Graduation Gift Ideas + GIVEAWAY

I still remember the call on my 12th birthday from my oldest brother, Steve, telling me I had a brand new birthday buddy named Allie. She made me an aunt and I couldn’t have been more excited to share a birthday with that adorable little red head. It’s so hard to believe how fast the time has flown by but she’s graduating college at the end of this semester from The University of Oregon. Wow do I feel old now. 

I wanted to get some ideas from friends of mine for graduation gift ideas and I loved all of the ideas they sent my way.

Graduation Gift Ideas

1. Cash

2. Gift card tree (restaurant, gas, store gift cards)

3. Travel

4. New Linens

5. Luggage

6. Diploma Frame

7. Designer make up case or shave kit

8. Cell phone

9. Start an IRA for them

10. Anything personalized

So many great ideas! I loved all of my graduation gifts and of course remember most fondly that my favorite gifts were cash. I do believe that every graduate loves cash. This makes me feel like such a jerk, but I have no recollection of who gave me money and how much was given. And, that’s the only reason I don’t always like to give money. Sometimes you just want to do something a little more meaningful, sentimental, and lasting. 

My second favorite idea on that list was the diploma frame. I didn’t get that for my graduation and it sat in the tube for the next 4 years until my mother-in-law took it to be framed for me. I still look at that frame and remember that she did that for me. It’s sentimental to me and shows off the years of hard work I put in to earn it. The sad part is if she hadn’t done it for me, I might not have had it done at all. But really, after all that hard work, no diploma should end up in a drawer, forgotten about, or even destroyed.

My friend told me her husband was given a diploma frame as a graduation gift and his diploma is now proudly on display in their home office. She was not given a diploma frame for graduation, or at all. Do you know where her diploma is? Still in the tube. :/

In fact, according to a recent survey by The Motherhood, 56 of respondents never framed their own diploma.

Thanks to Church Hill Classics, I had the opportunity to make sure my niece, who’s graduating from the University of Oregon at the end of this semester, will have a beautiful frame to hang her hard earned diploma in. I just love how beautiful it looks and I can’t wait to send it off to her!

Graduation Gift Ideas

Church Hill Classics is a professional framing company that helps graduates preserve and showcase those hard-earned diplomas with officially licensed frames. They offer an extensive selection of custom frame styles for more than 1,500 colleges and universities.

You can choose from frames featuring unique, color-enameled medallions of the school seal or athletic logo, beautiful campus images, foil embossing of the school name and/or seal and even an opening for a tassel. There’s something to meet everyone’s personal style!


In a recent survey conducted by The Motherhood, 98 percent of respondents who have a close relative graduating from college this year haven’t yet purchased a graduation gift for him or her.

Wouldn’t you love to have the opportunity to get one of these beautiful frames for the graduate in your life? 

Church Hill Classics is extending an offer for me to give away a diploma frame to one of you for up to $200 in value. 

All you have to do is use the form to enter below.

Church Hill Classics Diploma Frame Giveaway

Disclosure: This post is part of the blogger program by Church Hill Classics and The Motherhood, who compensated me for my time. Opinions, experiences and photos shared here are all my own.


Color Vibe 5K with Tum-E Yummies

Disclosure: This post is sponsored. All products mentioned and reviewed are compliments of Tum-E Yummies. All opinions of the products are my own.

This past weekend we got to revisit one of our favorite things we did last year. We were given the opportunity, thanks to Tum-E Yummies, to run The Color Vibe 5K again. It comes as no surprise to me, but we loved it just as much as we did last year!

Color Vibe 5K

Last year, we loved running with our big kids,

Dallas 5K

but this year, their busy schedules didn’t allow them to run with us. So, we took the next best thing — great friends!

Kelly, my college roommate, and her husband, John, are also some of my Camp Gladiator bootcamp friends. We work out together, so I knew they would love doing the Color Vibe 5K.

Color Vibe 5K

I was so right! We had the best time, but a little over a year ago, I definitely would not have thought running 3 miles to get color thrown on me would be my idea of “fun.” Now, however, it most definitely is!

