Saturday, April 30, 2011

Teen Mom & 16 and Pregnant: I can't look away

I'm going to go ahead and admit it right now: I am hooked on Teen Mom on MTV.

TeenMom(On the chance that there are people who don't waste time watching MTV and are unfamiliar with it, Teen Mom is a reality television series that premiered as a spin-off from the show 16 and Pregnant... which is pretty much self-explanatory from the title. The series chronicles the lives of teenagers during their pregnancy and then into their first year of motherhood.)

Aside from the fact that I feel like I'm far too old to be watching MTV, I get such a range of mixed feelings when I see these young girls having to grow up so quickly as they enter motherhood at such an early age. Having a baby isn't easy and I imagine that being young and being followed by video cameras can make the whole experience extremely... hard.

As well as having to deal with their friends' reactions, their parents' acceptance, and the way that pregnancy changes the relationship with their boyfriend, many of these girls end up leaving high school in hopes of getting an online degree later on in life.

Now, I don't have any experience with receiving an online college education and I have no doubt that there are wonderful online universities out there, but by having a baby as a teenager many of these girls talk about their struggle with having to give up traditional high school and college options.

Combine that with their stories of getting engaged, getting married (and filing for divorce), going through a custody dispute, giving their baby up for adoption, holding down a job... it just shows that the extremely difficult job of being a mother and provider can be a stark contrast to a typical teenager's dreams of dating, parties, and prom.

16 and pregnantPhoto courtesy of

Although each new mom faces a completely different set of circumstances as the next, I always watch Teen Mom hoping that young female viewers take away the message that with parenthood comes life-changing struggles and having a baby isn't something to be taken lightly.

For now, I can't seem to look away! MTV airs episodes in the middle of the night and I find myself losing even more sleep while I'm riveted to see what the girls are going to do next. Am I the only one? Do you watch Teen Mom? If so, what do you think about it?

Kellogg's 100 Calorie Right Bites {Review}

Here it is May already and, along with the excitement of spring and finally being able to store the winter coats and boots back in the closet, it also means removing the layers of sweatshirts that I've been hiding under all winter.

I've been making great progress towards reaching my weight loss goals, however, the biggest problem I have always had is portion control. Opening up a package of crackers or cookies doesn't ever lead to just one... or just two... or just a handful... it leads to me feeling a little queasy 10 minutes later with an empty box.

I'm missing the self-control gene, I really am.

That's why the concept of Kellogg's 100 Calorie Right Bites is more than just appealing, it's exactly what I need to be able to enjoy the delicious flavors that Kellogg is known for while also feeling good about myself and my goals.

Available in individual flavors or variety packs, 100 Calorie Right Bites are the portion-controlled packages of cookies, crackers, and tasty snacks that we already know and love from Kellogg's delicious brands. They're just the thing for eating at home or on-the-go and not having to worry about going overboard with your calorie intake.

When a box of Keebler 100 Calorie Right Bites Sandies Fudge Dipped Shortbread cookies arrived, my eager testers and I couldn't wait to check out the flavor, size, and overall fulfillment that these bite-size cookies would provide.

In my opinion, there isn't much that isn't made better when it is given a layer of chocolate, so these fudge dipped shortbread cookies were just the thing for a sweet and tasty treat.

Opening up one of the individual pouches, I found just enough cookies awaiting me inside.
Giving Big Sister E and Little Sister B their own bags, the three of us sat down to a tasty dessert at the end of lunch.

The consensus?


The Sandies definitely hit the spot and I didn't find myself craving more or feeling like I had overindulged. The flavor wasn't too sweet while also not being too bland - they were just right!

Kellogg's products are available at retailers everywhere, so keep an eye out for the wide variety of 100 Calorie Right Bites the next time you are at the store. They're just the thing to hit the spot while letting you feel good about yourself and your calorie intake as you prepare for shorts and swimsuits this spring. I've got my eye on the Brownie Minis and Fudge Dipped Pretzels for future snacks!

(Other than the Keebler 100 Calorie Right Bites Sandies Fudge Dipped Shortbread cookies that I received from Kellogg to facilitate my review, I was not provided with anything or enticed to do this review in any way. This review is solely my opinion of this product and its tastiness.)

