Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Winning more than a gift…

There a lot of giveaways going on in blog land right now! {Including my own!} How do you win?? By entering of course! ;o)  And oh the joy and excitement when a little gifty arrives in the mail!!


From a girl who NEVER wins anything – let me tell you, these giveaways are FOR REAL! I recently won TWO giveaways in 1 DAY!! Woo hoo!! One by My Adventures Through Mommyhood and the other through Mommas Like Me! I guess I can’t say I NEVER win anymore. ;o)
But, more than just the fun of winning, these gifts provided me with something oh so special… memories:

First, I won a $25 gift card to from My Adventures Through Mommyhood! I KNOW – wow!!! This gift came at the perfect time, because I still needed to get the book for our next book club meeting and I had noooo money. I considered sharing it, but I heard it was a really good book and one I’d want to keep. So, when I won this gift card – I knew exactly what I was going to spend it on! And I bought this book: How We Love Our Kids. {Life changing!}

But guess what? I still had some money left over and, being the smart & savvy shopper I am, was able to get these shoes too! They are Sketchers’ version of TOMS (since Amazon doesn’t sell TOMS shoes) and yes, they are corduroy! They are SO comfortable, I don’t even care that they are kinda-sorta knock offs. :)



I also won a super special necklace from The Crafted Sparrow through a giveaway on Mommas Like Me. It came in this cute little box:


And yes, this picture is taken on the seat of my car, because I knew what it was as soon as I got it in the mail and have absolutely no patience when it comes to presents!


Isn’t the little box adorable? They don’t know this, but I would have tried to buy this necklace if I didn’t win! I love the saying on this necklace: “Enjoy the Journey” and I love that it has 2 beads, one for each of my boys, and an airplane. And when my son saw the airplane, he said “Oh, because of your trips!” The little guy knows I like to travel, but he also knows I travel with purpose. So, for those of you who don’t know me so well yet, I thought I’d share a little snippet of my past experiences.

Over the past few years, God has blessed me with the opportunity to go on a few mission trips, and this necklace I’ll wear as a reminder of those special countries. I thought I would share a couple of memorable pictures of those times with you…

Our team went to Malawi to bring teaching strategies to the teachers there, although I think I learned a lot more from them… This picture shows me teaching a lesson in one of their schools. The average class has 80-90 students, no desks, and hardly any books. It was the most well-mannered and behaved class I’ve ever taught… 


We also helped local village preschools by providing blankets and sharing a Sunday school program with them. For some kids, this preschool provided the only meal they got all day. Another humbling experience. It makes me appreciate where I get to drop my kids off for school every day…


This summer I went on a house building trip to Mexico. It was the second time I’ve done a trip like this. It is hard to remember sometimes, living how we do, that a third world country is so close to home, but I am thankful that programs like Amor Ministries exist and are allowed to help:



{Singing} Up on the roooof:



We prayed over the family and gave them the keys to their new home. Mind you it has: no insulation, no electricity and no indoor plumbing. Again, humbled and thankful. 


<3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3


There is just something inexpressible about that feeling when you CONNECT with other PEOPLEAnd THAT is what makes these journeys so special. We are all on journeys in our lives: PARENTING is a journey {a big one!}, BLOGGING is a journey, traveling, work, FAMILY, love, LIFE in and of itself is a journey. And who knows what kind of journey God has in store for you in the future?

So, winning this gift was oh so special…and if God blesses me to be able to go on another trip at home or away, I know the beads on this necklace will be a reminder of my two little boys and the quote will remind me to enjoy the journey! Whatever that may be.

“The great difference between voyages rests not with the ships, but with the people you meet on them.” {Amelia E. Barr}


{Photo taken by Jim Eklund}

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A BIG Thank You and A GIVEAWAY!!

***This giveaway is now CLOSED. Thanks to everyone who entered!***

Hello and thank you for stopping by Shaped by Grace!! Six months ago I wrote my very first blog post!! And in celebration of 6 months and 100 blog followers – I am having my very first giveaway!!! Woo hoo! I especially wanted a special way to THANK YOU for reading my blog, laughing at my cheesy jokes and for being such an encouragement and inspiration to me!! Your comments make me smile and are always so uplifting!  What I love most about blogging is the community and getting to know all of YOU!!!!

{Photo via Pinterest}


I AM SOOOOO EXCITED to offer this particular giveaway because it is SO GOOD!!!

One lucky winner is going to win a Full Sized Scensty warmer AND sent bar of their choice!! {UH-MAZING!}

My super sweet friend, Laurie from Gallamore West is a Scentsy consultant and is offering up one these warmers just for YOU!! What is Scentsy? Scentsy is a wick-less warmer that melts the most unbelievably wonderful scents.  It's eco-friendly and soooo much better than candles!