Color Vibe 5K

Before the race started, we made sure to get ourselves a little head start in the “color wearing” department. We got a few packs of color and just attacked each other with them. When else is it ok to do that and result with smiling faces?!?

Color Vibe 5K

Once the race got started, we ran through different color stations where several people threw colors all over us. The goal was to get as covered as possible in color.

Our favorite spot in the run was halfway into the course with this view of the football stadium for The Dallas Cowboys in the background. So pretty!

Color Vibe 5K

And once we got to the finish line, we admired how “pretty” we were! ;)

Color Vibe 5K

Then we made our way over to the Tum-E Yummies station to have some fun pictures taken. I always love gifs and this is no exception! :)

Color Vibe 5K

We had such a great time getting away from our kids for the morning and having a little adult fun where we got to feel more like kids. Those opportunities are so rare these days! I’ve never been a huge fan of running and would definitely NOT call myself a “runner” but with fun events like this, it’s easier to push myself a little more and I found myself thinking I could have run the whole race again. 

With families everywhere, the environment was so fun and it’s a race I can’t wait to run again next year! Next time, maybe we’ll even bring our little ones and see what they can do! I know they would love every second of having color thrown on them. And, if you have a child, yours would love it, too. See when a Color Vibe 5K is coming near you and make a fun morning of it!

A big thanks to Tum-E Yummies for sponsoring our run!

I can’t wait to document this event in my smashbook, too! And of course, now I’m on the hunt for the next color run!

DIY Photo Album Scrapbook & GIVEAWAY

One of our favorite things to do last year, as a family, was to run the Color Vibe 5K in Arlington. We aren’t a running family, at ALL, but taking this challenge on together was a total blast! I wanted to make sure to treasure this memory for all of us to see, other than in a blog post, so I created this DIY photo album scrapbook for all of us to enjoy at home. 

DIY Photo Album

I used to be an avid scrapbooker before I started a blog because I loved capturing our memories and documenting them in books with pictures and pretty accessories. I wanted to share them and hated that they usually just sat on the book shelf in our house, never seen. Once I got busy as a blogger, I pretty much quit scrapbooking. The pages took me too long to create and it became an expensive hobby. At the time, my blog was free, and I could share our stories quickly and easily over the internet.

I love my blog and love sharing our family stories here, but I’ve started realizing unless our kids are searching on the internet, they won’t see the stories I share about us. We often go back to those scrapbooks I quit making several years ago and love reflecting on those fun times. I need to get better about having our family stories available for our kids to see, here, at home. 

Because we’re partnering with Tum-E Yummies again and running in the Color Vibe 5K (YAY!) in less than two weeks, I wanted to make sure I had our memories documented in my DIY Photo Album, while also leaving room for the memories we’ll be making this year! Because of my love for scrapbooking over the years, it was pretty easy for me to fall in love with smashbooking!

What is Smashbooking?

Smashbooking is similar to scrapbooking but with so much more flexibility! I actually think the messier the page looks, the better job you’ve done at “smashing.” ;) There’s no planning the layout and creating the page. It’s basically journaling and documenting memories with memorabilia, on the go! It’s perfect for me, the girl who wants to document the memories but doesn’t have a ton of time to make things pretty and perfect!

I found this SMASH book at Michaels (can also be bought on Amazon) and an accessory pack to go along with it. I love that each SMASH book comes with a multipurpose pen, too! One end has a pen for journaling and doodling and the other end has glue for “smashing” your pictures, magazine clippings, accessories, etc.

DIY Photo Album

You can start with a blank page and let your creativity take over. Because I was once an avid scrapbooker, I have plenty of embellishments/accessories to jazz SMASH book pages up. However, it’s definitely not necessary to have a lot of supplies on hand.

DIY Photo Album

One of my favorite things about smashbooking is there really are no rules! Just make sure to leave enough room for all of the pictures you want to include! In my case, there are usually many!

DIY Photo Album

I created these two spreads from our Color Vibe 5K experience and they took me all of 20 minutes! The only things I added aside from the accessory pack I bought were stickers and washi tape I already had.

DIY Photo Album

I’m in love with the way these turned out and I know our kids will love looking back on the experience we had. I’ve got plenty of room to add our next Color Vibe 5K experience to the following pages, too!

