Upcoming Reviews

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I am very excited to be reviewing a couple of online programs with my 4 year old and will be posting those reviews soon. My little boys LOVES them and asks to play one in particular every day throughout the day. Can't wait to share my thoughts with you!

#FREE Sample of Versace "Yellow Diamond" Perfume

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Hurry over and like the Versace Yellow Diamond Facebook page HERE and then fill out the form that comes up to receive your free sample. While supplies last! 

Nothing But Name Brand Junk: Part 1 - #Toyota

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Our new Toyota Sienna in 2005

In 2005, after 11 years of marriage, we finally decided it was time to buy a brand new vehicle. Up until that point, everything we had purchased together had been used, so it was very important to us to do our research. We had 3 young kids at the time and their safety was first and foremost in our minds. The two top-ranking vehicles were the Honda Odyssey and the Toyota Sienna. We quickly discovered that a "brand new" Odyssey was out of our price range but found a Sienna that fit our budget and before we knew it, it was a welcome addition to our driveway. 

Prior to the Toyota Sienna, we owned this 1995 Ford Windstar. It had been a great van, but it was getting up there in miles and was just plain wore out from all the trips I had taken with the kids (TX, TN, GA, SC, NC, OK to name a few). Going from driving that vehicle to this brand new van was like driving a Cadillac (or what I imagine it would have been like).

Soon, the joy of driving it gave way to annoyance though. I'm not saying we got a "lemon", because we didn't. I'm saying our vehicle is not a quality product and for over $25K, it sure should be. There might be those of you who will say that we should have bought American and we wouldn't be having this problem. To that, I say, at the time, no totally American made vehicles met the safety standards we were looking for and this van actually WAS made in the U.S.A. in Kentucky. There have been more than a handful of recalls on it, and yes, Toyota is great about fixing the problem and taking care of the issue but when a person has 5 kids and the dealer is an hour away, it's not a pleasant ordeal to sit and wait for your vehicle to be fixed time and time again. I currently have 2 recalls right now to deal with.

About a year or so after our purchase, both hinges went out on the rear door and had to be replaced because the door wouldn't stay open and would slam down with great force unless somebody was holding it open (which was no easy feat because the door is very heavy). Now, they are going out again. The door is supposed to go automatically to a full open  position by itself once opened and this is now as far as it goes without pushing it up (again with force):

Not long after the warranty expired, the seals on the doors and windows started to fall off. Those that haven't are loose and leak. Our van is so noisy while driving that you can hardly hear yourself think. The very back side windows cannot be opened at all because every time they are, they cannot be closed without somebody on both sides of the window to help get the rubber seal back where it is supposed to be so the window can actually shut. The seal around the windshield is also falling off. We live in Ohio, which is not an extreme climate so I cannot understand why the rubber seals are faulty and deteriorating like this. They should last longer than the 2 1/2 to 3 years that it took for them to start falling off. 

Faulty seal on back window.

Sorry about the filthy windshield! This is a picture of part of the faulty seal.
As if the seals weren't enough of a problem, both of the side doors that slide open are very difficult to open. Sometimes we have to yank and pull at them for 30 seconds or more just to get them to slide open. That is not normal. Part of the door where it latches is broken (through no fault of our own) but I don't know if that is part of the problem or not. 

Not the greatest picture, but this is the piece on both sides that is cracked and  part of the plastic on the top and right hand side is broken off. 

Over the past couple of days, our interior lights randomly blink on and off when the door is open and I hope that isn't an indication of a major electrical problem yet to come. 

If you have a Toyota and love it, that's great! I just know that the next time we purchase a new vehicle, it will not be a Toyota. We have owned our Sienna for just over 6 years and I know it should be showing some wear and tear at this stage in the game, but in my book, this goes beyond that. Especially, since most of the problems started after it was only a few years old. 

Whatever happened to quality, well-made products? 

This Totally Melted My Heart

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Last week, my 4 year old surprised me by folding some laundry right before he went to bed. I didn't even realize he had done it until after after I had tucked him in. I went back into his room to thank him and he was all smiles ear to ear. I love that boy! 

