Thursday, February 25, 2016

Starting Something New

We've all stood at the brink of something scary and intimidating. Whether it's a big move, job change or just your very first labor pains when it hits you "this is really happening!" For me, that biggest life-changing moment was becoming a foster parent. We had 2 biological children, ages 4 and 2, when we received our first placement. A social worker came, dropped off a 5yo, 3yo & 8 month old, waved and said goodbye! That was really a daunting moment. Those precious lives were with us for five weeks. After that, a 2yo and 4 day old were the next to join our family for a short time. Then came a 23 month old and 11 month old. These sweet one were with us almost a year when the news came that they were being moved to another state to live with a relative. We received the news on a vacation at the Outer Banks,NC. Those comments you hear of "I could never foster because I couldn't give them up" were in real time. The only choice we had was to trust God in the process and pray for the protection and love for our littles as they moved away from us.

The purpose of this post is not to share our complete story, but let me fast forward over a year later through many, many details and miracles to this.....they did leave, but they came back. Permanently!

Something did overwhelm my heart when new kids came to us. Foster kids came to us with nothing or a few items thrown in a trash bag. So I felt compelled to do something to help ease the hardship of transition for kids in foster care. This something became the Foster Love Project where my goal was to provide a bag with pj's, a blanket, stuffed animal, book, soap, toothbrush & toothpaste to give them some tangible needs as well as items of comfort during very confusing times.

My goal our first year was to bring in 300 bags....... and 1,300 were donated! Pittsburgh stepped up in such a big way when they heard of this need and I was so very grateful. This year was our second drive and 1,800 bags came in filled with love and goods to distribute to kids in foster care in 6 counties in Western PA! You can learn more about our bag drives here.

The awesome thing about the Foster Love Project is that I've been able to coordinate it in the midst of parenting four kids, ages six and under. I've also had a team of rock star moms who have volunteered their time to keep things flowing smoothly! Flexibility was a key component in what I was able to manage. Many moms are looking for ways to either fill a need or bring in extra income without compromising the ability to stay home with sick kids, volunteer in their classrooms or go on field trips.

Several months ago I was invited to an evening with Northwood For Moms where we met a lot of moms who hold careers as a realtor with Northwood Realty Services here in our Pittsburgh region. We met moms of kids with special needs, moms who grew up with their mom as a realtor, and moms with multiple kids. All of them told us their story as well as how this was the only business model that truly worked for them in the income they wanted to bring in for their family.

Northwood Realty Services understands that entering or re-entering the work force can be daunting and provides support, education and training to make it less overwhelming:
  • When you make the decision to start a career in real estate, Northwood Realty Services will help you schedule a meeting with a recruiter so you know exactly what to expect in the journey to becoming an agent.
  • Once you decide a career with Northwood Real Estate Services is for you, Northwood offers classes to help you prepare to take your real estate exam. Including real estate principles, laws and terminology, these classes – plus a special cram course right before the licensing exam -- will help you feel confident.
An important aspect of the Northwood culture is their mentor and coaching programs. New agents are paired up with an experienced, successful agent for mentoring and shadowing opportunities. This relationship helps new agents work with seasoned professionals to develop their own skills and techniques.

Northwood understands the juggling that moms have to do between work, home, kids, appointments and so much more. They place significant value on moms as employees and they provide built-in flexibility to help moms succeed. They fully believe that many of the attributes that make moms exceptional also translate to success as agents.
Here are some of the components they put in place to be family-friendly work environment:
  • You can manage your own schedule and work it around your family's needs. If you have a sick child or need to attend an afternoon school play? Northwood Realty Services enables moms to make this happen.
  • “If you want something done, ask a busy person.” As many moms know, there is only one of you, so you have to figure out a way to get everything done. With real estate, you have to juggle a lot of balls at the same time – an open house and a closing on the same day, for example! Moms have a ton on their plate, and they’re some of the best time managers and multi-taskers out there, making them well-suited for a real estate career.
  • Buying and selling a home is a huge decision that greatly impacts a person's life and finances. Clients appreciate when someone is able to listen to their concerns, understand their needs and keep them calm throughout the home-buying process. Who better to practice patience and grace under pressure than moms?
  • Besides family and friends from before kids, many moms participate in playgroups, mommy and me classes, go to playdates, etc. This is a great way to get connected to new friends and build or expand a network of potential clients.
  • Mothers are passionate for what they care about and will fight for things that matter. Northwood Realty Services seeks out people who advocate for their clients and are passionate about what they are doing and helping people.
  • Moms are tough. There are tough days and great days as a mom. Being an agent is the same.
    Does this sound like a company you would like to pursue for a career? Connect with Northwood Realty Services here. 


