Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Beat the Heat with Coke®

This post brought to you by Coca Cola. All opinions are 100% mine.

It's summertime in Hotlanta, so you know what that means, right? Heat, humidity, and sweating like you're walking through a bakery three days after starting the Atkins Diet.

Maybe it wouldn't be so bad if I spent my weekends lounging by the pool or sitting beneath a water mist fountain, but I don't. I don't because my daughter plays a little thing called "Travel Softball", which in most languages translates to "Destroyer of Summer Fun." 

Don't get me wrong, I love watching Bailey play softball. And I love chit-chatting with the other softball Moms. And the candy they sell at the concession stand isn't too shabby either. It's just the 12... long... hours.... of 95 degree heat with no shade that I could sort of live without. 

There have been Saturdays that I've come home exhausted and nauseous from the heat. And there have been Saturdays that I've spent my kids' college funds on bottled water at the concession stand (Sorry, kiddos. There's always student loans...).

But this summer, I finally got smart and started bringing a giant cooler full of Coca Cola products that I bought at Sam's Club because their prices are unbeatable. It saves me tons of money and keeps me hydrated without having to waste energy walking back-and-forth to the concession stand every 20 minutes. That way, I can save my strength for something important... like yelling at the umpire when he calls my baby out when she was obviously safe. According to her mother. Who knows nothing about the sport.

This summer, I discovered that Coke® offers several amazing products that will help keep you hydrated! The beach, the lake, the park, the pool? Anytime you're outside, bring a cooler full of these bad boys with ya:

* NOS®

* Dansani®

* Powerade®

* Fuze®

* Vitamin Water®

 

Beat the heat this summer with Coca Cola products from Sam's Club. Fill up your cooler and meet me at the ball field. We'll have a blast, and truth be told, I could really use the help. Those umpires need a good talkin'-to.

 

 

 

 

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Thursday, June 20, 2013

HUGGIES®: Baby Proofing Your Life

This post brought to you by HUGGIES. All opinions are 100% mine.

Have many of you have ever been pooped or peed on by a baby? Show of hands? 

(Disclaimer: Please only show your hands if they do not currently have poop or pee on them. Sorry, I don't make the rules here.) 

After two kids, several nieces and nephews, I've worn body excrements more times than I've worn turtlenecks. And although I've definitely built up a tolerance to it over the years, I've still never loved it, you know. 

Which is exactly why I do love HUGGIES®! When my children were babies, I always used HUGGIES® because that was the only brand that kept their poop and pee exactly where it was supposed to be: not covering their sheets at 3AM.  

If you have an infant or toddler, just think of HUGGIES® as baby proofing YOU. The diapers will keep your baby snug and dry. The wipes will gently clean him or her without leaving behind any of that funky wipe smell. And as an added bonus, your new, white, terrycloth robe won't look like you bought a front row ticket to Poopapalooza, if you know what I mean. Poop-free clothing is always in style. Just ask any designer. 

Hey, talking about baby proofing makes me think of when Drew was little. My children were seven-and-a-half years apart (still are, in fact), so I felt like I was starting all over when he was born.

All the cleaning chemicals and expensive breakables had made their way back to the low cabinets and end tables. Brian and I spent tons of time researching the proper way to baby proof our house. We put protective pads on the furniture corners, locks on the cabinets, and covers on the outlets. We put all the cleaning products up so high that even I couldn't reach them (best excuse for not cleaning EVER), and if you walked through our house, you would have sworn that a two-foot-tall tornado took the place out. All the low shelves and coffee tables were completely bare, but if you looked about up about 3 feet, it looked like people actually lived there again.  

And even with all that baby proofing, do you know where I found that fifteen-month-old son of mine? Walking on top of the couch - not the place where you sit - but across the very top. Awesome. He was starting to fall when I saw him, and I think the only thing that saved him was me gasping. I inhaled so much air that the suction pulled him into an upright position.  

The good news is that now I know he'll always have work as a circus acrobat.

I swear, I only turned my back for a second. How do kids do that? It's like their superpower. 

Don't forget that our active babies need HUGGIES®, which are available at Walmart, to protect them and baby proof you. A two-fer!