Thriftstore Jackpot!

I had to run errands today and decided to stop at couple of thrift stores to see what I could find. I'm sure glad I did!
In the first store, I scored:

  • Learning Resources Reading Rods Phonics Activities Set in gently used condition, for only $2.50. (Retails for $34.99)

Photo from learningresources.com

  • The Wiggles Memory Game (missing box, but cards are in like new condition). I'm not sure how much this is worth. It's listed on Amazon as a "collectible" and priced from $19.95 to $115 (seriously???) but I paid.....50 cents!

  • New in package, LeapFrog Pre-Math Tad Goes Shopping book and cartridge for LeapPad. I paid $3.

  • Macmillan Early Skills Program. I have no idea how old these are or how much they are worth, but they are crammed packed with lessons, ideas, and craft projects and well worth the $8 I paid for them!

My daughter, has an eagle eye for fashion that is sharper than any 14 year old has a right to and, spotted this a few seconds after we walked in the door of the second store. We thought we were getting the deal of a lifetime because this Burberry handbag was less than $8 but after reading up on how to authenticate it, I'm not sure that it's the real thing. Either way, it is an awesome addition to her wardrobe and suits her style perfectly!

Have you had any great finds lately? I'd love to hear about them!

#FREE Can of Red Gold Tomatoes (Select States Only)

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Visit Red Gold on Facebook to reserve your coupon for a free can of Red Gold tomatoes. Offer valid only in select states (where the product is sold). Simply like their Facebook page and then fill out the form that pops up.

(Thanks Freebie Shark!) 

#Free AcneFree Sulfur Mask Sample

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Like AcneFree on Facebook and complete the form to receive a free sample of their Therapeutic Sulfur Mask! Great way to try the product out without having to spend a lot of money. 

We Choose Virtures Review


TOS Crew members were recently given the opportunity to review the Virtue Clue Cards pictured directly below, as well as a pdf download of the Kids of VirtueVille Coloring Book, Family Character Assessment form, a Teacher's Handbook, and Kids Memory Verses, Bible Heroes, and Truths


I recently read this quote on their Facebook page: 

The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak. ~Hans Hofmann. 

I think that is exactly what We Choose Virtues has done with their take-everywhere full color clue cards. I love that they come in a clear plastic envelope that just happens to be the perfect size for my purse or diaper bag. Each card features a Virtue Kid, a catchphrase and antonym, and  a "You can do it!" challenge. Children need to learn at an early age what to say when someone asks them to do something wrong. These catchphrases help them know exactly what to say during those times when you might not be there to guide them. 
The 12 virtue cards are:

My son's favorite was "I am Obedient". He just turned 4, but the "Ok, whatever you say, I will obey, right away." catchphrase helped him to focus and to remember this virtue. He looked at the card frequently throughout the day, and only had to be reminded once that he should "obey right away". 

These cards are designed for use for early childhood to elementary, but they also have products designed for children up to 18 years of age. The Virtue Clue Cards that I received are currently on sale for $5.99 (a 25% savings)! 

They also carry kits such as homeschool, classroom, Sunday school, and family as well as posters, journals, flash cards, and more. Please visit We Choose Virtues website for more information about their product line and prices. 

I love the coloring pages. The Virtue Kids are SO cute!

$3.00 pdf download

You can also find We Choose Virtues on Facebook where you can find sale information and tips on parenting, leadership, and inspiring lasting virtue. 

Read what other TOS Crew members thought of this product here

*Disclosure: I received this product for free in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was received. All opinions are my own. 

January Gift Card Gala Winners

Here is the January list of winners! Congratulations to you all!