Color Vibe 5K GIVEAWAY

The Color Vibe 5K is also sponsored by Tum-E Yummies, which means we’ll have plenty to get rehydrated with after the race and even share with the little ones when we get home!

DIY Photo Album

The best part for you is that they’ve given me two extra tickets to the March 14th Color Vibe 5K to give away right here!

All you need to do is leave a comment telling me who you plan to run with if you win!



Carnival Freedom and Martina McBride in Galveston Made Our Best Valentine’s Day Ever

We don’t typically celebrate Valentine’s Day much as a couple, mainly because it’s so commercialized and our anniversary is less than a month after it. However, when Carnival Cruise Lines invited us to an exciting event welcoming Carnival Freedom to Galveston, there was no way we could pass that up. Honestly, they had no idea how much we needed that little escape from reality. 

Carnival Freedom [Read more…]

Uppercase & Lowercase Letter Matching Game

If you read my post yesterday, you might have picked up on the uphill battle we’re dealing with for my five year old. Academically, things just aren’t coming easy to him and I’m trying to give him as much extra help as I can at home. This Uppercase & Lowercase Letter Matching Game is a really simple game we can do together to reinforce that letter recognition he’s been struggling with.

uppercase-lowercase-letter-matching-game-pinerest [Read more…]

When I Knew Kindergarten Redshirting Was the Best Idea for Us

As you may already know, we are a Kindergarten redshirting family this year. Langston is doing a bonus year of Kindergarten at his preschool. He’ll do another year of Kindergarten at our local elementary school next year and I’ve never been so thankful we made that decision last year.

Kindergarten Redshirting

Well, let’s be honest, I pretty much knew our decision a long time ago but I was never vocal about it because for some reason, people have very strong opinions about it. Most people think it’s for sporting reasons and totally disagree with the idea. For a boy with a June birthday, I always thought giving him another year of Kindergarten would only be a benefit for his education. 

I was so right. My poor little guy would have been swallowed up at Kindergarten in elementary school this year. Part of me is even wondering if there’s not something else going on that might be causing him to have learning difficulties. 

I’ve done a lot of reading about dyslexia and I just haven’t been able to rule it out. After his teacher asked to meet with me a couple of weeks ago to talk about his academic progress, it only intensified my research. She knew there was a red flag when a little girl asked her how to spell his name because she wanted to write a letter to him. His teacher told the little girl she should just ask Langston how to spell his name, so she did. He couldn’t tell her. 

Granted, he has eight letters in his name, so we didn’t do him any favors in the naming business, but it broke my heart a little to know that halfway through this year he still didn’t know how to tell someone to spell his name. The weirdest part about that is if you ask him to write his name, he can do it. It’s almost like his learning just wasn’t transferring. 

I’m still learning about all of this and not totally convinced that dyslexia is exactly what he’s struggling with but reading this article last night didn’t help me in trying to rule it out. There are just too many similarities to this story. 

I’m trying to do as much extra work with him at home, as I can, including adding a word wall to our kitchen cabinets, playing letter games I find online, and searching out educational computer games he might find interesting. I’ll be sharing some of the games I’ve found online in another post, in case this is something you are struggling with, as well.

If there’s anything I regret more, it’s not starting educational games earlier with him, at home. I WISH I’d made it more of a priority when he was three and four but you better believe I’m making it a priority in his two younger siblings. The good thing is it’s never too late to start.

redshirting kindergarten

I’d be lying if I told you I left that conference with his teacher without shedding a tear, because that’s exactly what happened. My heart hurt knowing that he was struggling and this struggle might last for a while, if not always. As usual, the mom guilt got me, telling me I hadn’t done enough to help prepare him. HATE that ugly mom guilt!

