Tuesday, December 25, 2012

2012 McLoughlin Family Christmas Letter

Hope you are all enjoying today, no matter what your religion is. Thought you might like to see our McLoughlin Family Christmas letter that went out this year.


Merry Christmas once again from the McFamily! Let’s dive right in …
            Aron has been busy this year just being awesome. When he wasn’t traveling to Wyoming or working long hours, he was involved with Joel’s Scout campouts and meetings and spent quite a bit of time replacing drains and pipes and ceilings. Before he could get a little break, it was time to put in new kitchen windows, a new double door and paint the kitchen! He did find time to take the boys fishing a few times, though J
            Not much has changed with Kerrie. She still loves her bon bons and bubble baths. On the side, she dabbles in homeschooling, freelance writing, hanging with her friends, scrapbooking, reading, stripping (wallpaper J), wrangling children, walking and trying new recipes.

            Joel turned 11 in June and was busy this year with 2 Pinewood Derbies, Pokemon Club, archery and gymnastics. He crossed over into Boy Scouts in February and is already First Class rank, has 4 merit badges toward Star Scout and enjoyed summer camp. He is on the move all day long, playing, reading, shooting arrows and more. He says he wants to be an actor when he grows up.
            Michael turned 9 in April and also participated in 2 Pinewood Derbies, Pokemon Club, gymnastics and a homeschool Chemistry class. Michael prefers to hang out at the dining room table creating various things out of Legos and recyclables. I think he’ll be a great engineer!
            Callie turned 7 in February and her hobbies include cheerleading, gymnastics, fashion design and debating with Mommy. She also had fun making her Pinewood Derby car for our homeschool group’s race and can be found at homeschool Chemistry class. I see her with a career as an entertainment/fashion attorney.
            Eva turned 5 this month and is still our tough little sunshine. Her hobbies include collaborating with Sam to make messes and get into trouble and … well, that’s mostly it. To occupy an hour of her week, we gave in to her pleas of, “I wanna do gymnastics, too!” I’m thinking she’ll grow up to have a career in something involving making messes all day and getting paid to do so.
            Sam turned 3 in October. He’s still master of any ball, and we’re considering getting him into a teeny soccer league just for the entertainment value. He insists he is a BIG BOY and wants to do everything himself. He’s also in gymnastics, and says he wants to be a fireman when he grows up.
            We adopted Snoopy Baby the Shih-tzu/Hound in October. He will be the perfect pet once he learns to poop OUTSIDE. We also have Giggy the tiny turtle, Henry the Betta fish and a minnow.
            Joel, Michael and Callie go to religious education weekly while I babysit in the nursery with Sam and Eva. This year we did Passport to Adventure, the zoo, went swimming a lot, went to Paradise Park, rode a train and more. The kids were a big help with the garden, too!
            We drove to Wyoming in May to be with Aron, who was there for his job, and we ended up staying 5 weeks at Kingfisher Bend Ranch! We fell in love with it and it made us want to move somewhere with wide open spaces. While there, we explored the Uinta Mountains, hit the Salt Lake City zoo and children’s museum, sunned ourselves on a Bear River beach, kayaked, fished, played in snow on Memorial Day, had a bonfire, watched kittens grow up, rode horses and chased bulls away.
Check out more of our family fun at TheKerrieShow.com. Wishing you an amazing 2013.
The McLoughlin Family
Aron, Kerrie, Joel, Michael, Callie, Eva and Sam

HOPEYLOVEYDREAMYPRAYYLEARNYSINGYLAUGHYACCEPTYSLEEPJ

Friday, December 21, 2012

My Silver Retro Christmas Tree


I love this tree, and the lime green lamp by it ain't bad, either. My stepdad acquired this for me a few years ago and it takes me back to the 1960s. I wasn't born until 1971, but am obsessed with the '60s and have been since I can remember. It now houses my Hallmark Barbie ornaments and my family bed ornament that has all my kids with names on them in one ceramic bed. So cute!

What makes you happy this holiday season?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Little Kids and Advent

My 9-year-old son Michael is so stinkin' cute. He goes to Religious Education class on Tuesdays with his brother and sister while I babysit in the nursery with Eva and Sam, and this year Michael has an amazing teacher who really challenges the kids ... and me.

