Monday, November 26, 2012

Elf has arrived!

So... I know I haven't kept up with my Thankful posts... But worry not - I'll continue them soon. I promise. You should know by now I'm not reliable when it comes to .... not procrastinating. So - yeah. Forgive me. Sue me. Whatever. Lets move on to my favorite thing right now..... THE HOLIDAYS!!!!!!!!!

I am SO excited for the holidays. From Halloween to Thanksgiving and the big one - Christmas. I've been prepping for this time of year since June. I knew Delaney would understand more about the holidays this year, so I wanted to familiarize her with all of it beforehand.

She knows about Santa and promises she's gonna sit on his lap and not cry. If last year is any indication, she's lying.

I'm sure I'll update you with details after we go see the Big Guy.

But what I'm here to tell you about now is the newest member of our family, Elf.

I hadnt heard of Elf on the Shelf until a few years ago. I initially thought it was a midwest thing (I grew up in PA, now live in IN), but later found out its a new twist on an old tradition and it was created by a mother/daughter duo in 2005.

The basic story is that the day after Thanksgiving Santa sends an elf to your family. There is a nice book that comes with it that you are supposed to read first. This explains the story. Then you are to name your elf. It can be anything. Delaney decided to name her elf "Elf". (We've got a creative one here, folks!) Once the elf is named they have earned their magic. They watch the child(ren) all day and then fly to the North Pole every night to give Santa a naughty or nice report on the kids. They then fly back home and hide in a different area every night. The children get up every morning and have to find their elf.

Some elves stay in a certain area, like the living room. Some can be anywhere in the house. Some elves can be found just sitting every morning and some elves like to get into trouble (after all - Santa wont need to know if they're a bit mischievous!)

The most important thing is that elves CAN NOT be touched. If they are, they will lose their magic and renturn to the North Pole. They won't be back... my 2 year old won't touch hers and will yell at you if you get too close to it.

Since this was the first year for us having an elf, I was confused about how to introduce our elf into our family. I ended up wrapping it up and including a letter from Santa. Delaney found it under the tree.

The note from Santa was fun! I used some special Santa stationary for the letter (you can right click and download this image or find it where I did, here.)

Our letter looked like this.....

I used Pic monkey to add the text.

When Elf first arrived Delaney was STOKED......

After getting ready for the day we found Elf out of her box and on top of our closet!

(My husband is a big Apple fan, obviously)

This all began the day after Thanksgiving. On Saturday when Delaney woke up, Elf was hanging out with our Patriots Santa...

And Sunday she was hiding behind my picture.... (she leaves a note every day... these will go in a book Im making for her)

And this morning, she was crafty.... (I think shes going to get into trouble this week! Haha!)

You can use anything. Ive heard of people having Trolls, barbie dolls, stuffed animals.... you dont have to use an "elf". But if you want to, you can order one here. (If you're using mPoints - which you can learn more about by going here - you can use any gift cards you earn to get this. Ours was free - along with our ENTIRE Christmas. Again!)

If you want to find creative ideas you can google "Elf on the Shelf ideas" or go visit my holidaaaaaaaaaaze Pinterest board. Theres lots of fun ideas for all Things Holiday themed there!

One cool thing I stumbled upon was the Elf on The Shelf Magical Recovery Kit. Sometimes elves can be touched on accident. By downloading this kit, reading the poem and following all instructions - your elf will be back and better than ever in no time. (And it's FREE to download!)

You can choose a boy or girl elf of various colors and eye colors. I chose the cheapest one (hellooooooo!) which was the girl with brown hair and blue eyes (plus Delaney requested a girl elf." I was a bit disappointed to see that she didn't come with a skirt. But to build onto their empire - they now sell the skirt for a hefty $7.50 on Amazon. Call me crazy - I ordered it. It should be delivered in the next day or 2. You can get your own by going here. Keep in mind theere are 2 different patternss. If you know your way around a sewing machine you can easily make your own. Im not.

Also - there is a tv special on the Elf on the Shelf that airs every year on CBS. this year it will air on December 14th. If you can't wait - you can order the dvd for $9.99 here.

