Zubels #Christmas #Giveaway #SMGN Ends 12/25

Zubels Christmas Giveaway

Welcome to the 2016 Epic Holiday Gift Guide Zubels Christmas Giveaway!

Aren’t these Santa and Nutcracker absolutely adorable? It became a tradition in my family to get at least one new Christmas item each year, to add to the collection, and I think these would be a great addition!

Keep on reading to find out how to get your own or to enter the giveaway.

This contest is hosted by the Social Media Gurus Network!

Michigan Saving and More

Deliciously Savvy

Tales From A Southern Mom

Heartbeats ~ Soul Stains

My Crafty Zoo

Adventures of a Nurse

Welcome To My Kitchen

Life in a House of Testosterone

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Now more about our sponsor in this giveaway!

Zubels

WEBSITE ~ FACEBOOK ~ PINTEREST ~ INSTAGRAM

santadscn8543

Santa and Nutcracker

See the review HERE.

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I would also like to say Thank you to all the promoting bloggers!

Just Like the Stars

THE GIVEAWAY

This giveaway is in no way endorsed, affiliated, or associated with Facebook, Twitter or any other Social Media Networking Site.You are not eligible if you have won a prize from the sponsor in the last 12 month. This Giveaway is valid in the Continental United States Only and Entrants must be 18+ years of age to enter. This giveaway event will end at 11:59 PM (EST) 12/25/16. The winners will have 48 hours to email their information back to las93063 at gmail dot com or a new winner will be drawn, you may want to put this email address as safe as it could go to spam. The sponsors are each responsible for shipping of the above prizes. No blog associated with this contests are responsible for prize fulfillment. If you would like to be a sponsor in a giveaway like this please email Laura Smith at las930 (at)gmail (dot) com. If you take an entry you must stay following for the entire contest or you will be disqualified.

Also we all “love it if you like us” on Facebook! If you like our blogs on social media it helps us bring you only the best giveaways and more of them!

Enter below and Good Luck!

La Newborn Realistic Baby Doll Soft Basket Set #Giveaway #SMGN Ends 12/20

This post contains affiliate links and if clicked and a purchase made I may receive a small commission to help support this blog.

La Newborn Realistic Baby Doll Soft Basket Set Giveaway

Welcome to the 2016 Epic Holiday Gift Guide La Newborn Realistic Baby Doll Soft Basket Set Giveaway!

Dolls are always a great choice for both boys and girls to have as kids. So many times they use them to mimic real life, but can also act out situations and feelings they are experiencing in real life. I have very fond memories of all the dolls I had as a young child, and even still have many of them stored in my attic.

What we didn’t have back then was dolls like that one that appear so realistic. I loved my dolls as much as if they were my real babies, but I bet this one would have had another special place in my heart because she looks so real.

This giveaway, which runs until December 20th, gives you the chance to win one of these babies to share with a special child in your life. As you read on, find out more about the product, as well as some customer reviews. You can also just go straight to Amazon to purchase one right now!

This contest is hosted by the Social Media Gurus Network!

Michigan Saving and More

Deliciously Savvy

Tales From A Southern Mom

Heartbeats ~ Soul Stains

My Crafty Zoo

Adventures of a Nurse

Welcome To My Kitchen

Life in a House of Testosterone

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Now more about our sponsor in this giveaway!

J C Toys

WEBSITE ~ FACEBOOK ~ TWITTER ~ YOU TUBE

La Newborn Realistic Baby Doll Soft Basket Set

La Newborn Realistic Baby Doll Soft Basket Set

Also sold on Amazon!

$29.99 rv

See the review HERE.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I would also like to say Thank you to all the promoting bloggers!

Just Like the Stars

THE GIVEAWAY

This giveaway is in no way endorsed, affiliated, or associated with Facebook, Twitter or any other Social Media Networking Site.You are not eligible if you have won a prize from the sponsor in the last 12 month. This Giveaway is valid in the Continental United States Only and Entrants must be 18+ years of age to enter. This giveaway event will end at 11:59 PM (EST) 12/20/16. The winners will have 48 hours to email their information back to las93063 at gmail dot com or a new winner will be drawn, you may want to put this email address as safe as it could go to spam. The sponsors are each responsible for shipping of the above prizes. No blog associated with this contests are responsible for prize fulfillment. If you would like to be a sponsor in a giveaway like this please email Laura Smith at las930 (at)gmail (dot) com. If you take an entry you must stay following for the entire contest or you will be disqualified.