1.Debbie Does Coupons - Brielle D
2.Coupon Frenzy Mom - Eric S
3.JustFindIt4U - Tracey T
4.Couponing Away Debt - Teri B
5.My So Called Homeschool Life - Diana L
6.Sweet Pea Savings - Danielle D
7.Gone Klippin' Krazy - Samantha T
8.Capri's Coupons - Denise T-D
9.Baby Coupons & Stuff - Terri E M
10.Bloggity Blog - Christy Ann
11.Health, Beauty, Children and Family - Mary J
12.Ficklets - lisa b
13.Frugal Fanatic - Annette C
14.pennypincherjenny - Sasha P
15.Centsible Stewardship - Jessica B
16.Mark Your Savings - Gracie L F
17.Books R Us - Victoria R
18.DivineDealDiva - Tracy V
19.Eco-Crazy Mom - Karen J L
20.Coupon Spice - Jodi B
21.TheItMom - Amanda S
22.SunEGrl Loves To Shop - Pauletta H
23.Shore Savings With Patti - Tiger P
24.Saving and More - Heidi D
25.Fabulous Deals and Steals - Holly S
26.Extreme Couponing with shuriken - Jennifer D
27.Mom with a dot com - Brittany G

#Free "Mom's Stomach #Flu Survival Guide" Download from Pedialyte

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As many of you may know, we recently had a bout with the nasty stomach virus that is now in full swing. It was not pleasant. Thankfully, only 3 out of the 7 of us caught it. It hit my 4 year old hard and I was grateful for Pedialyte, which helped keep him from getting dehydrated. 

According to the CDC, there is no treatment for the Norovirus infection, so your best course of action is prevention! People with norovirus are contagious from the moment they have symptoms until at least 3 days after they recover, and sometimes longer. I don't think a lot of people realize that  and think as long as they are no longer showing symptoms, they are fine when in fact, they are contributing to spreading the virus!

If you have a little one dealing with tummy trouble, download this informative guide, "Mom's Stomach Flu Survival Guide", from Pedialyte. You can also visit their "special offers" link and register for special offers and promotions. I was able to immediately print out a coupon for $1.50 off any one Pedialyte product (twice)!


  • Thoroughly wash hands with warm, soapy water. (Washing your hands properly takes about as long as it takes to sing the "Happy Birthday" song twice!)
  • Disinfect doorknobs, light switches, toys, phones, remote controls, etc. on a regular basis.
  • Eat nutritious meals.
  • Sanitize grocery/store cart handles, seats, and any other part you or your little ones will be touching.
I'm still not totally sure how the rest of my family was spared from contracting this virus, but here are some of the things that I did to help prevent it from spreading:

  • I didn't cook when I was ill.
  • Washed all soiled clothing & linens in very hot water with bleach or vinegar to sanitize.
  • Sanitized my washing machine.
  • Cleaned & disinfected any contaminated surfaces (repeatedly).
  • Opened the windows when the weather permitted.
  • Frequently (!!!) washed hands.
  • Used about an entire can of Lysol!
Something else we also did, which is still just in preliminary stages of research, is to have those who were not yet sick to drink 100% grape juice. (Thank you Gumma Medlin for the tip.) According to Welch's www.grapescience.com: 

Laboratory studies performed on animal and human cells also suggest that polyphenols may block or neutralize certain viruses.3,6 However, a great deal of additional research is needed before we know if grape juice will protect humans against viruses in real-life conditions.

  • In 2007 and 2010, Lipson et al. reported that both cranberry and grape juice extracts, or their purified proanthocyanidins, reduced infection of the reovirus (which is associated with gastrointestinal infection) in ex vivo animal kidney epithelial cells.3,6
(*Disclaimer: This has not been proven to work and is only in preliminary stages of research. I am not a doctor, nor researcher, and am making no claims as to the effectiveness of this therapy except as it pertains to my own use and experience.)

Thank you to all of our church friends and family who kept us in their prayers during our time of illness! I hope this finds you all happy & healthy!

New Year's Resolution Blog Hop Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to Deanna G., the randomly chosen winner of the $25 Amazon gift card in the New Year's Resolution Blog Carnival Giveaway. She has been notified and has responded to claim her prize.

Thank you to everybody who entered! 

A Mile In His Shoes Review & DVD Giveaway - Ends 1/28

From the director of "Angels In the Outfield" comes an inspiring story about a special boy with an amazing gift, and the coach who believed. Dean Cain and Luke Schroder star in the gmc movie based on the book "The Legend of Mickey Tussler". 