She has given them a chain of things to do for every day of Advent. Each day is something different, like one might be to clean his room, one might be to read a Christmas story to his family. He also gets very serious about reading the Advent prayer every night and lighting the candles. In fact, Aron took him out to buy an Advent wreath because we didn't have one. He has to keep track of his daily chain items on a log.

Last night he was starting to get worried because one of the "assignments" on his chain had been to make a card for an elderly neighbor. Then yesterday's assignment was to mail the card to the neighbor. He was very specific and said we had to go to the post office to mail the card to the neighbor across the street.

Of course when one of my kids is like a dog with a bone, I help them out as much as I can. So we drove to the post office at 8 p.m. to mail the neighbor her letter. Michael likes to make sure he is doing everything right. Need I mention he is a model student for me?!

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all the teachers, paid and volunteer, who give it their all, who challenge the kids to be better people and have fun along the way. You are amazing.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Weight Loss Rewards

When I saw this gem I said (Carrie Bradshaw-style), "Hello, lover!"

You know how some people reward their weight loss with, say, a trip to the all-you-can-eat buffet?

I think that's dumb. Yep, I said it.

It's like "look at me depriving myself ... now I've lost 10 pounds so I'm going to get me somethin' to eat that I really want."

Yeah, let's celebrate losing 10 pounds by gaining a couple of those back. Great idea.

I have a better way! (for the record, Weight Watchers is not about depriving yourself or eating ONLY their food or only certain foods ... I eat all sorts of fun things from the healthy to the not-so-healthy and don't usually feel deprived ... I've only gone on 2 chocolate binges in 3 months!)

When I hit my 15-pound loss a couple of weeks ago, I marched my happy butt over to Target and picked out a cool, retro, herringbone "work tote" ... a huge bag like I love to carry and that holds all my crap ... snacks, a notebook, my food tracker, sunglasses, apothekerrie kit for when the kids get owies, wallet, brush, cell phone, pens, lipstick and Valium. Just kidding on that last one.

I'm already dreaming of my next weight loss reward. I'm thinking once I hit 25 pounds down it's time for a lovely black hooded coat from the vintage store. Or a trip to New York City :-)

Friday, December 14, 2012

MoH Wristband Flash Drive Giveaway and Review


Are you always losing things around the house? Do you put something down in one room and later remember that you put it there? I’m really bad about this with pens and flash drives. I switch my flash drive from my PC to the laptop often, then yank it out and am on the go to use it at the library or a friend’s house. I have been known to call a friend at night to ask them to please pull my flash drive from the back of their hard drive and save it for me because I NEED it back and will pick it up tomorrow. Oh, and I leave flash drives in pockets or lose them in the deep abyss of my purse. Then we have my 3-year-old taking off with them. Sigh. What’s a writer mama to do?

[How do you like all the TECH TALK so far? Jeez, I feel like I’m in an episode of Startups on BRAVO Channel, only for the over-40 crowd instead of 20-somethings.]


So what shows up at my door but a flash drive that is like a bracelet. An MoH (memory on hand) wristband flash drive, to use proper terminology. And I’m thinking this is more brilliant than the pen necklace! I am all for things we can attach to our body so we don’t lose said things.

Here’s what I love about this product:
  1. It’s on my person so I’m less likely to lose it
  2. It’s got a cute design on it so it’s fashionable
  3. It’s rubbery, so it’s comfortable
  4. It’s there when I need it, like a good friend
  5. It’s durable. I know this because the kids got ahold of it and it held up to the McLoughlin Naughty Child test. Yes, readers, I do extensive product testing for YOU!


Here’s what I don’t love about this product:
As a stay-at-home homeschooling mom, I do a lot of dishes. A lot, folks. I also shower from time to time and give baths to my little ones. All this means my wrist will be in WATER, which is not a friend to the flash drive. Never fear, because this gadget can attach to a purse, diaper bag, belt loop or whatever you want to hook it to!

Here's how to find out about them on Facebook and Twitter.

