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Family Fun Night

I don't know about you and your family, but MY BIG, FAT SOUTHERN FAMILY just LOVES games!
From the oldest to well...almost the youngest (since we do have a few babies) everybody loves playing games.  And I have a cabinet full of them and have also begun to collect children's games as well.

 One of things my crew love to play is card games.  Y'all, these card games could go on forever!  And they have gone on until late at night.  But, oh what fun is had at the table with a handful of people and a deck of cards!
My favorite game is Mexican Train Dominoes.  If you have never played this game then you need to!  It is a domino game with a little different twist and is so much fun.  Often times if we start it too late in the evening we will just leave everything where it is and continue the next day.
One of the newer games that my son brought us to play is called, Ticket To Ride.  This game requires a little more strategy but everybody loves playing it.

      Pick-Up Sticks!  Do you remember that game as a kid?  Well, it's still as fun as ever.
And my little kiddos are really into playing games right now with this classic version of Candy Land being their absolute favorite!

Family game or movie nights are not only fun but also a great way of bonding with your family.  In this day and time, people are so busy with their personal lives and outside commitments that often times family moments and memory making get left by the wayside.  And honestly, that is quite sad.  These are the moments that you will all remember.  And so I challenge YOU to make an effort to spend more time with your family doing fun things!  Perhaps set up a monthly family night where everyone takes turns bringing their favorite game to play.  And while the adults are enjoying a game,  dim the lights and put a movie on for the kids.  Give them popcorn in little bags and recreate the theatre experience in you own home.  And if you need a little help choosing a great movie for them, head on over to PureFlix. There you will find literally thousands of wholesome movies for every age.
They also offer educational videos for homeschool curriculum.  Check it out here!

So... unplug for the evening!  Yep, get off of those cell phones and social media; they can do without you for one evening.  Just spend an evening reconnecting with your family; talk, laugh and get to know what's going on in each other's lives while enjoying a FAMILY FUN NIGHT of game playing!


Fun Educational Kid Activities

I was first introduced to education.com back in July whenever I posted about a great educational summer activity for your kiddos.  I was so impressed with this site and all of the great resources it provides for not only educators, but also traditional and home-schooling parents as well.  And as a former educator myself, I know how important it is to keep students interested in learning with games, puzzles and any other variety of learning materials.  So today I would like to share a cute little  ocean-themed crossword puzzle (and key) with you to share with your little ones!

Under the sea what could it be?  Make a spelling splash with this fun ocean-themed crossword puzzle.  
There are so many more great activities you can find on Education.com.  You can browse the site by activity, grade, subject and lots more!  There are even lesson plans for educators to peruse.  Teachers will love that there are so many activities to choose from that will enhance almost any learning unit and students are sure to love you for choosing something that makes learning fun.  Explore more         
spelling fun at Education.com!


God Gives Us Seasons of Rest To Prepare for the Storms

I don't believe in coincidence.  I believe that God knows all. And He knows it before it ever happens. This past summer Hubby and I spent the month of May in Summerland, Key. It was the best and most relaxing time I think we've ever had on a trip. First, we had never spent an entire month doing whatever we wanted to do, whenever we wanted to do it. In 35 years of marriage. So that,  in and of itself, was a wonderful experience. We spent our days just piddling. He on his boat and I painting. Every day had a boat ride in it and in the evenings we would usually cook our catch of the day and watch movies. It was lazy, sun-filled days. Days I will always cherish. But now that I'm in a different season of life; one where the days are much more difficult with my mother, I realize He had that season of rest planned for me. A season of rest before the storm. So that I could handle the storm.

Some days I don't think I'm handling this season of life well.  It's almost like parenting again. I check with the nurses on the progress of my mother. How is she that day?  Do any issues, such as medications need to be addressed?  Has she been resting OK?  All of these things have become a part of my routine.  And then I make my way to my mother's room.  I walk in and greet her and almost immediately know how the visit will turn out.  Some days she is in pain and miserable so I attempt to make her comfortable. It usually doesn't work, but I try. Some days she's confused. And between dozing will ask me the same questions over and over. I answer them as many times as she asks.  And some days, very rare days now, her mind is clear. And we can talk, have a conversation like old times. But these days are far and few between. That's just how it is. It's her season of life. And she knows enough to know she doesn't like it. I don't like it for her. But "It is what it is."  

My mother doesn't feed herself any more so when I'm there I feed her.  What a humbling experience that has been. And I've had to help them turn her to treat her bed sores. I've seen them. I didn't necessarily want to see them but I had to. And I've been there to turn her and hold her hand while they are changing her diaper. At first, I think this was the worst part.  It wasn't because of the actual changing but because it was at that point that I knew the season in my life had really changed. And she knew hers had changed too. Because she didn't want to be in the shape she's in.  But she knew there was no other choice. There was no going back. 