The Cutest Children's Hats: Beanie Designs {Review}

Beanie DesignsPrior to having children, I sometimes wondered about the fashion choices that moms out there were making for their kids. Why is your son wearing his Batman costume in June? How come your daughter has on a tutu and tiara in the grocery store?

Little did I know that, when it comes to kids and their clothing choices, these things happen. We all know the phrase "Choose your battles" and if it takes wearing striped pants with a polka dot shirt to make our little ones happy, then there's no harm done.

For me, I try to preempt my kids heading out looking like clowns by being sure that I can always finish off their outfit with an adorable accessory. And our absolute favorite ones right now are the sweetest, cutest styles of hats and headbands found at Beanie Designs.

baby hatsWhen it comes to cute baby hats, Beanie Designs are experts. Whether you are shopping for winter or spring, for style or function (or both), or just want to browse their selection of infant hats to find the perfect gift, you'll find all of the styles, colors and sizes that you need... and those that you don't will still make you smile.

With Big Sister E at my side, we looked through page after page of adorable baby hats, giggling and pointing to our favorites. It was a good thing she was there to help, as I'm not sure I would have been able to make a decision on my own. Together, we agreed that the Froggy Hat would be perfect for her and the Organic Cotton Brown Stocking Hat with Flower would suit Little Sister B perfectly.

cute baby hatsAnd we were right!

When these hats arrived, both girls were clamoring to try them on and, considering this is the winter that never ends, I knew that we would be getting plenty of use out of them for quite some time.

With the adorable frog eyes on top, Big Sister E immediately dismissed all other hats she owned in favor of the 100% cotton, hand-crocheted Froggy beanie... and I couldn't blame her.

Available in sizes 0-3 months all the way up to 5T-preteen, the quality and durability of this hat has been evident throughout the many, many times that it has been worn. I love that it is machine washable for easy care and Big Sister E can't help but grin every time she wears it out and receives compliment after compliment on it.

As for her Organic Stocking Hat, Little Sister B has been just as thrilled to wear it proudly and I adore the way that it combines a cheery, spring look with a traditional stocking cap style.

This hat is machine washable as well (yay!) and the 100% Organic Cotton is extra soft to the touch. Available in sizes 0-3 months up to 1-4 years, the hand knit look and feel with the addition of the layered flower is just the perfect combination of sweet and fun.

We couldn't be happier with our hats from Beanie Designs and I have no doubt that they will be a staple in my girls' wardrobes for years to come. Retailing for $24 and $32, respectively, I know that these will be able to be worn well into spring and then will be eagerly pulled out again in the fall. They're just so cute!

For a huge selection, extremely high quality, and results that you will be sure to adore for years, Beanie Designs has it all. From new baby gifts to an accessory for the cutest portrait, there is something in every style and price range to fit your needs for nearly every season.

Visit Beanie Designs to check out their great selection and be sure to connect with them on Twitter and Facebook as well to never miss a beat on the cutest handmade baby hats and headbands!

(Other than the two hats that I received from Beanie Designs to facilitate my review, I was not provided with anything or enticed to do this review in any way. This review is solely my opinion of this company and their absolutely adorable products that my girls wear daily.)

Diamonds and Gold for Mother's Day

There are some Mother's Day gifts that never go out of style. A bouquet of flowers for Grandma, a card for Aunt Joan and jewelry for... well, pretty much any lucky woman.

This time of year all sorts of gold, diamond and birthstone jewelry appears in the ads and online and it is hard to know where to look for high quality and a commitment to craftsmanship... until you discover the ultimate destination for all of your Mother's Day jewelry needs in the form of Galaxy Gold.

Having been producing and distributing some of the finest 14K gold jewelry in Los Angeles for over two decades, Galaxy Gold exports their products worldwide to accommodate both retail and wholesale jewelry businesses. From their high quality earrings, rings, necklaces, bracelets and more, you'll find that their products are nothing less than stunning.

Plus, as Galaxy Gold uses unique, cutting edge techniques to create their jewelry and allows you to purchase it directly from the manufacturer, you are able to find beautiful pieces at prices much lower than their competitors.

For instance, how about a 14k Solid Gold 18" Necklace with Circle of Love Diamond Pendant for Mom this year?

