Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Truvia Winner

Congratulations to Gianna, post #39 who said, "I'd try baking with it and with my chamomile tea."  I hope you'll enjoy your box of Truvia natural sweetener!

A big thanks to all who entered and to Truvia for sponsoring this great giveaway!

Sad you didn't win this one?  Don't give up hope! Just click right here to enter to win my current giveaway for a Foaming Sea Salt Soak from Touch'd Beauty Products.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Retail Therapy

Anyone who knows me well knows that I love to shop.  I love a good deal, I love using coupons, I love browsing online retail sites, I love just about every aspect of shopping.  I don't even mind grocery shopping.  Grocery shopping is like a game for me.  I study all the sales, figure out where I can get my stuff the cheapest, find every coupon available for the things that I need, and watch the dollars drop off the total bill as the cashier scans my many, many, many coupons that I've dug out of my pockets.

My favorite thing to shop for is not groceries though.  It's clothes.  I love buying clothes for everyone in my family, but I love buying them for me most of all.  I just love that feeling when you try on a new item and instantly feel like it was made for you.  I feel that my shopping addiction is a healthy one though, in that I have never splurged on an item that I really didn't think we could afford.  I do not keep clothes that I will not wear (i.e. clothes in the closet with tags still attached), and 99% of the time I will not buy something that is not either: a) on sale, or b) that I do not have a coupon for, or c) both.

Most of my clothing purchases are limited to standard mom stuff: clothes for kids, shoes for kids, clothes for husband, and practical, sensible, comfortable mom-clothes for me.  Sadly, my current wardrobe consists mostly of capris, tank tops, tee shirts, and jeans when it's not 1000 degrees outside.  Not a lot of special-occasion dresses or fancy outfits find their way out of my closet very often.

Ron's best friend is finally getting married in a few weeks, and my hubby is the best man. (don't mention the words 'best man speech' to him though, he may just punch you...)  Last week the White House Black Market Store flyer arrived in my mailbox with impeccable timing.  I have only shopped at this store a handful of times, and I've only ever made 2 purchases there.  One of which I returned after not wearing, leaving me with a sizable store credit.  If we could afford it (we can't) I would buy my entire wardrobe from this store.  Their clothes just speak to me.  But I save my trips there for only very special occasions, and the upcoming wedding that we will be attending seemed to be a good reason.  On Friday night, I grabbed my most trusted critic (mom), my 15% off your entire purchase coupon, my store credit, and headed off to the mall.  Shopping there is the most pleasant experience.  The sales associates are super nice, honest, helpful, and even brought me a stunning pair of $88 heels to try on with the dresses.

The minute I zipped up the first dress I knew it was "The One."  I haven't worn a strapless dress since my junior prom in 1998, and really didn't anticipate ever wearing one again.  In all honesty, I just haven't felt that I could pull off the strapless look with any grace since having kids.  But this dress worked in every way possible.  I looked at the price tag.  Gulp.  I factored in my store credit minus 15% off coupon.  Smaller gulp.  "How often to I buy myself a new dress?" I thought to myself.  "Why not go all out," I further rationalized.  So I committed to spending a little more than I normally would.  I also committed to not feel guilty about it.  How could I?  Look at this gorgeous dress:

I contemplated whether or not I should even try on the other dresses that "Jackie" (adorable, helpful sales associate) hung in the dressing room for me.  Sure, why not?  How often do I get to try on beautiful clothing without someone crying, drooling, yelling, or asking me for fishy crackers in the stroller next to me?  Um... never.  So I was taking full advantage of my evening of shopping and bonding with my momma.