Hubby and I have had this Alaskan cruise planned for a year. At that time who knew what would be going on?  But the time has come for the trip so off we go. While in the back of my mind is my mother. I've made arrangements for my oldest son to check on her, call me if there is a need.  My sister will be here too since we have been taking turns seeing our mother every other day. Am I apprehensive about leaving?  You bet!  But God knew. He knew whenever we decided to take this trip what season of life I would be in. He knew that I would need a chance to slow down and catch my breath. So I will bask in the knowledge that God is sovereign and He will take care of me in this and every season of my life. 

"To everything there is a season and time to every purpose under the heaven..." Ecclesiastes 3:1

Alaska Bound!

A couple of years ago whenever we were on our river cruise around France, our group of travelers began talking about getting together for another trip.  After the attacks on Paris while we were there our last couple of days, Hubby voiced his concerns about traveling out of the country again.  Well, actually what he said was, "I'm not going anywhere out of this country!"  It was a traumatic experience so I wasn't feeling very good about leaving the good old USA either.  SO...we came up with taking an Alaskan cruise!  We will be traveling with some of the same people from the last trip along with a few new ones for a total of around 16 people.  We will be leaving Thursday for Dallas and then heading to Seattle (another place I have never had the chance to visit!) on Friday and spending the day exploring there.  Saturday we will be leaving on the cruise ship and I look forward to sharing some of my photos on my Instagram account (Follow me @barbararogenmoser).  I will not be posting on the blog until I return so if you just want a little preview of my photos of Seattle and Alaska then hop on over there!  I'll see ya back here the 1st week of October with lots of fun things to share about our next adventure!
                                                                        Bon Voyage!

Fun Conversation Starters for Any Occassion

When I was approached by gifts.com again to write for them I was so happy!  Because, y'all, these people have the BEST IDEAS on their blog.  Last week I shared their post about "Age Appropriate Toys"(Which SO many of you LOVED!) and around Mother's Day I shared a post that included my story of "Mom's Most Embarrassing Moments".  But this week I'm REALLY loving their post about Conversation Starters!

How many times have you showed up at a party or dinner and everyone is so reserved and often times it takes quite a while before people start to open up and feel comfortable enough to talk to each other?  Well, that is exactly why I LOVE this post so much!  You will learn how to make a conversation jar and there are 225 actual conversation starters for virtually any situation!  Kids, teens, couples, dinner party, funny, serious and many more.   And the BEST thing is...They are giving you a FREE DOWNLOAD  for ALL of them!  Yep, so what you need to do now is click HERE to start your next event off with more fun than you could imagine! (Below is an example of some of the fun conversation starters you will see in this post).

Funny Conversation Starters

These conversations starters are good for people young and old! They are sure to spark some creative answers, get the group laughing and bring back some hilarious memories.
  • If you were in a circus, which character would you be?
  • What is the worst advice you have given?
  • What is one thing you should never say at a wedding?
  • What is the worst pickup line you have ever heard?
  • If you could only store one type of food in your pocket, what would you carry?
  • What is the worst present you have ever received and why?
  • If you were a farm animal, which would you be and why?
  • What is the worst first date you have ever been on?
  • Have you ever stalked someone on social media?
  • What is the best part about taking a selfie?
  • What is your favorite celebrity scandal?
  • If you could do anything illegal without getting caught, what would you do?
  • What is the weirdest food combination you’ve ever tried?
  • Did you have an imaginary friend? What was his/her name?
  • Have you ever had a dream where everyone was in their underwear?
  • Who’s your favorite comedian?
  • Have you ever been on a blind date?
  ***Click HERE to read the entire post and DOWNLOAD ALL "225 Conversation Starters"!***

Paperless Post Halloween Invitations

If you have never hear of Paperless Post then you are in for a treat!  I have partnered with them to introduce you to the NEW way of inviting people to your gatherings.  Online Invitations are the way to go these days with everyone using electronics more than ever.  It is not only convenient but also environmentally friendly since not all of that paper is being used for invitations and envelopes.  But I'm sure you are wondering just how Paperless Post works and if they are even really as cute as the ones you can send by snail mail.  Well, I was asked to try this modern method out for myself and see what I thought about it.

I decided since it was close to Halloween (and I REALLY love Halloween!) that I would choose an invitation for that holiday.  I went to the SITE and in the search bar entered "Halloween".  Up popped a huge variety of Halloween invitations!  Truly, there were so many it was difficult to decide on one.  The first thing I did was to create an account.  Once that was completed I could purchase COINS to pay for my cards.