Here's some of the amazing products that you'll find at Walmart:

  • HUGGIES® Little Movers Diapers
  • Bonus Packs Diapers
  • HUGGIES® Triple Clean* Wipes
  • HUGGIES® Snug & Dry Diapers

Not included: Preventing them from tightrope walking across the back of your couch. 

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Friday, June 14, 2013

Scott® Rocks! (literally)

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Dollar General. All opinions are 100% mine.

Are you a music buff? I am. In fact, for about three years there, I didn't even turn on my television except to watch music documentaries.

I couldn't tell you a thing about who got voted off Survivor, but I could recite every single word from the Justified album by Justin Timberlake. So our conversation might have sounded something like this:

You: "Can you believe Survivor last night?"

Me: "Senorita, I didn't watch Survivor Last Night because TV's not Right for Me. Music is Still on My Brain and Nothin' Else. Please don't Cry Me A River. Instead, try turning off the television and turning up the radio and Rock Your Body. Justin Timberlake will Take It From Here.

(Speaking in song titles just happens to me sometimes.)

Another side-effect is that my love of music, specifically music trivia, makes me pretty annoying at cocktail parties. You might try to talk about the weather or Fashion Week, but I'll blurt out, "Hey, did you know that the first Grammy Awards were in 1959... or White Christmas by Bing Crosby is the best selling single of all time... or Sting's real name is Gordon Sumner?  (I'd probably go by Sting, too.)

In short, you really want to invite me to play on your Monday night trivia team. You know, as long as you only need help with one category. If it's Geography or Political Science, you're on your own.

That's why I was so excited when I heard about a new deal at Dollar General. If I purchase $6 in Scott Paper Products in-store at Dollar General, I get 3 FREE music downloads.

That's right - FREE, as in, nada, zip, zero, zilch, nothing.

Ahhhh... music to my ears.

And this offer comes at a perfect time because I fly through paper products during the summertime. My family loves to have cookouts and barbecues, and with the kids home all day, they can certainly make a mess or two or fifty. And, I've got two stinky boys in my house, so let's don't even talk about how much toilet paper we go through. Ahem.

Here's a few of the many great Scott Paper Products available at Dollar General:

-Scott® 1000 count bath tissue, 9 pack
-Scott® 1000 count bath tissue, 4 pack
- Scott® Towels (Mega Roll, choose a size) 6 pack
- Scott® Extra Soft Bath Tissue , 12 pack, Big Roll
Buy the products that you needed anyway, but get them at Dollar General so you can take advantage of a great price AND 3 free music downloads.

And then afterward, we'll go kick some booty at trivia night, okay? Whaddaya say?

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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Welcome to Heaven, Jonathon Ford

We said goodbye to a truly amazing dude this week. He was a husband, father, brother, son and friend. He was loved by everyone because of his gentle nature and kind spirit. I called him family and I loved him dearly.



My cousin Stephanie always felt more like a sister than a cousin to me. In fact, we look more alike than me and my sisters do.



I remember when Stephanie first told me about Jonathon. Her eyes lit up when she said his name, which is common in the beginning of a relationship. But the beautiful thing about their relationship is the sparkle didn't lessen with time; it only shone brighter.

#tbt Steph & Jonathon

We were so excited when they announced their engagement. We began making plans to attend their beautiful destination wedding on Fripp Island.

Announcing their engagement on Christmas Eve


From their "trash the dress" sunrise photo shoot the morning after their wedding



Jonathon was a pilot and his job moved them to Arizona. They bought a beautiful home and Stephanie accepted a teaching job there. Their son Jack was born. Life was perfect.


37 weeks pregnant with Jack


When Jack was about three-months-old, Jonathon was diagnosed with Stage 4 liver cancer.

What Jonathon endured during the next year, I honestly can't imagine, but you wouldn't have known it from talking to him. When they came home for Christmas, even after everything he'd been through and was going through, Jonathon was the same ole guy. He was kind, friendly, and smiley. He spent the evening trying to do something to make your day a little better. That's just the kind of fella he was.

