Five Friday Faves Volume 1 Edition 1

*articles may contain affiliate links* My Five Friday Faves lists will from time to time include affiliate links or products my family received for the blog. 

five Friday Faves

Starting this week, I’ll be bringing a new feature to the blog, five Friday faves. The hope is to share with you some of the cool things we’ve been using, doing, reading, etc.

five Friday faves

One: Vacation Bible School

The Bigs attended Cave Quest Vacation Bible School at a local church this week. It gave Greg a chance to get the yard ready for our fence project (coming this weekend), but also cured some of the when are we going back to school boredom that has plagued Evan’s life since May. Thank goodness he’ll have all-day kindergarten because this boy loves him some school.

VBS was really awesome for the kids – full of glow sticks and creatures. They even had a surprise cave guest one of the days when a real, live bat was found in the church!

Thirty-One Tote

Two: The new Thirty-One Gifts Catalog

The Fall/Winter Thirty-One Gifts catalog arrived on Monday. It felt so awesome to package up goodies for my fellow Thirty-One fans, sharing the new products (from tote bags to purses to jewelry to pillows to wall art). My Thirty-One business truly has been a blessing to our family, and I am hoping and praying to continue to be able to bless others through this opportunity. (If you’re interested in seeing what all the fuss is about, check out my Thirty-One website. I’m an Independent Consultant and love to party with fellow bag-loving peeps!)

grill

ThreeGrilling and fresh vegetables

Our garden is booming with tomatoes. We’ve visited two farmer’s markets. The weather is cooperating. That means we’ve been able to grill out and roast vegetables. It has been amazing.

This coming week, we’ll be canning pickles and salsa – can’t wait to share our adventure there!

magic meemees

Four: Magic MeeMees

The kids can’t stop talking about or playing with their Magic MeeMees. I’m sure you’ve read our post and watched their video, but if not, go check it out. They’re making their lists for the playlands and meemees they need to go with what they have versus what they want to have.

RUN, don’t walk, over to Amazon (click here for “Spark”!) and find some for yourself and your kiddos. They are not staying in stock because these toys are hot. Keep your eyes peeled for more from Future of Play as they get more listings!

funshine bear

Five: Future Plans

I’m a planner, so it’s no surprise that my kids are also planners. Ever since I got home from Blogger Bash, they’ve been planning their toy reviews and how they’re going to make their birthday and Christmas wish lists. Care Bears and Build-a-Bear top their list. Good thing they can make them there, right? We all need a ‘lil Funshine in our lives, right?

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Now it’s your turn! List five things you’re really digging this week! Bonus – I’ll be linking up weekly with a list of others sharing five things, so who knows what else you might learn about by visiting their lists. Have a great weekend! xoxo

Pittsburgh: Healthy Together

Hey, Pittsburghers. Did you know that currently there are uninsured children and youth in the City of Pittsburgh…to the tune of over 2,000 kids without health insurance? If you have insurance, think about what that means for the parents of these uninsured kids. No immunizations. No medicine when colds last too long. No inhalers for kids who have asthma (or no way to detect that they have it).

That’s scary, and as a mom of a kid who went four months without insurance coverage, I know how frustrating it could be. When Arianna was a baby, I was working as a contractor and couldn’t get her coverage under my “plan”. It took months to apply for assistance, only to be told I made too much anyhow. That meant a 3 month old child went until she was 7 months without immunizations or care for her allergies. Yup, I wasn’t being a bad mom, I was literally holding out hope that she wouldn’t get sick or that the doctors were easy on me when it came to paying bills slowly (which they did, but I don’t know that it could have gone on for too long).

Arianna as a 'lil baby
Arianna as a ‘lil baby

It’s sad and scary, but thanks to the Healthy Together campaign, there is a plan to get 100% of Pittsburgh kids covered by medical insurance. And the Healthy Together team has great backers – starting with Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto. He’s joined up with Allies for Children, the Consumer Health Coalition, and the Allegheny County Health Department. There has even been a $200,000 grant awarded to the program by the National League of Cities. Check out this video where the Mayor and Pittsburgh parents explain why this is crucial:

A big thank you was delivered to the City leaders and organizations today at the Children’s Museum by MomsRising.org, – the online and on-the-ground organization for moms and everyone who has a mom.

Need insurance for your children or know someone who does? Good news. There is help to get them enrolled right now. Just head over to www.getenrolledpgh.com or call 2-1-1. “A Covered Community is Healthy Together” is one of their mantras, and what a good one to have!

