The Empower, Inspire, & Thankfulness Challenge

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser, MARS Incorporated. All opinions are mine alone. #WhatMakesDove #CollectiveBias

Life’s tough right now, isn’t it??!!

Between the disasters happening on a huge scale, to so many people I know personally just going through HARD hard times, looking around it would be so very easy to get discouraged.

That’s where today’s post comes in!!! I have a mission for you to do within the next 2 weeks.

The Empower, Inspire, & Thankfulness Challenge

Now, don’t worry!! That might sound like a lot. I *know* you’re busy, I *know* you have so much on your plate, and I *know* you could use some help and encouragement, too. Because of this, I’m not doing anything elaborate. This is something you can sneak into your busy day, but this little gesture will have SO MUCH meaning for you, and the women you do it for.

You ready?! I’ll share how I fulfilled this challenge, my story behind the “why” of who I chose, and then I’ll share ideas for who you might chose to encourage and inspire in your life!

Thanks to what I do for my job, I’m the All Things Internet and Social Media Gal for our Center!

In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m passionate about helping, empowering, and inspiring other women. In fact, that’s my entire purpose behind this blog! Ever since becoming a mom almost 10 years ago, I discovered I  have such a heart and passion for helping out other moms. I long to teach and inspire them to work hard, support each other, and strive for their dreams every day.

This passion turned into me finding local ways to volunteer and help moms in my community. When we were in Lindale I volunteered for 2 years at a Mom Mentorship and Earn While You Learn program, and in our new hometown I’m volunteering at a Pregnancy Resource Center that offers free tests, ultrasounds, consultations, and also offers an Earn While You Learn program where moms can earn vital items like a car seat, diapers, and clothes all by going through curriculum that teaches them important things about pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting.

After moving to our new hometown I have had a really difficult time finding “my tribe” or putting down roots. With both of the kids in school all day, and me working from home, making connections was tough. It wasn’t until I jumped back into volunteering that I actually found the empowerment and support that *I* needed, through the other volunteers there! These ladies are so sweet, caring, and compassionate–and not just to our clients! Especially a few of them in particular have allowed me to “adopt” them and given me and my kids hugs, support, and love as we tried to make our new hometown actually *feel* a whole lot more like home.

Because of how much they have empowered and inspired me, I wanted to return just a little bit of that to them, as well! I knew just the way to do it, too!

Like I said before–fulfilling this challenge doesn’t have to be elaborate to be amazing! For all my closest lady friends one of the best ways you can say “thank you” or give them a pick-me-up falls into a very delicious and pretty formula:

DOVE Chocolate PROMISES + Beautiful Flowers = Perfection

This 31 oz Canister is so pretty and it also shows the real treasure that’s inside! 3 flavors of their best-selling DOVE Dark Chocolate Variety Mix! With flavors like Dark Chocolate, White & Dark Chocolate Swirl, and Sea Salt Caramel & Dark Chocolate there is no way to go wrong with this!

It’s exclusively found at Sam’s Club and right now you can Sign up for a free Ibotta account  and earn $1.50 with the purchase of a 31 oz canister of DOVE PROMISES Chocolate 3 Flavor Assortment (if you don’t have an Ibotta account already, you don’t you really should! It’s a super fun and handy way to earn cash back that I’ve used for several months now!)

Not sure where your closest Sam’s Club is? Check out the store locator here!

While you’re in the club you can also pick up some fresh flowers and stock up on essentials–like I said, this does not have to be anything crazy or time-consuming!

The fact that DOVE Chocolate PROMISES are delicious would be reason enough to pick them up, but I actually had another very important reason for choosing this exact product and company for this mission!

DOVE Chocolate, produced by Mars Wrigley Confectionery, together with CARE, announced a partnership designed to empower women who grow cocoa in the communities of Ivory Coast. Along with DOVE Chocolate PROMISES, CARE builds Village Savings and Loan Associations in communities where the cocoa is sourced, which helps female farmers obtain funds that can be invested in their farms, their communities and their future. Here’s a little more about CARE’s Vision:

  • Increase women’s access to economic and social opportunities
  • Provide resources to help women farmers improve their yields and incomes
  • Enable women to make decisions in cocoa farming communities and household

I love that they’re finding ways to empower and inspire women towards a better life across the world–just like we’re trying to do here locally!

