Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Sale!

Here are 31 more reasons to $ave on this after-Christmas $ale! Thirty-one ebooks for 99¢ each. They will be on sale from December 24, 2013 through Tuesday, December 31, 2013. Click the links below the graphic to "look inside" each book on Amazon and download your digital copies!


The Camera Shy Monster by Susette Williams

Has your child ever hated to have their picture taken? Then you will enjoy reading The Camera Shy Monster as much as your child or grandchild will enjoy having this entertaining picture book read to them. Brooke doesn’t want her picture taken. She runs away and meets Nessie, a friendly sea monster, who also hates having her picture taken. But how can Nessie take care of Brooke? Nessie comes up with a plan to rescue Brooke and get her to enjoy having her picture taken. BUY The Camera Shy Monster HERE

The Day My Parents Got Lost by Susette Williams

Has your child ever wandered off--or do you worry that they will? 'The Day My Parents Got Lost' is a fun story that gives parents and teachers the opportunity to talk with children about the importance of staying together when you go places, especially amusement parks, so that nobody gets lost. I remember when my oldest daughter wandered off in a store when she was a toddler. She was so upset with us and blamed us for leaving her. Obviously we didn't leave her--but in her mind we were the ones who wandered off. All these years later, that fearful time, when she wandered away, is still in my mind. Unfortunately, in today's society, we have to teach our children about 'stranger danger' and staying with us in stores and crowds. This story is a fun way to convey the importance of staying together without scaring them about the possible dangers--that even we don't want to think about--that lurk out there in the real world. BUY The Day My Parents Got Lost HERE

Wacky Wishes by Susette Williams

What would you wish for if you could have anything you wanted? Tommy and Suzie find a wishing well and like children do, they begin making wishes. Imagine their surprise when their wishes start to come true! Are spacesuits the new dress code at school? What's Tommy going to do with three heads? You've heard of, "Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it." When Tommy and Suzie's wishing gets out of hand, will they be able to wish away the mess they've created before their wishes run out? BUY Wacky Wishes HERE

Sarge Gets a Timeout by Susette Williams

A boy and his dog’s friendship are tested when lies and betrayal come between them. Is revenge a viable teaching tool or can the two come to an understanding and regain their friendship? It’s a battle of wits against boy and beast in which the two find out if a dog truly is man’s best friend. BUY Sarge Gets a Timeout HERE

Bubbles Day by Ally Nathaniel

Bubbles, a four years old girl, loves bubbles. She loves watching them, she loves touching them and she wants to learn how to blow them all by herself. Do you think it's easy? Will Bubbles be able to blow bubbles without any help? BUY Bubbles Day HERE

My Snow Day by Ally Nathaniel

The perfect Christmas book that will empower your child. It’s the first day of snow and Gabbi and her siblings are about to get creative. They have the most brilliant idea: they will build the best snow-woman ever! This book will not only empower your child by sending the message that children can trust their own thinking and ideas, and implement them all by themselves, but will also emphasize the importance of team work. BUY My Snow Day HERE

Terry Treetop and the Lost Egg by Tali Carmi

This fun children's picture book is about a boy with red hair and freckles named Terry, yet everybody calls him Terry Treetop because he loves climbing trees. Terry finds a small egg, and his quest is to bring it back home to its mom. But where is the egg's home? Does the egg belong to a turtle on the sand or a crocodile's spring water? Did it come from a frog in a pond or a chicken in the wild? BUY Terry Treetop and the Lost Egg HERE

Terry Treetop Finds New Friends by Tali Carmi

Want to Help Your Kids Win Friends? #1 Best seller in Children's Action & Adventure Books ! (Animal Habitats & Environment children's book collection) This is a wonderful book about a boy named Terry, but everybody calls him Terry Treetop because he loves climbing trees. Terry was alone, so he went on a journey to find new friends to invite to his new tree house. He almost gives up when a new opportunity comes his way. Will Terry use this opportunity to find new friends? BUY Terry Treetop Finds New Friends HERE

Where is My Home? (Terry Treetop Series) by Tali Carmi

This fun children's picture book is about a boy with red hair and freckles named Terry, yet everybody calls him Terry Treetop because he loves climbing trees. Terry is chasing a beautiful butterfly and wants to go back home. But where is Terry's home? And how can he find his way home? Does the rabbit in the borrow know? Does the beaver in the lodge know? Maybe the fawn's mother knows? Or can Susanne the squirrel help him? BUY Where is My Home? (Terry Treetop Series) HERE