OR - if you're cheap (like me) and patient (unlike me) you can preview the whole thing for free on Youtube....

By watching the movie first Delaney really got an idea of the concept of the elf story. I highly reccommend watching the movie first.

I hope this is something you all consider and it makes your holidays even more special. Remember, you dont have to have an elf... customize it. make your own book, use a stuffed animal - you can do all of this for free!!!

You can take it one step further and download the Elf Report app to your smartphone. You can find it for iOs (apple products) in the iTunes store here. You can find it for Android in the market here. You can review the reports your elf sends to Santa every night and make a wishlist for your kids.

There is also an official app you can visit by going here.

Let me know in the comments if you already have an elf or want to try it. What does your elf do?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Day One - Family

I've decided to participate in the 30 Days of Thanks this year. Basically this consists of taking time everyday to tell others what you're thankful for. I tried this last year, but fell off the wagon after 3 or 4 days. This year, not only am I going to stick with it on Facebook, but I am going to blog every day this month!

Day 1: Today I am thankful for My Family. 

My family and I have been through a lot. From the family I was born into back in Pa (and over onto the east coast in MD and DE) to the family I chose here in Indiana. But no matter what comes our way we always push through and come out stronger. 

My husband and children are my backbone. They are the reason I strive for anything. I love them more than life. 

I don't know where I'd be without my family. Each and every single person means the world to me and I am forever thankful for them.

Friday, October 5, 2012

October - Take Two

 So, it's October again. It's Clergy Appreciation Month, Pregnancy Loss and Infant Loss Awareness Month, Rett Syndrome Awareness Month, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, National Cyber Security Awareness Month, Dwarfism Awareness Month, National Squirrel Awareness Month, Celiac Sprue Awareness Month, National Down Syndrome Awareness Month, National Lupus Erythematosus Awareness Month, National Physical Therapy Month, National Spina Bifida Awareness Month, World Blindness Awareness Month, Medical Ultrasound Awareness Month, 3D Ultrasound Awareness Month, National Infertility Awareness Month and Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

It is important to recognize all of these causes and to recognize the awareness they are trying to raise. Though my life has only been personally touched by two of these, I find it important to share all of these with you.

Now, I want to again bring up the fact that it is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Last year I had posted this explaining my own personal story about my mom. This year, I want to paint a different picture. Pardon me if this is all over the place, I want to write this without editing and without changing anything. This is straight from my heart, through my fingers and onto this page. 

My mom has been gone now for 16 years, 3 months, 12 days. This also equals to 849 weeks, 142,752 hours, 8,565,120 minutes, or 513,907,200 seconds. Without my mom. I miss her more than I could ever say. I can't even begin to describe the void that I feel every single day. 

When Joe and I talk about our family and children, I explain to him that I am blessed to have Macey and Delaney. I was never supposed to be able to get pregnant without the help of fertility medicine. But I did. And I am extremely blessed to experience that on top of gaining a beautiful step daughter. And when we talk about our family I always tell him I want one more. I try to explain that I feel like our family isn't complete yet, that one more little life is missing. And now that I think about it, like REALLY think about it... maybe I am looking for someone to fill the void that was left by my Mom 16 years ago. 

Now, Im no therapist. And please don't mistake my last paragraph for a confession to us trying for a baby (we are not, and I am happily taking my birth control pill at the same time everyday). But... that seems to make sense to me. It's funny that has never occured to me until right this moment.

I was in the shower a few days ago... I could hear Delaney playing in the next room while watching Dora. I stopped to think.... I want my daughters to know me as ME someday, on top of just seeing me as their parent. I want them to grow up and get to know what kind of a woman I am. Because I have no idea what kind of a woman my mom was. I don't know what views she had. I don't know what her dreams were. I have no idea what goals she had. I'll never know what it would be like to discuss life with her. I can't call her and have her tell me I'll survive motherhood when it gets hard. I will never be able to ask her what she thinks about anything. 

But I want to be around for my girls. I want them to know the woman I am. I want them to experience everything I never got to with my own mom. And it's me going through all of it for the first time. But in reality, I'll have no idea what I'm doing. 

I talk to my mom often. But I don't hear her talk back. I want to know WHO she was. Hearing stories about her, while helpful, isn't the same. It's just... not.. the same.

