Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Keep Jesus in Your Heart & Home This Christmas with The Shepherd's Treasure + #Giveaway #MBPHGG16

Thank you to The Shepherd's Treasure for providing me with product in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts are my own.

You know you've seen them in the stores... those little holiday elves with the clothes and books to go along with them. Every year around this time, parents everywhere are scrambling to come up with ideas for those little elf dolls to delight their kids. We started an elf tradition with my son a couple of years ago, and while our elf is sweet, my son grew to expect the elf to bring him treats, and it quickly turned him into a greedy little boy.

All along, I have just wanted to teach my son the true meaning of Christmas. I've worked so hard to help him understand that the holiday is about Jesus- the greatest gift of all. In my own excitement of purchasing and giving gifts, I know my son is seeing the gifts element of the holiday, and not much else. I feel like I have failed as a parent, despite my best efforts. This year, we were introduced to a beautiful new Christmas tradition that's helping us to bring Jesus back to the center of it all in our holiday and in our home.

Shepherds Treasure

The Shepherd's Treasure was created by Stephanie Parker, who says this of her sweet idea for this project:

We were featured on Shark Tank for a product called the Zipade-Zip that I created for our little girl when she wasn’t sleeping well at night (watch here). God has truly blessed that business more than we could have imagined, for which we are incredibly grateful!

My heart’s prayer has always been to do what I can to give God glory through our business, because without Him, none of it would have been possible.

So where does the Shepherd come in? Well, last year, I did the Elf on the Shelf tradition with my kids. Although this tradition might be a wonderful fit for a lot of families, I really struggled with it as it took their focus off of Jesus and turned it towards the presents they were going to be getting IF they were good when the elf was watching them. I found myself un-explaining the Elf’s presence in our home because of how hard it became to refocus our children’s minds on the TRUE meaning of the season and on giving instead of receiving.

We were blessed with our own The Shepherd's Treasure to experience this holiday season, and I was truly delighted by it.

I couldn't wait to explore The Shepherd's Treasure with my son. Baby S is a bit young for this, but we're including her as best we can. B was very excited to see what this box with the shepherd on it was all about.

A beautiful gift- the Shepherd's Treasure comes with all that you see here.

The Shepherd's Treasure comes in a lovely gift box, perfect for gifting or for preserving your little shepherd and the story. The box contains a plush shepherd doll, a plush Baby Jesus in a manger, the Shepherd's Treasure storybook, Advent cards, and a handy guide for parents.

The plush Shepherd Boy and Baby Jesus are so sweet! B wanted to play with them, but we had instructions from the story not to play with the shepherd or move him.

This is a beautifully written and illustrated story, told by the shepherd.

The storybook explains to the children (and the adults) what the purpose of the shepherd is and when/where you might see him in your home during the Advent season. The shepherd introduces himself to the children, and asks the children to pick out a name for him. B chose the name Zachy for our shepherd boy. Zachy went on to explain the true meaning of Christmas, and remind the children that Jesus is the best gift of all.

The set comes with a wonderful calendar filled with ideas for parents!

One of the things that I dislike about Elf on the Shelf, is that I was spending way too much time on Pinterest, trying to come up with ideas to surprise my child with. My husband and I actually sort of fought over whose turn it would be to set up the elf each night- and neither of us wanted to do it. This calendar takes all the guesswork out of The Shepherd's Treasure for mom and dad. You can pre-plan all of the activities, buy what you need ahead of time, and get everything set up after the kids go to sleep. Each day has a different theme and a specific card to display with your shepherd boy. The card has a bible verse on it. It's my hope that we'll say the verse together each morning, and that B will still remember it when he gets home from school. I love the ideas that are on the calendar- like setting up hot cocoa for the family, decorating Christmas cookies, etc... nothing over the top or too silly.

The kids never know where they'll find their shepherd each day- the fun awaits each morning as they wake up!

The Advent cards are so helpful! Even the busiest parents will love these cards, and will be able to follow The Shepherd's Treasure with ease! More activity ideas can be found online.