Also we all “love it if you like us” on Facebook! If you like our blogs on social media it helps us bring you only the best giveaways and more of them!

Enter below and Good Luck!

$50 Worth of Halos Coupons #Giveaway #SMGN Ends 12/25

$50 Worth of Halos Coupons Giveaway

Welcome to the 2016 Epic Holiday Gift Guide $50 Worth of Halos Coupons Giveaway!

Do you love Halos? I know that one of my favorite parts of the colder weather is this time of year when these tasty treats are finally available in my grocery stores. I have fond memories of my mother buying clementines for us when we were kids, and how we would just try to eat the whole box in a day or two. As an adult, I try to restrain myself a bit more, but they are so good! I also usually bring some with me to work, so that I have a healthy snack on hand. They were also one of the favorite snacks in my Montessori classroom.

I will admit, though, that it can quickly add up if you go through as many boxes as I know I can. So, why not get some coupons to offset it all? Check out this fabulous giveaway, the sponsor, and all of the wonderful hosts. Best of luck to you!

This contest is hosted by the Social Media Gurus Network!

Michigan Saving and More

Deliciously Savvy

Tales From A Southern Mom

Heartbeats ~ Soul Stains

My Crafty Zoo

Adventures of a Nurse

Welcome To My Kitchen

Life in a House of Testosterone

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Now more about our sponsor in this giveaway!

Halos

WEBSITE ~ FACEBOOK ~ TWITTER ~ PINTEREST ~ INSTAGRAM ~ YOU TUBE ~ GOOGLE +

halos_5lb_tagup_ip24 halos_in-box_ip26_srgb-1

$50 Worth Of Coupons

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I would also like to say Thank you to all the promoting bloggers!

Just Like the Stars

THE GIVEAWAY

This giveaway is in no way endorsed, affiliated, or associated with Facebook, Twitter or any other Social Media Networking Site.You are not eligible if you have won a prize from the sponsor in the last 12 month. This Giveaway is valid in the Continental United States Only and Entrants must be 18+ years of age to enter. This giveaway event will end at 11:59 PM (EST) 12/25/16. The winners will have 48 hours to email their information back to las93063 at gmail dot com or a new winner will be drawn, you may want to put this email address as safe as it could go to spam. The sponsors are each responsible for shipping of the above prizes. No blog associated with this contests are responsible for prize fulfillment. If you would like to be a sponsor in a giveaway like this please email Laura Smith at las930 (at)gmail (dot) com. If you take an entry you must stay following for the entire contest or you will be disqualified.

Also we all “love it if you like us” on Facebook! If you like our blogs on social media it helps us bring you only the best giveaways and more of them!

Enter below and Good Luck!

Remembering Grandma

I am sitting here watching my beloved Michigan Wolverines stomp all over Penn State, and I can’t help remembering Grandma. Six years ago today, I went to work extremely excited. I was leaving right after work to head home for the weekend. A friend of mine had given me tickets to the Michigan-Bowling Green game up at the Big House and I was taking my mom. I have been a Michigan football fan since I was a little kid and I went to BG, so the best of both worlds. Plus, my mother’s Alzheimer’s was starting to show more and more, so I knew such outings were quickly going to end.

Halfway through the morning, my phone started screaming, because I had forgotten to turn off the sound. I saw it was my aunt, and I cringed. I looked at my assistant and said, “I know what this means, but I will wait until after dismissal to listen to it.”

My grandmother was 95 and had just come down with pneumonia after trying to recover from a broken back. We all know what usually happens with people at that age who get pneumonia. I was just so grateful that I had made it home not even two weeks prior to see her for her birthday. In fact, she kicked me out after lunch because the Michigan-Notre Dame game was on, and she thought I needed to home to watch it.

After morning dismissal, I sat on the bench and pulled out my phone to listen to my voice mail. As I had feared, Grandma had passed away that morning. She got up, went to the bathroom, got back into bed and never got up again. I am still teary thinking about that moment, which I had literally dreamed about many times, sitting in that exact spot and getting that message.