Even though I'm not really big on movies about sports, I thought this was one of the better movies I've seen in awhile! 

The movie stars Dean Cain as Coach Murphy and Luke Schroder (Rick Schroder's son!) as Mickey, a young man with a form of autism, living a sheltered life on a farm with his parents. When he is discovered by accident while Coach Murphy is on a scouting trip in Indiana, his parents decide to let Mickey try out for the semi-pro baseball team in Clayton, Ohio. Mickey proves he has the talent and makes the team. He is well-liked by almost everybody on the team, except for Lefty, another pitcher and this comes to a head at the end of the movie. 

There were several things I thought were great about this movie. I loved that as a coach, Murphy saw the talent and not the "disability".  Throughout the movie, we see Mickey coming out of his shell and learning new ways to accomplish what he needed to in spite of having autism. We see his strength and determination shining through even in the face of adversity and we see what can be accomplished when one person has faith in another. 

While this is rated as a "Family Movie", there is one time during the movie where I am pretty sure the word bull**** is said. It happens so fast that after watching the movie twice, I'm still not sure that is exactly what was said. There were no adult scenes, no obvious drug or alcohol scenes either, and no other language.

Several times during the movie prayer is said, and the Bible is shown in some scenes as well.

My 12 year old twins watched the movie and gave it two thumbs up! It is definitely a movie worth watching!

Watch the preview of "A Mile In His Shoes" and then check out The Dove Foundation for more information about the movie and it's rating.

You can also visit their FACEBOOK page!

Enter to win a copy on the Rafflecopter form below! 

*Disclosure: I received a free copy of this movie from Propeller for review purposes. All opinions are my own. No other compensation was received. 

FREE Kindle e-Book: Puzzlebook- 101 Puzzle Quizzes ($4.99 value)

Need something to pass the time? Download Puzzlebook: 101 Puzzle Quizzes (color and interactive) for Kindle FREE right now (a $4.99 value) at Amazon.com. The collection is created for beginners and expert alike and is available for download until January 18th so get it now!

Maestro Classics: The Story of Swan Lake Review

I had the privilege recently of reviewing The Story of Swan Lake from Maestro Classics, and I am so grateful for the opportunity! This Stories in Music CD is a narrated version of Tchaikovsky's greatest ballet music featuring the London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Stephen Simon and narrated by Yadu. 

Many of us already know The Story of Swan Lake, a tale of a prince who falls in love with the beautiful princess Odette who has been turned into a swan by an evil magician, but Maestro Classics really makes the story come alive! It is truly enchanting storytelling in action. 

Click on the "Listen" button to hear clips from each story.

 This 54 minute cd is suited for ages 5+ and families and is going to be a treasured addition to our personal homeschool library. I love the 7 minute story of Tchaikovsky's life, which is perfect for children with shorter attention spans while the track Speed Metal Swan definitely breathes new vibrant life into an elegant classic. A 24-page booklet is included with the cd, and features interesting facts about Tchaikovsky, puzzles, information on acoustic and electric guitars, and more.

Maestro Classics also offers Educational Materials  such as Music Teacher Lesson Plans for grades 1-5, lapbooks, home projects, and more. Some other Stories in Music include: The Tortoise and the Hare, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, Casey at Bat, Peter and the Wolf, A Soldier's Tale, as well as others. Each individual CD is available for purchase for $16.98 or as an mp3 download for $9.98. These cd's have won over 45 national awards!

JANUARY SPECIAL: Order a Swan Lake CD or MP3 download, and Maestro Classics will automatically send you a free MP3 Swan Lake orchestral version.

The mission of Maestro Classics is to cultivate a love of music through education and joyful performances. If you want to instill in your child a lifelong love of music, I highly recommend Maestro Classics. 

Read other TOS Crew member's reviews HERE

*Disclosure: I received this product for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. No other compensation was received. 

Excuse the Mess!

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I'm currently changing my blog around. I was hoping to get it finished tonight, but seeing as it is already after midnight and I'm exhausted, that's not going to happen. I hate to just leave it as it is, but I am going to have to finish it tomorrow. Sorry for any inconvenience that may cause and I hope you can still find your way around!

