Friday, February 7, 2014

"I Just Love You!"

Valentine Cupcake

As we nestled down into bed after a late night, the bedroom door suddenly flung open and a miniature silhouette declared into the darkness, "I just love you!"  Cupcake promptly pulled herself up onto the bed, sprawled on top of me sideways and whispered again, "I just love you."

Nothing says love like a cuddle from my little cherub, even in the middle of the night!

Cultivating an environment where our kids know they are loved, has been a purposeful part of our parenting.  We tell them we love them - every day. When they go to bed at night, when we leave the house, when we drop them off at school, when we hang up the phone, when we discipline, when we encourage and at random moments in between.

As a result all three of our kids have become accustomed to saying, "I love you."  Early on, Cupcake responded to "I love you" with a simple "I you."  Now she speaks in full sentences in the wee hours of the morning.  I have caught our teens ending their phone calls with their cousins, grandparents and (gasp!) even each other with a, "Bye, I love ya!"

With Valentine's Day approaching, it is a perfect opportunity to increase our use of the word "love" and not just in reference to the roses, cards or chocolate received.  Those are all wonderful ways to express our love (and here's hoping Hubby doesn't forget that!), but let's think outside the candy box to incorporate "I love you" into our family vocabulary.  Consider little love notes in lunchboxes or a home baked treat just because or an "I love you" before bed every night or breaking out into love songs occasionally (eyes might roll, but I have fond memories of my Dad's serenades!)

Imagine our Heavenly Father, bursting open the door and declaring into the darkness of our hearts, "I just love you!"  Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another! (1Jn.4:11 NIV)   

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Goodwill: "Donate Stuff. Create Jobs."

Donate Stuff...Create Jobs!

Did you know that donating one bag of clothing and one bag of books can equal up to 2.3 hours of on-the-job training for someone in your community?  Add to that a used lamp, a dusty computer and perhaps a box of DVDs and CDs, and that number nearly doubles to 5.2 hours.

A simple item donated to Goodwill® can help provide job training programs, employment placement services and other community-based programs for people who have disabilities, lack education or job experience, or face other challenges to finding employment. In fact, Goodwill is the leading nonprofit provider of job training programs and career services in the United States and Canada.

Goodwill's "Donate Stuff. Create Jobs," campaign seeks to highlight the role that Goodwill plays in promoting independence and dignity for people of all backgrounds.  To find the stores, job training centers and donation site nearest you, visit

About Goodwill Industries International

Goodwill Industries International is a network of 165 community-based agencies in the United States and Canada with affiliates in 13 other countries.  Goodwill is one of America’s top 25 most inspiring companies (Forbes).  Goodwill agencies are innovative and sustainable social enterprises that fund job training programs, employment placement services and other community-based programs by selling donated clothing and household items in more than 2,700 stores and online at  Local Goodwill agencies also build revenue and create jobs by contracting with businesses and government to provide a wide range of commercial services, including packaging and assembly, food service preparation, and document imaging and shredding.  In 2012, more than 6.7 million people in the United States and Canada benefited from Goodwill’s career services.  Goodwill channels 82 percent of its revenues directly into its programs and services.

My Stuff Helps

I was completely unaware of the impact that Goodwill has in their local communities.  Every time I do the seasonal change of clothes, we are always bagging up items for Goodwill.  After a yard sale or pre-Christmas cleaning of the play room, there is usually a van load of bags.  Our house is overflowing with things that other people could use and now there is the added benefit in knowing that it is helping put someone to work!  All the more reason to start decluttering our house pronto.  Who knew?!  My stuff can hoarding tendencies have finally paid least for someone else (it might just provide somebody with a full time job!)  I am eager to load up a few bags and use the "donation calculator" on their website to calculate the impact of my donations.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

On the Way to Cape May!

As summer nears to a close (my teens start back to school next week!) and families scramble for one last glorious, long weekend away for Labor Day, consider some of these options "On The Way To Cape May!"  (Cue music!)  Following is my latest article in South Jersey Mom Magazine!

South Jersey Mom Magazine

Looking for something different to do at the Jersey Shore this summer? Check out these, perhaps lesser known, family friendly spots on the way to Cape May!

Cape May County Zoo ( Located in Cape May Courthouse, the zoo is situated in the woods on Route 9. It is a picturesque zoo that offers many attractions for young and old alike. Beautiful walking paths wind through a park to bring you to the main gate and guide you throughout the zoo. Follow the boardwalk through the woods to the African Savanna where you might be greeted by a curious giraffe! Be on the look out for lions, tigers and bears as you stroll through this shaded zoo to the Reptile and Amphibian House or World of Birds Aviary. Monkeys, otters, wildcats, alligators, peacocks and more provide a full day of entertainment throughout the zoo. Though it may be a small zoo, it boasts a collection of over 550 critters representing over 250 species! One of the best features of this zoo is that it is FREE! It is a non-profit community zoo, which will gladly accept donations, but above all wants to share the animal experience with you. Consider the Cape May County Zoo for your next family adventure!