This simple yet beautiful pendant retails for $1,283, quite the hefty price tag. But on Galaxy Gold, it is only $427.67, a savings of $855.33! That's a major difference!

Or, to add some great color and shine to any outfit, how about a pair of 14k Solid Gold 1.0ct Genuine Green Diamond Stud Earrings?

Regular price: $3,619.08. From Galaxy Gold? $1,206.36! Is there someone out there that wouldn't want to save $2,412.72 on their purchase of these gorgeous earrings? What a great way to stand out with green diamonds!

With a 30 day money back guarantee combined with a lifetime quality guarantee, you know that your jewelry from Galaxy Gold is going to withstand years of being cherished. Their bold, classical and whimsical lines of jewelry will be sure to be treasured and worn often, and, just in time for Mother's Day, Galaxy Gold is offering affordable shipping rates to receive their amazing products around the world.

But that's not all! Enter the discount code B2011M and receive another 15% off of your purchase, making these prices even lower than rock-bottom. Hurry though, this Mother's Day sale ends on May 15, 2011.

What about you? What jewelry would you love to receive for Mother's Day?

(This post was sponsored by Galaxy Gold, but all opinions are my own)


Another week means more winners! I don't know about all of you, but by the time the weekend rolls around I feel like my brain starts to shut down. I could use a personal chef to come up with meals in the kitchen, a trainer at the gym to keep me motivated, and writing tutors standing over my shoulder to proofread everything that gets posted here. Hopefully by Monday I'll feel like my life is back on track!

But for now...

The lucky winner of a Fellowes P-12C Paper Shredder is...

Congratulations, Tina!

The lucky winner of a Melissa & Doug Alligator or Ladybug Sleeping Bag from Gummy Lump is...
Congratulations, Wise Owl Designs!

The lucky winner of a Luminess Eye Kit from Luminess Air is...

Congratulations, polly!

The winner of a Deluxe Summer Fun Camp Care Package from is...

Congratulations, cloud10277!

The lucky winner of Easeamine Premiere Skin Care Collection is...

Congratulations, Melinda!

The lucky winner of a Mother's Day Fit for a Queen Sampler (YUM!) from Kaitlin & Kylie's is...
Congratulations, B. Wilson!

The lucky winner of a Freschetta 6-piece Storage Set and a coupon for Freschetta By The Slice is...
Congratulations, Sarah!

Thanks to everyone who entered these giveaways! The first half of the Celebrating Mom giveaways of great Mother's Day gifts will come to an end this week, so be sure to get your entries in for some wonderful prizes for Mom... or to keep for you!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Born To Be Wild 3D {Private Screening Sweepstakes!}

I have to admit that I don't get out to movies all that often. I can blame that partially on my kids, but I also just find that my attention span over the years seems to have shortened. It'll be 20 minutes into the show and I'll be checking my watch wondering how much longer I have to sit there... not exactly the movie-going experience one hopes for.

However, once in a while I see trailers for new films that catch my eye and everything from the plot to the cinematography is able to grab my attention. Just recently? Born to be Wild 3D.

Narrated by Academy-Award winner Morgan Freeman (who I love), the trailers as well as the description for Born to be Wild 3D just sound compelling:
Born to be Wild 3D is an inspiring story of love, dedication and the remarkable bond between humans and animals. This film documents orphaned orangutans and elephants and the extraordinary people who rescue and raise them—saving endangered species one life at a time.

Stunningly captured in IMAX 3D, Born to be Wild 3D is a heartwarming adventure transporting moviegoers into the lush rainforests of Borneo with world-renowned primatologist Dr. Birute Mary Galdikas, and across the rugged Kenyan savannah with celebrated elephant authority Dame Daphne Sheldrick, as they and their teams rescue, rehabilitate and return these incredible animals back to the wild.
Playing now exclusively in IMAX theaters, it only takes a minute to find a location near you to check out this amazing film. Did I mention 3D? And Morgan Freeman?

But that's not all.

Visiting the theater to see Born to be Wild 3D is great in itself, but how about a private screening for you and 50 of your friends? You can win just that!

That's right! Warner Bros has a sweepstakes going on right now and the grand prize is a private screening of Born to be Wild 3D for the winner and their friends as well as a movie poster signed by Morgan Freeman himself.

