Friday, August 22, 2014

#LeapTV Presale Coming!

As huge fans of the LeapFrog brand of products, we are super stoked about the LeapTV gaming console that will be going on pre-sale on September 2, 2014. Watch the quick video below to get a sneak peek at the new console. 


LeapFrog has always been a brand that we trust to help us keep our children engaged and learning. From infancy to elementary school, LeapFrog is the perfect choice for families who want to make learning fun. We have had a variety of LeapFrog products over the years and we have never been let down yet. Now we are over the moon excited about the upcoming release of the LeapTV! Video games can be so difficult for younger children to play and the LeapTV looks like the perfect choice for every family. 

Be on the lookout for more information on the pre-sale coming soon!


*This post is a sponsored campaign with LeapFrog and MomSelect. All opinions are my own*

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

5-Hour Energy Yummification Contest


5-Hour Energy is a staple in our house with my husband and I. My husband works `12 hour days and I am always running on too little sleep so we have been using the 5-hour Energy shots for quite some time when we need a quick pick-me-up. The energy shots help keep us alert and energized for hours, enabling us to keep on going when we would rather just crash. With zero sugar, zero carbs, zero herbal stimulants and only 4 calories, you can't go wrong! I'm a lightweight when it comes to energy drinks so I typically only drink half a bottle at a time when I need a boost but my husband drinks one every morning before work and then another halfway through his day to get him through the rest of his shift. He loves all of the flavors but for me, they are a little strong so I was excited to learn that you can mix the drinks for a less potent flavor but still get the boost of energy you need when your day is dragging! 



We were recently invited to take part in the 5-hour ENERGY Yummification contest where we were invited to create a concoction of our own using one of the following drinks:

*Decaffeinated Soda or Cola
*Fruit Juice
*Vegetable Juice
*Smoothie
*Lemonade
*Decaffeinated Tea 
*Any form of Water 

5-hour ENERGY provided us with a variety pack of energy shots so we could try various drinks and I was so excited about some of the drinks we came up with! We had a variety of flavors to try.Our favorite was the lemon-lime 5-hour ENERGY mixed with a simple glass of lemonade. So simple and quick to mix so we called it "Lemonade With a Kick."




To enter the contest, visit www.5houryummifcation.com and follow the instructions to complete the entry form. "Like" 5-hour Energy on Facebook then create and submit a video no longer than 60 seconds showing the original combination being made, tasted and named! Entries must be received by August 19, 2014 at 11:59 p.m. EDT to be eligible. This contest is open to US residents only, 18 years and older. Prizes are as followed:

*One grand prize winner will receive $50,000
*Second prize will win $30,000
*3rd prize will win $10,000
*10 4th prize winners will each win $1,000 

Make sure you follow 5-Hour ENERGY on Twitter too! 



GIVEAWAY

One lucky reader is going to win a variety pack of 5-hour ENERGY and a $25 Visa Card!

a Rafflecopter giveaway



*Samples, information and prize were provided by the makers of 5-Hour Energy at no cost. All opinions belong to us*












Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Monogrammed Backpacks from The Pink Monogram Back to School 2014


At the top of nearly every back to school list is most likely a new backpack and if you are like me and have multiple children, finding the perfect backpack for the new school year can be quite the task. I love to send my kids off to school with unique gear that not every other child has and that is why I love The Pink Monogram. Whether you are looking for a backpack, lunchbox or even clothing, The Pink Monogram has you covered this school year.



One of my favorite things about the Pink Monogram is that they always have the trendiest prints of the season. I was looking for a chevron print when they pointed out to me that chevron is OUT this year and the Greek Key collection is in! My daughter searched the website to find the perfect backpack and she was super stoked to find the Sadie Circle print in a backpack and matching lunchbox! We chose the aqua color and had our daughters first initial monogrammed on the front in hot pink and we could not be more excited with how it turned out!


This backpack has everything that every girl needs in a great bag. This particular bag comes with 3 large compartments with multiple pockets and storage. Also included is a padded tablet compartment and padded shoulder straps! The lunchbox features an easy to clean insulated lining and it's spacious enough to fit storage containers and water bottles. It also features an exterior pocket which is perfect for utensils, condiments, etc. 

If you are still on the lookout for the perfect backpack for this upcoming school year, look no further. The Pink Monogram has the most up to date trends for both boys and girls and you cannot beat the amazing selection and wonderful customer service! 


GIVEAWAY

One lucky reader is going to win their own personalized Backpack and Lunchbox from the Pink Monogram!



*Product and giveaway were provided at no cost via the company and/or representing PR firm. All opinions are our own*

Friday, August 1, 2014

Back to School with Umi Shoes

*Products were provided to us to help facilitate this review. All opinions are our own*



Summer is slowly coming to an end for kids across the country which means it's BACK TO SCHOOL time! The #1 thing at the top of our list each year is shoes. Because kids spend the majority of their day at school, it's important to me as a Mom for my kids to have high quality shoes that are not only stylish but comfortable too. Our family has been relying on Umi Shoes for several years now to help get our school year off to a good start and this year is no different.  With 4 kids we have seen a lot of brands of shoes and no shoes hold up like Umi Shoes! 


We chose the Jett style in the Dark Gray/Multi color option for our 4 year old who will be heading off to his second year of preschool this year. I love the versatility of these shoes. He can wear them with shorts at the beginning of the year while it's still hot out and he can continue wearing them as the weather gets cooler here in Ohio throughout the Fall. The Jett style features breathable canvas and leather uppers with a canvas lining and foot bed. The contoured, rubber outsoles provide extra stability. Our little guy loves to play and I have no doubt that the Jett style will be perfect for his growing little feet. 


For our 9 year old, we chose the Cameron II style in Brown. This is such a great shoe for the Fall, a mix between a sporty sneaker and stylish oxfords. They feature a thick outsole with an easy on, easy off pull strap. The Cameron II shoes are made of a canvas and leather upper with a mesh lining and footbed. The durable and comfortable rubber outsole make them a great choice for school. I absolutely love this style with a good pair of jeans. They are super comfy and seriously adorable. 


