Siblings are a Gift

by Christine - From Dates to Diapers on December 16, 2014

My kids are partners in crime and buddies for life. If there’s mischief to be had, there will be at least a few siblings in the middle of it. You don’t come in between them, either. For as much as they might squabble and annoy each other, that’s a sibling’s right and privilege that no one else can claim. This time of year is especially fun to watch their interactions.

Siblings are a Gift

Really, siblings are a gift. For at least 23% of kids in foster care, siblings are the ultimate gift and the longest lasting relationships that they know. While we wrap gifts for brothers and sisters, make cookies together, and cuddle up by the tree, AdoptUSKids is on a mission. Foster kids need forever families, and they need their siblings.

A new series of PSAs highlight this great need, reminding us that no household is perfect – but you might still have the perfect home.

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Since 2002, nearly 10,000 siblings photolisted on adoptuskids.org have found families. For sibling groups in foster care that are available for adoption and don’t have an identified placement, the AdoptUSKids website can be a useful tool in finding prospective families. AdoptUSKids is a service of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Administration for Children and Families. See the full-size infographic

Keep Siblings Together infographic

Take some time this holiday season to look at some of these kids’ faces. See if there is room in your heart and your home to take in a sibling set. Some stability and love can mean the world to siblings in foster care.

 

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Great Gift Idea – Incredibly Easy Peppermint Bark

by Christine - From Dates to Diapers on December 14, 2014

Growing up, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, my Mom would set aside several days amongst the hustle and bustle to bake with my sisters and me. Later, we would get together for a big baking day. We would make pies and cookies, and other sweet treats. I have carried on this tradition with my own children. Cranberry Chocolate Chunk Cookies, Oreo TrufflesRolo Turtles, and Peppermint Bark are among our favorites and we make them every year!

We have made our Peppermint Bark as gifts every year, but making it in cookie cutters adds a special touch. They are super easy little gifts to make and call for just a few simple ingredients – cookie cutters, parchment paper, candy melts, candy canes, goody bags, and ribbon.

We purchased everything at Walmart for about $21 for all 18 gifts. The Wilton holiday cookie cutters were just $8.97 for a box of 18! Of course, you can certainly choose plastic cutters, or even painted ones, but this was a steal for as many gifts as we needed to make. Each was laid out on a sheet of parchment paper.

Peppermint Bark Gift Idea - step 1

Next, we melted two packages of Wilton Milk Chocolate Candy Melts and filled the cookie cutters, some completely and others only half full. We topped the half filled cutters with Wilton White Candy Melts and let them all cool.

Peppermint Bark Gift Idea - Step 2

But, before they cooled completely, we crushed several candy canes and topped the chocolate filled cutters.

Peppermint Bark Gift Idea - Step 3

Voila! Perfect little gifts for anyone on your list who may enjoy a sweet homemade gift!

Peppermint Bark Gift Idea

We placed each cookie cutter filled with Peppermint Bark in a festive goody bag and we tied them up with some ribbon. My kids and I have great fun making these simple little treats each year. This year, they will make a perfect gift for each of their friends in the neighborhood!

Peppermint Bark - gift idea

In addition to all of our favorites listed above, we plan to check out walmart.com for some new ideas for some fun baking days next week.

As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Holiday Entertaining with Gold Emblem

by Christine - From Dates to Diapers on December 13, 2014

Unfortunately, this year we aren’t doing much entertaining, what with our upcoming move and all. However, we still plan to have a few neighbors over for some holiday cheer. And, what better to serve our guests than some delicious goodies?

Gold Emblem – a premier food, beverage and snack line, available exclusively at CVS/pharmacy – has quickly become one of my favorite go-tos for holiday entertainment. I can literally serve directly from the package and know that my guests are getting top quality finger foods. Best of all, the Gold Emblem line works well with my budget. (And Lord knows we don’t have much to spare, as most of our budget is going in to our new house!)

Gold Emblem sea salt caramels

Among our favorites are the Sea Salt Caramels, covered in delectable dark chocolate, and the Sea Salt Caramel Shortbread cookies. Both are great choices to serve at holiday get-togethers or even just to snack on while wrapping presents! You can get both products at your local CVS/pharmacy, as well as all of the Gold Emblem and Gold Emblem Select products.

