My Current Giveaways

Keep watching--more coming soon!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Remembering Freedom isn't Free

Happy Memorial Day
Thank you to all of our military men and women for their service to our country.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Review: Safety Tat

I had the wonderful opportunity to review the SafetyTat. It's a temporary tattoo (stickers are also available) that can be customized with text or phone numbers. They have wide range of products for all sorts of events and needs.

The whole idea for temporary child ID tattoos came as an inspiration when owner, Michelle, and husband took their three small boys to an amusement park. Feeling outnumbered, she wrote her cell number on their arms with an ink pen. She had to rewrite it several times in the day as it started to wear off. Other parents loved the idea and from there, the SafetyTat was born.

The folks at SafetyTat were extra helpful to me. I noticed they have "I have Autism" and "Non-Verbal Autism" along with Downs Syndrome and the girl/boy "I'm Non-Verbal". This was a huge encouragement to me. Nathan does pretty well in public situations, but he doesn't know our cell phone numbers and if he was really panicked, I think he would have a difficult time making sense to anyone outside our family. They allowed me to get both the "I have Autism" for Nathan and a puppy dog for Rebekah.

I've taken these to our Autism Support Group and everyone who hadn't used them before was excited to get the information.

Another great tatoo are the ones designed for schools. I'll be ordering some for field trips next year. They come in both the tattoo format and the quick stick (stickers) and I can write my number on them and stick to the children who I'm responsible for.

Rebekah loved wearing the doggie on her arm. The only problem we had (and it was my fault) was that I didn't apply it to the arm. She really wanted the top of her hand but it's just too hard to keep it from peeling. If you put it on the arm (either inner arm or outer) it stays on much better. They should last for 4-5 days, but it's recommended to reapply every day.

Overall, I love these and look forward to using them this summer as we travel and as we head to local attractions. Nothing beats watching after your children, but if they should ever be
separated from you, it's a relief to know that somebody could reach you.

Here are a couple of the allergy tats. There are other ones for stings and some that are customizable with multiple lines of text. They even have a "create your own" section if you'd like to design your colors and pictures yourself.

Most are reasonably priced at $19.95 for 30 SafetyTats customized with your phone number or other appropriate text. I found their customer service to be a joy to work with and they ship very quickly.

I know we'll never go to Disney again without our SafetyTats.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Andrew's Award Night

Each year, Andrew's school hosts an awards night for each grade. We've been impressed that they make sure every child in the school gets at least one award. The philosophy is that the kids who earn the most awards don't really need them. Their self-esteem is probably firmly locked into place. It's the kids who never get any awards that need them the most. The awards are based on clubs you participate in, grades and any special achievements you received during the year.

This year, the seating ran out faster than ever. So the principal had all the kids move in to one end of each row and they opened up the seating on the gym floor for parents. Sean managed to score great seats for us on the floor.

Here Andrew was sticking his tongue out at us as he walked past back to his seat. Last year, he was involved in the most clubs for his team. (A girl on the other team had one more club than he did.) He set a goal this year to be in one more club than he was last year. Turns out, he did manage to achieve his goal. He got 7 awards last year and this year he managed to get 9. (Are you kidding me??) Of course, the same girl on the other team got 10--cracks me up. He got the most awards of any person on his team. Eight were for clubs and one was for keeping a 3.75 GPA or higher for the year.

This is the video of him getting his awards. His teacher reads the list of what every child is getting. The girl before him had one award and the girl after him had two or three. In the middle was Mr. Andrew with his NINE awards. Good thing I don't hang all the certificates in his room because: 1. we'd be out of wall space and 2. I'd go broke buying frames.

This is Andrew sticking his tongue out at us as he returns to his seat. What a funny kid!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

"God's Promise"
A Rainbow and Double Rainbow
Photos by Andrew

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tips on Tuesday: Natural Spring Cleaning

As spring is moving into summer, I'm trying to catch up on spring cleaning that I missed. Over the past few years, I have been working to use natural cleaning products instead of chemicals.

I use a lot of vinegar and baking soda. And before you tell me that vinegar smells, did you know that when it dries, the smell dissipates with it??