If you are trying to get a start on back to school shopping, check out UmiShoes.Com! Order now and you can enjoy free shipping (excluding Hawaii and Alaska and clearance items) If you hurry, you can enter the back to school sweepstakes that ends in just under 3 days!!!

GIVEAWAY

One lucky reader is going to win a $60 gift certificate to Umi Shoes!


*Review products and giveaway were provided at no cost via the company and/or representing PR firm. All opinions belong to CrazyHouseReviews.Com*



Thursday, July 10, 2014

50 Things To Do This Summer from Educents

The sad realization hit me today that our Summer vacation is nearly half over. The kids cringe every time I mention the word school and they remind me that "we still have 6 week of vacation left, Mom!" If you are starting to fall into the "summer slump" and are running out of ideas, Educents has you covered with their newly released list of "50 Things To Do This Summer." This fun and exciting list includes everything from arts & crafts to games to science experiments. Hurry up and head over and check out the list and see how many you can get crossed off before Summer ends! Below is a couple of our favorite things from the list but we don't want to spoil it too much for you so if you want to see the rest, you will have to visit the link above! 

Make a fun and colorful snack:


Build a Rocket Ship:


Make Homemade Floam:


Head over and check out other fun ideas on how to keep your kiddos busy this Summer! 




Forget Ironing With Downy Wrinkle Release

*Products were provided to us at no cost via the company and/or representing PR firm. All opinions are our own*

There aren't too many chores that I can honestly say that I dislike as much as I despise ironing clothes. As a matter of fact, I iron so little that on a recent shopping trip, my 4 year old pointed to an iron and asked "What is that?" It would be a true statement to say that I avoid ironing at all costs. This can be a nightmare scenario in instances when you really need an iron, especially this time of year. We go on a lot of mini trips during the Summer to visit grandparents, amusement parks and for out of town baseball tournaments and every Mom knows it's nearly impossible to keep clothes wrinkle free when they are stuffed inside of a suitcase. So what's a Mom to do? Grab a bottle of Downy Wrinkle Releaser, of course! 

We had the prime chance to put the Downy Wrinkle Releaser to the test over the holiday weekend. We were out of town for a baseball tournament for 3 days. My husband and I traveled with all 4 of our children so we had 3 suitcases packed to the max with clothes. My husband hates wrinkles (good thing I never disclosed my disgust for the iron before we got married!) so I knew this was the perfect chance for me to put the wrinkle releaser to good use. My husband spent a lot of money on a nice, new shirt for the tournament prior to leaving town but it wrinkled super easily. Not only that, but it was prone to static so we had double trouble. My husband hung the shirt in the closet hoping the wrinkles would somehow magically fall out and that's when I pulled out the bottle of Downy Wrinkle Releaser. We sprayed the front and back of the shirt and after it was a little damp, all we had to do was tug and pull on the shirt a bit and I kid you not, the shirt looked like it came straight from the ironing board after it dried. And not only that but when my husband put the shirt on, the static was completely gone!!  My son's baseball uniform is made out of the same material so we did the same thing with his shirt and voila! Wrinkles gone. He might have been all dirty playing baseball but his uniform was wrinkle free and smelling clean and fresh even after the game.


I immediately put a small bottle in each of our glove compartments in our vehicles so now we can always be wrinkle free everywhere we go! Downy Wrinkle Releaser is a dream come true for busy Mom's like me! 

GIVEAWAY

One lucky winner is going to receive the prize pack pictured above!



*Products for review and giveaway were provided to us at no cost to help facilitate this review. All opinions are our own*






Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Keep Your Litter Box Fresh With Shhh! Litter Box Formula

*Products reviewed were provided to us at no cost via the company and/or representing PR firm, all opinions are our own*



Life with four kids is hectic and crazy, especially now that the kids are getting older and are involved in so many extra curricular activities. The kids have been on us for awhile now to get a new family pet so over the course of the past several months my husband and I were secretly looking for a puppy. Right when we found what we thought was the perfect fit for our family, tragedy struck and our neighbor unexpectedly passed away. She left behind two cats that she loved very much. Our 4 year old just loved our neighbor, Jane, so it just felt like the right thing to do to adopt her cats. Now would probably be a great time to mention that we have never had cats and we had no idea what caring for a cat would entail. What we quickly found out was that cats were probably a much better fit for our family. We keep their food and water dishes filled, make sure the kids don't leave the doors open and clean their litter boxes every couple days and that's it! It has been absolutely great. We even left for a few days over the holiday weekend and didn't even have to worry about what we were going to do with them. We just filled their dishes and left with peace of mind that they had everything the needed to be without us for a couple of days.



I always had my own ideas of what a litter box would be like and I have to admit, I have been pleasantly surprised at how easy the litter boxes are to keep clean. Even so, some days I will walk into my house and I can get a slight whiff of a foul odor coming from the direction of the kitties bathroom. Ironically, just a couple of days after the cats came to live with us, I was asked to review Shhh! Litter Box Formula from Ah! Products Inc.



Shhh! Litter Box Formula was designed to get rid of offensive litter box odors and surprisingly, it really does the trick and it is super easy to use too. All you have to do is clean the litter box out as you normally would, smooth the litter out and then spray directly onto the litter and again into the air above the litter box.  The spray is biodegradable, odorless, non toxic and hypoallergenic so it's totally safe for your family and your feline friends. After a single spray, you really can't smell any odors coming from the litter box. I have made this a part of our daily routine now and it is so nice not having to worry about smelling the litter box anymore, especially when we have company over! I am so glad we tried this product out because it will definitely be a staple around our house now! 