Just The Way I Am by Idan Hadari

This is a touching and funny story, about a young child that discovers that he has a birthmark on his hand. He learns how to deal with it right up to the surprising end. A great deal of time and effort was invested in the illustrations of this book, as well as the idea behind the story, and binding it all together into a lovely children's story with great values. If you would like that your child not misses out on opportunities in life because of his/her lack self-confidence; whether it be public speaking; taking on leadership roles, or asking someone for a date; then we should teach them the lessons of how to face the challenges and situations they may not be equipped to handle, while they are still young, and before it is too late. Self-esteem determines how successful they will become. Low self-esteem and confidence can affect even the most powerful men and women, no matter how smart, educated or "attractive" they are. BUY Just The Way I Am HERE

Andrew’s Claim to Fame by Idan Hadari

This children's book is a touching story, full with all sort of feelings & emotions that you can share with your child. They might have a problem in school/pre-school or any other social activity to win friends or to be noticed an accepted as "One of the group". Would your children like to be famous as soon as possible? Are they impatient about life in general (I want this and right now!)? Are they unaware of their gifts? Are they dreamers, but don't have enough faith? This is a touching and funny story, about a young child that wants to be famous ASAP. He learns how to deal with it right up to the surprising end. A great deal of time and effort was invested in the illustrations of this book, as well as the idea behind the story, and binding it all together into a lovely children's story with great values. BUY Andrew’s Claim to Fame HERE

Noah’s Petting Zoo by Idan Hadari

This is a wonderful children's bedtime & dreaming story about an old house (Noah) in a new neighborhood, which is about to be demolished to make way for a new building. Andrew, a young child, who loves to play with his friends nearby, is doing everything he can to save the old house. Will Andrew be able to save the old house Noah? Well, you'll just have to read the book to find out what happened. More about this Children's Zoo Book: The short story demonstrates to children how to crusade for what they believe in; to be more environmental friendly; how to help one's fellow man; what true friendship is; and of course, to like and to play with all of the adorable animals in the story. Bonus - A FREE Video Book Inside BUY Noah’s Petting Zoo HERE


Shadows of Doubt by Susette Williams

Raffealle Gellermine has a very protective uncle and two protective brothers. They never like the men she brings home. Mathew Flannigan has a past, but for the life of her, she can’t figure out why her Uncle Rob and her brothers are trying to encourage a relationship between them. Could her brothers be right? Does she unconsciously choose the wrong type of men? Can she trust Mathew? Especially with her heart? Will shadows of doubt keep Raffealle from finding true love? Or will Mathew steal more than her heart? BUY Shadows of Doubt HERE

Falling in Love by Susette Williams

Katie Morgan has her future planned. It doesn't include becoming serious about anyone before she achieves her goals, not even her handsome boss. Just because she does not have time to date, doesn't mean her boss shouldn't. Her new mission...to make her boss happy, whether or not he wants to be. Wade McAlester fell in love with Katie the first day she walked into his clinic looking for a job. He hired her, content to settle for friendship until she lives out her dream of becoming a vet. Against his better judgment, Wade allows her to fix him up with a couple of her friends. The dates are disastrous. He can't believe the kind of women Katie seems to think he'd enjoy spending his life with. However, when Wade's old colleague, Dr. Laura Redmond shows up, Katie is rethinking how happy she wants her boss to be, and with whom. Definitely not the gorgeous doctor. BUY Falling in Love HERE

Honorable Intentions by Susette Williams

Have you ever wished you had a second chance with someone? Brand Stanford married Monica because she claimed to be carrying his child. Their marriage was one of convenience--for her. When they had finally become a happy family, Monica was killed in a skiing accident. Now, Brand is faced with having to raise their three-year-old daughter on his own. Tessa Duggan's family had been lifelong friends with the Stanfords; and even remained in contact with them after moving out of state. Tessa kept secrets to herself for nearly ten years. She'd loved Brand for as long as she could remember. Having raised a son on her own, Tessa knows what it's like to be a single parent. When Brand's wife dies in a skiing accident, Tessa agrees to help Brand's mother take care of his three-year-old daughter during the summer. Is it a chance for them to start over again? Or will Brand break her heart the second time around? BUY Honorable Intentions HERE