I get angry. All the time. Because she should be here. There is no GOOD reason she isn't. A monster shot and killed her. She was ripped away from her family at a time that we needed each other the most. And no matter what anyone tells me - I will never, ever forgive him for that. 

It's easy to see these words and feel sorry for me, but remain detached. But I don't want anyone's pity or need anyone to feel sorry for me. I'm a strong person. Sometimes in life you are dealt a shitty hand, but you push through and you become even stronger. And I have. BUT - what I do want is for you all to take a minute and see my mother as a woman, how I try to see her everyday. She was more than a name on a screen. Think about that. She was a woman. And this happened to her. 

You all know someone who is experiencing domestic violence whether you realize it or not. It may not be obvious. It may not be physical. But it's happening. And that person who is experiencing it needs you. This is not saying to bombard them with questions or yell at them to leave. You just have to BE THERE. Be the ear when they are ready to talk. Be the arms when they need a hug. This can make all the difference in the world.

If you follow pop culture news at all, I'm sure you've seen the pictures and read that Rhianna is hanging around with Chris Brown again. I see this and it makes me so angry. If she was my friend I would want to drill some sense into her, has she forgotten about this?!? BUT, I would have to instead tell her that I cared about her and be careful not to try and control her, because I am sure he is controlling her enough.

The news is filled with stories of celebrities who are arrested (or accused) of domestic violence. And while I can get angry at Rhianna for running back to the arms of her abuser and sending a bad message to those who look up to her, there are people who look up to those who actually do the damage. This is unacceptable. It's the sports stars and the actors and the reality stars that people look up to showing us that it's ok to hurt others. Children see this and think it's ok.... And THAT angers me. 

We need to teach our children that it is unacceptable to act that way and it is unacceptable to let anyone treat you bad. I hope that I raise my daughters to not take shit from anyone. And I hope all of you reading this will do the same.

I hope that if you take nothing else from this..... take the knowledge that it can happen to ANYONE. What happened to my mom can just as easily happen to someone you love. Be there for them. Their story can end up different than my moms. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

...Because It Works! (For free!)

Is anyone else seriously annoyed by this commercial??

OK.... So, I'm going to post this and I need to post a disclaimer... I am in no way a doctor, nutritionist or any have other career that has to do with health and pays a buttload of money. I just do this - and it works. So I share. With you. The reader. MmmHmm.

Weight Watchers. Bam. There it is.

So, a tiny bit of my background..... I grew up a tall, skinny girl with big knobby knees. My sister called me "Beanpole". But when I hit puberty, I started gaining weight. When I graduated high school I enlisted in the Air Force and was told I couldn't leave because I was 3 lbs over the weight limit. My recruiter told me to starve myself until the weight was gone. I was instantly offended and made the decision to say "Screw you, Air Force! I'm fine the way I am!" So... I didn't. And I continued gaining. Right before I got pregnant in 2009 (7 years after high school) I had gained 80 lbs. At my heaviest (July 18 of this year) I was an additional 50 lbs heavier.

When I stepped on the scale I made a decision right then. "This is the last day I will ever weigh this much." And it was. My husband and I made the decision to join Weight Watchers and haven't looked back. Guess what? IT WORKS! I track everything before it goes in my mouth. If it's too many points, I  give myself a minute to really think whether I really want it or not. More often than not, I don't.

So here's how it works.

You fill in some info about yourself.... Your height, weight, age, sex and activity level. From there, they will assign you a number. This will be your starting daily points plus allowance. As you log your food, you should not exceed this number. BUT - you are given "cheat points" to use every week. They give you these so you don't deprive yourself. When you deprive yourself, you are far more likely to fail.

Really, it's as easy as that. If you follow the plan and you log everything before you eat it - you WILL lose weight. I promise!

I started watching what I ate on July 18. I joined Weight Watchers on August 1 and I am currently at a 28 lb loss. This is the ONLY thing that's worked for me. Low carb made me moody and I would always cheat and gain back whatever I lost. Counting calories was hard to stick to. But this... it works! And it's easy! I don't go to meetings, but I do get a scanner app on my phone that figures my points for me as well as the Weight Watchers app that tracks my weight, points and activity.