This post is sponsored by Northwood Realty Services and The Motherhood. All opinions are my own.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Ticket Giveaway: Disney on Ice FROZEN

photo credit: Feld Entertainment

It's that favorite time of year again when Disney on Ice is rolling into Pittsburgh! This year will be extra fun for lots of Frozen fans with the addition of many of our favorite characters. My kids can't wait for the show and I can't wait to hear an entire crowd singing Let It Go! :)

Enter a fantastical winter wonderland beyond all imagination at Disney On Ice presents Frozen Presented by Stonyfield YoKids Organic Yogurt. The heartwarming Academy Award®-winning tale you love is now LIVE and skating into your town. You’ll be magically whisked away into the wintry world of Arendelle, where you will be dazzled by amazing special effects and astonishing skating. Sing and dance along to inspiring songs, including “Let It Go.” Join royal sisters Anna and Elsa, the hilarious snowman Olaf, Kristoff, his loyal reindeer Sven and the mystical trolls as they journey to discover that true love is ultimately the most magical power of all! 

Hosted by Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, with special guest appearances by your most beloved Disney Princesses and characters from favorites like Disney•Pixar’s Toy Story, Finding Nemo and Disney’s The Lion King, this unforgettable celebration of love and friendship will leave your family with memories to last a lifetime.

photo credit: Feld Entertainment

Performance Schedule:
Thursday, March 10 at 7:00pm
Friday, March 11 at 10:30am and 7:00pm
Saturday, March 12 at 11:00am, 3:00pm and 7:00pm 
Sunday, March 13 at 11:00am, 3:00pm and 7:00pm

Ticket Purchase Information:
Tickets are available at, the Dick’s Sporting Goods Box Office at CONSOL Energy Center or by calling 1-800-745-3000.

photo credit: Feld Entertainment

Some fun TRIVIA QUESTIONS to quiz your kids!
Q. In which kingdom do Anna and Elsa live?
A: The Kingdom of Arendelle.
Q. Who helped Young Anna recover from being hit by Elsa’s powers?
A: Grand Pabbie.
Q. Who likes “warm hugs”?
A: Olaf.
Q. What is Kristoff’s profession?
A: He is an ice harvester.
Q. What phrase does Elsa repeat when trying to control her powers?
A: “Conceal it…don’t feel it…don’t let it show.”
Q. Why do the guards open up the gates of the palace?
A: Elsa’s coronation.
Bonus: How long have the gates been closed?
A: 13 years.
Q. How many salad plates do Anna and Elsa own?
A: 8000.
Q. Anna and Hans finish each other’s ______.
A: Sandwiches.
Q. What is the “amazing smell” Anna and Elsa detect at the coronation celebration?
A: Chocolate.
Q. Who does the crazy dance with Anna at Elsa’s coronation?
A: The Duke of Weselton.
Q. Why doesn’t Elsa want Anna to marry Hans?
A: Because Anna and Hans just met.
Q. What does Elsa build during the song “Let It Go”?
A: An ice castle.
Q. What is Sven’s favorite snack?
A: Carrots.
Q. Which animals chase after Anna, Kristoff and Sven when they begin to search for Elsa?
A: Wolves.
Q. What is Olaf’s favorite season?
A: Summer.
Q. What animal does Olaf dance with in his song about summer?
A: Seagulls.
Q. What is the name of the enormous icy snowman Elsa creates?
A: Marshmallow.
Q. Fill in the blank. “Some people are worth ______.”
A: Melting for.”
Q. When Elsa breaks Arendelle’s eternal winter, what does she do to keep Olaf from melting?
A: She creates a snow flurry that follows him everywhere he goes.
Q. What part of Anna’s body did Elsa hit with her powers when they were young?
A: Her head.
Q. Who does Anna tell to “hang in there” during the song “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?”
A: Joan of Arc.
Q. During the song “For the First Time in Forever” how many pictures does Anna pass and imitate?
A: 5.

We have a family 4-pack of tickets to give away to one lucky family! Head to link to enter.

Go here to download this coloring sheet. 

Pgh Momtourage is the sponsor of this giveaway. Neither the Walt Disney Company nor Feld Entertainment, Inc., nor any of their respective affiliates or related companies, is a sponsor, endorser, or administrator of this promotion. No purchase necessary."

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Giveaway: LuLaRoe for kids + moms

I was recently introduced to the clothing line of LuLaRoe and Lularoe by Liz Manganello was kind enough to send me a box of goodies that my girls couldn't wait to try out! The first thing that caught my attention was the softness of each item. I don't know about your kids, but my kids take the texture of their clothes VERY seriously. If they can't declare an item to be "comfy", there is a good chance it's going to be a fight to get them to wear it! The texture of each LuLaRoe item we received was perfection. Soft, cozy, definitely comfy! :)

My girls love trying out new clothes and were thrilled with their new dresses. These dresses are silky, smooth, and best of all, TWIRLY. 

"Mama, it's a twirly dress!" Just a girl in her element. :)  


Leggings are another favorite around here and my girl is pretty in love with these. Again, the softness is awesome!!