Christmas in Nashville by Elaine Littau

Bill and Betty Wall's popularity in the Country Music Scene is growing. Looking from the outside-in everything about her life seems perfect. Being a newlywed is nothing like she imagined and worry about Joey, her brother who is MIA from the Vietnam War, keeps her up at night. Betty's parents had tried everything they could think of to get information about him only to find that he was released from a POW camp and sent to the USA. Where could he be? Why didn't he come home to Oklahoma? After receiving a letter from a private investigator in regards to the child she put up for adoption over two years ago, Betty's life was further complicated. Her hopes were high that she might be able to mother the child she gave away only to be faced with court appearances and setbacks that stretched her faith in God to the limit. BUY Christmas in Nashville HERE

Walk Slowly Through the Dark by Elaine Littau

As soon as the wedding bells stopped ringing Roy and June Miller had to make adjustments in living as a married couple. Roy was a rough and gritty lawman who struggled to express emotions for his wife. June was a love-starved woman who had never heard words of endearment expressed in the way her heart needed. Would a separation make the marriage stronger or kill the love that had begun to grow? Set in the 1880s, Walk Slowly Through the Dark, takes the reader into the high altitude of a mountain top in Colorado. New characters are introduced and familiar characters face their own walk through the dark in hopes of reaching the light. BUY Walk Slowly Through the Dark HERE

Capture the Wandering Heart by Elaine Littau

In 1866 Palo Duro Canyon, Texas, a medicine woman's skills were put to the test as her little boy, Nobel, watched. A series of events began on that day and eventually drove him from the place that he loved until, years later, he returned to the canyon with his wife, Myrtle, and their children, There they fight against evil from the past and present. Myrtle and her friend, Sally, were rescued from a brothel as children. Sally takes the arduous trip to Texas in search of the mother who sold her to the evil man who took the girls to the mining camps of Colorado. Filled with romance, adventure, and history, Capture the Wandering Heart will hold you to the last page. BUY Capture the Wandering Heart HERE

Time and Again by Deborah Heal

It’s like being there. . . only you can fast forward or rewind. Abby thinks tutoring a “disadvantaged adolescent” as her college service project will be a snap. But the girl has been closed down ever since her parents’ divorce, especially since she was forced to move to a dilapidated old house. But then their crazy computer program invites them to “Take a Virtual Tour"…a tour of the past when the house was new and a girl named Charlotte Miles lived there 160 years before. BUY Time and Again HERE

Unclaimed Legacy by Deborah Heal

The olden days aren’t all they’re cracked up to be . . . Abby's time-surfing software comes in handy when she and her friends agree to help the "Old Dears" next door with their family tree. Except they learn more about one of the ladies’ ancestors than they ever wanted to know. Convicted in 1871 of murder and arson, Reuben Buchanan is a blight on the family’s reputation. But was he really guilty? Abby and John must get inside the mind of a murderer to find out. BUY Unclaimed Legacy HERE

Every Hill and Mountain by Deborah Heal

Visiting another century...not the summer vacation she had planned. Those who have read Time and Again and Unclaimed Legacy know that Abby Thomas is a college student on a summer service project. And they know that she has discovered a strange computer program that lets her fast-forward and rewind life. Not her own, of course, but those of the people who used to live in old houses. But "time-surfing" in the Old Slave House is almost too much to bear. Yet Abby and her friends are reminded that God is in the business of redemption--that one day he'll make all things new. BUY Every Hill and Mountain HERE

A Heart's Home by Laura J Marshall

S et in 1746, India Born in England and raised in India by her father after her mother's untimely death, Asyra has been ostracized from her small village most of her life. News of her impending marriage arranged by her grandmother back in England only serves to confuse her further about who she is and where she fits in. When Madras is attacked by the French before Asyra's ship sails, she must pretend to be the wife of her grandmother's agent, who happens to be the elder brother of her intended. Can she move beyond prejudice to find her place in the world? BUY A Heart's Home HERE

A Brother’s Vow by Naty Matos

Randall Benson didn't think life could be any better. His job with the family business allowed him to travel and meet new people. His relationship with his girlfriend the model, gave his access to all the red carpet events and parties, yet there was no requirement for him to be faithful. Although his family doesn't approve of his careless lifestyle, they love him and do whatever they can to keep him from self-destructing. Yet Randall’s only concern is Randall. Randall’s world begins to come undone after a series of unexpected events. As Randall tries to settle down and become more dependable , his twin brother Brian seems to be headed down a path that Randall is way too familiar. Brian makes an unusual request that nonchalantly he agrees to keep. He never thought that he would have to keep his word, but he does. As Randall struggles to fulfill his promise to his brother, he is confronted with challenges from his past. Will he succumb to his past and risk losing everything he’s worked so hard to accomplish? BUY A Brother’s Vow HERE