I had been told that vinegar works for cleaning as well as antiseptic and/or antibacterial cleaners. Did you know that the disinfectant properties of vinegar have been verified by numerous studies including those conducted by the Good Housekeeping Institute? A straight 5% solution of vinegar kills 99% of bacteria, 82% of mold, and 80% of viruses, however in the USA, Heinz can't claim on their packaging that vinegar is a disinfectant since the company has not registered it as a pesticide with the Environmental Protection Agency. However, it seems to be common knowledge in the industry that vinegar is powerfully antibacterial.

I've been using Vinegar in place of fabric softener for quite a while and you can
read about that here.

I've noticed an odor in my disposal lately so we took care of it with baking soda and vinegar. (OK--we probably didn't need the vinegar but who could resist the science experiment of foaming stuff in the sink?) After you put soda in your drain, let it sit a while then rinse it with extremely hot water. It takes out the stink.

I use a mix of vinegar, lemon juice (for a pleasant odor) and water to clean showers and surfaces like counter tops. For the entire recipe,
check out my original post.

Let me know what ways you clean naturally.

Monday, May 24, 2010

CoverMate Food Cover Winner

Congratulations to Katie who won the CoverMate Food Covers.

Thank you to everyone who entered. I have a Custom Chocolate Bar giveaway going on right now and more coming soon.

Keep checking back because I'm really excited about some of my upcoming giveaways!!!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Preschool Visit (a few months ago)

I just found these photos and realized I never blogged about my visit to preschool.

Ever have a moment of clarity--almost a surreal experience? The moment when you realize, "This is it!! I've waited my whole life for this?!?" It happens for me whenever I visit preschool. I realized with Andrew that somehow, there was this unspoken rule in my mind. The unspoken rule is that you haven't really 'arrived' as a mother until you take treats to preschool. That moment of clarity hit me upside the head with Andrew and still tends to catch me off guard with the other kids.
For Rebekah, we had to make a snack of popcorn with M&Ms. (Pronounced Em-me-nems.) I was so excited to go visit with her. We arrived and I got to sit in my 'special visitor chair' while they started their day. When it was time for kids to do their tasks for the day, two children get to go to the special center set up in the corner. It was new this day and it was a "Bob the Builder Workshop". Rebekah and a friend got to go in the corner to explore. As her time there went on, the hat kept tilting farther and farther over on her head. I giggled so hard and snapped pictures when she didn't realize I was taking them.

In no time at all, she was busy bossing this boy around and telling him how to properly do the fixing.

She had fun with the tools, but spent most of her time talking on the phone making sure everything was going well for her clients. (Hey, you can't ever learn good customer service too early in life!)

Then she did her tasks for the day. She had to put the right number of bears on each cave.

She insisted I take a photo of the finished job and her with it. Good job, Rebekah, you got them all right.

We had a great day together at school. Hard to believe my baby is finishing her first year in preschool. She's growing up so fast.
Thanks, Rebekah-Poodle-Doodle for taking Mommy to school with you. It's always a ton of fun for me.

Winner of Corner Art

Thank you to everyone who entered the Corner Art giveaway. The three winners have been selected and notified. I am having trouble with the laptop not allowing me to edit photos so when I can get back on the desktop I will post the winning number screen shots from

Congratulations to #5 Nebraska Fillemans, #32 JC and #25 Melissa.

They have been contacted and have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be contacted. Be sure to enter my new giveaways and keep watching for more giveaways coming up over the next weeks and months.

Congratulations, everyone!!!

CHOCbite Chocolate Bar Review & Giveaway - CLOSED

Can I tell you the best thing I've discovered about blogging??

It's the free stuff you get for reviewing. I love free, I love stuff and now, I've been given the greatest opportunity of my gourmet, hand-made chocolate. I love my life!!!

And--keep reading to see how you could win a CHOCbite CHOCbar for yourself.