LuLaRoe Clothing is only available through independent consultants! Check out the next pop up shop with Lularoe by Liz Manganello. A awesome chance to feel, browse and shop for their amazing products!

Saturday February 13
12:30-2:30 PM 
Pilates Rx'd
835 Western Avenue 
Pittsburgh, PA 15233 

 They have boy clothes as well! These shirts are the cutest and also passed the comfy test (whew!) My boy makes them even cuter though! :)

What mama doesn't live in her comfies most of the time? Pretty sure that's all of us! These leggings pass the test and I love all the fun and colorful options by LuLaRose. Love the designs on this pair!

It's been just over 6 months since the adoption of our two youngest kiddos. I'm so grateful to have the love of this little guy. I'm so proud of the challenges he has already and continues to overcome. 

Lularoe by Liz Manganello is generously providing one winner an opportunity to win $25 off a $50 purchase! Enter at link below: 

My girls say, "Thanks, Liz, we hope our mom will be shopping with you more in the future!" :) 

Connect with Liz to follow all her chances to see more LuLaRoe products: 

Mobile - (412) 915-4481 

I was provided products for my review. All opinions remain my own, I don't endorse items I don't love!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

14 DIY tips to keep your home bug-free

We all want to think of our home as a safe, clean environment for our family and friends. But when
bugs get inside and infest your home, your peace of mind can disappear quickly.At Custom Turf, they are dedicated to keeping Pittsburgh families safe and their homes pest­ free!
The best way to avoid an infestation of bugs such as ants, fruit flies and stink bugs is not to let them
inside in the first place, and that's where their ​perimeter pest control service​ comes in. As
the seasons change, so do the bugs you have to protect against, and these small insects can get clever. Custom Turf wants to help Pittsburgh homeowners by providing useful do­-it-yourself tips on how to prevent bugs from getting in your home, and what to do if they do happen to get inside.

These pests are extremely opportunistic and will come by the thousands. If possible, try and follow
ants back to their nests, so you know where they live. Here’s what you can do:

  • Seal your home.​ To start, walk around your home and try to seal any holes you find, no matter how small. Without any matter how small. Without entry points, pests won't be able to get inside!
  • Be tidy.​ Don't leave crumbs on the kitchen counter, and always immediately clean up any spills - even water. Sticky substances like honey are major attractants for ants, so keep it in a closed jar, or even better, the refrigerator. 
  • Cucumber.​ While they're healthy for us and an excellent addition to a salad, ants hate them. If you think you know where ants might be getting in, slice up some cucumber and put it in those areas. 
  • Mint tea.​ Like cucumbers, mint tea is a natural deterrent for ants. Place these tea bags in areas where you see anys or anticipate they could get inside. 

Fruit flies
These flying nuisances have been pestering people for as long as anyone can remember. To stop flies from getting inside and buzzing around your food, you need to protect their entry points: doors and windows.  

  • Hang deterrents. ​Bay leaves and cloves are great fly deterrents. Wrap these in cheesecloth squares and hang them from open doors and windows. 
  • Eucalyptus oil.​ Put some of this on a small cloth and lay it where flies are already becoming a problem. 
  • Sweet basil.​ Hang this above your pet’s food and water to stop these scents from attracting flies. 
  • Homemade trap.​ Mix some maple syrup, brown sugar, and granulated sugar in a bowl and let it sit overnight. In the morning, dip brown Kraft paper in it and hang these strips outside to help cut down on the population. 

Stink bugs
They really do smell, so be careful! Luckily, stink bugs are slow so if you find them in your home,
don’t just squash it. Put it in a paper towel, take it outside, and if you don’t want it coming back in,
spray it with soapy water.

  • Soapy water. ​Take dish detergent and mix it with water. If you spray this at entry points, stink bugs won't dare come inside.
  • Garlic powder.​ Sprinkle garlic powder on windowsills, or cut cloves of garlic and put them in bags and hand them near windows and doors. They can't stand the smell. It might be a good idea to cook lots of Italian food! 
  • Catnip.​ Apply catnip just like garlic, by using either a powder or its pure form.  
  • Dryer sheets.​ Rub these on any screens in your home and stink bugs won't be able to tolerate walking on them. This will help keep them out and also help your home smell like fresh laundry!
  • Damp towel. ​At night put a moist towel outside, in the garden if you have one. Come morning it will be full of stink bugs, and if you put the towel in soapy water, they'll die. 

Enjoy Your Pest­Free Home!  
These tips will help you maintain a bug-­free household all year long. We know your family will appreciate your food and belongings no longer being invaded by bugs! If you are uncomfortable doing any of these tips yourself, or you have additional questions, contact Custom Turf today and they'll be glad to help you rid your home of pests for good.

Thank you, Custom Turf, for sponsoring today's post and sharing these great tips to keep our homes bug-free!