Fast forward to next dress.  Uh oh.  Equally fabulous.  Flattering even my less than perfect mom-of-three shape, flow-y, summery, super sexy, gloriously silky soft, this dress had it all.  A very close match in price to the first, I couldn't even make my decision based on that.  I ended up trying on both dresses 2 more times, modeling them each for all 3 of the people who worked in the store, and in the end I bought them both.  Yes, I said both.  It has been a very long time since any piece of clothing made me feel that beautiful, and I technically need two different outfits for the wedding weekend (rehearsal dinner), so that was that.  As I said, I don't ever splurge on something that we can not afford. And I didn't. Being in tune with our finances lets me know just what we can afford at any given moment. While I wouldn't normally go and spend a whole bunch of money on dresses at the mall, I know that I can and my children will still be fed, clothed, bathed, and able to watch their DVR cable TV shows. So we're good.  Kids have Nick Jr., momma has a hot new dress:

I came home and modeled my selections for my husband.  His jaw-dropping reaction made me feel that I had made the right choices, and these two pieces of clothing were well worth it.  He always makes me feel good about myself, but he hadn't looked at me in that way in quite a while.

And that, my friends is where I will leave you from this long-winded post about my most recent shopping experience.  Retail-therapy at it's finest.

What have you shopped for lately?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Touch'd Beauty Products Review and Giveaway

I love new beauty products.  There is something about finding a product that can make you feel good about yourself that really makes my day.  As moms, we so rarely find a moment to do something for ourselves, and having a new beauty product to try out provides that opportunity for me.  Recently I was selected to be a part of a new beauty product line marketing debut.  Touch'd Beauty Products sent me a sample of the Organic Sugar Scrub in the Tropical Paradise Scent to try out.

I've never used a sugar scrub before, so I actually googled it before hand to figure out the best way to go about using one.  (I know, I'm such a dork...) I learned that sugar scrubs are a great way to exfoliate, moisturize, and leave skin feeling silky and smooth.  "Sounds good to me," I thought.  I was off to the shower.  My sample did come with a very useful tip telling me to stand on a washcloth if I was planning to use the sugar scrub on my feet.  Good thing I did... Touch'd Organic Sugar Scrub is made of essential oils and that stuff is slippery!  The first thing I noticed when I opened the jar was the delicious smell.  I felt like I was on a Caribbean Holiday.  I scooped a little into my hand and applied it to my feet, upper arms, and legs.  I scrubbed it in to these less-than smooth areas and instantly felt the sugar get to work.  The texture felt great, and left my skin feeling super smooth, but not oily at all (which was something I was afraid of!)  The delicious scent lasted all day, and my feet really felt like I had just had a pedicure at the spa. 

I've added the Touch'd Organic Sugar Scrub as a part of my weekly beauty regime to keep my feet flip-flop ready.  It has really made a difference in keeping my heels soft and smooth instead of their usual hard and rough existence.  I would highly recommend this unique formula to anyone who has a love for sandals to keep their feet smooth and pretty all summer long!  And did I mention that they each product is homemade with all natural ingredients?  Would you like to try it out for yourself?  Great!  Touch'd is offering one of my lucky readers The Foaming Salt Soak ($32 value!) to try out in a nice soothing bath.

To enter, leave me a comment below telling me how you pamper yourself. Be sure to leave a separate comment for each extra entry!

10 additional entries can be earned by doing some or all of the following: (leave an additional comment for each entry.)
  • Become a follower of Thou Shall Not Whine (3 extra entries!) *Just click the little "follow" button on the right-hand sidebar, then leave me 3 additional comments stating, "follower #1, follower #2, etc."
  • Follow my blog on Facebook (2 extra entries) *click on the networked blog button on the right-hand sidebar, then leave 2 additional comments stating that you did!*
  • Grab my button and display it on your blog (2 extra entries!)
  • Mention this giveaway on your blog with a link back to it. (2 extra entries!)
  • Leave a comment on a non-giveaway post. (leave an additional comment here to count as your entry!)
This giveaway starts now and will conclude on Monday, July 5th, at 11:59pm EST. Winner will be selected via Random.org and contacted via email. Winner will have 48 hours to respond before another winner will be chosen.

*Disclosure:* I was provided the product mentioned above free of charge for the purpose of writing this review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A Random Smattering of Photographs

It's been a while since I posted any pictures of my kids lately, and I'm sad to say I haven't been taking tons of pictures these days.  I love outdoor shots the best, but it has been so hot in NC these days we just haven't been outside much at all.  Except at the pool, but I know better than to try to bring my camera there!  So here are a few pics of our kiddos:

With Daddy.  Olivia is sooooooooo tired of taking pictures!

