Family Game Night!

Recently, we had "Family Game Night" at our house. I'd like to say that we do this faithfully each week, but you know us—we're not quite THAT organized. But we do enjoy playing games together when we are all home and can make the time.

This week's game? Pass the Pigs. If you haven't played, it's very easy. All you have to do is roll these two little pigs like you're rolling dice. And then you get points depending on how the pigs land. I like this game because we can all play and have fun—from the 4-year-old to the 36-year-olds.

Hasbro has a line of "Family Game Night" games that are perfect for nights gathered around the kitchen table. Some of their suggestions include our favorites, such as Pictureka or Clue.

How about you? What are your favorite family games?


Well, Hello Pumpkin!

I have to admit, there are some things I don't really like about Halloween. Specifically—the whole "scary" thing. Blood. Coffins. Gore. I just don't get it. Walking through our local "party store" the other day about made me lose my cookies. I mean, who can't wait to decorate their front porch with a severed head and moaning zombie with glowing eyes? Me, that's who. *shudder*

But it's not like I'm anti-Halloween or anything. In fact, I really love decorating for the holiday, but only with the stuff that doesn't make it look like a serial killer lives inside. You know, the "cute" Halloween decorations. And my very favorite thing about Halloween? Pumpkins.

I've always loved, loved, loved pumpkins. Somewhere there's a photo of me at age 2 wearing a red bandanna as a scarf, sitting and leaning my head against a huge bright-orange pumpkin. And growing up, the highlight of Halloween wasn't the trick-or-treating but carving jack-o-lanterns and then roasting pumpkin seeds with my family. (AND eating so many pumpkin seeds at one time that it would make me sick. Ah...memories...)

So I thought I'd celebrate my love for all-things-pumpkin by sharing some fun "pumpkin goods."

Pumpkin Patch Earrings from RoseEllen Designs
These earrings aren't as crazy-wild as some Halloween earrings are and capture the beauty of the pumpkin—stem, vine, and all! And at only $6, they're quite affordable too!

Black Cat & Nymph Print by Jade
I love this whimsical print, which would be so sweet hanging in the family room or hallway. I am especially drawn to the contrast between the periwinkle background and the orange pumpkins. See, Halloween can be sweet!

Polka-Dotted Pumpkin Toddler Tee
Only $10, and it's so adorable! Any little pumpkin would look precious in this tee!

Pumpkin Patch Notecards (Set of 6)

Dear Pumpkin,

I love you.
Do you love me too?

Love, Paula

Pumpkin Pie Soap with Shea Butter

Mmm...Eat it, or use it to slough off dead skin?
Your choice.

Great Pumpkin Scrabble Tile

Okay, besides an obsession with pumpkins, I ALSO happen to have a bit of a thing for Peanuts—Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the gang. So I really think I MUST have this wonderfully innocent pendant to remind me that just believing is enough.

Happy Pumpki
n Badge

Okay, this sweet little pin is A DOLLAR. Yes. ONE BUCK. If that doesn't make you happy, I don't know what will!


Only 83 More Shopping Days Left!!!

Every year I try to start my shopping early. You know, so I'm not spending hundreds of dollars (or should I say "borrowing hundreds of dollars from my friendly credit card") within a two-week period. But every year I still end up being caught in the last-minute frenzy of trying to get all of those recipients crossed off my list while also even-ing out the number of presents for my three kids. However, this year, since we are now enrolled in Financial Peace University, it's even more important that I don't leave all the gift-buying until December 20 (My "cash-flow plan" would not approve.), so I've been trawling the Web, trying to get the best deals while still buying cool, thoughtful, and practical gifts for the loved ones on my list. Since I've been trying to find places to store three kids' worth of gifts for the past four years, I've become more and more discriminating about what types of gifts to buy my own kids and others'.

As I was doing my daily stroll down Amazon Boulevard, I noticed some good deals that I thought I'd share with anyone else who's trying to get some shopping done before Halloween!

1:16 John Deere '70 Tractor with Disc
Being a farm girl (although one who didn't get her hands TOO dirty) from Iowa, I HAVE to recommend the John Deere tractor. I still have a metal John Deere like this from when I was little, and I know it will still be around for my grandkids to play with. In the age of cheap plastic toys, isn't it nice to give something that will last? And right now it's 50% off--only $28.86!

Beck Children's Red Locker
How cute would this be in a kid's room? I have a thing for lockers. Yeah, it's my dream to have a whole row of old school lockers in my garage. I'm not sure my hubby knows about this dream, but nonetheless, I love, love, love them! Especially when they're 50% off like this one! Only $19 right now!

Imaginext Adventures Battle Coach
Yeah, I'm pretty sure my husband would NOT appreciate it if I bought this for one of our boys. Not because they wouldn't love it, but because we already own THREE Fisher-Price Castles AND a Tree Fort, along with oogles of knights, dragons, ogres, swords, horses, and cannons. But they don't have THIS PARTICULAR BATTLE COACH! And it's CHEAP! Only $5.50! Hmm...I may have to try to sneak this one under the tree...

Space Station from Learning Resources
I know my 4-year-old would love this, as would my nephews...SOMEONE on my list is getting this. I really like Learning Resources' products. They're well-made and really educational. AND this is 70% off--only $13.49!!! Yeah, maybe EVERYONE on my list is getting this! (Although my 11-year-old niece may be a bit LESS than thrilled.)

