(Giveaway!) Anchored: One of the Best Books I’ve Read

I received a complimentary copy of this book. I also purchased a copy of this book on my own to pass on. Because it’s just that good, people. Affiliate links may be included. #AnchoredHope

Yesterday was a banner day for my friend Kayla Aimee, as it was the official launch day of her first book, Anchored.

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I completely devoured my copy that arrived early, and honestly, the speed with which I read through it surprised me a bit. This is because I was slightly afraid to read it.

You see, Anchored is the story of Kayla’s start to motherhood, when her daughter was born at just 25 weeks gestation. She was a micro-preemie, and she spent 156 days in the NICU before finally getting to come home. It’s a hard story, obviously. And I don’t really do “hard” stories that are about children. I just have a SUPER low tolerance for them and find myself all too quickly dissolved into a pile of mush and heartbroken by proxy. So my coping strategy is to simply avoid reading those sad stories. It’s not brave of me, but it is a way I have found that helps me not fall apart on the daily from all the sadness in the world.

But Kayla tells a tale that feels painful, absolutely, but that is also helpful and even healing for anyone who has gone through something tough (and haven’t we all?). I cried quite a few tears while reading. Some were for baby Scarlette, and some were for Kayla, and some, as it turns out, were for me. It’s quite a gift an author has to have to tell such a story and help you feel part of it at the same time. Kayla does this, and she does it well.

Also? You’ll be very surprised by how often you laugh while reading the book! And not the polite type of pseudo-fake laughing. I’m talking about big belly laughs. Kayla is a riot, and the type of person who is especially prone to having awkward things happen to her, and she shares those moments of the absurd with you because it’s simply part of who she is.

It’s the book I have enjoyed the most in quite a long time. I’m even reading it out loud to my husband now. I hope you will enter my giveaway below for a free copy. But I also hope you will BUY a copy; it would be an AMAZING gift to give to your nearest hospital with a NICU, or to share with a friend. You don’t have to have a preemie, or even be a parent for this story to resonate with you. If you’ve ever turned to God with the question, “WHY?!?!” then you will be able to relate.

Win it!:

One Stuff Parents Need reader will win a copy of Anchored!

Let’s keep this simple: to enter, simply leave a comment, including your email address (so I can contact you!) telling me your favorite book (could be a favorite recent read OR your all-time favorite book!). That’s it! 

Contest open to residents of the United States, ages 18 and up. Limit one entry per household, please. Contest ends at 11:59pm EST on July 16th and a winner will be randomly selected from eligible entries received. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to winning notification via email before an alternate winner is selected. Stuff Parents Need is not responsible for prize fulfillment.

Be sure to enter my other current giveaways on the right sidebar of the page.

The Other Half of the Fertility Equation: Preparing Men for a Healthy Conception

I remember all too well doing my research on preparing myself for pregnancy. It definitely seemed as though 90-100% of the prep work was on me, since I would be the one growing the baby, and all.

But it is a misconception that the only role men have to play is “showing up to the party.” Here are a few ideas for ways that men can be more involved in preparing for a healthy conception.

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1. Make an Appointment

It’s a great idea for men to pay a visit to their doctor’s office for an overall checkup to ensure that they are in good health. There may be some problems lurking that could impede fertility, and it’s ideal to know if those problems exist BEFORE months of frustration.

2. Exercise!

Getting out together for a walk around the neighborhood before or after work is such a fantastic way to enhance overall health, and it’s a great way to have some quality time together, too.

3. Proxeed plus

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This is a very simple way to support sperm quality: ensure that you have the nutrients needed for developing sperm! Carnitines are key, and it is not uncommon for someone’s diet to not have a sufficient quantity needed for healthy sperm development (3 grams a day). Proxeed plus is a complete carnitine-based formula and it targets sperm morphology, motility, concentration, count and linear projection to assist with male fertility. Proxeed plus contains 3-4 times more carnitines than other men’s health supplements. It comes in packets of powder that dissolve easily into water, juice or fruit smoothies and can be taken twice a day. Sperm quality may benefit from the use of Proxeed plus in as little as 90 days. This is a great product to begin taking even before you are ready to begin trying for baby.