GIVEAWAY

One lucky winner is going to receive their own case of 4 bottles of Shhh! Litter Box Formula!

a Rafflecopter giveaway



*Product and Giveaway were provided to Crazy House Reviews to help facilitate this review. All opinions are our own*


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Affordable Glasses Online from Firmoo

As prices continue to go up on virtually every product on today's market, I have found myself searching for ways to save my family money. The last time I took my oldest son to the eye doctor, a new pair of glasses and a set of disposable contacts ended up costing us over $400 out of pocket. I was shocked and couldn't believe how much the cost of glasses had risen in just over a year. You can probably imagine how upset I was when just a few months later my son lost his glasses during a trip to an amusement park. I started searching online for possible options when I was contacted by Firmoo.Com and they offered to send us a pair of glasses to try out. Their timing was perfect as baseball season was around the corner and my son was in need of a new pair of prescription sports goggles before the new season started. 

The ordering process for Firmoo was super easy. I just added the glasses to my cart, input my son's prescription info and 2 weeks later they arrived! We chose these sports goggles because they came with four extra sets of different colored shields. My son loves that he can change these out depending on what kind of weather we are having. When he plays indoor soccer, he can use the clear shields and when he's outside for a sunny day of baseball, he can use the darker shields. 



Firmoo is a pretty awesome company because new customer's can receive their first pair of glasses for FREE! They also have frames starting as cheap as $8! Everyone deserves quality eye care and it's so nice to have finally found a place that is affordable for every budget! If you are in need of prescription glasses, sunglasses or even goggles like my son received, definitely check out Firmoo.Com!

GIVEAWAY

The first 5 people to comment on this post will receive a voucher for $30 off any of the Classic Series Frames  HERE!  Just be sure to leave your email address so I can email you the code!!!


*Review items and giveaway were provided at no cost by the company and/or representing PR firm. All opinions belong to us*

Back to School 2014

I know it's not something anyone wants to think about right now in the middle of Summer but unfortunately the new school year will be here before we know it! We are working hard to bring our readers the best of the best in Back to School gear for 2014. Make sure you mark your calendars and come visit us on August 1st when we launch our annual Back to School Guide! We have a great lineup of this years Must-Have's from Preschool all the way up to College! 



If you are a company that has a product our readers would love, shoot us an email at sarahlewis06@aol.com! 

Monday, June 2, 2014

Father's Day Gifts from Beauty Encounter

Father's Day is right around the corner and let's face it, sometimes Dad's like to be pampered too! BeautyEncounter.Com has made it easy by releasing the perfect Father's Day Gift Guide! All you have to do is browse through the selections, choose the perfect gift and Beauty Encounter will take care of the rest. They will even wrap it and send it for you. 

If you have a father in your life who loves to look and smell good, you will be super impressed with the products available from BeautyEncounter.Com. If you are on a tight budget, check out the gifts under $25 where you will find popular brand names like Clairborne Sport! 


For those who have a little more to spend, for under $50 you can find some of my personal favorites like Hugo Boss and Eternity for Men by Calvin Klein. 


Check out the Men's grooming gifts for products like razors, aftershave and lotions. Whatever you are looking for, help Dad look and feel his best this year. Check out the gift guide at BeautyEncounter.Com 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Shopping for Appliances Online

We are getting ready to complete a huge kitchen makeover in our home and new appliances are first on my list of things that we need to replace. We have spent the past couple of weeks visiting various stores looking for the essentials but we have been really disappointed so far in what we have found so we have moved our search online! 



Shopping for appliances on the Web is an easy way for homeowners to make the most of their shopping experience.  Homeowners who shop in a brick and mortar store will find that there are few appliances to choose from.  However, there are many appliances to choose from on websites that offer nearly every appliance on the market.    Appliances are typically priced better online because the shopper is able to pay prices that only recover the cost of the appliance.  Appliances are expensive enough for families on a budget, and these families can spend much less money when they invest in an appliance they found online.  The companies that sell appliances online offer installation and delivery services to the family.  The homeowner who has purchased a new stove will have their current stove hauled away after their new stove has been installed.  Attaching gas lines, plugging in and testing the device are all services done by the installation company.  With this assistance, homeowners can get a new appliance with relative ease.  When shopping for the right appliance, homeowners can search for the appliance by type, brand or price.  There are some families that are working on a budget, but other families are looking for appliances that match the ones currently in their kitchen.  After shopping online, families can get just the right appliance for their kitchen.  Whether they need a new dishwasher or a new refrigerator, there is an appliance in an online store that is right for every family.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Decorating The House With a Dog in Mind

So you have a fluffy friend. A member of the family that you wouldn’t be without, despite the fact that they slobber everywhere, smell the place out, need regular walks, run through the house with dirty paws and jump on the sofa when they know they aren’t allowed.

Yes, they are part of the family, part of the furniture, often when you like it or not and so your house needs to be kitted out to accommodate for their needs and wishes. Sometimes this can be an additional cost that you don’t really have on you to spend and other times it can mean a total change in lifestyle and living space to accommodate for the new pet.

A dog is a member of the family and therefore will need to adapt into your family set up and surroundings and that includes their own furnishings as well, which you may well want to adapt to your taste and style rather than buying any old tat that can be found on the market.

Here are some things to consider when kitting your house out for a dog. 

Dog bowls

So you’ve just had your kitchen kitted out with new cupboards, a brand spanking new oven and brand new tiled floor. It looks great, apart from the plastic dog bowls in the corner. Yes, they are for practical use and yes no one will be judging you on your taste in dog bowls. But you will. There are hundreds of thousands of dog bowls that you can find that will match your kitchen interior so that your dog bowl looks like part of the furnishings and won’t stand out at all.

Dog blankets

So now and again you give your dog a treat by letting him or her have a sleep on the sofa. However, the last thing you want or need is to have their fur all over the sofa at the end, meaning that you’re going to have to get the hoover out and clean it up, which is never a fun game. A dog blanket can eliminate that problem and can be brought out and thrown over the sofa as and when you need it. Better still, if you find one that matches the furnishings and someone casually pops round, the throw can look like it’s meant to be there and that you aren’t just casually mismatching throws and furniture around the home.