So this week I tackled my challenge and surprised the staff and volunteers with the delicious DOVE Chocolate PROMISES and flowers from Sam’s Club. They were all so surprised, and thankful! It brought a smile to their faces and so many of them commented on how much they love DOVE Dark Chocolate.

They also loved the inspirational messaging inside the DOVE Chocolate PROMISES wrapper. These were two of our favorites! “Don’t Worry What The Neighbors Think” and “Be Proud of Your Age”. Talk about awesome little pearls of wisdom!

Now it’s your turn!!! I challenge you to find a woman, or a group of women in your life that could use some encouragement, inspiration, and empowerment! As you read this I’m sure you immediately thought of something that could really use some DOVE Chocolate and flowers. If not here are some thought starters for who you could target for this challenge:

  • A Mom who has been battling sickness, injury, or surgery in her family
  • Teachers or Staff at your local schools
  • Volunteers at Local Community Resource Centers
  • A Military Spouse whose husband is currently away for training, underway, or deployed
  • Staff at a local nursing home
  • New Neighbors (like me they might not have anyone locally and are wishing someone would reach out!)

The possibilities to reach out and empower and inspire are literally all around you, every day! I think we often feel too overwhelmed by thinking that a gesture has to be over-the-top “Pinterest Perfect” to make a difference, but it really doesn’t!

Stop by Sam’s Club, get your shopping done, and then drop these quietly by for someone who needs them!

Want even MORE amazing inspiration for how to encourage, inspire, and thank the women around you? Check out the amazing ideas here!

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How To Build The Perfect Diaper Bag Gift

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MoreHuggiesMoreSavings #CollectiveBias

It’s hinting at being fall and babies are everywhere! Every time I log into social media my feed is full baby grins that make me melt and adorable photo reveals of pink or blue. Every week I also volunteer at Heart of Hope. It’s our local Pregnancy Resource Center that gives out free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, and also has an Earn While You Learn program. Through this moms can earn items they need for their babies while working through important pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting curriculum.

So although it’s been a while since I’ve had onesies and diapers in my house; they’re still a frequent part of my everyday life! Anyone who’s been around babies at all knows that the one thing a new mom’s NEEDS is diapers and wipes, and lots of them! They also know that if you just go and purchase them at a regular store they can get pretty pricey, pretty fast! That’s why when I heard about the amazing deal that Sam’s Club has going on right now for new members I just had to share it with you!

Join now and get $45 in Instant Savings on participating Huggies® products! Follow these steps in order to get this amazing deal!

Purchase a NEW MEMBER Sam’s Club Savings membership using THIS LINK *or* you can purchase your membership in store. If you’d prefer to do that, please visit this link and print out the offer page to bring into your club so that they can load this offer for you! (the bonus to joining online is you’ll get a $5 e-gift card!)

Mom Tip: If you purchase your membership online you’ll then go to the club to pick up your card. When you go be sure to bring both your license *and* your confirmation number. They won’t be able to pull up your membership to get you a card with your license alone if you go in the same day you purchase it. If you forget you can always log in to your email or your new Sam’s Club membership profile and get it there {we won’t discuss how I know that 😉 }

Once you’ve purchased your new membership just head on in to your local club and purchase any three participating Huggies® products to get rewarded with $45 in Instant Savings!

 

If you’ve ever thought about getting a Sam’s Club membership now is the perfect time to try! I learned more about Sam’s Club and how awesome it was through my in-laws during a visit years ago. They love the savings they get by buying things in bulk, and always have the business membership for themselves. Since that visit took place when Amber was a baby they stocked me up on diapers while we were there.

I was amazed at how much money you can save by purchasing diapers and wipes in bulk! Another cool thing about Sam’s Club is that they have some really handy services available. My favorites are Sam’s Club Pick-Up service and their Scan and Go option.

This trip we decided to try out their Scan and Go to avoid the after work lines. It’s really easy to use! You download the app on your phone for free and then just open it up! Log in using your Sam’s Club member profile information and you’re good to go! You scan the barcodes as you shop, then input your payment information. That checks you out then you just show your phone at the exit for them to scan and you’re good to go!