So, they are almost always running promotions. Right now you can sign up for free and just pay $56.85 for 3 months. Every month after that is $18.95. I don't think that's TOO bad for what it is. But - it can get fairly pricey - especially in these times.

So - being the frugal gal that I am - I'm gonna hook you up. Did you know you could do Weight Watchers for free?!? Listen here, Grasshoppers....

First, you will need to calculate your points allowance. I just happened to stumble upon this handy dandy Points Allowance Calculator! Go enter in your info and you'll get your magic number.

Now, you will need to figure out how to calculate the points in any given food. You'll want to use this Points Calculator. And you can get a portable version by downloading a scanner app for iPhone/iPod/iDevices Here and Here for Android. (Both are FREE!)

Should you need to manually enter the info to figure point values, you will use the info on the nutritional label of the food you are about to devour. You can learn how to read one Here.

So. You now have all your tools to do Weight Watchers Online - FOR FREE!!! The only bummer is that you will need to keep a journal of what you eat and how many points it is. (If you decide to become a WW member, you will have everything stored in your tracker and it adds them up for you.)

There you have it. After doing the program for almost 2 months now, I can't believe how poorly I used to eat. I would literally pay no attention to what I ate and would shove anything down my throat. I'm now really conscious of what I eat. I still go out to eat every so often. I still have fast food every so often (I had a cheeseburger and  fries for lunch today - and felt guilty afterwards!)... like I said, as long as you log your food, You'll lose weight.

If you decide to try it, let me know and we can be WW buddies. If I end up losing another 20 lbs (or get to a 50 lb loss), I'll post a before and after pic of myself. I promise I won't become as obnoxious as Jennifer Hudson with it, either. I love her, but man... those commercials drive me batty. We get it. You lost 80 lbs. Slow clap for you!

Good luck everyone!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Ain't Too Proud to Beg (Please vote!)

Click the pic to vote for Delaney!!

So, I think my kids are cute. Because they are. And every now and then I enter then in a little contest. Because..... shoot, because I can! And right now Gerber is having their Gerber Generation Photo Search right now. Delaney is in the running in the Preschool Category.

Now... I'm not too proud to blog on here and beg for votes. Mainly because my kid is flipping adorable and the prizes are  all money for college. And I'm thinking my kid needs to be something super successful. :)

If you have a kid/friend/neighbor/random person you are already voting for, please know you can vote for more than one entry a day as long as they are in different milestones. Delaney is in the preschool category, but my good pal Leannes cutie is in the Birth+ category. So, we can vote for each others kiddos while still voting for our own.

Click the pic to vote for Lily!

So I leave you with this.... a vote for Delaney is a vote for a better world. Bless you and bless the world. Good night!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

♫ How To Save a Life ♫

I truly believe music has the power to change lives. I know this is true. Music has helped shape the person I am and I truly credit it with changing (possibly saving) my life.

I don't remember much from when I was little. I remember my mom singing in the car. I remember always having music playing in the front room of our house, and I remember the year I got a karaoke machine for Christmas.

My mom was always singing. In the car she'd turn the radio on and sing with it, or start singing and teach us the words. There are 2 very vivid memories I have and I hold really dear.... One being Carly Simon.

"You walked into the party like you were walking onto a yacht
Your hat strategically dipped below one eye
Your scarf it was apricot
You had one eye in the mirror as you watched yourself gavotte
And all the girls dreamed that they'd be your partner
They'd be your partner, and..."

I cant help but smile. My mom would sing that with such feeling. She would close her eyes and mean every word that flowed from her mouth.I couldn't tell you what she was thinking, but whatever it was she was serious about it.

Then there was the Spring of 1996 (before everything happened). The Fugees had just released their single "Killing Me Softly". It came on the radio and my mom started singing along. I. Was. Horrified. My mom wasn't supposed to know "cool" music. But you can bet your bottom dollar she knew every word. She never told me how she knew the words, and it wasn't until a year later that I learned of the talent they call Roberta Flack.