Charlie’s Angel by Samantha Fury

Charlie's life in Northern Ohio is ordinary and consistent. When her dad loses his job, fighting becomes an everyday event. Moving in with her sister only makes matters worse. Her life is turned upside down. In a desperate attempt to find a safe haven,she ends up on the streets of Chicago. Here she's introduced to a different kind of world. A place where crime lords and women of the night come out to play. Charlie finds herself at the mercy of Rico DeLusa, a local crime lord. When she begins having feelings for one of Rico's employees, Angel Blackwell, she wonders if she's out of her element. Is she being drawn into their world, instead of being a light in a dark place? Blackmail, prostitution and drugs were never a part of her life, but they are now. Charlie finds herself in the middle of a fight between good and evil. She needs the strength to overcome, the wisdom to make the right choices, and the insight to follow what is right Instead of listening to her heart. BUY Charlie’s Angel HERE

The Assumption of Guilt by Amanda Tru

Nobody stops to think what it would be like to be arrested. That just doesn't happen to normal people, right? When a major theft happens at a party she's attending, Sophie James finds herself the prime suspect. Has she been framed or was she just in the wrong place at the wrong time? Now Sophie must convince the police, along with her cop boyfriend, that she's innocent. With no record, no motive, and no evidence, that shouldn't be difficult. Then why does no one seem to believe her? BUY The Assumption of Guilt HERE

Babel’s First Light by Sherry Chamblee

Her secret could doom the world. His honesty could save it. Jaiyl had felt many things in her young life - betrayal, fear, loneliness, anger - but never the love of a family. She was trained only to keep the family's many secrets. She was different, set apart, special they said - which really meant alone. Until one day, everything changed. Jaiyl must come to trust God, and those around her, or all was lost. Van knew there was an entire world out there beyond his mountains, but he could never quite bring himself to get up and go see it. Then someone from out there came to him. He gets thrown into a fight he didn’t start, with powerful people who don’t want to be found. He has to figure out what really conquers all, before it’s too late. Jaiyl is all secrets and fear, Van has nothing to hide, nothing to fear. Together they must fight for the freedom of those they love. BUY Babel’s First Light HERE

Matchmaker, Matchmaker by Sherry Chamblee

When a new guy comes to town, it’s time for the matchmaking to begin. Jack Adams came to Paradise because of a teaching job at the local Christian school, but he soon realizes that there are people in the church who have much bigger plans for him. With at least two eligible, unattached young ladies in the church, Jack finds himself the gold medal prize in a matchmaking competition worthy of the Olympics. Can he avoid being handed over in the winner’s circle? Will love find him anyway? BUY Matchmaker, Matchmaker HERE


Words of Jesus Bible American Standard Version edition prepared by Russell Sherrard

Words of Jesus Bible – American Standard Version. This Bible is NOT a complete Bible, it just contains the words of Jesus. Therefore, it does not contain any of the Old Testament. If you look at any Bible that has “a red letter edition” you will have a “Words of Jesus Bible”. Since the Kindle is in black, white, and shades of gray, you cannot easily tell what the Words of Jesus are. This edition puts the words of Jesus in Red. On the Kindle they appear a lighter gray than the rest of the text. Of course, on the Kindle apps for iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, Kindle for PC, Kindle for Mac or the Kindle Fire these words appear in red. To try and keep the context the entire verse which Jesus speaks is included. BUY Words of Jesus Bible American Standard Version HERE

Words of Jesus Bible King James Version edition prepared by Russell Sherrard

Words of Jesus Bible – King James Version. This Bible is NOT a complete Bible, it just contains the words of Jesus. Therefore, it does not contain any of the Old Testament. If you look at any Bible that has “a red letter edition” you will have a “Words of Jesus Bible”. Since the Kindle is in black, white, and shades of gray, you cannot easily tell what the Words of Jesus are. This edition puts the words of Jesus in Red. On the Kindle they appear a lighter grey than the rest of the text. Of course, on the Kindle apps for iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, Kindle for PC, Kindle for Mac or the Kindle Fire these words appear in red. To try and keep the context the entire verse which Jesus speaks is included. BUY Words of Jesus Bible King James Version HERE

Interactive Romans Road American Standard Version edition prepared by Russell Sherrard

Long Ago, when the Roman Empire was at the height of its glory, a common saying was "All Roads Lead to Rome." I want to tell you about a very special road -- a road that existed then and still exists now. This road, now almost 2,000 years old, has never led to Rome. Yet, strangely enough, it is called the Romans Road. This takes the reader to selected passages in the Book of Romans in the Bible to explain the plan of Salvation. This is the ideal way to share the gospel using your Kindle. The reader can also read the entire book of Romans un-interrupted. BUY Interactive Romans Road American Standard Version HERE

Thursday, February 14, 2013


This year I decided to try to make my Superhero's Valentines.  Fortunately, it wasn't nearly as difficult as I had anticipated!  