If you have a baby it’s a no-brainer to stock up and save. (Plus–you *don’t* want to have to make a diaper run when it’s nap time, trust me.)

Are you like me and no longer having to wake up 3 times a night? There’s still plenty of reasons to buy diapers and wipes in bulk! As I mentioned babies are all over, and with them come all those fun baby showers and visiting 2nd or 3rd (or even 9th) time moms to hold a sweet newborn! The gift I’ve found that is always the most appreciated by new moms is Huggies® Diapers and Huggies® Wipes!

Also, diapers and wipes are some of the most needed and most requested items for local community resources. Did you know that nearly all Pregnancy Resource Centers and Food Banks accept (and desperately need) diaper and wipe donations?! Do a little digging around to see where you can donate these needed items in your community!

At Heart of Hope when a new mom has her baby they visit her and bring her an amazing present–a brand new diaper bag fully loaded with diapers, wipes, and everything us veteran moms know she’ll need!

Today I’m sharing with you just How To Build The Perfect Diaper Bag Gift!

Here are the items to purchase and include:

  • An Adorable Diaper Bag — (the chevron and lil elephant made me squeal a little)
  • Huggies® Little Snugglers Diapers –– what’s a diaper bag without the diapers?! I actually fill it with size one, instead of newborn. That way even if they have a big baby (like I always did) they’ll be able to use them all! Huggies is a brand that moms know and trust, and I used them exclusively with Tyler. These ones are so cute too. I adore Pooh Bear and I love the little “front and back” stamps–so helpful for brand new mommies running on NO sleep

  • Huggies® Natural Care Wipes — I like to always give sensitive wipes to new moms in case their babies have allergies! The Huggies® One and Done wipes are another great choice to include, and are especially amazing for moms with older babies!
  • Diaper Rash Cream — another “diaper bag MUST”
  • Adorable Outfit — Babies are messy! I recommend that new moms always keep a spare outfit in their diaper bag at all times for those “just in case” moments
  • Pacifiers — my kids loved their “pacis” and I think they’re wonderful! New moms usually need to try a few kinds to see which their baby will take a fancy to (if any). Mine always loved this type best, so I always gift them. I make sure to only give 2, though, just in case they’re not a hit. I couldn’t resist these cute ones with the cute sayings. If anyone needs to “Keep Calm and Carry On” it’s a mom with a newborn!
  • Pacifier clip — nothings more frustrating than continually replacing your pacifier supply because they’re falling out of your little one’s mouths or they’re *flinging* them wildly for fun. Paci Clips are genius and every mommy needs a few!
  • Light, comfy, sturdy blanket. — These can be used for everything from a blanket, to a play mat, to a diaper changing pad, to a nursing cover. Never underestimate the power of a good blanket!

Gifting these will give the mom in your life all the essentials that she’ll need and a good start on her stockpile! Did I forget anything? Leave a comment and let me know!

Don’t forget to stock up at Sam’s Club and take advantage of the special Huggies offer to save big!

How To Find Your Own Personal Style

This shop has been compensated by Schwarzkopf. #CareWithKeratin #sponsored

 

I love to play dress up.

No, not in a cosplay or larp-ing kind of way (#closetgeek that I even know what that means) But in a *squee* I love to wear pretty dresses and get all sorts of fancy way.

When I was little I adored dresses and wore them to school all the time. As I got older dresses every day were just not in style in the rough and tumble Wyoming culture I grew up in. As a result, I wanted to fit in, so I quit wearing them and opted for jeans, tees, and hoodies like everyone else. Through my twenties, I floundered around a bit trying to figure out what to wear and based a lot of my purchases on what I thought other people liked or what was trending.

I’ve come to realize now that was all a big mistake! Now, there’s nothing wrong with dressing or doing your hair a certain way because it’s what your significant other thinks you look amazing in. There’s also nothing wrong with jumping on the latest adorable trend because (or even if) everyone else is. However, most of the time you need to dress in your personal style! Your confidence will soar, you’ll look your best, and somehow life just seems more tackle-able (yes I made that word up) when you’re looking your best and also feeling comfortable in your own skin!

