How I Earn Free Products

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This post is for everyone- not just bloggers. Any time I share a box full of goodies that I got for free, I get a ton of questions on how I got them. I figured that I would just put together a post of what I do so that you can have the same opportunities. Some of them require work, so that is why I say “earn” free products.

Moms Meet: This one is new to me. It’s a program that is run by Kiwi Magazine. You can sign up to become a Mom Ambassador and apply for different programs. This program is great because Kiwi is a natural/eco-friendly family magazine, so the products are organic and mostly good for you.Β  I recently was selected for a Baby Mum-Mums program. Here is what they sent me- FOR FREE. I didn’t pay shipping. I just had to do what was required of me.

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(Please excuse the terrible quality photo. It’s the only one I have of it.) Those boxes were for my family to keep, and the huge bags were all to share along with coupons. Awesome, right?! Since you do have to apply, you aren’t guaranteed to be selected- just FYI. You can also do different activities to earn rewards points. I just redeemed points for a free allergy-friendly cookbook!

House Party: This is another website where you apply to host various house parties. They send you everything you need and you just invite your friends.Β  I have doneΒ  Seventh Generation Healthy Baby, Huggies potty training, Kikkoman, Fairlife, and Dunkin Donuts parties. I’ve applied to SO many more than that. It’s really awesome because they send you tons of free products and samples when you get selected. You can also apply to be a chatterbox for other products. When you are a chatterbox, you get sent a new product on the market to talk about on social media. I recently got sent a new Kleenex product to try and share about! I apply to them all. I’ve been doing this since 2013.

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Swagbucks: This isn’t so much about free products, but free gift cards. I have shared about it before, but I’ll always share. It takes a while to get the hang of it, but once you do it’s so easy. I have earned HUNDREDS of dollars in Amazon/Target/Paypal gift cards. This is what we use to buy birthday and Christmas presents. It’s a blessing.

Hip2Save is a great place to find out what companies are offering freebies. This is where there is not work required. It’s typically just free samples; though sometimes they are full sized products. I love it because Collin finds EVERYTHING. She also shares how you can combine coupons/app offers to get free or practically free things at the grocery store. Basically, if you want to become great a couponing- she is your girl!

 

I will add to this post if I think of any others, or find any other programs. I earn extra Swagbucks if you sign up through my link. Any other program, I don’t earn a thing. I share because I am super grateful for the opportunities that these companies have given me. It’s really fun to try new products and get to bless other people with them!

Are there any that you would add to this list? I’m sure there are some that I am missing.

Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend. Let us never forget the sacrifices that were made so that we can have our freedoms.

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Slime and Sunshine

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We made slime! I know that this has been a huge trend all year, but I haven’t had the time for it. I haven’t had the energy for it either, to be completely honest.

We used:
1 cup of glue and 1 cup of water mixed together. Next, I mixed in red and blue sparkles. Then, I added 1 cup of liquid starch. It immediately changes consistency, so you have to get your hands in there and work it out. I kept playing with it until the liquid was all mixed in. I’m also storing it in a cleaned out yogurt container so that I can just throw it away when the time comes. Make sure to have your kiddos wash their hands after playing with it each time. (This is a nap time toy because I’m afraid Harper would eat it.)

WARNING: glitter gets on every surface of everything even though it is mixed into this goop.

It is so wonderful having everyone well again. They still are a little grumpy, but so much better. They were so excited to go to Mimi and Papa’s house for lunch on Sunday. Papa even blew bubbles with them outside!

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The weather has been beautiful here. We’ve had some cooler days that allowed me to open up the windows and let the breeze in. It’s wonderfully sunny, which is a nice change from the dreary weeks we had before.

Yesterday was our last day with the C3 teens. It was very bittersweet. They are an amazing group of young adults who are going to do amazing things for Jesus. Our worship leader led campfire style last night. All of the teens and adult helpers sat around singing, and it was beautiful. It was a wonderful way to close this chapter in our lives. I am forever grateful.