I also love that each card has a verse for the day. The verses are simple for kids to remember.

In the back of The Shepherd's Treasure book, you can inscribe your family's name, the shepherd's name you chose, and when you started the tradition together.

We will be starting our journey with our shepherd on Thursday, and I am so excited to see how we do this as a family, My hope is that my son's attitude improves a bit, and that he remembers to keep Jesus at the center as we journey to the manger to find him waiting for us. Being the child of a blogger is fun, but it makes it hard on the parents when the kids see constant 'stuff.' It's our livelihood, so it's important, but it's more important to me that my kids always hold Jesus in their hearts, and are raised as givers. This is a beautiful tradition that I am so happy to have in my home and to share with my family.

B can't wait to get started on the Christmas journey to the manger with Zachy!

Image result for the shepherd's treasure

How It Works

1- Find it! Your family adventure begins when your Shepherd “appears” beside The Shepherd’s Treasure book. Place your Shepherd doll somewhere in your home and help create the excitement when your little ones find him for the first time!

2- Read it! Gather together and explore the true meaning of Christmas by reading The Shepherd's Treasure. For additional activities, look in the back of the book. Try the verse hunt and find a letter from your Shepherd explaining why Jesus is so special!

3- Name him! Pick a fun name for your Shepherd and record it on the dedication page at the end of the book.

4- Find him! Every morning your little one's job is to find their Shepherd and join journey! Explain not to touch or disturb him for fear that he might not find his treasure.

5- The Journey! Your Shepherd "travels in search of Jesus” each night while your kids sleep. After bedtime, find creative and fun ways for your Shepherd to continue his journey. 

6- The Treasure! On Christmas morning, your Shepherd will find Baby Jesus! Place your Shepherd and Baby Jesus together somewhere extra special. Your children will find their Shepherd kneeling before the greatest Treasure of all time: Jesus!

The search doesn’t stop there! Our prayer is that this fun treasure hunt will result in a more lasting search to find Jesus every day! Our family will be diligently praying for the hearts of your little ones this Christmas!

Want it? Get it!

Head on over to The Shepherd's Treasure to read more about the Parker family and their beautiful idea for this project. You can also shop for The Shepherd's Treasure and start your own Christmas tradition with your family. Connect with The Shepherd's Treasure on Facebook, and Instagram.

Want it? Win it!

One MBP reader will win their very own The Shepherd's Treasure Set so they can enjoy a new Christmas tradition with their family! Giveaway is open to US residents, 18 and older. No PO Boxes. Use the RC entry form below to enter for your chance to win. Void where prohibited. MBP is not responsible for prize fulfillment. Please see our policies page for details.

Special thanks to The Shepherd's Treasure for allowing us to share about their beautiful alternative to Elf on the Shelf. Look for it in our 2016 Holiday Gift Guide!

Good luck!

Baby's First Christmas is So Stylish in Gifts from The Southern Closet 101 #MBPHGG16

Thank you to the Southern Closet 101 for providing me with product in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts are my own.

I remember my son's first Christmas like it was yesterday. He was just two months old for his first Christmas, and it was a very special time for our little family. I cherish the memories from that first Christmas with him, and I still remember all of his little Christmas outfits. Of course, I want Sabine to have the same experience (though she won't remember), and I want to have those same special memories with her. I have been looking around for cute Baby's First Christmas outfits, and found just the most adorable ensemble at The Southern Closet 101!

The Southern Closet 101 is an adorable shop on Etsy, owner by Corrana Cook. At The Southern Closet 101, there are plenty of adorable holiday outfits to choose from for men, women, and children. I was excited to connect with Corrana and to select a holiday outfit for Baby S. There were so many cute options that I had a hard time narrowing down my selection.

I received this darling My First Christmas Outfit- perfect for Baby's very first Christmas!

The outfit includes a cute bodysuit...


...a headband...

...and a hat!