Are you stuck where I was just a bit ago, floundering around to find what fits you best, in every way? Then you’ve come to the right place! Today I’m going to give you some tips and tricks on how to find and rock YOUR personal style!

How To Find Your Own Personal Style

Get Amazing, Fun Hair

So for me, my hair has always been a huge part of my overall look and style. I think for most women it is! It’s such a fun thing to play around with. Today I’m especially going to focus on your hair color! If you’ve been around for a bit you know that you need to learn to recognize me by my face, because my hair color varies wildly with my moods and the seasons!

Today I’m going to let you in on a little secret. The reason I’m able to change up my color and styles so often? I dye it myself! Yes, you read that right! All those varying hues are box dyes that I pick up at Walmart! It might seem super scary at first. I remember the first time I picked up a box kit I made my hubby help me and I was just sure that I was going to end up with trashed hair the color of slime that would require a walk of shame to a stylist.

In reality? It was so easy-peasy and my hair looked gorgeous and no one knew I colored it myself! If it’s your first dye-at-home adventure I have some pro tips for you, and I’ll walk you through step-by-step!

Pro Tip: If you’re dying your hair at home for the first time pick a shade just one away from your own. It’s a great way to freshen up your look without being too shocking and it’s nearly fail-proof!

Ever since I went multi-tone purple and blue with my hair I’ve been trying to figure out what I wanted to do next. I was tired of sticking out everywhere I went, so last time I picked a brownish hue. It had started to fade out, and left me with these weird, nondescript colors. I think my face pretty much sums up how I was feeling about it. It was definitely time to pick a new color and dye it again!

I decided to go for Schwarzkopf Keratin Color in Ruby. I picked this brand because it’s professional quality hair color at home that offers flattering colors while caring for the hair. Keratin Color cares for your hair, which is important to me since I dye so often! It also has a  Pre-treatment for even color result, which is what I was desperately hoping for this time. I had a hard time choosing which of their fun shades I wanted to try, but this one jumped out at me. It was just the right amount of “fun” with its intense color while not being “everyone turn and look at Nicole”. Also, it followed my other pro tip which is:

Pro Tip: When dying your hair yourself going darker is always safe, but you cannot go loads lighter. If your current hair color isn’t on the “color result” chart on the back of the box, there’s a reason.

You can see that my multi-weird colors fit within the Dark Blonde to Light Medium Brown range, which also had close to the same color result. I was wanting to get one, consistent tone that would be fun, so this was perfect!

***Right now you can actually try Schwarzkopf Keratin Color for FREE with this rebate offer!!! Just purchase it at Walmart, keep your receipt, then mail it in with this form to get the rebate!***

How To Dye Your Hair At Home

So, this should go without saying but I will say it anyway, always *follow all instructions in the package and follow all safety instructions including doing a patch test and using gloves.* The instructions are wonderful and will walk you through step by step through the three easy steps, so I’ll just show you step by step photos of how I did it so you get a feel for it!

One important thing I do want to reassure you of is when you see that weird color in the bottle *don’t panic*!!! When you are dying your hair the dye going on to your head is NOT the color your hair will be. As you can see this dye is a weird orangey color. That would have freaked me out if I had never dyed my hair before. Just trust them and as long as your first color is on the chart on the back you’re good!

Pro Tip: If your hair is very long, and/or very thick you’ll need more than one box of dye. For this brand, they even said that in the instructions, which I appreciated! 

Because my hair is SO THICK and long this time I actually ended up using 3 boxes of dye to get the result I want.

And here it is! I’m in love with it!!! Inside it looks like this beautiful, rich brownish-black. But as soon as I go into the sunlight you pick up this gorgeous purply-red shade. I’ve already gotten so many compliments on it. After church on Sunday standing outside my sweet friend gushed, “Oh Nicole! Where the light hits your hair, well you’re just *glowing*! It’s so pretty!!” It’s also so soft and silky now, I loved the pre-treatment and the conditioner included in the set.

So now that your hair is looking a-MAZ-ing it’s time to focus on the rest of you! After your hair, the next big area to find your style is, of course, your clothes! Before we dive into the next topic I want to share that one more reason I purchased Schwarzkopf Keratin Color is because I love supporting companies that give back to causes I’m passionate about!