4. Make the Switch

You may have heard the old wives’ tale about men switching from briefs to boxers when the couple is trying to conceive. Well, it’s actually quite good advice! If your man prefers more fitted underwear, treat him to some nice new boxers. Besides, there’s no better way to celebrate getting new underwear than by taking it off! 😉

I hope these ideas can help the men feel a little more included in the preparation process for conception. Both parties involved need to pay attention to their health and wellness! Be sure to check out the link for where to buy Proxeed plus (use code SPERM at checkout to save $10!) and check out this quick video for more information. You can see the entire suite of Proxeed plus videos on their Youtube channel, as well.

Proxeed plus is a complete carnitine-based formula for male fertility that targets multiple sperm functions, including morphology, motility, concentration, count and linear projection. For more information, visit www.proxeedplus.com

This is a product-provided, sponsored conversation that contains affiliate links. I received a box of Proxeed plus for my own personal use. All opinions, text and experiences are my own. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

(Giveaway!) A New Way to Rock Your Iced Coffee at Home: Folgers Iced Cafe

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Folgers. I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation. 

Fellow iced coffee afficianados, lean in a little closer, because I’ve got something super exciting to share with you and I don’t want you to miss a single drop of this goodness.

Folgers has just dropped the mic, so to speak, in the world of iced coffee. Check these out!

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You are looking at Folgers Iced Cafe products. These are tiny (purse-size! easy to travel with!) containers of 100% coffee extract, with no sugar or preservatives. Just add two squeezes to a cup of cold milk, stir it, and BOOM! iced coffee at the ready for you.

You can choose from Original Latte, Vanilla Latte, Caramel Macchiato and Hazelnut Latte. I’ve tried everything but the Vanilla Latte so far, and I have loved them all! I have done lots and lots of experimenting with different ways to make iced coffee at home, and this is definitely the fastest way to go without purchasing the pre-made stuff that has more chemicals than I’d prefer.

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AND! I SO love that I can put this in my purse. I’ve been at play dates before where the other mom doesn’t drink coffee at all, and so no coffee for me. Now I could just ask for a glass of milk, though, and be all set!

If you work in an office setting, how perfect are these for your desk?! They won’t take up precious space in the work room refrigerator (and possibly get consumed by others!) but will instead be safely tucked away in your office for your coffee break.

#FolgersFridays

If you aren’t already following Folgers on Facebook and Twitter, take a moment to do so now because they are doing an amazing summer promotion from now through September 4th called #FolgersFridays. Each Friday they have AWESOME prizes (a gift basket worth $200!) that they are giving away, and you enter by leaving a simple comment on their #FolgersFridays post that day.

For more info on the #FolgersFridays Promotion and a store locator to find Folgers Iced Café near you, please visit the Folgers website.

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Win it!

One lucky Stuff Parents Need reader will win 4 Folgers Iced Cafe Coffee Drink Concentrates (one of each flavor!). Contest entrants are only eligible to win once per sweepstake, per household as part of a campaign sponsored by Influence Central.

Be sure to enter my other current giveaways, found on the right sidebar of the blog.

Folgers Iced Cafe Coffee Concentrates (4 Prizes, 1 Winner!)

3 Things to Remember to Pack When Vacationing with Kids

Thanks to Exorgen for the sample thermometer. All thoughts and opinions are my own, as always. Affiliate links may be included. 

I have traveled with my kids on dozens of trips, and there are 3 items that have I have left out of my toiletry bag at one point or another that I have deeply regretted leaving behind. These items might not be on your “must pack” list, either, but I’d encourage you to re-think it!  toiletry bag necessities

1. Tweezers

Splinters are highly skilled at making their big move whenever you least expect it. For us it has happened on wooden booths at a restaurant, during nature walks and even at an amusement park. I love our travel pair of tweezers since they are SO easy to throw in your purse, but the truth is that tweezers don’t take up a lot of space even at their full size. You might not need them, but if you do, you’ll be SO glad you have them. They are definitely worth the tiny amount of space they require!

