This is especially exciting for me personally because this is the ONE gift we usually make for all our relatives, but I just couldn’t find the typical deals on photo calendars like I normally do, so we have yet to make one for 2013
I’m sad because as I look at my cute calendar from 2012, I’m realizing I may soon be without one for the New Year… that was until just now! I almost simultaneously found two free photo calendar offers. Check these out:
With over 300 design templates for you to choose from, it’s easy to find the perfect theme to showcase each and every one of your photos. You can upload your favorite snapshots to each month, create a photo collage, and even crop or resize your pictures, too. Plus, since they’re great to share with friends and family, in just a few clicks, you can even add the dates (my favorite part about these) for their birthdays, anniversaries, homecoming games, graduations, and your unofficial family holiday, so they have no reason to forget any special occasion in 2013.
2. Living Social
Well, the actual deal is for $9 (which is an amazing deal in and of itself), but if you have any Living Social bucks like I had saved up, you get a FREE Shutterfly Photo Calendar! You can also buy the deal for $9 and then share a personalized link they give you after the transaction; if three friends buy through the link, it makes yours free!
I don’t know how long these free photo calendar deals will last, so I wouldn’t wait too long!
Now that Christmas is behind us and presents have been unwrapped, I wanted to share my kids’ favorite toys and gifts from this Christmas as a special ‘kid-approved’ post, if you will.
In my line of work, I’m blessed to have the opportunity to review many different products…and of course a great percentage of those are family-related or especially for kids.
Throughout the past year, I’ve featured most of the products below on my blog or in my different media segments. While I’ve given my opinion on these items, we have saved the majority of them to share with our kids until Christmas. So it was intersting to me to finally find out which of the toys and gifts they liked best!
I thought it would be relevant to share their favorites with you so that you know what toys are actually worth spending the money on!
This turned out to be the sleeper hit of Christmas! A blogging friend of mine told us about the EzyRoller and said our kids would love them – and she could not have been right! The kids have not stopped rolling around on these since they got them. While this wasn’t necessarily on their Christmas list, I think it’s safe to say it was one of their favorite, if not their favorite, gifts of the day.
2. iPod Shuffle
I received one of these doing a blogger trip in February and while we there was no way we were ready to get our kids an iPod touch or iPad, this was a great introduction into electronics for our 8 year old (even though she only has two songs on there right now with no future prospects of getting any more any time soon
3. Build a Bear Merry Mint Pup
Every time I pass by Build A Bear I think, “We can’t possibly need another one of these”, but again the excitement over the experience seems to never fade. So I wasn’t sure how getting a pre-made pup would go over, but I guess between the cuteness and the candy cane striped outfit, it won her over anyway
4. American Girl
Thanks to some American Girl Doll giveaways I did throughout the year, I also got a My American Girl Doll to give to my daughter. While she just got her first American Girl doll this summer (McKenna) and I didn’t expect for her to get another one this soon (if ever!), it’s been a delight watching her excitement over getting a “My American Girl” doll that looks like her (and that she can also use to play school with!).
5. Bebe Gun
While I can’t say I whole-heartedly agree with this gift, my husband felt it was time for both of our kids to have a bebe gun (bought from Bass Pro Shops). It seems to be a sort-of rite of passage here in the South, but it still makes me a bit squeamish. Regardless of my views, both kids really enjoyed these in the backyard…even though it was 29 degrees out!
6. Xbox 360 with Kinect
This has been especially great for younger kids who don’t quite get the ins and outs of using a controller and it allows the entire family to get off the couch and have fun! We especially like Just Dance 4 and LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean.
7. “Brave” Blu-Ray
One of the kids’ favorite movies of the summer (and the #1 Animated film of 2012), this was a hit in the theater with our family and was a thrill for them to get under the tree. While I wouldn’t say it’s my all time favorite Disney film, it is one of the most beautiful animated films I’ve ever seen.
8. Doll Clothes from the craft store
While my mom was here after Thanksgiving, I was surprised to find that many craft stores actually carry clothes for 18 inch dolls (like American Girl). While I love the quality and detail of the American Girl outfits Kariss has, I also was shocked at the unique items we found at the craft store. We found a white ‘fur’ coat & matching ‘Uggs’ boots that together cost less than $10 with the sale & coupon we had!
9. Lands End Rolling Backpack
You may remember me sharing how I discovered the high-quality Lands End kids’ backpacks during my Talk of the Town Save vs. Splurge Back to School segment. As kids’ get older, the amount they have to bring home increases. We saved this rolling backpack to give to Kariss now because we knew it would not only be great for school, but also for taking on trips.
10. Jingle the Husky Pup with Interactive Storybook
My little man has been wanting a Hallmark Interactive Story Buddy ever since his sister got Abigail the bunny last year. Not only did we get to record our own voices with the Jingle recordable storybook, but Jingle also interacts when you read his own book to him (plus, he’s just fun to cuddle at night!).
As parents, I feel like often times we shop for what would make us happy more than what would make our kids happy, so it’s always interesting to me to find out what it is they actually end up playing with and liking after Christmas.