Blues music was always playing in our house. Mitch was a big blues fan and that's one thing I take from him. When everything happened that summer of 1996 I remember going to my Uncle Bill, my rock, and telling him I "had the blues". He has taken me under his wing and introduced me to some of my favorite music. I have met so many amazing people in the blues family and they have all enriched my life. One of my favorite bands of all time is Saffire: The Uppity Blues Women. Ann, Andra, and Gaye have become family. (I see them as my awesome aunties!) These ladies have been amazing to me and my family. They had a benefit for my family when we lost my mom, they kept in touch with us.... Their show was the first I went to when I was pregnant with Delaney. I remember her moving and dancing in my belly - a sign she was a fan from the beginning! Now we sing along with their music together. I'm blessed to have Andra so close. We're going to see her play again soon and we can't wait!

All this said, there are 2 artists that I believe shaped the person I am today. The first being Jonny Lang.

I was 14 years old getting ready for school one morning. VH-1 was on the tv as I was brushing my hair. I remember hearing this AMAZING sound, the guitar being played like I'd never heard before. There on the tv was this video.

Ok. I was 14. The guy was cuuuute. But more than that, he was really freaking talented. I was glued to the tv... I had to know this dudes name. My Uncle Bill to the rescue, he got me the cassette (YES! Cassette for my walkman!) and I wore it out in no time. I could not stop listening to it. Anytime I would feel sad, or miss my mom, or pissed off, or lonely, or depressed - I would listen to Jonny Lang. I don't even want to think of where I would be without his music. It was such a hard time in my life and I didn't know which way was up half the time, but I always, ALWAYS turned to this album. I'm sure it kept me out of trouble and who knows what else.

The summer of 2008, only a few weeks after Joe and I started dating, Jonny was playing RibFest, an outdoor music and bbq festival. We were late to the show, and didn't even make it in the fenced in area. But I heard him play. I was trying to pay attention to my new boyfriend, but I dont think he understood. This was JONNY LANG. THEE Jonny Lang. In person. I didn't know what to do with myself. The man whose music helped me through so much was right there! After he finished playing he was walking back to his trailer and Joe turns to me and says "Oh look, he's right there." I thought he was joking and started getting my stuff ready to leave. "No, Tabitha, he's right there walking!" and before I knew it Joe yells "Hi, Jonny!" I look over and not 10 feet from us he looks over, smiles and waves.

Oh. My. God. I didn't know what to do. So I stood there like an idiot. My jaw had to be on the ground. What do you do when you're feet away from someone who had that big of an influence on you? You freeze.

Luckily Jonny came back to RibFest last year. It was September 5, a month before Joe and I were married. He got us 3rd row seats this time, INSIDE the fence! Everclear was playing first, and they were fantastic.

Art was the sweetest guy, taking time to meet with everyone after his set and taking pictures.
 I don't remember a lot of the show. I sat with Joes arm around me, just staring. I was in awe. That was one of the best shows I'd ever been to.

I am not ashamed to admit I wrote a "fan letter" that day. There was no way I was letting this day pass without letting this man know how much a difference he made in my life. I never got to give it to him personally, but I passed it to the security guy who then passed it to Jonnys sister. I hope he got to read it. If not, maybe someday he'll see this. I can't even begin to thank him for sharing his gift with the world. 

"Sure be nice to go triple platinum
There's no guarantee it's ever gonna ever happen
And if I can only reach one set of ears
I know that I've fulfilled my purpose here"

That he has. He has indeed. 

And then there's Tracy Chapman.Man oh man, her voice .... amazing. I remember my oldest sister Tonia had a cassette of hers (again, showing my age) many moons ago. I listened a few times, but mostly only heard 2 songs of hers on the radio, Give Me One Reason and fast Car. I mean, I listened and I liked them, but they were just songs to me. Until 2004.

 That year I entered a relationship that everyone could see was toxic. Everyone but myself. I had no business being with anyone at that point in my life, especially the person I chose to be with. I was just claiming my independence - I was planning a cross country move after living by myself for the first time. (And then an amazing month of staying with my best pal!) Life was awesome. I fell into what I like to call, "The Lust Trap". I wanted to be loved and I wanted something steady. I was recently out of a long term relationship and I wanted what didn't work out with that one... if that makes sense. The person I was with was a decent guy. Handsome, (very) soft spoken... but there were issues there that I couldn't see. Without going into details, neither of us should have been in a relationship at that point. 