I love these little finger flashlights.  You can get a bunch of them for very cheap on Amazon. (here is the link)  I thought it would be really cute to try to use them in Valentines instead of candy.  Then I had the idea to use one of them for Mater's one working headlight.  Since my boys are currently subscribing to a daily ritual of watching 'Mater's Tall Tales,' this seemed perfect.  But I wasn't sure how to make it so it would work right.  

After all, it would have to be 3D in some way in order to hold the flashlight in position.  
I went ahead and ordered the flashlights without knowing for sure how to make it work.  Then when I got them, for once everything worked perfectly, and it was very easy.  I drew and colored Mater, and then copied him for all the Valentines.  With some tape and a glue stick, he was looking fab.  His eyes are attached at the back and the hood sticks out in a sort of triangle that allows enough room to tape the flashlight underneath.  With the little switch on the side, his headlight turns on.  

My Superhero loved them and of course, had to make one for himself too.
 It was a little time-consuming to put them all together, but not bad at all.

If anyone wants to make these, just send me a message.  I can save you some trouble and send you the Mater template and answer any questions you may have. :)

Sunday, January 20, 2013


Whew!  I’m running behind!  I’ve been busy finishing writing my new book and also getting some big projects done for my family.  So, I know it’s late, but this is my New Year’s post.

I’m not much for New Year’s resolutions.  Of course, I have some things I would like to accomplish this year.  I have a list of books to write, and I have the standard ‘get into a good exercise routine’ goal.  I’d also like to revamp my Bible reading and devotional time. 

However, I tend to be a very goal-oriented, stubborn person anyway, so I don’t necessarily need the pressure of a resolution to accomplish my goals.  If anything, I tend to get too focused on the things I need to accomplish.  I can get so caught up in the details that I lose the beauty of the big picture.  I think it’s actually a pretty common problem with moms.  There’s so many expectations put on us by others and ourselves that it’s hard to remember to breathe let alone take a moment to stop and enjoy the view. 

So maybe what I need is an anti-resolution . . .

My 3 year old uses the term ‘lasterday.’  I think it’s a combination of ‘yesterday’ and ‘last night.’  He frequently asks in his cute voice if we did something lasterday.  And I never correct him as to the proper term.  Why?  Because I know that he will eventually realize it on his own, and his lasterdays will forever cease.  And what really bothers me is that I don’t know when the last time is that he will say it.  If I did know, I would try to find a way to record it.  Or maybe I would just hold him and savor the sound of his cute voice telling me about lasterday.

So that got me thinking . . .

If I knew it would be the last time
You asked me to play with you.
I’d stop everything I was doing
And we’d get every toy out and play with it twice.

If I knew it would be the last time
You wanted me to pretend.
I’d crawl after you and the other ‘kitties’
And answer you in meow.

If I knew it would be the last time
You sang the wrong lyrics to a song.
I’d belt out the wrong words with you
And dance you around the room

If I knew it would be the last time
You asked me to read you a story.
I would find the child’s version of ‘War and Peace’
So it would last forever.

If I knew it would be the last time
You wanted me to ‘tuckle’ you in bed.
I’d crawl in beside you, pray away the nightmares, sing lullabies,
And fall asleep with you in my arms

If I knew it would be the last time
You let me kiss and hug you goodbye
I’d making it embarrassingly long
Then watch until you were long out of sight

If I knew it would be the last time
You asked me to kiss your owie.
I’d put extra magic into the kiss
So it would cover all future hurts.

If I knew it would be the last time
You crawled into my bed in the morning.
I would snuggle you close, smell your hair,
And remember my little baby

Time goes so fast.
So many lasts.
And I know not when.

So I’ll savor each time as a last.
I’ll close my eyes, hold you close,
Take a picture in my mind.
Keep that one moment to last forever.

