Saturday, October 31, 2009

Gifts anyone would love... WITH GIVEAWAY!

The holidays are quickly approaching and if you are anything like me you are already stressing about it. I've come up with three gift ideas that just about anyone would LOVE to receive this year.

First things first, the kids, any kid loves a good craft. A bored kid is a kid that will find trouble so our first holiday "product" isn't really a product at all, its more of an idea. Put together a craft box/bag for your child include markers, glue, glitter, paint, paper, ribbons, scissors, pretty much anything you can find on and let them go to town. Then all you parents can go enjoy all your wonderful holiday treasures.

This year, it is all about personalization. Sticks and Stones Alphabet Photography gives you the opportunity to create a customized keepsake like the one above for anyone on your gift list. I personally love the idea of putting the last name of your recipient on a piece and giving it as a gift to the whole family. Right now they are offering a buy 1 get 1 50% off deal on these one of a kind treasures. PLUS, just for you wonderful readers, if you enter discount/consultant code CEBGGE at checkout you will get an additional 10% discount off your order. (Sidenote: want to become a consultant with Sticks and Stones? email me or leave a comment to find out how.)

A candle? Now, that's not original, right? Wrong? Even my husband loves these candles. They burn a real wood wick that crackles when lit. It really sounds like you are sitting next to a warm, cozy fire and *bonus* they smell great too, just two 10 oz jars are all I need to feel the entire house with the smell of fresh out of the oven frosted cookies (my personal favorite from Woodwick). A unique and useful gift. One of you lucky readers will win a 10 oz Woodwick candle from The Virginia Candle Company, to find out how, see below!

Here's how to win...
  • Visit the Virginia Candle Company website pick your favorite scent and leave a comment below letting me know which candle you would like to win.
  • Follow me @CrisDarnell on twitter and leave another comment letting me know you did so, then Retweet this: I just entered @CrisDarnell 's giveaway for a yummy Woodwick Candle.
For additional entries
  • Join blastoff a new shopping website that pays you cash back for shopping online and then pays you when you refer your friends and THEY shop online! Leave a comment below letting me know you did so. And refer friends to make some quick cash!
  • Follow my blog and leave a comment letting me know you did so.
Contest Closes November 15, 2009

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Put it in Writing...

...I can do that now..."I love you Colton." in uncontracted (grade 1) braille. My first note to my son, he can't quite read it just yet but boy does he love to feel the "bumps". I'm halfway finished with the braille course I am currently enrolled in. I am so excited and proud of myself, can you tell?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Braille is FUN. No, really, it is!

I just started my 'Introduction to Braille' class through Hadley School for the Blind and so far I have completed 3 assignments. I know the alphabet in braille, proficiently. I am so proud of myself. Since the day we found out Colton was blind I knew I wanted to learn to read and write braille so that I could not only do things as simple as leave him notes in his lunchbox but also things as important as check his homework each night. A while ago Colton's VIPS teacher let me know about Hadley, they allow families with visually impaired members to take several courses free of charge. I plan on taking as many as I possibly can over the next couple years. I am so thankful that Hadley is giving me this opportunity to enrich my child's life.

So far, in this particular course, I have learned to read all the letters of the alphabet in braille and how to emboss them with a slate and stylus. A slate and stylus is just like a sighted person's pencil and paper. See picture below.
It is difficult because you use a completely different group of muscles when embossing than those you use while writing with pencil and paper. And, you have to write each letter and word backwards from right to left, because when you are finished writing you have to flip the paper over to read the braille. Next, we learn how to use a Braillewriter which looks similar to a typewriter. All in all this class is incredibly fun and very educational. I am so excited to put my braille skills to use.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

What is this BlastOff you keep talking about?

Lots of people are asking questions about the BlastOff network I have been promoting on Facebook and Twitter. Well, when you open your internet browser everyday you are linked directly to your homepage. BlastOff is a new FREE customizable Internet homepage that combines social media like facebook, twitter and myspace with other services like shopping. If you follow the mall link on your BlastOff page when you wish to shop online you will get cash back for shopping at stores like Target, Sears, Kohls and Barnes & Noble, plus many many more. AND when you refer your friends and family to the BlastOff homepage (simply by inviting them to your page and them signing up) you will get cash back on ANY shopping they do through their BlastOff page. Now, it is only a small portion of cash back but any extra money is extra money to me so I'm certainly not complaining. So if you still have questions view the video below, it explains BlastOff in a little more detail. THEN, if you wish to sign up just visit BlastOff opens to the public today, October 22nd, at 1:00 eastern time so visit the site any time after that. What have you got to lose? It's free, It's fun, It's easy. If you have any question or comments leave them below and I will make sure to get back to you. Thanks guys.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Teeth and Halloween!

FINALLY, I have a picture where you can actually see Colton's teeth, he has tons but it has been hard to get a good picture of them until now! I was beginning to think they were camera shy. This weekend while watching UK beat Auburn Colton was grinning ear to ear and I snapped this pic.
I love that smile!

We have been in the Halloween spirit around the Darnell household, watching spooky movies and reading haunting books. We are participating in the National Federation of the Blind's early literacy program; Braille Reading Pals. We read every night for about 15 minutes (print/braille books) and then log what book we read on our chart. At the end of the program we can send it in and Colton will get a prize for participating. Early literacy is incredibly important to me so I jumped at the chance to take part in this program. Colton loves to feel the "bumps" (braille) as Mommy reads. This is how visually impaired children begin exploring words, the same way young sighted children see the words in the books. Anyway, we are reading Halloween/Fall books right now so I thought I would share a few of our favorites and maybe you too can check them out.

A Very Brave Witch by Alison McGhee

Five Pesky Pumpkins by Marcia Vaughn

Goodnight Goon by Michael Rex

Stellaluna by Janell Cannon

Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Blogger FAIL!

The Darnell's are still here! We have just been crazy busy and pretty stressed out after the move. We have everything situated (besides the dining room table that we are $aving up for) and have just been taking a BIG relaxing break the last couple weeks.

Colton is growing!!! See...

he is going through a growth spurt and taking steps now with assistance! He can push himself on his John Deere *pictured above* and is definitely starting to exhibit symptoms of the TeRRibLe TwOs! We picked out his costume for Halloween, he is going to be the cutest dragon ever. I can't wait.

My lovely little sister celebrated her 20th Birthday yesterday, Happy Birthday Samantha! I can't believe my LITTLE sister is in her 20s, gosh that makes me feel incredibly old.

I promise I am going to try to be a better blogger starting now. So, don't give up on me just yet.