All you need to do to enter is visit the Born to be Wild 3D sweepstakes and log in as a WB Insider Rewards member. Not one yet? Sign up is fast and free! And even if you don't win the private screening, there will also be 10 winners for a Born to be Wild 3D t-shirt, poster and a pair of IMAX ticket vouchers.

Hurry, this sweepstakes ends May 4! Don't miss the opportunity to see this incredible movie in a big way!

(This is a sponsored post)

Guidecraft Hideaway Country Kitchen {Review & Giveaway}

Guidecraft{This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations, mrsking14!}

Raise your hand if you have kids and their stuff is everywhere. I'm talking socks in the dining room, crayons under the couch, and toys, toys, toys taking over the house.

Is your hand up? Mine sure is. There aren't only socks in my dining room, but I see a pair of pajama pants nearby as well. Who changes out of their pajamas in the dining room?

There are times that I want to take every last item and pack it all away so that we have spotless rooms and shining clean surfaces everywhere I look. But then... that wouldn't be here. That wouldn't be us. I know that I have children and I know that they love their toys, so of course I want them to be able to play with them and have them accessible when they need them.

But... the issue of having enough space is one that affects nearly every parent, no matter if you live in a small apartment or a large home. Does that mean that we have to either give up all available room in our house or forgo getting items for our children that are remotely big?

No, it sure doesn't now that Guidecraft has introduced the Hideaway Country Kitchen.

Hideaway Country KitchenTaking the ever-popular concept of the play kitchen and giving it an extremely innovative update, at first glance the Hideaway Country Kitchen (also available in an adorable pastel Hideaway Playtime Kitchen version) looks like a high quality, compact toy measuring 30" wide and 15¼" deep.

However, the unique aspect of this kitchen comes when, in a few simple steps, an adult is able to fold the entire front of it in on itself so that it ends up with a depth of only 6". Simply store it away in a closet, slide it behind a couch, or slip it under a bed and you won't have permanently lost any space.

Guidecraft Hideaway Country KitchenInventive idea, isn't it? Considering how much we know and love the Guidecraft All In One Kitchen and so many of the other great Guidecraft toys out there, when the Hideaway Playtime Kitchen arrived, I had no doubt that it would live up to the high standards that we have for their amazing products.

Guidecraft Hideaway KitchenEven with Guidecraft's clear, concise, easy-to-follow instructions and all of the parts and pieces well-labeled, it probably took around an hour to have this kitchen fully assembled. I was able to complete nearly the entire construction process myself (I love putting things together and won't involve my husband unless absolutely necessary) but did require an extra set of hands at the end to hold the pieces level to correctly attach the hinges.

Before I knew it, I was putting away my screwdriver and standing back to admire the finished product... which really is just so very, very cute.

Guidecraft Hideaway Country KitchenEven though this isn't an extremely large kitchen, it still has plenty of fun and realistic features for kids to enjoy. The hands move on the clock, the knobs on the oven, dishwasher, and sink turn, and there are even silver "burners" on the stove top.

With the two large doors for the oven and dishwasher, not only do kids have fun opening and closing them while playing, but the space underneath is perfect storage for food, dishes, and more. Stick a bin or two under there and young chefs would be ready to pull them out and put them back with ease.

Guidecraft play kitchenBig Sister E and Little Sister B dove right into playing with the Hideaway Country Kitchen and have been thrilled each day to explain all of the dishes they are cooking to me. I love watching them open and close the doors so that they can place items inside and the amount of cooperation and imagination that this kitchen inspires is just plain fun to see.

Guidecraft pretend kitchenHowever, the fact that this kitchen can fold up so compactly has truly amazed me every time. In only a minute or two it can go from fully open and ready for play to completely closed up in preparation for storage.

That doesn't mean that the children playing are ever in danger of it collapsing in on itself though, not by any means. Guidecraft made things completely safe by including a strong bolt through the middle that keeps the kitchen locked in the open or closed position. To begin the transformation, simply use the provided L-wrench to remove it...

...and the entire counter top, including the sink, lifts right up.

Move the same single bolt to the top, where the counter is now screwed securely in to stay in a vertical position.

Finally, simply lift up the two metal latches from inside the sides of the base, pull up the bottom, and fold the whole thing in on itself...

