Google products, like Search, Gmail, YouTube and Hangouts, so you can work, play, and do whatever you want, right out of the box. You can easily share it with multiple people; switching accounts takes seconds, and everyone gets their own files, apps and settings. And it's simple to use. There's no setup, and your files are automatically backed up in the cloud. At just 2.4 pounds, 0.7 inches thin, and with over 6.5 hours of battery life, the Samsung Chromebook can go anywhere you go. It's built to stay cool, so it doesn't need a fan and runs silently. It also includes 100GB of free Google Drive storage (for 2 years), a built-in webcam, and dual band Wi-Fi to make it easy to connect to wireless networks.

No more waiting for an affordable laptop.  The Samsung Chromebook 3G makes life easier without all the expense and drawbacks of a traditional laptop computer.  Go Chrome Today!


One lucky reader will receive a Samsung Chromebook 3G.

Giveaway ends April 10th at 11:59pm, open to US and Canadian residents, ages 18+. To enter please use the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Disclosure: I received no compensation for this publication. My opinions are my own and may differ from those of your own. SPARE TIME SUPER MOM is not responsible for sponsor prize shipment. Please contact teri@mompoweredmedia.com with questions or to see your business or blog featured on the next big event!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Back to Work, For Real

Last week, I got a phone call inviting me to do some work as a contract attorney again, something I have been doing on and off for the last year and a half.  Just a few hours later, I got another call saying that the project wasn't starting as soon as they expected, so I would just have to wait and see when it would start.  I was at first elated to be going back to work, then crushed when I realized that payday had just been put off once again.

However, last night I got a call about another project, one which will last only two days, but which starts this afternoon.  Hurrah!  I am so glad to be back in the game, even though, at this rate, it will take awhile to save enough to start my new business.  The best part is that being a part of this two-day project won't interfere with my ability to be on the other, longer project, so I lose nothing by taking on the short one.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Blueberry Plants are Here!

Of all the fruit I love to eat, blueberries are probably my very favorite.  I love them plain, on cereal, in muffins and pancakes, and as part of my favorite jam recipe.  So, now that I have my own gardening area for the first time, of course I had to add some blueberry bushes to the mix.

I chose Gurney's Ka-Bluey Blueberry plants.  From the description, and the fact that they bear a registered name symbol, I assume there has been some kind of genetic engineering to help make these plants strong and delicious.  I am fine with that.  I am not, nor will I ever be, one of those people who balks at purchasing fruit from plants that have been genetically altered.  If you're telling me that scientists have worked diligently to make it harder for me to kill this plant, I'm buying.

When the plants arrived, I could hardly wait to get them in the ground.  It is a little chilly today, but there is a ton of sun and spring is almost here, so I think they will do all right.  Plus, Gurney's only ships plants at certain times of year to certain geographical locations.  It's their way of idiot-proofing against their customers, especially people like me who would otherwise plant an orange tree in my yard in the middle of a Virginia winter.

Before I could plant, I had to prep the ground, which in my case, was no easy task.  When we moved in to the house we are currently renting, the yard had been largely let go.  I can tell someone did work with it at one point because there are blocked off areas for gardening, and there are flowers and mint planted.  But there are also weeds everywhere, and the mint is taking over a huge area.

Today, I spent about an hour hacking away at the mint and trying to clear an area.  When digging up mint, you have to be very careful, because the roots expand underground and push up new shoots.  If you don't really look for all of the roots, you may have some that just have not yet surfaced and are waiting for you to plant something else so they can spring up and choke it.

As hard as it was to clear the mint, it probably would have only taken about half the time if I wasn't being plagued by a little beagle who had no interest in soaking up the beautiful sun and instead wanted to go back inside and get back in her bed.  She kept coming by and jumping over the little fence into the garden and sitting down right where I was trying to work.

Stella the Beagle exploring the garden

When I cleared enough space and hauled all the uprooted mint, weeds, and grass over to the compost pile, it was finally time to get ready for planting the blueberry bushes.  I removed them from the package and placed them in water to allow the roots to get well-saturated.  After letting them soak for about 3 hours, I dug holes and put them in the ground.  I am so excited to have blueberry bushes in my yard at long last, even though I know I will have to wait until at least next summer to get any fruit from them.

Spoke too Soon

Earlier today, I joyfully reported that I was FINALLY going to be back to work next week on Monday or Tuesday as a contract attorney.  Just a few hours later, I got a phone call saying that the project on which I was supposed to be assisting is being "reevaluated" and may not start next week, after all.  So, I guess I am back in the unemployment line again.

The good news is that while I am free to take on other projects that come up beforehand, I am guaranteed a spot on that project if I want it when it starts, which is a slightly better position than I was in at the beginning of the day.  And it will give me time to get working on this week's cloth diaper giveaways list since the weekend is going to be a busy one!

Back to Work...Finally!

I just got a phone call today from the employer with whom I do some work as a contract attorney.  I have been off for almost a month, which is the longest I have ever been off without getting a project from them, and I have been getting very antsy, especially because I am dying to get started on my new business, which I plan to launch in May.

My husband and I went over my business plan together, and he helped me figure out how to eliminate most of my upfront costs so I can get started without investing a ton of money.  I will be starting back to work on either Monday or Tuesday, which means that I should be able to get started on my business in about a month, maybe two, depending on whether there is any overtime with this project.  I am so excited!

Perks of Pregnancy

Pregnancy can really cause a lot of discomfort.  Between the sleepless nights, the swollen feet (and fingers, ugh!), and the horrifying realization that no, you won't go pick up the newspaper because that would involve bending down and that is no longer on your can-do list, it is always good to stop and take a moment to appreciate the perks of pregnancy.

First and foremost, of course, is the little life you are toting around with you everywhere.  Feeling our little guy kicking and moving throughout the day is amazing, and it just never gets old.  I love being able to sit down and talk to him and feel him responding to my voice.  It is such a privilege to be able to experience pregnancy and carry him around for 9 months.  The bonding process has already begun, and I feel so connected to my son, even though I won't be meeting him for another 4 months.

Another perk, which I try to appreciate to the fullest, is being able to decide that I want a snack 15 minutes before I go to bed and not only not feeling guilty for it, but actually feeling like I have done a good thing by providing nourishment to my child.  It's good that I can be guilt-free about it, too, because I do this pretty much every night.

It never fails.  I am 5 minutes from being in bed, and out of nowhere, I am ravenous.  No lead-in, no warning.  Just satiated to desperate in seconds flat.  So, in spite of having brushed my teeth, I head down to the kitchen and fix myself a snack, knowing that if I try to ignore the early hunger pangs, I will just have to eat at my next bathroom wake-up anyway, which should be in about...20 minutes.

Tonight's snack was a plain bagel smothered in cream cheese and red raspberry preserves.  Yes, I used both, and yes, it was as amazing as it sounds.  (Apologies for the half-eaten piece in the picture.  I couldn't wait.)