I couldn't wait to get Baby S all dressed up in this cute Christmas outfit! My plan is for S to wear this outfit on Christmas Day. I know it'll be a big hit with friends and family. I am already looking forward to taking lots of adorable photos! S didn't want to cooperate for our at-home photo shoot. She's mobile now, and loves to worm and wiggle around when we try to take pictures. Nevertheless, she looked so adorable in this 4-pc outfit!

S, modeling a 6 mo bodysuit, with matching legwarmers.

I love the bodysuit. This is a Carter's brand onesie (yours may differ), which is a brand most moms know and trust. I was happy that it fit S, and am glad that she has a bit of room to grow into this onesie over the next few weeks. The onesie features 'My First Christmas,' with cute little snowflakes underneath.

The leggings are so cute! They are red, white, and green- perfect for the festive holiday! They are snug-fitting, and feature snowflakes, hearts, and reindeer! I am crossing my fingers that S will still be able to wear them in a few weeks... she's growing so fast!

S, modeling the cute headband!

The headband matches the leggings, and features a simple knotted bow. S figured out how to grab the bow and pull the headband off of her head. If I can get her to keep it on long enough, everyone will be able to see how adorable it is with the rest of the outfit!

The cute little cap is the perfect accessory to this must-have outfit for Baby's First Christmas!

I love the little cap- it's so cute! It's also a little snug fitting, but I am so glad to have it this holiday season. It's been so chilly and windy here in NC, i know S will need to have something on her head. It's so great to pair with other holiday outfits, too- the colors will coordinate with several other pieces she already has. Everything can be worn, washed, and dried. For my own peace of mind, I like to air dry these types of items. You should be able to dry them on a low setting in the dryer, and be just fine- but do not dry the onesie in the dryer- hang that one to dry.

Baby Girl Christmas Outfit,My 1st Christmas, My First, Girl Coming home outfit,Girls Christmas,Red and Green,Red Deer,Leggings,Hat,Headband

Features of Baby's First Christmas Outfit

-WORDS ON SHIRT, My 1st Christmas

When checking out, put in “NOTE TO SELLER” box
what color/colors of lettering you would like.
if you do not want to Choose your color/colors,
you will be receiving what ever color/colors
are on the first picture of this listing.

--ONESIES ""PLEASE NOTE"" You may not receive the brand in picture, we use CARTERS, GERBER and RABBIT SKIN Brands, so if you have a certain brand that you would like, please message us and ask if we have it in stock, after confirming with one of our representatives that we have the brand you need, when checking out please put in the "NOTE TO SELLER BOX" what brand you would like and we will be more then happy to get you that brand.

--SIZING Newborn fits 5 to 8lb and 0-3 Months fits 8-12lb, Please message us if you would like to know about other sizing.


--SHIPPING: Please see the "frequently asked questions" drop down tab below, if you have any questions regarding shipping time and upgrades.

--FABRIC, This fabric is a 50% Cotton/50% Poly and Stretch: 30%

-- WASHING INSTRUCTIONS. for leggings and hat : Machine Wash Cold/ Tumble Dry Low, For onesie: Machine wash cold hang dry only ""DO NOT DRY IN DRYER""

Check out some of the other adorable options available from The Southern Closet 101...

Unisex Christmas Outfit,Custom Names First Christmas,Baby, Girl Coming home outfit,Boy Coming Home Outfit,Bears,Trees,Deer,Red and White
1st Christmas Outfit

Girls First Valentine's Day Outfit,Custom Names 1st Valentines Day, Girl Coming home outfit, Hearts,Red,Pink,Valentines,Valentines Leggings
1st Valentine's Day Outfit

Baby Girl Coming home Outfit, My 1st Easter, Newborn, Light Pink Chevron,Easter Outfits,Easter,My First Easter,Eggs, Chevron,Baby Girl
1st Easter Outfit

Baby Boy Coming Home Outfit,Little Man,Squirrels,Bears,Foxes,Baby Boy,Newborn Boy Coming Home Outfit,Orange,Mint Green,Tan,Brown,Black
Coming Home Outfit

There are so many beautiful outfit options over at The Southern Closet 101! Seriously- there are over 800 items to look through and choose from! I can't wait to buy S some more outfits for the upcoming holidays, like New Year's, and Easter! She's going to look so cute for Christmas in her sweet little outfit. All of the items from The Southern Closet 101 are handmade, so you're truly getting a unique product each and every time. These outfits are cute, durable, and are perfect for photo sessions, holidays, or everyday wear and play!