January Gift Card Gala Giveaway - Ends 1/16


Debbie Does Coupons has teamed up with 26 of the most amazing bloggers to bring you another GIFT CARD GALA GIVEAWAY! Every one of us have sponsored at least a $10 gift card that will be mailed/emailed to the winners! This event will run from 1/9 - 1/16 and you will have lots of opportunities to win the gift cards!

Enter for a chance to win a $10 Amazon GC from My So Called Homeschool Life as well as gift cards from the other 25 participating blogs!


* You must complete ALL mandatory Entries to Qualify, you earn 1 entry for every one you complete and we do put this through a verification process before the winners are announced!

* We are asking you to follow all of us on Facebook! There are additional entries that are not mandatory and are at the end f the rafflecopter.


Winners will be chosen within 48 hours of the end of the giveaway.

**Each participating blog is responsible for contacting their winner and getting the gift card to them.

Have fun and good luck.

The following blogs are participating in this event and while it is not required, it would be nice if you visited their blogs to see what they have to offer.

Debbie Does Coupons
Coupon Frenzy Mom
Couponing Away Debt
My So Called Homeschool Life
Sweet Pea Savings
Gone Klippin' Krazy
Capri's Coupons
Baby Coupons & Stuff
Bloggity Blog
Health, Beauty, Children and Family
Frugal Fanatic
Penny Pincher Jenny
Centsible Stewardship
Mark Your Savings
Books R Us
Divine Deal Diva
Eco-Crazy Mom
Coupon Spice
The It Mom
SunEGrl Loves To Shop
Shore Savings With Patti
Saving and More
Fabulous Deals and Steals
Extreme Couponing with shuriken
Mom with a dot com

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Your Local Library: A Great Resource for Kindle Books!

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I got a Kindle Fire for Christmas and since then, I've been scouring the internet for FREE books. I don't mind purchasing one once in awhile, but that can get a bit expensive as much as I read. 

I have checked out e-books before and read them on my computer, but I was thrilled to discover that our local library offers e-books in Kindle format to be checked out. Our library has a 3-week lending period and allows 10 e-books to be checked out at a time. Not all books are available in the Kindle format and I wasn't able to find any new releases available, but I was able to be put on a waiting list for some. I also checked out a few older Thomas Kinkaid novels, a book on medicinal herbs, and a travel book. I'm not the type to re-read books, so this is a perfect fit for me!

If you love to read & save money, check out your local library and see if they offer this economical option!

Blessed Are The Peacemakers

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"Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God." Matthew 5:9 (KJV)

This verse came to mind recently, and seemed to settle there to stay. There's been an awful lot of drama in my life recently; some I have chosen to quietly watch unfold while others I have willingly become an active participant in. Lines have been drawn and sides have been chosen in one instance while in the other I've been able to see both sides to some extent and choose to remain impartial for the time being.

I'm not going to lie. I have a mean streak a mile wide. Just ask my cousin! I've also been known to give some not so peace inducing advice on more than one occasion as well. Reading this verse just made me think on some things, and who I am as a person. I am NOT a "peacemaker" by nature, but I'm thinking maybe working on that is something I need to add to my 2012 Bucket List (the word "resolution" is not in my vocabulary LOL). I'm not sure why God has called this verse to my attention, but I know that in His own time, He will reveal that reason to me. Until then, it's all about the journey!

Blessed are the peacemakers!

Sweet Iced Tea

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Ok, so, this is pretty random, but I sure do love iced tea! Besides water, it is usually our beverage of choice throughout the hot summer months but here lately I've found myself making it quite often.  My daughter has a thing for the Arizona Green Tea with Ginseng and I will sometimes buy a bottle of Honest Tea or Golden Peak tea, but what I really love is home-brewed sweetened ice tea! 

I think I get this from my dad's side of the family, quite honestly. As far back as I can remember, sweet iced tea is what was served at family meals and get-togethers. One of my cousins literally burned out 2 iced tea makers because she drank it so often! It's funny that a drink can make a person wax nostalgic but I can't help but think of my beloved grandmother and my childhood whenever I drink it. Perhaps that is part of it's appeal? I sure do love it though! 