This one is such a Daddy's Girl!

I love watching these two play together.  So cute!




Wednesday, June 23, 2010

It's Fun To Stay At The Y-M-C-A!

*Sorry to disappoint... this blog post is not going to have lyrics from the Village People's infamous 1978 hit song, I just thought it was a good title.*

I already mentioned that we recently joined the local YMCA.  We are really thrilled with the facility so far, and I feel like we are getting more than our money's worth out of our membership there.  I am not a huge fan of working out, but I am a huge fan of eating; because of this I think that working out is more than necessary.  And believe it or not, having a YMCA membership actually makes me want to go work out.  Isn't that crazy?  And no, the YMCA did not pay me in any way, shape, or form to say that.  It is just absolutely true. 

I'm pretty sure the #1 reason I enjoy working out at the Y is because it means I get a break from my children.  I have been a Stay-at-home-mom for 3 years now, and let me tell ya, it takes a toll on a girl.  Physically, mentally, emotionally, intellectually (mommy-brain, anyone?).  There have been days (more than I'd like to admit) where I don't interact face-to-face with someone who doesn't share my DNA.  So our YMCA membership has definitely been liberating for me in that I'm finally able to get some "me" time while my children are being cared for in a nurturing age-appropriate setting. 

Another reason I'm seriously enjoying this undertaking is the facility itself.  This is no dingy, dull, dusty, dirty, inner-city YMCA (sorry, Hartford).  The building itself is only a few years old, the equipment is state-of-the-art, and it has a great open-air, non-judgemental feel to it.

Now that I'm actually wanting to work out I get disappointed when I don't get to.  When someone is cranky, tired, or just otherwise generally miserable I don't dare take them to the Y Nursery.  Katelyn cries most of the time she's there anyway, so bringing her on a day that isn't already going her way just seems like cruel punishment for the staff.  They are not allowed to attend (for obvious reasons) if they are sick with a fever, cough, runny nose, etc.  Trouble is that with three young children there isn't often a day that one of my children doesn't have at least one of those symptoms.  OK, I'm exaggerating a bit, but sometimes it feels that way.

Week #1 went great: All three kids enjoyed playing in the Y Nursery.  I was able to work out, shower, blow dry my hair, put on makeup and pick up my children feeling refreshed, purposeful, and rejuvenated.

Week #2 was not so great: Katelyn HATED the drop off part, cried a lot while she was there, needed to be held more than her fair-share by the Y Nursery staff, and was restricted to a 1 hour visit instead of the standard 2.  Not terrible because I can still work out in an hour, but that leaves me going home sweaty, sticky, and still needing to find a spare 6 1/2 minutes to shower. (Blow drying my hair and applying makeup is usually out of the question once I'm back to mommy-mode.)

Week #3 of exercising was non-existant: In the beginning of the week Katelyn had a cough, followed by Joey, and Olivia's is still lingering...  We did, however begin using the pool during this week, and have been enjoying every minute of splish-splashing fun.  I figured coughing germs are probably killed by the chlorine, and it's not like the kids are drinking a lot of the pool water. ;)

Week #4 is yet to be determined: I worked out today, bringing only Joey with me; Katelyn was cranky and Olivia is still hacking so they stayed home with Daddy.  For the very first time since we've joined Joey cried and carried on when I left him at the Nursery.  He was aparently fine shortly thereafter, and I am praying that this does not become a habit.  Leaving one screaming kid is hard enough.  Leaving two may be more than this mom can handle.

I'm hoping that Week 5 of being YMCA members will bring healthy children, happy to go play, and possibly a pound of weight loss for me....

Monday, June 21, 2010

(Still) Getting Settled

You may have noticed that I've been a pretty infrequent blogger lately.  Or maybe you haven't noticed, and if that's the case you need to pay more attention to me.  Haha, just kidding.  Seriously though, I have had very little time or motivation to write about much of anything lately.  I feel like I've been on a wild roller coaster, and life is just whizzing by.  Up, Down, Upside down, Loop-dee-loop, Curve around, and........ STOP!  Then do it backwards in the dark.  Or something like that.