These outfits would make super cute gifts for Christmas, birthdays, baby showers, or special occasions!

Want it? Get it!

Head on over to The Southern Closet 101 to browse all of Corrana's adorable handmade baby clothing and holiday outfits! Connect with The Southern Closet 101 on Facebook and Instagram.

Special thanks to The Southern Closet 101 for allowing me to share about their cute holiday outfits for baby. Look for them in our 2016 Holiday Gift Guide!

Wordless Wednesday: Set the Caption

Bespoke Items To Make Your Home Shine

Everyone wants to be unique, to have that little bit of difference to the rest of humanity. This is especially the case regarding our homes, we all want our homes to look great, but not only great, unique. With Christmas coming we’re all likely to get many a visitor, so check out some bespoke items which can really make your home shine.

Get That Piece Of Art

It can be expensive, granted. But by getting a bespoke work of art, especially if it's one of a kind, you know not many others will have it. This gives your house that unique professional look. You can even get something specially made to coincide with your current decor, be it furniture a painting or ornamentation of some kind. Just be sure whatever your commissioning doesn’t clash with things you already have and want to keep. It is also wise to consider how you’re going to light your new bespoke art so that everyone can see it, make it a focal point. Some great lighting can be found at Amonson Lighting Online Store.

Change Your Home

There are many things you can do to change your home, but don’t do anything you’ll regret in a few years. Building a homely treehouse or outer cabin can give you that extra bit of space whilst also keeping the children happy. The same can be said of swimming pools or hot tubs, just remember these are expensive and don’t always increase the value of your home. You can even add some eye catching secret passageways or wine cellars to your home which are sure to attract attention and keep people talking long after they’ve gone home.

Make It Personal

If you’ve got kids they’re likely always bringing home arts and crafts from school, save them. Then, when you’ve got enough make them into some form of collage. You can even use them to decorate your tree, giving your home that personal touch ensures it's always looking fresh, and it’ll keep your kids happy. If you’re arty you can make something truly unique, if you draw then frame some of your better illustrations, it really adds class and showcases your talent.

Put Your Books To Work

If you’ve got a huge collection of books and need somewhere to store them then you can make them into a great feature. Try displaying them under your stairs, if you use the under stair area for shelving you can stack them with books. Or you can put them in colour order on floating shelves, by doing this people will think them simple decorations but on closer inspection see them for what they really are.  You can even form spare books into a Christmas tree shape ready for the holidays or stack them for use as a convenient side table. Place a row atop your mantle piece to give your home that academic feel, with these here there will always be something to talk about with new guests. There are many ways to utilise books.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

This Season, Give the Gift of Support Through Mirella Alexis Child Care Advocate & Doula

This is a sponsored post on behalf of Mirella Alexis. I received compensation in order to facilitate my post. All thoughts and opinions shared are my own.

There's nothing more important than family- at least, not to me. I am blessed to have two beautiful and healthy children, neither of which would be here today if I hadn't had the love and support of my family, skilled doctors, and many friends. Neither births for either of my children were easy. My son (B) is six years old, but he didn't have such an easy entrance into the world. He was stuck in my pelvis, and after hours of pushing, my doctors advised that I undergo an emergency c-section. That decision saved my life, and B's life, too. I opted for a c-section with Baby S, as well. She had arrhythmia before birth, and was born with an irregular heartbeat. I know how important it is to have a voice that speaks up for you, for children who can't speak for themselves, etc.

Mirella Alexis

Mirella Alexis’ greatest passion in life is the well-being of children. She absolutely loves children and has been advocating for them for nearly 20 years. By providing services to new and expectant parents, and groups, Mirella Alexis is part of the 'village' it takes to raise a child.