Monopoly Clone Wars
After throwing away our last Monopoly game because I was tired of finding the pieces strewn throughout the house, I'm not sure my kids are ready for another Monopoly game. But the fact that they LOVE Star Wars and are a bit older now makes me want to consider it. Oh, AND the fact that it's on sale for $13.53...

Melissa & Doug Presidents 100-Piece Puzzle
It's never too early to instill a little American history and a recognition of the leaders of the past...Melissa & Doug puzzles are wonderful, sturdy and engaging puzzles. Boy #3 is crazy about puzzles, so we definitely know which ones can stand up to repeated play. I hadn't seen this particular one before, and I think in light of the fact that the most important election in recent history is a mere 4 weeks away, this would be a very timely gift! $11.96.

Look for more gift ideas soon—and let me know if you've got some great gift ideas as well!


My Star Wars House Party!

I found this fabulous site—houseparty.com—where you can sign up and "apply" to host a number of different featured parties. As I perused the list a few months ago, a Star Wars party caught my eye. My boys luuuuuv Star Wars, and this seemed right up their alley. So I was excited to get the news that I was chosen as one of the lucky hosts!

So the boys each invited some friends, and a couple weeks before the party our "party pack" arrived from Cartoon Network (the party sponsor). WOW! I knew they'd be sending some "party favors" but I didn't really think it would be anything too great. After all, this was all free! So you can imagine my surprise and the boys' excitement when we opened our box and saw not only posters, masks, stickers, glow sticks, and temporary tattoos for the guests, but also a nice Clone mask, Yoda bag, balloons, AND Clone Wars light saber, that I know costs over $20 retail! OH! AND a DVD of the premiere episode (and the bonus second episode) of Star Wars: The Clone Wars series on Cartoon Network, which will air on Friday, October 3!

We had our party on Friday night, and it was a hit. The kids played for a while and then we fired up the DVD and they watched while munching on popcorn, pretzels, and M&Ms, along with "light saber" Twizzlers.

I was thrilled with this experience and would recommend hosting a "houseparty" to anyone!

The Force was definitely with us!


Decorate with Books--and Look Really Smart!

I love books. Maybe because I have a degree in English and taught high school Language Arts before working as an editor and writer. I love everything about books. The way they look, the way they smell, the way they feel when I turn the pages. So it's probably no wonder that I've found myself collecting books. And upon running out of space on our bookshelf, I've turned to using them as part of my decor. (Okay, the word "decor" sounds way too fancy to describe my house but I can't think of another word to use!) So when I was looking through the Web site for Half-Price Books and ran across their Books by the Yard deal, I thought it was about the coolest thing EVER. For $17.50 (plus s&h if applicable) you can get approximately THREE LINEAR FEET OF BOOKS to use for decorating! You can even choose among Reader's Digest Condensed Books, Mixed Books, Reference Books, and Law Books. For less than 20 bucks you can instantly add some eclectic decorating to your place AND look really smart at the same time! What a fabulous idea, Half-Price Books! Wish I'd thought of it!


Save $5 on Yummies at Target!

Get thee to Target if you like snacks that are good, good for you, AND good for your pocketbook! (Seriously, who says "pocketbook" anymore??)

I discovered my "flavorite" new snack on an end cap at Target yesterday. Kashi's TLC granola bars in Pumpkin Spice Flax. Mmmm! They are delightful AND contain 4g of fiber, 6g of protein, and 300mg of Omega-3s! Seriously, is it too good to be true?

But wait—there's more! Right now on Target, Kashi's TLC snacks are on sale 4 for $11, which is a deal in itself. BUT if you purchase 4 Kashi foods, you also receive a $5 Target Giftcard! No kidding! So that makes the treats only $6 for 4 boxes!

Get there now and fill up your snack drawer at work!

(What? Not everyone has a huge drawer in their desk entirely devoted to snacks? Yeah, me neither...)



I just received a package in the mail that filled me with utter and complete JOY! Yes, it was my NEW PLANNER. My second planner from MomAgenda. Last year I used the MomAgenda Desktop Planner, which was so useful for me! It has a place for my own schedule, PLUS four other family members for each week. AND it has a space to jot down what we'll have for dinner each day. With three kids who are all getting busy, plus a husband with his own schedule, it's nice to have a planner that keeps each family member's schedule separated, yet together on the same page. This year, however, I wanted something a bit smaller so I could fit it in my purse, so I ordered the MomAgenda Mini-Daily Planner. I LOVE it! Here it is Chocolate, the color I chose:

I love that it begins in August, which I feel like is the "New Year" for our family, moreso than January. And the quality is just amazing. It is so beautiful, and it even has two ribbons as place-keepers. Honestly, once you feel how substantial and lovely this is, you'll be hooked!

MomAgenda has other products that help busy moms, or busy women in general, keep organized. I also have and love the Family Planner. It is basically set up the same way as the Planner, with space for each family member. But it is it a padfolio format with a magnet on the back, so I can put our family calendar on the fridge for the week and tear off the sheet when the week is over. That way, everyone can know the schedule and can add activities if necessary. Much easier than trying to write all of our activities in the little daily square that a monthly calendar provides. I even have room on top to post our "Memory Verse of the Week." Yes, I'm trying to get us to memorize a weekly verse as a family. Not sure how successful it's going to be, but, hey, at least I'm trying!

Right now, until September 30, you can get 15% off any planner or refill order at MomAgenda. Just use the "COOLMOMBTS" coupon code!