From the sponsor:
"MoH Bands are available in 34 styles, as well as 2GB, 4GB, and 8GB memory capacities.  MoH Bands are plug n play compatible with Windows or Mac operating systems.  The 7.5 inch silicone wristband clasps tightly for a secure fit making the MoH Band water resistant able to withstand washing your hands, rain, or sweat.  MoH Bands should not be submerged under water. MoH Bands have been selling for a year and a half with over 100,000 sold.  MoH Bands have become a favorite for students, mothers, and tech gurus who need help keeping track of their information.  A great stocking stuffer for any student in your family this holiday season!  Retail from $14 - $24 dollars at www.memoryonhand.com."


So how about a giveaway of one camo wristband? Tell your techy friends because this thing is cool, and I have it in my possession along with a padded envelope and am ready for you to win it so I can pop your name on the envelope and send it to you!


a Rafflecopter giveaway



I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Simply 7 Snacks Review


I feel like a better mom feeding my kids things like Veggie Chips, but they stopped making the flavored ones, and the regular ones are bland. Then I got these Simply 7 Snack Chips to try and was intrigued by the fact that they are hummus chips, lentil chips and pomegranate chips. Sounds healthy!

I have a hummus kick lately. It’s fueling my life. I crave it. Put some natural flavoring on some hummus chips and I am in, sister! Check out these flavors:
·       Sea salt hummus chips
·       Roasted red pepper hummus chips
·       Tomato basil hummus chips
·       Chili pepper hummus chips
·       Jalapeno lentil chips
·       Sea salt lentil chips
·       Creamy dill lentil chips
·       Bruschetta lentil chips
·       Sea salt pomegranate chips
·       White cheddar pomegranate chips
·       Black pepper pomegranate chips

What does Simply 7 mean? I’ll tell ya what I read on the bag, that “all of our snacks are made according to 7 core standards and they are oh so simple”:
1.     0 grams trans fat
2.     No artificial colors or flavors
3.     No preservatives
4.     Gluten free ingredients
5.     All natural recipes
6.     Simple ingredients
7.     Simply delicious

Where to find them? I want them for my Heathen Homeschoolers weekly park day because many of my friends in that group are all-natural eaters and feed their kids the same. I’ve stopped showing up with Snickers bars and Doritos, and now I can show up with something cool and new and yummy and ALL NATURAL and yummy (did I already say yummy?) and crunchy. And YES, this reviewing thing is hard work, but I did personally taste all 11 varieties of chips as a service I like to provide for my readers J

Oooh, and I think I just found my new go-to snack for dipping into my vat of hummus I like to buy! I’m thinking the sea salt variety will be perfect for my Greek olive hummus. Or one of the spicy varieties will work wonderfully with my plain hummus.

Here are Simply 7's Facebook and Twitter links so you can connect with them!

*For all you Weight Watchers geeks out there, it’s 3 points for about 30 of the Tomato Basil hummus chips, and hummus is about 1 point per tablespoon.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Thrift Store Christmas Shopping

At Target a new holiday dress would be at least $20. This one was closer to $2.

A couple of weeks ago I was at Target. I have always gone there because it's close to home and easy, and they have great hours. I saw the cutest holiday dresses and decided this year my girls would have nice dresses for the holidays. They do have some nice dresses (thanks, Miss Kay, Mom and Nancy!), but I was thinking of something festive they could wear to all the parties and family gatherings we attend.

Then Christmas shopping started in earnest, gymnastics started, and other life and home things got costly. I decided I would fuel up my kids with some good snacks and we would hit the thrift store. Not just a small one, but a huge one that would be more likely to have things we were looking for. I have always loved vintage and thrift store shopping but it got hard to do once I had the kids and my brain was too foggy to even contemplate keeping track of the kids while shopping for them at the same time.

Well, today I spent $16 on:

A fluffy yellow scarf for Callie
A nice shirt for Joel to wear to church ($1!!!)
Pants for Joel to wear around
A couple of things for my dad that he asked for
A Christmasy dress for Callie
A Christmasy dress for Eva (see above!)

I was also dreaming of some new clothes for myself as I hopefully continue to lose weight, but things cost so much new. I vow to have Aron watch the kids on one of his Fridays off so I can go vintage and thrift store shopping for my new CHEAP wardrobe. It's the green way to go, by the way, for the planet and our wallets.