Like I mentioned before, you can be sure you are not breaking the bank with Gold emblem products. With nearly all items under $5, and CVS/pharmacy’s 100 percent money-back guarantee on CVS/pharmacy Brand products, you can be sure that whatever you purchase will meet your standards and you can be worry free!

Gold Emblem sea salt caramel shortbread

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. All opinions and thoughts are my own.

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Our Afternoon at Ripley’s San Antonio

by Christine - From Dates to Diapers on December 13, 2014

We have been to San Antonio several times. The Alamo and River Walk are among our favorite places to visit. We had always walked by Ripley’s and I thought it would be a fun place to take the kids, but we never had a chance to stop in and visit. Until last Saturday.

Ripley's San Antonio

We kind of got a late start, but arrived at Ripley’s mid-afternoon. We had 3-way combo tickets, but knew we’d have plenty of time to tour the Odditorium and Wax Museum, and sneak in to the 4D Theater – the attractions wouldn’t close until 10pm (8pm, Mon-Thur).

Louis Tussaud’s was first on the agenda. We mingled with movie stars, celebrities, and prominent figures. All wax, of course!

Ripley's 3-way combo

Walt Disney and the 7 dwarves, Marilyn Monroe, the President, and more… All so lifelike! (Others, not so much, and quite scary, to be honest.)

WaxWorks San Antonio

Next up was the 4D Theater. This was Timmy’s favorite of all of the attractions – We wore 3D glasses and had quite the wild ride, during two different adventures, making it feel as though we were inside the movie! (Great for 4 year olds, but the older kids felt like it was eh, and unfortunately the experience made Ray feel queasy.)

Ripley's - 4D Theater

Imagine the following in 3D, moving in your seat with all the bumps and turns…

 

Last, but certainly not least, was the Odditorium. Since 1918, the Believe It or Not Odditoriums have showcased the eclectically bizarre collection of Robert Ripley – the world’s most unbelievable exhibits. Authentic shrunken heads, two-headed animals, and a 19th century vampire killing kit only scratches the surface of what’s behind the doors of Ripley’s San Antonio.

Ripley's Believe it or Not Odditorium

This was a great way for us to spend the afternoon as a family. There was lots to see and we all learned a bit, as well!

Disclosure: We received complimentary 3-way combo tickets, courtesy of Ripley’s. This post also includes affiliate links, but all thoughts and opinions are mine, of course.

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Find Gifts for all the Gamers on your list at Game Stop

December 12, 2014

It’s an exciting time for shoppers at GameStop with lots of deals and new releases to keep gift-ers and gift-ees alike happy. The GameStop Holiday Hub is your source for all things holiday. It’s the perfect place to find the hottest deals, newest releases, greatest gift ideas and so much more! Whether you’re shopping for others or shopping for yourself, we have everything you […]

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Luxury and Affordability {Chrysler 200s Review}

December 11, 2014

The 2015 velvet red Chrysler 200s – “our cool new car” as Timmy called it – was delivered smack in the middle of our driveway one afternoon not long ago. I was asked to rate it on a scale from 1 to 10 before driving it, based solely on appearance. I had to give it […]

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Holiday Bling

December 10, 2014

I have always loved to accessorize, but I’m not one for holiday-inspired baubles. I prefer soft and delicate touches, year round. So, of course, when I got a sneak peak at all of the beautiful new accessories available at Walmart this Holiday season, I gravitated towards rose colored watches and beautiful statement necklaces. First let’s […]

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Zach’s Smile Just Got Brighter

December 9, 2014

I shared with y’all when Ethan finished his Invisalign treatment, but I am so happy to report that Zach is finally done with his Invisalign treatment, as well! What a difference, right? (Hop over real quick and see Ethan’s transformation. I’ll wait.) While he is done with his treatment, he still has to wear a […]

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The Whole Family Can Relax in Style This Holiday Season

December 8, 2014

We have many family traditions for the Christmas season. One of them is opening a gift on Christmas Eve. A few years ago I began giving each of my kiddos a robe or pair of pajamas, and a pair of slippers or fuzzy socks. Cozy sleepwear makes a wonderful gift, especially when they are cute […]

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At the Movies with #FandangoFamily

