Capture Photos That #BringIt

by Christine - From Dates to Diapers on October 4, 2014

With the back-to-school season upon us, don’t miss the opportunity to capture the perfect shot of the winning touchdown, the last second field goal or the fourth quarter huddle. Whether you are attending your child’s Pop Warner tournament or your teen’s Homecoming Football game, be sure to photograph and videotape every moment with high quality.

Capture the Perfect Shot #BringIt © bigandt / Dollar Photo Club

The seasons of blurry action shots and over-exposed kick-offs are in the past. Sports fans can #bringit by capturing higher quality images and video of every game this season. To help you make this happen, I’d like to share a few tips and tricks courtesy of Canon’s Digital Learning Center, to help #bringit for sporting events:

  • When you first arrive to the game, be sure to find the spot with the best lighting; stand in front of the light in order to capture the clearest shot.
  • Set your camera’s shooting mode to an automatic high shutter speed to ensure that you catch the perfect shot of your team.
  • Don’t be afraid to shoot from a different angle. Try standing at the top of the bleachers, on the highest hill or from standing low on the sideline in order to capture a variety of shots.
  • Telephoto zoom lenses allow for optimal photo-documenting sport events and athletes at a distance.

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Back to School Firsts

by Christine - From Dates to Diapers on October 1, 2014

At the end of the summer, Staples asked me if they could send us a Kindle Fire HD in exchange for a post on Back to School Firsts. The idea was to get the books on the Summer Reading List checked off, which the Kindle certainly would have helped my older kiddos do, but I had something additional in mind…

Last month, Ben began his first year in full day school outside of the home, and I wanted to document this first for him. He was nervous. I was nervous. But, we had a couple weeks with the Kindle Fire to help prepare him.

How did we do this?

Because he was not yet reading, we downloaded some beginner reading apps and Ben spent quite a bit of time playing with the ones that focused on phonics and sight words. The Monkey Preschool Toolbox is a favorite of Timmy’s, so I had Ben try Monkey Word School Adventure and he really enjoyed it. He seemed to breeze right through the first few games, but he played again and again. I can only believe that increased exposure to the sounds of the single  and double letters will be helpful as he begins to read them all together.

Hooked On Phonics is another one of his favorites. The entire Hooked on Phonics program for the Kindle was a bit pricey, but I bit the bullet, because I’ve heard of great results. Ben is not quite as interested in this as the other, but it seems to be a bit more of what he needs to begin reading.

Beginner Reading Apps for the Kindle Fire

Ben also really enjoyed reading the Level 1 books we downloaded on the free Kindle Reading App. The best part? With a little help, he read every single one we downloaded!

After the first 5 weeks of Ben’s new adventure, I am hopeful that he will continue using the Kindle throughout his entire first year of school.

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“Being a good wife will make me a bad mom.” {7 Lies Moms Believe}

by Christine - From Dates to Diapers on September 30, 2014

As moms, we tend to hold ourselves to a pretty high standard. If we are completely honest, we expect too much of ourselves as we constantly believe the lies that we are told about having to be perfect, make our kids our whole world, and forsake all other parts of life because you became a mom.

With seven kiddos under my wings, and 14 years under my belt, I can assure you that there are some lies we believe that prevent us from being the best mom we can be. I’d like to try to help you realize that these lies only hold us back; they prevent us from being all that we need to be to raise well-rounded and happy children, without driving ourself insane.

Don’t listen to these lies. Instead, embrace the truth.

7 Lies We Believe As Moms  From Dates to Diapers

Lie - My world has to revolve around my kids.

Truth - It doesn’t have to. It really is okay to let your little one skip a nap, so you can meet your sister and nephews at the park. It’s okay to have a few friends over after your babies are in bed, even if y’all aren’t quiet. (Yes, it really IS okay if you aren’t tiptoeing around when he’s sleeping.) Junior will get used to the noise or minor disruption in his schedule. I promise. You, sweet mama, can still have a life. A life that is only more full with your children in it.

Lie - There is never any time for me.