My sister drew Jonathon's name for Christmas and got him personalized poker cards since he and Stephanie met playing in a poker tournament. 

They say when someone faces adversity, you see who they really are. Jonathon faced more adversity than most of us could fathom - and the person he really was - was truly special.

When a young person dies, there is a loss of what could have been, of what should have been. Stephanie and Jonathon waited so long to find each other. They planned on decades of marriage, but they only got about three years.

How will Stephanie go on without him? How will that baby ever know how precious his daddy was?




These are the thoughts that break my heart in two. It isn't fair. It's one of those things that we'll never understand and I guess we're not meant to.

Sometimes we forget how hard it is on the family and friends of those battling cancer. The feeling of helplessness must be overwhelming. Stephanie handled it with strength and grace - each chemo treatment, each fight to get a new drug approved by insurance, each recovery, each piece of bad news.  I don't think I could have been half as strong if facing the same circumstances.



Stephanie and Jonathon's friends put together a poker tournament as a fundraiser for Jonathon. Poker has always been special to them since they met playing poker in a local restaurant. This event was a good chance for everyone to say goodbye and do something to help Stephanie and Jack.



See that picture? That's what cancer looks like, people.

It's the face of a sweet man - a new husband and father - who's fighting for just one more day to spend with them. It's the tearful eyes of a 31-year-old widow who is trying to be strong for everybody else's sake. It's the innocent smile of a baby who will only know his dad through stories and photographs. It's the hearts of family and friends who had to say goodbye way too soon.

Our family has been no stranger to cancer and death in recent months. We've lost my grandmother, Aunt Sharon, Uncle David and Jonathon. I was diagnosed with cancer, which seems pretty insignificant by comparison, and another cousin had two large growths/tumors removed last week (we are still waiting on the biopsy results).

It's definitely been a rough patch. Anybody care to join me for a margarita or twenty?

I've posted updates about Jonathon on Facebook. Thank you for supporting them in thought and prayer. And also, thank you so much for your donations. In lieu of flowers, if you would like to make a donation to Jack's college fund, you may do so HERE.

Team Ford: Jonathon, Stephanie and Jack's hand prints


Today, I think of Jonathon. I picture him climbing onto a golden plane in Heaven - sitting in the right seat with God as his pilot - and flying through the clouds in clear, perfect weather. I imagine him finding friends up there who love to play poker too, and every one of his hands is a Royal Flush. I think about him finding a beautiful park bench where he'll sit and wait for the rest of us to join him in Heaven some day. And I imagine him looking down at Stephanie and Jack and thinking, 'Don't be sad. I'll see you in a little while', and then smiling that sweet smile that always said, everything is going to be okay.



Some loves last a lifetime. Some loves last for eternity. And some loves last both.



Many prayers to Stephanie, Jack, family and friends.

And many thanks to Jonathon Ford - we're all better for knowing you, brother. May you rest in eternal, Heavenly peace.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Promote Optimism and Overcome Fear: The Allstate Good LIfe

This post brought to you by Allstate. All opinions are 100% mine.

Allstate's "Good Hands for a Good Life" is a new and different philosophy for an insurance company. After working in the insurance industry for over 15 years now, I can tell you that "new" and "different" is "awesome" and "welcomed".

Personally, I've had my cars and homes insured with Allstate for as long as I've had cars and homes. And it's not just so I can speak in that deep, mainly voice like the guy on the commercials (although I do consider that a perk), it's because Allstate is a quality insurance company with excellent financial ratings and customer service.

 photo allstatelogo_300x60_zps5487a605.jpg


The new Allstate commercial shows us that there are risks everywhere, but we can't let them keep us from achieving our goals. If we rely on optimism, we can overcome fear, and then, the sky's the limit!

The Allstate Good Life is happening all around us. In posts on social media or in conversations with friends, we can see people who are promoting good versus just taking care of the bad. And that's exactly what Allstate is doing, too.

Check out this short video to see what I mean.



Allstate's philosophy really resonated with me because I can relate to how taking one chance - and allowing optimism to overcome fear - can change lives forever.

When my Dad was 29-years-old, he left his grocery store management job to pursue his dream of owning his own insurance agency. He left a good salary, job security and company benefits with four hungry mouths to feed at home.