New Year's Resolutions VS. Bucket Lists

This is the time of year when a lot of people make resolutions to do this or to change that. I for one usually don't even bother with them because try as I might, I never follow through anyway.

I've heard quite a bit of talk recently about Bucket Lists. My teenage daughter had one last year, and has another for 2012, but until this moment I hadn't even thought of making my own list. I like that idea MUCH better than a "resolution". So, give me some time to ponder on it, and I'll post my own list here shortly!

What about you? Do you make resolutions or do you have your own  Bucket List? Feel free to share them by commenting on this post. I'd love to hear what they are!

New Year's Resolution Blog Carnival: Enter to win $25 Amazon GC - Ends 1/10 #HappyNewYear

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Hauling & Trucking, Medical Transcription Source and Makobi Scribe Present New Year’s Resolution Blog Carnival. 

My New Year's Resolution is to conquer the clutter! As a family of 7, we have plenty of it. I avoid in-store shopping as much as possible and over the past year I've come to rely on online shopping more and more. One place I find myself visiting often is Amazon.com. From books to storage solutions, I think I'll find everything I need for Project Organization.

If you enjoy online shopping, enter using the Rafflecopter form below for a chance of winning a $25 Amazon.com gift card then hop along to the other blogs and enter for a chance of winning some other great prizes! The only "mandatory" entry is the EASY ENTRY which simply involves clicking "enter".

Recent Giveaway Winners

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Although all winners are announced on the Rafflecopter forms,  I like to post separately listing the winners of each giveaway. I'm a bit behind in doing this, and I apologize! Thank you to everybody who entered & congratulations to all of the winners listed below!
(All winners have been contacted & prizes have been claimed.)

Winners are:

Chick-fil-a Prize Pack: Stephanie Hanik

Cooper and Me and the Winter Adventure book: Kristin Robinson

December Gift Card Gala: Carrie Guevara

My Memories Suite Digital Software Suite: Stephanie Girard

One Stop Christmas Hop: April Harvell

12 Days of Gifts Galore: Jessica T.

November Gift Card Gala: Molly K.

Happy New Year!

Well, the first day of 2012 is just about over but I wanted to wish everybody a Happy New Year!

I'm not the type to make resolutions (I never keep them anyway) but I'm finding I am being led to make some as well as forced to make others. Our Pastor preached a message this past Wednesday that spoke to my heart. He spoke of "the faithful few" who are really the backbone of the church. I have missed quite a bit of church this past year due to illness, which could not be helped, but it made me think of the times when I could have gone, yet didn't. My prayer for 2012, is that God will lead me to be more faithful in my service to Him.

The "forced upon" resolution is thanks to my son (YES- YOU Twin 1). We are a family of 7 living in a barely 4 bedroom house. A while back, we had to rearrange people and things and my son ended up with one of the biggest rooms in the house. Needless to say, his room is where everything ends up going: the school supplies & materials, extra clothes in his closet (our bedroom lacks one), stuff we just don't know what to do with, and as a "temporary" layover for junk cleaned up when we have company coming over. Some of that temporary storage has become a rather permanent fixture in his room so it was agreed that my New Year's Resolution would be to finally dispose of the extra clutter in his room and organize the rest. Wonder if he realizes that I have all of 2012 to follow through? 

Other than that, I plan on trying to be a bit more organized & to work harder on my goal of eating healthier & exercising more. I'm not sure which will be harder! I got a Kindle Fire for Christmas and was excited to find this book FREE, for a limited time, on Amazon.com:

It is normally $14.99! You can still download it, even if you don't have a Kindle, and read it on your computer, your iPad, or your phone. If you are looking for help getting organized as well, here it is: Organize For a Fresh Start by Susan West. Hurry though, because I don't know how much longer it will be free.

What about you? Do you make New Year's Resolutions? If you do, do you keep them? What's your secret to staying on track? I'd love to hear from you!