What will we do with all the money we will be saving since I finally got smart? Well, we were talking with my dad the other day about going to Germany (where I was born) ... and I'd love to take my mom to Italy and the family to LegoLand. We shall see!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Holiday Baking: Treat Boxes on the Cheap

Below is a picture of something I gave to friends, family and neighbors last year for Christmas.


  • I had gotten a bunch of mocha brownie mixes super cheap so I made them in festive cupcake wrappers.
  • I bought a chocolate bar from Germany from my local Aldi store.
  • I bought a bag of assorted uncracked nuts.
  • Don't mind the mini-toothpastes! I'm not very classy and had gotten a ton of them from a nice dental hygienist friend and put them in the treat boxes I knew would be going to kids. They are Spongebob toothpastes!
  • I bought some Gladware with coupons to store the treats in.


I like my treat box because it's something I would like to receive. I could reuse the Gladware, not be too unhealthy eating a ton of sweets, and have fun with the kids cracking the nuts the old fashioned way. The toothpaste is kind of a funny, like "brush your teeth after eating these sweets" ... ha! On top of the box I put our Christmas card. You could also wrap the box or put a bow on it or ribbon. I inherited a giving spirit from both of my parents, and especially my mom.

What are your holiday treat box ideas?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Weight Loss When You're Traveling

With the holidays coming up, you might be on the go more than usual. You might even be traveling out of town for some festivities, and you might be wondering how that will affect your healthy lifestyle change (I don't like to say diet because that sounds temporary and like you're depriving yourself for a period of time so you can go back to eating like your old self once you lose a certain amount of weight). Here are some things I've been thinking about as we plan a weekend away from home to visit family:


  1. If you're on a plan like Weight Watchers, it's easy to figure out how to eat well when you have no clue how many points a meal may have. They have an online program called eTools that is helpful for figuring out the points value of foods. Also, I love my Dining Out Companion pocket guide for certain popular restaurants. Otherwise, just look for things like chicken and seafood, items that are baked and steamed and not fried. Hit the salad and veggies hard and avoid the bread basket. Watch out for those salad dressings ... I like to bring my own in packets when traveling.
  2. If you're staying with friends, it's hard to say NO all the time to what they are cooking. I like to make sure I have something in my bag that I can say YES to after I've said NO to something yummy and decadent that might blow my healthy lifestyle change. I love these double chocolate protein bars, and they are like dessert to me (Aldi, but everyone carries them). It's not chocolate truffle cupcakes, but it does the trick. And I also love Weight Watchers smoked string cheese, and it's only 1 point per piece. It's a nice protein boost with a lot of flavor to keep me away from other cheese and cracker options!
  3. Keep non-perishables in the car or in your bag. Baby carrots don't have to be refrigerated constantly. Apples are amazing. Bananas are perfect. Other things you know the concrete points value of are good to have around (100-calorie cookie packs or chip packs) also.
  4. Don't worry about people who tell you things like, "You are already so skinny, just have one piece of cake!" or "You don't need to lose weight, you are fine." Or "Oh, you can't have this piece of cake." They are not you. They have their own issues, TRUST ME. Just continue to live your healthy plan and don't let PEOPLE derail you, no matter how well-meaning they may be or what they mean to you.
  5. Continue to track what you put in your mouth. You would not believe how quickly the points add up when you are taking a bite here and there at a gathering and you are still hungry.
  6. Save up points for things you love. Of COURSE you can have things you love!
  7. Attempt to get in some exercise by walking a little bit, hitting a hotel gym, or chasing kids around more than usual (keeps you away from the banquet table!).

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

"Dog Trots Globe" Book Review and GIVEAWAY!


I am not happy with Sheron Long, author of "Dog Trots Globe: To Paris and Provence".

Do you want to know why?

Well, she has re-sparked my interest in travel like crazy. She has written a "children's" book that I am in love with because it features the most amazing photos of France! Does anyone else have that dream to go to Europe someday? Maybe part of my desire to go has to do with the fact that I was born in Germany. Europe is in my blood, and I feel like I am in France when I read this book to my kids.