About Mirella Alexis

As a Postpartum Doula Mirella is in homes caring for families and their newborn babies the days and weeks after they come home. Mirella and her team also provide child care workshops catering classes to needs, whether it be for parents,  nannies, non-profits, mom & dad groups, daycare providers, schools, churches, camps and anyone who works with children.

Chicago-based, she graduated with a Bachelor’s degree from Columbia College with honors studying Music Business Management & Marketing, as well as Early Childhood Education. She furthered her education with a Masters degree in Internet Marketing. from Full Sail University.  Mirella has extensive experience and education in child development that she is constantly continuing and sharing with others. She has been a professional nanny, daycare provider, nursery attendant, camp counselor, tutor, ECE teacher (birth-2nd grade) and Newborn Care Specialist (birth-18months).

She is bilingual in English and Spanish, as well as CPR and First Aid trained and certified. She has been certified in several National Nanny Training Days, Happiest Baby on the Block, and Nanny Stella of Nanny 911 certifications. She is trained in Child Nutrition, Positive Discipline, and baby Sign Lauguage. She has been the go-to child care provider for the cast & crew of three TV shows filming in Chicago. In 2014, she was nominated for America’s Top Sitter.

Me, with Baby S just a couple of weeks after her birth.

Adjusting to home life with a new baby can be strange and taxing. For a mom who is trying to recover from a major surgery (c-section), is worried about sufficient milk supply for her newborn, is exhausted, and has a household to keep up with, the stress of it all can become entirely overwhelming very quickly. PPD (Post Partum Depression) can quickly set in, and if ignored can have a disastrous impact on a family. I felt the baby blues after the birth of each of my children, and was happy to have the knowledge and education to know to tell my husband, and other adults that I knew trusted and loved me. I relied on my 'tribe' to help me with my kids, the housework, the cooking, and even getting my son to and from school.

I wish that I'd had an in-home doula to help guide me during those first few days and weeks of life after baby. Chicago-based Mirella Alexis wants parents to feel loved and supported, which is why the Mirella team offers such wonderful services to new parents. If you're worried about what to do after you bring your new baby home, Mirella can help. Support should not end when you leave the hospital, but for many families, it does. I remember my husband and I looking at one another after we brought B home from the hospital and we laughed and said, 'Well, here we are... now what?'
 With Mirella Alexis, you'll have an in-home doula available to help you get settled, and help with other things related to bringing home baby, such as:

Breastfeeding support
Help with the emotional and physical recovery after birth
Light housekeeping
Running errands
Meal planning
Pet care
Assistance with newborn care
Baby soothing techniques
Sibling care
Overnight care
Offering registry assistance
Helping with nursery set up
Assisting with daycare/nanny research
Newborn photography

When I think back to how exhausted my husband and I were after we brought Baby S home from the hospital, it all seems like such a blur. We had a lot of help after B was born- from meals being brought to us to help with the cleaning and laundry. We didn't have the same experience after Baby S was born, and we found ourselves really wishing that we did. I could have used the help as I recovered from my surgery, and with meal prep, along with sibling care. Mirella Alexis provides so many wonderful services for parents, and for as little as $35.00/hour. Packages can be customized to suit the needs of the family. All services come with unlimited support by phone, email, and text. How wonderful it is that you can call or text anytime you have a question.

Mirella Alexis also offers educational workshops and training for parents, groups (churches, child care providers, organizations), one on one training, and more! They cover topics like baby essentials, bully prevention, preventing child abuse, sleep training, positive discipline, and more. There are also services available for nannies and groups.

With so many accolades and awards, Mirella Alexis is a top choice for child care, doula services, training, education, and more! 

Why not gift Mirella Alexis services this holiday season?

Looking for a great gift for new parents this holiday season? Consider gifting doula services from Mirella Alexis. The gift of support will be so appreciated by the parents- even if it's just to have an extra set of hands around while adjusting to life at home with the new baby. Having a new baby is such a joy- don't let the worry and stress of the life-changing event get you down. Mirella Alexis is just a phone call away!

Head on over to Mirella Alexis to browse more information, including services, testimonials, etc. Call for customized plans and pricing. Connect with Mirella Alexis on Facebook.

