A Modern Day Fairy Tale

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

How I'm Saving on My Holiday Shopping with FreeShipping.com! #LoveFreeShipping #CleverGirls

It's that time of year again! Christmas shopping time!! I absolutely, positively love Christmas shopping! I just love finding the perfect gift for everyone on my holiday list! But I'll be honest, I'm not a huge fan of facing the holiday crowds in store! (Assuming I can even find time to shop without the kids that is!) So, I've found shopping online is a great option for us. I can stay in where it's nice and warm shop while the little ones are sleeping or at school...and the gifts just show up right on my doorstep! Sounds like a great way to shop, right? There's just one little problem...


It's amazing how quickly shipping costs can add up, isn't it? And when you're on a tight holiday budget, you don't want to waste any of it on shipping!! So, this year I found the perfect solution to make my online holiday shopping a little more budget-friendly...FreeShipping.com, which allows members to earn back 10% of their purchases at over 1000 top retailers like Walmart, Kohls, Nordstrom, Best Buy and more!! Plus, members receive free shipping, free returns and price protection too!

So, how does FreeShipping.com work? And how has it saved me money on my Christmas shopping? Let's take a look:

  • How It Works. Shopping through FreeShipping.com is super simple! Members simply login, click on any participating retailer's offer and then shop as you normally would! 
  • 10% Cash Back. Once the retailer has notified FreeShipping that your order has shipped, they'll apply 10% of total purchase to your Savings Center account! At the end of every quarter, they'll tally up your cashback earnings from the previous 3 months and send you a check for the total! Just by clicking on your retailer's website through FreeShipping.com, you've already saved 10%!! But the savings don't stop there!

  • Compare Prices: The site features a handy search tool that instantly compares the price of millions of items to show you where to get the best possible deal!

  • Coupon Codes. They offer member-exclusive coupon codes for free shipping and other great discounts that can be used at checkout! Using these coupons you can save even MORE than 10%!!
  • Shipping Rebates. Order didn't qualify for the free shipping codes? No problem! FreeShipping.com offers shipping rebates anytime you are charged shipping on orders made through their website! I've found personally I do small purchases from several different sites, which don't meet the free shipping requirements, so this is a huge plus for me!! I don't feel like I need to spend more there than I need, I just submit the rebate!! Easy!

    • Return Shipping Rebates. Need to return an item? No matter the reason, FreeShipping.com will cover it! Whew!
    • Price Protection. Have you ever bought something only to discover it went on sale just days after? Me too! annoying, isn't it? But with FreeShipping, if you find an item you purchased for a lower advertised price within 90 days of your purchase, they'll pay you the difference! Awesome!

    Sounds pretty great doesn't it? I've been personally using FreeShipping.com for my online Holiday shopping this year and loving the results. So far between shipping rebates and 10% cash back, I'm looking at getting back nearly $40!! And I'm just getting started! With so many stores to choose from, I can do nearly all my holiday shopping through them! Now, I cannot show you exactly what I've purchased (in case any snooping husband or kiddo oversees!), but I can tell I've gotten some pretty awesome gifts at some pretty awesome prices. I feel confident that I am getting the absolute best deals while still giving my family a wonderful holiday!

    With their 10% cash-back offer, FreeShipping.com members already receive a bigger discount on online purchases than other subscription program offers, but from Black Friday to Cyber Monday the savings are going up!! Each day from November 28-December 1, they'll be offering 20% cash back at five different retailers per day!! Participating retailers include Walmart, QVC, Sears, Children's Place, Gap and Nordstrom!! If you're looking for another great reason to avoid the Black Friday crowds, this is IT!

    Ready to start saving? Great news...use the coupon code HOLIDAY2014 on FreeShipping.com to begin your FREE 30-day trial and receive a discounted monthly membership rate of $9.95/month after the trial is over! What are you waiting for? Start saving today!

    What would YOU shop for through FreeShipping.com?

    I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

    Finley Grace, 15 Months.

    Last week, my little princess turned 15 months old! Where oh where has the time gone!? While I love this age of learning and discovering, I cannot help but wonder where the baby stage went and how she could possibly be this old already! Does the time always go faster with the second baby? Hmmm...