I hope that your week has been full of sunshine as well. Maybe slime isn’t your thing, so I’ll hope for sunshine. πŸ˜‰

 

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Black & White Amazon Nursery

I love the monochromatic look. I love black and white baby and kid rooms, but theyΒ  usually are full of completely out-of-my-price-range products. I thought I’d put together a list of really awesome black and white products from Amazon so your nursery can look like this without breaking the bank.

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swaddles // crib sheets // changing pad covers // cloud crib sheet // boppy cover // pacifier clipsΒ  // burp cloths // storage baskets // laundry hamper // humidifier (worth every penny) // sleep sack // crib // swaddle wrap // house tissue box cover // hedgehog night light //

 

Amazon is my favorite way to shop. I love using Swagbucks to earn Amazon gift cards– which really helps me stay on budget. That is how I was able to buy some new things when I was pregnant with Harper.Β  We all know that babies are expensive, and I hope this helps you find some great baby items on a budget!

 

All Amazon links are affiliate links. This does not change the cost of your item, but a small portion of your purchase does go to me. Thank you for supporting me as I support my family.

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Six Days

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We are just 6 days from uncharted territory. We surrendered our lives to Jesus as teenagers, and have lived in surrender ever since.

Scott and I have been serving in full-time ministry since he graduated from college 8 years ago. Every day of the last 8 years I have been “youth pastor’s wife” or “ministry wife”. (Yes, I know ministry is wherever you are and whatever you are doing.)

Sunday is our last day on staff at CCC. Any time God has called us away from a church, He has always opened a door just in time for us to go from one to the next. That has not been the case this round.

This is completely new. I feel like a huge chunk of my identity is being stripped away from me. It’s painful and feels a little scary. It could be months or years before God decides to open another door.

This whole ministry journey has been a roller coaster. It is painful. People say hurtful things. People gossip. You live your life in a fishbowl and any tiny slip up in your life can be blown out of proportion. You can be betrayed by someone that you thought loved you.

On the flip side, people also love on you and pray for you when you are hurting. When your entire family is sick and you feel like you can’t do it anymore, people bring food to your home. You get to see people come to know Christ. You see people declare that they are going to give up their drug addiction. We have seen teenagers go from Jr. High personalities to mature young adults sold out for Jesus. You see lives completely changed and transformed- and THAT is why we continue doing ministry! It is an honor to be used by God in this way.

We are in a painful season of this journey. We are being put through the fire for refinement. How I react is an example to my children as to how you go through trials in your life. I have to show them that God will carry us through. I also can show them that emotions are ok. It is okay to cry when you are hurting. What we do with our emotions is what matters.

I listened to this song yesterday and sobbed.

“As I walk this great unknown
questions come and questions go
Was there purpose for the pain?
Did I cry these tears in vain?

I don’t want to live in fear
I want to trust that you are near
Trust your grace can be seen
In both triumph and tragedy”

Scott has started applying for local jobs outside of ministry and my heart hurts for him.

We are trying to figure out the logistics of being able to find jobs to pay bills while also still being able to candidate at churches whenever opportunities arise; all with one car. We are doing exactly what God wants us doing at this time; even if it is not at all what we want.

We trust God through everything, but that does not mean that it won’t be painful or hard. God never promised us an easy life, He only said that we would never be forsaken.

“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Hebrews 13:5

 

 

 

Catching Up

Happy, Friday!!

I thought this week may never end. Good grief, it has been a rough one!! Scott is finally well. The kiddos are still sick, but I think we are coming to the end of it! Hooray!!!!

Harper lost her glasses a few weeks ago. We have torn the house/garage/car apart and cannot find them. I ordered a new pair last week, and they came inΒ  yesterday. Since we still have sick kids, I went alone and picked them up.

It was a glorious 45 minute-one-way drive full of silence. I ran into Target to get new toothbrushes and enjoy a few minutes alone. I had to make it a quick trip since the weather was about to turn bad.