Dad started his business with a legal pad, a pen, a telephone and a phone book. He called on businesses for months, trying to gain new clients, but it was a slow-growing process. I'm sure he thought about giving up a time or two or twenty. I'm sure he worried that he'd made a mistake. But he kept going. He wasn't going to let fear keep him from his dream!

Today, we have a successful insurance agency that provides a job and benefits for, not only my parents, but for me and my two sisters as well. We are so blessed to work together everyday and grow something that we really believe in. For us, our job isn't just a job; it's an extension of our family unit.

My life, my husband's life and my children's lives are completely different and better because one man didn't let fear hold him back. My Dad accomplished his dream, so now I get to live out mine.

We all have times in our lives when we overcome doubt in order to get to the Good Life. Maybe you experienced a hard time with your spouse or child, but you got through it and the relationship is even stronger now. Or maybe you moved out of state, but then you met new friends who feel like family.

Please share a time when you conquered adversity and achieved the Good Life in the comment section below, so we can promote optimism. The world could always use a little more of it.

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Friday, May 17, 2013

American Osteopathic Association: 60 seconds to break through your pain

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of American Osteopathic Association. All opinions are 100% mine.

Hi, my name is Amanda and I'm a sitaholic.

Yep, I sit a lot, as in, A LOT. At my job as an insurance agent, I sit 8-9 hours a day. Have you ever had to call Customer Service to an insurance company? If so, then you can only imagine how much of my day is spent on-hold with my shoulder and cheek holding the phone up to my face as I type.

Then after work, the sit-a-palooza continues. Most nights, I'm at a ball game or practice for one of my children. Then when I get home, I squeeze in some blogging or social media time. Then I sit on the couch and watch TV because that episode of Nashville isn't going to watch itself, you know.

So needless to say, my sit-to-exercise ratio is pretty skewed. In a scientific study completely made up for the purposes of the this blog, I sit 90% of the time that I'm awake, usually staring at a computer screen.

That's why I was so excited to partner with The American Osteopathic Association.

Did you know that over 100 million Americans live in chronic pain? That's what keeps us from enjoying the fun stuff in life, and sometimes, it even affects our job performance. Most chronic pain is caused by office work, just like I do.

A recent survey by the American Osteopathic Association revealed that 70 percent of office workers sit more than 5 hours per day. And 2 out of 5 of them wouldn't even get up to go talk to a colleague.

Ahem. I have three ways that I communicate to my co-workers: 1) instant messaging 2) phone intercom system 3) Shouting, "Hey, did you ever hear back from Melissa?!" into the next office. And since none of those involve me moving an inch, I think it's safe to say that I'm one of those two people in their survey.

But there's a way to Break Through Your Pain and it only takes 60 seconds.

That's right. In the same amount of time that I can yell, "Hey, did you ever hear back from Melissa?!", I can do something about my back pain instead.

Watch this one minute video from Dr. Rob Danoff, DO, an AOA board certified family physician, and see what I'm talking about.



Implementing these two simple stretches can decrease your chronic pain. Think of it like getting a cup of coffee or gossiping about the new guy from Accounting - make it a normal part of your work day.

I tried the stretches myself and loved them!

Try them out and let me know what you think. And don't forget to spread the word to other office spacers like us. We sitaholics gotta stick together.

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Stone Meet Mombo: A Love Story (GIVEAWAY)

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Comfort and Harmony. All opinions are 100% mine.

My good friends over at Comfort & Harmony were nice enough to send me Mombo nursing pillows to review.

This thing is so awesome that it shouldn't just be reserved for infants. I could see me lounging on it for a Twilight movie or two.

Mombo has a unique shape and two-sided design that moms love! The firm side gives essential support for mommies while they're nursing. The soft side is cozy and perfect for baby's tummy time.

Mombo is the only nursing pillow with the vibration feature - giving babies soothing relaxation time. Think spa day (without all the cucumber water and uncomfortable moments when you're painfully aware that you're wearing nothing but a robe in public).

Select your style - Standard, Deluxe or Nude - then add slipcovers so your baby stays at the height of fashion. Accessories are key, you know.