I touched base with my father and made arrangements to miss the entire next week of work. It was going to take time to get everyone together to have the memorial service. My coworkers made sure I had food before I left and gave me their well wishes. I headed home and I fumbled as I tried to now pack for a full week instead of just a weekend. Robotically I got into the car and headed west, remembering Grandma and 33 years together.

Soon after I was born, my parents decided to take a new road in life, opening their own furniture business. They had actually met at Dad’s family’s furniture store. And for many reasons, Dad wanted his own. So, while they were building the store and apartment, we moved in with my grandparents and stayed for about a year or so.

Visiting the store in progress with Grandma and Grandpa
Visiting the store in progress with Grandma and Grandpa

After my parents started their store, I still spent a lot of time with my grandmother. If our parents were busy at the store, she would pick us up from school. Mom played the church organ, so Grandma picked us up after first service and fed us lunch, then we played games or read until Mom or Dad would come pick us up. She took us to the library and to Disney movies. I played dress up with her shoes until I outgrew them. I was fascinated by the differences between my city grandmother and my mom’s mother, who was a farmer’s wife.

She had a great smile.
She had a great smile.

As I started getting older, she was patient while I pored over family albums and asked a million questions about all of these people I didn’t know. My only regret is that I never wrote them down.

In high school, I still enjoyed spending time with my grandmother, which isn’t really a normal thing. My parents sold their business at the end of my senior year of high school and moved us 25 miles south. I still wanted to spend time with friends, and my grandmother let me stay over at her condo, even though I was coming in at 2 and 3 a.m. Our agreement was she wouldn’t tell my mother how long I had been out, as long as I didn’t tell my parents that her boyfriend was spending the night.

me-with-grandma-at-graduation

In college, I still cherished our family time at holidays. When I started teaching Montessori, I was at a school just a couple of miles away. We often got together for dinner. The only time we missed our dinner was on her birthday, September 11, 2001. We decided considering the circumstances, I was better off heading straight home as soon as possible.

That last birthday of hers that we spent together was extremely difficult. I knew when I hugged her goodbye and said that I would be back at Thanksgiving that we weren’t going to see each other again. And I remember the look in her eyes that said the same, though neither one of us would voice it.

Christmas 2009
Christmas 2009

Even after I moved to New York, I made regular visits back home. I never missed her birthday. We spent all holidays together. I would spend hours at her apartment, just sitting there. We would chat, but then sometimes sit in silence. In fact, after she died, she came back to me in a dream and told me I had to just sit there. We were just going to sit together, and if I spoke, she would leave. I opened my mouth and said, “But I have so many more questions for you.”

She replied, “I told you not to speak. Now I have to go.” And she vanished.

When my mother started showing signs of Alzheimer’s, I often confided in my grandmother, as I knew my father was also doing. She really became a surrogate mother for me at that point. We were so close, that when her brother took a turn for the worse, having contracted pneumonia after knee surgery at the age of about 88, I was the one chosen to deliver the bad news and to drive her to Hospice to say goodbye to him. When she passed away, I was nominated by the cousins to represent all of the grandchildren in a eulogy.

Losing my grandmother meant losing a part of who I was. She’s the one who taught me to love reading. She taught me to love taking walks in nature. She taught me to be strong and to help people. I lost a confidante and a friend. It also kickstarted the worst year of my life, losing my mother to the depths of Alzheimer’s, and my father then passing away eight months later. It’s always a tough anniversary for me to acknowledge, yet I do. It’s who I am. It’s my way of acknowledging my loss while celebrating her life.

I have moved on, of course, though I still miss her every day. It isn’t a choice. When life gets tough, you put one foot in front of the other and keep soldiering on. I think she would be proud of me and I still often feel her presence, especially at this time of year. I’m going to leave you with the poem that I read at her funeral. Thank you for remembering Grandma with me.

Grandma Was…

Grandma was grilled cheese sandwiches

And freshly sliced tomatoes.

She was a half glass of milk

And eating her bananas was a no-no.

Grandma was chocolate pudding fresh on the stove

And chocolate chip cookies in the oven.

She never seemed affectionate,

But was full of so much lovin’.

Grandma was Shirley Temple movies

And lots of board games.

She knew every single card game,

Even if not all their names.

Grandma was Disney movies on the big screen

At the local movie theatres,

Always eating all of my popcorn,

And never let me treat her.

Grandma never let me climb her trees,

But I blew bubbles in the back yard.