Dog toys

Okay so this may be a little extreme but if you are really into your home interior, it is likely that you are going to want to have your toys matching your interior. There are loads of different toys available for your dog that they will love that come in all shapes and sizes. If you are sticking to a theme of toy or colour it’s likely that you won’t be able to find them in the room should they go missing, so consider this when your dog is barking at something on your rug that to you, just looks like your rug!

Dog beds


Aah, aren’t they cute when they are fast asleep? No noise. No movement. Silence. What you now need is a bed that fits to the style and taste of your living space or wherever your dog is allowed to sleep. A comfortable and stylish option is to purchase a beanbag dog bed or a memory foam dog bed, the perfect solution that can come in a whole host of colours and styles and will see your dog fall soundly to sleep as the material molds to their shape. And if their bed is the best, it’s likely that the sofa will be given the cold shoulder which means a win win scenario all round!

Geoff Ainsworth is a director of R U Comfy Beanbags with a passion for home design and technology. He writes for a variety of home design websites and loves vintage/retro styles.  

Workers' Compensation Claims and Benefits

People in the United States workplace must know all of their rights. Under U.S. law, each employee has the right to receive compensation for specific injuries that are sustained on a job site or as a direct result of employment. Employers cannot refuse to pay for any medical bills and other expenses arising from the injuries related to employment. In fact, workers' compensation is a type of federal and state program aimed at protecting employees. 

A qualified attorney specializing in this field of law should be hired when trying to file claims with an employer and other government agencies such as social security. However, it is important to make a clear distinction between disability insurance and workers' compensation. Under law, all employers must pay for the insurance coverage of workers' compensation. By contrast, disability benefits come out directly from the pockets of taxpayers rather than employers. 

There is a variety of reasons that could be considered acceptable for workers' compensation benefits. Physical injury from heavy lifting and straining is a very common reason for problems in the workplace. Repetitive stress is also responsible for putting people out of work. For instance, some jobs may create arthritis and other chronic inflammation in the joints and muscles due to prolonged tasks involving the same motions. Workers can also get injured from exposure to hazardous chemicals in gas, solid and liquid form. Breathing toxic air is also a major cause of illnesses in workers. 

When an injury from work is severe, employees have the right to stop working and demand the appropriate compensation. Employers are not allowed to terminate workers based on injuries sustained at a job. State law punishes any bosses and managers who retaliate against employees that get injured and file for compensation benefits. 

Workers' compensation may be used to pay for major medical expenses including all diagnostic tests and analysis. An Iowa personal injury lawyer is an example of a legal professional that can take on workers' compensation cases. Monthly checks can be mailed out to injured workers that can prove any injuries resulting from the workplace. A qualified injury attorney can file the proper paperwork to help clients receive benefits. An employer must follow all legal protocol when workers' compensation is filed. Failure to follow the standard procedures for processing claims may result in heavy fines and closure of a business that has caused injuries to hard working individuals.

Creatively Advertising Your Brand

I am in the business of helping companies raise brand awareness so I am always on the lookout for creative ways for companies to be seen. There are many things companies can do to increase brand awareness. One of the easiest and automated ways to promote your brand is to imprint it on your printed and promotional materials. From business cards to letterhead to tote bags, there is always a spot available to add your company name and logo to. But have you given some thought to branding the little things, such as the packing tape you use in your warehouse? Packing tape is an essential that you'll always have on hand, so why not have it personalized to reflect your company? Custom printed packing tape is an innovative way to impress upon others your name and logo, and it's also inexpensive as well as efficient.

Depending on the type of packing tape you use for sealing packages, you may only have enough room based on the width of the strip to add your company name, as well as a small version of your company's logo. But if you use larger tape, or don't mind having your message read lengthwise, consider adding your company's slogan, URL, and even your phone number. But more than anything else, the focus should be on your company name and logo, as these are the most important visual components of your company that you will want to reinforce.

When creating a design for your tape, keep in mind that most tape is transparent, so the packaging it is placed on -- cardboard in most cases -- will shine through. If your company uses brown cardboard boxes, then your printed tape design should utilize bright colors, or solid whites outlined in darker colors. But if your company uses white boxes, you'll want to use contrasting colors - primary colors, grays, and blacks. Consider paying extra to have tape that is more opaque in order to ensure that your design shines through.

When ordering custom rolls of tape, consider ordering different sizes. Choose smaller width tapes to seal envelopes, and larger widths for packages. You can also order stickers and labels that have your company's name and logo on them, and use these to mark boxes that are fragile, heavy, contain food, etc. Companies can greatly increase brand awareness by making simple changes that give big results. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Finding Furniture For Your Home

The design of any home's interior is dependent on many things, such as the style of the exterior, the family's budget and their personal preferences. Most people would agree that the furnishings a family uses to define their space dramatically affect the way the entire home looks. Every room can have a different design, but this can be complicated and difficult to pull off. An easier way to achieve great home design is to choose furniture from one collection that goes into every room in the house. Doing so unifies the home and gives it a feeling of being well organized. Homeowners who choose from a collection like Henkel Harris Furniture will find that they can choose a living room, bedroom and kitchen set that all match or greatly complement one another. This helps the home look clean and organized to both residents, and it can make the home more inviting to any guests. Friends and family who visit will surely appreciate seeing how much thought was put into the design of the home. When choose similar furniture for every room so that all the rooms in the home complement one another, furniture choices go far beyond pricing and color of a single item or two. A family on a budget might be tempted to purchase random, discounted pieces instead of buying an entire set, but complementary rooms in a house can really create a highly sophisticated look. 