Keratin Color brings out confidence in every woman by gently restoring and augmenting her hair. With every purchase of Keratin Color, we can also help women get a fresh start through a partnership with Dress for Success®. Dress for Success Worldwide empowers women by providing them with the tools they need to achieve economic independence. Through education and mentoring, they’re making a difference in your community and across the globe. Over one million women have been served by this international organization and its programs. This partnership empowers women looking for upward mobility to revitalize women’s hair and clothing options so they can be as successful as they look.

You know my entire site is dedicated to helping women feel confident and be successful, so this cause is near and dear to my heart! And speaking of dressing for success–our next point is for you to focus on:

Find Clothes that Look Great on You, You Love, and Are Comfy!

Do you have a closet full of clothes that fit the size you are *right now*, that you’re comfortable in, and that you LOVE?!

Chances are good that if you’re anything like most women (especially moms!) I know that you don’t. Revamping your personal style doesn’t have to be super complicated or expensive, though!

If you’re really just stuck in a sea of tees and yoga pants with no idea where to start, I want you to think back to your childhood. Before peer pressure kicked in what did you LOVE to dress in? Have you always been a Tees and Jean’s gal, or (like me) did you live in pretty, fancy dresses? Getting back in touch with what you wore before you really cared what everyone else thought can clue you into *your* personal style.

Over the past few years, I’ve re-discovered my original LOVE of dressing up. I realized that skirts and sundresses are MORE comfy for my body type than jeans are and that they look so much more flattering on me. As a result, I now rock this look several times a week, despite living in an area where yoga pants and jean shorts are the typical “mom uniform”.

I mentioned before that as far as trends go, it’s great to embrace the ones you LOVE! When you see a trend ask yourself if you’ll be sick of that piece of clothing in a year. You want to invest in pieces you’ll look amazing in and wear forever, regardless if chevron goes out.

I mentioned before that revamping your style doesn’t have to be expensive. Want to get in on a little secret? I purchased both of the pieces you see above at Walmart on the clearance rack when I was picking up my hair dye! So for under $45 I got a completely new, adorable look that included dying my hair and a completely new outfit. Two trends that I absolutely swoon over are lace overlay and asymmetrical hemlines. These pieces both showcase those, and the Go Your Own Way on the shirt was just *Too* perfect for the theme of this post.

They’re also SO comfy! Being stylish does NOT mean you have to be uncomfortable. All my clothes are yoga-pants-comfy while making me look polished and stylish. It is possible, you just have to find what fits and feels good on you!

So there are some of my best tips for How To Find Your Own Personal Style! Don’t forget to  try Schwarzkopf Keratin Color for FREE with this rebate offer! And you can get more Personal Style Inspiration from some of my favorite Bloggers Here!

Are you really stuck with finding your personal style or need more tips on where to buy clothes or makeup? Give me a shout out on social media and I’ll help you figure out what will REALLY work for you!

Tweet Me Here — or Leave A Comment On Facebook or Instagram!

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Sharing Poetry with Kids

Every summer, I spend a few weeks planning everything we’re going to cover during the upcoming school year. Call me crazy, but I love those weeks of planning and researching and ordering books. I figure out all the historical time periods and people we’re going to study, choose a focus for science lessons, settle on a math curriculum, plan writing practice…all the core subjects.

And then it’s time to add in the fun stuff–subjects that aren’t usually given priority because they’re not considered as important. Things like literature, Shakespeare, art, and poetry.  This is my favorite part of planning because, not only are these subjects vitally important to study, they’re also fun!  In a Charlotte Mason education, these subjects are valued just as highly as core subjects because they expose our kids to rich, beautiful language and timeless works of art.  They give our kids a chance to see greatness.

 

While all these “extras” are wonderful, today I want to focus on sharing poetry with your children.  With all the subjects you have to cover, do you really need to add poetry to the list?  Is it important enough to take up valuable school time each week?  Does it provide any real benefits?

Experts say YES!