...until, in literally a minute or so, the whole thing is down to a depth of 6". Even though I knew 6" wasn't very wide, the first time that I folded up the Hideaway Country Kitchen, I couldn't believe that it was that thin.

Talk about efficient storage! When folded, I'm able to move this kitchen by myself and can tuck it just about anywhere so that it is out of sight. Brilliant!

Needless to say, the smart minds over at Guidecraft have created an amazing play kitchen. Retailing for $200 (or on sale for a steal at $141 on Amazon), the Hideaway Country Kitchen and Hideaway Playtime Kitchen are not only top of the line craftsmanship and quality while being extremely fun, the addition of the "hideaway" feature is pure genius.

Children end up with something that they are going to play, pretend, learn, and imagine with for years and years to come and parents have the peace of mind knowing that they can move it out of the way quickly and easily if needed. Heck, when your kids finally outgrow it, it will only take up 6" of storage space to put it away for future grandchildren!

With everything from toys to furniture that encourage open-ended educational play, the Guidecraft name is simultaneous with only the very best! And, thanks to their endless generosity, one person will get to experience the joy, creativity, and laughter that comes from an incredible toy like this one, because...

One lucky person will win a Hideaway Country Kitchen
from Guidecraft!

Guidecraft giveawayTo enter to win: Visit Guidecraft and tell me another of their amazing products that you love.

Extra Entries (available after the mandatory entry above is completed; please leave a separate comment for each entry in order for them to be counted).

1 Extra Entry (per method) if you follow Guidecraft on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed of the Guidecraft blog and/or Like them on their NEW Facebook page.
1 Extra Entry (per giveaway entered) - Enter any (or all) of the giveaways running on Thanks, Mail Carrier for the duration of this giveaway.
1 Extra Entry if you follow me on Twitter and tweet about this giveaway by copying and pasting the tweet below and leaving me the link. Tweet daily for an extra entry every day!

I want to WIN a Guidecraft Hideaway Country Kitchen ($200) for amazing pretend play! #thxmailcarrier #giveaway #win

2 Extra Entries (per follow method) if you follow me publicly with Google Friend Connect, subscribe to my RSS feed, subscribe to Thanks, Mail Carrier by email, become a fan on Facebook, or add Thanks, Mail Carrier to your blogroll.
3 Extra Entries if you put my cute button up on your blog. Please leave an address where it can be found.
3 Extra Entries if you blog about this giveaway linking back to Thanks, Mail Carrier and Guidecraft.

Giveaway will end on May 20th at 11:59pm CST. Do me the favor of leaving an email address or making absolutely sure it is visible in your profile, I have to have a way to contact the winner. The winner will be chosen by and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to contact me or respond to notification or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.

A massively large thank you to Guidecraft for providing a Hideaway Country Kitchen for me to review as well as for one very lucky giveaway winner. The opinions shared are my own and honest and if you really need to see more, click here to see how I roll.

Shari's Berries for Mother's Day {Review}

When it comes to ways to spoil Mom for Mother's Day, there are some that are guaranteed to be a big hit due to being thoughtful as well as tasty. Considering how much time and effort Mom puts in to making delicious goodies for her family all year long, shouldn't she get one day where she doesn't have to lift a finger to enjoy her favorite decadent flavors?

Shari's Berries thinks so. And, from the first time I started browsing their site, my eyes could hardly believe that there were so many incredible options that would be sure to make any mom swoon.

From hand-dipped strawberries to unique chocolate truffles to an assortment of cookies, cakes and brownies, Shari's Berries has just about any treat that Mom could ask for.

Considering that I've been trying to cut down on my sweets lately, it felt ironic that I told my husband to make the final decision on a Mother's Day item... but then when the Mrs. Fields Bites Basket arrived, I took one look at it and knew that this wasn't a gift he was going to end up receiving.

Arriving securely packaged and wrapped, it took me all of a minute before I had pulled off the attractive red ribbon to begin to admire the collection of treats that awaited me inside.

Weighing in at 1 lb 6 oz, the Mrs. Fields Bites Basket includes 24 Assorted Nibblers Bite Sized Cookies, 18 Brownie Bites, and 12 Mini Muffins. You'd think that could last more than a day or two, right?