What were your kids’ favorite gifts they received?
In full disclosure, I already mentioned that I received many of the items above free of charge from my work as a blogger. I’ve also included links to these products when possible, some of which are compensated affiliate links. Keep in mind, I’m only mentioning products our family LOVES and we hope you do too!
Looking for teacher gift ideas for Christmas 2012? The holidays are the perfect time to say a special thank you to the only other people that most likely spend as much time with your kids as you do – their teachers!
There are so many simple, yet special ideas for gifts to thank our teachers, but here are just a few that will mean a lot without breaking your budget either:
I mean really, who doesn’t love it when someone gives you a Starbucks card? Starbucks continues its tradition of being the perfect destination for holiday gifting needs – from stocking stuffers and hostess gifts, to the ideal presents for coffee and tea lovers – and a seasonal beverage or treat.
As a Starbucks family, we add to our Starbucks mug collection every Christmas, including their matching holiday mug ornaments. This year they’ve created the Holiday Red Cup Snowman Mug ($8.95). We especially love the Red Reusable Cup Sleeve so you’ll never be without one when you need it – The set includes a red recycled leather sleeve and a gold sleeve. (only $4.95). You can also add in some festive Starbucks VIA Peppermint Mocha Flavored Coffee to complete your set. Of course, if you’re not sure what to give this holiday season, give the gift of choice with a Starbucks Card. You can even dress it up with a selection of fun and festive Card holders. Everyone can find something to enjoy at Starbucks
Hallmark has always been my one-stop shop for meaningful gifts that last well beyond Christmas. Sometimes a thoughtful card goes much further than a gift, especially when it has a keepsake ornament attached to it!
Red & White Gable boxes ($3.49), Holiday memo caddies ($12.49), & Keepsake Ornaments (All shown on Talk of the Town were under $20).
A perennial favorite for teacher gifts are bath and beauty items, but sometimes it can be hard to match scents and brands with personal preferences. One brand I’ve found to be universally welcomed is Philosophy. The Philosophy Christmas Morning Gift set is the perfect gift not only for teachers, but for anyone special that you want to bless this Christmas.
Who doesn’t love chocolate?! A sweet treat is always a special way to tell your teacher you love them and speak directly to their heart Not only is it something they can enjoy, but it’s easy for them to share it with others, both in their own home and at school.
Hershey’s is a classic favorite known for their quality and affordability as well! There are not only great chocolates for gifting (like the Hershey’s Pot of Gold Premium Collection), but they’ve also dressed up some of their classic treats for the holidays (like my personal favorite – Reese’s Peanut Butter Trees, as well as York Peppermint Pattie Snowflakes).
Another favorite little ‘happy’ to give teachers (& anyone for that matter) is candles! As someone who helps people save money, I have a hard time advocating buying something that will literally burn away, but I LOVE candles nonetheless…especially the way they make my house smell.
So that’s why I’m thrilled (and a little obsessed) with the new Energizer flameless candles. Not only do they come in a variety of scents, but you can also set a timer for when you want it to go off AND it flickers in different patterns…just like a real candle…but safer and without melting away
But my best advice is to actually ASK your teachers what their favorite things are! My kids’ school sends around a questionnaire at the beginning of school for the teachers to fill out their favorite restaurants, magazines, coffee drink, color, etc. Each family then contributes a certain amount for a gift and we pool those resources to buy gifts that we know they’ll love (because they’ve already told us so!).
Buying teacher gifts doesn’t need to be stressful. I’d love to hear your ideas with how you bless your kids’ teachers at Christmas…please feel free to leave a comment below!
Watch the video from Talk of the Town on December 14, 2012:
Disclosure: There are some compensated links used in this post so you can find some of my favorite products from today’s segment!
I can’t believe there are so many photo deals going on right now! (well, maybe I can, this is the prime time of year for family photo taking
We bought a similar Picaboo deal last fall and used it to buy photo calendars for all our family for Christmas! You can also use this towards any of their products – even Christmas cards!
The only thing we didn’t realize is that you can’t pair it with any other Picaboo promotions like free shipping. The good news is that you do NOT have to use the entire $100 in one transaction.
We’ve started the long road home to Nashville…
It’s hard to believe that just a week ago I received the call from my husband that his dad had passed away and hours later I piled our two kids into the mini van to make the 13 hour trek down to South Florida amidst squalls from Hurricane Isaac.
It’s a blur.
In the past week we’ve planned a funeral, buried my father-in-law, sorted through his belongings, relived a lot of memories and hugged an entire community.
We are emotionally spent.
Yet through it all, we’ve clung to each other and learned so much from so many of you.
1. It’s not about me
I think this is fairly self-explanatory, yet it is something someone very close to me lovingly reminded me of It’s easy to be offended when our expectations aren’t met…and I think it’s safe to say that when you bring a large group of people together who are all grieving in their own ways (not to mention exhausted and emotional), it’s not possible to meet everyone’s expectations. So the safest thing to do is to set your own aside. Max Lucado wrote a book on this very topic (It’s Not About Me: Rescue From the Life We Thought Would Make Us Happy) that included the following:
“The brevity of life grants power to abide, not an excuse to bail.”