From the publisher's website:
"Dog Trots Globe" follows the adventures of a Sheltie in France and provides a dog's-eye view of her travels to Paris and Provence. Includes over 150 color photographs, 4 videos, and a host of online extras.

Chula the dog has many adventures in this book as he travels from California to France, and in the process taught my kids many things about geography, art, history, foreign language, travel, culture and more! Chula also has a great sense of humor,  like when he just gets off the airplane and is looking for a place to go to the bathroom.

This book is available in three formats: hardcover, ebook and interactive ebook. With the interactive ebook there are amazing videos you can watch that bring the book to life as you read the book! With the other two versions, you STILL have access to these great features; you just have to head online to get to them. Just click on a certain picture and you can watch a video of Chula hanging out in Paris! I also love that you can follow Chula on Facebook!


There is even an afterword called "How to Take Your Pup to France."


I recommend this as a great gift for the dog lover, travel lover or child in your life!

Sound like fun? You can buy it here! 

In the meantime, you can try to WIN IT HERE!

a Rafflecopter giveaway



I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

10 Special Christmas Traditions


Every year on December 1st, my internal Christmas clock kicks in and I start craving my Great Aunt Eva’s amazing fudge and sugar Christmas cookies. I start looking forward to all the good times to be had leading up to Christmas day. Christmas need not be a stressful time when there are so many fun family traditions to try out! Grab your calendar and block out some time for these special Christmas traditions you and your kids will love and cherish.

1.     Have the kids write their letter to Santa asking for what they’d like for Christmas. Check out www.emailsanta.com to email Santa, play games, watch Christmas webcams and more. There’s even a countdown with how many “sleeps” until Santa comes. Oh, and did you know that Santa tweets? Also check out www.freelettersfromsantaclaus.com so you can personalize and then print out a letter.
2.     Take a couple of family pictures. We like to put on headbands with snowman and reindeer sticking up on springs just to be goofy for our Christmas cards. Then we like to take one where we are dressed more laid-back so we can display that photo all year in a frame.
3.     Why not go easy on yourself by uploading the family picture you took to a photo website like www.winkflash.com or www.snapfish.com and have them print out your Christmas cards for you. Just write addresses on envelopes and mail! Oh, and you might want to include your …
4.     Christmas letter. When it’s not possible to include your letter with your cards, just send it out via email. Some people think Christmas letters are silly, but I love receiving updates from family and friends so I also enjoy giving updates on my family.
5.     The great Christmas debate is about the tree: real or fake? Whether you drag your tree out of storage or go to a lot to pick out a fresh one, you have quite a bit of fun in store decorating it!
6.     Google “holiday lights + your town” then drive around looking at holiday lights with your family. Play Christmas music on the radio to get in the spirit. Jot down your favorite places to go so you won’t forget to see them again next year.
7.     Go visit Santa at a local mall or other location where Santa can be found during the Christmas season. Most kids love sitting on Santa’s lap and telling him what they want for Christmas. Then you have my kids, who always look a little panic-stricken in the photos. Still, it’s a fun thing to look back on!
8.     Everyone loves a Christmas treat! Spend a day baking and decorating cookies and treats for friends, families, neighbors, teachers, service people and strangers. Nursing home and assisted living residents just LOVE to see little kids, whether they bring treats or not. My dad was a mailman for many years, and he always felt appreciated during the holidays by the families that would make him goodies.
9.     Help someone in need. Kids especially love charities like Operation Christmas Child through Samaritan’s Purse (www.SamaritansPurse.org), which lets you pack a shoebox with gifts for a child somewhere in the world. You can even track your box online to see which country it ends up in. You could also contact The Salvation Army (www.SalvationArmyUSA.org), homeless shelters or churches for a list of wants for each member of a local family who is in need. This will be one shopping trip your kids will never forget because they will be celebrating the true meaning of Christmas by helping others.
10.  As the Christmas season comes to a close, so make sure you read “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” and the story of Jesus’ birth from the Bible on Christmas Eve.

Kerrie McLoughlin shares her holiday adventures raising 5 kids at TheKerrieShow.com.

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