Then I’ll let you go.  Smile through my tears.

And follow you into tomorrow.

I have an impossibly long list of things I should accomplish this year.  But this is my anti-resolution:  I’m going to try to work on the things I really want to remember in twenty years or more.  I’m going to try to live in the moments of my children being young.
So, if you come into my house, you may have to excuse the clean laundry pile the size of Mount Everest and the pretend kitties crawling around the furniture.  We’re busy making memories and enjoying whatever lasterdays we have today.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Oh, Christmas Tree

 We had to replace the turkeys with some Christmas trees to hang on our chandelier.  These are pretty easy and look really cute.  It's kind of hard to see in a picture, but the effect is that they look 3D.

My secret to making perfect Christmas trees?
I used a cookie cutter!
I traced two Christmas trees on cardstock and cut them out.  I also cut a yellow star out of cardstock.  I gave two trees each to my Superhero and Angel and let them decorate them with markers.  They need to be decorated on both sides.  I then cut one tree in a line up from the bottom to the middle and the other tree down from the top to the middle.  I taped the star to the top of the tree that has the bottom cut.

 I then slid the two trees together--the top line of one tree going through the bottom line on the other.  I used a tiny bit of tape at the top and bottom to make the trees stay in the perpendicular positions where I wanted them.  For the bottom part, I put a piece of tape on each of the four corners (as in the picture below) to secure it.

 End result

 I then taped a piece of string to the star to hang it from the chandelier.

Friday, November 30, 2012

From My Christmas List to Yours

I'm rather obsessive about finding the perfect Christmas gift.  I'm also obsessive about finding a good deal.  I want to give adults gifts that will be meaningful to them, and I want to give children gifts that they will enjoy longer than a week.  It's always been helpful to me to know has worked for other people.  I'm really good at borrowing good ideas from others.  

So do you want to take a peak at my Christmas list?  The best part is, many of these things I bought last year, so I already know they're keepers!

I may post more later (especially about toys :)), but for now, I thought I'd stick with one idea per group.  I also tried to choose things around the same price range.  Warning:  If you are a member of my family, these ideas are off-limits, and you must pretend you never saw this post!

The Baby
An Ornament for Baby's1st Christmas
$7.99-$17.95 (price varies widely, depending on store)

Growing up, I always loved to hang up my special first Christmas ornament.  I've continued the tradition with my own children, but I've tried to choose a different, unique ornament for each one.  Kids always like to hear stories about when they were babies.  This way, when they hang their ornaments, I'll also be able to include the story of why I picked that particular ornament for them.

I scoured the Internet, and oh my goodness, there are some expensive ornaments out there!  This one is my pick, and I found a really good deal on it!  I wish it said the year; there are a lot of ornaments that do, but I like this one too much to pass it up. There is a boy and a girl version, and this website is running a deal for 50% off the girl ornament and free shipping on orders over $39.50.  You can also find this ornament other places, such as on Amazon.  The above link will take you to the site where I found the best deal.
The Toddler
$14.00 at Walmart and Amazon
This toy is so cool, my husband and I have fun playing with it!  Each face of the cube is a button that represents a different instrument in the orchestra.  You can press the buttons to turn each instrument on or off and hear how the music sounds differently.  I actually bought this several years ago and my kiddos still like to play with it.  Now they turn the music on and dance around it!

The 3 year old
$13.88 at Walmart

3 year olds can be tough to buy for.  They aren't babies, but they aren't quite old enough for big kids toys with lots of small parts.  My kids love their doctor kit.  This Fisher Price version is great and has stood up to a lot of play.  We even played vet hospital once and used the kit to treat all of their stuffed animals.  And the kit must be good because all the patients survived!

The 4-11 year old
$29.99 at Toys R Us
Note:  You can sometimes find this cheaper elsewhere.  Zing also makes one that is very similar.

Shhh, this is what I'm getting for all my nephews AND my niece!  I know this is a large age range, but this is a fantastic toy.  Any kid in this age range will be upset if you get one of these for one and not the other.  Yes, even girls will want one, especially with the popularity of 'Brave.'  We got this for my Superhero last Christmas.  He was five and requested a bow and arrow (after seeing Disney's 'Robin Hood').  He LOVED it, and it is still one of his favorite, if not THE favorite toy.  Every kid who comes to our house loves the bow and arrow.  When he took it to preschool for show and tell, he had a roomful of envious preschoolers wanting to try it out.  And the best part is, the arrows are really safe.  They don't hurt if you, by chance, should be hit with one, and trust me, I should know.  They haven't caused any damage to my house.  And, you can get extra ones if needed.  After a year of use, a couple of his arrows are showing signs of wear, so guess what the Superhero is getting in his stocking?!!