    Here is a look at what Miss Finley has been learning this month:

    • She's still wearing 24 month clothing! 18 months are pretty well entirely outgrown now!
    • She's loving food more and more, but due to her horrible eczema cannot eat anything with gluten! No fun! Fresh fruits and veggies are a staple. She is also still crazy about black beans!
    • Her vocabulary is growing each and every day. In addition to those she'd pick up until this point (Mommy, Daddy Bubby, Minnie, Nanana/Frozen, Disney nini/nose, eye, hi, bye, mimi/milk, baby, bebe/belly button...among others). She keeps adding more words like: Sa (Elsa), teeth, dipey, mine, apple, butt (thanks to Bubby!), the list goes on. She loves saying 'this'...her way of asking 'What's this?' while pointing to something, and will often attempt to repeat answers.
    • She's very smart and picks up on things quickly. She knows the bus means bubby is home. She knows if I am talking to my mom on the phone and say 'I love you' the next words out of my mouth will be 'bye' and will beat me to it! She is VERY close to figuring out how to put a DVD in the DVD player (though at this point is mostly sliding it UNDER the player, but she has the idea in theory). She'll grab the keys and head for the door if she wants to go bye. Perhaps the cutest of all is her standing in the corner...if big brother gets told to stand in the corner, she will happily oblige...if only bubby was such a good listener!
    • She loves her big brother more than anything. If he is sad, she will snuggle up to him and give him a kiss. She actually isn't much for giving kisses usually, but ALWAYS has some to spare for bubby. She already seems very protective of him...unless she's the one pestering him of course!
    • She is all about Minnie Mouse lately!! It's right up there with Frozen! I'm not sure where this obsession came from- she's actually only watched Mickey Mouse Clubhouse a handful of times- but she goes crazy!! She helps pick out her own clothes most days and always requests Minnie Mouse! Adorable!
    • She loves 'helping' me clean! You know how some babies are afraid of the vacuum? Not my girl, she wants to push it! She's always stealing my broom too! Of course, she's always been fascinated with laundry. I am personally hoping she keeps up with this trend! I could use a little helper!
    • She loves anything girly! Pretty bows, necklaces, frilly dresses...she wants them all! 
    • She thinks she's a big kid...At Cub Scout meetings, etc she wants to be doing just what the other kids are doing!
    • She's working on THREE new teeth! She'll have a mouthful soon! She loves showing them off and letting everyone know she has 'teef!'.
    • She's a climber! If there is a way to climb something, she WILL find it! She loves to be all over the place, keeping mommy running!!
    Overall, Finley is still a sweet, happy little girl and we could not love her more! It's amazing to see her learn all these new things and I am enjoying every minute!! I cannot wait to see what new experiences the next month brings!!

    Monday, November 24, 2014

    Bring Home the Magic of the North Pole with Hallmark {#NorthpoleFun #shop}

    This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.#NorthpoleFun #CollectiveBias

    "It's the most wonderful time of the year..." I don't know about all of you, but this has certainly been the sentiment echoing around my home over the past few weeks. We absolutely, positively love Christmas. Wait, no that's not it...love isn't strong enough. We're obsessed. We live and BREATHE Christmas from November through the New Year!! We love the music, the decorations, the cookies...it's impossible NOT to be filled with joy, isn't it? Perhaps one of our favorite things at Christmastime is the movies. We LOVE Christmas movies! So much so in fact that we decided to start a new tradition-a Christmas countdown of sorts. Every week leading up until Christmas, we will have a Family Holiday Movie Night each Friday. I've already purchased several new wonderful movies for the occasion but perhaps one of the movies I'm most looking forward to experiencing with my family is Hallmark's new one: Northpole. It sounds absolutely magical:

    Santa (Robert Wagner) and Mrs. Claus’s (Jill St. John) magical home, Northpole, has grown into a huge city powered by the magic of holiday happiness around the world. Yet the city is in trouble, as people everywhere are too busy to enjoy festive time together. One of these stressed-out souls is Chelsea (Tiffani Thiessen), a single mom who is trying to get noticed at her new reporting job while helping her ten-year-old son Kevin (Max Charles) adjust to a new school. When he starts talking about real elves and actual sleigh rides, she worries that his imagination has gotten out of control. With a little added help from Kevin’s charming teacher Ryan (Josh Hopkins), a mysterious elf, Clementine (Bailee Madison), and a gospel singer named Josephine (Candice Glover), Chelsea may learn that even chasing down the facts can lead to holiday magic. 