After introducing him to my family and friends, like I said, they saw something I didn't. A good friend of mine who I had known for years was the first one to point it out. She told me that things would not end well with this and I needed to try and see things from the outside. Stubborn - I was convinced she was crazy. She told me I needed to listen to Fast Car by Tracy Chapman. Again, I ignored her.

Sure enough, 3 years later I found myself working my ass off supporting us. We had no money and our utilities were shut off regularly. I was living 500 miles away from my family (although I had made some friends who I consider family - I couldn't tell you where Id be without them) and in a dark place. There was violence, although not directly towards me. I would sit and play this song over. And over. And over. And over. ... And over, until the lyrics were burnt in my brain. 

"I'd always hoped for better
Thought maybe together you and me'd find it
I got no plans I ain't going nowhere
So take your fast car and keep on driving"

Over a period of months it hit me - I couldn't do it anymore. My life was in a rotation from sad to depressed to lonely to angry. Where would I be 5 years from then? 10? Again, without going into specifics and details, he was the one to bring up a separation. I had planned it in my mind and Id dreamed of what that moment would be like. Within minutes I was in my car heading to my friends house. She had already told me if anything happened Id have a place to stay with her. Two nights later I went for a drive. I drove for what seemed like hours, but was probably only one or two. Lo and behold (I'm not making this up) the first song that came on the radio was Fast Car.

I knew then that I wouldn't go back. I cant even say it was his fault, it wasn't. I did love him and to this day I want him to find happiness. But I also deserved happiness. I wasn't living up to my full potential. I was only letting myself down. And every word of that song stabbed me in the gut. 

In one sense I should have listened to my friend. She knew what was best for me and I cant thank her enough for her concern. But then I think that if I had, I wouldn't be where I am now. Everything happens for a reason. Ive made some amazing friends family and Ive got a new, amazing life.

I'm married to my best friend. Sometimes I get confused and wonder what I ever did to deserve a partner who takes care of me and provides for his family. Then it smacks me in the face - this is what a relationship is SUPPOSED to be like. Ive never known this before, a grown up relationship and a healthy relationship. Ive got 2 amazing kids and I start school this month with hopes to become a nurse. 

I don't know if I would have had the strength to stay away if it weren't for Tracy Chapman.I still listen to this song and it gives me chills and makes me cry. I'm convinced Fast Car saved my life.


So thank you, Saffire. Thank you, Carly Simon. Thank you, Jonny Lang. Thank you, Tracy Chapman. Thank you, music.

Monday, July 16, 2012

At Home With Tabitha is on Facebook!

Wow, guys! I am completely blown away and a bit overwhelmed by all the support I've gotten from you! My blog views have almost tripled and my facebook has gotten so many new "likes" over the last week or so! All because of you all! You reposted my posts, linked to my blog and told your friends about At Home With Tabitha. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

I wanted to post this entry to show you all where to find my Facebook Page.  (<-- it's that link right there!) I post everything from tips, deals and links to TONS of free stuff! I'd love it if you stopped by, gave me a "like" and started saving time and money!

Don't forget, I'm also on Pinterest and Twitter!

Thank you again!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

My "How To" Guide to a Free Christmas (and More!)

So, listen.... Obviously I'm all about being frugal, and little makes me happier than getting free stuff. One of my favorite things is free money. I'm going to tell you a little story (because I like to talk about myself) and then hook you guys up with one of the best ways to make money on your phones.

When I was little we struggled. A lot. We're talking government cheese (Don't try and argue- that stuff was NOT good) and sharing a mattress on the floor of a room with my sister. We're talking using water on my generic non sweetened cereal because we didn't have milk. Like 'po 'po folk. So I've since learned to be really conservative with what I do have. (Minus a few years as a young adult when clothes and going out were more important than rent) Last year we wanted to have a good Christmas for our girls, but we didn't save any money throughout the year or do early shopping. My husband would visit the New England Patriots app on his phone daily and noticed something different one day. That was the key to our kids getting overly spoiled last Christmas.