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Disclaimer: I was asked to review the item or service above in exchange for compensation and/or free items. All opinions, however, are 100% my own.

Stunt Hunt with Fruit Shoot

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Fruit Shoot. All opinions are 100% my own.

It’s not been the normal summer here in Pittsburgh – lots of cool weather and rainy weekends. That means my kids have been inside, responsible for being imaginative and play less with balls and bikes and more with games and stuffed animals.

This weekend, we took a break and let the kids have some outdoor play inside, removing the breakables and giving them a ball. Okay, we had a campaign to work on – the Fruit Shoot Have a Ball Stunt Hunt — but the kids were quite happy. With a six-pack of Fruit Shoot (a kids’ drink that has a new no-spill cap, perfect for children of all ages, and contains no fructose corn syrup) and a ball, I asked them to come up with something to play.

Quickly, my ‘lil leader, Ari, came up with Kick Bowling – she set up 4 Fruit Shoot bottles as though they were bowling pins and then kicked the ball toward them. It clicked, and the kids spent a good amount of time playing the game. We filmed the fun to enter in the Stunt Hunt (a video competition where you capture and share the exciting imagination of your child by filming a short video of your child’s tricks and stunts with a Fruit Shoot bottle and a ball of your choice), check it out:

Note – our official entry is still uploading. It’s taking longer than I expected, but I’ll update this when it’s done! 

There’s still a day to enter your own video – the entries are due tomorrow, and the judging ends Tuesday. All you need is your kids, a ball, some Fruit Shoot, and imaginations. There are instructions in this video to help get your juices going (and tasting the Fruit Shoot will help, too!).

Entered already? Comment here so we can check out your entry! Winning entries will be featured on the Fruit Shoot Stunt Hunt Have a Ball Winner’s page.

Reminder: JBF East Starts Thursday!

Congratulations to Amy S. for winning the pair of pre-sale tickets to the Just Between Friends Consignment Sale.

For those of you who want to be sure to check it out, head out to Monroeville this weekend, starting Thursday. More details can be found on my original post.

 

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary pre-sale pass for me and a pair to giveaway in exchange for this post. All opinions remain my own.

Five Things in My Fridge

Today’s NaBloPoMo Prompt: Name five things inside your refrigerator right now and how you feel about them.

1. Diet Coke with Lime: For the most part, I’m drinking water…or coffee…but having something just a ‘lil sweet is sometimes just the thing I need.

2. My lunch: It’s all packed and ready to go. I’ve found that meal planning is the way to succeed at weight loss, so I make sure my breakfast, snack, lunch, and snack are all ready to go. This makes me happy.

3. Egg Whites: Protein packing this week, and always as of late.

4. Girl Scouts Coffee-Mate Creamer: Deliciousness for my day.

5. Pickles: There always has to be pickles on hand for this family. We all love ’em.

So, what’s in your fridge? 

CoffeeMate

NaBloPoMo: 5 Things I’ve Learned

Today’s Prompt: Tell us what you’ve learned so far about daily blogging.

I’ve decided to take a stab at this one via a list of five things.

1. My blogging hasn’t really been inspired by the daily prompts. I need to find time to write about passions, or to post some of the reviews I need to get through. These things inspire me. The daily prompts have been, well, okay.

2. I’ve pretty much been trying to consistently be a daily blogger for 2 years. This practice in NaBloPoMo hasn’t really taught me that. Blogging is like my drug, I kind of feel lost when I don’t do it. But now that I’m doing it, the quality has not been meeting “the Becky Standard”. Quality over quantity should always be the rule.

3. I’m still trying to post my normal stuff. Add a review day in and I post three times a day. My readership, while low as it is, has dropped off since NaBloPoMo, too. Insane!

4. Timing is everything. Here I am at 11:15 trying to push out a post because I promised to be part of something bigger. And I’ve really not left myself the time. Must. Schedule. More. Often.

5. Arianna’s learning about the blog. She’s very proud of her Flipeez post, and wants to do more. My passion is rubbing off on her, and I am quite okay with that.

NaBloPoMo: What’s My Name

Source: BlogHer.com

 

November 7 Prompt: If you had to switch your first name, what name would you choose and why?

I learned how to write it when I first started school” – Dierks Bentley, “My Last Name”

If I had to change my first name, goodness, I am not sure why…

Some days, I’ll admit, I really wish my “first name” wasn’t MOM (because oh to the my to the gosh, how many times can one ‘lil child say “MOM” in a 3 minute time period). (Disclosure – but I wouldn’t change being a mom for the world.)