Cape May Point State Park ( Head to the southern most point of New Jersey, a little further past the end of the Garden State Parkway, and you will find yourself at Cape May Point. One of the major attractions to this park is the 157 foot high lighthouse which can be toured for a nominal fee and provide tourists with breathtaking views! Covering 244 acres, the park also provides opportunities for fishing, birdwatching, picnicking and hiking. In addition there is a World War II Bunker and a museum on the area's natural and historic features. Several miles of trails offer a beautiful scenic hike through freshwater wetland marshes, past ponds, by the beach and coastal dunes. A handicapped accessible boardwalk allows travelers of all levels to participate on some of the trails, while providing access to more difficult trails along the journey. A perfect way to spend the day with the entire family in the great outdoors!

Sunset Beach ( Just down the lane from the Cape May Lighthouse you will come to the end of the island at Sunset Beach. Bring your shovel and buckets to dig for “Cape May diamonds” while watching dolphins swim past the partially sunken remains of the concrete ship, the USS Atlantus! Kids love discovering the unique quartz crystals that cover the beach and seeing how the stones can be turn into “diamonds” once polished and faceted. Making memories at Sunset Beach is easy to do with mini golf, The Grille, gift shops, spectacular sunsets and the Evening Flag Ceremony, a 40 year tradition honoring veterans each night.

Each of these shore points are free, offering additional activities at a minimal cost and providing hours of fun for your family! Create some special memories this summer by the shores of Cape May!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Berenstain Bears

As we were frantically doing laundry, shopping, cleaning and attempting to pack up for a long awaited vacation, the perfect preschool distraction arrived in the mail.  Two Limited Edition Golden Gift Sets in celebration of The Berenstain Bears 50th Anniversary!

Berenstain Bears Golden Edition

Berenstain Bears 50th

These limited edition sets include a 2 hour DVD and an adorable 10 inch plush doll (which is so cuddly and soft!)  There is a Brother Bear set and a Sister Bear set.

Brother Bear

Sister Bear

Cupcake was enthralled for hours (not all in one sitting!) watching her new video and cuddling on the couch with a couple of new little friends.

Brother and Sister Bear

During the day as she would tire of my vacation prep, she would politely ask to watch the "girl show."  I happily accommodated as it is much easier to accomplish the necessary tasks at hand without Cupcake continually underfoot.  She and I were both thrilled at the new diversion which made what could have been a very hectic day run more smoothly.

Berenstain Bears & Cupcake

I will definitely be adding the Berenstain Bears to the DVD collection for our long car trips!

The Berentain Bears Golden Edition sets are available exclusively at Walmart or Sam's Club stores for $19.99!  They would make a great birthday gift or even a baby shower gift!

Berenstain Bears

Disclaimer:  I received two boxed sets in exchange for this post.  All opinions are mine and Cupcake's!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Flag

As the school year draws to a close and summertime breezes start blowing, many a flag will be seen unfurling in the wind, proudly displaying it's stars and stripes.  The following poem captures the patriotic emotions that the American flag evokes in each of us:

The Flag

by Darla Mooney

Alone in the closet
Way out of reach
Lay a crumpled old flag.
Sand from the beach,

Stains from the grand parades
display the use
of the small, hand held flag:
Red, white, and blue.

But it is winter now
Summer days gone
With picnics and parties;
Patriot's fun.

No child still gripped it;
Waved like a wand
Celebrations are done.
Where is the fond

Old friend that means so much?
For now, fully 
Replaced with Christmas lights,
Until July

Then we all remember 
Freedom and rights,
Our beloved home of the brave,
The soldiers fight.

The spirit we forgot
Of what the soldiers fought

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Benefit for Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House

"Ronald McDonald" and "fashion" are not exactly two complimentary thoughts in the same sentence.  I mean, with his flaming red hair, clown makeup and banana yellow suit, one would expect his fashion inspired designs to be more appropriate for the circus, not the runway.  But hold the fries and check out Ronald in his finest!
Ronald, sporting a yellow tux, escorts
McDonald's Owner, Marlene Weinberg
Take a look at the latest fashion line from up-and-coming Philadelphia-based designers inspired by non-other than McDonald's Premium McWrap!  Yes, you read that right...inspired by food, who knew?!