In the long run, families who buy a matching set may end up saving money by investing in quality pieces that need little maintenance over the years. A homeowner might choose a sleigh bed for the master bedroom and purchase beds for the guest rooms that are of a similar color. The dining room table can have similar scrolling as the couch in the living room, and even the side tables in the home office can have similar legs to the chairs in the office or even the chairs at the breakfast table. Little ornamental details throughout the home make it look expertly designed and subtly enhance each room. When the family is finally ready to cast away their old furniture and use a collection that complements itself, they can appoint their entire home in similar colors, shapes and design details. Doing so impresses guests, makes the home comfortable to live and helps the living space become more beautiful than the homeowners could have imagined.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

A Mom's Point of View on Common Core

The very moment that my first child was born, I took on this title of Mother. My heart was bursting with unexplainable joy as I often caught myself staring into the face of this beautiful baby boy, this miracle that God gave me. I learned a quick lesson once I assumed this role as Mother and that was that I was always needed. This especially became true as God blessed us with 3 additional children. As a mother of four, there is never a time in my day that I am not needed. I set my alarm and get up hours before the rest of my family and I am often the last one to close my eyes and go to sleep at night. 

The truth is, being a parent is a full time job that never ends. I work 24 hour a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. There are no days off. No vacation days. And sick days are out of the question. Everybody knows that Moms aren’t allowed to get sick! We are always needed. Being a parent brings along many other titles as well. I’m a cook, a taxi driver, a housekeeper, a teacher, a nurse, a CEO and an animal keeper just to name a few. As a matter of fact, a study by Salary.Com estimates that the replacement cost of a mother would be around $113,000 a year to cover all of the titles that she holds. I think it should be even higher than that! 

Being a mother means a lot of things to me but the number one duty that I take the most seriously is that of a protector. I can go from a quiet, calm, normal human being to a crazy, overprotective beast when I see my kids are in harm’s way. I remember a time not long ago when we were playing baseball in the backyard. Our youngest child who was 2 at the time was riding bikes right behind us on the sidewalk with his big sister. I remember turning my head for just a second and when I turned around, to my horror, I saw my toddler heading into the street. I had nightmares for months after that day, seeing one of my most precious gifts in life standing there, not understanding or knowing the danger he was in as a semi truck came barreling down the street. Things could have ended much differently that day and I thank God still today that he kept his hand of protection over my son and I was able to take him back into the house that day unharmed. 

Back in the fall, my 3rd grader began to struggle in school. He has always been a good student who catches on to concepts rather quickly and he always has excelled, especially in math. I began to ask questions and every answer came back to this Common Core. I am an involved mother. I volunteer on a regular basis in my children’s schools so I was really confused. What was this Common Core and how had I not heard about it before? So I started to dig around. I spent months researching and educating myself and every time I did, my Mom radar would go off, signaling that something just wasn’t right. And as most of you who are reading this right now can probably attest to, our radars rarely steer us wrong. What I found about Common Core left my stomach in knots. After I really “got it” and understood it for what it really was, I knew that my kids were in serious danger. Those who did not understand would say things to me like, “Sarah, it’s not that bad. It’s just a set of academic standards. It’s going to make our kids smarter. It’s going to make them better. It’s going to prepare them to be workers in the 21st century global economy.” But my heart just wouldn’t accept that. The Mom inside of me knew better. You see, the word “Standards” has gotten approval from the public and most educators because we all want higher learning for our children but as we know, there is also another meaning of the word standard and that is “like everybody else” and standardizing minds is what Common Core is trying to do. I once read that standardized minds are as far out of sync with deep-seated American values as it’s possible to get and I have to agree. As a mother of four, I can tell you how different each child’s mind works. My youngest child receives special education for a severe delay in speech. My oldest is an amazing speaker and is in the gifted program at school. He wants to become an engineer and play baseball for the Cincinnati Reds someday. My 8 year old doesn’t care too much for school and speaks of his dreams of doing something in his future that involves fixing things and using his hands. Our only daughter is a great student who wants to own her own beauty salon someday. I know these things with my children might change but giving them the freedom to choose their own path is such an important thing to me as a Mom. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” I am a mother who believes in letting her children choose their own path, with a little guidance and Mom wisdom, of course. 

One of the greatest childhood psychologists of all time, Jean Piaget, studied the cognitive development of children for decades and he identified stages of said development that children go through as they mature. I think Piaget said it best when he said “Children are not mini adults. If a child is not developmentally ready these problems will likely lead to frustration, discouragement and negative emotional reactions—which is exactly what parents are reporting. There is a time to help our students develop high level thinking skills that require manipulation of multiple symbols and the use of deductive logic. Childhood is not that time. What they are doing is rushing the most important season of a person’s life—their childhood."

Even more concerning, I am worried about the instruction time that my children are missing out on in the classroom because of the standardized testing. It seems like every time I turn around my kids are telling me that they are working on practice tests and taking assessments. It makes me wonder how much knowledge our children are missing out on because our teachers are teaching to the test. I listened to expert testimony about the harmful side effects of standardized testing and what I found was scary. This type of instruction might benefit the average and below average student because they have less information to process but what does it do to our above average and gifted students? They will forever be held back from ever achieving their potential because of the mediocrity of the information they are being exposed to. This ultimately means that any goal of producing brighter and higher achieving young people will never be reached. These tests do not measure the abilities of a student. They measure how good a school is at teaching curriculum that produces good test takers. I recently read that we must return to teaching curriculum that prepares students for a wide range of opportunities instead of teaching them how to know the answers to tests that really only benefit the vendors that create them. I wanted to give someone a high five when I read that because as a mother, I couldn't agree more. 

Is it really that important to compete with other countries when it comes to education? Why can't our kids be good for America instead of good for a "global economy." Why can't we  let the teachers do what they have been trained to do and let them teach creativity and beautiful things that will create lifelong learners? Why must we rush the childhoods of millions of children, making them miss out on the most influential years of their lives? 