A few months ago we were told my husband would not be continuing his job that he only got a few months ago.  It felt like the rug was pulled out from beneath our just-getting-settled feet.  A hiring freeze was to blame, paired with budget cuts and terminating vs. continuing contracts.  A bunch of mumbo-jumbo that left us looking at another scary jobless existence.  We panicked big time.  We were ready to pack up this apartment and go back to Connecticut.  Not that he had a job there either, but we just became so very lost and scared, it seemed like running away was our only option.  Ron began spending hours on the phone and computer sending out resumes and making contacts.  It was like deja vu.  The really bad kind.  Luckily though, Someone was looking out for us because Ron went on a last-minute job interview at a brand new school in the area and landed the job that day.  We really felt like that was our sign that North Carolina is the right place for us to be.  He eagerly accepted the job and will be starting in a few short weeks when they are finished building the school.

Deciding once-and-for-all to make a life for our family in North Carolina feels liberating.  We've fallen in love with a neighborhood here, and are working hard to buy a house with a yard for our children to play in.  (more on that soon!) We've joined the YMCA which is an awesome facility with great workout equipment, childcare, and a fun pool that we've been enjoying immensely.  We are spending less time wondering if this is right for us and more time believing that it is and making it the best possible life we can give to our children.  We're dreaming of places to bring them, things to teach them, and even contemplating an exciting business venture (not telling yet...) in the kinda-near future.

And on top of all of that, I've got the usual mom-stuff: laundry, dishes, and child rearing, a couple of weekends of visitors, traveling, a big trip back North planned, a wedding to go to, and (hopefully) packing, moving, and unpacking very, very, very soon!

So if it seems like I've stopped blogging about fun things that my kids are doing, I haven't.  I've got lots of pictures on my memory card to share with you, I've got stories saved up in my head to tell, and I've got great companies that want to give away fun stuff on my blog to my faithful readers (you!)

Truvia Review and Giveaway

Remember the days when if you wanted something with less calories to sweeten your tea or coffee you had to reluctantly turn to those nasty pink packets of aspartame and saccharin?  I sure do.  Sugar substitutes have come a long way since then, and I'm happy to say that Truvia is now front and center in my cabinet when making my morning tea or coffee.

Truvia is an all natural sweetener made from the Stevia Plant.  Nothing artificial about it, just good old-fashioned nature made sweetness.  One teaspoon of Truvia is equal in sweetness to two teaspoons of sugar, so sprinkle it on fruit, use it in your favorite recipes, or spoon it into your favorite hot (or cold!) beverage.

I was lucky enough to be sent a box of Truvia for review purposes.  And, because my blog readers are so important to me I made sure that Truvia would giveaway another box to a winning reader.  To enter, leave me a comment below telling me how you'll use Truvia.  Be sure to leave a separate comment for each extra entry!

10 additional entries can be earned by doing some or all of the following: (leave an additional comment for each entry.)
  • Become a follower of Thou Shall Not Whine (3 extra entries!) *Just click the little "follow" button on the right-hand sidebar, then leave me 3 additional comments stating, "follower #1, follower #2, etc."
  • Follow my blog on Facebook (2 extra entries) *click on the networked blog button on the right-hand sidebar, then leave 2 additional comments stating that you did!*
  • Grab my button and display it on your blog (2 extra entries!)
  • Mention this giveaway on your blog with a link back to it. (2 extra entries!)
  • Leave a comment on a non-giveaway post. (leave an additional comment here to count as your entry!)
This giveaway will conclude on Monday, June 28th, at 11:59pm EST. Winner will be selected via Random.org and contacted via email. Winner will have 48 hours to respond before another winner will be chosen.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A (Late) Winner Announcement

No need to post a random.org gadget in this post.  Only 1 person entered my giveaway for $30 in Kroger Gift Cards.  6 entries, all by the same person.  So she's the winner.  Thanks for entering Kathryn!  And a huge thank you to MyBlogSpark and General Mills for sponsoring this event!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Paying it Forward

Remember this post where we were all left feeling sorry for the little one with bite marks on her cheek?  Well, fell sorry no longer.  Olivia learned not to stay bit and has put two small boo-boos on my left shoulder.