Fashion Show

McWrap designers, including Project Runway
participant, Kristin Haskin Simms (holding child)
Lobo Mau McWrap Dress
Lobo Mau McWrap Dress
This was one of my favorites!  By designer, Nicole Haddad, this specific dress was inspired by the checkered hamburger wrappers from years ago.  It is a simple, classic wrap with a modern twist.  Similar to the unique packaging of the McWrap, this dress has a zipper along the entire waist.  Unzip it and reveal a wrap shirt with a pencil skirt!  Extremely cute for a young, hip, summer look.

Another favorite of mine was this asymmetrical wrap jumper by Patricia Stewart, designer and creator of Chino Designs.  This trendy and easy fitting jumper is made out of jersey fabric and complements women with fuller forms.  Quite chic and stylish!  
It's A Wrap Dress
It's A Wrap


Each of these dresses and more can be purchased via an online auction at Bidding For Good.  100 % of the proceeds will benefit the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House!  Bidding for each one of a kind dress starts at $75!  If you are in the market for some new and unique styles to add to your wardrobe this summer, then start bidding.  The auction will close at 11:59 p.m. on May 24, 2013.

All these McWrap inspired fashions were showcased at an event hosted by Bloomingdale's in the King of Prussia Mall.  Leslie Van Arsdall, anchor at CBS 3 and the CW Philly, emceed the evening.  In addition to the auction items, attendees were treated to a fashion show featuring some of the season's hottest spring and summer fashions.

Since this mama blogger is about the farthest thing from a fashionista as one can get, I will give you the quick tips for fashion that I gleaned:
  • Jean jackets are back.  Remember those cute little jackets we wore in the 80's?  Yup, those!  Check your cedar closet, because everything comes back in style.  Or, better yet, hit Bloomingdale's for the newest look!
  • Add a shock of color to the outfit.  Think trendy purse, scarf, or jewelry!
  • Apparently flats are back too, so treat your feet to some stylish sandals!

Premium McWrap

While watching these pretty young models parade back and forth in cute outfits, the rest of us indulged in the finer fare that was being served.  Gourmet appetizers, cocktails and Premium McWraps - it was truly an impressive spread!  The wraps were quite tasty and I look forward to using the coupons I received to introduce this new, healthier choice, to my family.
Premium McWrap
My Chicken & Bacon McWrap!
The Premium McWrap is part of McDonald's ongoing effort to bring fresh meal options that are tasty and convenient for customers.  The wraps come in three delicious varieties either grilled or crispy: Sweet Chili Chicken, Chicken & Bacon, and Chicken & Ranch. 

I tried the Chicken & Bacon McWrap: grilled chicken, spring greens, shredded lettuce, creamy garlic sauce, cheddar jack cheese and tomatoes totaling 440 Calories.  The wrap comes in a full container that can be unzipped, providing an easy way to eat it!  Considering how messy wraps usually are to eat, this mom will be glad to have a healthier, easy to eat, fast food option while transporting the kids to and fro!

Ronald McDonald House

Despite my two summer stints as a Crew Chief and Drive-Thru Attendant with McD's during my college years, I was woefully unaware of the Ronald McDonald House.  This is an amazing charity that offers help and hope to children and families during extremely difficult times.

One such family shared their story of how they have benefited from the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House.  I had the opportunity to chat with Angela and her daughter after the fashion show.
Angela Valente
Mom & Daughter enjoying a night out...makeovers included!
Due to her son's life threatening "Bubble Boy" condition, Angela's family moved from Georgia to Philadelphia, so they could be closer to C.H.O.P. (Children's Hospital Of Philadelphia) for his treatment.  The family was able to live at the Ronald McDonald House while he was living at the hospital.  His sister donated bone marrow twice to save her little brother!  What a beautiful hero she is!
I cannot imagine what this family has gone through and the battles they continue to fight on a daily basis.  Angela's son is only 2 1/2 years old, but sounds like a real trooper!

No doubt there are many similar stories of courage that can be found at Ronald McDonald House.  It was truly a privilege for me to participate in this great evening benefiting this vital charity!  If you would like to show your support, please consider bidding on the McWrap dresses this week!
Ronald McDonald
Me & Ronald McDonald!

Disclaimer:  As a McCafe Mom I attended the event and received several gifts without compensation, but with the expectation of promoting the event and posting about it.  All the opinions are my own.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Mid-Life Mother Bloggers

Thanks to Cupcake, I have been automatically inducted into an international society commonly known as "Mid-Life Mothers."  This particular club includes a wide range of moms, from those who conceived or adopted their first child after 40 to those who had a mid-life surprise (and many scenarios in between.)  As for me, well, here is my story.
Cupcake posing for Mother's Day pictures!
Mothering in the Middle posted an article recognizing several Mid-Life Mother Bloggers - myself included!  They come from different walks of life, countries and continents, representing the eclectic group of women that call themselves "Mid-Life Mothers."

Disclaimer: I have not received any compensation for this post.  The other bloggers listed in the article may or may not share similar opinions to my own.