One piece of beneficial information his teacher left me with was a Kindergarten Readiness List, which I have hanging on our refrigerator. It might be a beneficial list for you, too, so I wanted to share it:

  • Knows both upper and lower case letters of the alphabet in random order (That’s what we were working on in the picture above.)
  • Knows the sounds each letter makes
  • Holds a book correctly
  • Can track print on a book from left to right
  • After listening to a story, can tell you their favorite character and why they did or did not like the book
  • Recognizes own name in print
  • Can match or recognize letters in their name
  • Can write their name
  • Knows their first and last name
  • Counts sets/number of objects to 10
  • Counts and recognizes numbers up to 10
  • Does simple puzzles
  • Knows their age
  • Identifies himself/herself as a boy or girl
  • Works well and shares with other children
  • Able to communicate needs to adults
  • Is self-sufficient (washing hands, dressing, bathroom use, zipping and unzipping backpacks)
  • Speaks clearly and in complete sentences
  • Follows and understands directions with at least two steps
  • Uses writing and drawing supplies correctly
  • Uses scissors correctly and can cut on a line

I’m thankful to have this list, which are more like goals for me. We have until August to hopefully get him on the right track. 

One thing’s for sure, I’m so thankful we decided on redshirting Kindergarten. 

If you have any experience with dyslexia in your own child, I’d love to hear from you!

Faith Christian Jewelry Giveaway

This giveaway is sponsored by FAITH Christian Jewelry Store.

Jewelry is one of my favorite gifts to both give and receive. There’s something about jewelry pieces that bring so much significance to my life. I still have some of my favorite pieces of jewelry from my high school days, but not because they are expensive. It’s because I remember who gave them to me and they are significant to a time in my life or they remind me of the person who gave them to me. Maybe it’s because I don’t have a huge jewelry collection, but what I do still have means a great deal to me.

Are you an avid jewelry collector, or do you enjoy giving jewelry as a meaningful gift? 

FAITH Christian Jewelry Store prides themselves on being your home for the best priced Christian jewelry, baptismal gifts, apparel, and home decor. Their goal is to provide you with the best customer service and prices you can find on the internet. For starters, you’ll be happy to know you can get free shipping on all orders over $25!

faith christian jewelry

There were so many great products I fell in love with on the FAITH Christian Jewelry website, like these beautiful rings. I just love how unique the handwriting look is! And they have several different words to choose from! This one is my favorite but there’s bound to be one you like, too. 

FAITH Christian Jewelry

My husband loved this sporty ring from their men’s section. Wrapped around the ring, it says, “Fear not for I am with you.” Such a neat look!

FAITH Christian Jewelry

There are gifts for the teens and kids, too! I love this simple ring that says, “Love never fails. 1 Cor. 13:8″ It’s great for a teenage girl, but simple enough for a preteen, too. 

FAITH Christian Jewelry

Even if you’re not a fan of jewelry, you’ll still find something you like in the home decor, seasonal, or gifts and accessories sections. These leather iPad covers are such a great gift idea. 

FAITH Christian Jewelry

Excited yet about everything FAITH Christian Jewelry has to offer? Make sure you follow them on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with the latest coupons and giveaways.


Speaking of giveaways, how would you like to win a $100 gift card to spend at FAITH Christian Jewelry? Use the form to enter below!

FAITH Christian Jewelry Store

Get Your Mouth Clean and Healthy with Crest Pro-Health HD System

Want a clean and healthy mouth? Silly question, right? Who DOESN’T want their mouth to be clean and healthy!? Lucky for you, I have found the answer with the Crest Pro-Health HD Daily 2-step System, thanks to P&G sending it for me to try.

crest pro-health hd system

Crest Pro-Health HD Daily 2-step System

It’s a simple, reasonably priced, twice daily oral care system that gives you a 6x healthier mouth and 6x whiter teeth in just 1 week. I have a feeling that I am not the only Mom out there that has a slight coffee addiction. Well the bad thing about this addiction is it can leave your teeth with the same coat that is on your coffee pot. Yuck! Since I know I won’t kick my beloved coffee habit, it’s nice to have something help me with the negative effect coffee has on my teeth.