TruthYou must MAKE time for you. Even when your babies are teeny. I know, new moms, you don’t believe me, but Junior really will be okay if you swaddle him and place him in the bassinet just outside of your bathroom door. Take that long, hot shower and shave your legs. Or, pour yourself a cup of coffee and spend some alone time with the Lord. Junior can’t go anywhere and it really is okay if he whimpers for a few minutes before you tend to him. You MUST take time for yourself each day, at the beginning, without guilt.

As baby gets older, have a trusted friend or family member tend to Junior for a few hours each week. Meet a friend for coffee, have a dinner date with your husband, get your nails done, read your Bible at a local coffee shop. And remember  - no guilt. You MUST take care of you.

Lie – I can’t have real friends.

TruthFriendships seem to change as you start a family, but just because you have babies doesn’t mean you need to give up on friendships. When I was pregnant with Ben, I felt isolated. After all, I had four kiddos, 4 years old and under, and I rarely left the house. I turned to the internet and saw an incredible opportunity to connect with the online mom community. My online friends became my “real” friends and are still some of my best friends to this day. Being a mom doesn’t mean you can’t have friends; it just means your friendships change.

Lie – Imperfection is not an option.

TruthNo one is expected to be perfect, so stop expecting yourself to be. Moms get frustrated and yell. We forget to pick up our kids on time from soccer practice. We let crumbs stay on the floor and clean laundry in the washer for hours, sometimes days. We all have shortcomings and disappoint. What’s most important is how you deal with those shortcomings. Apologize, make plans to be better, move on, and try. Do your best, but don’t beat yourself up.

Lie – Happiness is being a mom.

TruthBeing a mom is hard, y’all. You will have challenging days. You will have bad days. In fact, some days you may even wish that you didn’t have the responsibility that children bring. That certainly doesn’t make you a bad mom and it’s completely normal. If these “bad” days are more often than not, however, please talk to a friend or even your doctor. You may have symptoms of depression that need to be addressed.

Lie – I must make every day fun for my kids.

Truth – Life is meant to be lived. Life is not always fun. It is not our job, as parents, to make life fun or to entertain our children 24/7. It is our job to teach and train them to be responsible, respectful, and God-honoring individuals. The best way we teach is by example.

And, last but not least, my favorite lie to bring to truth… 

Lie – Being a good wife will make me a bad mom.

Truth - You can make your husband a priority without compromising your ability to be a good mom. In fact, making time for your spouse will, in fact, make you an even better mom. Trust me. You and your spouse will have a deeper connection and will be better able to parent. It’s only when the two of you are connected – emotionally, physically and spiritually – that you will have the energy and emotional capacity to be the best mom you can be.

What’s more, your husband will thank you for making him a priority. And, when all of your kiddos fly away, you will not have to get to know the one you devoted to love and cherish all over again. So, make plans to go out on a date once a month. If it truly is impossible to have a trusted friend or family member watch the kiddos, put them to bed early one night and have a candlelit dinner. Talk about life, without bringing up the kids. Or just enjoy each other’s company.

The simple act of making your husband number one in your life will make you a better mom. Trust me.

What would you add to the list of lies we believe?

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I had the great honor of being one of 8 professional bloggers to have been chosen by Coca-Cola to join them in India to witness, ask questions, and enjoy our time exploring their 5by20 initiative. It has been two weeks since we returned home from a trip of a lifetime where I saw how women’s lives are being impacted in India in such a wonderful and amazing way. Little did I know that I would be so strongly affected by these inspirational women. Everywhere we went we were met by women who have overcome challenges and beat the odds. Each story was a story of hope, never despair; hard work, but no self-loathing; pride, without ego.

The women themselves were simply inspiring. There was, and still is, so much for me to learn from these amazing women. So much more than I can put in to words. It was nothing short of remarkable, but I will do my best to do justice to them and their stories with the words I use.

photo by Jason Evans

The children at Thimmareddy Government High School, Bangaluru

Dusty, bare feet. Bright, beautiful colors. Faces full of curiosity. Girls huddled in a circle, waiting to catch our eye - their bright eyes sparkling with joy – gorgeous smiles adorning their faces. Groups of boys, laughing and waving, hoping you would say hello. Each child eager to just touch us; to shake our hand, or give us a quick fist bump.