2. Thermometer

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Both of my children are extremely gifted at developing some sort of sickness while we are traveling. A thermometer now makes my “absolutely necessary” list any time we are traveling overnight with the kids. We’ve used it moretimes than I can count. We especially love the Exergen Smart Glow Temporal Artery Thermometer because you simply need to swip the device across someone’s head to get an accurate read in just 1 or 2 seconds. The 9 volt battery comes with the device (THANK YOU!) so it is ready as soon as you purchase it, even if you are purchasing it in some random drugstore in a city not well known to you because you forgot to pack yours.  Or you can plan ahead now and snag it on Amazon!

3. Chapstick

My lips are super finicky about the weather. If I am headed to a climate that is less humid than where I live, my lips show their disdain almost immediately. They actually seem to get upset no matter where I go. Any sort of change in climate means my lips need extra care. And the apples don’t fall far from the tree, so my kids need the exact same thing. This is another item that takes up precious little space but that can provide a heck of a lot of comfort and soothing. And if you are like me, you already have over a dozen chapsticks at home, so don’t force yourself to go buy lucky #13 while you are away from home! We love Young Living’s lavender chapstick for keeping our lips soft and moisturized!

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What are some less common items that you have learned are absolutely critical for your family to pack on vacations? I’d love to hear your ideas! 

 

Making the Most of Date Night: Enjoying Chattanooga’s Renovated Bonefish Grill

Thanks to Bonefish Grill for providing gift cards for our meal. All thoughts and opinions are my own, as always. 

Going on more regular date nights has been one of our key resolutions for 2015. While we haven’t achieved the quantity of date nights I was hoping for, but we have certainly upped our game when it comes to the quality of our date nights. And that’s an improvement I have REALLY been enjoying!

Tim and I are now quite careful with which restaurants we choose to dine at during our precious time together and our time away from the kids. We want food that we can’t make at home, and we want an atmosphere that is classy and beautiful (so…the opposite of our house).  bonefish grill chattanooga 3

Last night we dined at Chattanooga’s Bonefish Grill for the first time since moving here 5 years ago, and we were absolutely thrilled by the place, which has just been renovated. While I’m going to be highlighting aspects of this particular restaurant for the rest of the post, if you aren’t in Chattanooga, keep reading! I’ve got some helpful tips about planning an amazing date night that everyone could use! 

Tip #1: Choose your restaurant wisely

Bonefish Grill was a fantastic choice for us because the specialty is seafood, which is something I can’t replicate at home. I suppose I could pick up some pre-frozen salmon at my local grocery store, but it simply wouldn’t be the same, not by a long-shot. Bonefish Grill was also a great choice because the ambiance was so gorgeous.

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This was our “wall.” So pretty! And this was right next to it, just next to where my seat was located:

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We had a beautiful location (though there’s not a bad table in the restaurant, in my opinion). When you select your restaurant for your date night, go through the trouble of making a reservation, even if you go out on a weeknight and likely won’t need one. When you make a reservation, you can make a special request for an especially good table! :-)

Tip #2: Restaurant hopping is totally ok

One idea that we’ve tried before and LOVED was starting at one restaurant with a great bar for drinks, and heading elsewhere for our food, and then to a third location for dessert. Bonefish Grill has an absolutely outstanding bar with top shelf offerings (I should know…I tried the watermelon martini and it might be my new favorite thing ever).

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I also noticed that the section of the restaurant closest to the bar had a lot of more open seating. I saw quite a few couples enjoying drinks there, as well as small groups of people (perhaps co-workers enjoying happy hour together).

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Tip #4: Eat and drink amazing things

I like to choose restaurants that are high quality and that have excellent servers, because I feel that I can trust the recommendations of those servers. That takes the pressure off me to worry too much over the menu, and instead, I can trust that the food is going to be excellent! At our dinner last night, we trusted our server’s recommendations and had some really exceptional food, such as the Bang Bang shrimp appetizer (which was actually enough shrimp for an entree!) and a scallop dish that pretty much blew my mind. And that berry shortcake was every bit as good as it looked!

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Our date night was a success. We laughed a lot and had quality time together that we really needed. We enjoyed delicious food. And we soaked in a beautiful atmosphere. Chattanooga’s Bonefish Grill is now on our list of places to go when we want to have a great date night!

Where do you love to go on your date nights? Do you have a Bonefish Grill within striking distance? Any favorite menu items?