People don't usually believe me when I tell them that everything under that tree (and some stuff ON the tree) ended up costing us a total of $0.00. But it's true. We paid NOTHING for that. (I'm beginning to see my future as a late night infomercial sales person). We spent around $800 on it all. I already told you how to make money in this post, This post I'm about to write now is gonna BLOW. YOUR. MIND.

I'm going to post a step by step guide to making money (in the form of gift cards, our preference is cards since we can buy almost anything there) using mPOINTS. When a company can get you to watch ads or follow their personalized link to a products website, they earn money. In turn, they are offering you an incentive to use these apps. mPOINTS are points that can be converted into gift cards or charitable donations. Click here for a list of currently supported apps. I'm going to show you how to get points using a few of my favorites.

The app that started it all (Hell-oooooo fantastical Christmas of 2011!) was the NE Patriots App. It's super easy and pays decent.

This should be the first screen you see when you go into the app. (You may or may not get a 100 point bonus for joining. Make sure you go to settings and set up your account. All this requires is an email address (that you have access to, not just one for junk emails) and a password. I promise, they never spam your inbox.

When you're all set up and get this message, touch the green icon that says "Collect Points" You'll get the daily visit points for every mPOINTS app once a day. Woot!

(note - every 1,000 points is worth $1.00 in gift cards, so I have $53.25 here)

Sometimes you'll get an ad for another app like this. I got my +10 point bonus, but nothing extra this time.

With this app you also get points for visiting the pro shop. The little icon on the bottom right of your screen. Again, go collect your +10 point bonus.

At this point I leveled up and got +50 extra points. This happens every 10th action you do to get points. After getting this screen you will then get the points you earned and possibly bonus points.

The next way to get points is by searching for a fan club. I always search "Indy" because that's my husbands Pats group here in Indy. :) You get +5 points for searching. You'd then click your icon and get your points.

When you finish at the fan club section you can head over to training camp. You'll want to tap the "latest" icon on the bottom left your screen. Training camp is at the top right.

Ta-da! +10 points! Go ahead and hit the x at the top to head on over to the photo gallery. (the icon in the top middle area of your screen)

Once you choose a gallery you'll get another +10 points. Now it's time to move to the videos. (You guessed it - the top left of your screen)

You might need to scroll down a bit to find a video, but when you find one, tap it. They're usually called 'Patriots Today'

A video will begin to play. (You didn't hear it from me, but rumor has it you can move that little circle mickbobber all the way to the end to fast forward the video if you're not the biggest football fan, like myself.)

You can watch several videos before it stops giving you points.

Bam! More points! Remember sometimes they'll look like this.....

The last thing to do is share content. That little box and arrow in the top right corner will lead you there....

Share however you want, I usually just e-mail. but they all work. And you get +10 points.

That's the basics of the Patriots app. Occasionally you'll get more bonus points, and I'll cover those later)

Next I want to go over my favorite mPOINTS app, The Daily Puppy. Because lets get real - who doesn't love puppies? I'm now seeing that I must've been super sleepy last night while doing this app and forgot to take screen shots of everything. Forgive me, try to keep up - this is one of the top money makers.

You'll be greeted by a cute puppy like this guy. Just like the Patriots app, you'll get daily points. This time it's +50 instead of  +10. Tap the greet collect button for your points.

*NOTE: Sometimes the points on this app come on the screen and leave just as fast. If one gets away before you have a chance to tap it, you can always come back to this screen and tap where it says "m rewards on the top left of the screen. There you will find any missed points. You can also use this to check and see how many points you have left as well as what rewards are available.

The puppy app is notorious for having the best bonus points.If you get a video - that's the best. Each video is worth +100 points and will only play for 30 seconds. But wait! There's more!

Most of the videos will end with a screen similar to this one. If you tap the picture it will take you to the company website or facebook page. It will look like this......

By doing this you are earning an ADDITIONAL +100 points. WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAT?!?!? Play on, Playa. It only gets better.