Plans for that to happen were waylaid as soon as the kids and I opened our first package of mini muffins... and devoured them.

I've had packaged baked goods before that taste like... well, like they came out of a package. But these are nothing like that and the soft, chewy, moistness of each bite made me simultaneously want to savor them slowly while also wanting to immediately try one of every kind.

That fact that these lasted as long as they did was actually quite a feat and I was amazed that each package I opened tasted just as fresh as if it had been pulled out of the oven that day. The small size of each of the cookies, brownies or muffins made them just perfect to pop them in for a yummy treat.

With the variety of flavors available and the overall deliciousness of each one, the Mrs. Fields Bites Basket has something for everyone - whether they decide to share or not. Retailing for $39.99, there is still plenty of time to put in an order for this yummy gift idea for Mother's Day.

Whether the mom in your life is a fan of chocolate or fruit or a combination of both, Shari's Berries has the chocolate covered strawberries, cookies & more that she is sure to appreciate and enjoy. With such high quality and large variety available in one place, you're sure to appreciate the affordable prices and convenience that ordering from there can provide. Find their entire collection on their website and even more information on their Facebook page... and a 20% off coupon when you become a fan!

(Other than the Mrs. Fields Bites Basket that I received from Shari's Berries to facilitate my review, I was not provided with anything or enticed to do this review in any way. This review is solely my opinion of this company and their tasty products.)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Friendly Friday: April 29th

Welcome to Friendly Friday!

Remember, YOU can host the link list on your blog, too! Just get the InLinkz code and copy it directly into your post. The code is different every week, so be sure to get the new code when hosting Friendly Friday on your blog. Hosting the list is a great way to get even more traffic to your blog and make Friendly Friday more beneficial for everyone.

Thanks for joining the Friendly Friday celebration hosted by Xenia at Thanks, Mail Carrier, Christi at Frugal Novice and Charla at Healthy Home Blog! We invite you to join us every Friday to make more friends in blogville, get more blog followers and follow other great blogs out there.

To join in the Friendly Friday celebration, include your family-friendly link in our list, follow the hostesses in the first 3 spots and then start blog hopping! Visit other blogs on the list and comment to give them some blog love. Then take a minute to follow them through Google Friend Connect - this is a good way to keep up with other blogs, but also lets us show support to each other! Please DO NOT list your giveaways here, links must be to either your homepage or your Friday posting with your blog title. All others will be deleted.

When people comment on your blog and let you know they're a part of Friendly Friday, return the favor and follow them back. This way everyone gets traffic and followers out of participating, and it's a win-win situation. We would love for you to also grab our Friendly Friday button and post it on your blog and/or in a post - the more bloggers that find out about Friendly Friday and participate, the better!

Spotlight on Friendly Friday Followers!

We love your participation and want to show it! In addition to gaining followers, each week we'll select three blogs at random and will feature links and a write-up for those blogs in the content of next week's Friendly Friday post. There are so many seriously wonderful blogs out there, and this will be a great way to highlight some of those each week. Say hello to the lucky chosen 3 for this week (and feel free to stop by and give them a little extra love):

OrangeHeroMama is, in her words, a "far from 32" (I'm guessing that means she's still in her 20's, don't you think?) Canadian mom to two girls. Home of OHM hosts giveaways and reviews, but also shares a lot more than that. When you visit her blog you feel like you get to know her and her family through her posts and photos - you'll feel like you've known her forever!

Do you enjoy finding unique items? If so, you'll love Sam's blog I Enjoy Stuff. She finds great products and puts them all at your fingertips when you visit her blog. Be sure and check out a free printable for making your own all-in-one letter/envelope! Sam's a newer blogger, so be sure and welcome her to blogville!

Katie at Mommy Katie is married to a former Marine and is raising two kids in Texas. She and her family have been affected by hard economic times, but have kept a positive outlook and have made the best of things! She hosts a lot of reviews and giveaways for everything from toys to cookware!

Now that you know about these 3 wonderful blogs, it's time for you to join in! Add your family-friendly link below and we'll see you back here every Friday! And don't forget, you can get the InLinkz code to share the link list on your blog, too.

All three hostesses appreciate followers through Google Friend Connect AND Twitter and we'll follow you back - just leave a comment with your URL and/or Twitter username. Have a great weekend, everyone!