    But as great as the movie itself sounds, nothing is more magical than bringing the movie to life off the screen. So, I took a little trip down to my local Walmart to see what kind of magic they had in store...

    From storybooks to North Pole maps. From ornaments to snowball launchers. There was truly a little something for everyone. How on earth was I to choose!? I wanted it all! I knew whatever I chose, my family would love it...but what would best keep the magic of the movie alive throughout the season?

    First and foremost, I had to get a story book. There were a few great options to choose from, but I chose the Once Upon A Northpole Christmas story book and Find Me Santa Snowflake. There is nothing greater when the weather gets cold than snuggling up with the kiddos under a cozy blanket with a delicious cup of cocoa and a great book. Ah, that's the life, isn't it? We can experience the Christmas magic over and over again!

    For our family, Christmas typically means travel...but with the snowy weather starting early this year we just never know where we might end up Christmas morning. The accompanying Find Me Santa Snowflake is a great way to let Santa know where he can find us...wherever we are! What a relief for the little ones that will be!

    Next up, something fun for the little ones...a Magic Snowball. Perhaps one of my little guy's favorite things about the holiday season is the snow! He's obsessed. As soon as the snow starts falling, he start nailing us all with snowballs. Quite honestly, I'm not a fan. This adorable snowball brings the fun indoors...along with the magical colors of the Northern Lights.

    Perhaps our favorite Northpole find though was the Northpole Communicator. Yes, seriously...a direct line of communication to Santa's Workshop!! Right now the elves are hard at work getting things ready for their big month, but come December 1, we'll be chatting with the elves all month long! We cannot wait! Talk about a magical holiday!

    With all these great products, we will have have no problem keeping the magical Christmas spirit going long after the movie night is over!

    Have you checked out the Northpole Collection at your local Walmart? Which products would your family most enjoy?

    Why I'm Shopping the Family Christian Black Friday Sale {Great Deals & A Great Cause}

    Thanks to Family Christian for sponsoring today's post. All thoughts are my own. Contains affiliate links.

    Are you a Black Friday shopper?

    While I try to do much of my holiday shopping before the Christmas rush, I am always on the hunt for a bargain and Black Friday deals can often not be beat! But when most of us think about our shopping plans for the day, we tend to focus on the big name stores and not the smaller specialty type shops. But this year, I found that my favorite deals of the day are from one of those smaller, specialty stores: Family Christian!!

    Let's take a look at just a few of the amazing deals available:

    Thanksgiving Doorbusters (Black Friday Sale)

    • $5 What's in the Bible DVDs
      My son LOVES these DVDs...and every one is on sale!! The new 'Why Do We Call It Christmas' would be an ideal Christmas gift for every family, and is wonderful for teaching kids all about the holiday. Personally, I'll be stocking up on some of the others for my son, and I cannot wait to see his reaction!!

      Thanksgiving Doorbusters (Black Friday Sale)

  • $3.97 Select Veggie Tales DVDs
    Who doesn't love Veggie Tales? I know we certainly do!! The following selections will be just $3.97 (and would make fantastic stocking stuffers): Esther Girl Who Became Queen, Jonah A Veggie Tales Movie, Josh and the Big Wall, Little House That Stood, Lyle the Kindly Viking, Minnesota Cuke and the Search for Samson's Hairbrush, Moe and the Big Exit, and The Princess and the Popstar. We personally own most of these already, and this is a fantastic deal for them!!