She never seemed to discipline me,

On my best behavior I worked hard.

Grandma was walks in the cemetery

Or around her condo’s block.

She would tell me lots of stories.

I loved to hear her talk.

Grandma was Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy

And Wimbledon with Federer.

Never interrupt her TV time!

All of us knew better.

Grandma was an avid reader.

She even dabbled as a writer.

My whole life’s aspiration has been

To be just like her.

Stacking Stones for Inner Peace

 

stacking-stones-sodus

No doubt you’ve seen those stacks of rocks when out and about. More and more people are stacking stones when out in nature, and people are asking why. I have heard of the practice being done to create harmony in a garden. Hikers in the wilderness use these stacks to alert other travelers of trails. Some create cairns as a memorial to a loved one. Mostly I have heard of the practice as being something Zen, to create inner peace.

Pictures of these creations always draw me in, but I had never before tried to do it. Then this summer, I had a very emotional trip back home. So much good happened on that trip, but it is always very difficult for me to go there. My mother is deep into Alzheimer’s disease and my father has been gone for just over five years now. This last trip, I went to the cemetery to pay my respects to my daddy and to my grandmother, who had passed away a mere eight months before him. And then I had the horrible pain of having to leave my mother. I live far enough away, now, where I don’t always know when I will be able to return. I know our remaining time together is short, so I milk all the time that I have with her.

I returned home late on a Sunday night and had to get up Monday morning to work a two-hour shift at one of my part-time jobs. Getting back into the swing of things after being gone for almost two weeks is never an easy thing. Though I’d had my spiritual cleansing of a weekend of Pearl Jam shows in Chicago, and a full afternoon to bask in the beauty that is the Toledo Art Museum, I still felt like something was lacking. Summer was almost over, and it had been so hot, I hadn’t done as much hiking as I usually like to do.

I quickly decided to head east. Chimney Bluffs State Park is one of the most beautiful places you will ever go. The massive spires of clay constantly change, and yet stay the same as the elements slowly erode them.

Peeking through the trees at Chimney Bluffs from the trail.
Peeking through the trees at Chimney Bluffs from the trail.

With the right light, the orange color provides a stunning contrast to the blue of Lake Ontario.

The clay spires of Chimney Bluffs from the woods trail.
The clay spires of Chimney Bluffs from the woods trail.

They are just as majestic and awe-inspiring from the beach.

Looking up at Chimney Bluffs
Looking up at Chimney Bluffs

And speaking of the beach, it is a treasure trove of rocks and stone and other natural debris that has washed ashore or fallen from above.

rocky-beach
Rocks and driftwood on the Chimney Bluffs beach

I have always been drawn to rocks and stones. I blame that on my father, who always used them in his landscaping. But I also cannot help but feel some kind of connection to them. Every time I go hiking, I usually find a rock or a stone to carry with me as a sort of talisman on my journey. There’s no shortage of options.

The rocky beach of Chimney Bluffs
The rocky beach of Chimney Bluffs

On this trip, I kept finding rocks to carry with me, but I still wasn’t quite feeling that sense of connection and peace that I usually get. The day was perfect, not overly hot like the rest of the summer had been, and the lake was a perfect blend of blues.

And then I stumbled upon this formation.

Talk about stone-faced!
Talk about stone-faced!

I chuckled to myself and kept on walking, but then suddenly felt the need to make my own creation. I was drawn to a dozen different stones on the ground and felt compelled to try stacking stones on one of the boulders. Instant peace. Apparently it was radiating peace, because I had barely finished when someone stopped and asked if she could photograph my creation. Of course I said yes. And then I sat watching the blue waves of the lake as the backdrop to my creation. A total zen moment.

My stacked stones
Stacking stones brought me such inner peace

You can also see video of the waves crashing behind it, as well as many other traveling adventures here.

Is stacking stones for everyone? No.

Did stacking stones cure what ailed me? Not permanently, but it has helped me to continue on my personal journey of finding peace and happiness in my life.

Should I try stacking stones? That’s up to you. If you are in a place where you can find stones and feel compelled to give it a try, then do so. If you have to force it, it isn’t going to work. You have to open up your heart and mind to feeling the balance. It’s going to take some careful balancing to get them to properly stack, as well as patience to find the right ones, but it is worth it in the end.

What are your experiences with stacking stones? What do you do to find your inner peace?