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Just about everything at Target is adorable right now. Oh, to have a limitless bank account. haha!

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Their dollar bin always has some great educational buys. I found this felt alphabet chart and picked it up. All of the girls were having fun with it today. I love when learning is fun. It should be fun.

 

Also, how cute are her new glasses?!

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She picked the color, and I think it’s so fun!!

One week from Sunday is Scott’s last day on staff at CCC. It’s really bittersweet. It’s also terrifying. We haven’t gone a day without being in full-time ministry since June of 2009. I can’t wait to see what God is doing in all of this.

 

I hope that you all have a happy and healthy weekend!!!

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Motherhood is

Motherhood is hard. It’s so, so hard.

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As you know, my youngest two have been down with strep. Well, they weren’t getting better. In fact, they have been getting worse. We took a trip to the doctor (again..) today. Addi has an ear infection and has to have breathing treatments due to some wheezing.

Harper is still a bit of a mystery. Everything looks and sounds good. Other than the insane amount of hives that she broke out in an hour before her appointment. She had to have a LOT of bloodwork done. Poor girl is dehydrated from not eating or drinking, so they had a really hard time with it. She cried a lot. I fought tears. Addi is scarred for life I am sure. (They always get really energetic at the doctor’s office because there are new toys to play with.)

To add to the fun, my husband is also incredibly sick.

I have been doing load after load of laundry, cleaning surfaces of everything daily, making meals for people with zero appetite, and trying to stay afloat. I am unwashed. I have averaged eating one meal per day. I am so physically exhausted from not sitting. I’m mentally exhausted from worrying about everyone being so ill. I’m emotionally exhausted because, darnet, I am tired of bad things happening. It all captures motherhood so perfectly. The battles will be different, but the feelings are the same.

You know what, though. Motherhood is also really rewarding.

Chloe has been well. She has been such a trooper through her sisters getting boatloads more attention than she has. She has been keeping herself entertained by painting and building lego houses. She has helped out so much with anything she is asked to do. She even hand washed dishes the other day without being asked. I see her having compassion on her sisters, and my heart swells. I hear her praying that her sisters and daddy will be healed. I see Addi picking out stickers from the doctor for Chloe, instead of herself. These kids are so darn great, and I so often overlook that because I get caught up in the mundane.

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Never mind that man mess behind the curtain Chloe.

Mama, if you are in a valley, I see you.Β  I hear you. It’s hard. It feels like it’s never going to end. (Seriously, is it?) It will end eventually. It can’t rain forever. I am nowhere near perfect at this. But I have been writing down a short phrase at the top of my to do list. FIND THE GOOD. There is always SOMETHING good. Motherhood is good.

A Letter to my Mom

Dear Mom,

We obviously need more pictures together. I guess that is what we get when we combine two people who hate being in front of the camera.

I cannot even figure out where to start. You mean so much to me that I can’t seem to put it into words. My mind is racing in a thousand directions with all that I want to say. Hopefully I can make some sense of it.

I am so thankful that God gave me you to be my mom for all of these years. You are the perfect example of strength and courage. You face all of life’s hardships head on without fear.Β  Your positive attitude is contagious, and I always leave a conversation with you feeling much better. We laugh until we cry- flaring nostrils and all. πŸ˜‰

Not only have you fought alongside Dad, but you have fought your own hard battles that too often go unrecognized. You fought through immeasurable amounts of pain. You are a fighter, and I don’t think you are told that often enough. You are inspiring.

As a kid, if my birthday and mother’s day fell on the same day, you would always refuse to celebrate your day. That is just one small example of your selflessness. You are one of the most selfless people that I know. You always put your needs and wants behind everyone else. {I do hope that you look out for you also.} I hope that someone is taking some time to spoil you.

I am so thankful for a mom who took the time to teach me so many life skills. You prepared me for real life; even though that didn’t stop me from crying every day when I went off to college.