This is October’s warmer of the month!!  LOVE!


I own the SOL Full Sized Warmer:


A couple other favorite full sized warmers of mine are:

The Doodlebud

The Bolyn


and the Hampton.


Aren't these beautiful! And you know why Scentsy warmers are so awesome?? Let me tell you a true story – I have two kids and I always worry about candle fires and hot wax. I stopped lighting candles a while ago and when I got my first Scentsy, it smelled so awesome, I was sold! I lit my Scentsy warmer upstairs one day and then sent my boys upstairs to take a bath. Suddenly I heard my oldest son screaming because he had bumped the warmer and spilled the hot wax on his arm. I quickly ran upstairs to find him suddenly laughing. He screamed because he thought he spilled hot wax on himself and started laughing when he realized it wasn’t hot!!! In fact, it cooled so fast he was able to peel it right off within seconds! I am now a Scentsy fan FOR LIFE. There is no going back to candles once you try Scentsy – they are a must if you have little ones!! AND they smell soooo gooood! Right now my house smells like cupcakes. ;o)

So, here's YOUR chance to enter to win your own Full-Sized Scentsy Warmer and sent bar! There are SEVEN ways to enter!!!

Required entries:
Be a public GFC follower of Shaped by Grace
Be a public GFC follower of Gallamore West (You’ll LOVE her!)

 Extra entries:
Like Shaped by Grace on Facebook
Like Gallamore West on Facebook
Tweet about this giveaway (Tag @3shapedbygrace)
Blog about or share this giveaway on Facebook and tag Shaped by Grace in the post!

That's a total of 7 entries!!

Do as many as you like, but make sure to leave a separate comment below for each thing you do. This giveaway ends at 9pm PST on Monday, October 31st! {Happy Halloween!!} A winner will be chosen via and announced on Tuesday, November 1st! 
 {Giveaway includes full sized warmers only and is open to US residents only.}

In the meantime, click here to check out ALL the full size warmer options you could win! 
Click here to check out the sent bars! (This month’s featured scent is Autumn Stroll!)

Thanks so much for entering and thank you Laurie for sharing this super sweet giveaway!! xo

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Real Mom or Super Mom?

Wow. I wish I wrote this whole post myself, because this is how I feel a lot of times! Whether you are in a family where both parents work, only one works, or are a single parent, there are some problems we ALL face. BALANCE: where to find it - and once you get it, how to keep it?

We all go through seasons of financial struggle and life struggles. As a single mom, I know I can't "have it all" and to think I can be "super" mom, "super" teacher, "super" friend and "super" involved in church, school, work, etc. would just make me SUPER exhausted. Sometimes in just keeping it simple, I AM exhausted. I don't know if my blog always reflects that. Since the school year started, sometimes I feel I only have time to post the 'fun' stuff on the bloggy blog and skip mentioning the nights we ate mac 'n cheese, had to turn around and go back home because we forgot a school instrument or were a half hour late to practice because work called a meeting.  But that's REAL life.

And you know what? Any time I DO run around and try to be super mom, all that happens is my cape gets all tangled and caught up, making me helpful to NO ONE, especially my two boys -- who were the two reasons why I was running around in the first place.  SO, here is one mom's perspective on remembering priorities and "keeping it REAL."


"How to Save Your Family: Be a “Real Mom” not Supermom. 
By: Rebecca Hagelin {from}
Remember, Supermom is a cartoon character.

The University of Washington researchers found that the moms who were happiest were those who held a realistic view of the challenges of combining work and family. They knew the juggling act was tough, so they adjusted their lives to fit that reality.

What does that mean in real life?

First, take off the rose-colored glasses and assess your life realistically.  What are your family’s priorities?  Do your activities and time  match those priorities? Or is the time you spend scattered over a multitude of less important tasks, while your most important relationships go untended? Resolve to give your best time and energy to those who matter most: God and family. Be willing to make changes---scaling back on less important commitments—to reflect your real priorities.

Second, embrace your own imperfect reality.   Single parent? Financial struggles?  Your own temperament and imperfections? Your life’s script unfolds with unique characters and an original plot line---how you spend time and invest yourself will reflect your own messy, imperfect reality. This is how it’s meant to be, for you, right now. Accept with peace what you can’t change, and work diligently to change the important things that are within your power to affect.

Third, don’t compare yourself to other “more perfect” moms.  Everyone struggles.  Some challenges remain hidden from the public eye and others are much more visible.  Have confidence that you can handle your unique situation—don’t add the burden of imagining that someone else would do it better.
 { via Pinterest}

Finally, rediscover the richness of life—family life in particular—woven into small acts of service, mundane tasks, and daily routines. Make it a point to notice, enjoy and savor the every day “little” things your children do. Be there for the daily life, not just the “big” events.
And that mental Supermom cape? Put it away until later this month when Halloween arrives – and then discard it for good on November 1st along with all the other nutty costumes!"