The Teenager
An Experience

I don't have any teenagers on my list this year, and I'm not really looking forward to when I do.  But if I did, I think I would try to give them an experience as a present.  I get tired of stuff.  If I could get by without giving my kids a new arsenal of toys for Christmas, I would.  But by the time they're teenagers, I'm hoping to give it a shot.  If I think about the toys I received for Christmas growing up, I can remember very few.  What I remember most, and what is special to me is the things I did with my family.  I remember the vacations and playing games together.  I remember the laughter, the fun, and the times I felt special.  So, if I had a teenager to buy for, I would get him or her a movie gift card, concert tickets, tickets to an amusement park, or a special date with mom or dad.  I can just picture my boys loving to go to some kind of professional sports game with their dad.  I've heard of families saving their money and going somewhere like Disneyland as their Christmas gift.  I think that's a great idea.  Instead of more stuff, I would rather my kids have memories.

The Adult
 A Charitable Donation

The adults in my family have decided not to give each other Christmas gifts this year.  Instead, we've decided to pool the money we would have spent on those gifts and give it to someone in need.  I think we've decided to go with Compassion International.  They have a Christmas catalog where you can choose specifically where you want your money to go.  For $4, you can protect a child from malaria, and the prices for gifts go up from there.  We are leaning towards paying for the care of an at-risk child for 3 months.  We also like the gift that gives an entire family clean water for life.  We like the idea of doing something both short term to help and something that would change someone's life forever.  It's very humbling to think that while I'm trying to decide if I should get an iphone, someone else in the world doesn't have clean water or enough to eat.  I, for one, have enough stuff.  And if I have the choice of getting some THING for myself for Christmas or changing a family's life with something like clean water, I don't need another Christmas gift ever again!  If someone gave me a card that told me they'd provided money for something like that as my Christmas gift, I would probably be so very touched, I'd start crying right there!

I know I spend far too much time obsessing over finding the perfect gift.  But when I give a gift, it's more than a gift; it's a token of my love.  It makes me feel good when I see someone enjoying what I picked out for them.  It is very, very true that it is more blessed to give than receive.  And I'm looking forward to a lot of blessings this Christmas.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Tips for Online Retail Therapy

Once upon a time, I loved to shop.  Then I had kids.  Now I hate it.  End of story.

Well, maybe not quite the end.  I shop now out of necessity, not for fun.  A terrible day for me is taking three kids for a day of shopping.  And usually I'll drive an hour, go to multiple stores, and then not find what I'm looking for.  Then I have to drive another hour home and try to find things online anyway.  So, by necessity, I have learned the art of online shopping.

I am very frugal (aka thrifty, economical, cheap,tight--whatever you want to term it).  I love a good deal, and I can at times almost obsess about finding one.  One of the best things about online shopping is that you can sometimes even get better deals than if you went to the store, AND your purchases come directly to your door.

This Christmas, I'm hoping to get in one shopping run (which I'm sure I will regret).  But the vast majority of things I'm going to buy online.  Here are a few tips I've learned along the way.  This is by no means an exhaustive list.  In fact, there are probably still secrets to be found, but here are a few things that have helped me find great deals.

Friends With Benefits

There are an ever-growing number of couponing sites dedicated to doing the work of saving you money.  They do the work of finding great deals and share them with everyone else.  You can even 'like' or 'friend' some of these sites on Facebook.  Then you receive notices in your newsfeed when they post good deals.  The downside is that sometimes the deals can go very fast, especially if a large number of people see the same post and want that same deal.  The other downside is that these sites tend to post things a lot, which can clutter up your newsfeed.  I have purchased t-shirts, nursing covers, and toys based on tips I have received from my 'friends.'  As I said before, there are a lot of couponing sites out there, but the two I use are The Krazy Coupon Lady and Fabulessly Frugal.  You can find them at their website (click on the previous links) or on Facebook.