You can x out of that page and back into the puppy app. You want to tap the second icon from the left on the bottom that says "puppies". From here, go ahead and start scrolling to see all the cuteness these furry guys possess. As you go along be sure to tap the heart located on the bottom of your screen. this will add whatever puppy you're looking at into your "favorites."

After you favorite 3 puppies you will get +50 points and usually a bonus.

Around this point I think I fell asleep or something. There isn't much else to do besides keep scrolling. You'll get points after flipping through 15 pictures and randomly it'll choose a "lucky puppy" that will give you additional points and bonus points. Don't forget to go back to the main screen and touch the "grown up" icon and do the same thing there for even more points.

For all the bonus points in this app you can easily get $2 - $5 a day on this app alone. Think about it - it's only July! Do this every day and have a free Christmas! Or buy a MacBook Air like my husband wants to will do. Whatever - it's totally free money!!

There are more app that this works with. Besides these two, my favorite money makers are the LiveStrong Calorie Counter app and the MTV News app. If I feel like playing a game, the WordyBirdy app is fun AND gives mPOINTS.

Here's a few tips that we've found will make it easier on you and maximize your points....

  • Check the Achievements section of the mPoints homescreen for each app to see what actions you can do to get points. Many apps have tons of little things you can do to get points. 
  • Have a set time every day to do these. If you skip a day it's like waving good-bye to a few bucks. Try setting an alarm on your phone.
  • Know that mPOINTS resets itself at midnight on the dot. If the clock strikes 12 and you haven't finished all of your achievements for the day you, my friend, are out of luck. You'll have to start all over.
  • The best time to do the apps in my opinion is when I'm getting settled in bed for the night. This way I always remember.
  • Although, the most beneficial time is 8 pm EST, for some reason we get tons of videos and extra bonus points then. Some apps will give you points, but at a certain point the video bonuses stop coming. When the videos stop, I stop getting points and wait until 8pm (because I start mine at midnight) the following evening - and usually will get more videos.
  • Take your time. Especially on the puppy app. Enjoy the pics, but it's easy to let the little pop up point button thing go by and forget about it. Pay attention and slow down :)
  • Don't forget to click the mPOINTS icon from time to time to check out your balance and view the rewards catalog. Our favorite is Amazon gift cards. 5,000 points equals a $5 gift card. You can EASILY get that in one night. $5 a night will add up super fast.
  • The mPOINT icon in the puppy app is the button on the main screen in the top left corner. On the Patriots app it's on the top right and looks like a little green present.
  • When you do decide to redeem something, be sure to only do one a day. A few months ago Joe and I both cashed in $30 in $5 gift cards one after another. We were both flagged for fraud and I had to fight for 2 weeks with the customer service guy (who wasn't the brightest or nicest) to get our gift cards.
  • Gift cards are sent via e-mail. So MAKE SURE YOU CAN GET TO YOUR EMAIL!!! After redeeming, it will usually take 24 hours to get your code.

Well folks, that's all I got. Have fun with this- the apps are fun and free! Do your thing and maybe in December you can have have a totally free Christmas, too!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Have You Seen My Pins?

Can we just take a moment and marvel in the wonder that is Pinterest? I am so hooked on this site that I could sit for hours and hours pinning and repinning. After browsing hundreds of pins I always feel like I'm a Martha Stewart/Rachael Ray Wonder Woman!

I've made a few things from the site and I cant believe some of them actually turned out! I'm pretty biased with my pins, but they're pretty fantastic. If you'd like to check them out, you can follow me here. Excuse me while I pin post some things I've made and will make sooner rather than later.

I'm not the best cook, alright? i made this post roast and about keeled over. It was AMAZING! So easy and so good! I make it every few weeks now!

 I made this peanut butter fudge yesterday. It was easy enough that I didn't screw it up, and good enough that we all had some. (And sweet enough that there's still plenty left!)

This white chicken enchilada is on my list for this week or next. Doesn't this look awesome?!?

Freezing water and letting kids chip away at it?!? Genius. Especially on hot summer days!

Mommy's Ransom Box... This will be happening in my home.

I have to do this with my girls' handprints! How awesome!

Obviously this isn't Pinterest, so if youre at all interested in being AWESOME, get your butt over there and make some stuff!

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