December 8, 2014

There are some great movies on the big screen right now and I am excited to see a few. My older kiddos have already seen The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, and I must say that I am insanely jealous. I devoured all three books in a matter of days and saw the first and […]

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A Hallelujah Christmas :: Listen and be Blessed

December 7, 2014

I’ve been having a difficult time getting in to the Christmas spirit this holiday season. There are many reasons, I suppose… I’m drowning in deadlines; we are buying a new house, so money is extremely tight; we’re spending the holidays away from family for the first time ever; and, due to the cold weather, I […]

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Give the Gift of Airwick this Holiday Season

December 6, 2014

As we get closer to Christmas, I am on the lookout for easy ways to give beautiful and thoughtful gifts. The AirWick “Good To Be Home” collection is an exclusive line of candles at Walmart and would be perfect in the center of any gift basket or box for any candle-lover. Here’s what you’ll need to create […]

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Visit Walmart this Saturday for Some Great Fun Including FREE Photos with Santa!

December 4, 2014

Your local Walmart may be hosting some great holiday fun for y’all this weekend! Walmarts around the country are having their largest-ever in-store Holiday Event featuring free pictures with Santa, a test-drive of the hottest holiday toys and gadgets, as well as holiday food sampling and recipes. Where are these holiday events taking place? Austin, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Houston, San […]

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Save up to 50% at Tiny Prints TODAY ONLY!!

December 4, 2014

Hey early birds…you’re about to get a great deal on holiday cards. From 7:00am to 11:00am (eastern time) TODAY ONLY, Tiny Prints is making their already awesome Cyber Week deal even more awesome. Through the end of today, you can get 40% off all holiday cards using the code CYBER40. If your order is more than […]

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How to Fight Dry Skin this Winter

December 3, 2014

With cold weather usually comes dry, flaky skin and chapped lips. But, you can battle dry skin and imperfections with just one product – Johnson’s Baby Oil Gel – and avoid trips to multiple beauty or drugstores as the weather gets colder. First of all, it’s uber important to drink lots and lots of water. I […]

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Fill the Truck at Walmart {#GivingTuesday}

December 2, 2014

For over 40 years Walmart has been an essential partner of The Salvation Army. With our help and the help of our own local communities, Walmart will collect hundreds of thousands of toys for children in need. How you can Help Fill the Truck You have the opportunity to drop off new, unwrapped toys at the trucks […]

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Kids CWIST for Kids

December 2, 2014

I was happy to be introduced to the Kids CWIST For Kids initiative this holiday season. In honor of #GivingTuesday they want to help parents and their kids get back into the giving spirit for the holidays, so they are providing a way for us to do something for other kids this holiday season, instilling a love of […]

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Give the Gift of an Indoor Garden {AeroGarden Review Part 1}

December 1, 2014

My parents have a beautiful garden, full of everything from fruit trees to cherry tomatoes and pickling cucumbers. I, however, did not inherit their green thumbs. I have tried to keep flowers and plants alive, and even planted an herb garden, but I have no luck with any thing that grows in dirt. Fortunately our […]

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A Few of our Favorite Things – A Holiday Gift Guide

November 30, 2014

1. Monkey Pod Games starting at $3 Monkey Pod has created a huge variety of wooden brainteasers, puzzles, and family games. All  beautiful hand made puzzles and games are both fun and educational! These games can be used for a great family night, some of which build mathematical awareness as well as social and analytical […]

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Create Beautiful Gift Baskets with Mainstays from Walmart

November 29, 2014

Themed gift baskets are always a huge hit for any special occasion, but the Holidays seem to just call for special ways in which you can bless any one on your list with items that are perfect just for them. It’s pretty easy to pull together a few things that look great together all tied […]

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Beauty Gift Sets Make Great Gifts

November 29, 2014

One of my favorite things about having a girl is being able to talk about all things girly with her. Julia is very much a girly girl when it comes to primping and makeup and hair and nails and smelling pretty. She and I often discuss how true beauty comes from the inside and that a little […]

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Stay Warm In Style

November 28, 2014

I hate to be cold and if there is one thing I may never get used to here in Texas it is the fluctuating weather this time of year. I kid you not, it can be 75 degrees one day and 40 degrees the next, but the most fun is when it goes up or […]

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