Hearing the meter and rhyme of poems in the early years helps create phonological awareness and can lay the foundation for literacy.  Poetry exposes kids to language they might not otherwise hear, expanding both their vocabulary and their understanding of the world.  And well-written poetry can awaken the imagination and speak to the soul like nothing else.

 

So how do you go about sharing poetry with your kids?  The good news is that it’s ridiculously simple.  Just read it!  No need to analyze it or search for hidden meaning.  Simply reading poems that your kids can enjoy is all it takes.  You can read a poem a day, study a certain poet’s work for several weeks, or institute weekly poetry teatime.

We’ve tried all these options and my kids enjoy poetry teatime the most.  (I’m sure it has nothing to do with the apple cider, hot chocolate, or treats we enjoy with our poetry 😉 ) It started as a nice way to end our week on Friday, but now my kids love it so much they ask for teatime more often.  All we do is pull out some poetry books and read whatever poems we’re in the mood for.  I try to include something new along with the old favorites.  I’ve also recently started having my kids recite something they’ve memorized each time.  This can be Scripture, poetry, or stories in German (the language they’re learning).  That way they’re learning to speak in front of people in a way that isn’t too intimidating.

Feeling inspired but not sure where to start?  I’ve compiled a list of some great poets and books that are perfect for preschool and elementary-aged kids.  Here are some of our favorites.

  • A Child’s Garden of Verses, by Robert Louis Stevenson
    • His poems are fun for even really young kids.  Most of them are about happy aspects of childhood so they’re relatable and easy to understand.
    • Most are relatively short, so they’re great ones to memorize
    • Some favorites by Stevenson include The Swing, A Good Play, and Whole Duty of Children.

  • Where the Sidewalk Ends, by Shel Silverstein
    • By far my kids’ favorite–all of his poems are funny and a little ridiculous.
    • Great ones to read include Hungry Mungry, Peanut Butter Sandwich, and Sick, but really the whole book is wonderfully fun.
    • Shel Silverstein has a few other books of poetry as well if you just can’t get enough of his work.

  • Lewis Carroll, edited by Edward Mendelson (from the Poetry for Young People series)
    • His poems are full of nonsense and made-up words, which makes them especially fun.
    • They’re better suited for elementary ages–the language and length of the poems might be a little difficult for really young kids.
    • This book (and the whole Poetry for Young People series) is wonderful because it gives some interesting information about the author and his life and also gives definitions for some of the more difficult words (including the words Carroll made up!)
    • Favorites include Matilda Jane, Father William, and especially Brother and Sister (which my kids happily memorized together).

  • Just So Stories, by Rudyard Kipling
    • This book is mainly short stories, but there is a poem that goes along with each story.
    • Kipling also wrote many other poems that aren’t specifically for children but some are still great to share with older kids.
    • Great poems by Kipling include If and How the Camel Got His Hump.

Hopefully this gives you a starting place for beginning to share the beauty of poetry with your children.  Other great poets to study include A.A. Milne, Emily Dickinson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Walt Whitman…there are so many great writers and resources out there.  Whether you’re looking for something that makes you and your kids laugh or something that speaks to your heart, there’s plenty of beautiful poetry out there for everyone.  Share some of your favorites with us!

 

Coupon For the New FriXion Erasable ColorSticks

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #PilotYourLife #CollectiveBias

It’s back to school season and I love the new FriXion Erasable ColorSticks and FriXon Erasable Colors Marker Pens at Target because my kids are able to write fearlessly!

With FriXion Erasable ColorSticks and FriXon Erasable Colors Marker Pens, my kids are able to write, erase and rewrite repeatedly without damaging their schoolwork. No wear or tear! The secret is the unique thermos-sensitive gel ink formula disappears with erasing friction. My kids do not have jitters about creating errors because they have unlimited do-overs!

There are two new packs of FriXion ColorSticks Erasable Gel Pens & FriXion Colors Erasable Marker Pens and they are only available at Target; make back-to-School less stressful and more fun with your favorite FriXion pens and #PilotYourLife

Ready for some more exciting news? You can save $1.00 on any 2-pack (or larger) of FriXion ColorSticks Erasable Gel Pens & FriXion Colors Erasable Marker Pens if you shop now in the Back to School Season.