Can you see those two small teeth marks amongst the freckles and Irish Tan?

Last night while she was being super snuggley giving me loads of sweet slobbery baby kisses Olivia chomped down on my shoulder and pierced the skin with her sharp little teeth.  What a goober.  When I said, "OOOOWWW! Olivia that hurts mommy!" she simply laughed and threw her head back in delight.  My sweet babies are turning into relentless biters.  Maybe they'll star in the next Twilight Movie as Vampire Twins...

Until then, I'll leave you with this picture of their latest victim.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Scary Mom Voice

Recently my newly-married friend Kate gave up her well-deserved weekend of quality time with her husband to visit me and my family here in Raleigh.  Kate and I met as R.A.'s in college 10 years ago.  We've seen each other through some of the most difficult and wonderful times of our lives, and our bond remains forever strong despite our very different lifestyles.  A fellow blogger, you can check out Kate's talent for restoring forgotten furniture here.

Generally speaking, my children were on their best behavior for our guest.  Joey was funny, entertaining, and energetic.  The babies were cuddly, affectionate, and super adorable.  After a late night on Friday, early rising and skipping a nap on Saturday, Joey was well-beyond "being a good listener" by Saturday evening.  I was trying to wrap up the activity, get everyone seated, and get dinner on the table.  I was also hot, tired, and already drinking beer.  Joey was running through the apartment like a tornado destroying everything in his path.  As he dumped over yet another bin of cleaned up toys, I reached my breaking point.  I grabbed hold of him before he could run to the next area of destruction and demanded he clean up the mess he had made.  I then shouted at my husband and guest to "EAT!" as they were waiting for the cook to be seated.  Not my finest mom moment by far.  Later when things were calmer I apologized to Kate for having to witness my ill-fated attempt to discipline my son accompanied by my scary mom voice.  Her response was honest and hilarious:

Kate: Honey, I've heard that voice before.
Me: You have?
Kate: Yes.  You had your scary mom voice long before you ever had children.  It didn't just appear when you popped out a kid between your legs.

And to that I had no response.  She is absolutely right.  Kate and I had our share of squabbles back in the day.  Chasing each other down the dorm room hallways with snow shovels and returning each other's stuff type squabbles.  I've used my scary mom voice on Kate or in her presence probably more times than I should publicly admit.  So that got me thinking.  Do we all have a scary mom voice?  Or only us scary moms?  If you have one, now is the time to embrace it.  I want to know... when did you last use your scary mom voice?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Covergirl ShadowBlast and ShineBlast Review

I was super excited to be invited to the Covergirl Blast Campaign through Bzzagent.  A while back I was a part of the Covergirl & Olay Simply Ageless Campaign, and because of it I've been using the Covergirl foundation, blush, concealer, and corrector ever since.  So when I received an invitation to try out the newest Covergirl eyeshadows and lipglosses through BzzAgent I was psyched. 

The Covergirl Smoky Shadowblast is a great concept.  It is 100% self contained, meaning no need for additional applicators.  There are two colors, one on each end of the product, and instructions on how to apply it are included on the package.  This product is sold in several shades, I selected the Onyx which is a silver/black combination. I loved the way it looked immediately after application.  I felt that I could use more or less of the product to make the look more or less dramatic.  It is acceptable for everyday use, but also could be used more liberally for a more drastic look suitable for an evening out (what's that?) or special event.  My big complaint about this product is that after a short period of time the color started to fade, and made a cake-like dark line in the crease of my eyelid.  I'm not sure if this is a result of the way I applied it (foundation on the eye vs. no foundation), the HOT North Carolina weather, or a flaw of the shadow formula that Covergirl is using, but I prefer my eyeshadow to go on, stay on, and last for hours. 

As for the Covergirl ShineBlast Lipgloss, I have nothing but great things to say about it.  It is a lightweight formula, lots of shine, and not super sticky as some lipglosses can be.  It had just the right amount of color, and seemed to last for a while also.  I tried the Sparkler shade, in case you're wondering.  I'd love to try out something a little bit darker, it's a good thing my BzzKit came with a couple of coupons to use towards my next product purchase!