It's a very simple and easy process (and quite a lot of fun) to design your own personal gourmet chocolate bar. Head over to and see the goodies. You can select a Specialty Chocbar or create your own (my personal favorite). First choose your chocolate (Black, Dark, Milk or White) and then select as many or as few toppings as you would like. Your ChocTops come from five categories:
  1. Sweet Tops
  2. Savory Tops
  3. Nuts Tops
  4. Fruit Tops
  5. Decorative tops
I thought about being adventurous and picking some really unusual things that I'd like to try, but decided to go with things I know I like so I could give a fair review for the bar. I chose Marshmallows, Cashews, Macadamia Nuts, Toffee Bits, Toffee Crunch and Caramel. I had chosen Dark Chocolate since that's my current favorite type of chocolate.

As you can see from the photos, my ChocBite was a creation of beauty. And I love the shape of the bar with a 'bite' taken out of it. I just giggled when I opened my box.

After taking all these photos, I dug right in. What can I say??? It was decadent, exquisite and made my taste buds jump for joy. It is by far the best chocolate I've ever had in the United States and rivals some of the hand-made Swiss chocolates I had when I was a youth in France. I'd give it two thumbs up, but I'm too busy eating my bar.
Here's some information about the CHOCbite company:
  • The bars are mouth watering pure couverture gourmet chocolate (not the cheap compound stuff that is “homemade”)
  • They are made in America (Austin, Texas to be exact)
  • They are made in a Commercial Kitchen
  • The chocolate is manufactured in America (we are very patriotic at CHOCbite!)
Would you like to order your own?? How about a discount for all my loyal readers...and anyone you share this code with. Just enter CHOCBITE20 into the coupon code section for 20% off your order. This code is good through Dec. 31, 2010 so you can keep on saving. Be sure to add @chocbite to your twitter following to receive news and possibly other discounts.
Would you like the chance to earn a CHOCbite CHOCbar for free?? Adeline, owner of CHOCbite and chief chocolate officer has generously agreed to provide one of my readers with a custom designed bar of chocolate (seriously, how cool is free custom made chocolate??) See below for all the ways you can earn entries into this giveaway.

**Mandatory Entry**

Visit CHOCbite online and check out the custom made bars. Tell me what CHOCtops you would put on your CHOCbar if you won. Please be sure to leave your email address in the first entry or make sure it's visible on your profile.
*You MUST do the mandatory entry! All bonus entries will be deleted if it's not done first!*

**Bonus Entries**
{Leave separate comments for each entry}

1. Follow me publicly on google friend connect (If you already follow, you still get two entries.) {2 entries}
2. Subscribe to my blog {1 entry}
3. Follow me on Twitter {1 entry}
4. Follow CHOCbite on Twitter {1 entry}
5. Order a CHOCbar (remember to use your 20% discount) {10 entries – Purchase will be verified by the CHOCbite company}
6. Blog about this giveaway and leave me a link to the post {5 entries} {Putting it on your side bar doesn't count for this entry}
7. Add my blog to your blog roll/sidebar {1 entry}
8. Tweet about this giveaway {up to 3 tweets per day—please leave at least one hour between tweets} You can use this:

@Coolestmommy has #free #giveaway of @CHOCbite custom chocolate bar for you to #win. Ends 6/14

•Giveaway ends Monday, June 14, 2010
•Winners will be chosen via Random.Org. and contacted by email
•Winners will have 48 hours to respond to the email or another winner will be chosen
• Open to addresses in the United States and Canada

Disclosure: This is a Business2Blogger review. The CHOCbite chocolate bar was provided by ChocBite for this review. Providing me a CHOCbar does not influence my review and all thoughts are my own.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

Cute outfit and 'kickin' boots.
Look, mom--I'm a reindeer...
What else is there to do at a doctor's office? We take fun photos. These were from March when we went through a bout of several back-to-back ear infections (or, to be more accurate, the same infection not ending).
To pass the time, I'd take pictures of her in her cute outfits. (We like to be well dressed even when we don't feel good.) One day she was snacking on pretzels and decided she was a reindeer. Then I had to be a reindeer, too.
Cracks me up.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tips on Tuesday: Healthy Eating promotes Healthy Living

Healthy Eating -- there's a phrase that is like a knife in my heart. I know I 'should' eat better, but I have the idea stuck in my head that healthy eating doesn't taste good. I'm working on my attitude.
Then there's kids. I get tired of nobody liking what I fix so I end up making less nutritious meals just to make sure everyone will eat what is dished up in front of them. Hold your criticisms, we make them eat a few bites of all things deemed 'yucky'; but the honest truth is that certain things I hated as a kid are foods I love today. I don't really expect my kids to find stuffed bell peppers to be the greatest culinary delight they have ever tasted. I hated that dish until I was about 20 years old. The fact that I can force a couple bites down their throats is better than I ever did.