    Thanksgiving Doorbusters (Black Friday Sale)
  • 75% Off Kids DVD Boxed Sets
    If you still need more great Christian Kids DVDs after the previous two deals, then you'll love this one. The following selections will be available for 75% off of retail: Amazing Bible (3 DVD), Character Builders Set (8 DVD), Davey and Goliath Complete Collection, and Mandie Box Set (3 Movies).
  • $5 Books.
    The deals aren't just for the kids! A selection of books will be available for the grownups as well, including: Four Blood Moons, Four Blood Moons Study Guide & Journal, I Declare: 31 Promises to Speak, Experiencing Heaven, Crazy Love, Discovery Saga Collection and Jesus>Religion! So many choices, you're sure to find one for everyone on your list!
  • 50% Select Duck Commander Books
    Any Duck Dynasty fans on your list? This deal is perfect! The following selections will be 50% off: Good Call, Duck Commander Devotional, Miss Kays Cookbook, Duck Commander Devotional Leather, Duck Commander Devotional Pink Camo, Duck Commander Devotional Pink Leeather, Women of Duck Commander, Happy Happy Happy, Sicology 1 and Duck Commander Family.
  • These are some pretty amazing deals, aren't they? And there are even more not mentioned! But they aren't the only reasons to shop Family Christian's Black Friday Sale! All purchases made at Family Christian from November 22-30 will go towards the Family Christian Challenge to Fight Human Trafficking. Here's a little more on that:

    Fight Human Trafficking

    Up to 27 million men, women and children are enslaved in the deadly grip of human trafficking.
    Our Challenge begins November 22. By shopping with us through November 30th, you’ll help rescue those enslaved in the sex trade and keep them safe. Our goal is to help our partner, Destiny Rescue, start their program in the Dominican Republic, a country that desperately needs their efforts.
    Let’s fight the vicious cycle of human trafficking.Stand together with us, and shop or donate to the cause.

    You can read more and see how else you can help right here.

    So, you get amazing deals AND your purchase makes a difference? Isn't that truly what this holiday season should be all about? If you'd like to shop the Family Christian Black Friday sale and support The Challenge, be sure to head to your local Family Christian Store on November 26th (that's right, the day BEFORE Thanksgiving) and November 28th! Stores will be closed for Thanksgiving, but you can also shop online all 3 days!!

    Will you be joining me in shopping at Family Christian for Black Friday? What deals will YOU be picking up?

    Friday, November 21, 2014

    Thank the Troops with a Simple Tweet with #TreesforTroops {+ a Holiday Giveaway!}

    Thanks to FedEx for sponsoring today's post! I was provided with the same gift basket the winner will receive. All thoughts are my own.

    When my husband and I were first married, we had absolutely nothing. No savings, no furniture, again nothing. We went out and bought the bare essentials but for the most part our house was pretty sparse. Of course that included Christmas decorations. That first Christmas we were married, we had nothing, and it wasn't really in our budget to go out and buy a tree.

    Thankfully, Trees for Troops came to the rescue. This fantastic program provides trees to military families like ours on bases across the US at no cost. Without this program, we would not have had a tree that year at all I'm sure...and when you are far from loved ones over the holiday seasons, those little things are even more important in bringing in the holiday spirit. We have since built up a collection of holiday decor (to include a Christmas tree), but I will forever be grateful to Trees for Troops for helping our family celebrate that first year!

    So, what exactly is Trees for Troops? 

    FedEx and the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation are once again joining together to make the holidays a little brighter for America’s service members and their families with the Trees for Troops program. www.christmasspiritfoundation.org

    o   This year marks the 10th anniversary of the program, which brings together FedEx, the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation and tree farmers across America to deliver real Christmas trees to service members stationed across the U.S. and overseas.

    o   During the busy weeks leading up to Christmas, FedEx will deliver more than 17,000 live Christmas trees to more than 60 military bases across the U.S. and overseas (Middle East and South Pacific)

    o   Trees for Troops is part of FedEx Special Delivery, a nationwide program that supports local organizations by donating transportation services and other assistance to help them fulfill their missions. Since the Trees for Troops program launched in 2005, FedEx has shipped more than 139,000 real Christmas trees to service members and their families

    Sounds pretty great, doesn't it? I certainly think so. And this year, FedEx and the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation are asking for your help to spread the holiday cheer.