Without further ado, here are my before and after pics.  Please ignore my slicked-back hairstyle in these.  I sacrificed doing my hair for playing with makeup.  This mom just can't find time for both right now...



Shadow Blast Close Up:

By the way, I realize that lots of my posts lately have been reviews/giveaways/brand promotions.  Our life has been busy and kind of stressful these days and I just haven't had a lot of time to devote to writing my usual family stories.  I am not switching gears.  The #1 focus of my blog will always be my children and the funny (or not so funny) things that they do.  A faithful blog reader is a patient blog reader.  If the content today is not what you were hoping for, don't fret.  It will be more relevant again soon.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Pound For Pound Challenge & Kroger Gift Card Giveaway

I have been reckless with my food choices and lack of exercise for the several months.  I've let my weight get to a higher number than I'm comfortable with, and while I've wanted to get it under control, I've been unable to motivate myself.  Then I received an email from MyBlogSpark telling me about the Pound For Pound Challenge, as seen on 'The Biggest Loser.'  If you haven't heard about it, here's the deal: 

Hunger affects 1 out of 6 Americans today.  To raise awareness about the fight against hunger, the Pound For Pound Challenge was created, in which anyone (that includes you) can pledge to lose weight while helping a local food bank or shelter of your choosing at the same time.  Through June 30, 2010, for every pound you pledge to lose, the Pound For Pound Challenge will donate 14¢ to Feeding America® - enough to deliver one pound of groceries to a local food bank.

I couldn't think of better motivation to start my weight loss journey.  Just the idea my small weight loss could help a family in need was enough for me.  I pledged to lose 10 pounds by the end of the month.  To make this a little easier on me, through MyBlogSpark, General Mills and Kroger sent me $30 in gift cards to the Kroger Family of Stores to purchase healthy foods for my family.  And they have another $30 in Kroger gift cards to send to one of my readers who comments on this post.  The Kroger Family of Stores includes Kroger, Fred Meyer, Ralph´s, King Soopers, City Market, Dillon's, Smith´s, Fry´s, QFC, Baker´s, Owen´s, Jay C Food Stores, Hilander, Gerbes, Food4Less, Pay Less Super Markets and Scott´s Food & Pharmacy.

To enter this giveaway, leave a comment on this post telling me one way that you *try* to stay healthy.  While I'm encouraging you to take the Pound For Pound Challenge and pledge, it is not mandatory for entering the giveaway.

10 additional entries can be earned by doing some or all of the following: (leave an additional comment for each entry.)
  • Be a follower of Thou Shall Not Whine (3 extra entries!) *Just click the little "follow" button on the right-hand sidebar, then leave me 3 additional comments stating, "follower #1, follower #2, etc."
  • Follow my blog on Facebook (2 extra entries) *click on the networked blog button on the right-hand sidebar, then leave 2 additional comments stating that you did!*
  • Grab my button and display it on your blog (2 extra entries!)
  • Mention this giveaway on your blog with a link back to it. (2 extra entries!)
  • Leave a comment on a non-giveaway post. (leave an additional comment here to count as your entry!)
This giveaway will conclude on Friday, June 11th at 11:59pm EST. Winner will be selected via Random.org and contacted via email. Winner will have 48 hours to respond before another winner will be chosen.

(Disclosure: Kroger Family of Stores gift card, information, and giveaway were all provided by the Kroger Family of Stores and General Mills through MyBlogSpark.)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Sisterly Love

Can you see the marks on Olivia's left cheek in this picture?

You might be able to see it better in this one.

It was hard to photograph for two reasons: 1. she has very fair skin that glows when the camera flashes.  2. moving targets are always hard to catch.  Regardless, do you have any idea how Olivia got these marks on her cheek?

From the title of this post, you can probably guess that it had something to do with this not-so innocent girl:

That's right folks, we've got a biter.  A hair-pulling, knock-her-down, biting 1-year old bully.  What started as a sweet moment of snuggles, giggles, and kissing twin babies ended with horrific cries from poor unsuspecting Olivia.  The red marks appeared instantly, and lasted through the weekend.  She's no worse for the wear, and being beat up on by siblings is a part of childhood.  A sad part, but a part nonetheless.


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