Coupon Codes
I take for granted that everyone knows about coupon codes.  When you are making an online purchase, most sites have a spot to apply a coupon code.  This is an online coupon that gives you a discount or a special deal.  Websites and stores frequently run coupon codes as part of promotions.  My strategies for finding coupon codes are to Google the name of the store along with the words 'coupon code' or use a website whose job it is to gather and publish coupon codes from around the web.  My favorite website for coupon codes is RetailMeNot.  If you type in the name of any store, the website gives you a list of available coupons.  Some of the best stores I like for coupon codes are Kohls and Payless Shoes.  They're always running some kind of coupon code for a percentage off or free shipping.  Walmart and Amazon are not very good for using coupon codes, but they can sometimes run good deals without them.  For instance, Walmart frequently has 99 cent shipping on any item and Amazon always has free shipping on orders over $25.Did you know that even airlines and computer companies offer coupon codes?  Don't ever think your purchase is too big or small.  You may not find a coupon code, but I find it's always worth checking.

The Extras
Once I find a fantastic deal, I try to make it even more fabulous by using a website that gives me a percentage of cash back on every purchase.  Ive heard that Ebates is a similar rewards site, but I haven't used them personally.  I use Shop At Home.  It really is simple.  All you do is create an account and then whenever you want to purchase something, find the store in their database and use their link to open the website in a new window and make your purchase.  Shop at Home will then give you back a small percentage of whatever you spend.  The money stays in your account until it reaches a minimum amount, then you can choose a pay-out method.  Now I've never gotten a lot of money from using this method, but I figure every little bit helps.

Yes, Amazon is so amazing for online shopping that it gets its own category.  When I need to buy something, such as a gift, I tend to get a little obsessive.  I find what I want, and then I search the Internet to compare prices and find the best deal.  While Amazon doesn't win 100% of the time, I would say they do win most of the time.  And you can find just about ANYTHING on Amazon.  I might be able to find a product cheaper somewhere else, but when you factor in the fact that Amazon will throw in free shipping on any order over $25, then Amazon can usually easily beat the competition.  Another feature I like on Amazon is that I can put things in my cart and purchase them later.  Most other sites empty your cart after a certain amount of time has passed.  If I see something I want, I put it in my cart.  When my cart reaches $25, I decide if I really need all the products and if I should make the purchase.  The only downside to this method is that prices can change or go out of stock on the items in your cart.  It in no way reserves them for you.  So if you see a really good deal, don't wait!

I should mention that Shop At Home doesn't usually offer cash back on purchases made at Amazon.  Also, coupon codes are not really useful for this site.  The coupon codes Amazon does offer are usually very product specific and generally not at all helpful.  But I love the selection and the free shipping.  If I can find something on Amazon, it is usually well worth it to save the gas money and stress of trying to purchase elsewhere.

Although I don't have personal experience, I've heard very good things about the Amazon Mom program.  My sister-in-law gets a great deal on diapers and other things delivered straight to her door through this program.  I just haven't had the chance to check it out very thoroughly, but it's definitely on my to-do list!

Happily Ever After???
Online shopping takes both patience to find the good deal and smarts to get the deal while the gettin's good.  Maybe someday I'll enjoy shopping in a store again, but I doubt it.  Happily ever after for me would be everything, including grocery shopping, done online; free shipping and returns on all purchases; and never having to set foot in a store again.  Happy shopping!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Let's Talk Turkey!

My Superhero isn't really a craft-type kid.  When I try to do a craft with him, I usually end up doing it myself.  However, he does like to decorate for whatever holiday is closest.  If the craft is easy and doesn't take a lot of time, he's very happy to help make decorations.  This turkey definitely qualifies as fast and easy.

brown and white construction paper
fall leaves (I got a package of 32 at my local grocery store for about$0.89.)
scotch tape
glue stick

I used a can of beans to trace the circle out of construction paper.  I then taped three leaves to the back of the circle.

I wanted to hang my turkeys up, so I wanted the to have faces on both sides.  I taped another brown circle on the back of the turkey so they looked the same from both front and back.

I cut out eyes from white construction paper, and then cut out a beak and a a wattle for each side from orange and red leaves. (For each double sided turkey: 4 eyes, 2 beaks, 2 wobbles.)  And yes, the red hangy-down thing on a turkey is called a wattle.  I googled it. :)
You can use a glue stick to put on the face.  I didn't have a glue stick (that wasn't completely dried up), so I used glue for the eyes and doubled over pieces of scotch tape for the beaks and wattles.

This is my Superhero's turkey.  Isn't he cute?
 I then used yarn to hang the turkeys on the chandelier over our table

Now our house is decorated, my Superhero and Angel are happy, and the turkeys can knock my husband in the head and drive him crazy!  That's a win on all counts!