You have never hesitated to drop everything to be by my side or on the phone when I needed you. I guess I will always need my mom though. I am sure you know that by the amount of phone calls you get with me asking question after question.

I know that I never fully appreciated the sacrifices that you made every day for me; for all of us. It wasn’t until I became a mother that I realized the depth of your love for us. It wasn’t until I became a mother that I realized how much you really did sacrifice.

You were nurse, taxi driver, maid, teacher, chef, and on and on and on. You came to every performance I ever had. I wonder if you ever got a weekend to yourself between the three of us and show choir/band/track/cross country… and the early years of cheerleading. You supported us through all of it.

Mom, I could never express my gratitude. You mean the world to me. I love you so much. Thank you for being my mama.

Love,
Ashley

 

If you are grieving this Mother’s Day- over the loss of a child or the loss of your mother- know that I hold you in my prayers. You are not forgotten. This video is beautiful.

Friday Favorites

I’m going to start off with my very favorites. These people are my world, and I am so thankful for them. They made myΒ  birthday as special as it could be considering the circumstances. This picture is from when Scott got home from work. They quickly decorated the cake (they baked it in the morning) and squeezed in singing happy birthday before Scott had to rush back to church for youth group.

 

My mother-in-law made a front door delivery, which was so incredibly kind. She brought these colorful flowers for me. Scott got me beautiful red roses. I love flowers!!!

I am getting started with YL oils. I needed a good place to store all of them. I found this one on Amazon, and it’s PERFECT. Everything is nice and secure, so I know that when we move everything will be safe. (If you want one, snatch it up. They were all $20 except for the orange when I bought. I see that they are all currently $15.)

I got these pillows on a lightning deal. Oh my word. They are incredible!! I may have already shared them. I can’t remember.

I made this for dinner last night, and it was really good.

Have you heard of Usborne? My friend recently started selling it, and I am obsessed. Go check out their books. They are so cute and educational. I love them.

I’m sorry that this space has been a bit of a dead zone lately. I have felt a bit like I’m drowning and every time I think I’m getting above water another wave knocks me down. I am determined to turn this around. I am so grateful for all of you who have stuck with me through everything. You guys are the best!

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29 Things About Me

Today I enter the last year of my twenties! (Hooray!) I thought it would be fun to share 29 random things about myself since some of you are new here and may not know a whole lot about me! Hopefully you still like me after reading them. πŸ˜‰

1. I can NOT stand hearing people chew.

2. Milk used to be my drink of choice all day. Now, I never drink it.

3. My favorite color is teal/turquoise; though it used to be pink.

4. I never carried a purse until my senior year of high school. I went from no purse to the biggest purse I could find.

5. My first job was at Culver’s. I was terrible at the register and always ended up cleaning in the dining room.

6. Twins always fascinated me in elementary school and now I’m married to one.

7. I grew up wanting to be a dentist. One day, our family dentist let me watch him work on my sister and I immediately changed my mind. {I feel like I need to say that her mouth was not gross! I’m just squeamish. Lol}

8. Chloe has to remind me of my age far too frequently because I can’t remember.

9. I always thought I would end up having all boys. Every time I heard “it’s a girl” I was shocked.

10. I cannot figure out “my” style, and it bothers me more than it should.

11. Talking on the phone stresses me out.

12. I hate how often I let my emotions and circumstances get the best of me.

13. I get serious anxiety every time we travel; even if it’s only 45 minutes away.

14. Gilmore Girls was my favorite show until they did the revival. A Day in the Life pretty much ruined it.

15. I would love to take a dance class. Am I too old for ballet?

16. I had 5 different majors in college. (Elementary education, early childhood education, business, interior design, psychology)

17. I pretty much only drink iced coffee when the weather gets above 70 in the Spring.

18. If I could live anywhere in the country it would be Tennessee in the mountains. It’s close enough to visit the ocean also.

19. I long to travel and explore places that I have never seen; and re-visit many beautiful places that my parents took us as children.