But, I digress...I've been trying to look into easy ways to eat better and here are a few things I've discovered.

1. Portion control!!! I can't tell you how minuscule some portions really are (compared to how we serve them). Did you know that 1/2 cup of cooked pasta is a serving. Think about it. If you serve spaghetti, chances are you put 1 - 1.5 cups on the plate for the FIRST serving. Yikes! And if you still use white pasta instead of wheat, it's that much worse. Now wheat pasta is not my favorite, but try mixing it half and half with white pasta.

2. Look at your plate. Did you know that half of your meal should be veggies. Yes, half of your plate should be veggies. A salad could make up one quarter and the side dish another quarter. On the remaining half of your plate, one quarter should be low-fat protein (no bigger than the palm of your hand) and the remaining quarter should be a whole grain or a starchy vegetable (such as corn or peas).

3. Snacking better. Grab some raw veggies and low fat dip instead of chips or candy. Put all natural peanut butter in celery or have a handful of almonds to boost your protein in a good way.

4. Dining out? Eat a snack before you go. Decide in advance how much of the chips and salsa or bread you will eat. When you eat that amount, have your server remove the temptation from your table. When your meal comes, immediately box half of it up. This way, if you are temped to keep eating after half a plate of entree, you will have to dig in the box to do it. (Rather embarrassing.)

5. Take your time. It takes at least 10 minutes (and some say 20 minutes) for your stomach to communicate with your brain that you are full. Take a bite and put your fork down. Chew thoroughly and swallow BEFORE you pick up your fork again. Or, take a bite and count to ten while you are eating. Until you reach 10, don't pick up another bite. I have to tell you that you will be amazed at how long those 10 seconds seem. It feels like you are chewing for a full minute instead of only 10 seconds. Enjoy and savor your food so your body realizes the full feeling sooner.

Good luck. I'll keep you posted as I work on these things myself. Keep me posted on any other tips you use as I'm working to make a healthier home for my family and myself.

Enter for chance to win a Playtex Bra Makeover

Do slipping straps, riding up backs, or not enough support have you ready to write a Dear John letter to your old bras? Apply for a
Bra Makeover from Playtex! Seven out of 10 women are wearing the wrong size bra, which can result in an ill fit for the rest of their outfit, back and shoulder pain, as well as bruising and digging.

Playtex knows that busy moms don't always have time to update their bras or even check to make sure they are wearing the correct size. That's why I wanted to let you know about this contest from Playtex! Playtex recently launched, a site where women can go to apply for a bra makeover or nominate a friend. If chosen, the winner will be flown to New York to receive a Bra Makeover with style expert Alison Deyette.

Deyette is a fashion and trend lifestyle expert who has been featured on Bravo's Millionaire Matchmaker and TLC's Ten Years Younger, as well as in print publications including Good Housekeeping, The Washington Post, and O Magazine. Apply for your chance to win a Playtex Bra Makeover today. The last day to apply is Friday, May 21st, 2010.

The 10 winners selected for a Bra Makeover will also star in their very own webisode wherein a makeover candidate will receive a fitting with Deyette and walk away with the perfect Playtex products. A new webisode will premier on every two weeks.

Disclosure Policy: By posting this information, I am entered into a contest to win a free bra from Playtex. I did not receive any compensation for this post and thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Nathan's Bike Lost Its Wheels

If you get this via email, there are videos included. Either click to the webpage or view the videos (choice at the bottom of the email).

Here's Nathan Losing His Wheels (not knowing I'm videotaping):

Here's the ham when he knows I have the camera going:

Go Nathan Go!!!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

Additional photos from Easter Sunday... Make sure you read the info at the end of this...

I love these artistic Easter photos...
They were all taken by Andrew. Nice job, son!
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