    How can you help?

    It's as easy as saying 'thank you' and sending a special holiday greeting as part of the Tag-A-Tree Campaign. Tweet your message from November 18th—November 24th using the hashtag #TreesforTroops, and FedEx will print out your message and place it on one of the 17,000 Christmas trees going to a military family. It's such a simple act and is truly appreciated by those military families receiving the trees!

    To celebrate this wonderful program, FedEx is offering one lucky reader a wonderful holiday gift basket valued at $100!!! What's inside? The exact contents will be a surprise, but I can tell you it will be filled with several popular holiday gifts for you to put under your tree! Exciting!! Enter using the Rafflecopter form below!!

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Winner will be contacted via e-mail after giveaway ends, and will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen. One entry per household, winning entry will be verified. Odds of winning depend on valid entries received. A Modern Day Fairy Tale is not responsible for prize delivery.

    Tunes That Teach {A Rivanna Music CD Review}

    **Product received for review. All thoughts are my own.

    Our minds are funny things aren't they? For many, things like names and dates, math equations and grammar rules never cease to not stick...but that song you haven't heard in years and years and years? You still know every word! Interesting isn't it? Our brains are better able to remember something set to music than just plain ol' facts. Just take a look at how we learn the alphabet for an example. Music is wonderful for ALL kids, but can be especially great for children like my son with autism and other developmental needs.

    Cathy Bollinger and Elly Tucker, the incredible minds behind Rivanna Music saw what a powerful role music played in helping little one's of all abilities learn and have created numerous CDs that do just that. Here is a look at the goals they hoped to accomplish:

    • Songs and rhymes are written in a friendly upbeat way,
    • That they use repetition of sounds (alliteration) and words for supporting maximum reinforcement of concepts
    • Use Multisensory Interactivites for learning in variety of ways.
    • Utilize variety of styles and instrumentation for student with learning disabilities and for traditional learners.
    • They provide clear images of concepts.
    • That we make available written lyrics to visually reinforce key points.
    • That the songs ask questions in a way that helps the child gain confidence.
    • Repeat or re-word concepts and issues.
    • Frequently offer variety of examples from real-life situations.
    • Use music to teach and reinforce important ideas.
    • Have practice exercises available for lessons, in case the student has problems with cerain concepts.
    • Have students with learning disabilities vary their approach to learning using music
    • Pace instruction carefully to ensure clarity, using variety of rhythms and instrumentation
    • Provides and teaches memory associations (mnemonic strategies).
    • Supports one modality of presentation by following it with instruction and then use another modality.
    • Sings and speaks distinctly and at rates that a student with learning and processing difficulties can follow.
    • Uses plenty of examples, musical and movement, in order to make topics more applicable.
    • Presents concepts logically, one at a time
    • Encourages students to work with others , if possible to increase social reinforcement
    • Incorporates cross-age presentations and voices for modeling purposes
    For this review, I received two of their fun CDs, 'Toddlin' Tunes' and 'My Turn, Your Turn'.

    First up, Toddlin' Tunes: A Singalong with Cathy Bollinger. I absolutely adored this! Have you ever noticed that in some children's CDs the singers are well...a little annoying? Absolutely not true here! Cathy's voice is absolutely beautiful. The songs may be for kids, but I still enjoyed listening myself. This CD featured some great classics as we all know and love them like The Muffin Man or Hickory Dickory Dock, along with some modified versions of the classics like Happy and You Know It. I particularly loved the adapted version of Patty Cake- already a favorite in our home, but made even more fun!! In addition to the classics were some great originals from Cathy. We pparticularlyloved Uh-Oh! There were so many great songs- from those that were fun for play to those that iincorporatedfun lessons like cleaning up, sharing and saying please and thank you. It was truly no wonder that it was named as a A 2005 Parents Choice Silver Award Winner! This is a great CD for every toddler!