I asked my BFF, Laura, to test out the Deluxe Mombo with her son, Stone. They thought it was pure awesomeness.

 photo mombostoneresize_zpsd78b79ba.jpg



Check out this short video of Stone:



I think it's safe to say that he loved it. He was so cozy and the vibrations almost put him to sleep. And Laura enjoyed giving her arm a rest while feeding him.

Hey, need a good arm workout? Try feeding that little guy six times a day. But seriously, it would be worth it because I can't get enough of him. Too adorable!

Be sure to like Comfort & Harmony on Facebook and follow Comfort & Harmony on Twitter. I did, so if you do too, then we can complete the social media circle. Whaddaya say?

So hey, would you like a Mombo Pillow of your very own? Maybe you've got a nursing baby or know someone who does (psst, perfect shower gift). Or maybe you want to keep it for yourself to watch Twilight movies. Seriously, there's no judgment here.

To enter the contest: Leave a comment about the Mombo in the comment section below.

That's it. It's that simple. Tell me why you want one or who needs one... anything!

Contest ends on Friday, May 31st. Good luck!

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

#21 Don't plagiarize, a.k.a., The day somebody said I caught cancer for marketing purposes

In case I haven't beaten this dead horse enough, I wrote a list of 20 Things a Mother Should Tell Her Son, and it's been shared a few times... blah, blah, blah. Are you as sick of hearing about it as I am talking about it? (Rhetorical.)

When it's shared, I know it's impossible or improbable to give me credit, so when that doesn't happen - which is basically every time - I don't sweat it.

I'm no different. I just shared an e-card on Facebook about muffin tops and I have no idea who created it. I didn't Google it or anything. I just hit "share" and went on about my business. Totally fine. Nobody faults us for that.

But recently, something a little different happened.

A Facebook friend posted a link to "20 Things a Father Should Tell His Son" and tagged me in it. I expected to see an original list, but instead, I saw a copy-and-paste version of my list, word-for-word. The only difference was "mother" was changed to "father", for obvious reasons, of course.

His photo also duplicated the original: a father holding his infant son with "20 things a father should tell his son" written in the corner. I found the image on another website, so I'm assuming it's probably copyright protected.    

That was blatant plagiarizing - promoted to his 85,000+ Facebook fans - so I felt like an email needed to be sent. I never received a response to my email, and I was blocked from his Facebook page.

A couple of days later, he dedicated a full blog post to how offended he was that I contacted him. (Usually I have to fall down a flight of stairs at a PTA meeting to warrant that much dialogue. This was much safer.)

He openly admitted to plagiarizing and for being a serial copy-and-paster, saying,  "I have never claimed any of the posts to (be) mine."

So good news, y'all. Admitting something means you're not responsible anymore. I totally robbed that bank, but since I said it, I don't have to go to jail, right? Yay!  

He goes on to write, "one viral post doesn't make you a god". Then he calls me a hypocrite and a bully. He also calls me "uneducated" just before writing "bully's" as the plural form of the word "bully". Ahem.

So I'm confused here. It's morally okay to steal other people's stuff, but it's not okay to ask somebody to stop it? Oops, my bad. Thanks for clearing that up for me.

He ends his post with this paragraph:
"User beware. Many people are not what they seem. We all have to be wary of those whom share stories related to health issues to gain your sympathy and then end up selling merchandise. It's called marketing and it seems to work well, but I find it morally incomprehensible when people would use a cancer story in an effort to increase their level of wealth." 
That paragraph is sort of the only reason why I'm giving this guy 5 minutes of my time.

First off, sharing my cancer story hasn't increased my wealth. When you consider my out-of-pocket medical expenses and my time out of work, it's actually decreased my wealth quite a bit. But what it has done, however, is spread awareness and possibly even saved lives. Bless his heart that he didn't see the difference.

And second, this guy has obviously never looked at his children and wondered if he would watch them grow up, get married, or have children of their own. I've done that, and let me tell you, it's harder than you'd think.

If he had, he would never accuse somebody of 'catching cancer for marketing purposes'. What an ignorant oaf.