Yikes. I know I still have a lot to learn in this area.
2. Slow Down
We are busy. And yes, I recognize our lives are even busier than most (at least that’s what I keep hearing from all of you!), but through this we have learned that we need to slow down and make time for God and each other. I think everyone can attest to the fact that there’s never a convenient time for tragedy to strike, but when you’re living your life on fumes, it makes those times even more stressful. In Bill Hybels’ book, “Too Busy Not to Pray“, he reminds us that true prayer can’t “happen on the fly”, especially in this time when pain & distractions seem to be on the rise. While this week may have been a forced ‘slow down’ for us, I’m grateful for the people we were able to re-connect with (and especially for our multiple employers being so gracious in understanding the need to be with our family to help take care of the issues at hand).
3. Receive Help
Though I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with asking for help in a time of need, I understand how difficult it is to bring yourself to that point. Luckily, we never even had to ask this week But for some who are used to being the ones offering aid, it can be equally difficult simply to receive help. This week I learned that as much of a blessing as it is to be the recipient of such a gift, there are those who truly enjoy giving in times such as these…and to deny them that would be robbing them of their joy. Their is an art to graciously receiving and while I am still learning that art, I loved witnessing the act of all of you sharing your blessings with us!
4. Life is a Gift, not a Guarantee
When we found out on June 7 about dad’s brain tumor, we couldn’t fathom that he only had 6-8 weeks left to live. Can you imagine being told that? What would you do differently? But then we realized – none of us know when we will die. Although dad was given a rough estimate, the reality was that any of us could have lost our life before he did. We’re thankful for the memories we were able to make this summer, but also came to the bigger realization that we need to start living each day with more passion & purpose.
Listening to a Joyce Meyer podcast on the road yesterday, I was reminded of the story of the Good Samaritan and how he did exactly what he could do in the moment without shirking his current responsibilities. As we drive home today, I want the memory and lessons of these events to influence my day to day role as a wife, mother, friend, worker & volunteer, while not distracting me from my ultimate goal.
Our lives are fleeting, even if this car ride is not
What lessons have you learned in grief?
July 26 is very special to our family because there are actually 3 of our family members with the same birthday! Our July 26 birthdays are:
*My daughter, Kariss (who turns 8 today)
*My father in law, Rick Sr. (who you may know from this blog as “Dad Cone” if you’ve been following his health journey after being diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor this summer)
*Ricky’s Uncle David (his mom’s brother)
Kind of crazy, isn’t it?
It’s interesting because when it comes to Kariss’ birthday, I feel like we’ve already celebrated it (She had a McKenna American Girl birthday party earlier this month), but we still want to do something special for her today. Yet when we asked her what she wanted to do or where she wanted to eat, she kept drawing a blank.
Doesn’t that seem odd for a kid when given carte blanche to do whatever they want?
After more prodding, we finally got something: She wanted to stay home. She wanted to play. She wanted us.
I wrote a post earlier this year on how the best present for our kids is our presence. Although we love being a family on the go, I guess we may have been gone a little too much this summer. We moved into a new house at the end of May and between travel, work and family issues, it seems like we’ve hardly been here!
So we’re getting back to basics today, shutting down the electronics and playing some serious games of tickle monster, monsters in the bushes, spy, gymnastics and whatever creative games her 8 year old brain comes up with.
Oh, and I think she want’s some Sweet Cece’s too
So please join me in wishing my baby girl the happiest birthday an 8 year old could ever have!
*On a side note, if you’re wondering why I haven’t posted on Dad Cone in awhile, it’s for two reasons: 1. there hasn’t been a lot of change in his condition and 2. it’s not exactly my story to tell. While I wanted to have a concise way to share about his story in a way I relate best (writing) so the most people could be praying, I’ve also come upon a little backlash for it. Realizing it’s not my life, I’ve decided to not write about the details of his days for awhile. PLEASE, continue to pray and should there be any major developments, I promise to pass the facts along. Thanks for understanding xoxo
You have just 2 days left to use the DaySpring discount code for mugs: buy 2 get 1 free! This sale ends May 31, 2012.
There are limited quantities available in this last week of the sale, but I promise you will LOVE these mugs (especially the Mr. & Mrs. mugs you see above) and will want to stock up to have them on had for gifts. And you don’t even need any code when you shop on DaySpring.com.
You also don’t want to forget about their fabulous Heart Connection Card Club either… Never be without a great card again! It looks like you can still sign up to get a FREE card organizer plus 10 free cards, another great way to save money – don’t get stuck having to buy a card at the last minute!
Just use coupon code: FREE4ME. You can pick it up for free in the store and is usually ready the same day.
This could make a sweet present for Mother’s Day this weekend. Just go snap a picture of your family or the kiddos in some natural light this morning, upload the photo and VOILA, instant gift!
…I did hear they are offering 50% off some frames too if you really want to complete the package