We were standing before the future of India. Girls who are given the opportunity to stay in school as they grow and mature, thanks to clean toilets and proper washing stations. So hopeful for a future as a teacher, a software engineer, or a business owner.

Women in Soda Village

Chavvi and the women of Soda Village, outside of Jaipur

We were greeted by Chavvi, the Sarpanch or Mayor, and several women of the village. Women who have Chavvi as an incredible role model, leading them towards a bright future. Women who were not afraid to show their faces, proudly pulling back their veils, eager to speak up. So much beauty without effort. True beauty. Beauty that only comes from within, but shines bright for all to see.

Sewing Center

The hard-working women at the Jivann Jyot Sewing School in Goblej Village, near Ahmedebad

Young women are hard at work in the warm building, as rain comes down just outside the open window. These women are learning how to trim, cut, tailor, and sew beautiful garments made of vibrant colors. They are given hope for the future, thanks to Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Private Limited (HCCBPL). Most plan to set up their own sewing business from home upon graduation, while some will become instructors there at the very school that touched their family in such a powerful way.

photo by Jason Evans

Jyotsna Ben – the owner of the Splash Bar in Gujarat, Ahmedebad

Jyotsna’s work is never done. She tends to her home and then spends the rest of her day across the street at her very own business – the only Splash Bar in her village of over 1200 residents. A business that has given her the opportunity to rise above her circumstances and cease the task of hard labor at her delicate age of 50. The joy and pride she displays as a business-owner makes my heart rejoice.

Career Development Center in Dasna

There is so much more. Stories I will tell of young men and women of the Career Development Center in Dasna. The tale of how a farmer increased his crops and his profits, so he could purchase a computer for his grandsons and insure a better life for his granddaughters. How the HCCBPL has committed to help many women and families in this developing nation. Stories of empowerment and hope.

Everyone we met – including the incredible men and women who work for the global Coca-Cola Company - filled me with the urge to do something great, to feel something more, to live a more abundant life.

Stay tuned.

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Countdown to Confidence

September 26, 2014

“With Invisalign, the confidence of a great smile starts on the first day of treatment and lasts a lifetime.” Just a heads up, friends… You can enter to win an Invisalign Treatment for you or your teen AND $1000 in the Countdown to Confidence Daily Instant Win & Sweepstakes. You may enter daily, now through November 13th, for […]

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Smoothie King Comes to Cedar Park!!

September 26, 2014

You’re invited to Smoothie King’s Cedar Park grand opening this Saturday from 9am-noon! Smoothie King, the premier smoothie bar and nutritional lifestyle center in the industry, will unveil its 700th new store on Saturday morning, with a grand opening event at its new (and very first) Cedar Park location. Kids, 12 years and younger, are encouraged to participate in […]

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Bake the Perfect Batch with New Reynolds Cookie Baking Sheets

September 25, 2014

Julia and I do a whole lot of baking and it’s not entirely unlikely that we have to wash our cookie sheets every day, more than once. Needless to say, both of us were excited to hear about new Reynolds Cookie Baking Sheets. They are pre-cut parchment sheets that provide an easy, convenient way to “Bake the Perfect Batch.” […]

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Fall Beauty :: Hair

September 23, 2014

Walmart was my one stop shop for changing things up as we move from Summer to Fall! Over the weekend, I shared with you my newest favorite outfit, just in time for Fall. But, I wanted to change my hair color (back to Auburn) and experiment a bit with styling accessories, too. I started off […]

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{DIY} Harvest Floral Wreath

September 22, 2014

Fall colors are one of my favorite things about the Autumn season. Oranges, reds, yellows, and deep greens all around me just seem to bring a sense of warmth and cozyness – a feeling of contentment, I suppose – in spite of the cooler outdoor temperatures. Whether I’m switching out my summer mantle to the deep […]