    Next up, My Turn Your Turn...and I loved this one even more! Teaching a child with autism can be a little more complicated than teaching typically developing children. Skills that come naturally to most of us are a challenge. Skills like eye contact and making conversation are skills that naturally just come as we develop. For those with Autism, it's not quite that easy. Kids like my son actually have to be taught these skills through modelling and repetition. He had to be taught how he was expected to answer a simple question like, 'What color shirt are you wearing?' or 'Do you like pizza?' Even now at 7 years old, though he has come very far, Shaun struggles with these interactions. He often forgets that not everyone shares his interests or wants to hear about them nonstop. The songs on this CD perfectly address all of these issues. They serve as a reminder on how to respond to questions, to remember good eye contact, to have mutual two-sided conversations...and they do so beautifully. The songs are fun and catchy so I know my son will remember them easily too! He can and will still benefit from these even now, but I would have LOVED to have had the CD a few years ago too! There's now even an available companion book as well!

    Perhaps my absolute favorite song on the CD is 'Everyone Has Strengths To Be Proud Of'. More than anything, this is a lesson I have tried to teach Shaun. Though he struggles with communication and social skills, he has many great skills working in his favor. He has an incredible memory, is a great reader and is just amazing at science and math. I love that he has this little song to help remind him just how truly great he is and that he should always be proud of himself.

    If you have a little one with Autism, I HIGHLY recommend checking out Rivanna Music and seeing everything they have to offer. These are truly great songs that can make teaching our little ones these important social skills so much easier. And when you're raising a child with autism, anything that makes things a little bit easier is a great thing! And these aren't just great for home, but school too!!

    These are just two of the great albums available from Cathy Bollinger and Rivanna Music. You can see more fun selections and find useful resources at their website.

    Which CD from Rivanna Music would you love for the little one in your life?

    Thursday, November 20, 2014

    Treetopia's 'We've Got A Tree For That' Pinterest Contest

    Thanks to Treetopia for sponsoring today's post! All thoughts are my own.

    I absolutely, positively LOVE decorating for the holidays! Beautiful wreaths, shimmering lights, and of course the tree!! There is something about a Christmas tree that can turn any room into a magic wintry wonderland.

    Growing up, our family always had a themed tree...From Santa to patriotic, it was always something fresh and interesting. Now as a grown up, I STILL love a great themed tree...and no matter what look you decide to go for, Treetopia has the ideal tree to fit your vision. Seriously, from classic green to white to bright pink...there is something to match every style, throughout the year! To celebrate the variety of trees available, Treetopia has something special in store: the We've Got A Tree For That Pinterest Contest!!

    Ready to enter? Here's how:

    1. Follow Treetopia on Pinterest by clicking “Follow All.”

    2. Choose from our list of popular seasons, holidays, and celebrations: New Year Valentine’s Day  Easter  St. Patrick’s Day Summer Christmas in July Independence Day/Memorial Day/Veteran’s Day  Halloween Fall/Thanksgiving Christmas

    3. Create a Pinterest board entitled “[Name of Chosen Holiday] Decorating Ideas” (i.e. Thanksgiving Decorating Ideas).

    4. Pin your favorite colored tree from the Treetopia website, and include your ideas on how to decorate it for your chosen holiday.

    5. Include the hashtag #TreetopiaHolidays on your board and pins.

    6. Fill in the form on the Treetopia Facebook page to complete your entry.

    Only one (1) entry is allowed per person and per Pinterest account. Voting is limited to one person or email address per day. Votes will be cast on the Treetopia Facebook Page through a Third Party Contest Poll Application.

    Winner Selection

    1. After the submission period, Treetopia shall determine the 25 best entries based upon the following criteria: (a) board aesthetics, (b) creativity in using Treetopia trees for holiday decorating, and (c) overall board concept. These 25 entries will be the finalists.

    2. The top 10 Pinterest boards with the most number of votes by the end of the voting period will enter a final judging by Treetopia. The top three (3) best overall entries will be declared the winners.

    And of course I know you're all wondering about the prizes!! The first prize winner will receive a $300 Treetopia Gift Card, second place receives $200 gift card and third place receives a $100 gift card!! That will certainly help in making those pinworthy ideas a reality, right?

    You can find the full contest rules here.

    How will YOU decorate your perfect Treetopia tree?