20. I have stopped googling symptoms when anyone is sick. I think we all need to.

21. I have an addiction to Amazon Prime. I may need an intervention.

22. Everyone mistakes my older sister and I for twins. We get asked every time we are together if we are twins. (She is 6 1/2 years older than me)

23. I’m stupidly excited about the bell-sleeve trend being back in style! Please never go away.

24. It would be so fun to buy an old Airstream camper and fix it up.

25. I really long to move our family more towards minimalism. The thought of spending more time with people and less time cleaning stuff sounds amazing.

26. I was born in New Mexico, but only lived there until I was 6. I spent most of my life in Illinois, but still use the NM lingo. (SODA not pop)

27. I hated college, but love learning. I have signed up for free college courses online, and enjoy them so much more than I ever enjoyed my college years.

28. Christmas and Halloween are tied for my favorite holiday. That’s crazy, I know. I love the silliness of Halloween combined with the beautiful weather. But, Christmas is just magical.

29. I am in the minority of people who cannot wait to reach their thirties!

 

Wow, that was hard. Starting so many sentences with the word “I” makes me cringe. Also, I’m not that interesting, so hopefully you are still awake. If not, I hope your nap was wonderful.

Thanks for reading along and supporting me.

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Three Large Coffees

Happy Tuesday!!

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This was the first of three coffees that I bought today {plus the coffee that Scott made for me}. I put my shoes on around 8 AM and didn’t take them off until 5 PM. I had to take Scott to work this morning so that I could have the car. I had made a doctor’s appointment for all three girls at once. Harper has still been messing with her ear. Addison spiked a fairly high fever last night. Chloe has been coughing for weeks, but it sounds fake. I took her more for allergy testing after a scary reaction.

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I’m sure we made a wonderful impression with all of our chaos.

Anyway, here’s a little update for you..

Chloe is just fine. Her cough is fake at this point and making me feel completely insane. Seriously, whyyyy does she do this?! It started off real and now it’s just habit. She got a blood panel done for allergies. 95% of the time, it’s a mystery why kids suddenly get covered in hives. Cool. She did SO GOOD getting her blood drawn, and I am so proud.

Addison has strep throat. She went to bed at 6:30 tonight. It really came out of nowhere, and she is completely miserable. My kids never actually ACT sick, so it’s heartbreaking to see her so down.

Harper’s ear is still a problem. They gave us the wrong ear drops at the ER the night we took her because.. well, it was gross. So, we got some new ear drops to heal her ear now. Also, she has strep. What the what?! Her throat was super red and her lymph nodes were huge. She hasn’t acted sick other than pulling at her ear.

I truly don’t understand..Β  When we lived in Michigan, we would get some small viruses and that was it. Here, we’ve had all kinds of crazy stuff! We never had ear infections. We never have had strep or roseola. I feel like the list goes on and on. I’m not sure why they have been so sick since moving here, but I’m over it.

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I’m writing this in revers so this is not such a downer post. We spent the morning driving around a bit; just like we used to do when we first moved to the area. The girls were all strapped in their seats and happy, so we drove. We live 17 miles form the Kansas border. My kids have never been to KS, so we made the trip today. I was going to drive to a lake, but couldn’t find the turn on the way back. (I guess I should sanitize my van now?) It was a lot of fun to just explore again. I only wish that I had ended the day the same way.

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We have been rocking our oil diffusing bracelets. We had valor all around today. It smells so good, and is referred to as “liquid courage”. Perfect. It has really helped Addi a lot to handle her big emotions.

I am taking a much needed break from the Facebook world, and I’m loving it so far. There is so much negativity on there that I really wonder if it’s worth the trouble. Have any of you quit facebook for good? I’d love to hear your experience. (Obviously in the comments section here since I won’t see comments on FB when this posts there.)

I hope that you all have a wonderful week, and that health stays in your homes. ❀ Don’t forget Mother’s Day this Sunday!

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