Put a Little Twinkle in Your Holiday Decor with Crab Pot Christmas Trees + Save 30% off! #MBPHGG16

Thank you to Crab Pot Christmas Trees for providing me with product in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions shared are my own.

I love decorating for the holidays. Putting up decorations outside is something that really excites me, and put me in the Christmas spirit. My family has collected a lot of Christmas decorations through the years. I don't do trendy, fancy decorations. I stick with meaningful decorations that were handmade or passed down from previous generations- sometimes adding a few pieces that I pick up here or there. I don't always get a lot of help with the holiday decorating, but this year, my hubby was actually excited to help put the lights up outside. We received an extra special new piece of holiday decor this year from Crab Pot Christmas Trees.

About Crab Pot Christmas Trees

During much of the year, Harvey and Sons in Davis, NC looked like a typical supplier to the commercial fishing industry, with stacks of brightly colored crab traps (locally termed "crab pots") a major product. The variable nature of the fisheries, and a desire to keep the family business growing, as a legacy for his sons, prompted Nicky Harvey to look for other products.

Mr. Harvey's roots go deep in the Down East culture, where "making do" and "doing with the materials at hand" are long traditions. His fertile mind played with ideas of what could be done with left-over materials, and he experimented with making miniature crab traps for coastal decor. Then he began experimenting with triangles of the coated wire mesh, and the Core Sound Christmas tree was born.

The unique artificial tree was an immediate hit with friends and neighbors, who loved seeing the traditional material put to a new use. But Nicky's brain just didn't quit there... he experimented until he found a way to string lights on the tree so that the product could be folded flat to 5% of their open position and then opened for display with the light strings remaining in place. U.S. Patent #6773134 was granted in 2004.

We received a new addition to our outdoor decor this year- a Crab Pot Christmas Tree.

I was sort of skeptical as to how the crap pot Christmas tree would look in our yard. We have a little bungalow, and there's a particular way that I like to decorate it for Christmas, using all white lights. The crab pot Christmas trees come in white or multicolored lights, and I wasn't sure which one we were getting. Hubby was excited for the surprise. He hope for multicolored lights, as those are his favorite.

We opened up the box containing our tree to find the multicolored lights.

The tree folds flat for easy storage!

Hubby set the tree up, but he said the set up was really easy. He stood the tree up, tied the ends together, and used the stakes to place it in the ground. Then, he ran a power cord to the tree to plug it in and light it up. The tree is sturdy. yet lightweight. You won't have to worry about it getting knocked down. Ours has already survived its first wind storm.

All lit up and looking pretty!

We love the way our Crab Pot Christmas Tree looks, sitting prettily in our yard, among the Christmas decor. It lights up the block, and our neighbors have already commented on how cute it is. I want to add a little bow to the top, and once I do that, we'll be all set with the decorating!

Our little bungalow, all decorated for Christmas, with our new Crab Pot Christmas Tree.

I love the look the Crab Pot Christmas Tree adds to our little home- it's so bright and cheery, and delights our family and our guests. Over time, I would love to add more Crab Pot Christmas Trees to our little collection. I think they'd also make a wonderful gift for anyone who loves holiday decorating!

Check out this video for more info on Crab Pot Christmas Trees...

Crab Pot Christmas Trees are remarkable, perfectly shaped trees that are pre-lit, fold flat for storage, sparkle from EVERY angle and are easily set up. What makes these holiday trees so unique and the MUST HAVE of the season for home decor? Crab Pot Christmas Trees are made from the very durable PVC Coated Crab Pot Wire which withstands all that Mother Nature throws at it. 

Want it? Get it!

Head on over to Crab Pot Christmas Trees to browse all of their beautiful trees! My Readers $ave 30% Off Crab Pot Christmas Trees that fold flat & sparkle from every angle Code:USFG16.
Connect with Crab Pot Christmas Trees on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Special thanks to Crab Pot Christmas Trees for allowing me to share about their beautiful decorative trees, and for offering this promo for our readers!