As for “Becky”, it’s not my given first name. My first name is actually Rebecca, so I guess I changed it. Except for legally. Everything is Rebecca, and you wouldn’t imagine the people who do not realize I am the same person when I “accidentally” say Becky instead. My parents chose Rebecca for my name after one of my great aunts; however, she goes by her middle name instead. I wouldn’t say I dislike Rebecca, it just sounds so formal that I prefer Becky.

So, if I had to change it, maybe I’d switch it to “Emily”. My father-in-law thought that was my name, anyhow. It works, I guess. I’d have to share the “fame” with my ‘lil cousin Emily, so maybe that’s not a great choice. But honestly? I really like my name.

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So since I am basically stumped by this one, but sure people would change their names if they could, I decided to ask the kids. Arianna said, “Why would I have to change my name? I want this name” and refused to give me a name. Evan said, “I don’t know, DRAGON!”. Valid.

It also got me to thinking…my name has meaning. Greg’s named after Louis Gregory, a South Carolinian Bahá’í (whom there is an institute in South Carolina named after him, which has ties to what brought Greg’s family to SC). Arianna’s name is a combination of “Ari” for my cousin Aaron and “Anna” for my great grandmothers (it was apparently a common name / middle name in my genes). But Evan? We totally went for a vowel name and loved the name Evan. Did we miss the boat to give it some significance, or did we open the doors for him to create his own amazing destiny?

I go with option 2.

Nablopomo: Writing Space

Prompt: Tell us about your writing space. Where do you write your blog posts?

Truthfully? Anywhere and everywhere. Usually, I am sprawled on the couch, kids in bed, tv on mindless shows. Tonight, I am on my BlackBerry at the kitchen table while the kids finish eating (it’s taken almost an hour to eat dinner tonight). Other times I am on the iPad in bed while Greg watches sports.

One day, when I hit the million dollars, I plan to set up a blogging space. Somewhere to hold products for reviews. Somewhere to file paperwork. Somewhere to store my books. And a nice comfy chair. But for now, I am so glad to have a husband who lets me blog, and kids who inhabit the room I will convert for space.

Best blogging idea place, though? The shower, the gym, and driving down the road. All three places that you can’t just drop everything and blog it out.

Characters

Prompt: Who is your favourite character of all time?

This is a super easy one. Nicholas Sparks’ Jamie from “A Walk to Remember”. She reminded me so much of Wendy – the hope, the fight, the love, the dreams.

I remember reading the book the first time. It seems to hit my memory that someone in the family, knowing what we were going through with Wendy, told my mom I had to read it, but that she should be prepared for me to be impacted by it.

Wendy was still alive, but we were at the point of having serious conversations – What church was big enough to hold all of her family and friends? What would her tombstone look like? What would it feel like to lose a granddaughter, a girlfriend, a best friend?

I laughed, I cried, I identified with the pain and happiness throughout. I couldn’t put the book down.

And then, years later, after Wendy had passed and Mandy Moore was cast as Jamie? My heart broke – she looked so much like pre-cancer Wendy. That hair, that happy face. But I went to see it in theaters. I bought the movie version of the book. I bought (and wore out) the cd soundtrack.

And I still want to stand in two places at once. I have a butterfly tattoo. And I’ll always remember my best friend.

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This prompt is from NaBloPoMo’s November prompt list.

Million Dollars #NaBloPoMo

NaBloPoMo
Source: Blogher

Friday, November 1, 2013
If you found one million dollars in the morning and had to spend it by nightfall, what would you do with the money?

I’d start out by searching Zillow for a new house, in the area. We’d spend around $400,000, just to be sure we got what we wanted. 5 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, a finished basement (with space for couponing, scrapbooking, and playing), a garage for two cars, and a pool.

Next, I’d go to the bank to pay off our cars, current home, and my student loans. Those two moves wipe half of the money out.
I’d take $100,000 and split it up between the Food Bank and Hope Center.

Since I definitely need a shopping spree, I’d take $25K for a new wardrobe (we’re talking great shoes and all) for me, another $10K for Greg.
Chatham, Duke and Clemson would be getting calls next. Arianna and Evan? Your schooling is paid off, regardless of where you chose to end up. Good bye to another $165K for four years for two.

The remaining $200,000 would be spent on getting last minute flights to Vegas for me, Greg, the mancation crew, and the Girls Week ladies plus sitters for all the kids. We’d spend the evening at the spa and PaiGow Table, whatever is our fancy. Limos. Good dinners, and high limit.

I’d wake up the next day, realizing I have future plans (extra money from the Vegas winnings to put in retirement), and amazing memories.