AMEN sista. It's a good reminder to me anyways. Because THESE little guys are what matter:

And remember: you don't have to be "Supermom" to be a SUPER mom! :o) {Special thanks to my own super mom today who visited over the weekend, came to my boys' football games and emailed me this article. Love you mom!} And to all my blogging mommas - I think you are super too! Have a great week and God Bless! xo


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Book Club Party

I loooove books and last night I had the honor of hosting my girlfriends in our very first book club meeting!


We read Educating Esmé by Esme Raji Codell, a funny but smart diary of a first year teacher. (We ARE all teachers in the group after all! Preachin’ to the choir!} I had read the book in a previous book club years ago {I hope that’s not cheating!} and thought my friends would enjoy it as well. So, to kick off our first meeting, I threw a book themed party! Below are some pictures of our night!

Welcome wreath -- We {heart} Books!!



For the tutorial on how to make this wreath, click here.

Book banner.
Let me tell you, maybe it’s the English teacher in me, but it was SO HARD to cut up a book for this banner!! Why do you think I’ve never made one of those super cool book page wreaths? I can’t bare to tear apart a book. It was like Sophie’s Choice. How do I choose? Luckily I found a discarded book of mine in my classroom, ready for the trash, binding falling apart… yes, even that still hurt a little. But this book page bunting banner looks sooooo cute – maybe I will forgive myself one day…



Book themed food labels:








{I admit – I had to Google “books with Strawberry in the title”. I couldn’t think of one!}


And a table set for our little quartet:


I made those bookmarks and used one of my favorite Pinterest-found quotes!


I folded yellow school paper as silverware pockets.

And of course you need friends! One of our girlfriends recently moved back into town and she was the motivation to start this club up again! Thanks girl!!! It was so fun!


And of course discussion questions about the book --


It was a great night! I am so glad my girls wanted to start up a book club! Even though reading time can be hard to come by, it is definitely worth the time with friends!

Are you in a book club? What have you read? {We're always looking for ideas!}

Want to read along with us? Our next book is How We Love Our Kids: The Five Love Styles of Parenting by Milan and Kay Yerkovich. I have already heard from a few people how GOOD this book is!! I wonder what style of parent I am… Happy reading!


Linking here:
Be Different, Act Normal; C.R.A.F.T.; The Gunny Sack; Skip To My Lou; Tip Junkie; Today's Creative Blog


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

Oh my GOODness!! What a busy week! {And it’s only Tuesday! Ha!} Progress reports were due today at work, so I had to get the kiddies grades all in order. But, now that the work is done, my boys and I celebrated with a little treat!! {Remember, I’m not a chef, I just play one on my blog.} We had all “the stuff” to make chocolate chip cookies and we had some bananas…. yes, it was a match made in heaven!


Here are the easy directions!

First, start with your favorite chocolate chip recipe! This recipe from savorysweetlife is one of my favorites, but any mix will do!

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Use a non-stick pan or put parchment paper on a regular pan.

Slice 1 banana {as shown above} for every dozen cookies you make.

Drop about 1/2 a Tablespoon of cookie dough onto the cookie sheet and carefully place one banana slice on top:


Then, place another {approx} 1/2 tablespoon of cookie dough on top of the banana slice. Think banana sandwich! :) And smoosh it together so no banana shows! {I’m sure Emeril uses the word smoosh in his directions right?}


Oh my goodness! I could eat it just like that!!! Anyone else here a cookie dough fan? BUT, I decided to bake them anyways. :)

Bake them for 12-15 minutes {depending on your oven}. While you’re waiting for the cookies to bake, your kids can goof off in clean the kitchen:


OPTION: about half way through, we added another banana slice on top because we LOVE banana! {Just make sure you refrigerate any uneaten cookies!}


This picture was taken about 5 minutes before the cookies were fully done – and it’s the last photo I have because my camera DIED and I can’t get it to turn back on! {Trying not to freak out.} Good thing I have these cookies to make me feel better! ;o) But that means I don’t have a final, FINAL photo of them all baked and pretty. But honestly, without the banana on top they LOOK like your normal every day chocolate chop cookie on the outside, BUT on the inside, when you bite into them – woo hoo! You get a chewy banana chocolate chip flavor that just melts in your mouth!

And, if you’re on a health kick right now, that’s why I added the banana. So these become more HEALTHY. Don’t worry - I got your back. ;o)

Let me know if you try these cookies!! I hope you have a great rest of the week! God Bless!

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