I'm not in favor of national anything because the truth is, every state is different. The people in one state don't hold the same values as the residents of other states. What we do have in common, however, is that we are seeing states all across our country now springing to life and threatening to dismantle what is known as the Common Core and it's it's not because of these great speakers or experts who are speaking out against the standards. It's because of the real experts--the Moms and Dads. The Grandmas and Grandpas. The Aunts and Uncles. The concerned citizens. The taxpayers. It's those who believe in the principles that our country was founded upon. It's those who want to keep our freedoms in tact and not hand those precious gifts over to the government. It's those who love and care about children and want to see a generation of bright, free-thinkers who understand the history of our great country and the sacrifices that were made to be able to live in the land of the free, the home of the brave. It's the educators like the 42,000+ in the Bad Ass Teachers organization (BAT) who are starting to stand up and say "not in my class." 

Recently I had the opportunity to join the group of nearly 600 BAT's from Ohio and words could never even begin to express the gratitude I have for these teachers who truly want to make a difference in the lives of children. I asked one of them to share their opinion with me for a presentation I was working on and I was so touched by the responses.  "From the perspective of an educator who has been teaching for almost a decade, the Common Core is one of the worst educational reforms to ever rear its ugly head in this state and across the nation. It is a set of standards that trumpets the glib buzzwords “rigor” and “grit” with one side of its mouth while laughing in the face of a diverse and accommodating education for students with the other. How can any educator, administrator, parent or student champion a set of standards that turns children into data rather than seeing them as individuals with specific needs, interests, strengths and learning styles? How can any right-thinking or remotely compassionate person declare a set of standards that mercilessly labels a child from a young age, breaking them into “successful” or “failure” based on a single test, a triumph of reform and a panacea to the education gap in this country? How can any person who remembers the joy of learning through a multitude of different experiences, subjects and activities ever see standards that demand hyper-focus on hours of test preparation for the majority of the school year a worthwhile educational experience? How can any citizen look at the immense amount of preparation that goes into a teacher’s day, dedicated to helping each student as an individual, the projects that are created to get them to imagine and think beyond their boundaries, and the experiences that are brought to them to enrich their minds and see that measurable by a single, obtuse test? The answer is clear. Only someone with no common sense, someone with no understanding of how people think, learn and develop, someone who has NEVER stepped foot into a classroom to see what real learning and teaching looks like, someone who has found a way to make money from the failure of children and teachers and someone with little real desire to provide the BEST education a child can have. This is the kind of person who develops a set of standards as deeply flawed as the Common Core is. And it needs to be done away with before untold damage is done to the emotional and educational growth of students now and for generations to come."

Thank God for these teachers who are speaking up. Thank God for the parents speaking up. It might not be tomorrow but I think we are going to see something HUGE happening across America very soon.

Let's face it. We all want higher standards. We all want an excellent education for our children. Let the states go back to the drawing board and create truly higher standards that still allow children to be children because after all, they are humans, not machines. Prepare them for life, not the workforce. And for the love of God, let's push to make sure the federal government and social elites are never allowed to interfere with our children's education ever again. 








Monday, April 7, 2014

Preparing Your Home for Pest Control

Spring is finally upon us and with that comes warmer weather, more sunshine and BUGS! The snow had barely melted when I first started seeing ants trying to get inside which is really strange because we have never had an issues with ants in our house before. Normally small annoyances like this can easily be taken care of yourself, however, if you run into a bigger problem with pests in your home, it might be better to leave it to the professionals. If you do decide you need help, the following are some tips of how you can prepare your house for the exterminator. 


Even though it typically doesn’t take long for an experienced pest control company -- such as PlanetOrange.com -- to eliminate unwanted pests, you can help make the exterminator’s job a bit easier by properly preparing your home for their arrival. Clean out from underneath kitchen and bathroom sinks. This includes temporarily removing any items you normally store in that location. By simply removing and cleaning out these areas, you will give the pest control experts more room to work. You should also ensure all items are at least two feet away from the exterior of your home and move items away from the interior garage walls. This allows the pest control expert to easily inspect and possibly treat these areas. If you have bushes or groundcover that covers and conceals the foundation or walls, make sure to trim them back a bit before the exterminators visit. The pest control expert may need to enter your basement, crawl space or attic so you should ensure there is easy access to these areas. If the access opening to these areas are located in a close, remove any clothing or items stored beforehand to make it easier for the inspector to gain entry to these places. The preparation for flea control is a bit different and requires stripping all the beds and removing any slipcovers from the furniture. These items -- along with pet beds -- should then be washed in laundry detergent using the hottest water setting that those specific fabrics can stand. Make sure to thoroughly vacuum upholstered furniture and carpets, and consider shampooing or steam cleaning the carpeting and upholstery as well. If you do decide to go this route, just make sure the fabrics are completely dry before the appointment. Furthermore, consult with your veterinarian about flea treatment options for your pet and plan to have everyone -- including your pets -- out of the home for a few hours during the treatment process.

I guess with every change of season we must take the good with the bad. I can deal with a few ants if it means warmer temps and SUNSHINE! 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Will an HSA Help Save My Family Money?



The tax deadline and open enrollment for health insurance are both right around the corner. Saving on taxes and healthcare is important to everyone, however, millions of Americans still don't understand health savings accounts (HSAs) and how to use them to save on taxes and to better control healthcare spending. The award winning resource www.hsacenter.com is an excellent place to start to find straightforward information on HSAs, how they work and the triple tax advantage they offer. Using the interactive tools on the website, users can estimate potential savings before deciding if an HSA might be the best choice for their budget and healthcare needs. 

The Affordable Care Act did change a few aspects of HSAs, however, their triple-tax advantages remain. Money deposited into an HSA is tax deductible, interest on these savings still grows tax deferred, and funds withdrawn for qualified medical expenses are still tax free. Money left in the account at the end of the year rolls over to the next year, accumulating over time for use when needed, even for retirement health care costs. 