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My Go-To Fall Outfit

September 21, 2014

I am loving the bright colors that are available in fashion and apparel at Walmart this Fall! Of course, you can still find all of the goodies that make dressing for this season so great – boots, scarves, oversized sweaters, and all – but adding bright splashes of color to my outfit is easy to do […]

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Large Families Need to be Prepared for a Disaster: National Disaster Preparedness Month

September 18, 2014

Disaster, whether natural or man made, can strike at any time. September is dedicated as National Disaster Preparedness Month to get people thinking about what they would do should a disaster hit. Are you and your family prepared? Your first thoughts in a disaster scenario is about those closest to you, your family. You wonder […]

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Laniwai Spa: One of Many Reasons to Visit Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa

September 16, 2014

Along the beaches of Ko Olina, nestled between mountains and ocean of Oahu, Hawaii sits the breath-taking and magical Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa. There are many reasons to visit this beautiful oasis that is just outside of the hustle and bustle of Waikiki, yet close enough to enjoy all the island has to offer. Laniwai Spa is […]

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A Bedtime Routine Sure to Calm and Promote Sleep Through the Entire Night

September 15, 2014

The end of the day is almost the most challenging, as a mom, it seems. Getting the kids ready for bed and all tucked in is sometimes the last thing I want to do when I am so tired myself. Especially when there are the after tuck in bedtime delays – I’m hungry. I need a […]

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Empowering Millions, One Woman at a Time #5by20

September 4, 2014

I have the great honor of being one of 8 professional bloggers to have been chosen by Coca-Cola to witness first-hand how they are investing in the lives of women in India through their 5by20 initiative. We leave this weekend on a whirlwind tour of communities in New Delhi, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Dasna and Bangalore, where […]

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September is Self-Improvement Month

September 4, 2014

We all like to make resolutions at the beginning of the New Year. Commitments to improve something about ourselves; perhaps to diet, work out, stop drinking, and the like. If you’re anything like me, you also make resolutions to improve your family relationships that may include not yelling at your kids, spending more quality time […]

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Miracle Gel {Review}

August 29, 2014

Y’all already know of my love for nail color, so telling you about a new line from Sally Hansen should come as no surprise… Sally Hansen Miracle Gel is a patented and exclusive gel color system. No base coat or UV/LED light is required, and with just two coats of Miracle Gel color and a […]

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Fifteen

August 28, 2014

It was fifteen years ago today. The hottest day of the year. I was to vow to love, honor, and cherish my best friend all the days of my life, and I was a bundle of nerves. As I walked down the aisle, on my father’s arm, I saw my best friend waiting for me […]

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First Day

August 26, 2014

Sending the kiddos off to school after what seems like a long summer is always bittersweet for me. This year, however, it was especially so. While they were all most certainly ready for the routine that the new school year brought with it, I was a bit nervous to drop them off today and yesterday […]

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Get The Amazing Spiderman 2 at Walmart and Enter the #BeAHeroContest

August 23, 2014

Some of my older kiddos saw The Amazing Spiderman 2 when it was playing in theaters. I, on the other hand, couldn’t get past the fact that someone other than Toby McGuire was playing Peter Parker. In fact, I don’t think I even saw the first of the new series. But, I have to say, […]

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AT&T GoPhone {Review}

August 22, 2014

Have I mentioned that I have three kiddos going in to middle school, 1 in to intermediate (I guess that’s a thing in large districts?), and 2 in to elementary this year? Yes, that’s six kiddos in three different schools. That’s a whole lot of kids in too many places at once for this mama’s […]

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{Back to School in Style} Spoof Up Your Binders & Notebooks

August 21, 2014

So, I’ve talked a lot this week about getting ready  for school to begin. Uniforms, backpacks, other school supplies…. So much to purchase. Why ot have a little fun and personalize these items to match your personality? I gave Julia a small budget and creative license, and asked her to decorate her 3-ring binder and […]

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{Back to School} Supplies

August 20, 2014

I’ve been talking a lot about back to school supplies this week, and for a good reason – school starts soon! Are you ready? I have quite the list of items to purchase this year. I am shopping for two in 8th grade, one in 7th, one in 5th, and two in 2nd grade. Shopping […]

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