 I decided on THIS invitation because I thought my little ones would like it and it wasn't too scary for them.  The first thing I chose was to make an online card that the cost started at 1 COIN per recipient.  To make a paper card (yes, there is that option too) the cost was $1.65 per card.  I then clicked on customize to change the information on the invitation to my own.  There are all sorts of options for the text such as:  formatting, typefaces and color.  I entered my personalized information and then continued on to the next step.
 The envelope and liner was chosen next.  Different colors could be chosen for the outside of the envelope and different designs for the liner.  Once again, there were so many choices!  I decided to go with the orange and black because those said, "Halloween" to me.  I didn't use a backdrop with my invitation but there were many festive ones that could be used. 
 Next, I moved on to the envelope front.  There were all sorts of stamps and postmarks that could be attached to the envelop here and, of course, I chose a Halloween one!  I chose my typeface and color by clicking on the envelope.  Orange was the perfect color for this envelope!  The next step took me to the reply card option.  If a reply card is chosen, there are many options of both design and wording to make it your own.  Finally, it was time to create the event page.  This is where the date, time, guest list, phone number, comment wall and guest registry can be set up for your event.  Your invitation can  be previewed before it's sent and then you begin adding the email addresses where they will be sent.  Don't forget to look  in the upper right corner of your computer screen to see how many coins you will be charged for each invitation!  Before you hit SEND, you can have a TEST INVITATION sent to yourself to see how it looks.  If everything looks OK, just press SEND!
Once your invitations have been sent, all you have to do is wait for the RSVP's to start coming in!  You can keep up with who has responded to your invitation by going to your post box

WOW!  I wasn't sure how I would like creating an invitation online because I have attempted to navigate other sites and they were a bit complicated.  Paperless Post, however, was very user friendly and I feel like I not only created a cute, personalized invitation but I also have everything about my event located in one place.  What a wonderful new way to create invitations, birthday cards, save-the-dates, wedding invitations and even holiday cards!  I know that I will be using Paperless Post quite a lot, myself! 

***Disclosure:  I was compensated for creating this post to show you just how fun and easy it can
                          be to plan your next event.***

Take Your Dream Trip With the Help of Earnest

It's no secret that I LOVE to travel.  It has always been my desire to see the world a little at a time and that is what I have been trying to do for many years now.  It wasn't until my 25th wedding anniversary that I got to travel to Europe, Italy specifically.  To say that I was truly enamored with the old country would be an understatement.  There was absolutely nothing that I did not like about my trip there and I tried to soak every moment up so that I would have memories forever.  This trip did not quell,  but only intensified,  my wanderlust and a couple of years ago I found myself touring France with my husband and a group of friends.  Travel can be attainable to you as well with the help of financial leaders like Earnest, who inspire you to dream big and let you make it happen!

If you had $10,000 available for your dream trip, could you do it?  Travel to places you've always wanted to see?  Of course you could!  And I'm going to give you a few little pointers to help you achieve that goal.  First, decided where you want to go.  Will you be traveling on land versus a cruise?  We flew to Italy and moved from city to city via train.  In contrast, we took a riverboat cruise around France.  There are pros and cons to both modes of travel but both trips were equally enjoyable.

Once you have decided where you would like to travel and in which manner you will be traveling you need to start looking at plane tickets.  Personally, we have a rewards credit card that enables us to save points for each dollar we spend and this has been wonderful in the purchase of or upgrading  airplane tickets.  If you do not have one of these cards, you can either apply for one or just begin perusing roundtrip tickets for your destination.  The difference in Italy and France for us was the fact that in Italy we had to pay for a water or land taxi or train to each destination.  Once in France, a shuttle for the riverboat cruise picked us up at the airport and took us straight to the boat.  From there, we were able to walk everywhere we chose.  Both countries are walking countries so one really does not have to take taxis everywhere you go.  Unless you are traveling from an airport or train station to your hotel.

Where will you stay?  That's the big question.  On our own in Italy, we booked hotels through a travel agency.  We knew that some areas might be sketchy so we told the agent to book 4 or 5 star hotels to ensure that we felt safe.  Of course, there is the expense of the lodging as opposed to living on a boat for the entirety of a trip.  Staying on land put us in a different train station every few days, getting ourselves from place to place.  In contrast, a riverboat cruise takes care of all your needs.  We dined there, slept there and moved from place to place at night while we were sleeping.

So, below are some links for you to peruse while making your decision on where your next "Dream Trip" will be and helping you stay within your $10,000 budget:

Choose your airline:  American Airlines
                                   Delta Airlines
                                   United Airlines

Choose whether your trip will be by land or cruise:  Viking River Cruise

Decided what you want to see:  Frommers

How are you going to pay for your Dream Trip:  Consider a low-interest personal loan like the one
                                                                               Earnest offers here.