You can find newly enhanced resources within the pages at www.HSAcenter.com enabling consumers to learn how they can save both in the short term and long term before deciding if an HSA is the best choice for them. These updates include:

*HSA basics, including an extensive list of frequently asked questions
*Three interactive calculators to estimate health insurance savings, tax savings and future value
*Updated videos and examples of how families are using their HSAs to save
*Information on 2013 and 2014 deductibles, contribution limits and out-of-pocket maximums
*Qualified medical expenses and other resources 

If you already have an active HSA, you can also consider maximizing your contribution before the April 15 deadline to take advantage of their tax and savings benefits. For the 2013 tax year, HSA contributions are tax deductible up to $3,250 for individuals and $6,450 for families. HSA holders 55 years and older can contribute and deduct an additional $1,000!  Many individual states also allow deductions from state taxes for HSA contributions. 

HSA Center was created as an online education site for consumers by Golden Rule Insurance Company and UnitedHealthcare Life Insurance Company. For more information, visit www.HSAcenter.com. For additional information about UnitedHealthOne HSA health plans, call 800-444-8990. 



Monday, March 31, 2014

Benefits of Ecigs

My husband and I have been married for 13 years and he has been a smoker since the day I met him. Over the course of our marriage he has made many unsuccessful attempts to quit but after a short time, he always seemed to pick the nasty habit back up again. Last month, right before Valentine's Day, he decided that instead of quitting smoking, he was going to go a different route and he purchased his very first Electronic cigarette. On February 13th, he officially lit his last Marlboro and hasn't picked up one since. 

I was really skeptical when he bought the Ecig but I quickly found that it was a great alternative for him rather than smoking actual cigarettes. Below you will find some of the benefits that I have seen in him making the switch.

*Smell. Let's face it. Cigarettes stink. They make your clothes stink. They make your skin stink. They just stink! We do not have this issue with the Ecigs. When my husband smoked regular cigarettes, I often times would wash his clothes separately from the rest of ours because his were so stinky. I don't have to do this anymore! 

*Whiter Teeth. In the month that my husband made the switch to Electronic cigarettes, I notice a huge difference in the color of his teeth. They are getting whiter every day. 

*Better breath. There was nothing worse than when my husband would come in after a long day of work and I would welcome him with a kiss while trying to hold my breath because all I could smell on his breath was stinky cigarettes. 

*Cost. The initial investment my husband made into his Ecig was around $150. It paid for itself in just a couple of weeks. The fluid that he buys for his Ecig costs around $15 and is equal to 10 cartons of cigarettes. That is a HUGE amount of savings and has been enough that we have actually seen a difference in our bank account. He was paying nearly $6/pack for regular cigarettes every single day so this is a huge savings for us. 

*Convenience. My husband has a very demanding job that does not always allow him to step outside for a smoke break like some of the other employees where he works. He can carry his Ecig in his pocket and grab it out whenever he wants to at work without having to waste time going outside and taking long breaks that he doesn't have time for. We also don't have to make frequent stops when traveling with our children anymore so my husband can smoke which I personally appreciate a ton! 

There are Ecig shops popping up all over the place right now. You can also visit places like 21stcenturysmoke.com where you can enroll in programs for auto ship so you can make sure you never run out of supplies. I was very skeptical when my husband said he was going to make the switch but here we are nearly 6 weeks later and even the slightest smell of a regular cigarette makes him scrunch his nose. I would venture to say our entire family appreciates his effort to make the switch! 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Finding the Right Home for Your Tools

If you are the guy who practically lives in your garage, your tools are more than a luxury. They are a necessity. Whether you are working on the car, projects around the house, or putting on an addition to your house, you want to know exactly where your tools are. Everything should be well-organized and on hand in the moment when you need it most. Choosing the ideal toolbox takes time to find the right home for your tools. You need to turn to a reputable source like EliteToolboxes.com before you make a substantial investment.

Find a Product That is Built to Last
That old expression, "You get what you pay for," is generally true. Steer clear of astronomical deals that seem to good to be true. You don't have to necessarily buy into the most expensive product on the market either. The most important thing you need to do is check product reviews. Find a manufacturer with an excellent reputation. The Better Business Bureau, testimonials, and customer reviews can help you to make your final selection. Take caution with testimonials as they may be skewed to favor the company. Once you have found a company that you are happy with, it's time to hunt down the right toolbox for your garage.

Consider Your Options
Look carefully at the product selection offered by the manufacturer. Make sure you select a toolbox that will have ample space for the amount of tools that you have. Otherwise, you'll only find yourself shopping for another toolbox in the future. If possible, find the right fit the right time. You may only need a top chest or prefer a roller set. Combination sets may also fit the bill for the projects that you have in mind. Don't forget about portable boxes, side boxes, and hutches. If you're shopping for a toolbox for the first time, you'll be looking for a comprehensive product that will give you proper storage for your valuable tools. If you already have a toolbox and want to upgrade, now is the time to scope out the full product line of a manufacturer that you like and choose the best items to complement your existing setup. 

Look for Extra Perks
As you shop for your toolbox, don't forget the perks. You might find free shipping, a special sale, or an excellent warranty to entice you.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Searching for Home Loans

Home ownership is a part of the American dream but it seems like it's becoming harder and harder for people to achieve that goal in their life. One of the biggest issues families face is finding the funding to finance that dream. 


First time home buyers need to understand all of the options that are available for a loan. Modern mortgages come in various types of plans that are suitable for any budget. A fixed rate mortgage is the most common type of home loan. The fixed rate refers to the monthly payments and interest rates that are associated with an entire's loans term. A variable rate mortgage comes with different monthly payments based on specific time intervals. For example, burrowers may have to pay small amounts towards the last few years of a variable rate home loan. Finding a mortgage in the United States can be accomplished at local banks, credit unions, financial institutions and even small businesses. 