As for me? I find it morally incomprehensible that somebody would flippantly write "a cancer story" as if we were talking about Cinderella or Horton Hears a Who. If you've ever had cancer or loved someone who has, you know that "a cancer story" is more than The Pokey Little Puppy. It's sort of bigger than that.

I didn't contact him after I read his blog post, because seriously, some people can't be helped. He has deleted it now, so I guess he had a moment of clarity or something.

The Internet usually brings me such joy. I like writing articles for this website and making silly songs or videos. I love seeing other people's online creations. I even enjoy the TMI on Facebook. Yep, I love it all.

Except for this. I probably could've lived without this.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Welcome to my office... You better redneckognize!

Have I told you about my office before?

Well, it's not located in what you'd call "the city". Please allow me to paint you a picture.

A couple of weeks ago, I came back from lunch and almost hit a goat in the parking lot. What in the world?

Then two days later, that same goat was on the front porch of a girl that I graduated with; she lives a few miles away from my office. We made the connection because of similar rants on Facebook. Now, for the sake of full disclosure, we can't be positive that it was the same goat, but we thought the chances of two different goats taking leisurely strolls were pretty slim.

Then a couple days later, I was all like, "Who's the ASS in the parking lot?"

That's right, ladies and gentlemen, there was an actual living, breathing, braying donkey just outside my office window. It's kind of hard to impress a client while you're yelling over the sounds of "hee, haw, hee, haw".

Some people say they work with jackasses, but when I say it, I actually mean it.


I named him Fred.

That's not the actual donkey, by the way. I was too scared to get that close to it. I blame my college years. I interacted with my fair share of jackasses back then, and I've learned to stay far away, thank you very much. Otherwise, you'll be sitting alone in your car at 3AM, listening to John Micheal Montgomery ballads, eating raw cookie dough, and crying like you did during the series finale of 90210. You know, probably, just a guess.

Then on Friday, I was leaving the office and saw this.




Seriously people, please take better care of your farm animals or I'm gonna start an auction up in here.


Get the Best Deal on your Hotel Wedding Package

This is a guest post by Absolute Wedding Cars. Thank you, Stephen, for writing an excellent article.  

..............................

Many people choose to get married in a hotel and this usually includes the ceremony, the reception and an evening party. If you are considering this option, then it is likely that you will want to get the best package possible that offers you everything you want included in the day at the best price available. Here are some tips for getting the best deal on your hotel wedding package.

Compare Options Locally

If you are hoping to use a hotel in your area, visit each of them asking about prices and deals and comparing what they have to offer. If one hotel is offering a better deal than another but you prefer the pricier option, it may be worth mentioning the better deal to the hotel as they may reduce their price to get your custom. Also, if some elements of the package do not interest you then consider asking if you can make changes for the same price.


Internet Searches

One of the quickest and easiest ways to find hotel wedding packages is to compare the prices on the Internet. A search of hotels in your area will list various deals on your search engine. However, while this is great for looking at prices and what is included in the package, it is important to take the time to visit venues yourself and make sure that it meets your requirements to avoid disappointment at a later date.


Choose All Inclusive Packages


Some hotels offer packages that include only the reception and evening venue. Others offer inclusive packages offering entertainment, photography, accommodation and the registrar. It is often the case that inclusive packages are the better deal providing that they include things that you would have chosen.


Go Out of Season


Some times of the year are more expensive than others. Likewise, a weekend wedding will generally be more expensive than one held in the week. If budget is one of your major concerns when organizing the wedding, then consider comparing the prices of deals at different times of the year and opt for a weekday wedding. If you are having a wedding in a hotel, then you will want to look for the best package available to you. Using the Internet, visiting the venues, booking out of season and choosing all inclusive packages are all excellent ways of getting the best deal for your big day.

Conclusion

If you are having a wedding in a hotel then you will want to look for the best package available to you. Using the Internet, visiting the venues, booking out of season and choosing all inclusive packages are all excellent ways of getting the best deal for your big day.


About This Article: Provided by Absolute Wedding Cars A Dublin based company specializing in luxury wedding car hire. Click here for more information.