I found that using the Crest HD system is gentle enough to use twice daily and the best part was ZERO irritation! That was the best part for me because I suffer from a super sensitive mouth. I have had bad experiences in the past with treatments and using toothpaste to brighten my smile. From horrible tooth sensitivity to very irritated lips I haven’t had much luck. But, with the Crest Pro-Health HD system I did NOT have one issue with irritation or sensitivity!

crest pro-health hd system

I also felt like my teeth were much cleaner after brushing and stayed that way longer throughout the day than other toothpastes I’ve used before. I felt that my mouth was much healthier after just a few days of using the system and noticed my gums did not appear as red and puffy.

crest pro-health hd system

The only odd part was not rinsing in between the two products but I got the hang of it after a few tries. Trust me you will know what I mean when you try it for yourself.

Did you also know seventy-five percent of the population is affected by some type of gum disease? I was honestly shocked at this number! Crest HD, available at CVS, tackles this issue head-on with a first-ever, two-step product that utilizes a paste to strip away plaque as well as a perfecting gel that polishes and whitens teeth.

The Crest Pro-Health HD System consists of two products:

Step 1: Purifying Cleanser helps strip away plaque

Step 2: Perfecting Gel polishes and whitens teeth

From now until the end of February, you can visit your local CVS and get $2 in extraCare bucks with purchase of Crest HD.


I would like to encourage you to give this system a try and will be giving one lucky winner just that, as well as an Oral-B 3D Ultra Soft Toothbrush and $50 gift card to CVS.

Use the form below to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A big thanks to Jess for sharing her experience with the Crest Pro-Health HD Daily 2-step System.

The Biggest Threat to My Workouts

Thanks to Depend for sponsoring today’s post. (Yep, we’re going there.) ;)

With three babies in a little over three years, my body suffered a little bit. It was to be expected and I’d always heard that your body is never really the same, but there’s one thing no one really ever talks about.

When I was pregnant, there was a lot of pressure on my bladder that grew as the baby grew. My husband and I always laughed at my hesitation when I coughed too hard or laughed too much. It usually meant I had to run to the restroom because the pressure on my bladder “got the best of me.” :)

Even though I haven’t been pregnant in over two years, I still deal with that but fortunately it’s only when I work out. The bad part is that I work out often and certain exercises “get the best of me” (and my bladder). :) 

A few weeks ago, our trainer had us doing a series of exercises on the stairs. We started out running the stairs, which wasn’t a big deal, but by the time we were jumping two stairs at a time with one foot or even both feet, I realized this was not a good exercise for a girl who’s had three babies. :) Those muscles take a beating during pregnancy and sometimes I’m still paying the price. 

Although I love them and love how great they are for my muscles, these are not the easiest exercises for a girl like me. :/

Athletes Doing Box Jumps At Gym

Still wondering what I’m talking about?

Bladder leakage. Yes, I said it. As embarrassing as it is (because it really really is), it affects 65 million people, and not just older people. More people in their 20’s are affected than people who are in their 80’s. True story! More people with bladder leakage are 50 and younger than those 60 and older. Honestly, I had NO idea, but it’s nice to know I’m not alone. 

I’ve always thought of Depend as an adult diaper for (much) older people who were unable to care for themselves. I was so wrong. Depend is thin and comfortable to where. It’s not a big, bulky diaper, like I always thought it was. Millions of people experience bladder leakage and it’s ok to reach for a thin, comfortable option. You no longer need to think that Depend garments are for people with a condition that is ‘way worse than mine.’

To help support them and bring the condition and Depend Underwear out of hiding, Depend has created a new social movement and charitable cause called Underwareness. 

Depend will be donating $1, up to $3 million, over the next three years to charities that advance the research, education and awareness of bladder leakage for:
– Every pant drop, photo and video shared Using #Underwareness and #DropYourPants; and
– Every personal video made about what Underwareness means to you that is uploaded to YouTube and tagged #Underwareness and #DropYourPants

Claim your free samples today by visiting the Depend landing page and clicking on the “Get a Sample” button located at the top right-hand side of the screen. Then, select which sample you would like to receive and wait for them to arrive.

Has this been a problem for you after pregnancy? 


Pecan Cookie Balls

I’m constantly digging through my grandma’s recipes, looking for the next one I want to recreate. As I’ve said  before, it’s my way to feel connected to her even though she passed away almost twenty years ago. Fortunately for me, her recipes go on for days and these Pecan Cookie Balls were my latest recreation.

Pecan Cookie Balls [Read more…]

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