The application process for a mortgage involves submitting official information about the status of employment. A lender needs to know how much money a borrower is earning each month. Special formulas and other strict guidelines are used to determine if an applicant qualifies for a mortgage that covers a specific sum. Sometimes, people might get approved for a home loan that's tens of thousands of dollars less than the original expected amount. Banks and other lenders also need to ensure that borrowers have money for a down payment on a home. Additionally, all homes that are financed through a mortgage are considered collateral. Therefore, lenders have the legal right and obligation to take away any property that has not been paid for. Borrowers often get evicted after missing several months on mortgage payments.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Common Core Strips Us of our Parental Rights

I apologize to all of my readers for my recent absence. Life has thrown me some curve balls and I feel that my efforts right now are needed in the fight against Common Core. It's not a fight that I ever thought I would find myself in the middle of but here I am. I have a lot of issues with Common Core but I am not going to go into those today. What I want to talk about today is how schools are trying to strip parents of their rights over their children. We keep seeing stories across the country of this very thing but what I never thought was that it could happen to me. But it did. 

 As parents, my husband and I talked and we have been very cautious with the programs that our children are participating in at school, particularly in regards to their health. We take them to the doctor regularly. We know how much they weigh. We know how tall they are. We take them to the dentist so they don't need the school to check their teeth. We, as their parents, are on top of these things. Medical data, in my opinion, is very private and we just prefer these things be kept between our children and their physicians. No big deal, right?!  So I sent in an opt out form 2 weeks ago to prohibit my children from participating in the BMI screening that is now done a couple of times a year in gym class. We allowed them to do the physical aspects of the fitness test but just requested that they not be weighed or measured. The school principal called me back and while he was still trying to convince me not to opt out, he advised that the school respected my request and my kids would not have to participate. The time came in gym class for this to take place, and as expected, my children were skipped over and all was well. 

In the meantime, I also have a multitude of issues with standardized tests. Again, my husband and I felt that it was in the best interest of our children to not be subjected to these tests so we chose to join the opt out movement. I again sent in a formal request for my children to be opted out of both the OAA's and the PARCC pilot exams that are coming up. After sending in the opt out forms, I contacted the superintendent, the principal and my children's teachers to ask what we could expect for my children on testing day. Would they be allowed to go to the library to read? Will they have something they can work on? I waited for several days on a response but still did not hear back.

Fast forward to this week. Tuesday night we hosted Dr. Terrence Moore here in our area and he spoke to a packed house on the dangers of Common Core. I awoke yesterday morning, and my life had been turned upside down. I received a letter from our superintendent telling me that I could NOT opt my children out of the standardized tests. He based this on Ohio law and advised that he had taken advice from the school attorneys on the matter and this was where he based his stance. I have attached the letter below so that you can see exactly what I received. 


As if this was not bad enough, telling ME, a mother, that I have no RIGHT to choose this path for my children, what came next was unbelievable. 

My kids came off the bus yesterday very upset. The superintendent had came to their school and my kids were singled out in gym class and forced to step on a scale to be weighed and measured, even though this had already been done in the class last week and my kids were opted out. I was never called. Never notified. My rights as a parent were violated. My kids rights to privacy were violated. And I am TICKED! I tried calling the principal but was told he was on the phone so I hopped in my car and drove straight there. What I was met with was unbelievably childish. Basically I was told by the principal that I am not his boss. They don't take orders from me. He gets his orders from HIS boss, the superintendent, and based on the letter that the superintendent had sent to me earlier in the day, they had voided my opt out forms and they were no longer applicable. What they did was take away MY rights to MY children. The Supreme Court has always held that parents have the supreme authority over their children in EVERY aspect of their lives, including education so how did this happen?

My job as a mother carries many titles but protector is the most important to me. When I see my children in harms way, it is instinct for me to do whatever I need to do to protect them from that harm. Isn't that the job of every parent? To protect our children? So what happens when our right to protect them as we see fit is taken away from us? 

I am not going to lie. I feel like I went to sleep and woke up in a nightmare in another country. Surely I am no longer in America if I am being told that I do not have the RIGHT to parent my children as I see fit. Parental rights are being stripped away from us, right before our eyes, and we didn't even see it coming. I held it together all day yesterday. Right up until bedtime that is. When I looked at the faces of my 4 innocent children, for the first time in my life as a Mom, I felt helpless and I felt fearful for them. My 10 year old daughter asked me if they had to go to school today because she was afraid that they would be singled out again and humiliated in front of their peers. And for the first time in a long time, I was no longer able to hold it together. My husband held me as I sobbed into his chest, unable to hold back the emotions that I had been trying to suppress for so long. My heart hurt. Not just for my kids but for all of our kids. If this can happen to ME, it can happen to YOU! Don't think for a minute that it can't. I never imagined it would happen so close to home and could have never prepared myself for the emotions that I feel every time I read that letter telling me that I don't have a right to do what's best for my children. Every time I think about my kids being called out in that gym class, taken to that scale, my blood boils because at that moment, my job as my children's protector was stripped away from me and there was nothing I could do about it. 

In the evenings, I sit down with my 8 year old son who is in the 3rd grade and often times, we end up with a box of tissues next to us to dry his tears because he is frustrated and he is confused by the "new math" methods that we are teaching. It is sad when I, a college educated parent, cannot help my child with his homework in the 3RD GRADE! When I sent in emails to the school asking about the things that we were seeing, I was told that my email inquiries were "borderline harassment." 

What are we doing to our children? How can we sleep at night knowing that this is going on? It doesn't matter if you are for or against Common Core. This is about parental rights. God help us all because I'm afraid this has only just begun. Oh how it hurt my heart to send my kids out the door to school today. As I sit here typing, tears continue to pour down my face. My children are not human capital. They are kids. They have souls. They have hearts. They think for themselves. They are unique. And they are MINE! My kids do not belong to the state. They do not belong to the government. They do not belong to their school. They belong to ME and I will continue fighting to make sure that NO Mom or Dad ever has to go through what I have been put through because I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy.